Seven - Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst

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He sits down in the chair before us and his face remains stoic.

"Welcome," Ike addresses him. "My name is Ike, and this is Phoenix. Welcome to our home."

The man nods stiffly. "Terrance."

"Pleasure to meet you, Terrance, so normally I like to start off with asking what you were doing before this?"

Terrance looks around cautiously. "Surviving."

Ike nods. "I think we can definitely relate. Do you know how to use a gun?"

It is the first time Terrance shows any type of emotion in the brief time since he entered the room, and it's a sinister smile overtaking his face. "I'm a veteran."

"Oh, really?" Ike says, his ears perking up. "What branch of the military were you in, and where did you serve?"

"The Navy, and Cuba."

Ike nods, more invested in this stranger now due to their unlikely connection.

"Let me ask you this, how many biters have you killed?" Ike questions.

Terrance looks back at him. "Biters?"

"Yes, the dead corpses walking outside in the streets," I chime in, and Ike gives me a disappointed look. I know Ike thinks of them as lost souls, but I'd hate to tell him what Francesca said...I'm sure it would just make him think of his wife and daughter, and those aren't the best memories for him.

Terrance catches my drift. "I don't know, maybe thirty? Forty? I've lost count."

"Perfect. How many people?"

"What?" Terrance asks surprised. I watch as his body grows stiff. He's uncomfortable with Ike's question which could be either a good or a bad thing. "I don't know," he says.

"You don't know?" I press. His answer makes me very uneasy.

"I don't know," he says more aggressively. "Nobody that didn't deserve it."

Ike and I exchange troubled glances. "What did you do after you left the service?"

Terrance sighs. "I was a welder."

Ike's eyes widen and I know he is willing to overlook all of the red flags in order to acquire this new skill. "Ike," I say cautiously already seeing the wheels turning in his head.

"He's a welder, Phoenix—something we could really use around here. I say we offer Terrance a permanent spot of residency here."

"We're filling up quicker than you think," I warn, hoping he will give this a second thought.

He cocks his head to the side staring at me. "We have only filled up about a third of this place. I think we have plenty enough room for Terrance here."

I give up. There is no convincing him, and he is going to do what he feels is right at the end of the day. "Tony!" Ike calls out to his guard outside the door.

The middle-aged, dark haired male opens the door seconds later.

"Can you please take Terrance to Orientation?"

Tony nods and leads Terrance out of the large office. The goosebumps linger long after they've walked out the door.

"Do you mind if I ask what that was all about?" Ike asks, shifting in his chair.

"Ike," I say softly. "We've made a lot of mistakes, mistakes that have landed us in unfortunate situations or gotten others killed...I am just trying to be as cautious and alert as we can be. We are in such a good spot right now, how would it feel if someone came and snatched it out from under you?"

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