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Rapture

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Wisperlee replied to James: "For now I've left messages all over the web, but eventually we'll lose the internet - if nothing else, we'll run out of electricity to power the servers. Which reminds me - I'll download the navigation maps of the UK and maybe Europe before they go offline."

 

She paused to pull out her laptop, balancing it on her right arm while typing with the left while she continued: "We need to prepare for when the lights go out. We'll have a while longer, but best to be ready. We would need a generator to maintain power in that radio tower of yours - I think we'll find petrol in gas stations around the UK long after the electric net gives out. Flash lights and walkie talkies, plus batteries to power them."

 

She felt a little bit better now that she was working on a plan with like-minded people - at least it gave her something to focus on.

Edited by Mistress of Whispers

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"If people are still being taken by whatever it is then I'm not sure moving or staying put will make a difference," Mak replied. "Everyone disappeared. Everyone. Overnight. Long-haul drivers, ambulance techs, night-shift workers...if moving was all it would take to stop this then the hospital would be bustling. So I'm not sure if it makes a defensive difference to...to whatever it is which we chose. I personally think we should find somewhere to make base and operate out from, but keep ready to evacuate as required." He shrugged. "But I'm just one vote. Emily, what did you think?"

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“Like Mak said. Everyone disappeared without a trace, literally without a trace. There were no strange events that lead to it, it just happened. And there were a couple of people who disappeared during daylight as well. So I agree that staying or moving wouldn’t make much of a difference but as Wisperlee said we need supplies. I think we should find a place that is somewhere in the middle, close to a city or large town which is also close to the country side.” Emily spoke thinking back to what they did in the bush.

 

“Maybe have a look on that map to see where we can find such a place. Then we need to sort out transportation. We have animals that are quite large so we will need an extra vehicle or two. One can go as a supplies car and the other for transport. But I think we should first get that perfect place before really worrying about the rest. No point if we gather everything and we don’t know where we are going.”

 

 

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James nodded.

 

"Yeah, we need to start getting our act together. We may not know what is going on but we can't just sit around and twiddle our thumbs."

 

He looked around. The doorstep of a pet store wasn't really a good place to make some decent plans.

 

"Is there an office back there?" he asked nodding towards the back of the shop. "Somehere Whisperlee can set herself up to look at the maps? Can't really do it in the street."

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" I agree that staying or moving wouldn’t make much of a difference" Emily said.

 

Wisperlee nodded at that. Mak and Emily were right - James' fortification wouldn't save them, nor would her efforts to remain on the move. That was simply the human mind, looking for any kind of leverage in a situation that was completely out of their control.

 

Half-turning the laptop so people could see the screen, she pulled up the area of Hawkingsthorne. "I suggest we find a town of relative size," she said, "we have a rather diverse group and it'll be good if there are enough places for people to spread out to if they need to cool off. With that in mind, here are some places that have plenty of shops, yet are near farm country. Three of them have a local hospital, so I suggest we choose one of those. Lemme check what else they have ... Anything besides a hospital and a super market that we absolutely want? I'm not seeing any radio towers so far."

 

She had nearly missed James' suggestion to find an office, when the carefully balanced laptop fell off her arm. She deftly caught it before it clattered to the ground, but that was close. "Perhaps an office is best," she admitted.

Edited by Mistress of Whispers

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Emily smiled now that they were getting things going. A plan was good. It actually made her mind forget about home for a little.

 

“I think I saw a door here.” She spoke heading towards the direction she came from earlier. Passing the fish tanks Emily forced herself not to fall captive by their bubbly looks again. She quickly made her ways to the corner of the store to find a door. She took the handle and push to open but there wasn’t much success.

 

“Um... I can break the lock but before going all crazy on it does anyone know how to pick a lock?” she asked looking back at their little group.

 

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"I can" said James.

 

He walked past the others to join Emily at the door she had found. Reaching into his pocket he took out his lockpicks and got to work. Half a minute later the door clicked open and James gave it a little push. It swung open to reveal a short hallway, but just across from them was another door, ajar, through which a desk of sorts could be seen.

 

James stood back and pocketed his lockpicks.

 

"After you."

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A loud growl emanated from Petra’s stomach, seeing the food in the shop had reminded her subconscious that she hadn’t had anything yet to eat today, and from the demands that her stomach was making it was insisting that she do something about that now.

 

She had noticed a distracted looking Mak emerge from the bar and walk off in the direction that James had taken. Micah and Erin were in conversation; well it looked like Erin was doing all the talking while Micah looked uncomfortable.

 

Ari was sitting a little way off, looking like she was deep in contemplation. The girl reminded Petra of a fairy, with her delicate features and air of fragility; she emanated gracefulness even when she was sitting still.

 

Deciding to leave Ari in peace with her thoughts Petra entered the pub, it was much more peaceful now that it was empty, but there was a strong smell of freshly spilled alcohol, making Petra’s nose wrinkle with distaste. She had visited the pub once or twice with Steve, Sally and the boys and they had enjoyed some very pleasant meals. During the last few years with the downturn in the economic climate, pubs could no longer survive or make a profit on just serving drinks, in order to stay in business they had had to diversify and start serving food.

 

Making her way to the back of the bar she eventually found herself in a small but well organised kitchen. Upon opening the fridge she noticed a couple of large fish, trout she thought, various salad ingredients, an array of pre or partly cooked vegetables and some potatoes, that also looked like they had been partly cooked. Walking over to the cupboard she discovered that it a mini cold store which had some joints of dried meat, and a couple of ready made pies. The pies Petra thought could come in handy for later, but the though of some tender flaky fish make her mouth water and her stomach growl its agreement.

 

Working quickly Petra switched on the oven, opened it only to discover that it already held two already cooked chickens, muttering quiet thanks that the chef of this kitchen had believed in being well prepared and organised, she removed the tempting smelling chooks and set them on top of the hob, so that they could keep warm. Next she fetched the fish from the fridge and seasoned them, after a quick hunt she managed to find some tin foil, placing the fish in the foil she added some lemon wedges and a splash of while wine, there had been a tub of peas in the fridge so she added those too along with some butter, then she wrapped up the fish and popped them in the oven.

 

While the fish cooked she popped the pre cooked potatoes into the microwave, with a large knob of butter, and set to prepared a large bowl of salad, thinking that perhaps the others could be hungry too, and if she was cooking she make as well make enough for everyone, the food was just going to go to waste otherwise.

 

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Wisperlee watched as James worked the lock. It dawned on here that there would be many closed doors in their future. "When things settle down," she said to the biker, "I would really appreciate a crash course in that." She needed to expand her skills anyway - right now she was the internet go-to girl and she predicted that talent to become obsolete within a week or so.

 

Carefully, almost hesitantly, she entered the office. She knew that no one was there, but it still felt awkward going in. She gingerly sat down at the desk and checked the map again.

 

"If we make a list of primary locations we absolutely need and secondary locations we really want but *could* do without, I can set up a search parameter. That'll be quicker than checking the entire map by hand."

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"Sure" James said with a shrug in response to Whisperlee's request for a course in lockpicking. "It's not hard to do."

 

Whisperlee then set up shop on the desk he had seen before. He followed her in and stood out of the way in the corner.

 

"I'd like to be close to a natural water supply" suggested James. I don't know how long the water plants will last without anyone taking care of them, but just in case tap water falls through it would be a good idea to be able to collect it ourselves. Maybe we could boil it or whatever before drinking."

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Micah froze as Erin shot rapid-fire questions at him, one after another. He was used to people looking at his family oddly when they were out together and even asking them some questions, but not nearly to this degree. It also seemed like Erin knew a lot about the way his family did things, which was strange to Micah as she'd never met them before. Micah had been raised in relative isolation with most forms of entertainment being dispensed to him on video or cassette with little news or commercials. His family didn't even get any newspapers. The truth was he didn't know much about life outside the small town where he lived. He didn't know how to handle Erin's new attitude, and there was no way he could talk to her when she was like this. He was relieved when she diverted her attention to something else, and slipped as quietly as he could inside the hardware store they were standing outside.

He looked at the picked lock once he was inside the store and could think a little bit better, wondering if it was really okay to do that, but then decided it didn't really matter. If things were normal, the doors would be open. Letting themselves inside a place like this was all right.

 

(A bit later)

 

Micah left the store a little while later, hands empty. He hadn't been able to find anything he liked inside. He was a little relieved to find that Erin had moved from the place that she'd been in when he went inside. Was it really normal for someone, even a woman, to have such rapid mood swings? First she was concerned about Jaune, then she was harshly interrogating him. Granted, Micah didn't know much about women, but it didn't seem normal. Looking around briefly, he saw Mak and some people he remembered from the bar - James and Wisperlee, if he wasn't mistaken, talking about what they should do next. Listening to them for a little while, he noticed some flaws in their plans, and walked up to them, wanting to help.

 

He said, a bit shyly at first, since he wasn't used to offering opinions to people who at least seemed to be in charge, "A base might not be a bad idea. You can't hide from God, but there will probably be people left behind who succumb to their evil nature running about committing atrocities, and we could use some protection from them. I also think it would be a good idea if we took a thorough look around the town before we left, just to make sure we haven't missed anyone." Granted this was a small town and they were making a lot of noise, but who knows how finding out that it was the Rapture might have affected people? He then turned to Wisperlee.

 

"I heard you say something about making a map of some kind? I'd really like one of America if you can do it." The idea of having a picture of his homeland, knowing what was going on there, made him feel more secure in a strange sort of way.

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Erin spent a few minutes listening in on them talking. She hoped for Micah's sake he hadn't been trying to run out on giving her answers; she'd get them whether either of them wanted her to. "If we're gonna be settling down near water," she interjected, "it should probably be non-stagnant. Less chance of picking up parasites, more chance of catching fish." She raised a hand to her chin in thought. "If I remember that 'Life After People' special right, electric grids will start to shut down in about a week with no one to maintain them. And Micah, that reminds me:" she addressed the group as a whole, "If we do find anyone else, do we wanna take them in? I mean Juane and I cause enough trouble as it is, what if we come across someone who's even higher-maintainence than him? Or that doesn't want company? Or is openly hostile?" She looked around the area. "I'm gonna go out and see if I can find a HAM radio. In the meantime, James, see if you can get Juane to start a fire." She unzipped her jacket and held it out to him. "Use this to make smoke signals. Someone might see them and come to us. Come on, Dingo." She picked up the kitten and tucked him under her arm.

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"Yeah because I know all about smoke signals" snapped James sarcastically. "Are you out of your bleeding mind? We've been trying to stop Jaune setting stuff on fire and now you want him to play cowboys and indians?"

 

He was starting to resent the way Erin kept trying to push Jaune onto him. The more it happened the less James wanted to do with either of them. He turned his back on Erin in disgust and looked to Micah.

 

"Here" he said swinging round his backpack and unzipping it. "You can use this."

 

James pulled out the megaphone he had found before and offered it to Rapture Boy.

 

"If anyone else is still sbout, they'll hear you better with this. Just go carefully."

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"Fine then, shoot him!" Erin threw up her free hand, "Because unless you say anything to him he looks like he's just gonna lay in the ambulance until he starves to death! I'll be back in a few hours. Or not. I've still gotta get to the west coast."

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"Sure," Wisperlee replied to Micah's request. "It's a digital map though, so you'll need a phone or tablet to read it. Do you have one? If not, I'll get you one later." Of course, in a week she'd need to rig the charger cables to connect to a petrol-run generator, but she'd cross that bridge when they came to it. At the rate people were still vanishing, it might not even be an issue in a week.

 

She was about to say more, when Erin joined the group and - in no time at all - managed to piss of James. She briefly felt bad for the other woman. Imagine surviving the apocalypse and getting stuck with a bunch of people that didn't agree with you. Then she remembered Erin's earlier behaviour towards her and merely sighed.

 

"She has a point about avoiding stagnant water," she said as Erin walked away. "I'll search for a natural spring or well - that'll be safest anyway." England had several rivers and streams and most of them were heavily polluted.

 

"We might also want to think about defending ourselves against other people. I think we should let everyone join us unless they prove hostile, but there will still be people who'll -" she stopped her sentence there. Anyone paying the slightest attention to the news would know exactly how far people could fall into depravity once civilization was abandoned. There was no need for her to spell it out. She made a mental note to find herself a weapon in case she needed to defend herself, but that would be for later.

 

Returning to her laptop, she began to enter search parameters.

Edited by Mistress of Whispers

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James ignored Erin's outburst. Right now he didn't give a damn what she thought. He looked at Whisperlee and nodded in agreement to her suggestion about looking for a spring or well.

 

When Whisperlee suggestd defending themselves against potential hostiles and then stopped talking, James knew where her train of thought had been going. He remembered watching a TV show years ago, about some of the first boatloads of criminals forced to relocate to Australia. The male prisoners had quickly realised that there weren't enough women to go around and took advantage of their larger numbers.

 

While James didn't want to think such an event could reoccur in this day and age, with what was happening all bets were surely off. It could even happen the other way if the gender numbers were flipped.

 

And there were worse kinds of people out there.

 

"Yeah. We might want to consider drawing the line at some point on who can join us. While I don't like the idea of forcing anyone to try and go it alone, I'd prefer that to letting someone stab me in the back."

Edited by Fortune86

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Emily frowned as the conversation turned tens again with Erin bringing up Juane and James. For some reason she really didn’t like this and wanted to head out the door. Usually she would be the first one to take everyone on or even through the first punch.

 

They young girl just held her pose trying her best not to bolt out of the shop and leave everyone. Besides, those who disappeared were been alone at the time.

 

“I don’t think Erin should wander alone but I’m not going to run after her. She has issues with me.” Emily spoke when the girl walked away.

 

“Speaking of weapons I think we should really talk about who should have and who shouldn’t. Especially when it comes to guns. That is just my opinion. I don’t want to get shot or blown up by someone who thinks they can handle a weapon.”

 

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"I can handle a gun" said James. "My brothers taught me. The shotgun isn't loaded, just so you know, I checked. I'm not going to be the one to blow someone's face up by accident. However, I agree that certain people in the group shouldn't be allowed weapons, for their own safety if not everyone else's."

 

Like Jaune he thought. Or Erin. She is way too tempermental.

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"I think Erin has issues with everyone right now," Wisperlee replied to Emily. "I suspect it's her coping mechanism. I'm sure it will pass when she finds her bearing." At least, she fervently hoped it would pass. She was willing to give Erin and Jaune the benefit of the doubt when it came to the future.

 

She thought for a moment about guns in the group and shuddered. Luckily there weren't many private citizens in the UK as laws were very strict, so it might not be an issue. Since they were talking about self-defense though... She turned to Mak: "You said Nay is a sensei? Would she be willing to teach a class?"

 

 

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"I'm sure she and I can arrange something," Mak replied, having outright ignored Erin's latest outburst. He was already feeling emotionally drained from the day and the after-effects of his wine the previous night, and he wasn't up for putting any more fires out just yet - literal and figurative. Given that Jaune had only retreated to the ambulance fifteen or some minutes ago it seemed like Erin was jumping far, far too ahead in her line of thought.

 

"And I think it's fair to say if anyone else was here, they'd know we were around," he continued; after all, with only two streets in the whole hamlet they'd thoroughly explored them both simply by driving into the abandoned village, and having Wisper and Emily go for a walk. Micah seemed to be their only new survivor.

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The door was locked when she tried it. Something easily drop-kicked inside started barking wildly. She wrapped her hand in her jacket and punched through the nearest-by window, carefully knocking the rest of the glass out of the frame.

 

The Yorkie that had been barking at her sniffed the toe of her boot for a second, then stepped up on it and whimpered once at her. Erin smiled slightly and knelt down to rub its head. "Poor thing," she mused, "you're probably hungry. Where's your food? Breakfast?"

 

The little dog scampered off at one of her words, so she followed it and wound up in a kitchen. After a couple minutes of searching, she found some dog food and dumped the contents of one can unceremoniously into its food bowl. It licked her hand eagerly in thanks. "Aww, you're welcome" she smiled and rubbed its back.

 

While the dog ate, she hunted around the rest of the house for a radio, either HAM or CB. Unfortunately she turned up nothing.

 

"Oh well," she decided, "no point in letting all this food go to waste."

 

She returned to the kitchen and filled a trash bag with boxes of powdered milk, eggs and mashed potatoes, a box of pancake mix, cans of vegetables and fruits, and after searching the drawers, pocketed a can opener. She wondered if she should take the dog food for Nougat and whatever that behemoth Wisperlee was now toting was called, considering that it looked to be for tiny dogs. Still, it was food. She piled it into another bag.

 

Searching the fridge proved a little less lucrative: there wasn't much to take that wouldn't quickly spoil, but she took what was there: peaches, strawberries and grapes, a bag of carrots and a bottle of that Arnold Palmer stuff, which was really just lemon iced tea.

 

Having taken everything she'd found and thought would be useful, she unlocked the door and left it open. At least now the Yorkie wouldn't have to starve to death.

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"Got it," Wisperlee said with a slight note of triumph in her voice. "Oakington, just outside Cambridge. It has undeveloped land to grow crops, a natural well and a small local hospital. It's only a hamlet, but it sits on a crossroad and Cambridge - within driving distance - will have everything we need. Plus Oakington is home to a pirate radio station, so we should find the equipment to set up our own broadcast. I think it's our best bet for now."

 

Of course, they still needed to decide if they wanted to leave today, or spent the night in the pub and set out in the morning.

Edited by Mistress of Whispers

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"Sounds ideal" said James. "I don't think we should set off just yet though. It's been a long day and I'm sure everyone could do with a proper rest and maybe some food."

 

He looked down at his watch and realised the second hand wasn't turning. It must have stopped.

 

"Damn. Anyone know the time?"

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"Thank you Wisperlee, and no, I don't have anything that can read a digital map, I don't think," he told the woman. He did have a cell phone that he had been given for a trip, but it was a cheap model that only worked as a phone, so he didn't think it counted as the kind of phone that she meant. Micah was beginning to develop a liking for Wisperlee. She was one of the few people in the group he had spent any significant amount of time talking to, and she seemed at least to be calm and have a steadying influence, which meant a lot among these people.

 

"I know how to use a gun; I used to go hunting a lot with my family," Micah told the group when the issue of who should have a weapon was raised. "And just because people know we're here, it doesn't mean they're going to come out and talk to us. If anyone else is still here, they're probably really scared by what happened," he told Mak. He was pleased that most of the others besides Erin wanted to have more people join them; to do everything that would need to be done, they'd need to have a lot of hands to do it, and there only seemed to be about eight or ten people in the group now.

 

"Am I invited to come to Oakington with you guys?" he asked Wisperlee hopefully. Micah wasn't sure he counted as a member of their group yet, given everything that had happened since they'd met. When James mentioned food, he added sheepishly, "Having something to eat first sounds good though, I haven't had anything today with all that's happened."

 

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Wisperlee seems surprised at Micah's last question. "Yes of course you should come," she reassured him, "we're all in this together."

 

"And speaking of all together," she continued as she addressed the group as a whole, "now that we have a plan, I propose we head back to the pub. See what the others think of Oakington and get something to eat. It's been a long day." She realized most of them had deliberately gone on a walk to take a breather, but they'd have to rejoin the others eventually. Now, having come up with a course of action, was as good a time as any.

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