After Z-Day
Charlotte Donnelly
Rachel leads two lives—the one where she works in a café and gossips with her best friend Lucy, and ... Show More
Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Paranormal
london, zombies, england, horror

Chapter Twelve

Location: Hackney, London
Date: 12/10/2016

Naomi was making lunch when I got in. She gave me a sympathetic look as I dragged myself over to the sofa and dropped onto it, burying my face in the cushions.

“You want some?” she asked. “You should eat.”

“What is it?” I muttered into the fabric. She heard me anyway.
“Quinoa and veggies.”
Vegan, of course, because I wasn’t enough of a hypocrite as it was. My stomach clenched and I realised I hadn’t eaten…for a while. Maybe not since yesterday?
“Yeah, okay,” I replied and pulled myself up into a sitting position. She doled out the food into two bowls and passed me one, throwing herself onto the sofa beside me.
“So, what’d they say?”
I was so caught up in thinking about the guy who’d just tried to attack me that I didn’t even hear her question at first.
“The cops? About Lucy?” Naomi frowned at me, eyes narrowing. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I—” I paused, holding the bowl in both hands. “Some guy just grabbed me, outside.”
“Oh my God!” Naomi all but threw her bowl aside. “What happened? Did he hurt you?”
“I, no, I’m fine, but he—There was something wrong with him, okay? Like, I can’t explain it, but he—”
“Did you call the cops?”
“No, he—He chased me to the door, he ran into it. But then he just turned and left, like I wasn’t even there.”
“Jesus, that’s crazy.”
“I know,” I murmured. “It was so weird.”
Naomi stared at me for a moment longer and I shook my head, trying to dislodge him from my thoughts. “We didn’t find Lucy, either,” I said. “The policewoman said she called, that she’d run off somewhere but it just… doesn’t feel right.”
“Doesn’t sound like Lucy,” Naomi admitted. She picked up her bowl again and began eating. I managed a bite. “She’d at least have text you. She’s gotta know you’d worry.”
“That’s what I thought,” I said. “But the police don’t seem interested. Not that there seem to be many around either.”
“How did Jake seem?”
“Devastated,” I said. “He went home. I stayed in the park for a while. Asked around, tried to see if anyone had seen her.”
“And had they?”
I took another bite, chewing slowly. “Yeah, one old man said he did. Said he didn’t see her come out of the park, but he said he fell asleep too, so she could’ve left after that.” I wasn’t sure whether to tell Naomi about the symbol.
After a moment, though, I sighed. If it was from one of our other jobs, she might recognise it.
“He gave me this,” I said, pulling the now-crumpled piece of paper out of the back pocket of my jeans.
Naomi put her bowl aside and took it, smoothing out the edges. “Strange,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
“Really?” I asked. “I’m sure I have.”
She shrugged. “Maybe on TV, or the internet or something? Should be easy enough to search.”
“Sure,” I replied, taking the paper back, but I had no intention of doing that. I knew all too well how easy it would be to trace a search like that—sure, this might not be the only iteration of this symbol, but a quick look at my computer, at my identity, would flag me straight up. I’d have to look the old-fashioned way if I wanted to do it subtly.
Naomi shifted in her seat. “Are you sure that Jake… had nothing to do with it?”
“Of course I am,” I said. I barely gave it a second thought. “There’s no way Jake would hurt her. He was leaving the army for her.”
Naomi shrugged. “Just a thought,” she said, no regret in her tone. “They usually look at the boyfriend, you know that. Seems weird that they’ve not even really questioned him.”
“Well, they’re convinced she left, now. But it wasn’t Jake. I’m sure it wasn’t.”
“Okay,” Naomi said, her tone of voice clear that although everyone else might be convinced, she wasn’t.
The truth was, it had crossed my mind at some point between getting Jake’s first phone call and then him finding me at the park in the middle of the night. But then I’d seen him. I knew liars; I knew how to spot one. Unless Jake was the best liar I’d ever seen—and I’d known him for years, I knew what his lies looked like—then he knew as much as I did.
Possibly less.
I leant back on the sofa, half-heartedly eating my lunch. I didn’t know whether to tell him about what I’d discovered; though it was probably for the best that I kept it to myself, at least until I found out where the symbol was from.
Was it cowardly? Possibly. But if I was arrested for anything I’d done, then I’d never find Lucy. I couldn’t trust anyone else to find her, either—Jake was in the army, sure, but he didn’t have the resources I did, not here.
No, it would have to wait.
A few hours later, I finally plucked up the courage to call work. My supervisor yelled at me down the phone for a few minutes before I explained what had happened; then he offered me some time off.
I sat there, unsure as to whether I should take it. Still, I decided to take the next two days off and told him I’d be in on Saturday; I could hear the relief in his voice even as he told me not to worry. Saturdays were always busy and there were few staff who would cover on such short notice.
After that, I watched TV with Naomi for a while. We flicked the news off quickly after checking if they were reporting on Lucy’s disappearance (they weren’t) and I wondered, guiltily, if I should still be out, looking for her.
“Just go to bed, Rach,” Naomi said eventually. “There’s nothing you can do right now; it’s dark out. We’ll make up some missing posters in the morning and put them out where she lives, okay?”
“Okay,” I murmured. She leaned over and hugged me and I shuffled off into my room. I didn’t bother turning on the lights; just pulled off my jeans and got into bed.
I woke at three. My phone was buzzing on the bedside table, casting my room in an eerie glow.
I frowned, lifting my head and blinking at it blearily.
My heart started pounding as I grabbed for it—I had a sudden feeling that it was Lucy on the other end; was sure it was her—but then I looked and my heart sank again.
It could be Bishop, so I answered it anyway.
Nothing. Not at first. Then I realised I could hear breathing and sat up a little straighter.
A muffled sob and my heart picked up again.
Then the voice.
I stopped breathing. “Lucy?” I choked out. 
Log in to add a comment or review for this chapter Chapter updated on: 9/24/2017 11:10:26 PM
  • Andre Clemons commented on :
    10/14/2017 5:12:20 AM
    Okay, now I'm REALLY dying for the next chapter ASAP!!!