The Day Before Christmas Eve
Christmas Eve Eve, is what they called it before The Virus. The day before Christmas Eve when it was too close to Christmas to be productive, but not Christmas just yet. The important thing was life had returned to a new normal. All the big important Christmas stuff was done now Everyone was busy running about with last minute preparations getting everything just perfect. With all the commotion it was easy to overlook the figures of two people looking in from outside. That is if you could call them people they were really just shells of people.
Ebony was the one who noticed them and opened the Grille. Watching in total surprise as Bray and Ryan shuffled inside The Mall. They looked as if they had been to hell and back, twice. “Amber went out to the market.” Ebony offered up an explication. The Mall was unusually quiet with people still trying to keep gifts a secret. Bray just looked confused. “It’s nearly Christmas.” Ebony tried to explain again. Met with the same blank stares she changes the subject, “I’m sure you’d want to get settled back in. Although not much has changed.”
Bray and Ryan just nodded it was true not much had changed. They found their old rooms and their old clothes nothing in the mall had changed in The Mall but it felt strange being back. They sat in silence in the cafe until Ebony came in and sat with them. “So where have you two been?” She questions.
“Captured.” Ryan offers up. “By the Technos.” He looks at Bray who has seemed to retreat at the very mention of the ordeal, the whole energy of the room is off.
Ebony chews her lip, looking back and forth between the pair, everyone knew the prisoners of the Technos all came back different PTSD or whatever the adults called it. She’d seen strays in the city wondering around like zombies but never thought she’d see it for herself in someone she knew. She reaches across and gently touches Bray’s hand. Wanting to break it to her that she’s move on and was currently not just out shopping by herself, but with the general of The Technos. “If you need anything, you can always talk to me.” She smiles. He’ll find out soon enough. Then she could make her move.
The sound of The Grille going makes Bray and Ryan jump ever so slightly. “Oh looks like they are back already.” Ebony thinks to herself. “Amber come here!” Ebony calls out with a slight sinister edge to her voice. Amber walks into The Cafe all smiles holding Jay’s hand, which she instantly drops at the sight of Bray.
“Bray?!” She looks over at Jay who told her a lifetime ago he was dead and runs over. Scooping him up into a big hug. Bray tenses. Not liking being hugged but also at the sight of Jay. He squirms out of the hug and stands from his chair which causes it to fall hitting the ground with a loud crash.
Bray looks on the verge of a panic attack eyes wide and breathing heavily. Locking eyes and not looking away from Jay. Bray clenches his fist at his side, but leaves the room before he can act on it.
“What was that all about?” Jay asks.
“Not sure.” Amber grabs his hand again and Jay grabs her shoulders pulling her close.
“It was probably just all…this.” Ebony points at Amber and Jay. “We are all used to it. I’ll go talk to him.” She offers to help.
Ebony finds Bray pacing an offshoot hallway alone. “Sorry you had to see that.” She sounds almost sincere.
“That was him! The one in the hospital. It wasn’t a hospital. Just what they called it.”
“That’s Jay, Bray. He was a techno, but he’s one of us now.”
“No, no, no, no. He was there. In charge. The mastermind.” Something has totally set Bray off and he’s not making any sense. Ebony just watches in confusion wanting to be able to help Bray but having no clue where to even start.
Somehow she manages to catch him in a corner causing him to stop pacing. Pressing her body against his. “I know the timing is unfortunate,” she purrs into Brays Ear, “But I meant it when I said if you need anything.” She presses herself off of him and licks her lips causally. “Anything.” She adds for emphasis of her true intentions.
Everything going on is too much for Bray to handle and in a tizzy of emotions, he goes to the only place he can think of which is his old room. He discovered earlier that it had been left more or less unchanged. For that he was thankful. He flops onto his bed trying to head off the crushing weight of everything going on in his head.
“Bray?” Ryan mumbles from just outside the door. Bray sits up and rubs his eyes. Just as Ryan walks in. “You okay?”
“Really wish everyone would stop asking me that.” Bray admits ashamed.
“That was the last person I expected to be here as well.” Ryan tries to comfort Bray moving closer to him on the bed. “I think Ebony thinks she’s got a shot with you now.”
Bray just looks at Ryan with a smile. “I think she might.” He laughs.