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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Chapter 13: All Soul's Night - Mexico

Dawn OOC

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October 31

Abandoned Rural Hospital in Mexico

Jasmine sighed as she watched out the window for the Hummer to return. James had gone scouting for supplies and gear with Simon, leaving her and Primal to watch out for the kids and Mrigesh. He was almost healed but was still regaining his strength; walking for long periods wore him out and sitting upright for more than a few hours caused him pain. It had been a long recovery, complicated by the fact that their patient had also been the one giving the medical orders. But everyone thought they would be leaving soon.

That was good, as far as Jasmine was concerned. Financially, the rest hadn’t been a bust; the group had been able to scavenge the area heavily instead of the usually grab-and-go they did. As a result, they hadn’t lost money by having to sit around and wait for Mrigesh to finish healing.

“Jazzy!” Pumpkin burst in the room and leapt on her bed, her face covered with a crudely drawn cat face. “Imma cat! Mreow!”

“Yes, you are!” Jasmine said with a laugh, smiling at the child. She was admittedly more and more nervous as her pregnancy progressed, but she was relieved that taking care of children seemed to come easily to her. There would be some adjustments but she was mostly sure she could handle them. “You guys playing a game?”

“Nuh uh! It’s Hawwoween!”

October’s already over, Jasmine thought, wondering where the time had gone. “What’s Hana, Eric and Celeste going as?”

“Nothin!” Hana pouted. “Eric and Hana say they’re too old, ‘n Celeste don’t get it! I wanna go trick or treating and they say I can’t!”

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Too old for Halloween - they said that?"

"Uh-huh! I think they're just being big meanies!"

Jasmine laughed, and scooped Pumpkin into a cross-legged embrace. She wrapped her arms around the little girl and settled her into her lap (something she wouldn't be able to do soon, given the increasing size of her stomach), and propped her chin on Pumpkin's head.

"Well, I don't think they're being meanies. I think maybe they're just having a hard time getting into the Halloween spirit. They're right about one thing though - it's gonna be hard to go trick-or-treating, since we don't have any neighbors right now. So how about instead, we throw a kick-butt Halloween party?"

Pumpkin looked up at Jasmine dubiously. The little girl had never been to a Halloween party - her parents had always taken her trick-or-treating instead. There were some very important elements to Halloween, and the precocious little girl had to make sure that a party would cover them all.

"Will we get to wear costumes?"


"Will there be candy?"


"Will we get to stay up late?"


She studied Jasmine's face intently, and then broke out in a grin.

"Okay, I guess that sounds okay! But what if Bana or no one else wants to come?"

"I think they'll make it - it's awfully hard to turn down a party. And I'm sure we can explain to Celeste what Halloween is.. then she'll have fun too. We'll help her find an outfit, and anyone else who wants to wear one. And we'll get you fixed up as a proper cat, with some ears and everything. But you have to help me, baby - I have a *big* problem."

"What is it? I can help!"

"What on earth am I going to dress as, with this big baby belly I've got?!"

She grabbed Pumpkin by the sides and started tickling her, and the little girl shrieked furiously, giggling out her response.

"A beach ball!"

"A beach ball? How about a bowling ball?"

"Or a basketball!"

"Or a globe!"

"Or a fishbowl!!!"


"Okay, okay - you have a point. Opening the gauze packets will de-sterilize them, and they won't be able to be reused. Maybe I should go get some of your old ones from the burn pile out back, Doc - the blood will make it more realistic."

"Sadly, I believe Primal has already disposed of last week's waste, so you'll have to make do with something less unsanitary."

"Aw.. okay. We'll use some of this crappy hospital toilet paper, then. It's similar to crete paper, if you don't get too close. There was a ton of it in the supply closets, and we can only take so much of it with us anyway."

"A wise decision."

Jasmine had asked Mrigesh to keep her company in the conference room she was decking out for the party. She knew he got bored, laid up most of the time.. even a doctor could only spend so many hours a day entertaining himself by reading, and besides, there was a lot of party to plan in a very short period of time. As fast as Jas moved, it still helped to have a second pair of hands for the small tasks, even if it was only the ones he could perform from the adjustable hospital bed. Right now he was wrapping homemade popcorn balls in plastic bags Jasmine had acquired from the cafeteria, and brushing the outside with orange acrylic paint after twist-tying them at the top. Once they were dry, he would be applying the black, toothy smiles and triangle-shaped eyes the crafty young girl had created with some plain white office labels, a black magic-marker, and a box-cutter. The ability to do monotonous chores hyper-quickly was allowing Jas to throw a much more elaborate party than anyone else would have been able to with only a day's worth of prep time, that was for sure.

Jasmine and Mrigesh had gotten to know each other better during the group's time at the hospital, since she'd taken on the responsibility of most of his medical needs. Not only had Jas realized the importance of having more than just one medically-skilled person around, she'd felt an incredible amount of guilt for not being able to prevent his injuries. They'd become good friends, and Mrigesh was more at ease around the tough young super than they had been at the start of their travels.

"I hope everyone will come. Hana can be so sullen about this stuff sometimes, but a little bit of fun is good for all of us. I know life sucks in so many ways, but there's no going back to what we had, you know? The most we can do is make the best of it. And besides, I'm trying to give Pumpkin and Celeste some good memories. I know they don't have many from before everything went to hell. This is their childhood, there's no going back and redoing it. And Hana too, though she's old enough to realize how badly she got screwed. I don't want their lives to be nothing but zombies and rations and misery."

"You're doing the best you can, Jasmine - and trying harder than most people are capable of these days. I can't imagine anyone better for these girls to have taking care of them."

"Thanks, M. So.. what're you going to dress up as?"

"Me? I'm still an invalid, stuck in bed.. or at best, a wheelchair. Do you think it's worth it? Maybe I'll just wear something black."

"Nonsense. We could dress you in a suit and shave your head - you could totally go as Professor X!"


Jasmine just laughed, and tossed another toilet-paper streamer over the exposed ceiling tile beam.

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  • 2 months later...

By mid-afternoon, Jasmine had convinced a recalcitrant Hana to both attend the party and to watch Pumpkin for awhile, finish the decorations and the treats, and put together an outfit for herself. She'd sat down with Celeste and done her very best to explain the concept of Halloween. She wasn't sure the woman-child totally understood the concept, but she had at least gotten her on board with the costume part of it. They were outside, Primal keeping a loose eye over them as Jasmine and the three girls shuffled through the back of one of the Hummers, looking for clothes and props that they could turn into costumes. Unbeknownst to Mrigesh, it had been decided that he WOULD be dressing up as Professor X, unless he came up with something better himself.

"If you're going to make him dress up as Professor X, you have to make him shave his head!"

"That might be taking it a bit far.. I mean, I want him to have fun, not force him to do something he'll regret."

"But Jas, he won't even LOOK like Professor X if he doesn't - he'll just look like a dude, in a suit, in a wheelchair! What's the point of making us do this stupid dress up thing if we're not even going to do it right?!"

"Okay, okay - I'll mention the idea to him. But it's not like I can force him! Besides, he has such great hair, it would be almost be a shame to--"

Jasmine cut off, the distant sound of an engine too far off for the girls to hear having caught her attention. She held up a hand to quiet the surly Hana, and Celeste and Pumpkin's chattering.

"Shh - be quiet. Primal, you hear that?"

"Nah, I - oh yeah. Now I hear it. Sound's like an engine."

Without having to be told, Hana grabbed the binoculars from the second Hummer's back seat. She looped them around her neck and, with an agility Jasmine was temporarily without (at least for the next couple of months), she climbed the fence to the roof of the old gatehouse - the hospital had been picked for it's protection, as well as it's functionality - and peered into the binoculars.

"Yeah, l see it. It's pretty far off, but I think I can - yeah. It's just your boyfriend."

If Jasmine noticed any snippiness in Hana's voice, she didn't comment on it. Hana was frequently snippy these days, and pointing it out only seemed to increase the young teen's irritation. Most of the time Jasmine chalked it up to pre-pubescence in an apocalyptic society. Which.. to be fair.. pretty much summed it up. Instead she relaxed a little, though she kept listening for a moment before she let her guard down.

"Yeah - I think you're right. It sounds like the other Hummer. Primal, can you help me with the gate?"

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"So did you know?"


Bond looked over at Simon's question, his china-blue gaze friendly. The ex-cop wasn't fooled - Bond's expression only showed you what Bond wanted you to see. He could keep that friendly, inquisitive stare and affable smile while pulling a trigger or slitting someone's throat, Simon was sure. He'd met some sick assholes in Paradise, and some crazy SOBs elsewhere, but Bond and his feral partner took the prize for 'Scary Fuckers of the Year'. And despite their very different styles, somehow the two blended when acting together as if one or both of them were in sync with the other.

"Did you know how old Jasmine was?" Simon reiterated. Behind them, full containers of water sloshed as the Falcon jounced over the rough ground. The foraging run had been good - fresh water and plenty of tinned goods, plus almost enough fuel to refill their tanks and all their containers. Simon had to hand it to the Brit - he knew how to scrounge. "When you... y'know?"

"When I had sex with her?" Bond asked in an amused tone, then shook his head. "Not really, no. Partly it was assumption that prevented me asking, but mostly I just didn't consider her age relevant."

"How d'you figure?" Simon asked, a little discomfited by Bond's glance. The sly smile didn't help either.

"Because her age in years was a) sufficient for her to look like a woman in all respects and b ) was hardly an indicator of her maturity, which was in advance of her years." The mercenary replied calmly. "Scandalous, I know, but to be perfectly frank, the former laws of a dead society don't mean much anymore, now do they?"

"I dunno." Simon said, looking out of the window at the deserted suburb already gone to wasteland. "Some places are trying to rebuild that."

"Then they should bow to the inevitable." Bond smiled a little. "With the collapse of decent medical care and infrastructure, survival of the human race rather depends on young, healthy women giving birth. Before the 17th century, women as young as 14 were bearing children with no raised eyebrows. A woman was considered too old to survive childbirth once she hit 30. Makes one think, doesn't it."

"You saying we're in the dark ages again?" Simon asked. Bond nodded, his expression sober for a change.

"Yes, I rather think we are."

The rest of the journey was spent in not-uncomfortable silence, as each man dwelled on their thoughts. Finally, the hospital came into view, and Simon relaxed at the sight of Hana waving from the roof of the gatehouse. The humvee swung into the parking lot as Primal and Jasmine opened then shut the gate, and as Bond killed the engine, Simon climbed out and began organising the unloading. Bond followed, smiling as he embraced Jasmine and shared a lingering kiss.

"Awright, already. We got supplies to stow." Primal growled. "Shit, it ain't like he's been gone forever." Though he sounded disgusted, the large man had a faint grin on his face, canines showing clearly.

"I missed you too." Bond told him with a grin. "I'd kiss you as well, but..."

"But I'd kick your ass. Then hand you over to Jas, who'd kick your ass some more." Primal told him, flipping his partner the bird.

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"I probably would, once I finally stopped laughing."

She grinned at Primal, but hesitated for a moment before letting James go. She found herself missing him more while he was gone lately - not just his good looks or witty comments - although there was that, and God, does he look *really* good right now - but even just his physical presence. She knew part of it was the pregnancy hormones, and did her best not to let it get to her. Back at the refuge, and in the early days of traveling with the crew, she'd felt older - like Hana, she sometimes felt like she'd been through too much to think of herself as a teenager anymore. But she was still young, and pregnant, and acting the mother/older sister to Pumpkin, Hana, and Celeste, with only a sister's experience. It made her feel younger now, kind of, with these three girls (in their own ways) looking up to her and a baby coming soon. She felt a bit lost, like a teenager again who wanted her mother.. and she had no one to tell her that was a perfectly normal feeling, whether you were having your first baby at seventeen or at thirty-seven.

It was easier with someone there to help, but with Simon and Bond gone, Mrigesh still weak, and Primal and the new kid Eric doing most of the security, she was left to manage the three girls mostly by herself. Hana helped, when she wasn't being petulant, but that was becoming rarer and rarer these days, as Jasmine's pregnancy became more obvious, and the younger teenager's snarky comments about it increased. She'd finally lost her patience with it the other day, and in a (very) rare display of temper, told her to shut the hell up. She'd found Hana later and they'd exchanged apologies, chalking it up to heat and hormones, but Jasmine had a feeling that was why Hana had been pouting about the 'stupid' Halloween party at first.

Reluctantly, Jasmine slipped her arms down from around Bond's neck, but the look she gave him before she turned away was enough to start his blood boiling, even underneath that icy demeanor. It probably wasn't even on purpose.. but he could tell that she wanted him. The unconscious dialation of pupils , and the slight catch of that full, pouty lower lip with her teeth before her mouth curved into a smile. The way her hands slid over his chest as she pulled back. She stepped away and over to the Hummer, glancing at their cache of new goods appraisingly.

"Looks like you did good. That's a lot of water, and - wow, are all those gas cans full?"

"Yeah, most of them."


She was fooling no one, however, because after that cursory glance at the most important of their necessities, she immediately began rummaging around in the boxes of food that the guys had located. After a minute of searching, they heard a triumphant "YES!" from the backseat of the Hummer, and Jasmine slid back out, holding onto a box with several different types of jars.

"You got it all!"

She crossed back to Bond, and gave him another enthusiastic kiss, which he returned laughingly. Jasmine had indeed discovered the 'pregnancy stash', full of several different types of foods she had been craving, badly. There were four jars of salsa, three jars of pickles, and several different-sized bottles of hot sauce.

"Of course I did - what kind of provider would I be if I didn't bring home the pickles? Although I have to confess, without Simon I would've only spotted one bottle of hot sauce."

"Well then, thank God for Simon too."

Jasmine blew him a friendly kiss, and smiled again, glad to have everyone back in the same place.

"I'm glad you guys made it back. I don't know if you realize it, since the days kind of run together when you're out there, but Pumpkin reminded me that today is Halloween and we've been planning a party. Now it'll be really festive, with everyone here. I hope you two don't mind."

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Jasmine had indeed discovered the 'pregnancy stash', full of several different types of foods she had been craving, badly. There were four jars of salsa, three jars of pickles, and several different-sized bottles of hot sauce.

The giant thug cocked an eyebrow at the collective 'stash', curling his nose at it. He looked to Bond. "And you guys complain about the shit I eat?" The assembled tried not to laugh for Jasmine's sake but it instead came out as a muffled giggle. Bond graciously tried to cover his mouth, but it only exposed his finding humor in the situation. He thumbed everyone away, signaling them to just be on their way. "You guys go on. I'll get all this. Need somethin' t'do anyway."

It was true. Primal was the industrious sort, never liking to remain idle for too long unless he was taking one of his legendary 'naps' which could last a day or more. He remained as close, yet as far apart from everyone as he could since he joined with them, always trying to be 'a part of things' but never really bothering to join in any fun or hold conversations longer than a few seconds. Before Z-Day Primal was a family man, a damn proud and damn loving, family man. Now he was an animal driven by instincts and conflicted by what remained of his human side. The children, as cute as they were; Celeste, Jasmine, Bond... it all screamed 'family' to him and that panged him in ways he wasn't sure the others understood. He was their loner, their brooding tough guy who never had a pleasant thing to say and didn't seem interested in making attachments.

Bond gave the big lug the 'are you sure' glare but waved them all away. "G'on, git."

He set to his task once everyone had moved on. It was menial, sure, but it was something to do. Primal was far more of a help than he gave himself credit for. His ability to hunt anything meant that the Family now had access to more meat than before. While Bond and Simon had been foraging, he'd been hunting. The freezers of the hospital made storage of excess food stuffs easy enough, but only kept enough in there to last about a week at a time; freezing something didn't halt it's expiration date. It was mostly things like rabbit, coyote and an occasional roadrunner, as small as they were, they were pretty good meat.

Most of it was all organized where they had designated for storage, making themselves a few 'on the fly' pantries by having Primal carry a few of the freezers closer to where they all lived. Not having to run all around a hospital kept everyone closer and in case something happened they could locate one another sooner. He tipped the water bottle back and took a few large gulps when the scent of Pumpkin caught his attention. He ignored it, drinking his water and looking about the room to make sure everything was where it should be.

"RAGH!" She attempted to frighten him, which some would argue startling a seven and a half foot tall, four hundred pound killing machine certainly wasn't the smartest of things to do, but it was Pumpkin. When he didn't budge, or even acknowledge her she pursed her lips, clenched her fists and stomped her foot. "I said 'ragh'. You gotta be scared. It's da wules."

"I ain't scared of nuthin', Rodent. Now get outta ere', go play with people that like you." He huffed, waving her away.

She stomped away a few steps then turned around. "Pwimal? Are you gonna do Hawwoween wiph us?"

"Nope." He took another swig of his water. "I don't do Halloween, kid."

"You need to tell Hawwoween that, because it did you good when you wasn't wookin." She said flatly, slamming him with the sledge hammer of tactless childhood innocence. She paused for affect, it seemed before adding. "Jus' sayin'."

The giant's eye's narrowed as his brow became straight. Slowly the cap on his water was twisted back on, hoping it would buy him some extra time to think of a witty retort. Instead he snapped his head in her direction and roared at her, allowing it to echo through the halls. Pumpkin turned and ran, her reaction a hilarious mix of both a scream and a giggle as she darted out and down the hall. This seemed to be what passed as 'quality time' between the kids and Primal.

When all was silent again Primal shook his head and rarely seen smile found it's way on his lips. "Little shit." He chuckled to himself and went back to work.

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“I grew up on curry and peppers, and I wouldn’t eat that.” Mrigesh’s announcement came as he stared at the concoction Jasmine had built from the pregnancy supplies. “You realize that you may scare that baby out of there, right?”

Jasmine laughed as she dipped a pickle in the salsa and took a big bite. “Mmmm… no, this is what this kid wants.”

“Do you wonder what it is?” he asked after a moment. “Boy, girl?” Primal’s roar, by now familiar, rang through the halls, followed by a screaming giggle.

“Of course,” Jasmine said softly. Outside, the light was failing as the sun disappeared behind the hills. “But I kinda like the surprise, too. I just want her to be healthy, you know?”

“I know,” he said, smiling. “Not like it is at home…” He paused. “Was. At home.”

“They want boys there, right?” Jasmine asked.

Mrigesh’s answer was cut off by a shrill scream. “Pumpkin!” Jasmine said, on her feet and out the door before Mrigesh had even responded. “Pumpkin?!”

Bond emerged from the room where he and Simon had been cleaning the guns. Seeing Jasmine’s expression, he didn’t ask stupid questions like “where is she?” Instead he headed for the first room, pushing open the door, seeking the child.

Outside, Primal returned to unloading the Hummer when the sun set. Sliding some gas cans forward to make them easier to grab, he had the sudden sense he wasn’t alone anymore. None of his companions would make him feel like that, and he turned, growling. A little boy stood there, his form ghostly. Primal could still recognize his son. “Daddy?” the ghost asked uncertainly.

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Celeste had been helping with the stuff Jazzi wanted all over the rooms. So, she'd been handed rolls of this stuff that was really easy to rip and told her to hang it wherever she could because that was decorating for Hal-o-een. The sweet food was part of Hal-o-een, so Celeste was fine with all the other strange things that Jazzi wanted. She wanted more strange things as she got fatter. Mi-gresh told her that there was a little person inside Jazzi's stomach making her fat, which Celeste thought was a little mean. Mi-gresh just laughed and said that Jazzi didn't mind. Which was another strange thing because Jazzi said the same thing and that the little person would leave her stomach in a while anyways, which she seemed a little afraid of but Celeste didn't want to get more confused so she didn't ask about that.

And then Primal roared and Pumpkin screamed and giggled and that seemed a lot more interesting that the rolls of stuff that kept falling apart, so she headed towards them. She had just made it to the room where they kept things that they liked. There was some other person, little like Pumpkin but he didn't smell like...anything...and she could see the floor and Primal's legs through him. She looked at the strange boy, wondering if he was the person in Jazzi's belly and he'd come out too soon. She cocked her head to one side and look up at Primal.

"Daddy?" she asked curiously.

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She went left, and he went right. The scream had echoed shrilly through the halls, making it impossible to determine the source of it's location. One by one they threw open doors, looking for the normally fearless little girl.

"Pumpkin?! Where are you, honey, I'm-- "

Halfway down the hall, she threw open the doors to the conference room. During the day, the decorations had turned the room into a fun, festive room that was designed for an enjoyable evening. But with the sun setting on the other side of the room, the room was bathed in the dim light of approaching nightfall. In the middle of the room stood Pumpkin, who had, in defiance of Jasmine's directions, decided the best spot to hide from Primal's playful roars were to head to the very room she'd been told not to go to - the party room.

Jasmine's hand reached for the light, but then she paused. Cowering in the corner of the room was Pumpkin, her ferocious blue dog-like creature standing guard in front of her. His tentacles waved slowly but menacingly through the air, as a low warning growl rumbled from his chest and his eyes glowing eerily in the darkness. In front of them stood the form of a man, translucent and faintly glowing, as if the moonlight were reflecting off of it. His hair was thinning, and he looked like a man who had seen better days. At a glance, Jasmine didn't know what was so scary about him - Pumpkin was normally such a tough little kid, she didn't show much fear.

Another super, maybe?

Jasmine started to move towards her protectively, but as she did, she felt small hands grabbing at her legs, and her pants. She looked down, and realized she was surrounded by more - small children, grasping, clinging to her, begging for her help.

"Jazzie, what happened?"

"Why didn't you save us? Didn't you like us enough?"

"I'm scared, why did he hurt me? You let him hurt me!"

She turned around, stumbling backwards slightly. In front of her stood a young teenage boy, thin and sick and angry, his face twisted with a rage it had never possessed in real life.

"You stupid bitch! You were responsible, you were the oldest!! Why didn't you protect us?!"

"Pumpkin, you should have saved me. I'm your father, I loved you. Your friends should have protected me, too."

"Jazzie, help - it hurts, it hurts!!!"

"And your mother.. why didn't you save your mother?! She did everything for you, she loved you! You could have saved her!!"

This time, the horrified scream that echoed through the hall was that of a horrified young woman, instead of a terrified little girl.

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Primal's face practically melted away. The growl and the snarl were washed away in an instant as the typical fury on the caged beast in him was instantly brought to heel by the man whose body it shared: Tyler Cole. The man Primal was before the world ended. Shock, mingled with disbelief, were upon his expression in a mask that Celeste had never seen worn by the giant of a man. He was always so gruff and mean, pent up rage wound tight by frayed threads of fury just waiting to snap. Yet here, before this ghostly image of a boy, Primal was nothing more than a man who knees seemed to shake as if the next step he took would cause the apparition to be scared away and lost to him once more.

"L-Leon?" He asked. His voice nearly cracked as the whimper of a question passed his lips. His extremities quivered, looking like he may collapse upon his own weight at any moment. This wasn't real, it couldn't be real, but the sight of his son, to hear him call his father "Daddy" was nothing short of a one word symphony that held the behemoth rooted in place. "Is that you?"

"Daddy?" Celeste asked and his eyes angled to meet her for a moment.

"C-Celeste..." His voice couldn't quit quivering as the start of tears began to gloss over his eyes. "You see this too? I'm not crazy? This is my boy, my son. Leon..." Entranced by the spectre before him Primal reached out one quivering hand to his 'son'...

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Primal’s hand reached for his son, only to pass through him with a slight chill. The child looked up at him, rubbing at tears. “Daddy?” he asked again. “You got big.”

“I… got sick,” Primal managed to say, the explanation just coming out. A flicker of movement beyond the boy caught his eyes, and Primal lifted his head to see another man behind his son. It took Primal a moment to recognize him, because the last time he’d seen it, it had been bruised and covered in gore. The gore had been courtesy of Primal ripping his heart out of his chest.

“Primal!” the ghost shouted and charged. “Ya kilt me!” The ghost ‘hit’ him and did little damage. Primal could feel it trying to do something to him, however.

The ghosts do damage by taking temporary WP points.

For Celeste, this was all very confusing. She stared at the little person, wondering why Primal had said it was his if it was Jazzy’s little person. She was about to ask when she saw a man and woman coming toward her. They were smiling, but fear flooded her. Last time she’d seen her parents, they’d been trying to eat her.

Bond spun down the hall as Jasmine’s scream cut through the air, only to stagger to a stop at the woman blocking his way. Her name had been Bea and she’d owned a bar in some shithole out East. She’d also been the woman he’d seduced, whose husband had then tried to kill him. The entire town had come to Bea’s defense, and Bond and Primal had been forced to fight their way out of town. They’d killed a lot of people that day.

Bea snarled at him, then lunged. “Murderer!” she shrieked, her hands curled into claws as she raked at him.

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The dim memories of her parents surfaced in a cacophony of confusion and fear. Ignoring the attack Primal was already facing, Celeste sprinted behind the large man with terrified whimper. "Non, non. Non maman, non papa. Aie! Aie!"

She cringed and doubled over her arm, the left one with the forearm-length double scar running down it. "Aie maman! Où papa? Pas mal de maman! Aie maman!" Her eyes were shut tight, wet tracks tracing down her face as she hid behind the most dangerous member of her new family, trusting him to make the pain and fear go away by scaring or killing the strange people that made her head hurt and mad it hard to breathe.

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  • 4 months later...

“In the Hummer!” Bond’s voice interrupted terror and heartache alike. Jasmine, Pumpkin and Mrigesh found themselves reacting to the unyielding command in that voice. Slowly, fearfully, the people in the group pulled themselves together and headed for the door.

The ghosts followed; when one struck at Jasmine, she felt something happen to her. Fear for her baby rolled through her as she stumbled and nearly fell. James was there suddenly, his strong arms pulling her to her feet. They staggered onward, only to have Mrigesh call out, “Here! Over here!”

“The Hummer!” Bond called, helping Jasmine and trying to make sure they kept moving.

“Holy ground!”

“What!” Jasmine snapped, her voice incredulous. “What makes you thi-”

“Because they’re ghosts!” Simon belted past them, a sobbing Hana in his arms. He paused long enough to lock eyes with Bond. “They’re ghosts, Bond.” He ran on, ducking into the room. When Bond saw the whitish form that paused outside the door, he picked up Jasmine and ran. Pumpkin was close behind him, her hands wrapped in a death grip around one of Jasmine’s.

The tiny chapel was a haven; once Bond was sure the ghosts weren’t entering, he and Simon went out to get Celeste and Primal. The former had to be carried back to the chapel, and the latter dragged, so emotionally destroyed by the image of his lost family.

They spent a miserable night in the chapel, huddled and rocked to the core by fear and old wounds reopened. The dead hovered around the outside, angry and mocking in turns. By morning, everyone was physically unharmed but no one was in anything that could be described as a good state. When the ghosts had faded with morning’s light, Bond roused them to pack the Hummers and make ready to leave. Even if the hospital was safe, no one could bear to stay there anymore.

The crew headed south; Bond was determined to make the trip to Mexico City in record time, find Jasmine’s family and get them all back north as soon as possible. For all of the faults of the Refuge, it was a place of safety.

To be continued…

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