"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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frogue
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just a picture of a cloud
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The girls shifted the tables in front of the window and the doors, lying them on their sides. They'd proved heavier than they'd looked, though they weren't as heavy as she'd have liked. It hadn't been easy getting them in place, but it also hadn't been impossible, and it wouldn't be impossible for someone outside to push past their makeshift barricades; not if they were really determined to get in.

Still, at the very least it'd by them some time, though Georgia Lee didn't know for what, exactly. To escape maybe, or to make peace, or to push back - she supposed, really, that it depended on who it was that was trying to get in. The thought of anyone trying to break through their improvised defenses was a little frightening to Georgia Lee, but she didn't think it'd come to that. On their way through the hospital they'd tried nearly every door they came past, and a number of them they couldn't get open. When that was the case they'd simply moved on, and she imagined that anyone coming across this room would act in a similar manner. As long as they kept quiet, kept their voices down and kept out of side, she thought they would be safe her; at least for a while.

Georgia Lee took a seat at one of the remaining tables, placed the bag she'd been carrying atop it, and began to sort through her new possessions.

The compass and the flashlight went straight into her pockets, and the map and the two slim books she set aside for later reading. The first aid kit went aside too, so as to be inventoried later on, and the black case filled with delicate metal tools went on top of it.

The food she set out in front of her. The bread and the crackers were basically pure carbs; not great long term, but worth loading up on if there was a lot of exercise in the future. There was a calorie count on the ration bars that easily exceeded what she'd take in on any given day, and assuming they weren't really moving around too much, could probably be stretched to last for two without too much difficulty.

If they were smart with their food, and they were careful, this could be made to last weeks. The more pressing issue was the water. There were four half-litre bottles, coming to two litres total. This was what Georgia Lee would usually drink in a day, and it certainly wouldn’t stretch long past that. They’d need to find more.

She gathered the food and the bottles back up and returned them to the bag. That was the entirety of what had come in the pack, that she had inventoried, but it didn’t account for all her new things. She touched the collar around her neck, gingerly, like one touches a bruise or a sore that one expects to hurt. It was cool metal, solid and seamless all the way around. When she’d been doing things, when she’d been active and moving, it had been easy to ignore. Now, sitting here in the quiet it was impossible to get it out of her mind. Every time she swallowed she could feel it against her throat; a constant reminder of the sort of place she was in, and of what she’d need to do to survive.

The other reminder, of course, was digging into her ankle. Fiyori’s glasses were still safely hidden in Georgia Lee’s boot, and the way they had chafed at her foot on the walk over here had felt like a penance for her manipulation and her coercion. She supposed she should get rid of them – toss them out the window or something – but somehow she couldn’t quite bring herself to. Holding onto them for a little while was clearly not honest, but it wasn’t outright evil, he didn’t think. Getting rid of them altogether felt unjustifiable.

Fiyori was staring at her, arms folded, clearly expecting something. Some great plan, perhaps; some strategy to get them out of here. Georgia Lee wanted to grab her and shake her, scream in her face that she didn’t know what to do, she didn’t know what she was doing, she was doing the best she could and why couldn’t Fiyori figure stuff out, for once? Georgia Lee did not grab her and shake her, however.

There was something of an art, she had realized, to managing Fiyori. Too much pressure and the girl would rankle and rebel, but too little and she would sense weakness, and that would be the end. Fiyori was, fundamentally, a predator – if she smelt blood she wouldn’t be able to help but bite, and so Georgia Lee had made sure to keep her voice strong, keep her back straight and keep her feelings to herself. She hadn’t cried, not once, and she was fiercely proud of that.

Wordlessly, Georgia Lee pushed her chair back and walked to the kitchen. Crockery was strewn everywhere, and most of the drawers were pulled out. She picked up a kitchen knife and ran her finger along the blade; it was so dull as to be almost useless. Georgia Lee dropped it, and it clattered into the sink. She tried to picture this place as it had been before it’d been abandoned: sleek, clean, efficient. Now it was a ruin; it was the corpse of a kitchen.

The taps were rusted, and it took a lot of effort just to turn them. A few drops of brownish sludge spurted out, and then: nothing. This was going to be a problem. She returned to the dining hall, and took a seat opposite Fiyori, who was looking at her with a sort of bored bemusement. Georgia Lee indicated the water bottles.

“This is going to be a problem. The food will last two, maybe three weeks. The water’s going to last a matter of days, and I don’t have a clue where we’ll get more: there’s certainly none running here.”

It wasn’t enough. Fiyori wasn’t sticking around just for her to point out problems. She wanted plans and solutions and tactics. Georgia Lee leant forward.

“A place this size though, there’ll be water somewhere. Water heaters maybe, or a water tank. We’ve got enough time to look around, and if we go out at night, when people are sleeping and we’re extra careful, we shouldn’t be putting ourselves at too much risk.”

Georgia Lee didn’t think she was anywhere near as confident as she sounded, but there was nothing to be gained except strife, by letting Fiyori see her as uncertain or afraid. Georgia Lee would hacve to pretend not to be scared, pretend not to be lost and confused and alone. She would pretend so well that Fiyori would be completely fooled, and If Georgia Lee was lucky she might just be able to fool herself too.

Her voice was quiet, when she spoke, but Georgia Lee felt she sounded strong. She sounded like a woman with a plan. She sounded like someone who’d survive.

“Other than that, we’re in good shape. It’s not like this place is impregnable or anything, but nobody’s getting inside easily, and I don’t know that they’d bother to try. It’s enclosed, it’s warm, it’s safe. We’ll be okay here.”

She folded her arms, mirroring Fiyori’s pose.

“Now I guess we just wait.”
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