Eli scrubbed Oliver's blood from the wooden floor, the liquid having dried and soaked into the rotting floor. While he did that, Emile washed Mary's blood stained sheets; so that no dogs in town would smell it.
They were allowed to stay in the shelter they had found, completely untouched since they had left to the hospital. Under the condition that they would help hunt each afternoon and that they would undergo infection checks. They hadn't been conducted yet, or they would know that Eli has two healed bite scars.
Emile rung out the sheets in the bathroom's tub where he had a bucket of water from the hospital, draping them over the shower rack to dry before dropping his wet hands to his sides and sighing.
Jakob let he and Eli leave, but Conrad and Mary had to stay because a: Conrad could get infection and b: Mary had an infection. It was a small bacterial infection that they had antibiotics for, but she still had to stay behind and rest, leaving Emile with… Eli. The spaniard wasn't too close to Joseph or anything, but he would rather have him here than Eli.
Turning from the laundry, Emile left to the living room of the house, where he started taking their things and putting them away; food, aid, coats. Eli had taken his crossbow with him when he got it back, so Emile didn't have to worry about confronting him to hand it to him. He did, on the other hand, have to figure out how exactly to hunt. Something about dogs scared him: you can get infected, which means you have to get killed. You can get torn to pieces, which means that you'll die in agony.
Hunting humans, though, was just a little easier. They were predictable. You couldn't get infected fighting them. You could generally run away from them when ambushed. Was that why the raiders did what they did? To Joseph? ...He could have outrun them. Mary didn't see what they did to him.
Emile and Eli were opposites. Emile would do what he needed to survive, Eli would find a way around it. Emile didn't want to grow close to the group because it was a handful, Eli sort of held the group together and willed them on. Emile was more comfortable with the idea of fighting humans, while Eli had a passion for dogs. Emile didn't cry over the idea of death, but Eli was mortified of it.
"What do you think?" Eli's voice sounded and Emile looked up from where he knelt on the ground, folding a coat. The spaniard blinked and cleared his throat.
Eli sighed, rolling his eyes that he seemed to have applied fresh eyeliner to. "I said "It's near dinner time, should we eat or not"."
"...Oh." Emile dropped his gaze to the floor to think. He recalled what food they had to work with- Green Beans: two cans. Bread: half a loaf. Fruit Loops: Half a box. Cooking Milk: two small cans. Mixed Vegetables: two cans. Purified Water: one bottle. "Maybe we should preserve."
Eli shrugged because he was alright with starving, had been for years. He wasn't trying to starve himself or anything, but he just never felt hungry. Food had no real appeal to him.
"Let's get to bed then and rest up for tomorrow," he said, turning away from Emile and stalking off to the bedrooms. Emile nodded softly despite the goth turning his attention away. He stood from his kneeling position and walked to the couch, sitting on it and looking at the wall in front of him, staring at it.
There was really nothing to do in an epidemic like this. There was no music, there was no one to really talk to, there was nothing to read or paper to draw on, and there was most certainly no television. No, the only thing you could really do was think, and that led to memories of family and friends, to people that had been lost; to what life could have/should have been. And the only thing to do to not think was work. Or sleep, but then you had to try and clear your mind to do that, and that usually led to endless tossing and turning until the sun was coming up.
"You're nothing like your brother, you know that?"
Eli rolled in bed, his eyes shut tight.
"Look at your fucking grades! Look at this! Look at you! Why the hell are you dressing like that?"
He kicked off his blanket, putting an arm over his face as he lay on his side.
"Do you even miss him? Look at what he's done for this family- why can't you be like him? Why can't you show some humility, Eli?"
"Why did this happen to him? Why can't you make up for it, huh? Why don't you at least try with things? You've ruined our family-"
He groaned in his sleep, furrowing his eyebrows.
"You've torn us all apart-"
He mumbled something in his sleep, burying his face into his pillow.
"You'll never be anything like him-"
He rolled onto his back, putting his arm over his eyes.
"Why wasn't it you?" The voice in his dream spoke, clear as day beside him and he woke up, sitting up in bed and looking around with narrowed eyes.
The room was empty and dark, too dark to see much of anything. Scowling at the darkness, Eli looked around again before feeling the bed beside him, the mattress cold and empty. Just then, something warm dropped down on the goth's hand and he brought it to his lap to wipe at the drop with his other hand. It was too dark to see what exactly it was, but when a couple more drops fell, the teen brought his hand up to his face. There was warmth dripping from his nose and he cursed, holding his hand under his nose and getting out of bed to leave the room in search of light.
He had left Emile's flashlight in the kitchen before the attack with Jakob's men, so he went there and grabbed it from the kitchen counter before leaving to the bathroom and turning it on, shutting the door behind him. He could taste the blood now and he cringed at the metallic flavor while walking to the mirror, bringing up the flashlight to look at himself.
The blood was black in the darkness of the night, running down his mouth and chin to his hand- a lot. He spat out some blood from his mouth before turning to the bathtub and plunging his bloody hand into the bucket of water, swashing it clean so that he could start washing away the blood from his face. The water was dirty and clouded with fresh and old blood so it didn't do too much, but it softened the mess on his face enough for him to wipe it clean with his dark shirt.
When he pulled his shirt away from his nose, it had new blood on it so he groaned and cursed more to himself before tilting his head back and sniffling, trying to clear the blood away.
How the hell did that even happen?
Eli stirred, his head rolling to the side.
"Eli, you okay? Come on, wake up."
The goth opened his eyes, squinting at morning light that shone in through the bathroom window.
"...What?" He tried getting up on his own but Emile helped him, grabbing the goth's thin forearm and pulling him up.
"You slept in here? Why?" Emile asked, quirking an eyebrow, dumbfounded. Eli looked around the bathroom, slowly waking up.
"...I..." he couldn't think of an answer, or even a lie. Emile didn't seem to dwell on it too long, because he motioned off passed Eli, to the bathroom door.
"Well, they're here. For us to hunt with them."
"Why the hell are they starting now?" Eli muttered, looking at himself in the bathroom mirror. His face looked clean; pale, but alright. Maybe he just sleepwalked last night.
"I think they're running out of food," Emile stated, watching his goth companion. Eli glared at his reflection, scoffing before looking at Emile through the mirror.
"They wouldn't if they controlled their numbers. I mean, a new civilization? There will never be enough food for that- not with those… things roaming around."
Emile gave a light shrug. "It's a nice thought though, isn't it? It's like America. "All the streets are gold there". ...Look what's happened to America."
"..." Emile had a point. It was a good slogan, but that's all it was. A comfort food for the poor. Turning from the sink, Eli stepped to Emile. "Let's go, then."
Eli followed Emile out of the room, the two grabbing their weapons and a change of clothes. Before dressing, they walked back to the bathroom to clean their bodies of their scents, sitting quietly while scrubbing their skin.
Eli always seemed to go a little extra, working his skin pink and raw.
"You're bleeding," Joseph grabbed Eli by the shoulder, looking at him with concern. The goth blinked and looked at the brunette, narrowing his eyes.
"There, you're bleeding." Joseph touched lightly over Eli's left forearm, where the skin had been scrubbed so raw it looked like a rash. Eli pulled his arm away, hiding it in his lap.
There was a moment of silence between the two, Joseph watching Eli for an explanation. And after a while, Eli surprisingly gave it.
"...I don't want to die. You weren't there with… me and Marla," the goth said quietly, his voice soft as he looked at the floor. No, Joseph wasn't there- hadn't seen what happened, but he could see that Eli still had fresh bruises and scrapes on his back from his fall.
"You'll be fine, Eli. You're… immune. If any of us survive, it's gonna be you."
"It could smell us. From so far away. It didn't have any eyes, it… smelled us."
Putting a hand on Eli's shoulder, Joseph peered at the goth, exhaling. "If you have to do that, then do it like this," he tapped Eli's arm, where it was only pink and sore, not broken. "Then it won't scar."
Knock knock knock.
Eli looked at Emile, who just raised a hand and stood. "I'll get it, it's probably them." With that, he left the bathroom, leaving Eli alone. The goth looked down at himself.
Bringing the rag to his bare thigh, he started scrubbing it clean.
"Emile, right?" Jakob asked. Emile nodded.
"Good, you're ready. And Eli?" The leader stepped passed Emile into the house, the spaniard backing out of the way as Jakob's team followed him.
Emile huffed, turning from the front door to walk to the bathroom. George sat on the couch, making himself at home, while Mike and Edie just looked around. Edie seemed to give off Eli vibes, like he was good at being condescending. Emile walked Jakob to the bathroom.
Hearing footsteps approach, Eli decided that he really hated Jakob and his team, so he didn't look over and just kept scrubbing his body clean.
As Jakob came to the bathroom, he took to leaning against the sink and looking at Eli.
"I was gonna ask if you're ready, but now I've just got to ask: what are you doing?" He spoke, watching the goth with his dark eyes.
"Cleaning," Emile stated as he took a seat on the toilet, lid down. "Don't you?"
Jakob furrowed his eyebrows. "…Why?"
"So that the Dogs can't smell us," Eli said, dropping the rag into the tub and standing up to redress. Jakob suddenly pointed at Eli's torso, pushing off of the sink.
"What are those?" he asked, Emile looking over and Eli looking down at himself.
His scars- from the Dogs. The fresh scar on his ribs from the attack in the generator room, and the bite scar on his side from the first of the outbreak.
"Scars," Eli answered, quickly pulling his shirt on to hide them. Then he started pulling on his pants, but Jakob stepped forward, a little too close to Eli. Emile stood up.
"From what? Show me them, now."
"They're just scars from hunting- there's nothing wrong with them," Emile stated, stepping to the two and putting an arm between Eli and Jakob.
"Are you infected?" Jakob asked, ignoring Emile. Eli exhaled deeply, dropping his pants that he had one foot in, because now he had two people too close to him, closing up his space.
"No. I would have turned by now, wouldn't I? If they were Dog bites. They're from some raiders a while back, thought they could make a meal of me," the goth stated, crossing his arms. Emile's mouth fell slightly agape at the outrageous lie, but he didn't say anything, hoping that it was good enough for Jakob. Then Jakob looked at him.
"Is that true?"
Damn, way to stay out of the spotlight. "Yes," Emile answered, motioning slightly to Eli. "They put him down, but I killed them first. They also were going to attack Mary." He used the group that attacked he and Mary for his lie, because it was a little true. A little.
"...Put him down?" Jakob asked.
"Drugged- he's not that good at English," Eli answered, giving Emile a look, who didn't notice because he was currently putting that word in his memory box for later.
Jakob eyed them both for a moment before shaking his head and stepping back.
"Alight. Let's hurry before noon, the people are hungry."
Eli rolled his dark eyes and bent over, grabbing his pants again to finish pulling them on. Emile backed up to give Eli space, checking himself to make sure that he still had his gun and knife.
When they were done, Jakob led the two to his group, George getting up from the couch at their arrival. Once he saw Eli, he scoffed and rolled his eyes, but he didn't say anything. Eli looked at Jakob.
"Where are we going?" he asked.
"Down east of the town," Mike answered, "We haven't been there yet."
"Why not?" the goth asked again, eyeing the crew. If they've been settled for this long and haven't searched the whole of the town, there was a reason.
Jakob shrugged, walking to the front door. "We didn't care to."
From the way Mike watched Jakob, Eli could tell that it was a lie, and that the field planner looked a little worried. The worry was diminished, though, when George tossed an arm over the young adult's shoulders.
"Come on, we ain't got all day," he said.
They had to walk there, which wasn't too bad because the town wasn't necessarily big, but it was annoying because Jakob and George kept talking to each other.
"Your sister's been hanging around that mexican a lot," George said.
"Yeah. Ain't that right?" George looked at Emile, who quirked an eyebrow.
"...What?" the spaniard asked.
"Don't be an asshole, Emile isn't a pervert," Eli spoke up, narrowing his eyes at George. The eighteen year old meat head didn't say anything to that, turning his attention to Eli and sneering at him. The goth shook his head and turned his gaze elsewhere, to their surroundings.
The houses looked different, so Eli knew now that they had reached the part of town they had been going for. Jakob seemed to notice too, because he stopped walking, which prompted everyone to stop. Then he looked at Toby.
"You know the drill."
The "drill" was, Toby gets on a nearby rooftop and scouts for any Dogs coming nearby. Then, if he needs to, he takes them out with his sniper rifle on silent. And if there's big trouble, he comes down and hurries back to the group.
Toby left them, and Jakob put a hand on his hip, looking at the others.
"Alright, let's split into… threes. Mike, George, and Edie, go on over there," the redhead pointed to a set of houses, and George rolled his eyes before going- motioning for Edie to go first.
From his observations, Eli noticed that there was something between George and Mike. He didn't know what it was, but it was… new. They both had choppy hair, like the same person did it, Mike was the only one who could not only calm George down, but make him listen to him, and George wasn't too fond of the idea of other people but Mike or Jakob.
"And, that leaves us," Jakob added, looking at Eli and Emile. The two shared glances with each other before Eli looked back to Jakob and motioned.
"Lead the way."
Jakob walked them to their own set of houses, where they went inside the first. Guns and crossbow aimed, the three went through to make sure the house was clear, first. Jakob went down the hallway, and Eli and Emile went through the kitchen and front of the house.
It was silent besides the occasional gust of leaves blowing outside, that you could hear through the thin walls of the house. The rooms were bright because of the windows, which let the sunlight in for viewing. The house was chilly, though, like the one Eli and Emile were staying in.
Emile walked across a bedroom to the closet, while Eli looked under the bed. It was a girl's room, with pink bedding and some unicorn stickers on the walls. The bed was empty, so Eli got back up and looked at Emile, who was inching towards the closed closet door.
"Algo apesta aquí," the spaniard whispered, glancing back at Eli. When the goth didn't say anything, Emile cleared his throat, realizing his error. "Something stinks in here," he translated, motioning to the door. Eli walked over, sniffing the closet.
Emile was no liar: it stank. The goth stepped back, raising his crossbow. He glanced at Emile, nodding, and the spaniard hesitantly gripped the doorknob. As he turned the brass, Eli pulled his bolt back, giving a deep exhale as he studied the door.
"One," he said.
"Two," Emile turned the knob further.
"'House is clear," Jakob sounded from the bedroom doorway, making both Eli and Emile jump. With Eli's jump, though, he accidentally shot his crossbow, his bolt lodging into the top of the door. The goth shut his eyes, sighing.
"...What are you two doing?" Jakob asked, stepping into the room. Emile had long let go of the closet's handle, looking at Jakob through wide eyes.
"¡podrías haber matado a alguien!" Emile threw his hands up at Jakob before looking at Eli's bolt, jutting from the door and out of their reach. Jakob raised an eyebrow, a slight chuckle.
"He probably said that you should knock first," Eli turned to Jakob, glaring. "Seriously, do you do that to your own men?"
Jakob gave Eli a look before motioning for them both. "Come on, let's search for supplies."
Eli shook his head in frustration before grabbing Emile and pulling him along out of the room, after Jakob. They left the room before any of them could hear the thunk from inside of the closet.
Since Emile was a little hesitant on killing, he was given the bag for canned goods. Since Eli was too thin to carry much of anything, Jakob had the bag for other things, like bags of cereal, and whatnot. That left Eli and Jakob responsible for Emile, since his bag was heavy.
This house that they were in, it had a load of canned goods. Sloppy Joe sauce: three. Mixed vegetables: four cans. Creamed Corn: three cans. Refried beans: three cans. Green beans: one. Spinach: two. Yams: two. Tomato sauce: two jars and one can. Apricots: two cans. Peaches: three cans. Cranberry sauce: four cans. Pink salmon: one waterless bag.
"You okay with that?" Jakob asked Emile, the spaniard nodding while adjusting the bag's straps tighter. Jakob himself was carrying a light load. Rice crispy cereal: half a bag. Frosted flakes: half a bag.
"I've got to go to the bathroom," Eli said when a sudden pain stuck up his stomach. Jakob nodded, looking under the kitchen sink for something. Emile was looking at Eli, though, and he saw the discomfort in the teen's face before the goth turned, leaving the kitchen to the bathroom.
Emile looked back to Jakob.
"What are you looking for?" he asked.
"Cleaning stuff, for the medical wards. Look on for some medicine, huh?"
Emile gave a single nod before looking further in the kitchen. In Spain, his mamá always kept a first aid kit in the kitchen- ever since Edgar lost the tip of his left index finger cooking. And then when Edgar moved to the States, Mamá bought another to keep in the bathroom with the money he would send down for she and Emile.
Looking in the kitchen cupboards and cabinets, there was just cooking supplies. Everything looked relatively untouched; it was as though the family that lived here… didn't live here. Everything was natural, nothing ransacked. Where was the family, though? Why was everything perfect? Why had no one searched this house yet?
These thoughts uneased Emile, but that was all. There was nothing that really made him say: "This is wrong". Instead of that, he left the kitchen to find the bathroom, because there was no aid kit in there.
Eli had said that he was using the bathroom, so it would be awkward if Emile walked in on him. Knocking on the doors down the hallway, Emile asked at each: "Are you in there, Eli?", to no answer. After he asked at each door, he would open it and peek inside, but he hadn't come across the bathroom yet.
Now he had. Peeking inside of a room that had no response to his knock, he could see the toilet, but it was empty of a person.
This led Emile to look further, the spaniard pushing the door fully open to look inside. "Eli?" he asked, looking inside the bathroom.
Eli sat slumped against the bathtub, eyes closed and hands limp at his sides.
"Eli!" Emile stepped forward to the goth, but Eli suddenly spoke.
"Close the door." It was quiet, strained. Emile shut the door behind him before hurrying to Eli and kneeling.
"I can't move," Eli panted, his eyes opening to look at Emile.
"Did a Dog get you? Come, get up." Emile reached out to Eli, grabbing him around the waist to pull him up. The goth hissed in pain and shook his head, bringing his hands up to grip Emile's shoulders tightly.
"I can't- put me down," Eli begged, moaning at the pain that traveled through him. Emile put Eli back on the ground, looking at his face.
Eli panted and groaned, his head rolling back against the bathtub. "M-my stomach, it hurts so bad.."
Emile grabbed Eli's shirt, lifting it up the goth's torso to look. The fabric rubbing against his skin as Emile moved it, caused ripples of pain to travel up Eli's torso, making him shudder and wince.
Underneath Eli's shirt were his scars, but they looked normal. All of him looked normal, besides a flush at his chest, and some red blotches across his torso- like an allergic reaction. Emile was used to that, because of his allergy to fish.
"Did you eat something bad?" Emile asked, looking up at Eli. The goth shook his head, closing his eyes again.
"I haven't eaten anything.."
Knock knock knock.
"Guys?" Jakob asked from the other side of the door. Eli exhaled deeply.
"Don't let him know," he murmured.
Emile stood up and walked to the door, peeking out at Jakob. "Eli is looking at the back yard."
Jakob scoffed. "For what?"
"...He likes to hunt."
"Fair enough. Did you find any medical supplies yet?"
"No, not yet."
"Alright, I'm gonna check out the shed. In ten minutes, we're all gonna meet up out front; George will bring his group, too."
Emile nodded before shutting the door again. He stood by the door for a moment, listening for Jakob to leave. When he heard the man's footsteps, he turned back to Eli, who was asleep.
Kneeling before Eli again, Emile nudged him by the shoulder.
"Eli?" Joseph nudged the goth's shoulder, making the teen open his eyes and glare at him in annoyance.
"Marla isn't in bed."
"What?" Eli sat up on the floor, blinking away his sleep so that he could see. In the darkness, Emile, Mary, and Conrad were all still asleep. Marla, on the other hand, wasn't. "Well, I don't know where she went," Eli muttered as he stood up from his blanket. Joseph also stood, from his kneeling position.
"I don't either- she talks to you often, right? Maybe she's said something before? I've already looked where we would have gone, and she isn't there."
Eli exhaled, looking at Joseph. It was true, Marla did confide in Eli and such, because Conrad was being a prick, now.
"I like large windows," Eli remembered Marla telling him once. "It reminds me of peace."
There was a building about a half block away, with large windows that Marla had pointed out to Eli while the group walked by, to the hideout they were at now.
"Okay, I might know where she is," Eli grumbled, bending over to grab his crossbow. When he stood straight again, Joseph gave him a look of concern.
"Should I come with you?"
"No, it's fine. There aren't any Dogs here, remember?" Eli quirked an eyebrow at Joseph, confused as to how the aid could have forgotten. Joseph nodded, a light clearing of his throat.
"Right, yes. Just… be careful, yeah?" He looked back at Eli, who shrugged.
Walking passed Joseph, Eli left the shed they were all sleeping in to head back to the building of windows, where Marla had hopefully gone.
The moonlight helped Eli to see, and the weather was fine, so he wasn't pissing himself from the cold. The sky was full of stars, though, which tried to distract him.
Eli walked by a house with an empty dog house, a broken chain trailing out of it.
If only Dogs were just… dogs. You could chain them up, make them listen, scold them. The new Dogs that inhabited the world couldn't do anything. They just killed.
The reason why Eli and the rest called them "Dogs" was because a day after the outbreak, there was a radio report that said, specifically, "Everyone is being ordered to stay indoors while the National Guard comes to help those left. Do not have contact with those of the infected: the president of the United States has alerted us that there has been an outbreak of a new rabies disease that drives people insane. We repeat, do not come into contact with those infected. Stay in your homes and wait for the National Guard to arrive."
This all started from an adapted form of rabies. Who would have thought. So, the teens dubbed them "Dogs".
The building soon came into Eli's view, and he walked to the entrance, stepping inside.
"Marla!" he called, looking around. The giant windows allowed the moon's light to shine inside, guiding his way.
There was a set of escalators, so Eli went to them, walking up the powerless steps.
"Marla, are you here?" he called again. There was nothing.
Once up on the second floor, Eli looked around at the windows that lined it. She hadn't replied, but Marla stood at a window, looking out of it at the night. The moon lit up her face in a pale embrace, making her eyes twinkle.
"Marla," Eli walked to her, reaching out to pat her arm. "Marla, what are you doing here?"
Marla looked at him, her eyes glossy. She blinked in shock at seeing him before rubbing her eyes, laughing.
"Jeez, sorry about that, Eli. I um…" She shook her head, looking back out of the window. Eli followed her gaze.
The night was beautiful, and calming. He knew why she was here- to remember her friends and family. But, it was a risk.
Looking at Marla again, Eli grabbed her. "Come on," he said softly, and she nodded, the two turning from the glass.
A yard before them, was a Dog. It stood facing them, but its head to the side, like it were looking elsewhere. It… didn't have eyes, though- the organs gauged out. They both stared at it for a long time before Eli looked at Marla.
"...It isn't attacking us," he whispered, the Dog standing completely still. Marla nodded slowly.
"I… don't think it… can see us."
"Or hear us?"
Eli rose his crossbow, so that he could load it, but Marla reached out and grabbed his arm, stopping him. He looked at her.
"Save your bolts- let's just..." she stepped to the side, quietly, watching the Dog. It didn't twitch. Looking at Eli again, Marla nodded before taking another step. Eli bit his cheek and went after her.
They managed to get all the way across the floor, back to the escalators. Quietly making their way down the steps, the two made it safely to the bottom. But- when the two looked at the front door, there was a Dog walking by outside.
"I saw a side entrance," Marla stated, looking at Eli. The goth nodded, following Marla as she led the way to it. It was on the other side of the first floor, down a hall where a door had an EXIT sign above it. Outside looked clear. Marla must have ventured the building a bit before finding her window, which meant that she could have been attacked at any time. What a reckless girl. Why would she do this?
"Why did you leave?" Eli asked her, the two walking to the exit door.
"...Today's Jeff's birthday. He would have taken me for a nighttime walk," Mary answered quietly. Eli glanced at her. His mind told him to ask more, that it would make her happy.
"How old is he?" he asked, and she smiled. His mind was right.
"Nineteen. I'll be his age in a month."
"That's-" Eli tugged the doorknob, but the door didn't open, "nice."
"Is it locked?" Marla asked.
Eli tried again, but it was stuck. "I… think so." On the door's reflection, Eli saw that eyeless dog- rushing at he and Marla. Grabbing the teen, Eli pulled her out of the way just as the dog lunged, slamming into the door. Marla didn't scream, she simply turned and ran with Eli, because screaming did nothing in these situations.
"Find a room to lock it out!" Marla called, Eli looking around the floor as they ran. There was a door that said Human Resources, and Eli pointed.
The two changed course for it, running to the door as the dog ran after them. Running inside the room, Eli slammed the door shut after them, severing their contact with the dog.
They missed the UNDER CONSTRUCTION sign in their panic.
There were no windows to help them see, the room pitch black. Feeling around, Eli couldn't feel Marla near him anymore.
"Marla?" His voice echoed in the darkness, the teen holding out his hands to feel for what he couldn't see.
"I'm here!" Marla called, her voice bouncing around the room. Stepping forward to find her, Eli stepped on a soft spot of flooring and the ground suddenly collapsed from under him, sending him falling. His head cracked against the ground a floor below, knocking him unconscious.
Opening his eyes, he could see the moon shining in through windows through his blurry eyes. Blinking a few times and swallowing down blood, he finally managed to clear his vision.
Marla lay beside him, her face pale and bloody. His eyes growing wide, Eli looked down her body and saw the eyeless dog eating her stomach, her large intestine draped from its bloody hands.
"Marla," Eli croaked, looking back to her face. Her eyes were staring through him, lifeless. It struck terror and sadness through him, his body racking with sobs. "Marla," he said again, his voice broken.
"Get away from them!" Joseph yelled from the entrance, running to his fallen friends. The dog didn't acknowledge him, it just kept eating her. Behind Joseph was Conrad, who forced himself to run just a little more ahead when he saw Marla.
"Marla!" the jock cried, running to her. He grabbed the dog by its head and tore it from Marla, its grasp tight around her intestine and pulling it with itself as Conrad threw it to the floor. Then the jock started smashing its face into the floor, bashing it into mush.
Joseph dropped down beside Eli, keeping his gaze from Marla because he knew she was dead. It didn't stop him from his eyes filling with tears, though.
"Are you okay?" he asked the goth, his voice strained. Eli didn't say anything, staring at Marla's face.
He should have killed that dog when he had a chance. Why didn't she let him kill it? Why? Why? Why?
"Eli," Joseph grabbed the teen, pulling him to sit up. There was blood on the floor from where his head had hit it, so Joseph put a hand over the wound and looked at Conrad.
The jock had bashed the dog's head in until its nose was gone and its teeth were scattered on the floor, its chin smashed in. Stomping on its head one more time, Conrad fell beside Marla's body, looking her over.
"Marla, wake up," he said, patting her cheek. Joseph dropped his gaze down to Eli, a tear dropping from his eye as he contained himself.
"Marla, wake up!" Conrad grabbed the girl's shoulders, gripping her tight. He knew she was dead. He knew that they were too late to save her, and that she was dead. But she was Jeff's girlfriend, and Jeff was his best friend- she was what linked him back to Jeff. He swore to himself to keep her safe for his friend.
She was dead.
"MARLA!" he screamed, dropping his head into her lifeless chest and sobbing.
It somehow broke Eli from his trance, and he started crying himself, bring a hand up to limply cover his face. Joseph bit back his crying, because he would have to explain to Mary and Emile, and he couldn't break down.
Conrad growled in discomfort and anger before slipping his hands under Marla, picking her up and standing. Her body was lifeless and limp in his arms- a real live corpse.
"We're giving her a funeral," he said and sniffed, and Joseph nodded, picking Eli up and standing, too. The aid couldn't talk, so he just nodded again, because it wasn't even a question. Marla would get a funeral.
Eli still sobbed, covering his eyes with his hand. He could still see Marla, her dead expression burned into his sight.
Following Conrad out of the building, Joseph whispered to Eli.
"It's alright, I'll just… just..." Emile paced the bathroom before Eli, gripping his hair. "¿Por qué, por qué? ¿Por qué Iyo?"
"Emile," Eli spoke, sitting forward from the bathtub. His stomach wasn't hurting anymore, but he didn't feel necessarily fine.
Emile looked at Eli like he was a ghost, but then he grinned. "¡Bien! ¡Su es bueno! ¡Gracias, gracias!" he dropped down in front of Eli, grabbing the goth's shoulders. "¿Estás bien?"
"Ah, sorry- are you okay? You're alright?"
Eli nodded. "...I think so."
There was a sudden loud crack from the front of the house, and the two looked at each other before Emile helped Eli to stand, the goth standing alright.
Before Emile could ask what it was, Eli was already leaving the bathroom to see, prompting the spaniard to follow, nonetheless.
The front door had a gunshot through it, and outside, the two could hear Jakob's crew yelling.
"Get out here!"
Eli and Emile looked at each other again before rushing outside. Jakob and the others were shooting dogs that had emerged from somewhere unknown, Toby shooting from the rooftop to help them. Jakob looked at Eli and Emile, and he glared like they had something to do with it. Then he looked at the others.
"Fall back, come on! Let's go!" he hollered, and the members started running. Eli and Emile followed, a total of seven dogs after them.
"Eli!" Emile called, and the goth looked back. Emile seemed to be slowing down- from the canned goods. Mike seemed to notice.
"Drop the bag! Just leave it!" he called, which got everyone else's attention.
"No, don't drop it!" Jakob called out in return, looking at Mike. "We can't leave those here!"
"They're too heavy for him!" Mike argued. Eli looked back at Emile.
The bag was sloshing on Emile's back, the cans slapping him hard on his spine and neck, making him wince while running. He seemed to be falling further behind.
The goth stopped running and started shooting the dogs with his bolts, keeping them back from Emile while the spaniard caught up to the rest.
"Hurry up, Emile!" Eli called.
"Eli, hurry!" Eli could remember Joseph calling for him, on the bus.
Emile fell back some more.
Emile put more speed to his strained running, looking at the dogs behind him.
"Leave the bag!" Mike called again, and Jakob yelled at him.
"Tell him to do that one more time, and we're leaving you!"
Emile started getting closer to Eli, and he tossed out his hand for the goth while running, for help. Eli shot a dog in the head before reaching out to Emile and slapping their hands together when the spaniard finally reached him.
"Eli, take my hand now!"
"I've got you," Eli said to him, looking into his brown eyes. He held Emile's hand tight, turning and pulling the brunette along as he ran after the group again.