Charlotte Jones is stuck in a world where love is looked at as a disease. She is caught talking about becoming a Shadow with her friends Talia and Madi. Shadows believe in love, which most think is bad. The three friends must now escape without getting caught. If they are caught, they'll be given a choice. A world without love or death?


22. Talking to Kyle

I had been helping with the clean up for almost two hours. We cleaned the blood and helped with injuries. Then we had to restock the safe room. We loaded the guns with several bullets, replenished the food and water, and cleaned the sheets. It was exhausting. Claire and Jessie stayed with Kyle the whole time though.

Everyone was assigned different cleaning jobs. Except for Madi of course. Talia and Becca did all of the replenishing and then began cooking up a dinner for us all. Kadence, Xavier, and Darrel cleaned up the blood. There was a lot of it too. The rest of us just kind of did this and that.

I occasionally passed by the medical room. I stopped to listen in. The first time, I heard Jessie say “How are you feeling?”

Then Kyle replied, “I’m fine.”


The second time I passed by, I heard Kyle say, “It was not her fault Jessie!”

I knew exactly who he was talking about. At least Kyle didn’t think it was my fault. Why did I even care? It wasn’t my fault, it was Kyle’s own stupid fault. I didn’t even like him anyway.

I continued to participate in clean up for another hour or so. Then I saw him. Kyle was standing up, and slowly walking down the hall. We locked eyes for a moment. I quickly turned away and headed down the hallway. I tried to go quickly, but I wasn’t fast enough.

“Charlotte! Wait up!” Kyle called.

I kept walking though.


I kept walking.


I was gone. I had turned the corner and just kept walking. I decided I was done with clean up. I went to the kitchen to see what Talia was up to. Her and Becca were hovering over the stove. They laughed, clearly getting along very well. Talia gets along with everyone, so no surprise there.

“Hey,” I began, “What’s for dinner?”

“We’re having chicken!” Talia boasted.

“Really?! Don’t joke with me!” I teased.

“It’s to celebrate… not dying.” Becca laughed.

I was looking forward to dinner. It wasn’t going to be chicken broth! I could already taste the delicious chicken. So moist, and juicy. Every bite, being savored. Talia was typically more of a baker, but she was still a great cook. Becca seems pretty amazing too.

I just hung out in the kitchen until dinner was ready. I got the first piece of chicken. I didn’t take the biggest one, because I knew someone else deserved it more than me, but I took a medium sized one. I was right, it was so juicy and flavorful. We had a tiny bit of salt left, so I sprinkled a few grains on to my chicken breast. I still left enough for about two more people though.

Next in to the kitchen was, just my rotten luck, Kyle. He didn’t establish eye contact. He just slowly walked toward the stove, grabbed a big piece of chicken, and sat right next to me.

I chewed slowly, pretending he wasn’t there. He didn’t say anything for a while either. But then he said, “Hey, how are you?”

“How am I?! You just took a big freaking blow to the head! I’m just glad you’re alive.” I replied.

“It hurts a little, but I’m alright.” Kyle explained.

“I’m sorry.” I said lowly.

“Why are you sorry? It wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes it was. If I hadn’t have gotten hurt, you wouldn’t have checked on me. And if you hadn’t checked on me, your back never would’ve been turned, and you wouldn’t have been hit in the goddamn head!” I rambled.

“Look, I’m the one who decided to check on you. Nothing was your fault Charlotte. I heard you, uh, got that guy pretty good though. What did you do? Shoot him in the knee cap?” Kyle asked with a slight smile.

“No. I…” I paused, “I shot him dead.” I lowered my head in shame.

There was an awkward moment of silence. Then Kyle spoke, “Thanks.”

I was not expecting Kyle to thank me for that! I was expecting Kyle to never want to talk to me ever again!

“What?” I asked in confusion.

“Thanks for having my back.” Kyle replied with a grin.

I gave Kyle a slight nod and continued eating as one by one, everyone trickled in. Except Madi. Claire took Madi a bowl of chicken broth. Poor Madi. I guess she couldn’t have chicken yet.  Talia and Becca were the last to grab their meal. Since they cooked the meal though, they got to have a small second helping. Lucky.

There wasn’t much fun talk around the table. This time it was more serious. Everybody mainly talked about repairing the safe room door and how we need a better defense system. Jessie gave me a few death glares as well. It was upsetting and unnerving. I saw Kyle looking at Jessie occasionally shaking his head as if to say ‘stop, it wasn’t her fault.’

Dinner was finished, but everyone was still talking about the attack. We were discussing new jobs for everyone as well. Nothing was set in stone yet. Jessie said we would have a meeting tomorrow over new jobs. Great. I’ll probably get stuck with cleaning the bathroom.

“We need explosives! They obviously had some. Blowin’ our steel door up like that. It’s the first time I’ve seen em’ with any sort of explosives.” Michael stated, spitting out his words.

“We don’t need explosives. We do need more bullets though. When’s the next delivery coming?” Kadence asked sternly.

“Two days. As long as there isn’t another attack within two days, we should be fine.” Jessie replied just as sternly as Kadence.

“Umm, what about, food? We only have a little bit of rice and some chicken broth left.” Talia questioned.

“Two days Tania.” Jessie said, messing up Talia’s name.

“Talia.” Talia corrected sweetly.

Jessie just rolled her eyes and moved on with the discussion. That irked me. Maybe since Jessie hates me, she’ll start hating Talia and Madi as well. Ugh, this was so frustrating. I decided I needed to explain everything to Jessie. And maybe apologize if necessary. It would suck, but I knew that I really had no choice.


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