Day 3: Learning
"Wh-who are you people?" I stutter, gazing at the faces. The blonde haired girl was wearing capris and Nike shoes, a jean jacket, and a pink tank top. She smiled at me.
"I'm Clara, this is Bert," she nodded to the plump old man who had a stubble, t-shirt, work pants and boots who merely shrugged and walked away towards the dark part of the tunnel. "Nancy," she pointed to the african with a sweater and a skirt, who smiled and looked at my scar.
"You might want to have me look at that." She smiled warmly at me. I nodded.
"Danny," she looked at the boy with scruffy black hair and amber eyes and a long black t-shirt with shorts and sandals. He waved his hand quickly and put it back down, not looking at me again.
"Audrey," she looked at the other adult with curly orange locks, a button-up shirt and jeans and boots. She pursed her lips and nodded at me.
"And Kenny." She pointed at the adult man with a scruffy beard and nascar cap on. he was wearing a white shirt and grease stained jeans and workboots. He nodded at me.
"You'll do well to pay attention to what we tell you to do. Unless you want that thing coming back, I suggest you listen to Clara." he scratched his beard and joined Bert at the tunnel. I looked at all of them. Audrey suddenly squealed and hugged me. I blinked.
"My dear, your positively filthy! Let's get her back to Katja, Henry and Ben before we all freeze to death in this tunnel. We need to give this girl a proper washing! She smells like grease and moss." I stayed silent. Nancy gave me a look.
"When she's all cleaned up, bring her over to me. I need to look at the cut," Nancy paused. "Oh nevermind, I'll help wash her." Audrey smiled when Nancy sighed and crossed her arms. Clara grabbed a lamp and lightly took my hand, leading the group through a dark tunnel. She turned to me and smirked,
"Just so you know, Audrey's a neat freak, Nancy's a nurse and Ben's wife, Kenny's a grease monkey, Bert's a map-maker, Kat's a writer, Ben's a IT guy, Henry's a college grad, I'm a college grad, who are you and what do you do?"
I look away, staring at the ground. Then I look up after a long while and say in a small voice,
"My name's Marley and I dont' do anything. I just woke up."
"Woke up? You've been having a bad dream? Or.." Clara paused. "Are you one of those people who survived in those pods I thought got sabotaged?"
"What? The pods were sabotaged?" I say, gaping. Clara raised and eyebrow.
"..You're the first."
"You're the first to survive in one of those pods. They were all defective."
"How do you know?"
Clara looked down muttering, "My parents were killed during the pod raid."
"Oh..Clara..I shouldn't of asked."
"Eh, it's fine. They were both asses anyways." Clara turned to me with a smile I could tell was fake. Her eyes showed warmth, but deep inside I knew she wanted to cry. I sighed.
"We there yet?" I hear Kenny shout from back behind us.
"Yeah, I think so," Nancy said, looking ahead. "I see some lights. We're gonna go back to the motel and rest for a bit."
"Alright. Bert and I'll go to fix the generator while you get this Marley-chick cleaned up."
When we exit the tunnel, we come to a large safe-like device. Kenny comes up and twists the knob, making it come undone and light shoots through the tunnel. I cover my eyes and I slowly crack them open to get adjusted to the lights' rays. We stepped outside again, this time in a motel. Three people were standing in the parking lot- an older woman, a young man about Nancy's age, and another man about Clara's age. Ben walks up to Nancy and hugs her. I look away, confused. Clara giggles and Audrey lightly grabs my hand.
"Come on now, Marley. I'll get you cleaned up."
"I'd better come too." Nancy said. Henry looked at me.
"This is Marley. That idiot Clara saved her."
"Hey, she's not one of them! We have to look out for each other, Bert."
"Yeah, but if she's a spy like that one guy-"
"I'm not a spy! I've been nearly killed by those things twice." I butt in. Clara looks at me and then at Bert. Bert just scoffs and walks away towards a room. When he opens the door, I can see a map table with drawing tools on it. Clara rolls her eyes as the door slams.
" 'Yeah, but if she's a spy like that one guy,' I can't believe him." Clara mimicked him in a frightfully perfect way.
"Is everything a problem with him?" Nancy sighed.
"Oh you leave him be. He's just a little pissy today, as usual."
"As usual?" I ask, crossing my arms. Nancy chuckles.
"Look out Audrey, I think she's a second Clara."
"Hey!" Clara said with a laugh. "Don't drag me into this!"
"Oh well. Come on Marley, let's get you cleaned up. I'll put your clothes in the trash and we can get you some real ones. Those smell like dead people." I stiffen.
"Well yes, it does."
"I didn't even know."
Henry eyed me. "You've killed people then?"
"What? No, I only just woke up."
"Woke up?" Katja said with a sigh. "You're the daughter of one of those rich folk, aren't you?"
"My mother was the person who put me in there. You talk with her, if she's not dead." I say, lowering my head. Katja sighs.
"Come on Marley." Audrey half drags-half pulls me over to the second room on the top floor, where she opens the door to reveal a skimpy looking bathroom. She starts the shower, takes my clothes off, and throws me in. The water's instantly warm. I sigh in comfort and relief. She smiles.
"That feel good?"
"Yes, thank you."
"No problem dear."
"I'll find something her size." Nancy leaves the room. I sit there in the shower and scrub myself, and I'm surprised at all the brown water that comes off. I feel something spark on the back of my neck, and I touch the back of it to feel something warm and wet. I grab it and yank. I cry out.
Wow, that hurt. What is that? I think, tugging and tugging. Tears come to my eyes as it comes loose. I hear it spark and die. I put it in front of me to see that it had some skin on the back of it, and that means my neck's currently bleeding. Thanks a lot, curiosity. I sigh and turn it over. It says, 'Xip Tracker 97' I cock my head. "What is it?" I think to myself out loud.
"What's what honey?" I hear Nancy say as she pokes her head around the corner. I jump. She sighs and covers her eyes.
"I found some jeans, tennis shoes, a green long sleeved shirt and a white vest, alright?"
"Good, when you're done, I'll help you dry off and get into your clothes."
"I'm done, I think."
"Alright, get out so I can put bandages on your cuts." I step out of the water and Nancy gasps.
"What happened to your neck?"
"I pulled this out of it." I hold out the Xip-thingy. She picks it up and scowls.
"Figures. Katja had one too. Turn around." I turn around and She puts a long bandage around my neck. It doesn't choke me like I thought it would. She puts a big bandage on my head and helps me into my clothes. As I pull the vest on, I see it has a menu. Warm, Cold, Body Check, and Map.
"What are those for?"
"Oh, those should help you get warm if you're cold, cold if you're hot, it'll tell you how your brain waves and other bodily things are, and there's a map built into it of the entire world, every location is on that map." I nod and tap the map option. A big holo-panel of the entire motel pops up in front of us. I gape. Nancy smiles.
"Let's go back outside. We need to teach you some things."
"Okay, we're gonna start off by teaching you how to shoot." Ben said. I blink. Ben sighs and hands me the pistol.
"Alright," he gets behind me. I point the gun with my arms straight out. Ben reaches out and makes my arms bend.
"It sends a shockwave through your arm, so unless you want arm pain, do that." He says. I nod.
"Now aim right for the bottle. Right for the center, like a headshot." Ben said. I do exactly what he says. Clara giggles.
"If someone tries to hurt you, aim for the crotch." Ben glances at her while she and Danny fall over laughing. I shake my head and start to concentrate. Soon, the only thing I can see is the bottle. I pull the trigger, and a shockwave goes through the gun as it unleashes a bang. On instinct, I hit the second bottle by rolling, hitting it clearly. Then I stand up and shoot the third one. I put the gun down and turn to Ben, who's gaping at me.
"It took Clara at least and hour to learn how to shoot, and you just shot perfectly.." Ben shook his head. "You're something else."
I smile. "Thanks."
"You can keep that gun. I've got plenty." I put the gun in my back pocket and walk away. Kenny walks over to me as I hum in happiness.
"There's someone or something wandering over by the streets close to us. Can you and Clara go check it out and try to get supplies while your out there?"
"Alrighty then." Clara said, skipping up to us. "Let's go."
"Nothing. Ugh, there's nothing to salvage here!" Clara kicked over the small shelf that she was searching. I turned to give her a look and she shrugged. I heard some rustling, and I turned to see the empty street we came down. Thanks to the falling sun however, I saw a shadow of a person holding something in their hand. Without thinking, I yelled;
"Hello out there? We're here to help!" The shadow's head looked up and it took off. Clara scoffed.
"First rule out here: Don't yell."
"Second rule: Stay quiet. That applies to both of us." I retort. She nods her head.
"Not bad. Now let's follow that person."
"Right." We climb out through the large hole in the general store and look down the street to see some tan hair flying down an alley. I turn to Clara and she nods.
"Let's go People-Hunting."
"Clara, that was horrible."
"I know." She takes off in the direction of the hair, and I follow shortly behind. We can see the person clearly, in a dress and tights with the kind of shoes girls wear to church. Her face turned quickly and the person stumbled and fell, groaning in pain. Clara draws her gun and stands over the person. She stares for a bit before gasping and lowering her gun.
"Marley, it's just a kid."
"Really?" I run up to see a girl only about eight with carmel colored skin, short dark brown hair, a white dress with yellow flowers printed on it, along with a light purple hoodie with the word 'James Elementary' on it. She gets up, and quickly puts a hand in front of her eyes.
"Shh, it's okay." I say, kneeling down to her eye-level. "We're not going to hurt you. I'm Marley, this is Clara."
"N-no, get away," she says, crawling backwards. "I don't wanna scare you."
"Why would you scare us?" Clara snorted. I shot her a 'shut up' look before turning to the girl. This girl's obviously scared, but of what? Those bear-things? It can't be us. I'd better be careful with my wording here.. I think to myself.
"Where are your parents?"
"I don't know. They disappeared and I've been trying to find them." The girl's hand tightens around her eyes.
"How old are you?"
"I'm seven and a half. My birthday's tomorrow." The girl nods her head. "My name's Lillie."
"Can you remove your hand?" Clara asks with a sigh. "I can't take this seriously with your hand in the way."
Lillie goes silent. She then looks at Clara, as if she can see through her hand. "Promise you won't run?"
"Of course not." Clara says with a smile.
"Okay..." Lillie removes her hand and Clara lets out a gasp as I stare into two empty pits where her eyes should be. She looks down. "You can run now."
"Lillie, we need to get you help." I say, picking her up. She squirms a bit but stays in my arms. I hear some rocks moving and we all freeze.
"Marley, we need to go-now." I hear several humming growls.
"Yep. Run." Clara and I take off towards the tunnel, not even looking back. As we reach the tunnel, I hear the sound like a gunshot. I pass Lillie to Clara, who gets to the edge of the tunnel as I begin to put my foot on the ladder. I hear the sound of a large gunshot and turn around to see something flashing in the distance. As it gets closer, I realize it as a wave of some sort. Clara's eyes widen.
"No, not now! Marley, get in here now!"
But I don't move, I stay in place, transfixed by the wave. It hits me, crashing down on me like a huge weight. My head thumps and the world fades.