We had to put off the excursion out to the Fredrickson’s farm because fighting broke out in town.
Travel was already posing a bit of a challenge because it’s like 10 miles from here and the damn cops (we’ll call them Team ACAB) have had someone guarding the van for days. Who fucking knows why they think that’s necessary, but they’re a bunch of bastards.
But that’s not an insurmountable issue. I’m fairly confident in our ability to handle a few volunteer cops, what with the literal super hero we brought with us (Lana, Neal’s super power is more side-kick caliber hahahahaha).
The real problem is that there’s another group, apparently holed up at the library, and yesterday they came busting into the clinic with a semi-conscious man.
We were asleep at the time. We’ve been using different offices as bedrooms, which is sort of awful. There are no windows and the lights are so bright, so you’re either in there in pitch black or fluorescent lights are beating down on you all night, and neither of those options work with my anxiety. So I was actually awake when the banging started.
“Guys,” I whispered, but the Hawthornes were already sitting up. I heard the click of their guns as they slipped out of the room. Lana, Knock and Daryl met us in the hall. Lana signed something and the Hawthornes ducked down and crept towards the door. Knock and Daryl moved to cover them.
“Back on up, you two,” Lana said to Rook and I.
“I’m allowed to do a lot less when you’re around,” Rook commented.
“Sorry to inconvenience you,” I snapped back.
I would die for him.
At the front door someone was shouting incoherently, but with obvious desperation.
“What’s all this?” Dr Wash said, coming into the hall and turning on the lights.
“Doctor,” Lana hissed. “There’s someone out there and we need —”
“Is it someone who needs medical attention?” Dr Wash interrupted. “For fucks sake, let them in. This is a medical facility.”
Lana obviously didn’t love this, but on the other hand, we could hardly argue her logic.
We opened the door and in a whirlwind, six people poured in, carrying huge man between them. They were all shouting simultaneously, but eventually it came out that the man had been shot by Team ACAB while they were all trying to sneak out of town.
“They’ve set up flood lights on all the main highways with snipers on the cars every night,” said one of the women. “Got sick of us taking down their road blocks.”
The man was only shot in the shoulder, but he’d lost a lot of blood and the Hawthornes rushed to help carry him down the hall onto an examiners table.
“You’re the ones that have been opening the roads?” Dr Wash asked.
“Yep.” The speaker was a short, plump woman in her early 40s. “They’re staking out the library to try and starve us out. But we’ve managed to disrupt their lock down at least a little. We need help. The world needs to know what’s happening here.”
“Starve you out,” Lana repeated. “What could they possibly gain?”
“They want us to all go back to our own homes and just wait this out. But we need to get out of this fog, and we’re safer in numbers.”
Down the hall the man with the bullet wound screamed and they looked after him anxiously.
“You all stay here,” Dr Wash said, hurrying down the hall. “Make yourselves comfortable. There’s food in the back room. Shiloh is it? Show them.”
“We’re gonna do a sweep,” Lana said. Knock and Daryl were already tossing each other their protective gear. Rook followed them without a word. And I… lead the little circle of freedom fighters into the break room where the fridge and microwave were.
I’m glad to be useful for something I guess.
There were five of them, three women, two men, and they mostly looked like someone’s parents. Totally suburban adults in colombia jackets and dirty track pants. Only one of them wore a mask. She was clearly the youngest, and clearly the most prepared, her long blond hair braided back tightly.
I put on hot water for tea, opened a bag of chips, and started mircowaving frozen burritos.
“You can take the mask off, it’s safe in here,” I said when I put the bag of chips on the table and she looked up at me with her big, crystal blue eyes and I froze.
We stared at each other for a long moment as I tried to grasp why she was so familiar, but it didn’t totally hit me until, lightning fast, she hipchecked me towards the sink and made a break for the front door.
“Neal!” I shouted. “Julian!”
They appeared in the hall even before I managed to, but Cara — yeah, that’s right, Cara Thistle, our own personal thief — was already to the door. I shouted something, but Cara was already waving her fingers at us and dashing out into the fog.
I couldn’t see her grin behind her mask, but I can imagine it.
She would have gotten away, too, if Lana, Daryl and Knock hadn’t been on their way back already. As it was only Lana could catch her, and it was only because she has literal super powers.
She literally dragged Cara back by the scruff of her neck and dumped her on the floor and the Hawthornes’ feet.
“Cara?” Neal said. “What the fuck?”
“Hi boys,” she said, not bothering to try to stand. “Fancy meeting you here.”
Lana was already tugging Cara’s bag off her back, without much empathy for Cara’s poor shoulders.
“I always forget how rough you like it, Lana,” Cara said, grimacing, but she gave up her bags. Lana unceremoniously turned the bag over and dumped five hydroflasks — which upon further investigation were full of fog — onto the carpet.
There was a long moment of quiet. Julian’s expression was veiled as always, but Neal’s face was full of open horror.
“Why?” he said.
“For study, why else?” Cara said, and for a second there I thought Neal was going to wring her neck.
“Don’t fucking lie to me Cara, what are you doing here?”
Cara mimed zipping her lips and throwing away the key and then smiled sweetly and Neal had to go walk it off.
“Do we have hand cuffs?” Lana asked.
“She can get out of hand cuffs,” Julian replied, ice cold. “We’re going to need rope.”
“Alright,” Cara said. “Drama queens, we don’t need to do that, do we?”
But when Knock and Daryl began hauling her to her feet by the shoulders anyways, she added, “I know where the mist is coming from. I can show you.”
“It’s coming out of a well. I think we can seal it shut. I’ll bring you right there, it’ll take a day and we can all get out of here.”
Lana was clearly pissed, but there was no better solution to our problem so instead of stringing her up by her ankles, Lana gestured at Knock and Daryl, and said, “Lock her in a room and don’t let her out of your sight.”
So that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow. We’re all going to go try to seal up a well, apparently. The man with the bullet wound seems to be okay — he’s asleep and his bleeding stopped. Half the people from the library left to head back out to tell the rest of their group what’s happening.