“Untitled Novel” – Chapter 9

Chapter 9: Decisions, Decisions

An hour passed. The man’s stew from earlier congealed in the bowls across the room. None of us had moved in what seemed like an eternity. We were all thinking the same thing but had no idea what to say. Where should we go next? Could we make it there, wherever there might be? Could we find anything in this small town which could help? Would that even be right to do? What should be done about the bodies?

A million questions and not an answer to be found. I continued to dote on Tom’s inert form, for lack of anything better to do. I had tried to shut his eyes, to keep them from drying out, but they remained locked open, snapping open whenever I tried. There was no sign that he was conscious, and I would have suspected rigor would have caused the problem if not for his steady breathing and pulse.

Finally, I could stand the silence no longer. I turned to the others with a light sigh. “We should probably look around, try to find anything we can use. We have no food, no fresh water, and no supplies. Without them we won’t last much longer, and I have a feeling no one here would mind.” I glanced at the pile of bodies, wondering if my slight joke was appropriate. “Hell. They might even prefer it. I dunno.”

“No shit.” Bobbi looked at me like I had just said the dumbest thing she had ever heard. “Of course they can’t use it. Of course we should take the stuff. That’s a no brainer. The real question is: Is it safe?”

“I should think so. There’s been no sign of anyone that isn’t somewhere in or around the building.” I didn’t see the issue here.

“I think what Bobbi means is that we can’t be sure that we’re alone in this town. We can guess, but who knows if anyone escaped.” Rick shrugged. “And if they did, we can’t be surethey’re entirely human. No one can tell me that the little dude was normal anymore.”

“I suppose that’s true. But we didn’t see anyone on the way in. No sign of life whatsoever.” “Better safe than sorry.” Rick was right, I wasn’t even sure why I was arguing. Probably for the sake of argument.

“Fine. But at least one of us should stay behind with Tom. We can’t leave him here alone.” I didn’t elaborate, but my companions understood. I could see it in their eyes. If something bigger was going on, if the little man had actually seen something wrong with Tom, we didn’t want any change in his condition to go unnoticed. Even if there was nothing else wrong, any danger the scavenging party would ran into could come for Tom as well. Since we could not move him, someone had to stay behind.

“I…” Bobbi started to respond, but Rick cut her off.

“I’ll stay. I’m not exactly in great shape right now anyway, I wouldn’t be able to carry much back. I’ll stay with him and keep an eye out.” He smiled warmly to me and looked down at Tom, a strange expression coloring his face.

“I… Sure.” I started to protest, out of a combination of concern over Rick’s troubling expression and about leaving the injured to guard the infirm. Honestly, I wasn’t excited at the thought of being alone with Bobbi either. One look at his stony expression told me he had resolved to stay behindand he wouldn’t listen to arguments. I turned to the pink-haired Englishwoman with a carefully neutral expression. “Shall we?” “Already gone.” Bobbi stood and walked towards the door without a moment’s hesitation. I sighed, glanced sideways at Rick, and followed after her.

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