(2) Talking Sinks and Other Atrocities

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A/N: Heads up! This book gets hit by a chapter-chopping glitch. If you feel a chapter's too short and don't see this 👇🏻  star at the end of it, reload the page. The rest should appear for you. 

Nothing happens

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Nothing happens. It's the most anticlimactic outcome imaginable, and I'm not sad about it. Ditzy is. Her anticipatory grin falls to a pout-glare like the Sleeper just cheated her out of two dozen chocolate eggs. She lifts the can in two genteel fingers and drops it on the girl's head. Calico J winces. The Sleeper, thankfully, doesn't react.

"Did it work?" says Patrick. He wasn't watching through the gaps in the fence.

"It worked," I say. "Looks like we're learning Morse code."

"Backup communication." Calico J has started to grin now that the risk of danger seems past. "Even if we don't use it for Sleepers, I bet it'll be useful in lots of other places."

It's true. We've done a lot of sneaking around in the last six weeks: entering houses, foraging in new supermarkets, checking up on lingering survivors we've chosen not to make contact with for a variety of reasons. Those last are mostly gone now, but it hasn't stopped us from taking precautions.

Well, it hasn't stopped me from taking precautions. And most people here who aren't Ditzy, by which I mean everyone here who isn't Ditzy, which is how most things here tend to go. Ditzy, I'm pretty sure, would bash a hostile survivor's head in with the same enthusiasm she applies to Sleepers. I'm glad I've never gotten to see her try.

"Ditz, no," says Calico J, right on cue.

Ditzy spots us through the fence and turns an intensified pout on him instead. "I wasn't going to."

"You were thinking about it."

"I'm bored. I wanted to run."

She was thinking of waking the Sleeper. Because she was bored and needs exercise. I put a palm to my forehead with a long sigh and leave Calico J to wrangle Ditzy, which he tries and succeeds at because he is not me. Only then will Patrick let us open the gate so we can leave the barricaded safety of the fenced-in yard.

"Wait," says Calico J as we're about to leave. "We need flour."

I raise an eyebrow at him.

"It's closer than the supermarket," he says, with a hopeful smile. "I'll be quick, I promise."

The house behind us looks sound from here, and it's not one we've been chased out of before. Nor one where we've found survivors. There's no car in the driveway, which means at least some of the former residents were either gone when Red Thursday happened, or else fled after it hit.

"Not alone," I say. "I'll come."

Then I add, "You can, too," because Patrick's response to being left alone outside with Ditzy is the response I'd expect from a person left alone in a tiger cage: thinly veiled panic. He scurries after us as we head for the door. Calico J calls something to Ditzy, and I'm not paying close enough attention to catch what it is, because a different sound grabs my focus the moment we step into the house.

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