Hollowland / Page 9

Page 9


“Well, it’s her lion!” His blond friend shook his head and took the gun away, smiling apologetically at me. “I’m sorry. We didn’t mean to intrude. We didn’t know anyone still lived here.”

“It’s okay,” I shrugged. “We’re intruding, too. They have some bottled water in the kitchen.”

“Really? Oh my god.” Without further invitation, the former gunman dashed across the room, jumping over the couch on his race to the kitchen. I glanced back at Ripley to make sure that she didn’t decide he was food, and she watched him with her ears bent back.

“Sorry about him,” the other guy said, nodding at his friend, who shouted happy expletives in the kitchen. “I’m Blue.”

“What? You mean like your name is Blue?” I raised an eyebrow. “Like the color?”

“My parents were hippies.”

“I’m Remy.” I decided that I didn’t have much room to mock his name, and I gestured to the cat. “She’s Ripley, and Harlow is upstairs.”

“Is it safe for me to come down?” Harlow asked, and I heard her walking down the steps.

I looked back at Blue. “You guys are safe, right?”

“Yeah,” Blue nodded. “I’m a doctor.”

“You’re too young to be a doctor,” I said. He only looked to be in his mid-twenties, if that.

“I was in med school, interning,” Blue explained, then lowered his eyes, the way everyone seemed to when they talked about what life was like before the zombies. “So, no, I’m not really a doctor. But I’m about the closest thing that’s out there now.”

“What’s going on?” Harlow came into the living room.

She had changed her clothes, another skirt that she had to tighten with a belt, and it still looked loose on her slender hips. Her hair was pulled back more neatly, now devoid any specks of blood.

“This is Blue.” I gestured to the med student.

“Hi,” Blue gave a half-wave, but she stared at him blankly.

She was still staring at him when his friend came into the living room. His mouth was full, and he had a half-eaten can of SPAM in one hand and a Fiji water in the other. Without the gun, he wasn’t intimidating at all. Short and wiry, with a slim fitting tee shirt and jeans, he looked completely out of place.

“What’s with the kid from The Shining?” He gestured to Harlow, spitting little chunks of SPAM out when he spoke.

“Oh my god.” Harlow did a sharp intake of breath, and her eyes widened when she saw him. “You’re Lazlo Durante!”

“Oh,” I said as it dawned on me.

Lazlo Durante had been the guitarist or drummer or something in this band called Emeriso. Right before the world went to hell, they had been the hottest group out there.

They were radio-friendly punk, kind of like a boy band with guitars, but their music had been catchy. Even I had their album. Lazlo was on one of the last ever covers of Rolling Stone, looking rather sexy in a shirtless pose.

“The one and only.” Lazlo choked down the massive chunk of SPAM in his mouth and smiled.

His chest puffed up, and he managed to look proud. I guess it must be some kind of achievement getting recognized after the apocalypse.

“What are you doing here?” Harlow asked, in awe.

“Probably the same thing you are. Raiding the place for anything useful.” Lazlo took a swig of water and pointed to the hole in the wall from when he shot at Ripley. “Sorry about that. I thought she was gonna eat my face. Where’d you get a lion anyway?”

“Found her on the side of the road,” I said.

“Sorry. I’m being a total pig. I just haven’t eaten in a while.” He looked at Blue and motioned to the kitchen. “They have other stuff in there, if you wanna eat. And not just SPAM. I know you’re not that into it.”

Lazlo smirked, and in a falsetto, he said, “I don’t like SPAM,” and then went back to his normal voice. “Like from the Monty Python sketch, right?”

“What’s Monty Python?” Harlow asked, and I rolled my eyes.

“Do you mind if I get some food?” Blue asked, looking to me for confirmation.

“Yeah, sure,” I shrugged. “Just leave some for us.”

I didn’t have a claim to it any more than they did, but I needed to make sure we were fed. Ripley had been eating some of the zombies, so at least she wasn’t hungry.

“Thanks,” Blue smiled gratefully and headed to the kitchen.

“Come on. Let’s see what they have upstairs.” I put my hand on Harlow’s shoulder.

“But-”

“Come on.” I pushed her harder, and she stared back at Lazlo.

When we left the living room, he was still standing there, and he hissed at Ripley.

“There’s nothing that great up here,” Harlow muttered as I forced her up the stairs. “I don’t know why you need me to come with you.”

“Don’t argue with me,” I sighed.

“It’s just clothes,” she said.

I didn’t want Blue or Lazlo to overhear so I didn’t say anything until we got into the massive master suite. It had tall double doors, with ridiculous gold inlays. Once we were inside, I shut the doors behind me, and Harlow walked over to the king sized bed and flopped down.

She had been going through the closet when Lazlo and Blue arrived, and clothes were strewn about the room. It sort of looked like a zombie had done it, but none of them were torn or covered in blood.

“I didn’t want to leave you down there with them.” I picked up some of the discarded clothes off the floor.

“Why not?” Harlow crossed her arms over her chest.

“Those are two guys with guns who we just met and you’re a thirteen-year-old girl!”

“Lazlo Durante would never do anything!” Harlow insisted, almost swooning at his name.

“Whatever,” I scoffed. “Don’t do that.”

“What?”

“That.” I waved vaguely to her with an argyle sweater. “Be all… like that. It’s the end of the world. You can’t have school girl crushes during the end of the world.”

“Why not?” Harlow sounded offended. “You got to have a boyfriend.”

“He wasn’t my boyfriend,” I said under my breath.

I went into the walk-in closet so I wouldn’t have to talk about Beck. The sun had almost completely gone down, so I could barely see anything. I pulled at the clothes, hoping to get something I needed. Jeans and underwear were my top priorities.


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