Part One

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Staring into the patterns of a cheap hotel wallpaper was all I could do at this moment in time. The silence surrounding would drive anyone in their right mind crazy in a matter of minutes, especially with the knowledge of why the silence was there. It wasn't something anyone should have to get used to, but we did. Eventually, unfortunately.

     My best friend, Joy, fumbled with papers on the other side of the hotel bed behind me. She was probably going through her stack of maps she'd collected throughout our travels to find answers and/or a safe home. She seemed to deal with everything easier than me, at least she kept up the appearance that she was. I constantly needed moments to breath, to calm down about our unfortunate situation. I would never let her see this, however. I often wondered if she was hiding the same thing I was. As the eldest, I always had the idea that I should be the strong one if things got hard. The one to protect her if a situation went south.

     Joy and I never really talked that much anymore. Anything that came out of our mouths these days had a better chance of turning into a fight that neither of us wanted to have. But we couldn't help ourselves. We had become more angry as time crept by, so goddamn slowly. It wasn't healthy, but it was the best we could do.

     There were a lot of things that I said to her that I wished I could take back, as I'm sure she felt the same, but our fights left behind a horrible feeling for weeks afterwards. Although talking was all we had, we were all we had. It wasn't long before you couldn't stand the silence any longer, so we wouldn't stay quiet for long.

     My lonely thoughts were rudely interrupted by the sound of someones voice, the only other humans voice that existed on this Earth anymore. It took me a while to register that she was talking to me and not just mumbling under her breath or thinking aloud like she usually did.

     'Sorry?' I asked, my mouth feeling dry as I blinked some tugging tears back.

     'I'm hungry.' Joy repeated, settling comfortably on her bed.

     Leaning my head back on the end of mine, I looked over at her and said, 'We've already eaten, sweetie.'

     'Yeah, I know, but I'm thinking of a snack, or dessert,' She replied, a small smile on her face, which was hard to come by these days. 'You do remember what dessert is, right?'

     I grinned, saying, 'Of course I do, but we don't have any with us. Sorry.'

     'No, I know. But I saw a vending machine on the way in here, and I thought - '

     'Joy,' I interrupted her, my grin fading as I knew I'd have to disappoint her. 'It's already dark out, and way too late to go outside. We don't know half of what's out there and with no one else to protect us - '

     'I know perfectly well what the risks are,' Joy snapped, her face hardening again. 'Never mind.'

     Pulling the bed covers with a carelessness, Joy jumped underneath, her back to me as she laid down for the night, pinching out the candle on her bedside table. There was not much I could do to stop us feeling so terrible. Of course I'd do anything for my best friend, but times were tough when it was just the two of us.

     With only the candle on my bedside table lighting half of the room, I felt a little bit more alone than ever. Not that it was such a crazy feeling. Checking my watch, it was only an hour before our usual bedtime. Joy never usually strayed from our schedules. She knew she'd get up earlier than usual in the morning, and have to wait for me. And she also knows I hate being asleep when she's awake. There's no telling what could happen without my watchful eye on her, and I wasn't interested in finding out any time in the future.

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