“Clementine!” Ava cried, but the girl was nowhere to be seen. Her heart pounded painfully in her chest as she ran through the garden to look for her. She tried to persuade herself that all was well that Clem could not have happened, but her subconscious was not there. For too long she had been on the road.
We only play hiding places, she said to herself for the thousandth time, this is just a game. There is no danger!
But this nasty fear, which lay like a stone in her bowels, could not be driven out. She hated this game. Why had she been persuaded to do so?
The answer was simple – she could not refuse Clementine. When she was adopted by her parents two months ago, it was the most beautiful moment in her life. Suddenly she had a bed, her own room. She did not have to freeze at night and was no longer so alone. But the best was Clementine. It was impossible not to close her heart. She was so happy to get a big sister and welcomed her immediately. Ava immediately felt responsible for her. Why it was self-evident for her to stay at home while Ed and Diana drove to Savannah. She could have gone, too, but where? She had been on the road for so long, she liked to stay where she was, thank you very much. Clem had been very happy about it.
There it was the least that she played this terrible game with her.
“Did you find her?” Sarah asked behind her. Ava shook her head. Sarah was nice, a student who wanted to earn something for this year’s Springbreak. She was a pleasant company, even if she sometimes asked too many questions about Ava’s past. She did not mean it, of course not – she was just curious.
“Okay, Clem, you’ve won, come out!” Sarah shouted. After a few seconds, Clem appeared under the terrace – apparently she had found a gap in the wood.
“Oh no!” Sarah sighed. Clementine was covered all over with earth and old foliage – for Sarah was the work. For Ava was the amusement. She wanted to make an ironic remark, but when she saw that Sarah was really unnerved, she let it go.
“This is not so bad,” she said instead, “we just throw that into the washing machine and then it’s going to go out.”
“Sorry,” Clem said, leaving her head guilty. Ava heard Sarah sigh before she said,
“Oh, it’s all right, we’ll get it clean again.” Clem cleared her room.
Next they played tea party. Ava did not understand the concept really (there was no tea in it!), But she added. Finally, Clem had fun with it. It was already evening. The sun slowly went down and dipped the garden into orange light. It was already cooler.
They let the tiny little cups sound, just as a scream echoed through the streets.
Then another and another one sounded, until the air was filled. There were also groans and rattles. Ava got a goose bumps.
“Stay here,” she ordered Clem, and ran to the gate to see what was going on.
She would never forget these pictures.
There was blood all over the street. People ran around in panic, screaming, crying. Others dragged their way through the streets. Her skin looked decayed, she limped, stretched out her arms to the others. Ava was already going to one of them to help him, then he got someone to grab – and dug his teeth in his shoulder.
“FUCK!” She cried. The thing turned to her. His eyes were empty and dead. At once Ava ran back.
“What’s going on? What’s going on?” Sarah shouted. She was also afraid to look.
“Clem, climb into your tree house and pull up the ladder, just let it down if you hear one of us,” Ava ordered.
“What’s going on?” Clem asked anxiously.
“Just do it, okay, we’ll come right away,” Ava replied. Then she turned to Sarah.
“Something bad is going on here, we get everything edible out of the house and stay in the tree house.”
Sarah nodded and they stormed into the house. In winds, they gathered all that they could find of food and drink. It was not too much. They wanted to go shopping tomorrow. They hurriedly packed everything into the big backpack that Ed had bought. When they were finished, it was already dark. Quickly, Ava grabbed a knife and ran with the backpack on her back, only to realize that Sarah did not follow her.
“What the hell, Sarah, come on,” she said impatiently.
“You go, I call the police, we should have done that long ago,” Sarah said.
“The police can not help us either!” Ava hissed.
“We can not do it alone, Diana said I should call the police when something happens!”
They were silent for a moment.
“Fine, but hurry up!” Ava said, running to the Treehouse. At the top, she took Clem in her arms and did not let go of her for an eternity.
“Everything will be fine,” she heard herself say, though she did not believe it. Time seemed to have lost its importance. Were minutes passed? Or hours? She could not tell. Where was Sarah?
Perhaps she had reached someone, Ava thought. Carefully she peered out of the tree house. One of the things was in her garden … and ran straight to the still open glass door.
“SARAH!” Ava shouted. The thing turned to her-it had once been a woman-and for a moment she thought it would be all right. To them it could not be high, the ladder was finally up and Sarah could run away. But then Sarah answered. Ava could no longer say what she had called, she only knew the thing was going into the house. Then she heard Sarah scream.
“NO!” She cried. Clementine shrieked. She was about to take the ladder, but Ava grabbed her and held her tightly in her arms.
“We can not go down there, it’s too late,” she said, while Clem was crying in her arms.
She felt like the worst man on earth while she listened to Sarah’s death.