“Oh, Katrina,” Mark said sympathetically. “I’m so sorry to see this happen. You must feel devastated. I know how you feel … I … I’m sorry you had to see this.”
Katrina looked up at him as if remembering something very important. “How is the baby?” She asked worriedly, “Is her mum and dad safe now?”
“They are safe and sound,” Jay assured her and sat down on his heels next to her. “They insisted to give us any help in return but we asked them to go on their way. We explained to them that we were waiting for someone. Then we heard…” He didn’t finish the sentence and looked down at the frail form on the cement floor.
“I’m so sorry, Katrina – Fleur was a good person, even though I hardly knew her,” Jemma gasped and put her hand over her mouth.
Jay put an arm around Katrina protectively. “I’m sorry that she … she is gone. We offer our condolences,” he said in a softer, low voice, “She was a beautiful person.”
About twenty minutes had gone by nut Katrina was not budging. She wanted to stay with her friend. “I’m not leaving her here, damn it,” she cried into her hands.
“Kat, please…” Jay begged. “I know you’re hurting, but staying here won’t bring her back. Would she want you to put your life in danger, hm?” She did her best to be considerate.
Jemma turned walked up to Katrina and knelt down next to her also. She felt her pain, as did the others. “Look, I’m sorry about your friend, but we have to go,” she said apologetically and puts her hand on her shoulder, making jay let go. She felt a pang of jealousy but pushed it away quickly.
"You never know if more might come. We could get trapped," Jay reminded.
“He’s right,” she agreed. “I think we better get out of here, fast.” She was rather edgy and anxious to leave and looked at Katrina, begging her with her eyes.
“We are all very sorry about your friend, but at least she won’t have to become one of them,” Jay said concurred and pointed his jump at the door. His usually intense dark eyes softened again when he saw Katrina sob. He looked away at the ugly coloured walls.
Katrina nodded and slowly bent forward to give her dead friend a light kiss on the forehead. “Goodbye,” she whispered. “I will miss you.” With a final caring gaze at Fleur, she left with her group and stepped back outside. It was raining by now. She knew she had to be strong and hid her emotions at the bottom of her heart for the time being.
“Come, Kat,” Jay said quietly and held out a hand. He smiled sadly at her with kindness. “Let’s all get through this. Right guys?” He asked everyone, but it was more towards her.
She couldn’t help but give him a watery, wobbly smile and took his larger hand. “We won’t make it, will we?” She whispered to him knowingly.
“Only time will tell,” he whispered back with a small smile.
She nodded and looked to her left. “Jemma, let’s go and wait for Cruise. We can’t give up on him. He has done so much for Fleur and I,” she stated.
Jemma gave her a curt nod as they all walked back to the car along with them. “Are you sure you’re OK to drive?” Jemma asked hesitantly when Katrina had approached the driver’s side.
“You need some rest,” Katrina advised and climbed into the car. The key was already in. She turned it and the car came to life. She waited until everyone got in. The boys got in the back and Jemma was next to her in the front.
“Thanks,” Jemma whispered and looked at her, feeling a bit guilty. “I don’t remember when I got some shut eye,” she murmured and yawned heavily.
“No problem. Get some sleep in the back, you guys,” Katrina advised and pulled the car back onto the street. She was headed towards the Petrol Station. Please be there, please be there, she begged silently in her thoughts. I don’t know what we’d do if we lose him. Sure we didn’t get a long a first but after Fleur he was the one I could trust most.
She dodged several broken down and abandoned cars parked haphazardly on the bridge she was going through. Glancing over her shoulder and to her left, she saw that everyone was already snoozing. She looked back onto the bridge, drove a few more meters until it ended and turned right onto a long winding road.
Katrina almost dosed off when she realised that it would be fatal for everyone and forced her eyes open. There was only a little more to until they would reach the petrol station. She kept her eyes on the road as well as keeping a lookout for Cruise and the blood-suckers.
Five minutes later she saw the familiar street corner and turned right, right onto the infamous Ashton Road. There it was. It was just like another other petrol stations but it looked too out in the open for some reason.
Cruise was still not there.
Maybe he was hiding and would come out after he can see us, she thought expectantly and parked the in front of the petrol pump. There were four petrol pumps as per usual and she took the top right one, closest to the road. She switched the ignition off and the wipers stopped in the middle of the window screen, letting the rain obscure the vision.
Jemma mumbled and woke up at once. “Are we here?” She asked groggily yawning and peered through the window.
Katrina nodded. “Yes.”
“Thank God,” Jemma said, getting out with Katrina and closing the door. “An hour must have gone by since we last saw him. He would've travelled on foot.” She turned to Katrina. “Maybe he’s still on his way, perhaps he's late.”
Katrina nodded, but something at the pit of her stomach squeezed her insides and something didn't feel right. She didn’t pay heed to her gut and continued to look around the building in case he was there. When they didn’t see him, she motioned to go inside and watched Jemma wake up the others.
“Want me to come in with you?” Jay asked yawning.
“No, you keep an eye out for Cruise,” she replied, “He’s probably not here yet so I need you and Mark to be our eyes and ears. We’ll be back. Just gonna go and check for him in there, if not, we will grab some essentials and wait. OK?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Jay said shortly. “Be careful. Mark and I will be watching out just outside of the door.”
Jemma held her hand gun out, and nodded at the broken glass window.
Katrina nodded and went inside the door slowly. “He’s not here,” she whispered quietly. She looked over her shoulder and saw as Jay and Mark took their places as watch outs.
After the girls checked that the building was empty, they started to fill the carrier bags that had been strewn across the floor, and got a few female essentials for themselves privately.
“Good thinking, right?” Jemma smirked, lightening up the mood.
Katrina nodded with a smile, but her eyes weren’t smiling. They were wide, anxious and alert. “What’s keeping him?” She whispered out loud. "I'm getting creepy goosebumps."
“Same here. It’s creeping me out!” Jemma shuddered and stopped just right outside the door. “Guys, come inside and have some snacks. We will wait for Cruise in here.”
“I’ll stow these inside the car in case we have to rush out. I don’t want to forget anything,” Katrina announced and quickly ran outside under the rain. She was already completely wet by the time she returned into the building.
“Gosh, girl, you could have took an umbrella before scuttling out in the rain!” Jemma joked and pointed at the rows of stacked umbrellas at the back.
Katrina groaned at herself, annoyed, and forgot her grief for the moment.
Mark chuckled and shook his head.
Jay just stood near the door and watched everyone, regularly checking outside and took the chair that was behind the till to settle on.
“It’s a surprise there’s still a lot of stuff left in here,” Mark said and observed the room. “We can stay here for a few weeks.”
“Why would we need to do that?” Jemma asked as if he was a child.
“Just saying,” he shrugged, “There’s quite a lot of food. It’s helpful.”
“He’s right,” Jay spoke out. “Also we should stock more up in our car in case we needed a quick get-away.”
“We should only take how much we can carry and need,” Katrina reminded.
“Yeah,” Jay agreed.
Jemma was sitting on the floor. She crossed her legs underneath her.
“How long do you think we will have to wait here?” Mark asked, sitting across from her.
Jemma shrugged. “As long as it takes,” she responded.
“What if he’s-”
“He will make it,” she interrupted. “I know him. He’s not one to give up. And neither should we.”
Everyone was quiet after that. The room was getting colder by the minute because the rain splattered through the crashed glass pane that used to be in the door.
“We should border this up. It’s dangerous,” Jay conveyed. He looked over to Mark and inclined his head to follow him. “We can use the empty shelves of the stalls to border it up.”
Jemma quickly got up and suggested, “I’ll go check in the back in case they have any supplies. I think I saw some nails, hammers, and other stuff there. Won’t be a mo.” She walked past the till counter and came back out not a moment later, carrying some big nails and a hammer.
“That was fast,” Mark said.
“There you go,these should help,” she said and passed everything to him.
Jay came from the back with a large metal shelf that was easy unattached. Mark helped him and soon they were both helping each other border up the entrance. They didn’t need to drill holes in the metal shelf since it already had some, so that made the job easier.
“Doesn’t look so bad,” Jemma commented with a hand on her hip. “Not bad at all. Good work guys.” She gave Mark a high five and raised her palm at Jay.
He rolled his eyes and returned the gesture.
“You and your brooding,” She teased.
“I do not brood,” he retorted.
“You are the king of broodiness.”
“I win,” Jemma sang.
“You both are better than a television soap opera,” Mark joked, chomping on a chocolate bar. “Hey, where’s Katrina?” He asked suddenly when she couldn’t be seen anywhere.
Everyone grew alert all of a sudden.
“Katrina?” Jay called. Nothing. “Hey! KATRINA?”
Katrina stumbled out from the back expectantly, her mouth full. “Wha’?” She mumbled with her hands full of snacks. “Sowwy. I didn’ realishe how fawish a yam,” she tried to explain.
“What…?” Mark asked confusingly.
Katrina showed them the contents in her hands and gulped down a can of fizzy drink. Her eyes were red and puffy. “I said, didn’t realise how famished I am,” she repeated, apologetically. Her expression turned sour. “Is he still not here yet?” She asked indistinctly.
Jemma knew that expression. She could tell that Katrina had been crying alone but she didn’t ask her up front, because even she wasn't that mean, she knew how it was like when you didn't want people to find out you had been crying alone. “Don’t worry, we are not giving up. We are going to stay here all night if we have to,” she said, trying to comfort herself and everyone.