Chapter Twelve: Kyle Richards
My mind was still slightly jumbled from being out cold, but I heard what Aria said. At last, I knew that she felt the same way as I did. However, I knew that admitting that now would make the whole situation worse, so I chose to say nothing. It made my heart ache to know that the feeling was mutual, but also that I couldn’t do a single thing about it.
We carried huge masses of the soft clothes that belonged to the vicar and the choirboys into the main hall and split them equally. Then we laid them to suit our own wants and needs onto a different pew each. Our makeshift beds were still uncomfortable, but they were a hell of a lot more comfortable than just the pews, or just the hard, cold stone floor. Hell, it was a bed. I’m not sure any of us cared really. We had somewhere dry, safe and warm to sleep for the night. What more could we want? Well, other than to not be in this position in the first place.
In the middle of the church, where the four aisles met, we sat, each of us sitting in the entry to another aisle. Martha was the only one with any food, so we ate some of what she had. I’m so glad that she remembered to put in a tin opener. Never in my life before have I been so hungry that I’ve been willing to eat cold beans from a can, but that night I did.
Nobody spoke while we ate. The silence expanded and filled the whole room, suffocating the air. Eventually, I spoke up. “So… Martha. You’re a Christian then?”
She nodded and said nothing. I looked quizzically at Jason and Aria for a prompt, but Jason steered clear of making eye contact with me, and Aria just glared at Martha. What had she done? Killed Jesus?
I couldn’t stand the silence for a moment longer. “What the hell is up with you all? Did you all have a huge catfight while I was knocked out or what? Come on! Spill. Now. You can’t hide it from me forever you know and the longer you say nothing, the worse the situation will get. So just spill. I’m on to you after all. You might as well.” I paused and looked around; each of them avoided my gaze. “Well? I’m waiting.”
“I don’t know what I’ve done wrong,” started Martha.
“You don’t know? How can you not know?” Aria screamed furiously. “I told you before! Or can you not remember? You called everyone in this world practically sinners and saying they were all damned to hell and that you were perfect and all that shit! You disgust me. I think you should be damned to the depths of hell. And that Jesus Christ of yours? And this God too? All crap. All lies.”
“You can’t say anything about the Lord and his son. You’ll anger him. You’re blaspheming! You’ll be condemned for sinning!” said Martha worriedly.
“Lies. All lies,” responded Aria with a straight face. “I’ll tell you what. If I’m condemned to the depths of hell and all this, I’ll see you there. You stand there all high and mighty saying you’re perfect and that everyone but you is a sinner, but you know what?” She paused for effect. “What have you ever done personally to help the world? Eh? Have you ever gone and worked your arse off in a voluntary place for homeless people? Have you ever given money to charity? To a homeless bum on the street? Ever? Well, have you?”
“N… No,” stammered Martha. “I haven’t. But I’ve never sinned, so I’ll be accepted into heaven with open arms.”
Aria snorted, “Yeah right. Like you’ll ever be accepted into heaven. Like there even is a heaven for you to be accepted. You can’t explain the unexplainable! That is why it is unexplainable! Human knowledge is finite. The universe is infinite. There are going to be some gaps in human understanding! Just accept that, and we can all get on with our perfectly non-religious lives. Jesus Christ.”
“So, what did she do exactly?” I said uncertainly. “Because from where I’m standing, it looks as though she’s just a slightly insane religious nutter. Sorry,” I apologised to Martha.
“I fought to try to save that six-year-old girl, yes?” I nodded. “This crackpot is saying that she deserved to die because she was a sinner. I mean, really. A six-year-old girl? A sinner? What sins has she even had time to do? What is there that a six-year-old can do? What?” Aria directed the last words at Martha, screaming it and almost crying. “I fought for someone else’s life and I failed. You standing there telling me that it is okay, she was damned anyway doesn’t help. You know what?”
“I don’t wish to argue with you Aria,” said Martha calmly. “I merely voiced my opinion. I don’t know what is wrong with that.”
“What is wrong with it? You said a six-year-old had sinned! Wake up! Open your eyes! What is there that she could ever have done? If you can answer that, I’ll go and surrender myself to the zombies. Are you happy now?” Tears were streaming down her face, her voice was going hoarse and her cheeks were lined with a beetroot red colour.
“Look.” I said, calmly. “I think I know what is going on here. To be honest, I think I’ll have to agree with Aria here Martha. There isn't a thing that a six-year-old could have ever done to deserve to be sent to the depths of hell. I know I’ve only just met you, but I’m not afraid to say that you’re wrong. You aren’t dead because whoever is the cause of this mess, wanted us all here. If they wanted us all here, chances are that they wanted us to fall out and argue. Arguing gets us nowhere apart from dead when we’re out there. Fighting those zombies has to be done as a team.” I spoke evenly, trying to be democratic about it.
Jason piped up, “I agree. Arguing is a no go from now on. You want to argue? No. Nope. No way. Uh, uh. Nada.”
Aria chuckled, “I think we get the point now. Look, Martha. It has been a hard day. We’ll call it quits for now, but I swear no more of the ‘everyone who dies has sinned’ crap. Okay?”
“How about we all go to bed now? Maybe some sleep will calm us down and, besides, we should probably do what it said in that text. I don’t have a clue what is going on, but we’d better just roll with it anyway. Not like we could do anything about it anyway,” I chuckled dryly, trying to lighten the mood slightly.
Clanging and clattering, we all helped to pack away whatever we’d taken from the bag that belonged to Martha that could be of use another day and climbed into our personalised beds along the pews. I was sharing a pew with Aria, our heads nearly meeting in the middle. I lay on my front and so did she, leaning on her elbows. Breathing deeply, I looked at her. I mean, really looked at her.
Despite having a few speckles of blood left on her, she was perfectly clean. Her skin radiated happiness and sunshine. A healthy red-pink covered her cheeks. I nearly lost myself in her deep, startlingly bright green eyes. Like two emeralds, they lit up the room when she opened them and her lush blonde hair fell in loose ringlets across her eyes. She lifted a hand up to her face and brushed away the wild hair, putting her fringe back into place also. Watching her closely as she did this, it made me realise how much I actually wanted to hold her, for her to be mine. Why had it taken a zombie apocalypse and nearly dying for me to realise that?
“Have I got something on my face?” asked Aria, laughing.
“What?” I’d no escape from this one. “Erm. What do you mean? Something on your face? Well, you missed a couple of spots of blood, but nothing major.” I was well aware I was sounding like an idiot.
Aria just chuckled even more, her laugh floating around the room like an innocent, angelic ghost. “You’re acting weird today, you know that?” she asked, grinning wildly. “Are you sure it wasn’t your head you’d hit? ‘Cause I think it may have been hit a little too hard.”
“Oh yeah. Actually,” I said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice. “It was my shoulder. I’m pretty sure of that.”
Carefully, she propped her head up onto her hands before continuing. “We haven’t had a really good talk for ages. I mean a really, really good talk. Where we discuss everything that has happened since we last had a close talk. It must’ve been ages since we talked like this last…”
“It was yesterday,” I chuckled. She really was forgetful sometimes.
“No way! I think I’d remember it! Mind you, we’ve had to deal with the whole apocalypse thing. That has disturbed the regular schedule slightly.”
“You don’t say?” I grinned. I loved talking to her like this. There wasn't a thing we couldn’t talk about. Well. Almost nothing. “Anyway, what did you even want to talk to me about? What is there to talk about?”
“Well. What about when you woke up earlier? When exactly did you wake up?” she said nervously, chewing her lip.
“I woke up when you were having that argument with Martha. She seems nice you know.” I tried to be calm, to keep my heart from running marathons inside my chest. I chuckled dryly. “You really should stop shouting at her so much. You’ll end up losing your voice you know.”
“Yeah, and when was the last time I lost my voice?” she joked. I knew the answer. Of course, I knew the answer. She’d never lost her voice. “Besides, how well do you actually know me?” she gasped.
“Please don’t tell me there is an axe-wielding, murdering maniac standing behind me,” I said in a stage whisper.
“Right. I’ve decided. You’ll have to answer ten questions about me, and then I’ll answer ten questions like you. How about that?” I nodded. “Okay. Are you ready? Right. Question one: What is my star sign?”
“Sagittarius,” I didn’t even need to think.
“So, question two: what date is my birthday?” she said with a smirk.
“The thirteenth of December.”
“Okay, you’re doing well so far.” She winked cheekily. “Question, what are we up to? Oh yeah. Question three: what is my favourite colour?”
“Six hundred and sixty six. Or, the number of the beast, the devil, whatever you want to call him.”
“Thirteen. Same date as your birthday.” These were so easy.
“Okay then. I’ll make them a little harder. What is my favourite item of clothing?” The quizzical look on her face never moved.
“Your trilby hat that just so happens to still be perched on your head. Nice one by the way. Keeping it on your head, I mean. Especially during all the fighting.” I chuckled slightly as her mouth formed an ‘o’ shape.
“Okay. Question number, wait… I lost count!”
“Question number seven,” I offered. “Only three more. At least try to make them hard,” I teased.
“Alright then… what is the shade of my favourite lipstick?” she laughed. “If you know that I’ll -“
“Revlon. Number three–five–three. Pearl cappuccino.”
“How did you know that?” she exclaimed loudly. The echoes came back like waves, powerful and loud. “Have you been stalking me or something?”
“No,” I answered evenly. “You only ever buy and wear that shade and that make. You have done since the start of high school. How would I not know it? You always buy it when I’m there!” I winked. “And anyway, what is wrong with me stalking you? I thought you liked it!”
Aria finally closed her mouth. “Alright then. I still have two questions left, right?”
“Nope. You asked me how I knew what lipstick you wear and then you asked me if I stalked you. I answered both truthfully. Am I free to go?” Not waiting for a pause, I yawned and turned to lie on my back. “I’ll just be getting to sleep now then.”
“Wait! What about my ten questions about you?” she asked confused.
“We need a good night’s sleep. I suggest we go to sleep now. Anyway, we’ll probably need it for tomorrow night.” After that, I closed my eyes and pretended to fall asleep. What I actually did was lie awake and listen to the sound of Aria breathing periodically as she went to sleep. It was soothing and calming to me, like the waves rolling up onto the shore of an empty beach. I lay awake listening in the dark until well into the night.