Chapter 3: What is Necessary
It was so nice to be clean again. To wash myself. I remember sometimes I'd hate it when it was bath time, but I didn't complain about it because being smelly was worse. I forgot just how nice and relaxing a hot bath could be. But that thing I heard, what was it? It didn't scare me for some reason, but I wonder what exactly what it was. I smiled as I looked at my dress that Bella washed for me, it smelled nice too. And the sweater. In a way... it's like the only I thing have left from Lee, aside from all the memories we had together, and all the things he told me. He was trying to raise and protect me. Just like my parents were and would do in this situation. It still makes me sad. I don't think it will go away for a while, but I tried to swallow that feeling and got my clothes on, blood free and smelling just like when mom used to do them.
After I got dressed, I left the bathroom and looked around, there was no one upstairs. It was really nice. The floors were wood, the hallway was long but wide. There were a bunch of doors on either side of it. On one end there were stairs going up, and on the other end there were stairs going down. I guess that's where I should go. I started to walk towards those stairs but then stopped and turned around, looking at the stairs going up. Quietly, I went to that set instead of the downstairs. If I was going to plan on staying around... maybe it's a good idea to see if they're hiding any secrets. Just like how Lee did all that snooping around at the St. John's place, and stopped me from eating some of Mark. He'd do the same thing in this situation. Or maybe he wouldn't trust them at all. I don't.
So very slowly, I walked towards the stairs, and watching my step I went up. The stairs were quiet, and I was glad that I was still little. Even if I don't want them to call me little, I am small and can use that to help me out. Just like in that place where we found the blowtorch. I smiled at my small victory as I got to the top of the stairs. It was a large single room I ended up in, there was a lot of boxes and stuff up here. I peeked inside a few of them, and saw lots of food. Mostly canned food, but a lot of it. They would last a while, even with me. It was way more food than we ever had at the motor inn. I closed the boxes I looked inside and continued searching the room. There was a wooden desk and a chair up here, and some pieces of paper laid out on it. I picked one up and looked at it.
328 canned pasta
183 cartons of flour
219 cases of water
They must be lists of all the supplies they have. I got bored of them so I stopped reading, then my eye caught a chest in the corner of a room. I snuck up to it and looked it over. It was large and black, I ran my hand over it, it felt like plastic. It was locked, so I couldn't open to look inside it. It kind of worried me. I played with the lock for a minute, focusing hard on to see if it would come loose at all, then I heard a voice.
"Havin' fun up here lass?" I shrieked and turned around, and pulled out my gun. I pointed it at the someone I haven't seen before, and he calmly rose his hands. "Look I know you're hasty to that thing and strangers, but you're the one invading my home. If anything I should be the one angry at you. But you're still young, so I understand the power of curiosity. Honestly, if I were in your position I'd perhaps do the same thing. I take it you had some tough times already, so why don't you lower your gun, and we can introduce ourselves? Please?"
His tone was kind and gentle, and was filled with a British accent. I nodded, and lowered my gun. "I'm sorry."
"Don't sweat it." He slowly walked to me and knelt down, looking at the chest. "We don't keep secrets here, so if you really want to know what's in here, I'll unlock it so you can see it. But it's not nice."
"I think... it's for the best." I said slowly, my neck tingling with nervousness now. He nodded and put the key in the lock and opened it. Inside it I gasped at what I saw. A dead body, wrapped up in plastic. There was a bullet wound in his head. I looked away and heard the chest close. "Who... why..." I didn't what to say next.
"It's my brother." He sighed as he locked the chest again. "The poor fella got bit by one of the damned, and turned. I had to finish him before he finished me. I'm keeping his body here... just in case. Just in case when all this is over, there's a cure. Maybe..." he trailed off and I saw his eyes grow a little moist. I put a hand slowly on his shoulder and patted him.
"Your name is Everett.. right?" He nodded. "The person who was taking care of me until not too long ago, his last name was Everett." My voice grew quiet and weakened at the end. He looked to me and smiled sadly.
"You two were close, weren't you?" I nodded. "Why am I the one displaying weakness, in front of someone that's not even a fourth of my age? I'm used to the young ones being unable to handle the pressure. A role reversal is indeed bemusing. Alas... let us go gather with the others. They are waiting, and we'd all like to get to know you a little better. I'm not against the idea of letting another person stay here, but the capacity limit is nearing. I have one room left, in all honesty. But come." He stood up and proceeded to the stairs and I followed him down. He seems like a really nice person. Everyone here does.
We all sat in the main room, there was a lot of comfy couches, and dinner was being served now. Leroy, the dark boy I met earlier, was serving out steak and potatoes to everyone – and they weren't small portions. Everyone was getting a lot, even me and I was very thankful. Samantha came over and sat beside me and smiled at me. "Do you need help cutting your steak?" I shook my head, barely managing it myself. I was so hungry I didn't stop myself before eating, and wow. It was really tasty. I hadn't had food this good in so long. Wait, what if it was poisoned or something? I figured it was too late since I already started eating and didn't stop myself.
"So, Clementine." I looked up from my food and looked around to all the others in the house, on the big couch beside me was Samantha and her brother, Lucas. To the right of us was Everett on a one-seat chair that reclined, um, a lazy boy I think? He was the one speaking. To the left was Bella and Angel on the floor, Angel playing with some toy while her mother tried to feed her over and over again. Sometimes she ate, sometimes she didn't. On the couch in the back was Leroy and Thomas eating together.
"You don't have to call me sir. I'm not a superior to you in any way. I'm just a senior, haha." Everyone laughed a little at his joke. "Just call me Everett. Or Vert, since that's one everyone likes to call me."
"Okay, I think I'll stick to Vert." He nodded as he ate more of his food.
"I give you food, I give you shelter. I don't mind divvying up the supplies in another share, and I even have one bed left for you, all to your own. This place is secure from the damned attacking, mostly due to the fact they don't wander out here too much. But there's an entire basement complex, with a few places to sleep and supplies to last months. A freezer is down there holding our frozen foods, the steaks everyone received tonight. There is plenty to last. But the main floor of the house is very fortified. It would take them weeks to bust through it. It's a mini-bunker, you could say. Maybe not quite as strong as a bomb shelter but it would be the next closest thing while living comfortably. I'll offer you all this, but in return you must follow a very basic set of rules."
"What are your rules?"
"Don't worry, there's no curfew. First off, no one leaves the property alone. We always stick in pairs. I advise not travelling at night to anywhere, but I won't stop you. Everyone here is responsible for their own safety, but we always watch each other's backs.. We are all armed and all will protect ourselves in the midst of chaos – whether dead or not attack, it is ours and we shan't allow anyone to take it. If you live with us you must accept this fact. You will accept that this will be yours as well as mine and will do anything to protect it. If I had to say, it's a small piece of paradise left in this world and to willingly give it up would be a crime. And also, you must not curse the Lord God anywhere on this property. One of the reasons we are so well off is because of the Mighty Saviour's blessing. If you decide to leave forever, you may do so at any time. Finally, if you wish to take any ammo or food you will ask my permission before doing so. We have plenty of liquids so you make take that to your heart's content without asking. What are your thoughts?"
Everyone was quiet. It was so quiet that if someone dropped a pin, it would be heard all throughout the house. I guess that wasn't asking too much. But what did he mean, if people attacked? Would people really try to come and take a place like this? I thought back to when I shot that person off Lee, when he was getting choked. I looked at my palms. I killed someone before. I felt... really bad. I felt like a piece of me left. In that moment, my heart pounded so hard against my chest that my ribs felt like they were going to break. I remember how much I was sweating, and how scared I was. I shook all over... I surprised myself I got him in the first shot. But in the end, I was glad I got rid of him. Or else he would have killed Lee. And even though he died anyway, at least he didn't die to that evil man.
It's not like I have any choice. This place seems so perfect and so nice, and no one here is mean. Everyone welcomed me happily, maybe a bit shocked. "I've... killed someone before. Would I have to kill someone again to protect this place?"
"Yes. If they threatened us."
"This is what this world has come to," I heard Lucas quietly beside me. He took my hand but didn't look at me. "Sorry, that you had to do something like that." He was hard to hear and I blinked.
I squeezed his hand. "It's okay, thank you." I looked back to Vert and nodded. I don't know if I was ready to kill another person, but I know I'm not ready to try and survive by myself. "Okay. I accept."
"Oh my stars... will you tell us why you killed someone?" I looked to Bella who asked and looked down to my feet.
"Because he would have killed someone I loved. It was my choice." There was silence again, but then Thomas got up off the couch.
"Okay enough of all this sad shit, I'm gunna go get that fire started. Leroy come gimme a hand, would ya?"
"Sure thing!" He piped up happily.
"I'll get the dishes and marshmallows," Lucas offered as he took my plate and started collecting the others.
"Angel, you ready to have some roasted marshmallows?" Bella cooed to her daughter.
"Only if they're sticky!"
"Of course hon!" She looked to me and smiled as she explained. "She really likes sticky things. She'll probably play with the things more than she eats 'em. But it's okay, she'll have a bath tonight too."
"Aw mom! Do I have to?" I remember using that exact same line and smiled sadly.
"Yes, you have to. Now come on, let's go get you changed." And they left too, only Samantha, Vert, and myself left.
"Now, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I'm glad you had killed someone before already." I felt anger in me and glared at him. I was about to yell but he spoke before I could. "Let me explain. We in all honesty have had to fight to keep this place a few times in the past. Not often mind you, but enough to know that we have to defend this place at any means necessary. If you hadn't killed someone in the past, maybe it would be too hard for you to do it now. But since you've already done it before, it won't be too hard. I can understand if you only shoot people in pure self defence... so that's exactly what it will be like if we are ever threatened. Self defence. Just think of it like this. One of our lives or theirs. I'm sure Mr. Everett killed people to protect yours."
"I won't do it unless I know they are here to hurt us." He just looked at me for a minute before standing up.
"Well I'm going to get ready for the fire," and he left to the outside. I still don't think killing someone is ever good. Just like Lee told me. It's never good. Even if he did it to protect me. It was just because it was necessary. Maybe that's what I'd have to do now? Only... only if it's necessary. I rubbed my fingers softly up and down my gun.
"You know," Samantha said to me and turned to look at me. "I haven't told anyone this before but I killed my own mother when she got bit. Look it may not be the same when you kill someone because you're protecting someone and killing someone because you don't want them to be a monster, killing will never ever feel right in any circumstances. But sometimes we have to. In this world now, it's the only way to live. With a gun always at our side. For the record, though, I'd really like to never see you have to use that thing other than to kill some dead guys. C'mon, let's go." She motioned for me to follow her outside and I got up, then said quietly.
"I've killed in both those situations."