wormwood, pt. 14

Kiss me, you're beautiful. These are truly the last days.

The storm had started letting up when Nicole finally moved again, reaching into her bag to grab a cigarette with shaking hands. She clenched it between her lips and fumbled for a lighter.


Nicole lit her cigarette and opened her eyes then, staring at the darkened skyline as the lightning flashed against it.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah." She sighed and slumped back against their storefront. "Just needed a smoke, is all. You know me." Her words were completely flat.

"Yeah, that's you." Rosalind tried a smile, her tone more desperate than anything. "Cold and wet and bruised and bleeding with the world ending and you're fine. It might get to other people, but not you. You're strong. Don't need anyone or anything."

Nicole's answering smile was wry, and she spared Rosalind a glance. "You're right, you don't." She shook her head and stared straight ahead again. There was a long silence. Then, "There's bodies in the street."


"There's bodies in the street, Rose. Just over there. And you know what else? Not a single siren all night. Is it even night? It's still fucking daylight in the real world, isn't it? But no, it's quiet. No sirens, just the wind screaming and the thunder crashing. Bodies in the fucking street and not a single siren."

They looked over at the burning building. It was still burning. Most of its former inhabitants had taken cover elsewhere by now, or were out of sight, but there were two shapes laying in the street, motionless. Were it not for the firelight reflecting on their pale skin they would have been almost invisible.

"The whole city's shut down. And it's not like you could drive an emergency vehicle in this weather, you know?" Rosalind shivered. "I shoulda brought a jacket or something."

"Wouldn't of helped." Nicole flung her cigarette into the street. The rain doused it almost immediately. "I think it's worse actually. It's all clinging to my arms and it won't dry off. Fuck. Maybe we can dry off by that burning building. It's been a while since we had a real fire."

"It'll have to be a while longer. But tell you what. Let's break into this shop. It'll be warm and dry and maybe there's something in here worth keeping."

This time Nicole's smile was sincere. "You're beautiful."

Within a few minutes they were inside, the chains safely locked behind them, their clothes draped on the counter to dry.

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