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Kestra15

Rapture

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"Ah, there you are" Erin smiled at Micah. Although in hindsight she acknowledged it was rude, she ignored whatever he might've said in favor of watching a stunned-and-miserable-looking Juane drag himself into the ambulance and shut the door.

 

"Wha?"

 

Her protective big sister instincts kicked in, almost against her will, and she headed over to the ambulance to check on him. She opened one of the doors and put Dingo down on its floor. The kitten sniffed nervously at Juane's foot for a minute, hissed and retreated back to her side.

 

"Juane?" she tried to get his attention, "What happened?"

 

((Erin's major driving force is to protect and comfort people she thinks can't do it themselves. It's a big sister thing.

 

PS: She warned you, James.))

Edited by Fangirl05

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Micah was content to remain outside the bar, relieved that Mak didn't seem to have any harsh words towards him, although he didn't show it. The older man seemed to be the leader of this small group, and as such Micah wanted to remain on his good side. He knew from experience that if the man in charge didn't like you, he could easily turn all his followers against you, and even if these weren't the sort of people he'd normally want to be with they were the only ones around.

 

Before Mak had been inside the bar very long, Jaune immediately walked out, face uncharacteristically serious, and climbed into the ambulance, closing the door behind him. Micah had no idea what had happened to him, and he didn't really care that much, to be honest. James' words earlier had made him realize that indeed, it wasn't as if taking away the weapons the boy currently possessed would do anything; even in the bar there were plenty of matchbooks and cutlery. For now, he only wanted to stay away from him. He did hear Jaune refer to the 'Lucy' he'd addressed earlier as a mantis, which at least reassured him that she really was - or had been - a living thing and not some sort of spiritual apparition, as he hadn't been quite convinced before. Micah was a little concerned when Erin tried to get Jaune's attention and even made serious reference to one of the demons that he worshiped, even if she was clearly trying to be sympathetic - she really shouldn't be taking part in rituals to a false god, somehow he'd thought she'd known that, maybe because she'd said she believed it was the Rapture. But he got the feeling if he told her to stay away, she wouldn't listen. She seemed the pushy type.

 

Not wanting to just stand there without anything to do any longer, Micah decided to search the town to see if there was anyone else left. His search before hadn't really been what you could call thorough. He hadn't even looked inside any of the buildings. And maybe while he was looking, he could find a weapon for himself. He'd seen several other members of the group with one, even one of the women, so Micah figured it should be all right for him to have one too. And he might need it, if push ever came to shove with Jaune. He kept his gaze open for a likely place to find one as he strode away.

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Emily stood silent and watched Wisper getting to know her maybe new friend. She was happy to see a bit of joy for the girl but at the same time she wondered what about other animals. Like those in Zoo’s or those locked in homes. Maybe they could set them free? But that thought stopped when her mind started to think about the larger animals and those with hunting instincts. It could cause a problem but they couldn’t let them die.... could they?

 

“I think there is a pet shop in town. It would be nice to include this fella to our little group but I’m a bit afraid when it comes to the others. He might react to their shouting. Nougat is use to it due to the kids she stayed with but I don’t know about him. We can always try thou.” Emily spoke as kneeled down by Nougat. She quickly unbuckled her collar and gave it to Wisper.

 

“Here. Use Nougat’s for the time being till we find Cujo one of his own. We don’t want him to run around or getting lost.”

 

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((James is not a caretaker. The only reason he gave Jaune a reason a ride to start with is so that MP could catch up with everyone else. I'm not going to rewrite James' character so that Jaune has a babysitter.))

 

James unzipped his bag and gently pushed what he could of the crowbar inside. It was too long to go all the way inside, even when he pushed the other items inside the bag out of the way, but closing the zip kept it in place and made the crow bar less likely to fall out.

 

He took stock of his current inventory. His handgun and some bullets. The shotgun and some shells. Crowbar. The megaphone he had picked up at the supermarket. Several cans of food. Can opener. Two bottles of water. Mr Durham's package.

 

Knowing he wouldn't be able to carry much more James slung his backpack back onto his shoulders and re-adjusted the shotgun. There was nothing else in the store that interested him, or that he knew how to use, so he edged his way back through the dusty shelves and stepped outside. He saw Micah approaching and gave him a half-hearted hail.

 

"Hey. How you holding up?"

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((By no means am I saying that you should, but Jaune still sees James has his closest 'friend' ))

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“Thanks,” Wisperlee said to Emily as she tied the leash around Cujo. “Bull Mastiffs are pretty popular as guard dogs for families, so maybe he’s used to kids. Better not gamble with that though.” Plus, children in families usually came with parents to keep their behavior in check – Jaune came with no such safety feature. He’d probably try to set the dog on fire and get his face chewed off in the process; Bull Mastiffs weren’t inherently violent, but they were big, strong and more than capable of defending themselves.

 

“Let’s go find that pet shop. We’ll get a second leash and I think we’re going to need more dog food too.” Like Emily, she briefly wondered about the other pets in there. She supposed they could set them free - she didn’t expect anything bigger than rabbits and canaries in there. Maybe they could scatter some feed over the ground to give the animals a head start?

 

Moving back into the small town, they passed a few shops. A corner store with the door wide open and looking like it had already been looted. A small clothes boutique with spring dresses. A butcher’s store advertising their free range chicken. Wisperlee felt odd walking through the deserted streets, like she was living in a ghost town. Which, she supposed after a moment of deliberation, was true in a way.

 

Arriving at the pet shop, they found the door locked. Not surprising, since there was no good reason for a pet store to be open at 3 AM. Wisperlee thought for a moment, then picked up a large stone lying on the pavement and began to attack the window. The sounds of brick hitting glass echoed through the street and she flinched, but didn’t stop. Finally, the window shattered and, careful not to cut herself, she could reach through to unlock the door.

 

Looking around, she saw the expected rabbits, gerbils and canaries. To the back of the store were fish tanks and snakes. Alright then. “I’ll look for a leash,” she said to Emily. “I think we’re good releasing the rabbits, gerbils and birds. We should probably leave the snakes be though.” The fish, of course, had nowhere to go so she didn’t even mention those. With Cujo in tow, she disappeared around a shelve of pet supplies.

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Erin turned her head in the direction of James' voice. With one last concerned glance at Juane, she scooped Dingo up and carried him over to the two men.

 

"Something's wrong with Juane," she said, then considered her words. "Well, wrong-er. I asked him what happened, but, surprise, surprise, he didn't hear me. James, can you see if you can find out what's going on?"

 

She sat on the curb at Micah's feet and scratched Dingo's head, who promptly hopped out of her lap and disappeared under a nearby bush.

 

"Well this is bittersweet" she thought out loud to Micah, resting her chin in her hands, "I wanted the little nutcase to cool off and start listening to us normals, but I didn't want him miserable like this."

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Arriving back at the mini bus Petra noticed Erin, James and the American, Micah, gathered in the road near a hardware store, she raised her free hand and waved at them just as Erin move to sit on the curb.

 

Although she didn’t really know them, she liked Erin and James. She got the feeling that James was a good guy, he gave of the impression of being tough and reliable, and possibly very dangerous when pressed, but she also felt that he would do anything for his family and friends. Erin was a girl who spoke her mind, sometimes loudly, and there would be no mistaking how she felt about a situation, but she has warmth about her, and a good heart. Micah – Petra felt herself blanch when she looked at him, he makes my blood run cold, I know its not fair to feel that way, and maybe once I get to know him better – no, I think he will always remind me of my parents, and their hate and condemnation.

 

With a grimace Petra opened the passenger door of the bus, and stacked in the things she had collected from the shop. It was as she was bent over, arranging the jerry cans in the footwell that she caught a whiff of alcohol and a flash of yellow as she straightened back up. She also though she could hear faint sobs, taking one of the travel rugs, and a pack of tissues she gently closed the passenger door and made her way to the main doors of the bus and opened them as quietly as she could.

 

The boy in the Pikachu onesie, he was curled up on the seats and looked so small and vulnerable that she could only think of him as a boy, was crying quietly to himself. His tears reminded Petra that she wasn’t the only one whose life had come crashing down, they had all lost people they loved in this – this ‘thing’.

 

Realising the he may want some time to himself, he was probably oblivious to her anyway, and resisting the temptation to reach out and smooth the boy’s hair, instead Petra unfurled the travel rug and gently draped it over the boy, she placed the tissues next to him and after laying a gentle, and she hoped comforting, hand on the boys shoulder she let herself out of the bus.

 

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"Better," Micah said to James, surprising himself as he realized he meant the words. It was surprising what having a few people around could do in the worst of situations, even if they were strangers. He'd never realized that before.

 

As Erin came up and reported about Jaune, Micah shifted his attention to her, forehead creasing and a slight frown appearing on his lips. To be honest, all he felt at hearing her words was relief. At least if Jaune had shut himself inside the ambulance, he couldn't hurt anyone outside it . . . and if he wrecked the ambulance somehow, it wasn't like it couldn't be replaced, at least for what it was currently being used for. "At least this way he won't hurt anyone else," he told Erin, trying to cheer her up. He couldn't in truth understand why Erin was so upset, especially given her earlier stance on the boy in question. He knew women were often irrational, though, so he didn't make a big deal out of it.

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Erin smiled and waved back at Petra. She'd been thinking about trying to do something for her in rememberance of her sons, except she currently had no idea what. Man, it was tough to do something nice for someone when nobody around knew anything about them.

 

She glanced over at the bush Dingo had disappeared under, worried that he might've run out on her, and saw him emerge with a dead sparrow in his mouth, looking for all the world like a first-grader with his drawing with a smiley face at the top. She chuckled at him as he approached her, dropped his bird and nudged it toward her with his paw. "No, no," she nudged it back, "enjoy your spoils."

 

He promptly tore into it.

 

She gave Micah a slightly exasperated look. "I'm guessing you don't have any little brothers or sisters" she said flatly.

Edited by Fangirl05

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"I've got nine," Micah told Erin matter-of-factly, "but none of them were anything like Jaune." No, everyone in his family had been raised to fear the Lord, and would never be subject to . . . whatever was going on inside Jaune's head. God protected his own. If Micah sounded unemotional about the situation, it was likely due to that . . . and the fact that Micah had been forced into becoming the authority in his younger siblings' lives since he was young, especially the boys, as his parents were often too busy. Esther, the sister he had traveled here with, usually handled the girls.

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"Excuse me" Erin raised a finger at Micah, turned away from him and mimed taking a sip of water and spitting it out. "Nine?!" she turned back toward him sharply. She grabbed her head in realization. "Oh my God, that's why you thought it was the Rapture, you're one of those psycho-Christian-fundamentalists!" Her hands clasped together and her face split into an unhinged grin. "Oh my God, I have so many questions! Is it true that the older siblings spend more time raising the young children than the parents? Do you live on a Comune? Are you all home schooled? Are you not allowed to touch any woman you're not related to? Are you personal friends with the Duggers? Have you ever wanted to do anything that your parents condemned as evil?" She craned her neck around toward his back. "Do you have scars from being beaten?"

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"And what I am supposed to say to him?" sighed James. "I wouldn't get a straight answer out of him anyway."

 

When Micah mentioned he had nine siblings James was a little taken back, but it made sense in a way. Micah must come from one of those hardcore religious families that didn't believe preventatives or suchlike.

 

When Erin started to question Micah about his upbringing James rolled his eyes.

 

"Why not give the guy a little breathing space and let him tell us about himself in his own time, if he wants to? Not everyone wants to relay their entire life story to a bunch of people they just met."

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"I can't believe I have to explain this" Erin thought out loud, "Just go over and say 'What happened?', I'm not asking you to break out the couch." It's true what they say about the pretty ones she thought to herself and rolled her eyes. She turned her attention back to Micah, still smiling a touch madly but with the absence of teeth. "Well?"

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James shook his head. Erin obviously hadn't listened to the part about not getting a straight answer. When she turned back to Micah expecting a reply to her barrage of questions James gave up. He wasn't going to get anywhere here either. Why didn't anyone listen to a damn word he said? If more lucid people wouldn't take any notice of him, then Jaune sure wouldn't either.

 

"I'm going to continue looking around" he said turning away. "I'll call if I find anything."

 

He heard a smashing sound and looked round to see two of the girls smasging their way into a pet store. Wondering if they were after supplies for the various animals the group seemed to have picked up he wandered over to investigate.

 

"You guys alright in there?" he asked approaching the door.

Edited by Fortune86

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"We're fine!" Wisperlee called out. By now she was at the back of the store and out of sight. "I found a new dog, so I'm picking up a leash and supplies. Plus we thought we'd release the animals - those that aren't dangerous - while we're here. Give them a fighting chance at least."

 

She returned from behind the shelves carrying two large bags of dog food - one over each shoulder - and barely clutching a shopping bag filled with squeaky toys with her fingers. She was staggering a little under the weight, but was absolutely determined to carry the bags to the door. This was the apocalypse and there was no time to slack off.

 

"I found a specialty brand for Labs," she said to Emily. "That might be better for Nougat than the generic food. And Big Dog feed for Cujo. Also, dog toys."

 

Said Cujo was walking behind Wisperlee at a leisurely pace, but stopped when he spotted James. Right, she hadn't actually tested the dog's response to anyone but herself and Emily yet. "That's good people," she said to the dog using the term most commonly used by owners to indicate friends and family. The Bull Mastiff seemed skeptical, but he trotted over to James with no signs of hostility. Still, Wisperlee carefully dropped the bags so she'd have her hands free if needed.

 

((I assume Cujo will briefly smell James to get his scent and then return to Wisperlee, but I'll stop here in case Fortune wants James to react to the dog in some way.))

Edited by Mistress of Whispers

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Mak was standing alone in the pub now, the door having swung shut behind Jaune. The voices of Erin, Micah, Ari and James were muffled at best and through a window he caught a glance of Petra moving to their vehicle; further off down the road Wisper and Emily were walking and talking. Mak was blessed with loneliness and silence.

 

Taking a deep breath Mak closed his eyes and stood still for several seconds, visualising the stress in his body as being gathered into his expanded lungs. Then he let out a long breath, imagining the stress being released from his body at the same time and dissipating out into the world, the emotion powerless without a body to inhabit and simply evaporating in the quiet. It was an old technique that had served him well over the years, something that had started as a pre-exam ritual in his A-levels and had expanded out from there. And it worked.

 

Mostly. The headache was still there. Opening his eyes Mak made his way over to the bar and moved behind it, dragging a stool with him on the way. He sat down in front of the Cola tap, grabbing a glass and quickly filling it with the cool, refreshing liquid. Drinking it down in one go he refilled and drunk deeply once more, leaving half a pint in the glass after his second round.

 

Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of the red wine and entertained the thought of cracking open a bottle. Why the hell not? It was the end of the world and he was caught in an impossible position trying to keep a barely-cohesive group together. Erin seemed to enjoy picking verbal fights, Jaune was clearly on a different reality to everyone else, Wisper was already thinking of disappearing off alone, Petra had lost her children, and James was...well, Mak wasn't sure, but the man was dangerous. Maybe not to the group - hopefully not - but he looked far to relaxed with a shotgun slung over his shoulder. At least Ari and Emily seemed sensible.

 

And what about him? He eyed up the red wine again, tempted to reach out and check the vintage. If it was a couple of years old with a Latin background it would be worth drinking, and why bother trying to argue against that constant demon on his shoulder? End of the world, he couldn't get busted for drink-driving, everything was free to eat and drink, why not just have a hell of a booze-up and let the world burn? It would get rid of his headache - or at least make him dull to it. He'd managed as a functional alcoholic before, why not do so now?

 

With a sigh Mak tore his gaze from the allure of red grape heaven and instead took another swig of the Cola. That's how it had started, finding an excuse every now and again for a bottle. Once a month, then every other week, then at weekends, then if he wasn't working the next day, then if he managed to get the day off early...and suddenly he was spending £30 a week on red wine and he was always a bit tired, his head foggy, constantly wondering when he could have himself another glass to drink. It had taken a year to peel himself away from that habit and last night was one of his two allowed bottles per month. Now was not the time to have the second bottle.

 

But what did it matter, he pondered again. Was it worth measuring the passage of time in this new world? Time was the fourth dimension, there was no scientific way to counter that point, but how it was measured was an entirely human construct. The world did not naturally have twenty-four hours in a day, it was just how humans had split it. Twelve relatively uneven months a year - again, a human invention. Would such artificial constructs mean anything in the days to come?

 

"I don't half come up with some rubbish," Mak muttered out loud as he nursed the pint glass. Five hours or so into this day and he was already assuming Humanity was a write-off? The scientist in him was disgusted, and the human in him was scared. Despite his solitary life-style Mak, like everyone else, still needed companionship and interaction and while he didn't share his life with someone it didn't mean he wouldn't or couldn't. He liked meeting people, he enjoyed his training, and there was always a measure of comfort knowing that there was life outside of his flat. It wasn't until now when he could so acutely feel the emptiness that he realised just how comforting that thought had been.

 

Draining the rest of the Cola Mak stood up and turned away from the red wine, instead looking to where Jaune's pet was lying. Picking up a shot glass and a place-mate Mak carefully scooped up the mantis into the glass and put the cardboard on top to keep it safe, then put it behind the bar safely. Jaune might want the body after all. He then weaved through the bar and out into the sunlight.

 

Leaving Erin to cross-examine Micah Mak strode over to their most well-armed group member, watching with interest as Wisper and Emily did their passable impression of animal rights activists. "You wanted to chat? he said softly to James as he stood beside the man.

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So he was right. There were after pet food.

 

James raised an eyebrow when Whisperlee said they were going to release the less dangerous animals. That was nice and all, but not very practical. Sure it would beat starving to death and eating each other, but not many pet type animals were capable of surving in the wild. On the other hand, the chances of them getting run over had drastically dropped.

 

"You guys might want to watch exactly what you pick up. You don't want to load yourself down with toys and stuff."

 

He looked down at the new dog as it approached him. A bull mastiff or something like it he figured. It didn't seem agressive, but a big dog was a big dog.

 

He cautiously put out his hand so that the dog could sniff it and get the scent.

 

"Hello there" he said keeping the uncertaincy out of his voice. "And where did you crop up from?"

 

Footsteps told him someone else was approaching. James looked around and saw Mak, who reminded him he had wanted to talk.

 

"Yeah" James replied. "I was wondering what the long term game plan is here? Are we really going to be trundling around the country looking for other people? Because I am going to admit I'm feel a bit nervous about that idea. Something happened. Whether it was aliens or God or whatever I don't care, but I don't think everyone went willingly. My brothers would never have left me behind if they had a say in the matter. Whatever or whoever did this, they could do it again to what is left of us."

 

James shrugged.

 

"I just think it might be an idea to set up some kind of defendable base."

Edited by Fortune86

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Mak looked at the massive dog that had been acquired, and absently offered his own hand to the dog to smell as he replied. "Plan...no plan yet," Mak replied heavily. "I agree that whatever happened isn't benevolent, but frankly I've just been reacting at the moment." He sighed. "Hawkingsthorne would have been ideal - small town, the right facilities, a superstore to hand - but that option isn't available any more. So if you have an idea where to go next?"

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Emily started working her way through the store checking on which critter to release but she was caught up at the fish tanks. She had always found it fascinating on how the fish lips moved and she had found herself on several occasions copying them when looking at them.

 

Her attention was quickly drawn back to when she heard new voices entering the store. They were talking on what they should be doing and what not. Emily had thought of this seeing that her survival instincts were starting to kick in.

 

“Can I say what I think?” Emily spoke as she stepped closer.

 

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"I'm sorry about that" said James. "I didn't realise just how crazy Jaune was."

 

He reached up to rub the back of his head and looked over at Emily as she walked nearer. When she asked if could say what she thought he shrugged.

 

"Sure. I don't see why not."

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Satisfied that Cujo wasn't going to harm James and Mak, Wisperlee picked up the bags again and began carrying them the last few feet to the door. She paused for a moment to catch her breath and studied the large dog as well as the large bad of dog food. "I'm going to need a side car," she muttered to no one in particular.

 

She then moved to join James, Mak and Emily. Cujo, she was happy to see, sat down near her. Apparently the dog was beginning to view her as its new pack leader - that was good.

 

"I'm not sure a defendable base will do us any good," she offered her opinion. "The American Pentagon has gone silent. Think about that for a moment. None of the analysts in the Pentagon building is still there. I doubt we'll be able to build a wall big enough to keep whatever this is out."

 

She thought for a moment, then continued. "There were a few more people in our group, but they just -" she hesitated "- vanished. Maybe they cracked under the stress and decided to go it alone, but ..." She didn't finish the sentence. "It was broad daylight and they were just a few rooms away when it happened, I think."

 

Then she answered Mak's question: "I think we need to focus on transportation - a moving target is harder to hit - food and medicine. Eventually we might have to move into the countryside to grow our own crops, but for now we can raid supply stores. A survival store might be a good place to start."

Edited by Mistress of Whispers

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"That's a good point" conceded James to Whisperlee. "I was just thinking of maybe staking out at a radio tower or something. That way we could defend the base while at the same time trying to open contact with anyone who might be listening. I realise I am delving into Hollywood territory here, but I'm sure someone will be trying out the radio waves or even morse code. That's what people do in situations like this right?"

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