Chapter 18: Violet
"This place is in pretty nice shape, considering it was all…" I trailed off, not knowing how to finish my thought. Considering it was disheveled? Attacked? Destroyed? Abandoned? Since the destruction of Reyesent Edwin, Rosalie, Candy, and I had wordlessly decided to make this building's lobby our temporary home. I was just taking a look around it for the first time and discovered that not much damage had been done to this particular room.
"I wouldn't go upstairs, though," A voice said from behind me. I turned around and saw the speaker, Candy, sitting on a red cloth couch with her elbows resting on her knees. I didn't need to ask why- Candy had come down from the top of the building scared out of her mind and none of us had taken the leap of faith to ask her what had happened. The important thing was that whatever had bothered her hadn't bothered us. Yet.
I nodded and changed the subject, "Where do you think Edwin and Rosalie are?" I asked, walking over to the front of the room to look out the window, turning my head side to side to look down the street.
"I don't know," Candy replied, walking over to join me, "They've been gone for hours and I thought I heard shouting and gun shots. I'm starting to get a really bad feeling about this, maybe we should go out after them?"
"Go where? To Saper's?" I asked incredulously, "My gut instinct tells me we shouldn't be going down there. Besides, I think I see a car coming down our street now," Thankfully, I recognized the car as the one Edwin and I had driven in to get away from the Verthollow Hotel. I watched as the car pulled up to the side of the road and came to a stop. The doors opened to reveal Edwin and Rosalie, who stepped out and walked over to the building's entrance, scanning the ground, as if looking for something.
I turned my attention to the door as soon as it opened. Only Rosalie came through while Edwin remained outside. "What's he still doing out there?" I asked, continuing to watch him scour the ground for an unknown object.
"We hung around City Hall after the shooting at Saper's," Rosalie replied.
"There was a shooting at Saper's? Did you get any food?" Candy asked, suddenly worried and alert.
"Yes and no," Rosalie replied sadly, "Anyway, Edwin and I, along with a few others who were hanging around who were writing names of the deceased on a paper stuck to a pole, heard Justice and Skip announce that we should mark the doors of the buildings that we're staying in and write how many people are inside. Edwin's looking for something to mark the door with right now,"
I nodded as I watched Edwin pick up a metal bar and carry it over to the door. I refrained from covering my ears as they picked up the sound of metal scratching on glass; Edwin must be using the bar to write on the glass door that served as our entrance. "Why are they requiring that we do this?" I asked.
Rosalie shrugged, "I guess they just want to keep track of everyone. Oh," she continued, "and if someone's a mutant they get a star next to their name," she added this last part with a smile and a little giggle.
"Wait," I went back to the first thing she said, "Who's 'they'?"
"The council," Rosalie replied, "They're the ones who are running Reyesent for now, I guess. It's Justice, Skip, Walker, Esma, Roland, Nattalia, Liberty, and Derek," Edwin came in while she was finishing her sentence. He beckoned us over to the door.
"So?" he asked proudly, "What do you think?" I gazed at our four names crudely scratched into the glass.
My stomach growled, "I think we'd be better off with some food," I replied bitterly.
Edwin shrugged, "They're supposed to be sending someone from the Council over to each residential building to deliver some important news maybe it's food related,"
"It better be," Candy replied with a huff and went to sit back down. A few long minutes of silence passed until we heard a knock on the door. The convenience and inconvenience of a glass door was that you could see who was on the other side before you answered and they could also see you. Walker and I made eye contact long before I reached the door handle.
"I'm speaking with," Walker glanced at the door, "Rosalie?"
"Violet," I replied, suddenly noticing a distracted Derek standing next to him.
"Violet," Walker repeated with a smile, "Are the others with you?" I nodded, "Could you bring them over hear please? I think this pertains to every citizen of Reyesent," I beckoned Candy, Edwin, and Rosalie over and waited until they all stood behind me before I gestured to Walker to continue, "First of all," he said, "I apologize greatly for the destruction of our small sea town. None of us could've seen this coming and the Council is tirelessly working on an effort to resolve the situation," Derek rolled his eyes, but Walker ignored him, "Secondly, seeing that everyone is done writing for now, we would like to give you a copy of this,"
I looked down at the nicely typed up piece of paper Walker had handed me. On it was a list of names, most of which I recognized. "This is a current list of the known deceased," Walker explained, "The original copy was a bit too illegible for us to hand out to the remaining citizens, so we had one of our members type it up and print multiple copies. Just want to keep you in 'the know'," I exchanged glances with Rosalie, but quickly turned my attention back to Walker as he continued, "And I know most of you must be hungry," he smiled and winked, "Well, Derek here has something to say,"
Derek looked up, trying to suppress a sneer, "I apologize on behalf of myself and my partners," he said begrudgingly, "Within the next two hours we plan to supply everyone in town with enough food to last the week. The perpetrators of the peace will be punished accordingly," he said this last part through gritted teeth and I could tell he was directing all his energy into not making a verbal attack on his companion.
"That is all for now," Walker said, "But take this," he handed me a walkie-talkie, "These are connected exclusively to a walkie-talkie located in City Hall. Any important messages will come through on here, but they have all been… fixed so that you cannot reply to anything we say. Just remember, we'll alert you if something has gone wrong," he winked again, "Oh, and one more thing," he said before he left, "We've been informed that the deceased are…still with us, if you know what I mean. Just don't get too friendly with them," he closed the door with a smile and I watched him and Derek walk to their car and drive off to the next person.
Turning back to my friends I realized they all had expressions of confusion and (if I was not mistaken) suspicion covering their faces. "What?" I asked.
Candy shrugged, "It was probably nothing," she said, "He just seemed kind of..off,"
"I get what you mean," Rosalie added, "Like he was too…calm and happy. And did you see the way Derek was acting?"
"Can we talk about this later?" I asked as I looked down at the list he had given us, "Like Candy said, it was probably nothing. We should be looking over this list," I walked over to the two couches in the center of the lobby and set the list down on the coffee table in between.
"What did he say?" Edwin asked, "About not getting too friendly with the dead?" I blocked out the sound of his voice as I stared down at the neatly written names, all alphabetized and void of any emotion. A lump caught in my throat as I reached the N's and saw the names of my mother and sister written there.
"I'm sorry," I was automatically comforted by Rosalie's words until I realized her apologize was directed at Edwin, "I guess Maria really is gone,"
A look of sadness mixed with disturbance crossed Edwin's face as he nodded, "Yeah," he replied in a voice as soft as a whisper, "I guess so," It was so deadly silent after that the frantic knock on the window seemed all the more terrifying.
Candy dived down behind the couch, "What the hell is that?" she asked, her voice rising.
"Calm down," I replied, "I think it's just someone at the window," I quickly walked over to the curtains and reached to spread them apart.
"Violet, wait!" Edwin called out. He, Rosalie, and Candy were still at the couches, "It might be something dangerous! You saw the list, people are dying!" The knocking came again, making my heart skip a beat. It felt like an hour passed until I finally broke the silence and threw the curtains apart to reveal Derek, white in the face, about to pound on the glass again. I unlocked the window and raised it, but didn't take the chance of sticking my head outside.
"Derek, what is it?" I asked, "Why didn't you just come to the front?"
"Look, there's no time to explain," Derek shook his head. He seemed out of breath and his knuckles were quickly turning white as they gripped the base of the window pane, "Walker's a nut," he said, "He made me rehearse all that shit that I said before we got to each house. There is no food,"
"What?" Edwin had come up behind me, "What do you mean 'no food'?"
Derek took another breath, his face turning whiter, "Okay, there is food," he replied, "But you're not getting it," Edwin's face went from astonishment to anger, "Hey," Derek said defensively, "It's not up to me, alright? If it was up to me I'd get you guys something to eat. But Preston, he's the one who's running this whole grocery operation, not me, and let me tell you, he's insane!" he seemed to be remembering something, but the memory quickly passed. "And don't trust anything they say on that walkie-talkie," Derek said, pointing to the object in Rosalie's hand, "I have no solid proof of the insanity of the other council members, but Walker for sure is not to be trusted,"
My attention was suddenly diverted to a pair of headlights I could faintly see coming up the road, "Um…" I squinted, trying to see if I could recognize the car. Sure enough, it was the one Derek and Walker had come in.
"What?" Derek looked up at me, his eyes suddenly alert, his body becoming tense. I pointed and he followed my finger, "Oh, shit! I gotta go," he turned back to me, "Just remember what I said!" he started to run back to the road, his hat falling off behind him and tumbling around on the dirty grass.
"Should we tell him he dropped it?" Rosalie asked. I realized she must've come up behind me while we were watching him run.
"If he knows I don't think he cares," I replied, watching him run up to the car that had begun to slow down further up the street. He disappeared into the vehicle and it quickly turned around and headed back the way it had come. "Anyone want to go get the hat?" I asked.
"I'm seriously disturbed by Derek's message," Candy said as she came up from behind the couch, ignoring my question. She picked up the walkie-talkie Rosalie must've left on the table and stared down at it. "Here I thought we could trust Walker and that we should be suspicious of Derek," she said, "Now I'm not sure whose word I want to follow. I just know that I'll go with whoever will take care of me,"