"Seven." The word rang through the room, cutting through the noisy chatter. For a moment stifling silence lay like a heavy blanket over the seven friends.

Kelly blinked. "Seven? Seven Days?" she asked Sophia.

Sophia nodded, smiling sadly. "Only seven more days, then we die. We knew it was coming. I've told you every time the stone changes."

Emma's face twisted unflatteringly. "Still, so soon," she whined, "I can't believe it."

"So, what are we going to do this week?" asked John with a lopsided grin across his nice oval face.

Keith looked solemnly over at him. "John, this is dead serious stuff." The corner of his mouth twitched suspiciously.

John nodded, but his grin - if anything - broadened.

"So, what are we going to do…" Heather's timid voice broke, "until we die?"

"We prepare ourselves as best we can, for what comes after," said Sophia.

Katherine rolled her eyes. "We do what we want to this week. We won't be around long enough to pay the piper." Emma looked up, her eyes narrowed eyes red from unshed tears.

"Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, eh?" scoffed Kelly.

Katherine flushed and defiantly threw back her glossy black hair. "For this one week, I want to live. I've been a model child for sixteen years… I want to live life to the fullest for one week… until we die. If I don't… think of all the opportunities I'd miss." Both Emma and Keith looked thoughtful now, in fact, both looked strangely exited.

"And you'd miss more opportunities if you behave properly for one more week than if you don't?" asked John, an eyebrow raised in doubt.

Sophia glared at Kate. "Endure to the end."

Kate snorted.

For a moment quiet returned, though less heavy now, everyone absorbed in their own thoughts.

Emma restlessly ran a hand through her hair. "Look, we have one more week together. One more week to be friends. I want us to be friends... until we die."

"'Till death doth us part?" asked John, both eyebrows raised now.

Kelly nodded, then smiled impishly. "Friends... until next week."

Sophia sniffed. "Until we die."