Chapter Two Part Four - Clear

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Having checked the majority of the rooms on that level and found them in much the same state, Annalise and Ken were feeling pretty good about the hotel. Neither expected it to be completely free of Zeds but the fact that they were yet to encounter any could only be a good thing. After checking each room they ensured the door was properly closed. Locking them seemed pointless and besides, they had no way to do so.

They were very nearly at the end of the corridor having checked some thirty rooms and finally, due to the angle of the wing itself, whilst standing out on the balcony of what was quite clearly a deluxe room they were able to see the remains of what was once the sixth wing. There was not much of it left; remnants of an exterior wall and foundations of the building itself just about visible through the weeds and briars that had sprung up.

“Guess there’s definitely no sixth wing any more,” said Ken with a chuckle as he pulled a packet of cigarettes that he had found in one of the bedside cabinets from his pocket. He offered one to Annalise and she gratefully accepted.

“Well that’s probably no bad thing,” she replied, inhaling deeply of the nicotine-filled tab. “Look at it this way – one less wing is one less security issue.”

“True enough,” said Ken, looking out towards the trees beyond. Sunlight glinted off water, hardly surprising as they were right on the coast. “It’d be nice, wouldn’t it?”

“What’s that?” she asked in reply.

“Getting out on the ocean,” said Ken. “Living on a yacht or some such, only stepping foot on land when we need supplies.”

“Yeah, apart from the pirates,” said Annalise with a chuckle. It really was no laughing matter though. Everyone still alive and kicking had heard stories of pirates roaming the seas, coming inland to raid, rape and pillage as they saw fit.

“If those stories are true, ‘Lise,” he replied. That was right enough. Neither Ken nor Annalise, or any of their group for that matter, had ever encountered the supposed pirates. “You’re right though, it’s most definitely not worth the risk. We need to stay here, it makes sense. Once this place is properly secure it’ll be pretty much impregnable and we’ve definitely got room to take in more survivors if any show up looking for that damn military camp.”

He flicked his cigarette over the edge of the balcony and popped a couple of ibuprofen that he had found in the same draw as the smokes. Sure, he could definitely have done with something a little stronger but the pills took the edge off the pain.

“Right then,” said Annalise, her cigarette butt following Kens. “Let’s make sure the rest of this wing is clear and get back to Fiona, eh?”

***

It was a couple of hours later before Ken and Annalise knocked upon the door and called for Fiona.

“It’s us, Fi. We’re all clear this side, you gonna’ let us in?”

The scraping of furniture across the floor preceded Fiona opening the door and her smiling, relieved face came into view.

“Everything OK this side?” Ken asked.

“Yes,” she replied, side-stepping to allow the two explorers safe passage. “There’s no sign of James and Jackie yet though, I hope they’re OK!”

“Don’t worry, Fi,” Annalise said kindly. “Jackie’ll take care of your James just fine.”

Fiona chuckled at the joke – although she half-suspected there was some truth to it – and breathed a light sigh of relief.

“Anyway, I found some firewood stacked in one of the storage cupboards,” she said, noticing the look upon both their face. “Don’t worry, I didn’t have to leave this room and I opened the door carefully.”

Annalise nodded and turned towards the centre of the room. There was indeed quite the fire burning that if kept alight would serve to offer a little heat on the somewhat chilly Spring nights. If they could rig up some kind of spit or get a grill over it, they would have a handy place to cook food, too.

“There was a decorative copper kettle beside the fire,” Fiona continued, quite clearly extremely glad to have someone to talk to. “It was a bit tricky but I managed to boil some bottled water and make a pot of tea.”

“Tea sounds rather good,” said Ken, his mouth watering at the prospect. “Tell me you found some of those little UHT cartons of milk, too. Those things never go bad!”

“Sugar sachets, too,” she replied.

“Good work, Fi,” said Annalise with a smile. “I could murder a cuppa.”

Moments later they were sitting – Annalise upon the floor whilst Ken and Fiona had decided chairs were the way to go – enjoying their first real cup of tea in months. It was good, warming, and made them all feel somewhat civilised which was a rather nice feeling, under the circumstances.

“We’ve got movement,” Annalise said, quietly. She had seated herself so that she was facing the entrance and she had seen a shadow move outside in the early evening sunlight. “Grab your hammer, Ken. Fi, get out of sight. You’ll know if it’s safe.”

Together – Ken hobbling and Annalise striding – they made their way towards the glass doors. Ken hung back a little whilst Annalise did her best to see what was going on outside whilst remaining unseen herself.

“You see anything, ‘Lise?” Ken whispered.

“A car’s just pulled up… We have people…”

“Are they..?”

“No, at least I don’t recognise them from the other place,” she replied, knowing exactly what Ken was thinking. “Looks like a couple. They’ve got kids with them, too.”

“We gonna’ let them in?”

“I don’t see that we have much choice, if only for the fact there’s kids with them. One of them looks no older than ten or eleven and besides, it’s not like we don’t have the room.”

Having made her decision, Annalise unbolted the door and opened it, stepping out into the early evening air. She caught the eye of the man of the party and beckoned to him, urgently.

“Come on!” she said, as quietly as she could yet loud enough for him to hear. “Quickly, before any damn Zeds show up!”

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