Taking care not to cause too much noise, the slender, white-haired boy crept through the empty streets of the marketplace, eyes opened and ears alert in case any of the zombies wandered close by. He could hear the ever-present horde that besieged Maplehill moaning and groaning in the distance, but they were all a good distance away.
Nicole had convinced him to accompany her outside the wall to forage for food, or any supplies they could find. He didn't remember agreeing, but here he was, nonetheless. But, he did have to admit they were in sore need of supplies. And he'd been lucky enough to find a few things.
"Nicole?" he whispered, looking around for his partner in this endeavor, having lost sight of her when his hood slipped down over his mismatched eyes for a moment.
The girl took quiet steps through what remained of the marketplace, pale jade eyes studying everything nearby. There was a vaguely familiar feeling that came along with looking at the empty streets. Nicole was no stranger to destroyed marketplaces. Stores were nonexistent by the time she was born thanks to the undead wandering about aimlessly. The teen always wondered what stores looked like before the apocalypse. The only things she knew were stories from the various members in her group back in Georgia. Her brows furrowed as she looked around, doing her best to keep quiet as she meandered through the abandoned marketplace. She had almost forgotten the reason she was even here.
It was a supply run. Nicole wasn't a stranger to foraging for essential tools by now. Sure, those were much harder to come by since it had been more than a decade since the outbreak back home started, but Nicole had learned that if you look hard enough, you can usually find something useful. Somehow, she was able to convince a younger male to join her on a scavenger hunt. If there was anything she learned from surviving in a terrible situation, it was that you never went alone to search for something. Going alone was essentially a death sentence. You needed to have someone watching your back, and in return you'd watch theirs. The only thing the girl was worried about was that her partner was younger than her, but age didn't seem to matter much around here. Nicole had yet to meet a single adult since arriving in Maplehill.
It was an odd sight for someone who knew only a few other children from home.
The faint sound of her name had distracted the girl from listening to the grunts of the undead. She was behind Ambrosius, not realizing she had fallen behind a bit. Her pace increased slightly to walk next to the younger male. "Ah'm here, Ambrosius. Ah was just lookin' a bit, tryin' to figure out where we're most likely to find somethin'," the girl responded in a hushed tone. "Haven't found ehnethin' promisin' yet."
Ambrosius was relieved when he heard Nicole's voice. He's briefly seen one zombie with no throat, and it had been completely silent, besides the quiet scrape of its feet on the ground. Knowing that another one like that might be nearby, he didn't want to lose sight of his partner.
"We'll have better luck looking inside. But I did find a few tools that seem to be in good condition. Oh, and a loaf of bread. It's kind of hard, but it's better than nothing," he said, looking inside a sack he was holding. He'd been careful to wrap the tools in some old cloth to keep them from clanging into each other when he walked.
He paused for a moment, looking and listening, but didn't hear anything beyond the distant moans. He looked around the market, eying the various shop signs, trying to decide where best to start.
The elder of the pair gave a nod when the boy mentioned better luck looking inside. The kid was right. They were going to have better luck by actually looking inside rather than observing from the outside. Her gaze flickered to the sack that the male possessed. Tools and a loaf of bread? "Not bad," she murmured, gaze lifting back up to the boy's face. "We can use what we can get, 'specially when it comes to tools and food." The girl continued walking, though stopped when her partner paused. Her light gaze turned this way and that, trying to determine whether or not it was safe to continue onwards.
Nothing but the far cries of the dead.
Her irises shifted over towards Ambrosius, then toward the miscellaneous shop signs. She gave a nod in the direction of a nearby store. "Yeah. That one looks like we might have a shot at gettin' somethin'." The sign was faded and barely visible, but it was enough that Nicole could figure out what it was. A small drug store. "It might be worth it to take a peek in there. Ya always wanna have medicine handy. Ah'm just hopin' we won't need special medicine for animals if we find leftover medication in there. If there's nothin', we can take another trip to the hospital lateh. There's some serious medicine there most times."
Her gaze returned to Ambrosius as she readjusted the pack on her back. "Medication, food, tools, we're gonna need 'em all if we're gonna survive and get ehnethin' done. Ah think we've already got a bunch of building supplies back at the junkyard, but if that's all we'll be able to find, take it anyway. It'll come in handy."
Ambrosius nodded in agreement, looking at the store thoughtfully. That did make sense. With the hospital outside the walls, and no doctor here, any sickness would be even more serious than it might be otherwise. Having the medicine on hand could very well save a life.
"It sounds like you've done this before," he said, glancing at her as he approached the drug store. A quick peak inside revealed no signs of movement. As he peered through the window, he tapped lightly on the door, eyes opened for any signs of movement. He didn't think there would be any zombies inside, but he wasn't going to take a chance. Satisfied, he pulled on the handle.
"Locked," he muttered. He reached down, and grabbed a pinch of dirt off of the ground. He rubbed it on the end of the door handle, cupped his hands around it, and blew through them. As the handle, and the lock attached to the door all turned into more sand, he looked back at Nicole. "I mean, you do seem to have a good idea of what we'll need," he said, pushing the door opened.
The Georgian approached the drug store slowly, careful not to attract the attention of any undead wanderers. A single eyebrow lifted when the boy said that it seemed like she had done this before, even though said eyebrow was covered by dark chocolate bangs. She stayed quiet for a while longer, contemplating on how to respond to the comment. She chewed at the corner of her lip in thought.
Her pale green eyes watched as the male looked around to ensure everything was safe. Or at least, as safe as it could get outside of the wall. She grimaced when she heard one of the few words she dreaded to hear. Locked. Instead of having to look for another way in, the kid was able to break open the door somehow. A puzzled expression crossed her face. Was that dirt he used, or was she not paying close enough attention to figure out what he used? One minute, she was trying to figure out how to break in, the next, there wasn't even a handle on the door. There would be time to ask about it later. For now, Nicole's priority was to get supplies.
As the younger opened the door, Nicole finally responded to the younger of the pair. "Yeah, of course. Ah had to learn to do this when Ah was 'bout your age. Around five wintahs ago, Ah think? Maybe more, maybe less. Can't remembah. Mom and Dad were teachin' me 'bout what to look for even before Ah was out on my first supply run, so Ah guess Ah can be called an expert with this sorta thin'." She lifted her shoulders upwards in a small shrug. Her voice was quiet while her eyes wandered around.
If the door was locked, there was a good chance there was something left behind in the store, you just had to look hard enough for the right stuff.
As he slowly stepped inside, not wanting to knock anything over, he looked back for a moment, then stepped further inside. Sure enough, the shelves were still stocked, looking almost completely undisturbed.
"Well, I'm glad you're here then. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather we all were somewhere else, but with you here, I think we'll have a better chance of surviving," he said, shifting his pack into his hand as he looked over the various medicines on the shelves, frowning as his mis-matched eyes looked over the unfamiliar names. They looked like words his father might say while casting some spell.
"Um, I'm no familiar with these medicines. How about I see if there's any food or such while you grab what you think we'll need most from these?" he suggested. For all he knew, he'd grab a bunch of laxatives, or cough suppressants, instead of the more important stuff.
The girl stepped inside, careful not to let the door slam shut as she did so. Her gaze turned towards the shelves. Alright, this seemed promising. Nicole had never seen so much medication essentially untouched. Hell, she had never seen so much medication in general! It was partially because her former group kept their drug stash well hidden to prevent someone from taking more than their fair share, partially because resources in general were difficult to come by. Especially more than a decade after the start of the apocalypse. That's how Nicole knew this place wasn't experiencing the hardships of an apocalypse for more than a few years.
There were still tons of supplies to find.
"Yeah, maybe we will have a bettah chance of survivin' if we've got somebody who's dealt with this fo' a while," she said, her eyes glancing over the bottles of medicine repeatedly. The girl wanted to say that it would be better if they had an adult around, preferably one who had survived in the apocalypse as well. Perhaps it was just the girl longing to be with people she considered family again, or worry that she'd fail the tribe. She didn't voice her thoughts, reminding herself that there was a hefty stash of supplies nearby that they needed to grab. Celadon gaze shifted from the drugs to the pale haired boy.
"Sounds like a plan to me." She glanced back at the door, remembering that the handle was gone. That made it easier for the undead to walk right in if the search party wasn't careful. "Don't take too long. If we stay here too long, walkahs are gonna be crawlin' all ovah in here." The teen refused to call the dead zombies. Even though she was able to spot differences between the zombies near Maplehill and the dead in Georgia, she couldn't help but call them all walkers. The term zombies was foreign to her. Until arriving in Maplehill, she had not once heard the dead being referred to as zombies.
With that, she starting shifting through the different medications, squinting at names with difficult pronunciation. "Probably need painkillahs, ehnethin' that's gonna stop a fevah. There's gotta be more than that, Ah just have to find it." Her voice was hushed as she talked to herself, going over what would be needed. She raised her voice only to ask Ambrosius a question. "Ya don't got any serious conditions, do ya? Like diabetes or ehnethin'? Ah'm just wonderin' in case there's somethin' special Ah wanna keep an eye out fo', eithah now or whenevah Ah get a chance to head to a hospital."
Ambrosius looked up at Nicole in momentary confusion. Walkers? What were walkers? It took him a moment to realize she meant the zombies. Nodding in understanding and agreement, he turned away from the medicine shelves, and began looking for any foodstuffs that would be worth taking back. He didn't bother with the colorful candy bars at first. If there was nothing more substantial, then he'd grab some.
A small smile of satisfaction crossed his face when he saw several packages of beef jerky, and similar things. Those would serve them all better than any candy. As quickly and efficiently as he could, he began packing the dried meat into his pack.
He glanced up briefly when Nicole asked if he had any conditions. "Nope, I've always been healthy. Dad always told me it comes with being mostly fay. We don't get sick easily," he said. He paused for a moment, realizing he'd very likely outlive everyone here, as long as he didn't get himself eaten. He sighed, then went back to packing. Such was the curse of longevity. He quickly stifled the dark thoughts threatening to overwhelm him, and focused on the task at hand.
Nicole's hand was wrapped around a bottle of painkillers when she heard Ambrosius' voice again. He didn't have any special conditions. That was a good thing. She nodded slowly in acknowledgement, stashing the medication into her pack as she did so. Mostly fay? Her hand reached out once more to grab acetaminophen, figuring it might come in handy at some point. The kid's words were stuck in her head. Fay. Was that a location? She remembered someone told her that she was Georgian since she was born and raised in the state of Georgia, or rather what was left of it. Maybe it was a race of people? The teen wasn't entirely sure.
"Nevah heard of a fay. If it's keepin' ya healthy, though, that's gotta be a good thin'," the Georgian responded, putting the bottle into the pack as well. She glanced through the medications once more. She needed the essentials before the little things. "The healthiah, the bettah. Ya gotta be healthy to get through somethin' like this. The unhealthy don't always make it." The healthy didn't always make it either. They could get bitten. They could turn. They could be left behind. Nicole knew that was completely possible. She was quick to change the subject as she gripped yet another bottle of medication.
Ambrosius gave a small shrug. Most people hadn't heard of the Fay, or simply dismissed them as tall tales. But they tended to like it that way.
"Well, most of the Fay tend to keep to themselves," he said, forcing the last of the dried meat into his sack before shaking it to make everything settle. Space was important, and he hadn't yet mastered his father's favorite packing spell. He'd have to work on that, when he got the chance.
"Well, I found some dried meat all wrapped up in plastic. There's also some candy, and pastries," he said, eying them doubtfully. Sugar tended to make it difficult for him to focus when trying to cast magic. "You think it's worth it to cart them back?"
So it was a group of people. That's what Nicole had gathered, anyway. The boy's explanation seemed reasonable enough. If the people kept to themselves, then it was unlikely that Nicole would have heard of them. Of course, she didn't hear too many stories that were considered fairy tales. She heard tales of how the world used to be, though that didn't quite count as fantasy stories. Another bottle of medication went tumbling into the pack. "That would explain why Ah ain't heard of 'em," she mused as her hand released the bottle. She was relieved to hear that Ambrosius was able to locate some food. It was meat.
If there was anyone who was opposed to eating meat, or if they weren't capable of eating it, then Nicole hoped that the herbivore would be able to stomach bread.
The boy mentioned sugar. Her hand paused as she reached out for another bottle of medication. Candy, pastries, those were rarities she hardly came upon. Her hand closed briefly, thinking about if it was really worth it to get the candy. Her hand reopened and the girl grabbed ibuprofen. "Get 'em. It'll keep everyone's spirits up if we bring back somethin' like that. We need everyone to be in a fair mood to get ehnethin' done. Bringin' back candy should lift a spirit or two." The girl glanced at the collection resting in her pack. She could fit in more, she just had to aim for the most important stuff. There was surely more potent medication at the hospital, as long as it wasn't completely raided by now, so if she couldn't get everything the group needed in terms of medicine, there was always the hospital.
Ambrosius shrugged, and began filling his pack with assorted candies and pastries, making sure to pack them in such a way to avoid crushing any, if he could help it. Then, as he reached for another pastry, he briefly froze, looking past Nicole, and outside, eyes and ears alert to any moans, groans, or shambling footsteps. He thought he'd heard something, but after a moment, decided to go back to packing, though he every so often glanced at the windows and door.
"Alright. I've just about got all I can cram in here. Some of these pastries are pretty big. Let's see. What about any of those drink bottles? I can fit a few in here. It might be a good idea to take some of the bottled water," he said, looking at the lines of drinks. So many different colors! But, since he didn't know what they were, or if there was even any sort of importance to the colors, he didn't know if there'd be any reason to grab any.
Nicole grabbed multiple bottles of medication and stuffed them all into her pack. That had to be enough until a trip to the hospital was made. She shifted her body to face Ambrosius instead of the shelves of drugs. Her gaze shifted from the window to the boy repeatedly. She had to be alert, just in case something came crashing in through the window or the door. If they didn't make it, this trip was completely worthless, and someone was sure to pry the supplies off their dead bodies if things went that wrong. Her gaze flickered to the drink bottles. Clear, red, green, blue. There were multiple colors to choose from. The group had to stay hydrated.
"Grab any ya can. We gotta keep hydrated somehow, so we could use whatevah we can find," the elder responded, glancing over at the contents in her own bag. "Ah can fit some in my bag too. Looks like we just gotta grab some drinks and run outta here. We eithah gotta run back to the junkyard, or check out anothah store or two when we're done here." The girl went up to the drinks, gathering beverages to shove into her pack.
"Make sure we grab some watah, not just the colahful bottles. Ah don't know if the crittahs in the group are gonna be able to drink ehnethin' othah than watah. Might as well stay on the safe side."
Ambrosius eyed the various bottles doubtfully, but did as Nicole said. After all, she had done tis kind of thing before. And there would be time enough later to see what each one was. But he made certain to pack a water bottle for every one of the colored ones.
"Well, I've got just about all I can carry this time. We'd be able to take everything, but I still haven't completely figured out how to shrink things yet," he said, staring down into his full pack.
Then, with a small shrug, he placed his pack on his back, adjusting it to sit properly. It wouldn't do for it to bounce around, or make any unnecessary noise.