At first glance, this place looks like it may be a haven. It’s beautiful and serene. I remember going there before the apocalypse. Then it was fun. Our class visited and endured a pool party on one occasion. On another, I came with my parents to celebrate their anniversary.

At that time it was just a kind of motel. There is a large building to one side. It has two floors, maybe more, that have rooms like a small apartment complex. The parking lot separates that from the next building. While it is only one floor, it is spread out and used to hold the restaurant and bar. A series of pools and hot tubs, fed by natural hot springs, sit behind it. The gift shop and showers are on the other side of the pool. Another parking lot and then there is a row of seven small cabins.

Across the highway is another series of cabins, as well as places to park RVs, and a large barn complete with fenced pastures. If you stand still, you can hear the horses all the way at the pools.

The main complex is built up against the cliff-face and basically exists on a shelf before it connects with the river. If you go in either direction, northwest or southeast, the land narrows until the cliff and the river are pressed up against the road. On the other side of the river was another cliff face, making the area resemble a canyon.

It should have been a survivor’s dream. There was plenty of room to grow plants, though they would need to be ones that didn’t require sunlight.

But there are some serious problems. First, the lack of light means that it is colder here than it was in town. Second, the winds blow along the river and reduce the temperature even more. Third and probably the worst of the problems is the man who owns the place. I can tell you right now that he is not a guy I can hang around long. I never met him before last night, but he knew my mom and so he was interested in me.

I was embarrassed to leave the room in only my sports bra, but there was no help for it. I was up for at least an hour, probably longer, and my mom never showed up. Neither did Abby or River. And I was getting bored.

So, I grabbed a towel from the bathroom and wrapped my torso in it, using the straps of my bra to hold it in place. The moment I stepped outside, I wished I didn’t. It was so cold that the air in front of me fogged with every breath. I couldn’t resist the absurdity of blowing my breath out to mimic the steam from an old train while I stood there.

That task completed, I decided that I would try to find my mom. It only took me a few minutes to get my bearings. I was in the cabin fourth from the gift shop. I took a step off the porch and found that I had no shoes. No socks either. Though my one foot was wrapped up.

Sighing another puff of steam, I turned back to the door of the cabin.

“Cleo!” My mom called coming out of the gift shop. I waited until she and the man with her reached the cabin before leading them inside. “What were you doing outside?” She asked, hunting around until she found a bottle of pills.

“I’m bored.”

The man sitting in one of the chairs at the table chuckled. “Just like kids, eh Meri.”

I frowned at him. Mom hated nicknames. It was either mom or Meredith. When she didn’t confront him, I turned to her, trying to hide my surprise. She glanced up at my movement, gave me a grim smile, and pulled a bottle of water from a cupboard.

“Here, take these.” She handed the pills and water to me.

“No sleeping pills, right?” I asked studying the pills resting in my palm.

“No. I will only give you those if the pain stops you from sleeping.”

I nodded and took them. “So.” I paused, glancing at the guy from the corner of my eye. “I want to get out of here.”

Meredith sighed. “Well, I will see if we have any shoes somewhere that are in your size.” The man at the table cleared his throat. I could easily see how badly my mom wanted to roll her eyes. “This is Melvin Melburn. He owns The River’s Inn. Mel, this is Cleo.”

“Nice to meet you.” I studied him for a moment. Vaguely, he looked like Santa. Only he wasn’t jolly. He had the same white hair, beard, and roundness that Santa was supposed to have. But his eyes were brown and hard. There was no color on his cheeks and his beard wasn’t well kept.

Just looking at him, I had a bad vibe. I suddenly wanted River there or even Abby. I felt stronger with them around. Right then, I just felt like I was on display.

“How do you like the place?” His voice was deep, scratchy and loud. I could imagine the cabin shaking with the vibration of his voice alone.

“I liked it when I was here last, but that was a while ago. I haven’t really had a chance to look since I was brought here.”

“Oh, right.” All three of us fell silent. I glanced at my mom, trying to figure out what was going on, but she didn’t meet my eyes. “Well… your mom has been a great help around here.”

What was I supposed to say to that? I knew that it was my turn to speak, but I couldn’t think of anything to say. My mom must have sensed my problem because she said, “Everyone has been contributing equally.”

The man smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. Instead it sent chills down my spine. I couldn’t shake the feeling of being on display. I pulled my hair from my face and twisted it at the base of my neck before letting it tumble freely down my back. If there was a clock in the room, I am sure we would have been focused on the clicking it made while counting off the seconds.

Something finally popped into my head. “It was a good idea to set up here.” I said, thinking about the access points.

He brightened. “Well, it was the only thing that I could do when the outbreak hit. I set up a guard station on either end of the shelf so if zombies come along we can pick ‘em off.”

I nodded but my mind went blank again. I mumbled something along the lines of “good thinking” and started picking at the edge of the towel.

“Well Meri, let’s go scrounge up some shoes.” He walked out of the cabin, casually, like he wasn’t in any hurry.

After he left, my mom bent in close to me and hissed, “Stay away from him, Cleo.” Then she too was gone.

When they came back, they had a pair of shoes and a jacket. Mel was still with her. I could feel him watching me as I eagerly put on the shoes. They were a bit tight, pinching my toes, but they fit. The jacket was too small, but I put it on anyway, thankful to have something covering me up.

“Now, let’s go on a tour.” Mel stated. He led the way out of the cabin and once outside, offered me his elbow. “Wouldn’t want you to trip.” He said, wagging his elbow. I really didn’t want to touch him. I couldn’t explain it, but it was like looking at a worm. You could tell that they would be slimy and that slime would stick to you. I knew logically that he wouldn’t be slimy to the touch, but the thought buried itself in my head and wouldn’t let go.

Out of the corner of my eye, my mom nodded. I gritted my teeth and put my hand through the crook of his arm. See, not slimy, I told myself. But I still wanted to pull my hand back and rub it on my jeans.

“Supplies are kept in the gift shop.” He started, once my arm was trapped against his side. And the tour started.

I saw the bar, the restaurant, the gift shop… on and on. We stopped at the pools to see that steam was still rising from them. A group of women were working in one of the pools, washing clothes by hand. Only a couple raised their heads enough to look at us before returning to work. Just watching them made me feel hopeless.

Something was very wrong with the place. No one was luxuriating in the warm water. And so far, the women were the only people we had seen. Mel turned and guided us down the short road and across the street.

There were several rings in place, probably where they used to train horses. Around the outside of each was a group of men. When we came closer, people began to notice us, several stepped aside to give us enough room to stand by the fence of one of the rings. On the other side of the ring, was another group of men, but it looked like they were working with bows and arrows in the field?

Movement right in front of me pulled my attention back. Two guys were in the ring, struggling with each other. One of the men broke the grip of the other and threw him to the center of the ring. The winner straightened and addressed the crowd, but I was too busy watching the other guy.

When he stood up and dusted the snow off his skin, I sagged with relief. “Don’t worry. These are training areas.” Mel confided, leaning closer to breathe the words into my ear. His breath smelled of alcohol and chew. I fought not to show the acids suddenly burning in the back of my throat. “The rings here are for martial arts. The weaponry is farther away. We train with bows and arrows, rifles, handguns, and knives.”

I thought about stepping away from him, just to get away from his breath. But then noticed something that wiped the idea from my mind. “Where are the girls?”

Mel straightened and looked at me in shock. “What?”

“Where are the women? All I see are men.”

His face turned a dirty shade of red. I couldn’t tell if it was from anger or embarrassment. “Well, the women have other things to do.” He said after a moment.

“Like what?” I knew I was pushing it. I could tell just from the way he was looking at me, but suddenly I wanted to. I think I had an idea of what was going on, but I wanted him to say it.

He thought quickly. “Their chores.”

“Why aren’t the men doing theirs?”

“This is their chore.”

I frowned. “Ok, so the men have to fight and stuff. What do the women do?”

“Laundry, cookin’, cleanin’.” As he said each word, I felt my anger starting to rise.

“Do the women learn any of this?”

His face showed surprise at my question. Either he was an idiot or he genuinely thought women were the workhorses of the family. “Why should they?”

“To help protect their family?”

“Cleo.” My mom’s voice was commanding, but I wasn’t about to back down.

“Women should be allowed to train with the men if they want. And the men should be able to help the women with the chores.” I said clearly, making my voice loud enough to be heard over the man in the ring.

I could feel people growing still around me and those closest to us backed up. Mel frowned at me, but I met his gaze and refused to look away. I was challenging him already aware of the fact that he ran the complex. But I was starting to get the impression that owning the land was his sole claim to the title of leader.

Suddenly, he barked out a laugh. He released my hand to clutch at his stomach. Some of the men around us joined in his laughter. Others met my gaze and shook their heads, their eyes giving me a warning.

“I think she’s been out long enough, Mel. I will take her back to her cabin.” My mom said, grabbing my elbow and practically dragging me behind her.

I started to fight her, but it strained my side and I gave up, not wanting to incur the pain that had followed me on my jaunt through town. She only let me go after we crossed the highway. But she rounded on me, putting her hands on her hips, her face set in stern lines.

“Cleo, don’t make him mad.”

“Why? He’s wrong. Treating women-.” I started, instantly as mad at her as I was at him.

“I know, honey. Trust me, I know.” She sighed, dropping her hands from her waist. “Right now, we just need to go along with it. Can you do that?”

“But mom-.”

“He has some old-fashioned ideas of men and women, Cleo. It’s obnoxious and annoying, I know. I also agree with you that the responsibility of chores and protection should be split evenly. But you need to realize that he saved a lot of these people. They feel gratitude for him and follow his words as if they were gospel.” She practically ground the last words out from between her teeth. “Right now, it’s just better if we go along with it.”

She turned and started up the hill to the main compound. “Mom?”

She turned back and leveled me with a glare. “What is going on? You told me to-.”

“Just do as I say and stay away from him.” She almost jogged up the hill away from me.

I started looking for Abby and River, but couldn’t find them. I hadn’t noticed River at the rings and I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t take Abby down there.

When I couldn’t find them, I sat on one of the chairs near the pool. The women were still there working the clothing through the water and my mom had joined them.

I spent some time thinking about what I had seen. But not being able to find either River or Abby was getting to me. “Do you know where River and Abby are?” I asked. Most of the women looked up, startled. My mom shrugged.

“I think River went on a supply trip.” She grunted, working on a pair of jeans. “Abby should be with the other kids.”

I felt my anger flare up again, mostly because it never died. She was our responsibility, not someone else’s. “Where are they?”

“First floor of the motel.” Another woman supplied. “They are safe, you know. Or my Richard wouldn’t be there.”

I nodded but stood up anyway. It never occurred to me to check the big building. I assumed it would be the residence of most of the people.

I stepped into the carpeted hallway and instantly heard the sounds of unhappy children. It didn’t take me long to find the room they were in.

Only two of the children were playing. The rest were sitting with their backs against the wall. Some of them were crying. A woman stood on the other side of the room, her hands on her hips as she regarded the children.

“…and once you obey the rules, you can come play.” She was informing them in a stern tone.

“What did they do?” I asked. She started, turning a glare on me. Abby flung herself from the wall and crashed into my legs, nearly knocking me to the ground. I had a moment to notice that her clothing was different before the woman spoke.

“Who are you?”

“Cleo.” I patted Abby’s head. “What did they do?”

“That is none of your business.” The woman told me in a tone that made it clear she wasn’t to be questioned. “She,” she pointed at Abby, “needs to go back to the wall.”

I was getting the feeling that maybe, just maybe, it had been better living in town with the zombies beating on the doors than to live in a compound of survivors.

“Not until you tell me what she did.” I crossed my arms over my chest and waited.

“They were acting like little heathens.” She finally admitted. “Tearing around, screaming at the top of their lungs as if the zombies were in this room.” I think my mouth fell open. I was in shock, so much so that I almost didn’t hear her next remark. “And she won’t answer any questions.”

I could feel my temper trembling beneath the surface of my skin. What was wrong with her? I wanted to scream at her, but with nearly a dozen eyes watching me, I fought to retain control.

“Have you been around children, much?” My voice was surprisingly calm.

The woman blinked, looking for a moment like a lazy cat. “I worked in children services for seven years this September.”

“Congratulations.” The word slipped out of my mouth before I could think. Her face hardened at the sarcasm. “Have you actually been around children?” I loosed one arm to indicate the kids along the wall.

Her eyes narrowed. “I have been around them enough.”

I felt my body mimic the tremble of my anger and took a deep breath. “I will take over.” There. Still calm. Very measured, but calm.

“I was told to be in charge of these kids.”

“And I am telling you that you need to leave.” My voice dropped, becoming a rumble in my chest more than anything else. “You need to stay away from these kids.” The two kids who had continued to play stopped. They backed up to join those against the wall.

“How dare you?” The woman spat. “You little-.” She stopped herself, seeing the intense faces staring at us.

“How dare I? Kids play. They are loud. They are obnoxious. They can practically climb walls. You should be grateful that they can play at all. Abby here probably watched her family die or be killed at the hands of zombies. Instead of letting them forget what has happened, even for a minute, you have terrorized them. So I am asking you to leave.” I kept my eyes on her trying to stay in control of the anger that was building since I started noticing the sexism and idiocy of the compound. My face felt like it was made of cold stone.

Her own face slowly become pale until it was almost translucent. Her eyes were wide by the time I finished and I knew she was starting to realize her mistake, but I drove it home. “I will not allow someone as cold as you to watch Abby or any of these kids. I don’t care if I have to fight the entire compound to do so, but you will never come around them again.”

I was shaking and I knew Abby could feel it. But her presence, her tiny body pressed against my leg both comforted and soothed me. I turned to the kids. “Come on guys. Grab a toy and let’s go outside. Make sure to grab your jackets.”

Instant pandemonium ensued as kids rushed to grab a toy, stopped to grab their coats, and flooded out the door. “Wait outside for me!” I shouted after them. Abby released my leg, but unlike the others, avoided going for a toy. I snagged her hand, probably clenching it too tightly for her comfort. But she only gave me her solemn brown gaze.

I turned, gave the woman my best glare, and strode out of the room, following the sound of children’s voices. As we walked down the hall, I took a better look at Abby. She was wearing a small T-shirt and jeans. The jeans were too short for her legs. She still wore the same dress shoes as before. She also wore a sweater. I had a feeling my mom was the one who made her change clothes and found them for her and silently sent my thanks to her as we stepped outside.

I spent the rest of the day with the kids. After about an hour, I thought I would pass out from pain, but I wasn’t about to risk them being terrorized any longer by Cruella DeVille. No, that wasn’t her real name. But she definitely fit the personality that I saw.

My mom came after I organized a rousing game of hide-and-go-seek. Seeing her, I knelt down and met Abby’s gaze. “I need you to be the ref for a moment. If anyone gets hurt or anything, I want you to come get me. I will be right here, ok?” She nodded, her eyes shining and a smile pulling at her mouth. As soon as I straightened, she raced off to follow the seeker.

Meredith laughed, watching the brown-haired girl. “I heard you were causing some problems.” She handed me pills and a water bottle. I took them without a hint of hesitation.

“Thanks. Whose idea was it to put heathen lady in charge of them?” I asked before taking another drink of water to ease the dryness in my throat.

“Mel’s.” My stomach plummeted. After her warnings, and I still went against the regime. “Oh, don’t look so worried. She told Mel first. He saw you playing with the kids and told her to join the women in the kitchen.”

We watched as the seeker found another child. Laughing when the kid tried to get away without being seen. “We could hear them laughing while we were doing the laundry. Several of us have been coming and keeping an eye on things.” She turned her gaze on me. “I never realized how good with kids you are.”

I felt like she wrapped me in the softest warmest blanket in the world. A sappy smile lit my face as I looked at her. “Thanks.”

She studied me for a moment. “Dinner is almost ready, but I want you to let someone else handle the kids for the next few days. You look like you are about to faint.”

I sighed. “As long as they aren’t like Cruella.”

My mom’s eyebrows rose. “Cruella?”

“The woman who was watching the kids.”

“Oh.” She fought to keep the smile off her face. “You would figure that a woman who had been in children services would at least understand children.”

“What did she say anyway?”

My mom shook her head. “I think that she knew you were right. She told us that the kids were loud and out of control. You came in and reminded her what they went through then left with the kids. I don’t think it matters, though, Cleo. It was obvious that you were acting with the children’s best interest. Just watching you for a few minutes would tell anyone with a brain that.”

A bell started ringing somewhere on the compound. “Dinner.” She said.

“Come on, kids!” I shouted then winced. “Dinner!”

“Cleo.” My mom’s voice carried the reprimand. I smiled apologetically at her as Abby rushed toward us. The other kids were in hot pursuit. I counted heads just to be sure they were all there and we followed my mom into the restaurant.

Dinner was boisterous. The dining hall was apparently built to hold over 150 people. The adults made up a little more than thirty heads. With the kids, the number was closer to fifty. I found myself looking at the survivors and felt a strong sense of pride. The fact that so many somehow managed to survive the last few weeks was more than I hoped. Especially when, a few days ago, I thought I was completely alone.

Everything was served buffet style. More than half of it was unidentifiable. After dishing Abby and myself up, I surveyed the room until I spotted my mom. It wasn’t until I set our trays down that I realized Mel was at the same table. He nodded at me and I responded in kind, suddenly wishing we were sitting elsewhere.

We were just starting to eat when another tray slid into our table. To my surprise, Gabriel sat across from me.

“Hey.” He said. I was back in the hallways of our school and he was passing by me again.

A thrill shot through me, but I tried to stay nonchalant. “Hey.”

“I didn’t know you had a sister.” He commented after a few minutes.

“This is Abby.” I said. “Abby, this is Gabriel.” Abby raised her eyes from her plate long enough to give him a look before going back to work. I smiled at her and stroked her hair. “She’s not my sister.” I added to Gabriel.

“Oh. Right. She and that guy were with you in the truck.” I frowned at him. Why did he ask me if he already knew? It didn’t help that he called River ‘that guy.’

“What?” Gabriel asked. I shook my head and went back to eating.

Another tray slid onto our table and River sat down. Great, I thought, that’s all I need. River started eating, but his movements were slow.

“What happened?” I asked, glad for the interruption.

River looked up at me and blinked as if just realizing I was there. “We went on a supply run.” I stared at him, waiting for him to continue. He met my gaze and a small smile tugged at the edges of his mouth. “It took a long time. Everything is fine. Thank you.”

I felt myself smile in return. We went back to eating for a few moments before I looked up to see Gabriel looking back and forth between River and I. It wasn’t a friendly look. I took a moment to study them while they were sitting side-by-side.

Gabriel Wilson was light to River’s dark. Gabriel had sandy blond hair kept just a shade over too long, pale skin that never seemed to darken, and sky blue eyes. I studied his face comparing it to River’s. Both had thin eyebrows and pronounced cheek boness. River’s were higher up, giving him an almost exotic look. Gabriel’s were positioned so his face would always have a rounded look. River’s face was all hard angles. Gabriel’s contained soft edges.

River was taller than Gabriel and thinner, more wiry. Gabriel was built for sports, thick shoulders narrow waist. Both had muscles. River had body language that signaled what he felt, while Gabriel appeared like a blank slate.

It was almost like comparing day and night. They had some similarities, but those were few and far between.

“How did you survive?” I asked, hoping to get Gabriel to focus on me. River sat back to look at the boy next to him. He continued to eat, but I could feel the tension that was building between the two of them.

Gabriel shrugged as if he wasn’t aware of it. “I was at work when it really got going. I just stayed there.”

“What about your dad?”

Another shrug. “I don’t know. I tried my whole family, the police station, and a handful of other places I thought they would be. No one answered.”

I frowned. Something told me he wasn’t telling me the truth. It wasn’t my business if he decided not to tell me, but it was a little frustrating. I caught the satisfied look that flashed through River’s face.

Abby finished her plate and was watching the boys with avid interest. My mom was finished, too, but she was talking to a woman on her other side.

I tapped my mom’s shoulder. When she turned to look at me, I asked, “Where do I put the dishes?”

“Oh, let me show you.” We dumped our dishes, but then she grabbed my elbow and led us out the nearest door. “Now, is there something you need to tell me?”

I gaped at her. “What?”

“Those boys in there. They were almost at each others’ throats.”

“I have no clue what’s going on between them.”

Meredith frowned, watching my face. “Are you sure?”

I rolled my eyes. “I was totally dating Gabriel, along with his… I don’t know, fifteen other girlfriends at school. And when River came along, I started dating him, too. They both found out about it because I told them while I was unconscious in the bed of the truck on the way here and now they are going to duel for my hand.” Her eyes narrowed. “Mom, I have no clue.”

“Do you like them?”

I blushed and glanced at Abby. “I like River, I guess. But I don’t really know Gabriel. Can you like someone if you don’t know them?”

She nodded. “I liked your father before I met him.” Then her face crumpled.

I hugged her. “We’ll find him.” I whispered into her ear.

There was a bonfire being set up in the parking lot between the restaurant and the motel. Once it was lit, people gathered outside to talk. It wasn’t long before I spotted Mel with a group of men. In a spur of the moment action that I would probably regret, I went over to him.

“Have you gone to River Forge, yet?” I asked the moment I was in range. Mel gave me a blank look. “My dad’s there. I wanted to see if you have gone there yet and if you rescued anyone.”

“Cleo-.” Mr. Jackson started.

“Look, I know you all are busy with supply runs and all that. I get that. But we should check out more towns and see if anyone’s alive. Rescue them if we can.”

My mom appeared at my side. “Cleo, don’t hassle them.”

Mel’s face looked like it was about to explode. “I will think about it.” But there was a certain level of anger tainting his words.

I frowned but allowed my mom to pull me from the group. Once we were out of earshot, she leaned in and hissed, “I told you to stay away from him.”

“Mom. What if dad is out there? What if he’s waiting for us?”

“I will figure something out. But until then, leave him alone.” She strode off a wave of anger following in her wake.

River joined me shortly after that. We didn’t say anything. After a while, he started telling Abby stories and I listened.

Every once in a while, I caught a glimpse of Gabriel. He was talking with some of the men on the other side of the fire. More often than not, when I saw him, he would be looking back at us Was I hoping he was interested in me? I didn’t think so. But I also couldn’t deny that when I thought about it, the idea thrilled me. Going from the school wallflower to being noticed by the school jock was a major boost of confidence.

But as I thought about it, I knew what I told my mom was true. I didn’t know very much about him. River was open and honest, even if a bit rude. Gabriel hid things. I didn’t know if it was because he thought I couldn’t handle it or what. Even that thought irritated me. Obviously I could handle it. I survived for several days alone before I met with River and Abby.

To get my mind off of those thoughts, I glanced at Mel to see him looking toward us, too. A can of beer in his hand. Supply runs. Yeah, beer was obviously a necessity. Just as I thought it, a guy came over with two cans of beer in his hands. He held one out to River. River waved him away, his focus obviously on Abby.

I started looking around and realized that most of the men were drinking beer. Even teen guys like Gabriel had a beer in hand. But I also noticed that the women didn’t have anything. No surprise there.

I went back to listening to River’s stories. He was in the middle of telling a story that sounded very similar to Cinderella and I found myself smiling as I listened.

Something brushed my arm, then nudged it. I sat up with a yelp then blushed furiously when I realized I had fallen asleep.

River was holding Abby in his arms.  “Come on. Bed time.”

He carried Abby to the cabin with me staggering along behind him. He waited for me to climb into the bed before he settled Abby in next to me. When he was done, he went back to the door.

“Where are you going?”

“Shh.” He came back and sat on the edge of the bed. “They assigned me to a room with some other guys.”


“I guess it’s a rule. Your mom fought to have me stay here last night. But it was a one night deal.”

I sat up and yawned. “I don’t think that’s cool.”

He shrugged. “It’s the way it is. I will come see you in the morning. We can have breakfast together, ok?”

I nodded, but I didn’t want him to leave. I felt safer with him in the cabin and I told him so.

“It will be fine, I promise. Your mom is in here, too.” He chuckled. “You are acting like I expect Abby to.”

I sighed. “Alright. Breakfast, though.” He nodded and left.

I was out the moment my head hit the pillow.

Since I woke up this morning, it seems like the world became so much more complicated than it was before the zombies. I don’t know what is going on between Gabriel and River. To be honest, part of me hopes that they are having some kind of mental war over me. I can’t help it. Any girl who says that they don’t wish something like that to happen to them would be lying. It’s thrilling to think that two guys are willing to fight for you.

The rest of me is just flat uncomfortable with it. Like most girls, I wanted to have a date for the dance and have it be amazingly romantic. But at the same time, I knew that guys seemed to get in the way. And I was desperate not to become a mom before college. After college maybe, but definitely not before.

Now there is no college. There is no future in screenwriting because there are no movies. And I am responsible for a child. My worst nightmare came true and I am finding out that it’s not a nightmare at all.

She’s watching me now. I have to admit that I really like her. I don’t know if it’s maternal instinct or what, but she makes me stronger, too. Like I can face anything. And I will, to keep her safe. At the same time, she feels like she doesn’t belong just to me. She belongs to River, too. Probably more so.

Looking at that last paragraph, it sounds like I am talking about a pet. But that doesn’t cover the half of it. I don’t know if I can explain it… maybe because I don’t really understand it myself.

But there are some things that still bother me. Why does my mom keep warning me to stay away from Mel? Something tells me that his little tour wasn’t something he normally does. I think I will take my mom’s advice. The guy is just plain creepy.

Speaking of my mom, I don’t know if she came in last night, but she’s not here and her bed is already made. There were a pile of pills and a bottle of water sitting on the table, so I am pretty sure she already went to work with the other women. Or maybe there are people here that my mom has been nursing. I haven’t seen the doctor, yet either.

River’s here. Time for breakfast.

Go Back to Day 8 – or – Go to Day 10

  1. cb says:

    The plot is definately getting darker …

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