"A month." Dwight broke the silence abruptly, which startled the other three eighteen and nineteen year old seniors in the bunker. His tan had begun to fade, leaving his skin pale and his freckles more noticeable. Red-brown hair and brown eyes gave him a perpetually mischievous appearance, though he hadn’t pulled a prank or even laughed in weeks.
"What?" Alden glanced over from his solitaire game, the cards spread out on the concrete in front of him. Far more slender than Dwight, Alden wore a stained flannel over his Parkview High soccer shirt. His bare feet scuffed against the floor as he shifted his long, thin legs.
"That's how long it's been since he shut that door." Dwight referred to Mister Resnick, who they'd not seen for a day. The bunker belonged to the tall, raw-boned man who’d given them some supplies, and yet refused to let them join him in the main part of the structure. “We’ve been shut in this stupid entry room for a freaking month.”
"I don't care. Everyone's dead. We're dead. We might as well be dead," Alden muttered as he settled back down in front of his game again. He glanced over at his girlfriend, grimacing as he realized how his negativity might affect her. She’d been moody after running out of her medicine, alarmingly so.
Vivica stared down at the pages of a magazine, long familiar by now, but still a welcome distraction. She looked at the smiling models and knew they were probably all dead. The authors, the editors, anyone who’d ever bought a copy. Everyone in her country, everyone in this country, all gone. "As long as we're not chewing each other to pieces I think its an improvement," she noted, in the accented English that Alden thought was so sexy. Vivica was from Brazil, and had only recently moved to the United States.
Dwight rolled his eyes and glanced over at his twin sister, who was sitting on a storage shelf in the corner, the one she’d designated as her own and drawn Celtic designs all over with the sharpie that’d been in her backpack. A biology book lay open in her lap, and she frowned down at the diagrams. "So do you think Mister Resnick was sick or something? He didn't seem like Mom and Dad, or the other diseased ones. Dead not-dead people, undead, zombies, what-the-hell-ever."
Alden glanced at the other boy, surprised at how calmly Dwight could speak of the people they’d lost. The world they’d lost, in a haze of blood and screaming. They’d seen their parents turn into monsters, had run from them for their lives. And Dwight seemed almost bored by the disaster, and interested only in Resnick. “Mister Resnick is the only reason we’re alive. He’s too smart to get turned.”
“We don’t know how long they were infected,” Dwight reminded Alden sharply. “We don’t know anything, because he won’t let us listen to the radio.”
"I'm going to get something to drink," Vivica tossed her book aside and went to the trunk in the center of the small entry room, where they kept their food and water. And a single bottle of Glenlivet scotch, Mr. Resnick's chosen drink. They all hated it, but still took a swig now and then. He'd told them the bottle was theirs for a price, and had such an odd smile that Viv hadn't been sure she wanted to drink it at all. But now she upended the bottle, screwing up her face in that familiar grimace, and felt the warm alcohol burn as she swallowed.
The shelter was composed of several rooms which had heavy metal doors; the only one that was closed was the one that Mr. Resnick was hiding behind. They had no idea what he was doing. Alden said, "I think he's been a dick lately, but he's always been a dick. He doesn't act like the sick people, he’s just an asshole.” He moved the cards in their familiar rhythm, soothed by the unending variability of the game.
Vivica sat down against the wall beside Alden, watching his card game. It was more interesting than reading the same magazine. She suggested, “spades?” And smiled when he began to gather the cards up and shuffle them. What was going to happen to them? Everyone, everything, was ruined. Slow tears began to trickle down her cheeks and she turned to Jessi, reached for the bottle, and took a swig of the foul liquid. Borrowed time.
"Yeah," agreed Dwight, "That's pretty accurate. Hey," he glanced to Vivica, "Are you crying again? What's wrong?" He seemed genuinely concerned, and approached the girl to gently touch her shoulder. Alden seemed to perk up at once, driven by jealousy.
"I'm okay," Vivica wiped her eyes on her sleeve and looked up at Dwight with a sigh and a little shrug. "Just. Everything." It had all been said, in her own language and in theirs. There was no reason to say it again.
The room they were trapped in held several boxes of supplies, a pile of blankets and pillows, and a makeshift bathroom. A stairway led down to the rest of the bunker, which they assumed was a large store-room.
Alden stared at the door that locked them away from the rest of the food (and presumably, a real bathroom with a shower) and said, "I hate that only he knows the combination. It's not fair. What are we going to do, steal his food? He shares it anyway. And what happens if he does turn into a monster like everyone else?"
"Then we'll all die," Jessi said matter of factly. She swung her leg back and forth and folded down the page she'd been at. "Like you said, we're all dead already. Sucks that we still care so much about what the hell happens to us." Unlike Vivica's tears, Jessi seemed overwhelmingly angry at the situation they were in. In complete dichotomy from Vivica's caramel skin and dark brown hair, Jessi was fair skinned and had pale, platinum blonde hair cut to her shoulders. "God, lets do something, Jesus!"
The point was moot as for the first time in far too long, Resnick opened the locked door. Dwight leaned forward in surprise, while Alden was rooted in place, eyes wide in surprise. Jessi guiltily hid the bottle of scotch, and Vivica seemed to be trying to hide behind her boyfriend.
The man wasn’t wearing the same undershirt and camo-shorts he’d had on last time they’d seen him, now he wore jeans and a gray-blue t-shirt. There was a knife sheathed on his belt, and he had an outdoorsman watch on his wrist. Dwight’s eyes flicked to the knife, and he shared a grimace with Alden. Then they both noticed the man was looking at the girls, and not at them at all.
"Goodmorning everyone, if it is morning," Resnick greeted them. “You wouldn’t know, would you? And maybe it doesn’t matter anymore.” He wore a small, peculiar smile.
"Morning," Vivica said softly, and Dwight echoed the greeting. Alden couldn’t seem to say anything, and Jessi only raised her hand and gave a little salute.
Resnick regarded the group with a raised brow. "Anyone heard any banging?" He enjoyed reminding them that they were only a door away from undying horrors. It made them so much more malleable.
"Not for a couple days." Jessi answered this time. She wondered just what was going on... his expression was different today.
The man moved forward a few feet and crossed his arms, standing tall. "I think you know by now that your lives as you knew them are over. Life has changed.”
“Boyfriend, girlfriend," he eyed Alden and Vivica in turn, "Or brother and sister," he glanced to Dwight and Jessi, "It's meaningless now. All of it. All that matters is this," he touched the knife at his side, "And this," he said as he tapped his head. "Because both my knife, and my knowledge, offer me one thing no one else here has. Power. And do you know what Power makes?"
Alden stared, transfixed and utterly astonished, his mouth actually having fallen open. He had no idea what to say, but Dwight stared with anger. His eyes were narrow and he still leaned forward, but his hands clenched with each violent thought that went through his head.
"What does it mean?" It was Vivica who spoke, her soft voice clear in the silence and tension of the room.
"It makes rules. It makes laws. Whatever laws were out there... They don't matter anymore. Everything out there, everyone out there, is gone. Dead, dying, and eating each other’s flesh. Now I make the laws. Now I make the rules. Do you understand? This is all that’s going to save you. My rules. My home. My food."
The four only looked at each other, bafflement, resentment, anger, and fear all showing on their faces.
"I'll give you some time to ponder it," said Resnick as he started toward the door to the food store. But he stopped and glanced at them, "You're hungry, aren't you?"
"Our food ran out this morning. We thought you were dead or something and we were going to have to eat Dwight's leg." Jessi frowned, but it was petulant. She could hear her heartbeat in her ears and imagined she could feel her pulse in her throat and in her wrists.
A smile flickered at the corner of his lips, "From here on out, if you want to eat, you're going to have to obey. You'll have to more than obey, you'll have to serve. Either of the girls who want to can come with me and earn some food for yourself and another person." To emphasize, he repeated, "Earn."
Jessi looked at Vivica, both girls stunned. Even Jessi seemed caught without words, and she merely took a few steps until she was next to Dwight.
Alden's eyes widened and flicked to his girlfriend. Dwight, still standing over her, moved in front of her protectively but immediately looked to his sister.
Abruptly Jessi realized that he'd planned this from the beginning. That's why he'd never given them the combination. They were trapped.
Resnick seemed unconcerned by the show of camaraderie and just sort of smiled at them. "I know it's hard for you right now. But it's been this way for centuries, even millennia. The modern world is gone. It's time we get back to basics."
Jessi took a deep breath and followed their new... leader. She felt a little frightened and still confused, as if this couldn't really be happening to her.
Dwight said, "Jessi! No! Don't, he's just fucking crazy. You don't have to do this, do your really think he'll let us starve?" Alden didn't say anything though. After all, if it wasn't Jessi, it was Vivica, and he didn't want to lose his girlfriend!
His sister looked over her shoulder at him. "Its okay Dwight. I'll be okay, just take care of Viv, huh?" Excitement and fear chased one another through her mind.
Resnick stood in front of the door and tapped his code. It unlocked with several heavy clunks and he pushed it open. "Come on," he said as he opened his arm for her.
Jessi started to step in, rather curious about what on earth was down here.
"Wait," he said, "Before we leave them." His hand moved to her ass which he squeezed, and then he pressed a kiss to her lips as he lifted her up onto her tip toes. He tasted of cinnamon and smelled undeniably nice. He pulled her close to him as the other three watched while his tongue played against her lips.
When they parted, both were short of breath and his hand still squeezed at her ass possessively. "Good kiss," he told her, "I think you and I are going to get along just fine." And with that, the door closed behind them.
Dwight sat down and covered his face with his hands, though he didn't cry, he just sat in awe struck horror. Alden moved to sit beside Vivica, reaching out to take her closer to him. Viv looked at both of them for a little while, then got up and went to the tiny toiletroom, not quite a bathroom, a toilet was all it held. She sat on the lid and leaned against the wall, crying silently. Solitude was rare, and all the more precious for it. Viv hated their impatience and sympathy, the pity that dripped from their words and expressions.
Jessi and Resnick walked down the stairs together, though he led the way. She'd never been down here, he'd not allowed anyone in. It was something of a mystery, actually. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, the lights turned on automatically. She expected to see row after row and crate after crate of supplies, and that she did see, but what she wasn't expecting was the additional rooms and supplies.
Her voice was quiet, wistful. "A shower." Oh dear god, what she wouldn't give for a shower. They cleaned themselves, of course, but a little bottled water and some soap only went so far. Maybe he'd do her in the shower. That wouldn't make it worth it.
A very small kitchen, little more than a microwave, counter, and sink was set against the wall. Off to the side was a closed door with a gentle hum marked Water/Power/Air. Another door, also closed, was marked Bath/Shower. And a third was another bedroom. So, he wasn't going to just lean her over a box?
"You're a pretty girl. And brave. Do you really understand what you've volunteered for?" He moved to one of the crates and reached inside.
She shied away from the box. "No toys no cuffs!" Jessi felt stupid when his hand emerged with... a muffin.
Amused, he tossed her the blueberry muffin, "Eat first. I'm not a monster. If I wanted to hurt you all, I would. It's not about hurting you." Resnick approached her and pressed a hand to her cheek, "It's about owning you, and in that owning, cherishing you as well. Loving you. And don’t forget, darling, the alternative is out there. You’d be out there, if it weren’t for the shelter, the home, the supplies that I built and gathered for myself."
"You’re right but you’re still psycho," she told him, turning her head away before chowing into the muffin. "You don't own people, that's bullshit. And you don't make people you love fuck you for food, that's just sick." She ate another bite of muffin and tilted her head, glancing at the bath/shower sign. "Unless its in the shower. Then, maybe its a fair trade."
"Or in the bed, or in the tub, or over a box, if you like," he said with amusement. "But I'd love to watch you shower." Resnick took some other food from the crate and put it in the microwave. "You're not just pretty. You're sexy, too. I've noticed the way you walk, the way you flirt or lean over. Even to your own brother. I imagine that's one of the reasons you volunteered. Because you exude sex".
She made a face at him. "Its been like, a month with no privacy. Yeah I'm kinda horny. At least you can jack off, the rest of us are just... caged up like animals. Why'd you do that?" Her tone became resentful, "if you didn't want to save us why didn't you just let us die, like everyone else, dammit!" She would not cry. She wouldn't.
"You needed time to adjust," he said, "To acclimate to the new world you've found yourselves in." The microwave beeped and he casually took the food out while he said, "You can pretend that you'd prefer death, or the fate worse than death that all the others had. But we both know," Resnick placed the food down and looked to her as he spoke the last words, "that's complete fucking bull shit. If you wanted to be dead, you could have slashed your wrists or wrapped a plastic bag around your head. You want to live. You're brave. Probably the bravest of all of them. Maybe, now, the bravest person in the whole world," he smiled in amusement.
"We're all gonna get a hell of a lot of use out of 'last on earth' jokes," she snorted. Still, his words both pricked and soothed her pride. Such flattery and desire was exciting.
He put the plastic bowl on the counter, the scent of lasagna now filling the air. Instead of digging into it, he offered her a fork, "We also both know that muffin wasn't enough. Come on. Eat a little more slowly, enjoy it." He rubbed her shoulder comfortingly, trying to soothe any edge of fear she might be feeling.
Her mouth watered and she took the fork. "I love lasagna." She took a bite, blowing on it first and trying not to wolf it down. It'd been quite a while since she'd had hot food, and oh, it was blissful.
As she ate, he said, "Nothing's keeping you from jacking off either, you know. Or walking around naked. Or fucking that Alden boy, just use a condom." He quirked a grin.
"Jesus," she rolled her eyes. "Not in front of my brother, that's just gross. And Alden's into Viv. She's kinda... um. Kinda fucked up, her meds are gone so." She ate another bite of the lasagna and watched him. "It couldn't be much fun to fuck a girl while she's crying, unless you roll that way." Her sarcasm was muted by the mingled desire and fear she felt for him. The knowledge that soon they might be fucking was starting to turn her on, now that her stomach was unclenching. She'd unconsciously relaxed from the hot food, associating it with better days and with home.
He frowned, "Medicine. No one told me she took medicine."
"What the hell are you gonna do, run to Walgreens?" She made another face at him. What a weirdo.
Again she'd made him grin, not in a patronizing way, but he genuinely found her funny. It was as if no matter how hard she tried to seem harsh, or sarcastic, he just found it cute. Not like other adults, who just ignored her. "Cute," he said. "No, I wasn't going to stop by Walgreens. These fall out shelters come stocked with nearly as much medicine, including Antidepressants, as it does food. Find out what she takes, and maybe we can help get her back to normal. Can you be in charge of that?"
She blinked. Oh. "Um. Yeah. What? In charge of what?" He had medicine? What a crazy guy. Crazy awesome.
"In charge of taking care of them," he said. "They won't trust me, won't tell me if something's wrong. They'll just assume I won't give it to them, but that's not true. I want all of you to be as healthy and happy as you can be after you've adjusted to your new roles. Tell me what the others need, if they're sick or need special care. Can you do that for me?"
"Sure." Jessi eyed him speculatively. Maybe he did mean it, even if he was one helluva sick fucko. "She's on Wellbutrin. It was a green pill, she had them in her purse." Even if Viv was going to have to wean herself off eventually, now probably wasn't the best time. "So. Can I take a shower?" Jessi didn't know if he'd watch or grope her or what. She wasn't sure if she wanted it or not... but thought she might.
"Let's," he said with a smile.
Jessi bit her lip and followed him into the room, her heart pounding.
The whole room was a bathing chamber, so to speak. A tub was set in the corner and a pair of shower heads were on the wall. At the center of the room was a drain, and another wall had a pair of stools in front of a mirror and counter. "Go ahead. Don't be shy. I want to see how beautiful you are." His eyes roamed her body with a possessive air.
Trying not to think about being watched, Jessi took off her clothes and sighed with relief to have her bra off, finally. Luxuriously she scratched under her breasts and kneaded them with her own hands. She looked at him, watching, and didn't quite know what to say. Speechlessness didn't happen to her often.
He gazed at her with open awe. "More than I could have imagined," he said. "The curve of your breasts, the bright pink of your nipples... And your sex. I just want to kiss it. The roll of your hips." He smiled, "Truly beautiful. Start your shower." He slipped his shirt off.
Jessi blushed, but she was smiling too. "Dayum," was all she said. In the shower she turned on the water, which was very quickly hot, and stepped beneath the spray. "Ohmigod," she closed her eyes and tilted her face up to the water. Heaven. She was in heaven. Jessi moved her head from side to side, getting her hair wet, and turned to let the water get the rest of her. "Mmmmm."
As she opened her eyes and looked to him again, he was sitting on one of the stools, naked now. Both their clothes lay in a bundle, and he stroked his hard cock as he watched her. "I'd join you, but I was enjoying this view."