Project New Dawn Chapter Nineteen

“Are you ready?” Noah asked, entering the armoury. I clipped the tactical vest on, checking my sidearm was clean before sliding it into the holster on my thigh.  I looked at him speculatively.

“Nearly ready,” I replied, picking up the sniper rifle, “Have you changed your mind?”

“I told you, I’m not letting you go on your own with Tobi,” Noah replied with a fond look. We had argued in circles, but finally, I had relented he could come, so now I glanced at him. He was wearing similar clothing to me; green cargo trousers, a green jacket and a tactical vest. He slipped the earpiece over his ear, then settled it inside.

“How’s your team look?”

“They will be fine, they’ve trained, and I have every confidence they will be careful,”

“This is merely Recon, no contact with the locals,” I reiterated.

“Yes, Dad, I remember your orders. The team also know your orders,” He rolled his eyes, grinning at me. He slipped on a handgun then picked up an SA80 A3. We left the armoury, locking it on our way out, making our way down to the Mech Bay. I could see Noah looked a little nervous, he was usually so confident, so it was strange to see him going back to the quiet boy I had first met.

“Don’t worry about it; it’s a simple reconnaissance job, just observe and return,”

“I know,” he replied quietly but did not expand on that. I knew he was worried about his team. We entered the Mech Bay to see the other three members of Bravo Team kitted up. I looked them over; Tanya Forest, the teen that looked like she could not say boo to a goose. Eli Wolfe, the thirteen-year-old, was as tall as me but had a runner’s legs and body. Finally, Benji was the smallest of the team, but I’ve been told his intelligence nearly rivals Tobi’s. Tobi was stood by them, wearing his typical overall’s dark blue tee and boots. He wore a warm jacket as the weather had been unseasonably cold outside. He had a black backpack at his feet. Mac, Larry and Tom were also there.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Mac asked as soon as we entered. She was looking between her brother and me.

“We will be fine,” I assured, “the first sign of trouble, and we’ll go to ground. We’ve got Noah with us as well,”

“OK,”

“Keep the fires warm, and look after the place for me,” I told her with a grin, then looked around, “Are you ready, Larry?”  

“The horses are good to go,” Larry answered.

“Good, we’ll need to move fast,” I told Noah and Tobi as they approached me. Noah had been having a final meeting with his team.

“Alright,” He moved off towards the stables with his team. I noticed Amanda and Nate sat on quad bikes, ready to open the gates for us.

“I’m glad Noah’s coming with us,” Tobi suggested quietly. I glanced at him, but he seemed genuine, so I wondered if he was over his jealousy of the pair of us dating.

“I’m glad for the extra set of hands,” Larry led the black horse, Apollo, over to me. He had been saddled and was all ready to go. I stroked his muzzle, talking to him gently, letting him know who would be riding him. Over the last month, I had been practising with Apollo, so he was comfortable with me riding him. I slid the sniper rifle into a holder on the saddle before lifting the backpack up and slinging it over my shoulders.

“I’m still not sure about this,” Mac protested again. I grabbed Tobi, surprising him and placed him on the second horse as Noah mounted the third.

“We will be as careful as possible. Hopefully, we’ll be home tonight and chowing down on some excellent food,” I told her as I mounted Apollo swinging my leg over. I saw the three from Bravo team mounting up, then walking the horses over to my little trio.

“Right, good luck,” I led the horses over towards the door, hearing the hooves strike against the concrete floor. The smaller doors rumbled open, sunlight filtering through. It was still relatively early in the morning as we cantered out to the gate, the two on quad bikes going ahead of us. They opened the gate, where I stopped just beyond the boundary. I saluted Nate and Amanda when they closed the gate.

“Make sure you are back by four PM at the latest,” I told Tanya and her team. I could see Noah roll his eyes behind his HUD glasses, but he grinned at his second-in-command. We separated with a wave. I started moving the horse down the path towards the valley; once we were out of sight of the base, I grinned at the pair getting a lungful of fresh air.  I took my earpiece out, followed by the other two.

“I’m so glad to be getting out; it was beginning to get stuffy,” I told the pair of them, feeling a bit easy.

“Don’t let your guard down; Mac will have our nuts,” Noah commented, shuddering.

“She’ll have more than that if we get precious Tobi hurt,” I mocked the younger boy, who growled like a little bear.

“I’ll have your nuts in a minute,” He threatened,

“You wish,” I looked at him leeringly.

“Leave my boyfriend’s nuts alone,” Noah laughed as silence reigned. This was the first time we had acknowledged it, then he muttered “Sorry,”

“No, it’s fine,” Tobi reassured, “Look, Alex is my best friend, and yes, I had a crush on him, but he really likes you, God only knows why you like him,”

“Hey,” I shouted, but it had relieved the tension; I gave Noah a small grin, attempting not to move any closer,  “Operations, any coverage over the target area?”

We’ve lost all satellite coverage over this area, boss,” the thirteen-year-old Italian told me. I’ve yet to get him to stop calling me Boss.

“No, problem, we’ll have to go in blind,” I told him; he was the European Division for Operations.

An hour later saw us emerging from the valley, but we were met by a copse of trees. There were high hills all around us, so we had plenty of coverage.

“Here’s where we leave our horses,” I told the pair, dismounting quickly. Noah and Tobi followed suit, then I took all horses reins leading them underneath the tree’s tying them to a branch. A small stream was close by, and the horse had leaves to snack on. I grabbed the other backpack tied to the horse, then grabbed the rifle, slinging it over my shoulder. It was heavy, but I would rather be with it than without it. Noah had already taken the other bag as I led them through the trees until we found a disused public path, climbing over a rickety fence. We could hear water running now as we came out of the trees into the gorge; either side rockface climbed high, dappled light came through the trees above us.

“I feel like we are back on that scouting trip last year,” Tobi spoke up.

“Oh yeah, I remember the one. Didn’t you get poison ivy rash?” I laughed at him, scrambling up the gorge. Luckily the rocks were big enough to move across them without getting wet, as there certainly was no pathway with the gorge being too narrow. Tobi blushed but laughed when Noah laughed at us. It was almost like a pleasant day out if you forgot the fact that I had a sniper rifle on my back and a mechanical marvel in the backpack I wore.

“I can’t help it; I thought they were dock leaves,” he muttered.

“What happened?” Noah asked through his laughter.

“Tobi got poison ivy all over his ‘Lil balls and ass,” I told him through laughs

“It wasn’t funny; it hurt!” he winced, remembering the rash he’d had on his testicles. Noah and I laughed even harder, nearly falling off one of the rocks

“It shouldn’t take us too long, hopefully about thirty minutes, to reach the waterfall,” I told them as we moved fairly swiftly across the rocks, neither of us talking as we quickly began to tire. Ahead we were presented with our first challenge; a tree nearly blocked the way forward, there was a small gap, but it required going into the water. Here the water was not as strong, so we should be alright. I stopped for a moment taking water bottles from the bag on Noah’s shoulder.

“Tanya, sitrep?”

We’ve reached Davis town and are settled above the town on a ridge, we’ve seen some activity, but it’s early yet,” She replied then added, “We have seen no adults so far,”

“Good, I’ll check in again midday,” I told her, then look at Noah, “Are the bag’s waterproof? We are going to have to go through the water,”

“If you make sure they are properly closed, nothing should get wet inside of them,” he returned.

“Right, looks like we are getting wet,” I looked at the pair of them with a raised eyebrow. Tobi laughed, stripping off, “What are you doing?”

“I’ll wear my skivvies, then just go commando when we get out,” he replied logically. I looked to Noah, who shrugged his shoulders, then pulled off his vest. I thought about it, and it seemed like the best possible solution. I began stripping down my clothes, pulling off my boots. I checked Noah out when Tobi wasn’t looking. Now just in boxer briefs, his five foot three body was tanned, his auburn hair shone in the sunlight. I noticed his nipples were beginning to harden; I took a quick look at his pouch, trying not to get hard as I drooled over his body.  We stuffed all three sets of clothes into the bags, sealing them.

“I’m a bit taller than you, so let me go first with the bags, then I’ll come back for you,” I told Tobi, then looked at Noah, “You reckon you’ll be able to walk that, OK?”

“I think I’ll be fine, your not much taller than me,” he rolled his eyes. I nodded at him, then slipped down the rocks and into the water; though it was the middle of June, this was mountain water, my nuts sucked straight up into my body. It was about chest height for me, so probably nose level for Tobi. He passed down one of the backpacks, which I slid onto my back, keeping the top firmly out of the water. I waded through the water, looking through the clear water for anything sharp. I ducked under the tree, feeling my shoulders go under the water, then I was out the other side. I looked up and around; the rocks here were far too big to clamber up. Edging along the boulder, I soon found a small beach. Dumping the bag, I made my way back for the other two.

“Are you alright?” Tobi asked as I emerged from under the tree.

“Can we make it?” Noah asked at the same time.

“Yeah, piece of cake,” I told the pair of them. Noah handed me down the rifle; I slipped two sets of boots around my neck. Noah slipped into the water beside me, yelping at the cold, but the second bag kept him a little buoyant

“What are you waiting for?” Tobi looked at me curiously, wondering why I was not moving.

“It’s a little deep; I’ll give you a piggyback,” He sat down on the rock. I turned my back to him as Noah began feeling his way around the rock; I felt movement then Tobi’s heavy body was wrapped around my back, his arms almost choking me.

“This is comfortable,” he told me cheekily.

“Ease up on the choking,” I told him, and he released my neck a little bit.

“Sorry,” He said sheepishly. I began to follow Noah back under the tree, steadily feeling my way around the boulder until we reached the beach. The three of us quickly changed. I looked away as I pulled my underwear off and dressed back into the military clothes. Once sorted, we were on our way once again.

What felt like hours later, we heard the waterfall’s noise thundering down. We came around the corner, stopping to look around the magnificent waterfall. By no means was it a large waterfall, but it fell down about twenty feet into a pool. The gorge rose up around us; we could see wrought metal fences at the end of a pathway overlooking the waterfall. I looked around and saw a small rockfall that should get us onto the path to the right. I pointed the pair towards some rocks that had collapsed near the right-hand side; Tobi seemed to clamber up it like a billy-goat while Noah and I picked our way up. We reached the top, but there was about an eight-foot gap between the rock wall and the bottom of the path.

“Get on my shoulder’s and pull yourself up,” I told Tobi

“All right,” he nodded his head, gently getting on my back as I leant down. He pulled himself up onto my shoulders; standing up, he grabbed the fence and dragged himself onto the path. I threw the one bag to him, which he caught deftly. Then I looked at Noah but could already see him climbing up, so I followed in his footsteps. I found the natural foot holes where the man-made path met the wall. Slowly I managed to work my way up and collapsed onto the well-worn path. I lay there for a few minutes getting my breath back.

“Come on, lazy bones,” Tobi whispered as we were quite near to our intended goal. I got up, pulling the backpack on and getting myself ready.

“This is A-1; we are going radio silent,” I told Operations back at home, “If something happens, give us twenty-four hours to reply, then try to make contact,” 

Acknowledged,” Russo, the Italian, replied. The three of us moved further up the path, which had an incline going upwards.

“Look, there’s a cave of some sort,” Tobi pointed out. You could barely see it, but a small ledge led around to the waterfall beyond the fence. Every now and then, a gap appeared in the waterfall. You could definitely see what seemed to be a cave behind the waterfall.

“Well spotted,” I whispered, touching his back briefly. Knowing we were in enemy territory now, I took the gun off my shoulder. Noah was also shouldering the SA80 A3 that we had taken from the base. I looked at him, getting a nod and took point, with Tobi in the centre and Noah bringing up the rear. We moved away from the waterfall, the noise lessoning as we rounded the path that was now littered in leaves and looked like it had not been used in years, let alone months. Another five minutes, the trail twisted around a rise, so I crept up, laying on the top where I could see the antennae now, surrounded by a fence, next to a shed. But what I could also see were my first glimpse of the aliens.

Wearing all white armour, the three aliens were broad-shouldered with masks that covered their faces. They stood on two legs, but they were bent backwards, much as you would see in the old werewolf movies. However, they were armoured to the teeth. I could not see their faces, but they looked humanoid. All three were centred around the mast, looking upwards.

“We need to go to ground somewhere,” I whispered quietly to Noah, who was alongside me.

“We can take them,” he whispered back.

“I don’t don’t want a fight,” I returned firmly. I began moving back down the small hill. Somehow I managed to step on the one stick on the path; the snap echoed like a gunshot going off, reverberating across the hillside. Instantly all three aliens looked our way as I scrambled down the mound.

“Run,” I told them quietly, leading the way. It happened in slow motion; I felt intense heat across my shoulder. I launched myself at Tobi pulling him out of the way just as a clod of dirt erupted to our left. I had caught the flash of something blue out of the corner of my eye. I heard a scream of pain getting off Tobi, but Noah lay on the floor; his side was steaming.

“Shit,” I screamed. I grabbed up the SA80, firing in the aliens’ direction, hoping to keep them at bay. I quickly slung the gun at Tobi, then hauled Noah up. He didn’t utter a sound; for once, I was scared he might be dead. With me dragging Noah along, Tobi and I ran back towards the waterfall. We got around the corner; I knew we had a few minutes headstart as they would have to come out of the fenced-off area.

“The waterfall,” Tobi suddenly said. I looked at him blankly, then comprehension filled my mind. I followed him, slipping between the fence bars, Noah still hanging off me like a dead weight. While not too big, the drop was still a distance. I didn’t fancy my chances, so I hung on to the wall as we swiftly made our way along the thin ledge. Tobi disappeared behind the curtain of water, so I took a deep breath, following him through. We were in a cave that went back perhaps twenty-thirty feet but then abruptly stopped at a wall. There was a couple of rocky outcroppings, so Tobi and I huddled behind one of them. I placed Noah on the ground.

“Is he dead?” Tobi asked, his face was tear-streaked. I put my hand to the boys’ throat and could feel a shallow pulse. I felt wetness on my other hand; pulling it away from Noah’s side, I saw blood on it.

“Help me with this,” I started tugging off the combat jacket, then his shirt. The weapon, whatever it was, had clipped his left side. I didn’t think the wound looked too bad, but there seemed to be a lot of surface blood. Tobi dug through the bag, coming up with a first aid kit; I immediately found what I was looking for. It was a powder that stopped bleeding. I opened it, then tipped it onto the wound before pressing a bandage to it and wrapping it up.

“Is he going to survive?” Tobi asked fearfully.

“Hopefully, but it’s going to be hit and miss,” I told him quietly, “We’re going to have to stay here for a few hours before we move on,”

Several hours later, I blinked, realising the light was changing outside of the waterfall; the aliens had not found us. I had been monitoring Noah on and off since the botched operation; Tobi had fallen asleep. I felt Noah stir, then moan.

“Careful, buddy, you’ve been injured, I told him,” He coughed, so I got him some water.

“I feel like I’ve been trampled on,” I looked at Tobi, still asleep, then gave Noah a quick kiss.

“I’m so glad you’re alive; I thought we were going to lose you,”

“I’m made of tougher stuff,” he grunted.

“We need to get you back to base; only Mac can help you,” I told him then gently touched Tobi’s arm, “Come on, Kiddo, let’s finish the mission and go home,”

“Is Noah alright?” was his first question; bless the boy.

“You can see for yourself,” I gestured and got a wide grin as he looked Noah over.

“I’m OK, Tobi,” he told the boy.

“We need to go,” I told the pair of them. Helping Noah to get changed, I shouldered the gun and bag; I also slung the SA80 over my other shoulder. Moving to the waterfall, I looked out through the gap and saw no one. Taking a deep breath, I sidled out into the open. Immediately the glasses I wore flickered, and everything took on a green tinge as they become night vision.

“Oh, cool,” I muttered. There was nothing in the darkness beyond, but I didn’t want to take any chances, so I took it slowly, helping Noah leading Tobi back to the path, listening for anything out of the ordinary. I looked at my clock, and it had already gone 10pm; I had not realised we had been in the cave most of the day.  My stomach rumbled, telling me yes, you have not eaten since this morning.

“Do you think anyone will be there?” Tobi asked.

“I would hope not,” I told him quietly. I made my way back up the path, holding onto Noah, letting him use me as a crutch.  We reached the mound again; there was no one there this time. I surveyed the area for at least ten minutes, checking for body and heat signatures, “Let’s go,”

“OK,” Tobi replied. We scrambled across the mound onto the winding path, then up the other side to the bottom of the fence. We edged along the fence until we found the gate; Tobi used my key card, which surprisingly worked.

“You go do what you have to do; I’ll guard the gate,” I told Tobi as I stayed with Noah, trying to keep him upright. Sweeping the area, checking the little shed, there was no one around, so I took up position by the gate, looking out into the murky greenness. I did not know what Tobi was doing, nor did I want to watch because it involved going up the antennae more than likely. I anxiously awaited Tobi, jumping at every small sound. What felt like an hour later, I heard a click on my earpiece then Tobi touched my arm, almost making me scream.

“It’s done and hidden,” He told me. Pushing him out the door, I followed him keeping my grip on Noah as I swung it closed, hearing it click behind me, indicating that it had locked. We slipped back down onto the path, following it instead of going over the mound. When we reached the T-junction, I turned left, “Where are you going?”

“We’re not going to scramble through the ravine in this darkness with Noah like this,” I told him, “This path leads down to the valley floor if we stay close to the walls, we should be able to make it to the horses easier,”

“All right,” he answered hesitantly. It was slower going, but with Noah clinging to me, then Tobi following, we walked down a narrow path. Moonlight lit up the valley floor, revealing grass, trees and boulders. We immediately turned right, then started on our journey back to the horses. Keeping close to the valley wall as possible, we were shielded by trees and overhanging rocks. Unlike the gorge, this was much easier going taking only half the time, even with Noah barely clinging onto me. As midnight approached, I got my first glimpse of the three horses standing, waiting patiently for the pair of us to arrive. I breathed a sigh of relief, glad to be back.

“Operations, this is Alpha-One; the mission is completed,” I told home.

Where the hell have you been?” Mac hissed over the radio, “You’ve been on Radio silence for hours,”

“We had a bit of a run in and had to hide for several hours,” I explained.

Are you all well? Did you get injured?” Mac’s voice suddenly changed.

“Noah has been injured,” Tobi piped up.

Injured?

“It’s a serious injury; we’re going to need your expertise when we get back,” I told her gravely.

I’ll have my team on stand by,” Mac replied, steadying her breathing. I knew she wanted us home as soon as possible.

“What’s the situation with Bravo team? Have they returned?” I asked, receiving only silence as Tobi undid the ropes and released the horses. Apollo nuzzled the boy, who giggled quietly, “I repeat, what’s the situation?”

Bravo team are still in the field,” Mac reported.

“Goddamit,” I muttered angrily, “Brave-Two, please report?”

Commander, erm, Alex, we have a bit of an issue; Bravo three has gone off-grid,” Noah’s second, the mousy-girl, responded quietly.

“I want your co-ordinates,” I ordered her, getting them within minutes. I typed the GPS location into the keyboard on my wrist. The glass lit up with a virtual path, showing me the quickest way to get to their location, “Right, I want you to stay put and do not move; we will be there in thirty minutes,”

Shouldn’t you return home first?” Mac asked, a little worried about her brother and Noah.

“No, it’s going to be quicker from Davis Town, so I’ll have one of Bravo team bring Noah back,” I reassured her. I helped Noah up onto my horse, then got on behind him, looking at Tobi, “Can you tie the other horse to yours?”

“Sure,” he answered and used a branch to mount his own horse, then we were off aiming the animal in the direction the GPS was leading me.

Thirty minutes more or less later, a soft whicker answered the ones from my horse, and I could see the outline of three horses tied to a tree. The hill overlooked Davis town, though I’m sure that’s not what it was originally called. In the maps, it’s called Fordham. It wasn’t a big town, probably with a population of 3-4000, but that enabled it to have a fairly decent high street. Though the High street was the main road through the town, with housing estates off-shooting the road. Further north, I could see a few larger houses with a little land around them, but along the car-free main high street were bonfires. I noticed that the main roads had been blocked off, and since the town was in an enclosed valley, they were living without fear of the zombies.

“Tanya,” I hissed.

“Over here,” a quiet voice returned, an arm waved in the air. I found the two dark shapes lying against the grassy hill that overlooked the town. I dismounted with Tobi, leading Apollo to the other horses, then settled in next to Tanya.

“I want your report quickly, then I need you to ride back to base,”

“We’ve been here observing since 0900 hours; Davis town is ruled over by a megalomaniac teenage boy. We know nothing about him, only that he is a tyrant and loves corporal punishment,” I looked at her aghast.

“What do you mean? Corporal punishment,”

“At lunchtime today, in the centre of the high street, we watched two girls, no older than fourteen and a pre-teen boy being whipped,”

“Whipped?” I asked, nearly throwing up.

“Yes, they were tied to the cross-like structures and whipped by these bulldozers of teenage boys. They would appear to be this tyrant’s henchmen,” she gave me a wry grin. She handed me over a set of binoculars. I looked down into the town and saw five cross-like structures that must be made from old timber beams; there were still three people tied to some of the crosses. I gasped in horror; this was some sick bastard. I saw several teenage boys standing around the bonfires drinking something from a bottle. They appeared to have rifles hanging down from their shoulders.

“Where has Eli gone?” I asked, my voice turning to frost. Tanya looked at me, her eyes wide through the night vision glasses.

“As it was beginning to get dark, we noticed three boys in their mid to late teens moving some people about. We guessed there were two boys, age around ten to twelve and a girl probably around thirteen,”

“Go on,” my voice had turned harder, I guessed the answer.

“We caught snatches of conversation because they were really loud, but it would appear they were going to have fun with them,” Tanya answered, gulping.

“Has Eli been captured?” I asked, now worried.

“He’s down there, but he has not made a move yet,” Tanya pointed out a shadowed figure, which appeared to be watching a large house to the north-east of the village. This row of houses was larger than the rest, indicating it must be a wealthy neighbourhood. I heard a gasp, so I swung the binoculars around to find one of the ‘henchmen’ approach Eli’s position.

“Noah’s injured,” I told her after she had finished her tale. She looked over at the horses, where Noah was slumped, “I need you to take my horse and take Noah back to base,”

“But what about Eli?” she protested.

“I’ll deal with that, now go,” She quickly mounted the horse, taking the reins around the taller boy, riding hard for home. I turned as Benji and Tobi approached me. I pointed over to the ridge on the other side, near the wealthy households.

“I want the pair of you to take the horses around there; I’ll meet up with you soon,” I told them, getting a nod. Unfolding the tripod on the sniper rifle’s front, I leaned down, looking through the sight. I had not actually used the sniper rifle before, except in video games and some practices. This was vastly different, but I took a deep breath centring myself, “Go now, quickly,”

I heard movement as I settled the sight on the teenager; he was off the main street now heading down the road Eli was on. He lit a cigarette, passing into a dark patch, but I could see him through the night-vision. I slipped off the safety and adjusted for the earth’s curvature, and the wind like my father taught me many years ago. I wondered whether I was doing the right thing, but it was now a dog eat dog world as I pulled the trigger. A sharp report echoed in my ears, but I watched the bullet hit the boy with accuracy. Unfortunately, it pierced his thigh rather than his chest where I was aiming. I watched Eli move back, seeing the boy struggling on the ground. They were lost in darkness as Eli fell upon him while a cloud covered the moonlight.

“Shit,” I muttered to myself as I saw movement from the bonfires. I flicked the tripod back up, shouldering it on the other arm to the SA80. The hill here was reasonably smooth as I scrambled down it, coming up against some fence panels. I had to squeeze through a blocked off area, probably to prevent anything from getting into the town if it fell down the hill. Once through, I found myself in a small park. I emerged onto a road, trying to get my bearings; I worked my way around the edge of the town, avoiding the main high street. It took me another few minutes before I reached the road Eli had been on, but there was no sign of them. I kneeled down as the moon burst from the clouds; I was able to see a black pool.

“Commander,” I heard a voice call quietly. It was taking a while for the newcomers to call me anything but Commander. I looked up to see Eli in a small alleyway between houses. He watched while I quickly moved over to him, then looked down to see the teenager’s dead body. His eyes were wide, his face wide except for the massive gash in his throat; Eli suddenly gushed “I had to kill him; he was still alive,”

“I shot him, don’t worry,” I pulled the boy into a hug; we had both more or less murdered the teenaged boy, “We need to hide him,”

“OK,” He led me over to a storage shed on the side of the house. The lid pushed up, allowing me to see it stored wood. Eli and I were able to hide the body in the shed between us, then we retreated to someone’s garden.

“Are you all right?” I whispered to him.

“I’m not injured,” he answered but got a glare from me.

“What the hell were you thinking, going off-piste, without getting anyone’s permission,”

“How did you know I didn’t get anyone’s permission?” He asked.

“Well, I was out of contact, and I’m pretty sure you did not ask Mac before you went down here,”

“No, but they are going to rape those poor kids,” Eli told me.

“But you’ve been sat here for hours now, I’ve been told,”

“I had to check them out, see what was going on before I made my move,”

“Well, you’re not completely stupid then,” I taunted him with a small laugh. He looked at me, a bit weary of my humour. I forgot this was not Tobi or Noah I was dealing with.  

“I didn’t think,” he replied apologetically.

“Forget it,” I told him, “Show me this house then,”

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