𝕿𝖜𝖊𝖑𝖛𝖊

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"WHA...WHAT'S happening?" I gradually regain consciousness. Guns are blazing in the background and the sounds of lurkers are cacophonous as they come closer.

"The lurkers!" Ella's almond eyes peers into mine. "There's a lot of them heading towards us! You fainted!"

"Where's..." I turn to my side, having trouble getting up. "Where's Amber?"

"She's fine! C'mon, let's get you up!"

"We need to get goingggg!" Jace backs up.

We start running in the opposite direction - toward the city.

~~~~

"This will do," Jace holds the door open to Moonlight's Diner. "Everyone get in."

In one booth, we all settle down. The lot began eating, not really talking, just eating in silence. Ella held out a muesli bar for me but I politely declined. I don't think I could eat after seeing what I saw back there.

"You blacked out..." Amber builds up the courage to say. "You've never blacked out."

"There's a first for everything..." I suck my bottom lip in, thinking.

So I was dreaming. The entire time that I was passed out, I was dreaming. It just felt so real. I truly thought I was there. Which then obviously means that my mum is... With effort, I restraint my salty tears.

"This is the reality now guys," I announce after coming to grounds with what is real. "We have to band together - either we like it or not," I glance at Carmen.

Carmen groans, "gosh, guys enough with the looks already! Dean, look, I'm sorry, okay? About your motorbike. It was an honest accident. And Amber, I'm sorry about that rumour. It was..." she thinks for a sec, "so imprudent of me. Bray, I'm sorry about-it was a dare! They made me do it, and that's the truth! Ella, I like you okay, I really do. I don't hate you like most are saying. And Jace, sorry about cheating on you. It-it wasn't what you thought it was..." Her doll eyes fall to the table for a brief moment before she puts on a wide smile and says, "the point is to let bygones be bygones guys, seriously!"

Everyone's dead silent.

"It's Brayson," Brayson corrects.

Amber giggles but covers her mouth quickly. I chuckle, and before we know it, we're all laughing. Brayson punches me in the shoulder, chuckling. None of this was even that funny, it was just stupid. We're most likely just drained and anything could probably humour us. Even watching paint dry could be funny as fuck at this point.

~~~~

Soon after, all, but I, fell asleep. They look so at peace laying there in their own separate booths, using their backpacks as pillows. Or in Amber's case, using Jace's shoulder...

The seats are hard and uncomfortable but I don't think anyone cares about that. If anything it's nostalgic. I remember coming here and studying with Brayson on Bio homework. Actually, if I'm being honest, I would be the one teaching him as cells didn't make the least bit sense to him. In return, he 'shouted' me so it was a fair deal.

"'Can't sleep?" Ella quietly slides into the seat opposite me.

"Not really," I reply. "Someone needs to keep watch, y'know?"

"Oh, I thought it was 'cause of Bray's snoring," she jokes.

I chuckle, "he really doesn't like being called that."

"Listen, Dean," her smile fades, "I saw...what you saw and I'm sorry. I'm sorry about your mum. I-I bet she's the reason you can't sleep? Trust me, I know the feeling..."

"How could you possibly know how that feels?" I squint. "How could you possibly know anything about anything..!"

"I..I was only trying to... I'm sorry. I didn't mean to..."

I exhale, "no, it's fine."

"Dean-"

"It's fine, Ella, really."

She nods.

"It's just that..." I sniff. "Amber didn't see... How am I supposed to tell her?" I look outta the window.

"When the time's right, I guess."

"I lost track of time since this whole thing started. I don't even know what 'time' is anymore. It's all about not being killed right now. ...My family," I sniffle, "is the only reason I'm staying alive - for them."

"I know, me too."

"I hope my dad... I hope he's..." I place my head in my hands.

"He'll be alright," Ella comes over to my side, placing her arm around me. "Try not to worry too much."

My dad works in the SWAT. He supervises the units. I hope he's out there, somewhere, searching for us.

It appeared like the whole town back there, infected, dead, gone... Not neighbours anymore. Not friends anymore. Not humans anymore. The worst thing about it is that they aren't 'gone' exactly, they are replaced. It's the replacing that hurts because you still get to see their faces - and it's not them...

I blink tiredly, feeling the throbbing pain of a headache building up.

****

"Dean, what is the matter with you?" a voice rises in clarity. "I'm trying to teach and you're here raving on about some kind of 'apocalypse' like a lunatic?!"

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