-"Ethan! ETHAN!" cried Alice, dropping to her knees at the sight of the corpse. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"
Ethan marched down to the aisle where Alice cried. Her tormented bawling ran accross the store. "What?" he asked, surprised and scared at the same time. He looked up, and saw the poor man that seemed attached to the wall. "Oh, Jesus... no, no... fuck..." he stuttered as the figure's jaw seemed to rip from his skull. "We have to get out of here right now. I'll- I'll call Russell!"
As Ethan was preparing to bolt for the door, Alice felt like an invisible hand was gripping onto her neck. Her eyes became irritated, and her already pale skin seemed to be turning blue. Her small hands trembled, unable to realize what was happening. "Help... help me... please... Ethan..." she mumbled, almost falling to the floor.
-"What? What is it?" asked Ethan, panicking at the sight.
-"Help me... help me up..." she whispered, a block interrupting her speech.
-"Come on, tell me what you need... fuck, please! You're fucking scaring me!"
-"Just... help me up, please... call someone..."
Ethan froze for a moment. He had a hard time thinking during tough situations, and this was the hardest. There was no real need to help her- she was new, young and apparently needy. He could just run away with Russell and ignore her. She'd have a good time with the rotting thing. But then, another idea landed on his head. What would Delmont think? He was a burly, scary man... there was no way they could leave his little girl... companion thing back there. Delmont was even bigger and stronger than Don... any beating from him would be mortal.
-"Fuck... just wait here, I'll call Russell... hold on!" he exclaimed, a cold drip of sweat rolling down from his forehead.
Ethan blasted down the empty aisle, still unable to forget the image of the rotting man. As he reached the sliding door, he suddenly stopped. He looked up, and saw Russell resting against the jeep. Was he ignoring their screams? Was he decided to leave them behind? There was no time to theorize on the spot. Alice was probably dying. Ethan banged on the glass, screaming at the top of his lungs. "RUSSELL! Help! For the love of God, help us out!"
The banging came to an end as Russell turned around and noticed Ethan. He turned pale and ran to the door, opening it with a swing. "You could've just opened the door, you know... what's going on?" he asked, a bit too relaxed for the occasion.
-"Fuck! Stop joking, Alice is fucking dying or something! She's- she's shaking and shit!" cried Ethan, pointing at the poor girl in the background. "I told, I fucking told you!"
-"Oh, shit... come on, help me carry her into the truck. We're not coming back here" stated Russell, marching towards Alice, who had turned green.
-"No shit, Sherlock... fuck, she's terrifying..."
Russell looked down at the floor. He saw Alice there, shaking desperately and sweating. Her pupils were dilated, staring at the white ceiling above. Russell put a hand on her shoulder, snapping his fingers near her eyes. "Come on! Wake up, we don't have time for this!" he cried.
-"Take... take gram... away... please..." she stuttered.
-"Gram? What the fuck?" asked Ethan, standing behind her.
-"Alice, talk to me! Say something- something that makes sense! Please, you're freaking me out!" begged Russell.
-"Take... take her away, she's... she's sick..."
-"What? Fuck... Ethan, help me carry her out!"
Ethan nervously nodded and grabbed Alice's arms, lifting her lightly above the bloodied floor. Russell took her legs, and in a few moments, she was hovering, flying away from the horrifying figure. In a breeze, she was outside, blinded by the burning sun. The earthly sounds from outside seemed to pacify her, as the figure was out of sight. Russell opened the backseat door and quickly slid her in, resting her head on the cold leather. "Alright, shit. She's in" stated Russell, backing away from the door as he closed it.
Russell climbed on the driver's seat and pushed the keys in, still shaking. Ethan followed, jumping on the seat next to him and strapping his seatbelt in. As he looked up to the rearview mirror, two faces smiled at him. The first one was a rather square-shaped young man with hanging greasy hair and an uneven stubble. Next to him sat a petite girl with red lips and blonde hair wrapped into a ponytail. They both seemed scared, though they hid it with a prententious smile.
-"Wait, what?" asked Ethan, confused as to what he saw. "Who are they?"
-"Oh, I forgot. These are Ross and Mary-"
-"What? New fucking people?! Are you fucking kidding me right now? What is this, a homeless shelter?!"
-"Nice to meet you too..." said the man, with a hint of sarcasm.
-"Shut up... let them argue" said the lady, nudging at his arm.
-"Fine, gosh..." whispered the man, chuckling.
-"Listen, I'm sorry, but I'll have to ask you two to leave. There's no room for-"
-"Ethan, god dammit... you can't just kick them out like that! They're fucking people!"
-"I don't give a shit! Didn't you see what just happened? We almost fucking died because Alice decided to freak the fuck out!"
-"We can just leave if we're gonna be a nuisance to you. It's alright" said the girl.
-"No, it's okay. You'll stay"
-"No, you fucking won't! There's no room! There is simply no fucking room!"
-"Oh, shut up! We live in a god damn hotel! There's room for a whole city in it!"
Ethan sighed and remained silent. He crossed his arms and stared out the window, frowning. Russell stepped on the gas as his guests whispered on each others' ears, seeming a bit nervous. After a while, the man cleared his throat and sat forward.
-"Um... yeah... we..." he said, running his hand through his hair.
-"It's alright. You'll stay" said Russell, looking towards the empty road.
-"Yeah, we... we get that. We've been living on the road for... two weeks, I don't know... and... it's been tiring, you know. Living off the land, like a hermit farmer... hunting fucking rabbits like some Elmer Fudd wannabe... kinda hilarious if you think about it. We just... wanted to thank you for the chance. We really need a break from this shit, you-"
-"Oh God dammit, there's no need to sympathize to us. You're staying, 'cause the big boss allowed you to. No need to add anything"
-"Fine, fine... I'm Ross, by the way. Nice to meet you... I guess" said the man, sitting back with a blush.
-"I'm Mary" said the girl next to him, grabbing Ross' hand in sympathy.
With that last interrumption, the silence rounding up the car led them to the hotel's gates. Antonio stood on the planks above the gate, smiling at Russell through the windowshield. Russell ignored the greeting and honked with a stern face. Antonio left his sight, and in a moment, the gates were open. The jeep entered slowly towards the plaza with a gloomy mood. As soon as they reached the center of it, a few heads were raised. Russell opened the door and jumped outside. He looked to his left and saw Heather marching towards him.
-"What'd you get?" she asked, smiling.
-"Does it even matter?" asked Russell, staring at her blankly.
-"Wow, what happened? You okay?"
-"Just guess how it went. Just guess"
-"Well... let's see. Ethan threw a tantrum, something bad happened..."
-"Ding fucking ding"
-"Fuck... did you find anything, at least?"
-"Nope. The whole damn place had been ransacked"
-"What? Really? Fuck!"
-"We'll have to find some other place. We're gonna have to tell everyone"
-"What'd Ethan do?"
-"He lost it. We found someone on the road, and he went berserk. Let's just let him chill out for a moment"
Heather sighed and walked back, crossing her arms. Russell opened the backseat doors and helped Alice out. Her skin was still pale, and her eyes stared forward with a dead expression.
-"Oh, shit... right. Babe, could you call Deanna up? Something went up with Alice" said Russell, grabbing Alice's arm to prevent her from falling.
-"Yeah, sure. What happened?" asked Heather, approaching the two.
-"I'll tell you later. Just call her, please. She's not okay"
-"Oh fuck, okay. Shit, she looks bad. You okay, honey?"
-"Call... call her... please..."
-"Alright, fine. I'll be right back"
With that, Heather walked off towards the side of the plaza. She disappeared with a turn, calling Deanna in a desperate turn. Russell looked at Alice and gulped. "Just... stay here. They'll pick you up in a sec"
Russell turned and opened the trunk door. Mary and Ross sat there, still whispering to each other. They seemed shocked by the light that walked in as the door flew open. "Alright... we're here" said Russell, smiling and stretching his hand towards Mary.
-"It's okay. We'll help ourselves down. Come on" said Ross, climbing down the entrance.
-"Again... sorry for the argument. Ethan can lose his mind sometimes" said Russell.
-"It's okay. Thanks for bringing us here" nodded Mary.
-"You'll like it, I think. It's a nice place. Warm sheets, meals, water... you'll just have to ignore Ethan, I guess. We'll assign you a room in a sec" offered Russell with a warm expression.
-"Eh, it's alright. We're all gonna have to deal with people like that someday. At least 'til we choke on the dust, huh?" said Ross.
-"I guess you're right" chuckled Russell, patting Ross on the back as he walked away from the jeep. Mary followed.
-"Follow me. I'll show you around" said Russell, pointing towards the end of the plaza.
- First appearance of Ross.
- First appearance of Mary.