Ryan turns on his heals and pushes me away. Sparky watches us carefully, and once we're behind the nearest aisle, we hear her tear open more packages.
"Ok, we don't tell Janice what we just saw. Deal?" He says it in a very low voice.
"But she eats meat. How do we know she won't attack one of us?"
He sighs, "I doubt it. I highly doubt that Sparky would eat one of us. Yes, I know, I understand that this is potentailly dangerous."
When was the last time he was so serious? "I won't tell Janice. But Ryan, what if? I know you trust her, but Sparky is a giant flying bird. She's friendly, I give you that much. Wild animals just sometimes aren't tameable. There's always a chance."
"Yes, there is a chance. But if Sparky eats meat, then she's a hunter. And last time I checked, hunters don't fly their prey to a safe place just to eat some rotting meat while fresh meat is right there."
It's my turn to sigh, "Alright."
He smiles and kisses my forehead, "Sparky won't hurt us."
We go back to Janice and the kids, the latter are curled up on the floor, napping. Janice eyes us wearily. "Where's your pet?" she hisses.
"Getting some rest, like you and Falicia should be. I'll keep watch." He hugs me and leaves me alone with the witch Janice. But I take the hint and lean up against the shelf and try to get comfortable.
The funny thing is, I feel safe.
When I open my eyes, it's chilly and dark. Only a few lights overhead are lit. I shiver and immediately I feel Ryan's arms around me. I nestle closer to him and realize we're laying down, encircled by Sparky's neck. Wow, I must have really been tired.
Sparky purrs softy and Ryan chuckles, "Told you she was friendly."
I stir a little bit, still not completely awake. My mind jumps from subject to subject, confused, "Where's Janice? Amy and Joseph?"
"I showed them to the furniture display. They're fine. I was talking to Janice and she agreed with me that we could stay here for a little bit. There's food and water and the furniture display is a good place to sleep. So we're good for a while. Time to relax." He hold me tighter and I sigh, perfectly content.
I doze off again, and for a while the sleep is peaceful. But eventually my mind brings back terrible images. I'm thrown into nightmares of Jacks, being surrounded by them. John is there, screaming as the Jacks attack him and tear his body apart. Suddenly, they're all gone. And Rex is standing over me, blood and saliva dripping from his massive jaws. I scream, trying to get away, but in nightmares you can never run. The one eye stares down at me, and then Rex opens his mouth and I expect him to swallow me up, but instead there's the girl sitting on his tongue. The little girl who was beside the road, her dead eyes boring into me, tears of blood running down her face, whimpering about her mother and father. Rex snaps his jaws closed and I hear the terrible crunch of bones.
When I'm finally conscience, Ryan is leaning over me, holding my shoulders.
"Falicia, are you alright?" There's worry in his eyes.
I stutter and cough, eventually able to say, "Yes, I'm fine. Just a nightmare."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. I can't."
Instead, I burst into tears. I bury my face in Ryan's shirt, but the blank eyes of the girl still stare at me in my memory.