Tam passed out and the world was lost to a dark slumber. She awoke to the sun shining in from the balcony. The beams were misleadingly comforting, as if the morning had somehow done away with the whole ordeal, but then she felt the wet, rubbery texture of Molly's wetsuit against her and remembered that, under no normal circumstances would someone sleep like that.
“Should we have both passed out like that?” Tam asked.
“There was nothing to be done about it. We were both past our limits. It's fine.”
Once the brief reprieve was over, it was straight back to business. Molly disappeared into a bathroom, ordering Tam to watch the door. The girl sat with her sword at the ready, leaning against the wooden door. The sounds of showering could be heard. Molly was probably doing additional self aid, as well, as long as she took. The door pushed against Tam and she crawled out of the way. Molly looked down at her, hair frazzled and in nothing but a pink towel. She cleaned up nicely, and Tam could finally see her features clearly, without the blood and sand. She was a bit on the pale side, but not unpleasantly so, and her dark hair contrasted her complexion. Her eyes were the color of steel.
“You're turn. Don't take too long.”
When Tam was finished, Molly led them to another room. She unlocked it. Inside were contents more befitting the morose woman; two katanas hung on the wall, there was barbed wire strung across the balcony door, and quite a few computers strewn around. She unabashedly stripped off the towel, with Tam still in the room.
The girl turned away. "You could have warned me!"
"Get used to it. If your antsy around nudity, you'll never survive in a battle."
Tam wasn't sure she agreed with that logic.
Molly opened a standing closet and took out a white bodysuit. "Motorcycle armor," she said, holding it towards Tam. "Surprisingly versatile and provides a decent defense. We'll have to get you a suit. Those street clothes won't cut it." She thankfully slipped it on and zipped up the front. Then, she threw the girl a bundle of fresh clothes. “This is the best I can do for now.”
“What are we supposed to do now, call the police?” asked Tam, catching the clothes.
“You might want to check downstairs.”
Tam's head bobbed to the side and she made her way back to the anteroom. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the dining room where the table was still destroyed, but-
“The monster is gone!”
Molly folded her arms and nodded as the girl burst in, shouting.
“When one is killed, it disappears the next day. We watched it happen. They just melt into nothing. Can't be frozen, preserved, or stored in anyway. Makes public exposure pretty difficult.”
“And it didn't get back up?!” Tam was checking the hallway now, clutching her sword.
“Absolutely not. It's dead.”
Tam pulled her head back in. “Well, what? What do we do with this? I mean, are we really on our own?”
"You tell me. Assume you were me and you had never come along. You had to drag yourself, injured, back to the house and patch yourself up, all while vulnerable to an attack. If you made it, then you have to decide what your next COA will be. Weigh your options. The house is vulnerable, you're alone, and your friends are all missing. The police are already backed up with calls; you'll never get through. Do you take the initiative and start a search, or do you play it defensively and work on fortifying the house? The choice is yours, and often times you'll have to make these decisions on the fly."
The girl stood, wide-eyed. She was getting increasingly tired of this para-military act. It made her uneasy, and she could only think of one question. "What's a COA?"
Molly was about to speak, but she stopped, her mouth hanging open, and instead went to one of the laptops. She opened it and began typing in silence. Tam circled around her and looked over her shoulder at the screen. She could see the Facebook logo in the corner of the monitor.
"What are you doing?" the girl asked.
"Checking for messages from the others."
"And you use Facebook for that?"
Molly looked up at her, the same blank expression on her face as always. "And why not? We're not the military. We don't have some private communication relay." She turned back to the computer. "Facebook works fine. There are more benefits to social media than people give it credit for. And sure enough, there is a message. It's from a few hours ago, around the time the boat was attacked. Looks like Patterson was trying to get in contact with us. They didn't find anyone in the water. Says they marooned the boat on shore after it was damaged. South of here, near Boken."
"Does that mean they're alive?"
"Patterson and Carter might be. Hard to say about the others. It's decided, we have to go look for them. Isn't that right, blondie?"
Just then, a loud noise came overhead. It was the whirring of helicopter blades, and Tam looked out the window in time to see two choppers flying past the house and into the distance. Molly joined her at the window.
“Those would be police copters.”
Molly grabbed one of the swords off the wall and filled two backpacks full of supplies; food, tools, ect, all of which was hidden in another room. They went to the garage, where an expensive looking Cadillac was waiting. Tam beamed at the flashy car.
"You afforded all this on a telemarketer's salary?"
"No. On my husband's." Molly climbed into the driver's seat and started the engine. Tam hurried into the passenger side.
"You're married, too?"
The woman pushed a button on the car's roof, opening the garage door. "Yeah, to Stev."
"And you're not a little more worried about him?"
For once, something seemed to break through her hard visage, and she raised an eyebrow. "Of course I am. We're looking for him."
The Cadillac turned down the street and started passing townhouses. It was still dark, but morning was slowly coming. The first rays of sun crept out over the ocean. A few other commuters drove past them. Tam was reminded there were other people in the world. The past few hours made her feel as if she were in the apocalypse. Something about how drab the sea side town was, the mixture of grays and whites. The sky, the ocean, and the sand were all the same color, probably because of the rainy, summer weather. And the gloomy house didn't help, with its complete lack of lighting.
"Why were there no lights in the house?" she asked as they turned another corner.
"Those monsters are attracted to any little thing. Light, sound; we just wanted to cut down on the odds."
"Did you warn any of the neighbors about this?"
"Absolutely. Stev and I went door to door when it first started. We tried to enact a neighborhood watch, but due to lack of evidence, it didn't go over so well. That is, until the killings increased. See how dead it is?" She pointed to the road. Now that Tam thought about it, there weren't a lot of cars out, and it was a work day. The town should have been a bit busier.
"People are starting to lose it."
"Why wasn't it this bad in Chicago?" Before Molly could answer, the girl realized why. "Oh, the city is huge. It must have bled into all the other crimes."
"Exactly. Seaven is a relatively small community. When the death toll suddenly spikes, and its made up of some particularly bloody murders..."
They drove a few more miles and Molly turned the car into a parking lot with beach access. It wasn't long before they found the boat. The small yacht sat with its hull dug high up into the sand. The whole thing tilted upward, and there was a prominent gash running along its side.
"Unbelievable," said Molly. She checked the gash, then climbed the back of the boat and disappeared onto the deck. Tam walked around the ship. It was insane. The whole thing was insane. One minute she was stressing over the next English exam, then she was running away from home and driving hundreds of miles cross-country because of a conversation on a forum. Molly turned out to be the real deal, but what if she hadn't? She was so stupid. The woman shouting from above broke her train of thought.
"There's nothing. Absolutely nothing. They took off in a hurry, but no clue as to where they went." She stared off towards the city.
"What about his computer?"
"It's here, but there's nothing of use on it."
Tam's eyes began to wander the coast. She noticed their footprints leading towards the boat, but then she saw something else.
"There's something leading away from the boat! Other footprints, and I think blood!"
Molly was down in seconds. "Why didn't I think of that? Of course there's tracks. We're on the beach. Good eye, kid."
"They lead back towards town."
Molly grabbed her sword's hilt. "This is where things could get bad very fast."
"What do you mean?"
"Something went wrong here. Patterson would have sent another message. He would have headed back to the house. It's not right. They fled, and someone is injured, but notice the sand? There's no other tracks. They weren't followed."
"You said whatever attacked you in the ocean was big. Maybe it couldn't follow them."
"That's very possible, so why run? These are grown men, not likely to panic. I think we'll have to protect ourselves up ahead...from them."
Molly headed off back to the city, following the trail of footprints. She never took her hand off the sword. Tam did the same.