>_> .....

Chapter Sixteen

    I woke up and found myself on the ground. Alfred's arm was still around me, and he was slumped against a tree. My hand was still loosely in Gilbert's, who was splayed out on the ground, his mouth hanging open. I stifled a giggle. I looked at the sky and realized that I had been asleep for a while. It was afternoon. Despite it all, I've kept track of the days. Today was the 8th of November. This day seemed familiar to me, but I was too tired to remember what it was. I rolled over and stood up on my knees. I shuffled over to Gilbert and poked him in his slightly exposed stomach.

    “Wake up, man.”

    He mumbled and turned over, still asleep. I shuffled over to his other side and poked his cheek, putting my face on the ground next to his to freak him out when he woke up. “Up. Now. Your mother says so.”

    He opened his eyes slightly and they immediately widened. “Why are you so close to me?!”

    I chuckled. “To mess with you.” I sat up and curled my knees to my chest. “Good afternoon, dear sir.”

    “Afternoon?” He looked at the sky through the trees. “Oh.”

    I stood up and stretched my arms, my jacket falling to the ground. Oh. It must've been on my shoulders. Gilbert stood up too.

    “Happyyy.... BIRTHDAY!!!” Alfred tackled me, laughing. I screamed and fell down.

    “IDIOT! You snuck up on me! If I had heard you, you would be dead before I could see who you were! And what do you mean, Happy Birthday?” I glared at Alfred, who was laying over me, grinning and laughing. I shoved him off.

    “I mean, Happy Birthday! It's your birthday, Zana!” He laughed.

    That's why November 8th seemed familiar. My birthday. What a funny thing to have, seeing what was going on in the world. I saw all the others slowly get up, hearing Alfred shout, and smiling at me. Suddenly, I started laughing. I laughed so hard I doubled over, clutching my stomach and giggling so much that I thought I would burst. The last time I laughed this hard, it was when I was young. Arthur and Francis had been fighting, and I had heard from Alfred what it was about: Ketchup. It was about ketchup. That struck me as so funny, I almost died in giggles.

    “Er... Zana?” Gilbert raised an eyebrow. But I didn't care. Nothing mattered in these few moments. Can I have a few seconds to be free for a little bit? Not to fight, not to stress, not to worry, not to anger, not to do anything. Just to be me. Just to let it all out.

    After a minute, I finally settled down and wiped the tears from my eyes. My birthday! I almost lapsed into a laughing fit again, but stopped myself.

    “Are you alright now, Zana?” Alfred had been laughing with me. I nodded, grinning.

    Maybe today we would reach the safehouse. I closed my eyes. Please let us find the safehouse today, please. It's my birthday for crying out loud. Can't something go right today? Just once?

    To my surprise, Gilbert started the chorus to Happy Birthday,

    “Happy Birthday to you...”

    “Happy birthday to you...”

    “Happy birthday dear Zana...”

    “Happy birthday to you.......!” They all finished together. I could just imagine Scottie and Daze doing their special little “Cha cha cha!” at the end, shaking their hips, and making Dennis come out of a cake in bunny ears and a cute little tail. True story.


    I reached into my belt to pull out my cell, when I remembered I didn't have one. None of us did. Dennis... I wonder if he made it. Did he get any sleep? I hope he's okay...

Dennis' POV

    I was walking along, and I reached the edge of the field. I had stayed up all night and all morning, which I guess was a bad idea. I felt a little dizzy, but I couldn't stop now. There was a small building just ahead, that looked like it was just a door. I ran the rest of the way to it and pulled on the wheel lock, which didn't budge. I knocked on the door, with a slight hope that maybe someone would hear me on the inside. After I waited, it never opened. I figured as much. I tried pulling it again, using my whole strength. Nothing. I should have taken Alfred's advice and done some weight-lifting. Daze told him that a muscle-y Dennis would be as unnatural as an intelligent Alfred. He stomped away, acting exaggeratedly offended, hoping for the apology that never came. The point being, I never did.

    The lock turned. But I didn't touch it. An ice blue eye peeked through the opening. “D-Dennis?” Anna asked.

    “Yeah, I'm here. Are the others alright? What about Daisy?” The questions spilled out of my mouth.

    “Dennis...” Anna opened the door all the way and invited me in. I stepped inside.


    “....Daisy's dead.”

End Dennis' POV