Chapter Nine

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After I told Richard and Ash everything I knew about the rescue, over a meal of wilted salad and cold lentils, Eleanor returned from the bar.
“Eleanor,” Richard said as he held out a plate of food for her. “Did you hear the good news? We’re being saved!”

Eleanor swatted the plate away, preferring her full glass of bourbon. “No-one is being saved.” She sat at the table and stared forlornly into her drink.
“Sure we are!” Richard beamed. “Eva and Lea told us everything. The military is coming for us. You’re coming with us, right?”
“Pfft!” she scoffed. “Are you kidding me? I ain’t goin’ out there!”
“But it’s our only chance to escape,” Ash pleaded. “To survive.”

Eleanor lifted her eyes to look at Ash sternly. “How many times do I have to tell you? Only God can save us now. All you’ll find out there are demons.”
“You’re really going to stay here?” Richard asked.
Eleanor stood up with a slight wobble. “Yep.”

“Wait,” Lea said, reaching into her pocket. She pulled out her wallet and opened it to find a photo. “While we’re all here, I just want to ask you if you’ve seen this woman.” She held up a photo of a dark-haired woman with a big, bright smile. Lea watched their faces hopefully as they each studied the picture.
“No, sorry,” Ash said.
“Haven’t seen her,” Richard added, shaking his head.
“Nope,” said Eleanor, eyeing Lea suspiciously. “She your sister?”
“Girlfriend.” Lea slid the photo back into her wallet.
Eleanor sighed. “I’d give up tryin’ to find her. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s Judgement Day out there. We’re gonna end up in eternal damnation, or the Kingdom of Heaven. Either way, death is upon us. I hope you’re ready for hellfire, ‘cause no-one is getting out of this alive.” She wandered slowly back over to the bar, muttering to herself.
“We will,” Lea said with determination.

“I am so sorry about her,” Ash said, holding a hand over her eyes, irritated by Eleanor.
Lea waved a hand dismissively. “It’s fine. She can believe what she wants. Clearly, she’s resigned herself to death. That’s her choice.”
“It’s not fine,” Richard said, clearly frustrated with Eleanor. “I can’t stand to be anywhere near that woman for another second. She was completely normal when the chaos began. I got to know her and her husband quite well in the first week. She told me she’d been sober for 30 years,” he leaned in closer and lowered his voice. “But then her husband snapped, he couldn’t stand hiding in here and not knowing what was going on outside. He and a few others ran out, saying they would find help. But they never came back. After that, she spiraled out of control. As much as we all encouraged her to stay sober, she couldn’t do it. She started drinking again. She’s grown darker and darker ever since, and goes on endless ramblings about God and Judgement Day.” He sighed and leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “That’s why she won’t go with us to the rescue. She really thinks God is going to save her – literally shine a light beam down from the sky and take her up to Heaven. This whole thing has really messed her up.”
“It’s messed everyone up,” I said. “Maybe she’ll be thinking more clearly tomorrow morning and decide to come with us.”
I glanced over at Eleanor as she sat at the bar with her head in her hands. I felt sorry for her, and even though I hoped she would leave with us in the morning, a part of me knew she had already given up. I remembered what Lea said: some people don’t want to be saved. I could see Eleanor was one of them.

“You guys must be tired,” Ash said, changing the subject.
“Exhausted,” Lea said, stifling a yawn.
Ash stood up and gestured for us to follow her. “We have a few spare rooms up in the penthouse. I’ll show you up.”
We followed her into the nearby stairwell and began climbing the six flights to the highest floor.
“With the power out, the lifts are stuck and the key cards don’t work to open the doors of all the other rooms,” Ash said. “Luckily, the penthouse can be reached by a private emergency stairwell from the fifth floor. It’s pretty safe.”

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