Reena's Xploration Challenge #185
Shay doesn’t stir from their hibernation upon the couch when the knocks come; thee fast knocks, three slow knocks, three fast knocks. It was Rio’s secret knock to say ‘the coast was clear, let me in.’ It has been over a week since the last time Rio came to visit; he had made his presence known every few hours for three days straight, then disappeared again. Shay had assumed he was laying outside in wait. Eventually, Shay would have to leave to get food; there were still plenty of supplies for now, but it would run out. Rio could have just sat in the hallway and waited – but when Shay peeked out after a full day of silence, Rio really was gone.
The first trip out after Rio’s return was stressful. Shay kept expecting Rio to leap out from behind every corner and attack; but he never did. Besides, even at three months Rio would still be a ‘fresh turn’ so his mind would still be pretty active. It usually took about 6 months for the minds to begin to deteriorate, and at least a year before the parasite took over. If Rio were hiding around a corner, he’d probably be babbling on and on so the parasite couldn’t ambush Shay.
Shay doesn’t stir from their hibernation upon the couch when the knock comes again, followed by the quiet tinkering of a small metal device fidgeting with another metal device. Maybe Rio figured out how to pick locks. Rio could burst in here and spew those disgusting little Remnant worms all over but Shay was having a hard time caring. Being alone again was terrible. It has only been for a few months and Shay is ready to head to the top floor of the complex and see if humans had developed the ability to fly.
Shay doesn’t stir from their hibernation upon the couch when the lock clicks and the door slowly creaks open. Boots scuff the floor as someone enters, closes the door, and locks it again.
“What the ever-loving fuck, Shay?”
Shay stirs from their hibernation upon the couch when the voice of a young woman fills the room. They rise to their elbows to peer over the armrest; several beer cans fall and roll across the floor. The entire room smells of alcohol.
“Sammy?” Shay sputters, looking at the blob through hazy eyes. “Is that you?”
“What. The. Fuck. Shay.” Samantha repeats herself. Her boots stomp across the room and she slaps Shay upside the head. “Have you been drinking?”
Shay quickly sits upright as their hand finds their temple and rubs; a pile of snack food bags and empty cans topple off the couch in the process. The slap wasn’t hard, but she aimed right in the hangover.
“I, uh, I,” Shay stutters but can’t get any words out to explain so changes the subject instead. “You’re back?”
“Yeah, and you’re fourteen! Fourteen, Shay! Way too young to be drinking!”
“It’s the apocalypse,” Shay mutters, their hand sliding down to rub the back of their neck.
“Your brain is still developing. I don’t care about the collapse of civilization, you’re too damn young to be getting drunk.” Samantha stomps to stand in front of Shay. She rests her hands on her hips and stares down at the filthy looking teen.
“I thought you were dead, too,” Shay’s voice is quiet, breaking a little at the end. Samantha glares at the teen for a few seconds, then her demeanor softens as she looks around the room and notices the utter lack of a second presence.
“Oh, fuck,” she says under her breath. She grabs Shay under the arms and pulls them into a tight hug. “Rio?”
Shay’s face finds itself buried in the crook of Samantha’s arm and the tears begin to flow. She lets the kid cry for a bit before patting their back.
“Come on, kid. Quit languishing about in self-pity. We’re leaving”
“I’m not Languishing,” Shay grumbles. “I’m dormant.”
This is my contribution to Reena’s Xploration Challenge number 185 by Reena
This challenge’s prompt was: Include the phrase “I’m not languishing, I’m dormant.”
It’s kind of an abrupt ending; I had to force myself to stop writing as it was beginning to feel too long.