Chapter 17: Yuki
"Yuki, can you hear me?" Derek's warped voice came out of the walkie-talkie I had stuck under my pink sash to hold it in place. I took hold of it and pressed the talk button.
"Yuki can hear you loud and clear!" I replied, wincing at the sound of my voice.
"Grab the camera on Preston's desk and run down to City Hall," Derek said, "There's a list of dead people on the telephone pole closest to the building's entrance. Take a picture of it and print it out once you get back to the store,"
"Yuki's on it," I replied. As soon as I took my hand off the talk button I heard a loud crash come from outside followed by someone yelling. Running to the front of the store, I looked out the window to see a woman across the street slowly backing up, now noticing Chaz and Crystal armed with weapons. Looking past the woman I could just make out a few other people hiding in the alley on the other side of the street. I grabbed a hand gun from one of our many fold out chairs and ran outside to join them. Crystal was aiming for the woman, slowly advancing, but not shooting. Chaz kept his eyes trained on her as well, but showed no signs of real aggression.
I refrained from holding up my own weapon and instead thought of those first few moments before the operations began and I was just lying face up on the table, staring up into the spot lights. I could feel my expression twist into one of insanity and I began to walk on tiptoe, making myself look both dramatic and intimidating.
"What the hell are you doing?" A harsh whisper came from one of the people hiding in the shadows. The woman, slowly being corned by Chaz and Crystal, began to breathe a little harder.
"I don't know," she responded quietly, "I just didn't want…" she took another gulp of air, "I just didn't want anyone else to die because of this…end," she turned back to face Chaz and Crystal, who must've been a foot closer.
"Hold it!" Everyone turned to see Preston exit the building, followed closely by Beebee. "What exactly is going on here?" Despite his young age, Preston certainly showed off an air of confidence and authority, along with more than enough arrogance. "What is your name?" he asked to strange woman.
"Kyra," she replied, beginning to regulate her breathing.
"Are you and your friends hungry, Kyra?" he asked, "Do you want food?" It was scary how calm he was. Kyra nodded and Preston chuckled. His inviting face suddenly turned angry, "Well you can't have any!" And there it is, I thought to myself. His voice's pitch rose to an almost comedic level. The whole situation would be funny if it weren't so serious. If it had just been Preston and Kyra, I'm sure Kyra would've just pushed past him. But the looming threat of Crystal and Chaz kept everyone still, for the most part. Turning away from her, Preston snapped his fingers, signaling that we should follow him. I was the last to follow them back into the store and was able to look over my shoulder at the group of hungry people.
I saw one of the comforting Kyra, who tried to give them a reassuring smile. Her expression turned into one of concern one of the other's stomach rumbled; it was so loud I could hear it from across the street. Knowing no one was watching, I let my expression turn into one of sadness and concern. As the five of us entered the store I suddenly remembered the assignment Derek had given me. Running past Preston and dashing into his office, I quickly grabbed the camera from his desk and headed for the back entrance; I had no desire to see anyone caught in despair.
When I got to the back parking lot I realized two things: One, everyone who had the keys to cars parked here was probably dead, and two, I wasn't even old enough to drive. I groaned inwardly as I realized I had to walk (or run) all the way across town to City Hall. I stuck my head back in the store, "Can anyone drive me?" I called out.
"What?" Preston yelled back. I quickly realized my mistake and raised my voice pitch, hoping they wouldn't notice.
"Can anyone drive Yuki? To City Hall?" After a second of silence, "Drive Yuki or Yuki will bite your face!" I silently cursed myself while Beebee came skipping around the corner, a big grin on her freckled face.
"I can drive you, Yuki," she said, that ever-present sing-song quality to her voice seemingly stronger now, "My car's the small pink convertible. It was a gift from Preston's big water bottle company!" I rolled my eyes and followed her outside. I lifted the camera off of my neck as I slid myself into the passenger seat, carefully setting it down on my lap.
"Shouldn't you put the top up?" I asked, suddenly irritated.
"What?" Beebee asked as she pulled out of the parking space and began driving towards the road.
"What if someone tries to shoot at us? We're practically responsible for the town not getting enough food. Or at least, we will be responsible," I dreaded the day when starvation became so much of a problem that people started dying because of it. On top of that, I would have all this food and not be able to give it to anyone. We had been driving smoothly down the road until I had stopped talking. Beebee slammed the brakes, yanked off her seat belt and turned to face me.
"What happened to your voice?" she asked. I realized too late that I had gone four sentences sounding like a normal 13 year old girl. "Why isn't it all high pitched? And why aren't you talking in the first person?" My earlier irritability that seemed to come out of nowhere started to bubble over.
"Maybe that's not how I want to talk anymore!" I turned to face her, my fake pink eyes shining with anger, "Maybe I never talked like that and have just been putting up a front to distract myself! Maybe I just wanted to distract others!" Beebee just sat there, dumbstruck, unsure of how to compute all this new information. Hearing myself really talk for the first time in forever actually surprised me. My voice was a lot deeper than I remembered it, probably because I was constantly contrasting it with my fake voice.
"You mean…" Beebee's lips started to tremble, "You've been lying to us this whole time? Even to me?" I looked at her in disbelief. What do you mean, 'even to you'? I thought in disgust, You say that as if we were close friends!"But you're so sweet," Beebee continued, "Crazy, yes, but so nice," Noticing the top of the convertible was still down, I stood up on top of my seat, letting the camera fall to the bottom of the car floor.
"I was never crazy!" I stared down at her, "And I don't need you telling me how nice and sweet I am!" Beebee stood up too, reminding me that she was still a full foot taller than I was. But in this case, that played to my advantage. It didn't matter if she was four years older than me, the effect would still be the same. As soon as she opened her mouth to say something, I took that chance to lean over and pushed her hard enough that she took a step back, screamed, and lost her balance, tumbling over the side of the car door and landing hard on the pavement bellow. Hopping over to the driver seat where she once stood, I looked down to see if she was okay.
The second Beebee's hand moved to rub the back of her head where she had fallen I let myself drop into a seated position and slam my foot down on the gas. I wanted Beebee to learn a lesson, not kill her, so it was a bit of a relief to me when I saw her getting up in the side-mirror. But it wasn't too much of a relief. Afraid she'd start to chase me down, I turned my attention back to the road, which was quickly becoming sidewalk. I clenched my teeth as I drastically turned the wheel in the opposite direction to try to even out the path the car was making. I heard that horrible screech of the tires and was sure I was going to crash.
My pounded in my chest during the entire duration of the hellish driving, instantly regretting every second that I had pushed Beebee out of the car and thinking that I should've at least waited until we got to City Hall. Then again, Derek might've seen us fight, and that wouldn't be good at all. This horrifying thought process, coupled with every second becoming a chance to crash and die made the drive to the Hall seem like an eternity. When I finally spotted the huge white building I lifted my foot off the gas pedal and switched over to the brakes. The car skidded to a halt and momentum threw me into the steering wheel. I sat back and gently touched the bridge of my nose where I had collided with the wheel. I gasped in pain as I felt the bones in my nose shift slightly as soon as I touched them. My nose was broken, there was no doubt about that.
I turned the rear-view mirror down to face me and took a good look at my face. I sucked in my breath and bit down hard on my tongue when I saw the reddish-purplish swelling on my nose. If I looked closely enough I could see the wound slowly pulsating and what looked like a bone that was newly akimbo, only half seen through the thin veil of flesh and skin that was still covering it. I turned away from the mirror and tried to forget about the pain as I grabbed the camera and opened the car door.
I walked over to the pole Derek had been talking about and found the sheet of paper. It was absolutely covered with pencil lead and ink, some names overlapping others, in all caps, written with shaky hands. I took a couple pictures, lowered the camera took a closer look at the list, reading it over, trying to see if there was anyone on there that I cared about too terribly. I quickly realized with a twinge of disappointment that it would take a while to analyze this, as so many of the writings were illegible.
I shrugged and walked back to the car, throwing the camera onto the passenger seat. I leaned back again and took a deep breath, bringing up my fingers to gingerly touch my nose. I nearly screamed in agony as I felt my fingertips brush against the small bone that had popped out of my nose, surrounded the deep gash that must've torn open between now and when I had taken the pictures. Blood was sluggishly pouring out of it and dripping onto my lips. I hurriedly wiped my hand off on the expensive leather of the passenger seat, leaving a dark red smear.
The car ride back to the store was driven much slower for obvious reasons. The minute I pulled up to the closest space to the back of the building I heard the back door fly open, accompanied by the sound of Preston's voice. "Yuki!" he sounded furious. Realizing Derek had joined them in the time I had been gone I grabbed the camera out of the car and tossed it over to him. He let out a squeak of surprise when he barely caught it. I got out of the car and marched right over to Preston, determined to stare him down. "Ugh," he took a step back when he saw my face, his nose wrinkling in disgust. Beebee's tear stained face mirrored his. I noticed one of her hands held a frozen bag of peas that was pressed against the back of her head. As if to dispel the image of my wound, Preston shook his head, "What the hell were you thinking? You got blood all over the car! That was expensive!"
A tear pricked the side of Beebee's face, "But what about me?" she clutched onto Preston's arm.
"And you pushed Beebee out of the car," Preston added with a little less vigor. "Plus Beebee says you've been lying to us about your identity?"
"Yeah, I have," I replied, clearly defiant, "I was sick of being someone I wasn't, not to mention that I'd have to live with the burden of knowing that everyone else would die because of me!"
"What do you mean 'because of you'?" Preston asked, genuinely confused, "No one's going to die because of you,"
"She's a monster!" Beebee cried out suddenly, her knuckles turning white as she looked up desperately into Preston's face, "She tried to kill me! Just look at her, she's useless! Get rid of her, Prezzy, get rid of her!" she didn't have enough time to cry before I leaped on her in a blind rage. Preston and Derek jumped out of the way while the two of us rolled on the pavement, trying to get a grip on each other. Despite my broken nose I found myself full of energy. Beebee screamed as I brought my sharp nails down on her cheeks, creating long scratch marks on them at the same time.
Realizing I was on top of her, I dug my nails into her back, lifting her head of the ground for a second before connecting my knee with her chin, forcing her back down. I kicked out at thin air as soon as Derek grabbed onto my arms and started dragging me off of her. Beebee got up slowly and stood, seemingly calm. Then she bent over, her face turning red as she held in her breath, and puked up a little blood. She just started violently coughing and gagging after that, until finally something squishy and pink flew out of her mouth and landed on my face. It slowly slid off, the saliva sticking to my cheek. Looking down I noticed it was all veiny and bloody.
"Oh, God, it's like a piece of her lung," Even Derek looked sick and had to look away, letting go of my arms. As soon as he let go I took off into the sparse woods at the back of the parking lot, diving behind a bush and peeking out from its branches. I saw Beebee topple over onto the parking lot, just lying there, her hands half white and stiff. Derek slowly looked up at Preston, who just stood there with his arms folded over his chest, looking down at what was once his girlfriend. "What do we do now?" he asked.
Preston shrugged, "We'll have to find someone else to fill Beebee's place. We just lost two people, so it's just you, me, Crystal, Claire, and Chaz. Plus we've got to track down Yuki. She knows the emergency way in and out of here, who knows how many people she's already recruited to steal from us?"
Derek looked back at him in confusion, "Aren't you sad about Beebee?" he asked.
Preston shrugged again, "Not really," he replied, "She was annoying and clingy. Besides, she would just drag our force down. Sure, she'd do anything for me, but she hates violence," he walked back into the grocery store and left Derek to make a choice. After a few seconds, I watched with a sinking heart as he followed Preston into the store.