"Seven ate nine, get it?"
"Yes Quincey you've have told that joke beforehand remember?" Delilah told him, her drooping eyelids blocking the view of the light in her glorious green eyes. "Yeah but you gotta admit it is still a class joke, ain't it?" he persisted, as Delilah rolled her eyes at his behaviour Quincey was being typical Quincey.
Yet that was exactly what he was aiming for. Antonio knew that.
Quincey was giving an Oscar worthy performance of his usual laid back self, whereas he sat rigidly and silently eating his food, afraid of even the saliva that coated his fork. He knew it got washed thoroughly by Victoria but this still wasn't a comfort to him what if the Quincey's little sister used that fork tomorrow and the bacteria on his mouth still thrived on the fork?
And then Rose would start coughing.
He shuddered at the thought of it not only because of what would happen to Rose but what would also happen to him. He tried to imagine himself as the centre of attention and hatred in the flat. Yet he got embarrassed to a ruby red mess the last time that happened and that was just a prank.
He was staring at his food rather than eating it.
"Are you okay Antonio? You haven't eaten a lot" Came Victoria's motherly voice from above him, heads turned. Antonio started to sweat under his mask, his mind was overloading with thoughts one drop of his sweat was all it took. No his clothes were covered in his bodily fluids too, what if Victoria didn't wash them well enough? What if...
"Are you sure you taught him English?" Oliver boomed across the table, the group laughed wholeheartedly at their leader's joke, but too Antonio it was damming speech because now all of the attention was on him, Stephanie's glare tore his mask right open as he seemed to try and squeeze into himself.
"Maybe his afraid to open his mouth after last time" Camden suggested quietly from the end of the table the small boy Bradley was next to him. Bolting himself into the group as firmly as the barricade was bolted in a few floors down, Antonio found it impossible to imagine he was the outcast a mere few days back.
"Well, you tongue tied?" Heather asked as he crashed out of his train of thoughts, he had to speak now or else people would start getting suspicious. "No, I'm learning pretty good... I just feel a little sick" well at least the last part was honest. However his voice had risen to a frightened squeak that quickly but silently aroused suspicion. "Well that a shame honey but at least your English is improving"
"Yeah" Antonio echoed.
The night of the seventh day was cosy for just about everyone else. Quincey kept up a good "act" while Antonio kept silent after that trying to put on a brave face of being just as relaxed as everyone else around him.
Yet that was impossible to show such a face when you're wearing a mask.
"You know I sometimes reckon that Antonio is a clean freak" Victoria told Camden as she entered their room that night.
"How come?" Camden asked rather curious
"Well he came up to me after dinner and he says he wants to use the same plate and fork everyday, he says it was a thing he always used to do back in Spain. But I could tell he just didn't like the thought of using everyone else's fork's and plates" she explained to him.
"Well at least his not asking for a bit of your ass this time" Camden joked.
Bradley (who was sitting up next to Camden) laughed in jolly manner upon this remark, "Maybe I am a comedian after all" Camden thought getting a bit ahead of himself. "I swear you two get happier at my own expense" Victoria said as she slid into bed, her wrinkled old hands still damp from hours of washing up grimy plates.
"Anyway" Victoria continued as Bradley settled down "Oliver's thinking that tomorrow we should start bottling water just in case it runs out and sooner rather than later were gonna have to start rationing food" this was rather grim news for Camden. "I thought we had plenty of food" he said.
"You'd be surprised how fast it goes" Victoria uttered sadly.
The silence crept in as the darkness did, they didn't talk after this but finally Bradley's curiosity overcame him "How long do you reckon we can stay here?" he asked Camden. The eleven year old had grown very used to looking up at Camden's gleaming bold head and seeing him as the voice of reason.
Camden gulped, the unspoken taboo between him and Victoria was broken and none of them knew or wanted the answer. How long would there be in this flat until they ran out of supplies?
"I don't know Bradley" Camden answered honestly, Camden saw the wide eyed look of uncertainty flicker on his face "But hey don't worry about it kiddo, besides you seem to be getting better you'll be back with your dad soon he really misses you you know" Camden said to try and raise the boy's spirits.
"Yeah" Bradley said uncertainly.
Uncertainly. Camden noticed.
It was one of Oliver and Stephanie's more peaceful periods as they lay in bed, undressed as they clung onto each other with giddy red faced expressions melted onto their faces as their sex life had peaked once again adding an tender flame to their love for each other.
This flame was not blown out by arguments or uncertainties within the group, well none they knew of.
"God, you always know how to finish me Steph" Oliver murmured lovingly into her ear. She giggled lightly "You and your comments, Adorable Gorm" she uttered that nickname stemming from their high school days.
"Bossy Lossy" He shot back at her.
They were both nicknames that made absolutely no sense to anyone else, but this was their language of love and no one else's, these tags were all they needed to showcase their love towards each other as Oliver pulled Stephanie onto the mossy hill of his chest he muttered "Can't believe Stan's fourteen in two days"
"God has it been that long?" Stephanie asked in awe staring at the celling as he hand rubbed against his torso pressing herself closer to him, "Yeah, glad to know we haven't lost any of our spark" Oliver said.
"I dunno about your spark but you've lost something" Stephanie said indicating his bloated belly. "What, my hair?" Oliver replied in mock wonder as Stephanie laughed and drew his face closer to her, his lips hovering over his face they remained in that silence for a short while gazing at each other.
"You need a shave" she finally uttered feeling the growing sandy stubble across his flabby jawline. Oliver only smiled to drowsy to carry on the conversation on the topic yet he did utter "Tomorrow I guess we gotta start bottling water and all that"
"And thinking ahead, it's what leaders do" Stephanie told him.
Oliver nodded "Thing are looking up for once" he said with a smile.
"Might not stay that way for long, besides we have to leave this place eventually" Stephanie uttered sadly each passing floorboard now felt like a piece of home to them, then again they were familiar with this flat, they had lived on the lower floors.
"Yeah, remembered when we rented a place in this dump" Oliver said "But soon we'll be out of here, like we promised and we'll have that modern arc house we always dreamed off right in the middle of the country" he thought aloud. "Stan would thrive he'd get away from all these horrible inner city kids and be out there getting some fresh air..." Stephanie mused.
"And we still will Steph, when we leave this place we have to see it as a new start, something to look forward too" Oliver reassured her.
They fell asleep on that positive note as the seventh day became the eighth.
And soon that would become the ninth day
And then a month.
And then a year.
Did it really matter? The dead didn't stop due to time.
Whether it was a year or Stan's birthday on Day Nine.