Chapter Seven-8 Days AgoA Chapter by Vanessa Rico
A teenage girl's struggle to survive the apocalypse and boys.
8 Days Ago-Thursday, June 9th
Just when I thought my life was getting better due to the entrance of Drake Bradley and my new rebellious streak, I had my ever-haunting dream, again. Time after time, this dream invaded my peaceful slumber that left me puzzled over the meaning. It was like a repetitious song track, slowly, but surely, driving the listener crazy. Did anyone else have these types of dreams? The sole person I told about this strange dream was my bestie, but she acted as if it were some divine sign or warning; neither of those options held any appeal to me. Heather was amazed by my dream, so that was a definite indicator to me that she did not have this type of recurring dream. Being my bestie, Heather began to gauge my reactions after this dream’s occurrence and she always"always"knew when I had my haunting dream.
After a long night of tossing and turning, filled with nightmares of blood and dying people, my consciousness began to settle into a more relaxed state, which allowed the dream to initiate. Starting in Hope’s Garden, my dream swiftly made its rounds to the smoking city, the dizzying cliff top, and the menacing forest to wind up at me looking back to find the boy replaced by space. Instead of following its normal pattern, the boy did not vanish and turn into empty space. No, unlike every other time, the boy and the forest were still there; even my dream self realized this was unusual, because I shook my head back and forth and rubbed my eyes to will the boy away. Still, he stood there with fear in his eyes. Looking straight into my eyes, he beseeched me, “Please, Lex, be careful who you trust…” Then he vanished, because I woke up, not in my bed that I had gone to sleep in, but in Hope’s Garden on an outdoor chaise lounge.
At first, I thought I was still dreaming, so I closed my eyes in attempt to wake up in my comfy bed. This did not work, because when I reopened my eyes, I was still there, lounging in the garden. My first reaction was to freak out and panic, but I allowed my pulse to slow before I stood up. Now, as you might have guessed, sleepwalking was way out of the norm for me. According to my knowledge, this would be the first time I ever sleepwalked, but I did not let this strange development bother me"not too much, anyway. Stress of the past couple of days was obviously affecting me in many ways, including my sleep and my dreams.
It was still early morning, perhaps close to six. A multitude of colors, such as purple, blue, yellow, red, and orange, painted the sky in an early morning cacophony as the sun competed with the moon to reclaim the day. Dew was still on the leaves; though, they would soon evaporate, because already the heat of the sun promised for a sweltering day. June had just begun, and yet the past week had felt like the dog days of August, promising a scorching hot summer. A heat wave had been forecasted by the usually wrong weathermen; for once, their predictions had been accurate.
Following the cobbled stone path to the back door of my house, I decided to not let my thoughts dwell on my dream and its new portent. A blast of conditioned air cooled my skin, upon entering the living room. I did want to revel in the sensation, but I was interrupted by the hustle and bustle, coming from the kitchen. Sweet and sugary scents wafted in the air, making my stomach rumble in anticipation for my mother’s tasty concoctions. My nose led me to the kitchen, much like my brothers’ noses leading them to the kitchen. The three of us stood in the entry way of the kitchen just inhaling the enticing smells of baking cinnamon buns. Lost in sugary ecstasy, it took me a moment to realize my father sitting in his usual spot at the dinette table.
“Are you three going to just stand there, sniffing like a bunch of hungry puppies? Or are you going to sit down and have breakfast?” My dad’s deep tenor broke through our senses. Like a bunch of puppies as our father claimed we were, Jared, Caleb, and I bounded over to our father, who was looking better than he had in days. Relief hummed through my veins as I looked at my father’s skin, which had a healthy, rosy hue.
“Are you feeling better, dad,” I asked tentatively as I took a seat next to him. Not my usual breakfast spot, but I wanted to be near my dad, glad that he looked healthier than the last time I saw him.
“Yes, Lexxie girl, I am feeling amazing today. I woke up this morning, feeling rejuvenated and well rested; thus, I am going back to work. I hated staying in bed all day for the past several days and am excited to get out of the house. Oh, by the way, your mother and I enjoyed our bowls of Zuppa Toscana last night.” Smiling at my father’s praise, I took a big bite out of the cinnamon bun my mother placed in front of me. A quick glance at my mother revealed that she, too, was looking well-rested and healthy.
Content and happy, I sat there surrounded by my loving family, just enjoying their company and the sticky buns, of course. A phone call split the quiet camaraderie, and my mother jumped up to retrieve her phone. “Hey, Andrea,” my mother answered Andrea, who was Heather’s mom. Her conversation went a little like this: “No, really?” Muffled voice. “I can’t believe that!” More mumbling from the phone. “Yeah, that is completely understandable, considering,” my mother lowered her voice and whispered, “What happened yesterday. Thanks for letting me know!” The voice got higher in pitch with a slight squeal. “I would love to get together this weekend, call me tomorrow.” Another round of mumbling. “All right, talk to you later, Andrea.” A clear and resounding, “Yeah you too, bye!”
My mother placed the phone back into her purse after she hung up and she plopped herself, rather wearily, on the seat next to my father. “That was Mrs. Johnson. She called to tell us that they cancelled school today, because of well…you know…” My father and mother shared a look, which excluded us, kids. We knew what they were omitting, but Jared, Caleb, and I did not mention it"the death of Mr. Fowler. I knew that my parents did not want to cause us any undue duress, but I could tell they wanted to talk to us about what happened. Thankfully, the three of us were saved by my mother’s old-fashioned phone and a call from her work. “All right, you kids, behave yourselves. There is no school, but that does not mean you are to go wild.” Jared gave me a pointed glare while our mother was talking, but I ignored him. A brilliant idea formed in my mind and probably showed on my face, because my mother added, “Yes, Lex, you can invite your friends over. Love you all.” A quick peck on each of our forehead, and a somewhat disturbing kiss between my parents, and my parents left, each in their own hoverer, for work.
Quickly finishing my delectable breakfast, I raced to my room and sent a quick vid text to Heather, Greg, Jocelyn, and Olivia that I was going to have a small pool party/gathering. Not waiting for any responses, I knew they would all be there. I was about to go through my morning routine, when Drake’s number popped up on my iHolo-vid phone. A quick touch to the accept button, and Drake’s handsome face sprang up from my phone in holograph form. “Hey Lex! How are you today?”
“A lot better now that I see you.” I, Alexia Liliana Montgomery, was bantering! I had once thought bantering was not in my repertoire of skills, yet here I was bantering with a ridiculously handsome guy.
“I heard on the news that your school is closed today, so I was wondering if you wanted to go out and do something.”
“I would, but I already promised my friends that I was hosting a pool party/gathering…”
“Would it be okay, if I came? I could bring several guy friends for your friends. How does that sound?”
I could not stop myself from smiling at this guy, who was amazing and too good to be true. “Sure, you can come! As long as your friends are hot, Jocelyn, Greg, and Olivia will adore you! They have wanted to meet you, so this is the perfect time.”
“Wait…What about your friend, Heather?” Drake’s face was clouded in confusion.
“Oh, don’t worry about her or bringing a guy for her…my brother has a slight crush on her. As annoying as he is, Jared is a good guy, but don’t ever tell him I told you that. I will deny it!”
“No, no! I won’t tell him. All right, I will leave you to get ready, be there in 90 minutes! See you soon, Lex!” After hanging up with Drake, I had several important decisions to make. Which bathing suit should I wear: skimpy bikini or alluring one piece? How to wear my hair: messy updo or mermaid-like curls? What type of makeup should I apply: sultry smoky eyes or luscious red lips? Sending an urgent message to Heather and Greg, I patiently waited for my fashion consultants to arrive; all the while, wearing a smile created by Drake Bradley.
Shoes, bras, panties, and other various articles of clothing were strewn about my room; all for the sake of looking good for Drake. With the help of Greg and Heather, I had found the perfect one piece bathing suit, which had been buried deep in my closet. If not for Greg gearing up for a battle with my overstuffed, deep closet, we would never have found the black one piece with cut outs, which accentuated my figure and…and my b***s. Heather and I watched from the safety of my gigantic bed as Greg, deep in the recesses of my closet, flung out all sorts of clothes, pants, skirts, dresses; thus, was the reason for my now chaotic disaster that was my room.
Once Greg emerged from what he called, “The insidious grasp of my clothing chamber”, also known as my closet, we went down to the kitchen to grab packets of hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, dip and any other barbecue food we could find. Hey, we were going to have to feed six hungry guys, not including Greg, who said, “I’m watching my figure.” Soon as Greg turned his back to us, Heather and I rolled our eyes, because we knew Greg was excited about meeting one of Drake’s friends…oh, and meeting Drake, of course. Although, it took Greg a whole five minutes before adding that last part.
On my to-do list was matchmaking between Heather and Jared, which was first"err second, after kissing Drake. Jared had disappeared to his cave, what he calls his room, and began preparing himself for Heather’s arrival. I do not really know what he was up to at the moment, but I had pictures in my mind of Jared, practicing human talk to use on Heather. The image in my mind almost made me laugh out loud, but I did not, because Heather would then ask what was so funny. I kept it to myself. You have no idea how hard that was. He still had not showed up yet as we made our way to the pool/grilling area.
Holly, Heather’s sister, was lounging on one of the lawn chairs, but she got up once she saw us approach, our arms laden with food, drinks, and utensils. Earlier when Heather arrived, she apologized for bringing Holly, which I said was unnecessary. I really liked Holly, who was young, sweet, and rebellious. According to Heather, Holly had begged on her knees to come, because she had a crush on Caleb, which was quite a shock for me. I did not even think that Caleb had noticed girls yet; he spent most of his time playing sports, video games, and stuff like that. Still, Holly had casually inquired of Caleb’s whereabouts; I assured her that once the food started cooking he would show up. As you can imagine, she was eager to help us with the preparation of the food.
Giggles alerted us to the arrival of Jocelyn and Olivia, both were decked out in cute bikinis and flip flops and two of those big, floppy hats. Greg started up the grill to begin to warm it up so when everyone arrived, he could start grilling. I must say he was quite handy at the grill. My mother had once told me that grilling and steaks were an innate trait for men; I had not believed her till now. The back door of the house slammed shut and both Jared and Caleb, in their swimming trunks, came to join the party. All we were missing now was Drake and his comrades.
You are probably wondering how we could have a party after everything that has happened, right? The answer is simple: we are teenagers. If something does not affect us personally, we feel bad, but we move on. It is not right, I know, but that is how it is with us. If we acted any differently, we would probably go crazy after the event that happened to Mr. Fowler. None of us liked him, but we did not wish how he died on anyone. His death was terrible and gruesome that is why we worked hard on forgetting what happened. They say life goes on and on and on…
My dreary thoughts were happily disrupted by four of the hottest teenage guys on the planet. Greg, Jocelyn, Olivia, and I stopped everything we were doing and watched as four shirtless, muscle-ly guys sauntered over to us. Hormones alert! In my mind, the four guys moved in slow motion as I deliciously surveyed the hard, hot bodies; a sideways glance at my drooling friends, Greg, Jocelyn, and Olivia, and I could tell they were doing the same worship type survey that I did. Heather and Jared shook their heads at us like we were naughty, errant children, which we kind of were. They went back to talking; Holly was openly flirting with the clueless Caleb, who was stuffing his mouth with Doritos.
A strong, muscled arm wrapped around my waist and spun me close to Drake’s broad chest, and he gave me a knee-shaking, knock-my-flip-flops-off smoldering stare. My friends forgot about me, since they each had their own hunk of boy-meat. “It seems your friends are happy,” whispered Drake in my ear, making little shivers run up and down my spine. Then our lips met in a tale as old as time (thanks to Disney for that line!), blocking out everyone else.
“Who?” I asked dumbly, which made Drake laugh out loud.
A little while later, everyone was splashing around in the pool, Jocelyn and Olivia hanging onto Drake’s friends like they were life preservers; however, they did not seem to mind as they were enjoying the attention. Holly had gone upstairs with Caleb to play videogames. And no, I did not think anything else was going on; Caleb was clueless in the girl department. Heather had whispered to me that Jared had asked her to prom, and she said yes. She asked me if that was all right, which it was. Jared was good for her; although, I told her if I saw them kissing, I would barf. Those two were managing the grill, since Greg was too distracted by Drake’s friend, Nick or Nate (I do not remember which).
In the shallows, I sat with Drake as we talked about everything and anything; our topics ranged from music to books to politics. His hand was on my leg the entire time, lightly stroking me, which in turn made it hard to think. Drake gave me a wink as if he knew what I was thinking, but that was impossible, of course. Deep in a conversation about an upcoming save the dolphin rally, my stomach rumbled, quite unladylike, I may add. “Guess someone’s hungry,” Drake teased.
I was mortified, and I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks from embarrassment. “I am. Let’s grab a burger or hotdog.” Taking his hand and mine, I led him over to the blatantly flirting Jared, and declared, “We want some food.” The big box of burgers was empty, thanks to all of the hungry, unending appetite of the guys, so Drake offered to help Heather grab some more food from the kitchen. I replaced Heather at my brother’s side and elbowed him. “So I see you and Heather are getting along quite nicely.” Jared only grunted, but I saw his grudging smile. “Oh come off it Jared. Why can’t you admit to me that you like her? I am your big sister, after all.”
Jared looked down at me, and I folded my arms and tapped my foot, waiting for one of those “You were right”. Flipping one of the sausages on the grill, Jared sighed and muttered, “You were right…I like her.” Happy to be told, I was right; I smiled sweetly and took a big bite out of a spicy Italian sausage, which made Jared give me a goofy grin.
A scream split the air, causing me to choke and spit out my food. Everyone stopped their conversations and looked for the screamer, which turned out to be Heather. The little pixie like girl was a blur as she ran out of my house towards Jared and me. Unlike me, who would have been out of breath after that little sprint, she was not gasping or breathless. Heather pointed to the house, where Drake was exiting, and vehemently stated, “His eyes glowed! No joke! Lex, your boyfriend’s eyes glowed!” At a loss for words, Heather paused and looked dumbfounded.
Greg, Olivia, and Jocelyn made their way over to see what all the fuss was about. “What’s up, Heather?” Greg asked looking from Heather to me. I am not sure what emotion was on my face, but I am pretty sure it was disbelief.
Tight lipped, I repeated what Heather had revealed to us, which made Olivia and Jocelyn break out in laughter at the utter nonsense of glowing eyes. Drake casually walked over to us, but Heather and Jared (he was obviously on her side) gave him the death glare. “Did I miss something,” he asked, whispering in my ear.
Olivia overheard what he said, and openly mocked Heather. “Well, Heather said your eyes glowed and then she freaked out. She must have ingested too much pool water.”
Jocelyn added, “Yeah chlorine is seriously not good for you.”
We were all standing in a very lopsided circle, when Drake’s friends went to stand by Olivia’s and Jocelyn’s sides. “Come on, let’s go,” Drake said as he possessively wrapped his arm around my waist. My emotions were conflicted: Heather had never lied to me and it was impossible for eyes to glow and I liked Drake.
“NO!” Heather screamed, stepping away from Jared’s protective side. “She is not going anywhere with you. I am Alexia’s friend, who has known her for our entire lives; you just magically appeared in her life the other day…and now, you think you are one of us?” Sharp intakes of breath could be heard from everyone, but Heather continued. “I would be a really bad friend, if I let her go anywhere with you! I love Lex as if she were my own sister. There is something seriously wrong with you. You need to leave, NOW!” Everyone began shouting at once about how crazy Heather sounded. I, on the other hand, was silent and watching my bestie’s face to determine her emotions.
Drake’s grasp around me became hard like stone, but he released me as he stepped toward Heather. At five foot eleven, Drake towered over Heather, but she did not back down. “I will only leave if Alexia asks me to. You have no authority over me.” Although, I could not see Drake’s face, I could hear the edge of malice in his voice…and it scared me.
Jared gently pushed Heather behind him, and stood up to Drake. “Who do you think you are? This is my house too. I am asking you to leave or I will call the cops.”
Everything began to move in slow motion as Drake punched Jared’s jaw, which made Jared stumble back. Jared wiped the blood from his lip and swung back at Drake, who nimbly sidestepped Jared’s assault. Surprised at Drake’s quickness, Jared had no time to react to the punch to his gut, which made him haunch over gasping for breath. Everyone, including me, screamed for them to stop. Drake’s buddies made no move to stop him; they seemed to be take pleasure in the fight, so it was up to me. Jared had fallen to the ground and Drake began to kick him, mercilessly. Heather was in hysterics, and Greg was trying to hold her back from the fight. Clinging to Drake’s friends’ sides, Olivia and Jocelyn stood there watching, stone-faced. I entered the fray, and grabbed Drake’s arm, pleading with him to stop. With one final tug, Drake turned to me and I saw his hard eyes soften at the sight of me. “Stop, Drake! Enough is enough!” Releasing Drake’s arm, I dropped down onto my knees and knelt beside my brother. “Jared, let me help you up.” I made a move to help him up, but he roughly pushed me away.
“No, get him out of here. I don’t want to see him again.” Jared said through gritted teeth, and he spit on the ground in front of Drake. Greg had released Heather, because she was holding him up and leading him into the house. Drake tried to put his arms around me, but I stepped away. Without looking at him, I told him to leave and I walked away as tears filled my eyes.
Greg found me awhile later sitting in Hope’s Garden. My tears had finally stopped and the confusion had set in. Heather’s accusations and Drake’s actions made my head and my heart hurt. I thought I could finally be happy with a great guy, but then he flipped out and beat my brother. There was no way I could be with a guy like that; I loved my brother too much to see him hurt again.
“You ok?” Greg asked me as he sat down next to me on the marble bench. “That was pretty intense. I don’t really know what to think, so I imagine, you don’t either.”
“You’re right. I don’t.” I loved Greg, dearly, but I did not want to talk about what had just happened. “Did Jocelyn and Olivia leave?”
“Yeah, they left with Drake and his friends; Heather, Holly, Jared and Caleb also left. I am not sure where they went. None of them are answering their phones.”
“What a great day this turned out to be, huh?” Greg shrugged in a helpless manner. I stood up from the bench and walked toward Demeter’s fountain. Dunking my hand into the cool, clear water helped to refresh my battered mind. The goddess smiled down on me, which somehow filled me with strength. “Well, there is a huge mess that needs to be cleaned up…would you help me?”
Together Greg and I picked up the table that had been knocked over during the fight. Food, cups, and plates were scattered all over the yard. The place was a mess, and I was eternally grateful to Greg, who had stayed and helped me clean up. Neither of us chatted much; Greg knew I had been hurt by Drake, who I had come to care so much. Both of us were busy in our own thoughts that we did not notice the giant man in a tight suit with too much gel in his hair.
“I am sorry to bother you,” Greg and I jumped back startled at the man’s voice. “I rang the doorbell, but no one answered. I was about to leave, but I heard noises coming from out back. I am looking for Ms. Alexia Montgomery.”
“That’s me.” I remembered this man. “You’re the CDC official that spoke at my school.” Greg had inched toward my side in a protective manner.
“Right you are, Ms. Montgomery.” He flashed me one of his cheesy smiles, and continued, “My name is Kevin Consuelo, but you can call me Kevin.” His jovial, inviting manner may beguile some people, but it was not working on me. Been there, done that (and quite recently, too). “I have come to ask you a few questions…” He stopped and looked at Greg as if he were the intruder. “Alone, please.” Greg took the hint and began cleaning up on the other side of the pool, far enough away so he could not hear the conversation, but close enough to be near me if I needed help. “I am here on behalf of the CDC, concerning Mr. Fowler’s and Ms. Jackson’s…how to put this delicately…hmmm. I need to talk to you about their deaths, and the way they died.”
“Umm…excuse me, Kevin. I don’t know anyone named Ms. Jackson, so I can’t help you on that front.”
“Ah, that is where you are wrong, Ms. Montgomery. The other day you were in a car accident, which had been caused by Ms. Jackson, who was gravely ill. I know you were the one who opened her car door.”
“Oh, yeah. I’m sorry, I didn’t know her name.” I admitted, and Kevin stood with his hands behind his back, studying me. Maybe he is one of those super agents, who can tell if you are lying, I thought. I quickly dashed that out of my head; I think super agents would wear more comfortable clothing.
“I need you to tell me everything about Mr. Fowler and Ms. Jackson. What you noticed about them and how they acted.”
“They were both sick, which was pretty obvious. Both had a rash and blisters that covered their skin. Sweat dripped off of them in massive quantities, which I think is from a fever…” Kevin nodded for me to continue. “They both had a vicious cough that made them cough up lots of blood…and then they died.” I said that last part quietly, remembering their deaths quite vividly in my mind.
“Did you touch either of the victims?” I shook my head in the negative. “Good. That’s good.” Kevin mumbled more to himself than to me. “Well, that is all I had to ask you. Again, I am sorry to disturb. I will be in touch, Alexia, if I need any other information.” Even to my ears, the last part sounded as a threat. Walking back the way he came, Kevin paused and turned to me. “Was that Drake Bradley I saw with you earlier?”
Sounding braver than I actually was, I asked, “How do you know Drake?”
“Oh, I work with his father. Good kid.” Then he turned and left, leaving me to puzzle over everything he said…and did not say.
Greg immediately returned to my side and asked what all that was about. I answered him truthfully that I had no idea. We returned to cleaning the yard, when my iHolo-vid phone went off…again. I thought it was Drake calling for the millionth time. He had called me 40 times within two hours, and sent double that in text messages. I had ignored all his calls and texts, refusing to talk to the guy, who attacked my brother. My finger was about to tap the off button, when I realized the text was not from Drake, but from an unknown number. Tapping the text open, I read: “Please, Lex, be careful who you trust.”
© 2011 Vanessa Rico
Surviving the Apocalypse, Boys, and Teenage Angst
Fall River, MA
AboutHey there all my fellow writers! All right you want to know a little about me? Hmmm...where to start? My name is Vanessa, most people call me Vanessa (a few special people call me Ness or Vannie), and.. more..
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