Thursday, 11th of July
Everyone and everything was grey.
The sun had been completely blocked by the ash and even though she had minimal hopes that the ash would recede and the sun will shine, it didn't. In fact, Pepper could swear that the ash was thicker then the day before.
Cheevers was no better. The hallways were even darker then when she had started the previous week. Although electricity was rare, the sun provided natural light. Now it was just dark where ever Pepper went. The teachers had some flashlights but only used them if they were walking around the hallways. They had suggested for the students to bring in flashlights to walk around school in and to read textbooks, but Pepper wasn't going to waste precious batteries on a future that she couldn't be guaranteed.
Pepper was in her third study hall for the day when Zack came in and collected her. There were no teachers to supervise, so there was no need to ask for permission to leave. Most kids didn't anyway.
"I have some bad news." He said as he guided her into an empty classroom. His face was dark and the usual cheeky glint he had in his eyes was dull. Pepper's mind went racing. Had something happened to Bailey or one of her sisters? Were they getting kicked out of the Tipton?
"What is it?" Pepper said, trying to keep her voice level.
"Logan and I were able to successfully break in to the lunch room in the cafeteria." He said. "There isn't much food, so I don't think the hand outs of food here will last long."
Pepper couldn't help but feel relieved inside, but by the look on Zack's face, she knew this was serious. "Does this mean that we have to bring in our own food soon?"
"Probably, but who knows?" He said. "They might have a continued supply of food from the food line, and Logan and I might have just peeked in on a day when they were running low."
"Do you think we should bring in a can for lunch, just in case?" Pepper asked.
Zack shook his head. "No, we need to reserve our food. If the School does stop being generous, we'll just have to have a big breakfast in the morning and hold out until we get home."
"Sounds like a plan." Pepper said. She narrowed her eyebrows. "Why are you telling me this and not Cody?"
Zack took a long time answering. He looked down the empty dark hallways and sighed heavily. "I'm still not 100% sure I can trust him yet. With Bailey around, he has got better, but I think he is…just not mentally right."
"Do you think he might have some sort of depression?" Pepper asked.
"Doesn't everyone?" Zack responded flatly.
Pepper nodded. It was hard to keep your spirits up when the sun was blocked by ash as well as the temperature plummeting to fall temperatures in the middle of summer, and of course, the moon being closer to earth and turning the world into one massive never-ending natural disaster. "Hopefully my sister can turn him around." Pepper said reassuringly.
Zack smiled half-heartedly. "Yeah, maybe."
They did an awkward goodbye and Pepper returned to her Study Hall. She had her History textbook open on the desk she was sitting at. She stared at the page below her. It was the Storming of the Bastille, which marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Even though it had no significance to her, Pepper knew that what she was living now was very significant history, even if the world ended before it became history. It may not make it into a text book and she doubted that anyone was printing any, but someone had to be documenting it, making hypothesis about how humans will survive, at least someone ay NASA.
A flicker of light disrupted her thoughts. Pepper's first instinct was to look outside to see if the ash had cleared, but then she looked up and saw the lights had turned on. Electricity was making its rare appearance. As Pepper's eyes adjusted to the light she smiled slightly. Someone must still have hope somewhere if they still have people working in electricity plants.
Saturday, 13th of July
The temperature was barely seventy when the six males that were left in the Tipton walked to Copley Square, which was a park around the corner from the Tipton. With axes in their hands, thanks to Arwin who found most of them, they began chopping down trees for firewood. Cody and Zack were sixteen and the youngest to help. However, with shortened food intake and loss of weight, even Zack found it difficult to swing the axe on to the tree trunk, and when he did, only little pieces of bark chipped off. Within minutes they both felt like fainting. Zack took in a deep breath but ended up coughing and spluttering due to the heavy ash in the sky.
"This ash will probably be what kills me." Zack said as he collapsed on the ground.
"The ash is bad for our health. I should of suggested face masks." Cody said annoyed. "Why didn't I know better?"
Zack thought of multiple reasons as to why Cody wasn't thinking straight, but he knew better then to voice them.
"I don't think we are strong enough to do this Cody." Zack said as he tried not to breathe in to deeply.
"I don't think so either. Maybe we should just collect kindling or something?" Cody suggested. Zack nodded.
The twins told Moseby that they were better off gathering kindling and grabbed a few large garbage bags and set off further down into the park. After half an hour, Zack and Cody were wheezing and sat down on the grass. Cody looked around at all the trees and the greenery that surrounded him. "In the next few months, we should have more kindling."
"Without sunlight, the plants will die." Cody paused. "Crops will die too, which means no production of food, which concludes in Boston being shut down earlier then thought."
Zack narrowed his eyebrows. "Close Boston down?"
"I haven't been completely honest with you."
Zack raised an eyebrow.
"I haven been honest with you about a lot of things." Cody corrected himself. "Logan found a brief case that held information about the future of Boston. It told us what is going to happen in the coming six months of the city.
"This was during your whole 'I must protect Gwen faze' which is probably why this piece of valuable information slipped you mind." Zack interrupted.
Cody swallowed hard. "Thanks Zack. Anyway, we found out that most major cities on the East Coast would be shut down if something like this happened. New York, Boston, Atlantic City, all of it. Sid, that guy from the library a week before shit happened, said the best place to go would be down in the south. Around the plains."
"Then why did Bailey and Pepper come here?"
"I don't know. That's what has struck me as odd too. They're from Kansas which is probably one of the safe states where safe towns are being set up." Cody said.
They fell silent for a minute before Zack spoke. "Do you really think this ash will stick around?"
"Zack, Yellowstone erupted, as well as multiple dormant volcanoes and even new ones are forming. It will never stop. We may never see the sun again."
Their conversation was interrupted by a familiar smell. Cody looked at Zack, who covered his nose with his jumper.
"Where do you think it is?" Cody asked.
"I don't know. It can't be too far away."
They both got up and looked around. There was a deserted playground twenty meters away, and the direction of the wind suggested that something was rotting near it.
"I reckon it's in that tunnel on the playground." Zack pointed.
"It might be a squirrel." Cody suggested. Zack shook his head.
"We can always find out."
Reluctantly, Cody followed his older twin to the playground. As expected, the smell became close to unbearable as they approached the source of it. They got to the playground and looked into the tunnel that was close to four foot off the ground. From where they were standing, they could see a young female; Zack estimated she was aged fifteen to twenty. But he was too far away to tell.
"I'd say she could of died from starvation."
Cody agreed. "Her family might of died from the floods."
"Or died of starvation themselves." Zack suggested.
The smell of rotting flesh quickly became unbearable and the boys decided to walk away from the rotting corpse.
"This is going to become a regular occurrence." Zack said.
"Yep." Cody sighed. "Asthma attacks and dead bodies. What I always dreamed for at the tender age of sixteen."
"What a time to be alive at sweet sixteen." Zack smiled slightly and looked at Cody. "I never did tell you why Max was mad at me, did I?"
"No, you didn't actually." Cody said thoughtfully. "What happened?"
"We slept together for the first time and her Dad caught us and punched me across the face. She got mad because I ran out like a little girl."
"Oh." Cody said.
"Yeah. Then we got trapped in the closet and made up a week later on the night the moon got hit, and that was the last time I saw her normal."
"Before she got all preachy?" Cody asked.
Zack nodded. "I tried to snap her out of it, but that ended in disaster and a bruised cheek and stomach. And then she broke up with me. That was the last time I saw her."
"I, um, don't know what to say other then I'm sorry." Cody said awkwardly as he was suddenly filled with guilt. "I'm also sorry I wasn't there to help you through it."
Zack shrugged and brushed him off. "You had other things to worry about."
Tuesday, 16th of July
"Mom, what use is Dad going to be if there is no sunlight?" Bailey argued.
"They will find something for him to do Bailey! He can build things as well as grow food!" Eunice cried.
"No. We have to go to back Tennessee. And you know it!" Bailey snapped.
"We have just settled in here at the Tipton. We have food and shelter. Besides, with the conditions and the ash, I doubt we would make it there anyway. I doubt the trains are even running." Eunice said. She sat down at the kitchen table and put her head in her hands. "I never meant for us to get as far as Boston."
"None of us did Mom." Bailey said soothingly as she sat down next to her Mom. She put her hand on Eunice's back. "We didn't know that the train we took was an express."
"I should of known!" Eunice sobbed. "Now look at the mess we are in!"
"Mom, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you like that." Bailey apologized.
"But you're right." Eunice said, looking up at her daughter. "We do need to get back to Tennessee. I just don't know if we would make it."
"What about if we took some of the people here with us?" Bailey suggested.
"Who? No one here is strong enough to go that far."
"The Martin's are. They're the best in shape around here." Bailey said.
"Yeah, that Cody kid is gonna go real far with his skin and bones." Eunice smiled. Bailey smiled too.
"He is tiny, but he is smart. We could use him."
"And what about that Zack fellow?" Eunice asked.
"Zack is strong. He isn't physically strong, but he is mentally. Zack has his head on his shoulders and he has kept his family together well so far in the absence of his Dad."
"True." Eunice agreed. "And Carey is a nice lady. She'll give me someone to talk to."
They sat in silence for a bit.
"Do we trust them though." Bailey muttered.
"I don't know hon, we barely know them."
"We should observe them for a while and keep it on the down low for a bit. Pepper and I will observe Zack and Cody. I get along with Cody better then what Pepper does, so she can observe Zack." Bailey thought out loud. "You get to know Carey. When the time is right, we'll let them know of the safe town and if they are prepared to join us."
"And what about the rest of the people here at the Tipton? I think the Martin's are very close with the people here Bailey." Eunice said.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it." Bailey assured. "Right now, we just have to get to know the Martins."
A/N: I'm not overly happy with this chapter. But I wanted to update as it has been a while...six months...I think the last time I updated this was last year actually. I honestly should get the award for most unreliable FanFiction updater...
Anyway, review my little minons, review!