Chapter 2: Consumed by Fear

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      The next morning, Vladimir was the first to wake up. He got up and quietly went downstairs into the living room. He walked around looking at the books on the giant shelves that lined the walls. He’d occasionally pick one out and read a sentence or two before putting it back. The fire in the fireplace had died out from the night before and sunlight now peered in from the windows. Vladimir sat down in a big, plush chair that faced the fireplace. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. Opening it, he looked at a picture of him and his girlfriend, Jamie Meadows. He ran his thumb lightly across it. “I’ll find you,” He muttered. “I swear.” He quickly got lost in the thoughts of him and Jamie, so much so that he didn’t hear Amanda as she came down the stairs. She saw Vladimir sitting in the chair, looking down at something. She tried to see what it was as she got closer to him. Then she saw he was looking at a picture.

“Is everything OK?” She asked. Vladimir jolted back into reality, quickly shoved the picture back into his wallet and stood up.

“Uh…yeah everything’s fine.” His voice shook a bit. Amanda noticed that his eyes were a bit red and watery.

“You look distressed. You sure everything’s fine? Who was that a picture of?”

“It was nobody. And yes, I’m fine. I’m just feeling a bit…” He tried to think of an excuse, but it was to late to come up with one. Amanda knew something was wrong and she wanted to know what it was.

“Hey, whatever the problem is, just tell me. I know we just met yesterday, but you can trust me. I can keep it a secret if you want.” She said in a soft voice. Vladimir was hesitant at first, but he finally gave in.

“It’s…it’s just…my girlfriend is missing and I need to find her. Mara, Duncan and James all know she’s missing but I don’t want to bring it up. We’ve already got our own problems to deal with right now. I’m just worried, scared for her. She’s a tough woman, oh man is she a fiery one, but I’m not sure how she can handle herself against these creatures. Especially if she by herself!” He gushed everything to Amanda while she silently listened; feeling the pain in his voice.

“It’s OK. We’re going to get through all of this and you’ll find her. I’m sure she’s looking for you as well! You just need to stay calm and level head, and everything will be just fine.” Amanda tried to reassure Vladimir. He stood there for a few seconds, looking off to the side as he thought of what she was telling him. Then, she went up to him and gave him a friendly hug. At first he was shocked and didn’t know what to do, but he slowly raised his hands and lightly hugged her back. Even though he wouldn’t say it out loud, it made him feel better. Amanda stepped back and smiled at Vladimir, who smiled back.

“Thanks…Amanda?” He said, unable to remember if that was her name.

“Yes, and you’re welcome.” She happily replied. “Now, I’m going to go into the kitchen to see if there’s any food.”

“Hey, uh…do you mind if I join you? I really don’t want to be alone right now.” He asked, not sure if she’d be comfortable with it.

“Yeah, sure! Come on.” She beamed, walking over to the kitchen door. He gave a weak, but happy smile and followed behind her. Amanda was about to open the door when Vladimir stopped her.

“Wait. Hold on a second.” Amanda froze with her hand inches away from the handle. He moved to the door and motioned her to step back a bit. He slowly opened the door and poked his head in to look around, wanting to make sure it was safe. Once he saw that the coast was clear, he stepped aside as he held the door open for Amanda. “It’s safe. Ladies first.” He said cheerfully.

“Thank you Vladimir.” She said with a smile as she walked past him and into the kitchen. He followed behind, gently closing the door behind him. Immediately, Amanda went for the cupboards and looked to see if anything was still in them. Vladimir leaned against the wall next to the door, trying to stay out of Amanda’s way and not bother her. He wanted to make sure he didn’t make her uncomfortable with him being constantly close to her. After a few moments of silence, Amanda glanced over at Vladimir, who’s head was hung low. “So who were you people? I mean, who were you before…all this?”

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