"…Lana's gone, we need to get her to Dahra!" Molly recognised Edilio's voice and tried to open her eyes. She was in pain, in her back, her knee was definitely dislocated underneath her and her chest was aching, breathing was difficult.
"Molly? Can you hear us?" Molly managed to open her eyes and saw Edilio and Roger looking back at her.
"Drake, he took Lana…"
"What did he do to you?" Edilio asked, outrage clear in his voice.
"Threw me over the bannister…hurts…"
"How are we going to get her to Dahra?" Roger asked.
"We'll have to carry her, sorry Molly."
When Edilio lifted her off the floor she screamed in agony and he nearly put her down again, Roger stopped him.
"….get her there, come on."
She drifted in and out of consciousness, at one point she saw an unfamiliar black girl enter her field of vision.
"…is Dekka, she can…gravity…help you…" Molly couldn't follow the words but felt herself become lighter in Edilio's arms.
Kids were running alongside them and crying but Molly couldn't focus on their faces, they were all demanding to know what had happened. At some point Sam caught up with them, he was with another unfamiliar girl, she was there and then she seemed to blur out of vision.
When they arrived in the hospital Edilio lowered her as gently as he could but she still screamed in agony.
"My knee…" Molly managed to say.
"Push it, Dahra…"
"Please Dahra! It's...happened before…"
"I can't! Where's Lana?" Edilio explained about Drake taking Lana and Dahra swore loudly.
"Please…someone…push it back in!"
"I'll do it, my sister's got weird knees. Dahra, can you give her some pain relief first?" Molly looked over at one of the new kids, overwhelming grateful.
"I'm The Breeze, I'll do it so fast you won't even feel it." The new girl said, with a confidence that Molly wished she had.
She felt Dahra inject her with something and then put an oxygen mask over her mouth, the world seemed to fade and then her knee gave a painful throb and she felt the relief of it back in place.
"Thanks…" She muttered, she heard someone throw up but she couldn't tell who it was.
She felt the pain killer spread through her and she drifted off to sleep.
The morphine filled dreams seem to come and go, at one point breathing became so difficult that Molly thought she might die. Dahra's face was an ever-present worried blur and there was strange sounds, like gunfire, from outside.
Molly hoped that it was the army, coming to rescue her, to rescue them all.
"…waking up now."
"Come on Molly, we need you." It was Astrid's urgent voice that forced Molly to open her eyes. Lana was sat next to her, holding her hand, and Astrid was standing behind her looking like she had been in a tornado.
"Lana? Astrid?" She asked, her mouth felt furry, Astrid passed her a bottle of water.
"Yeah, there was a big fight, Sam won but…" Astrid hesitated.
"Lots of dead kids." Lana finished. "You feeling better?"
"Yeah, just a bit stiff, thanks Lana."
"No problem, I'm going to help some others, I'll check in with you later." Lana left and Astrid helped Molly sit up.
"Nineteen children died, Molly! Coyotes came and…it was awful!"
"In the corner, Lana's healing him now."
"Were you alright?"
"The church has collapsed." Astrid's lip wobbled so Molly pulled her into a hug and let Astrid the Genius cry on her, at one point Dahra joined them.
"Thanks for helping me, Dahra."
"It was Lana…"
"No, you gave me a pain killer, and oxygen, I remember it all, don't go denying it." Dahra nodded and pulled back.
"Come on, the kids need to see you." Astrid waited for Pete to stand up and walk over to her and then she led Molly out of the medical centre and into the plaza.
The kids seemed too stunned to notice her at first, but when they did they ran to her, crying, cheering, and clapping.
"Where's Grace?" Molly asked, over the noise.
"Roger's been watching her, I'll go and find him."
Astrid walked off and a moment later Sam arrived, covered in blood but clearly all healed.
"I survived the poof!" He announced with an easy smile.
"Excellent, now you can grow old in the FAYZ-plus-one with me." She said, pulling him into a hug.
How was it that she now felt closer to these kids than she did her own family, even her friends back home? It had only been just over a week and even in the madness of this bizarre world they had found normality.
"Most of us are from Perdido Beach. Some are from Coates. One from England." Molly smiled as Sam nodded in her direction. "Some of us are…well, a little strange. And some of us are not. But we're all here now, we're all in it together. We're going to survive. If this is our world now…I mean, it is our world now. It is our world. So let's make it a good one."
Molly listened to Sam's speech at the Thanksgiving dinner with a detached pride, he had really stepped up. He had become the leader that Astrid had been so desperate for him to become.
The cheers were so loud they woke Grace up, Molly grumbled and moved away from the table.
She sat on the wall of the fountain in the town plaza and looked over at the graves. No matter what happened from now on, Molly's future was sealed, as soon as the FAYZ-plus-one was over, she would end up in prison, if she made it out at all.
When the meal ended Molly walked up to Albert, Edilio trailing behind her as usual.
"Well done, Albert."
"Thanks, I know it's not a normal thanks…"
"I've never been to a Thanksgiving before, it could be normal for all I know!" Albert smiled slightly but still looked disappointed with himself.
"She'll be proud of you." Molly said, putting her hand on his shoulder.
"You think?" Albert asked, looking up at her.
"She'll be really proud when this is over and you tell her."
"How much food is left?"
"Four pies, I'll freeze them…"
"Actually Albert, I need them, sorry." Albert looked unsure for a moment but then nodded and pointed towards the pie dishes before then walked over to Sam and Astrid.
"You sure about this?" Edilio said, picking up the pies. "Drake…"
"I said I wouldn't get involved in politics, you don't have to come."
"I'm coming, Roger said he'll watch Grace, if we're quick no one will notice." Molly nodded and together they carried the four pies to the car and Molly and Edilio managed to sneak away from the feast without being stopped.
"I don't want you bringing a gun."
"I don't care, come on, if you're taking a peace offering up the hill then at least let me protect you from the car." Molly smiled and started the car.
As almost all the kids were at the feast the town was eerily quiet, they passed Orc and Howards house and Molly sighed, thinking about Orc. It wouldn't be easy, helping him.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure Edilio, I think we're like family now."
"Cool, sibling aliens, I like it." Edilio nodded as he said it but then didn't ask his question.
"What do you want to know?"
"What happened to your mom? I've heard you talk about your dad and his girlfriend but…what about your mom?"
"She's dead." Molly said, indicating and then wondering why she bothered, it was good driving practice perhaps.
"I was nine."
"Cancer?" Edilio asked quietly, Molly shook her head and took a moment before replying.
"One night she was coming back from work, she was a journalist, I heard the car pull up and I looked out of my bedroom window because she always used to look up and wave to me when she got home. Anyway, she parked the car and she was just getting up when a tree fell down and…she was crushed."
"How…how did it fall? Was there a hurricane or something?"
"The tree was old, it was a bit windy, the investigation called it an Act of God, a freak event."
"A freak event." Edilio echoed quietly, Molly nodded.
"And there started an obsession with freak events that brought me to this little slice of hell." They reached the guard house of the school but the gate was open so Molly drove straight through.
When they reached the school Molly couldn't help gasping. Coates Academy clearly used to be a beautiful building but after too much unnatural power since the onset of the FAYZ-plus-one, the building looked abandoned.
Panda ran out of the school first, Molly saw him shout to someone and Edilio tensed up. Molly wound down her window just as Diana was coming down the steps.
"Molly, how lovely for you to visit."
"I told you, I'm out of the politics."
"So, what do you want, cos Caine and Drake are out?" Panda said, looking like he was trying to make himself look scarier. Edilio relaxed slightly at the mention of Caine and Drake's absence, Molly was pleased as well.
"I've just bought some food." Molly could see the relief on Diana's face, however much the girl was trying to hide it. "Stay in the car." Molly said to Edilio, he nodded.
Molly got out and opened the boot, Diana walked over and looked at the pies.
"Thanks." She whispered, barely audible.
"You could have stayed in Perdido Beach." Molly said, whispering herself.
"If I wasn't here to question everything they did…it would be worse." Molly nodded and Diana reached in and took the pies out of the boot.
"Let me know if you need anything." Molly said, giving Diana's hand a reassuring squeeze. "I'm not sure if this makes us even but let's say I still owe you."
"Okay, I'll be in touch." Diana said, she moved away and Molly shut the boot and nodded to Panda before getting back into the car and driving back down to Perdido Beach, her new home.
A/N Sorry for the delay! We'll start Hunger next week.