A bottle still in her hand, Ravenna woke slumped up against the wall. She could see Rosalie at the table asleep head on her laptop. She stumbled to her feet, leaving a nest of empty bottles, peeled wrappers, and pillows behind her and went over to the table and shook Rosalie’s shoulder.
“Dude, wake up.”
“Hmmm…w-what?” Rosalie lifted her head lazily and looked around the room before settling her eyes on Ravenna. She rubbed her eyes and said: “What’s going on? How long have you been up?”
“Just a few minutes, were you up all night?” Ravenna asked in response, pointing to the laptop.
“What? Oh, ya, I was doing some research online.” Rosalie answered tiredly, then perked as she remembered something. “ Ah man, you gotta hear this.” She booted her computer back up since it seemed to have gone to sleep sometime after she had, and opened up one of the many browser tabs she had on the go, explaining and retracing her path to discovery. “See, I was looking at the police reports for the last few months…”
“Police reports?” Ravenna interjected. “How’d you get your hands on those?”
Rosalie smile smugly and gave a shrug. “That’s for me to know and you—”
“Ya ya, get on with it.” Ravenna cut in with a dismissive wave of her hand.
Rosalie continued to smirk but obliged; she was eager to share her findings. “Alright, so look at this…” She turned the laptop to face Ravenna and pointed at the screen. “You see this? Four people have gone missing in the last three months. So far the police haven’t found a connection; they just think its people getting lost in the woods. But dude, I think something’s going on here.”
“You know, you keep saying that…” Ravenna gave her friend a sidelong glance as if Rosalie had got some infectious disease and she was afraid of catching it too.
“Because there is! That guy didn’t come after us for nothing, there’s a reason. He knows we’re on to him! Now, you say he bit you right?” Rosalie insisted passionately.
“Ya, son of a bitch nearly took my damn shoulder off.” Ravenna affirmed, rubbing the afflicted area.
“Well then take a look at this…” Rosalie opened a new page and once again turned the laptop towards Ravenna.
Ravenna glanced at the page then stopped and looked at Rosalie incredulously. “Zombies?! Are you serious?! Rosalie, what is wrong with you?!” She demanded.
“What?! Nothing! Nothing is wrong with me.” Rosalie scoffed defensively. “Now just hear me out. Four people go missing—no trace. Then two nights ago a guy gets mauled and eaten three doors down from us, and then you get attacked and bitten by some random guy last night—a guy that just happened to be in the area when someone was mauled. And you’re telling me that’s normal, that nothing is going on?!”
Ravenna scrunched her nose against the logic of her friends argument. She did not like someone professing there to be zombies in town to make so much sense about anything. “Alright, say the missing people and the guy in the motel room are connected… big deal. If anything, there’s a psycho killer on the loose, which means we should get the hell outta here. But zombies? ARE YOU CRAZY?!”
“Maybe I am, but then again, maybe I'm not.” Rosalie replied stubbornly; she crossed her arms and gazed intently into Ravenna’s eyes, “But if I’m not, then we are in some deep shit man, so we need to sit here and figure—it—out.” She said, not a quiver of doubt in her voice.“Now look, let’s just stay here one more night, I mean the cops haven’t said we can leave yet anyway, and if nothing happens then we’ll go. Ok?” She added, trying to sound reasonable.
“Fine.” Ravenna said in defeat, shaking her head. “At least help me move this dresser; I need to hit the liquor store.”
Rosalie grinned triumphantly. “Done.”
Twenty minutes later Ravenna returned with another two six-packs—one of coolers and one of beer—to find Rosalie hunched over her computer rapidly taking notes. “What’re ya doing now?” She queried setting her freshly acquired loot on the table.
“I’m taking notes. What does it look like?” Rosalie rejoined impatiently.
“You know I thought this trip was supposed to be a vacation, you know a break from school.” Ravenna said with a shake of her head as she went to stash her beer in the mini fridge.
“You’re taking notes.” Ravenna retorted.
“Ya…” Rosalie scoffed. “But they’re not about school.”
Ravenna just shook her head and cracked open one of the coolers.
“And what exactly are you planning to do with those?” Rosalie gestured to the rather substantial quantity of alcohol Ravenna had returned with. “Drown yourself?”
“Drink ‘em. What else?”
“Two six-packs? You're gonna drink two six-packs? Right now? Are you trying to kill yourself?” Rosalie inquired dryly as she tried to mask her deeper concern.
“What? No.” Ravenna said defensively. “One for now, one for later.” She went on to explain.
“Later?” Rosalie raised a brow in question. “I thought you were so excited to leave.” She added carefully.
“Oh I am. But in case that guy shows up, I don’t wanna be trapped in a room without booze.” Ravenna replied matter-of-factly.
Ravenna grabbed a glass from the top of the mini-fridge then sat down next to Rosalie and poured her cooler into the glass; if they were forced to stay there she might as well take in the little comforts. Besides, drinking out of a glass always seemed more sophisticated to her, even if it was at nine in the morning. Rosalie watched as Ravenna filled her glass with the pale pink liquid.
“A little early to start isn’t it?” She said gesturing to the glass, a skeptical brow raised.
“You know what they say, ‘it’s five o’clock somewhere.’” Ravenna replied innocently as she poured the last of the can’s content into her glass. She gently stirred it with a finger three times then slammed half of it back.
“Hey slow down man. We still have a long day ahead of us.” Rosalie cautioned. She had her hands full enough without having a drunken Ravenna to deal with as well.
“You slow down.”
“Whatever.” Rosalie said dismissing Ravenna and returning her gaze to her laptop. She’d tried, and there only so much one person could do.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Rosalie continuing to scribble down notes, Ravenna continuing to drink. After ten minutes though, Ravenna’s curiosity, and well, boredom, got the best of her. “So… what ya got there?” She ventured.
“Here?” Rosalie pointed to the computer screen. “You mean my notes?”
“Ya, your… notes.” Ravenna said with a roll of her eyes.
“Just some stuff that might come in handy later.” Rosalie answered with a shrug.
“Ya… whatever that means.”
“It means drink your drink and leave me alone.”
“Fine then… grouch.”
“I heard that.”
Ravenna got up and shuffled to the bed, threw herself down and flicked on the TV. She flipped through the channels, sipping her drink every so often until she found something she liked. Rosalie ignored the noise in the other room and continued taking notes. She was soon absorbed in her work, reading page after page, quickly jotting down anything interesting or useful. But around one o’clock she found her eyelids getting heavy and soon could barely keep them open. She got up and stumbled to the couch, her bed still being propped up against the window, and was asleep before she hit the cushions.
Ravenna continued drinking and watching TV long after Rosalie had fallen asleep. She wasn’t paying much attention to the show though; she was far too wrapped up in her own thoughts. She thought over what Rosalie had been saying the last twenty-four hours and the more she thought about it the more sense it seemed to make. Something was definitely happening; she couldn’t deny that, but zombies? She couldn’t even believe she had considered it. But deep down she couldn’t escape the feeling that maybe Rosalie was right. After all, Rosalie usually kept a pretty cool head about things and wasn’t one to jump to conclusions, she would have put a lot of thought into something like this. But still, Ravenna had her doubts. She looked down at her drink, pondering the fizzy liquid as she swirled it in her glass – she’d poured herself another after Rosalie had dozed off. She took a drink, leaned back against the headboard and let out a sigh. They’d just have to wait and see.
* * * *
It was dark when Rosalie woke up. She rolled over and checked her watch. Eight O’clock. She’d slept a solid seven hours. Well she’d needed it; she hadn’t really slept the night before what with all the excitement. She sat up, stretched and went to make sure Ravenna hadn’t drunk herself into a coma. And there Ravenna was, glass in hand leaning against the headboard, looking like she hadn’t moved an inch since Rosalie had fallen asleep. Rosalie sat down on the edge of the bed, looking at the bedside table, which now held the plastic skeletons of two six-packs where the lamp had once lived.
“That still the first sixer?” Rosalie sounded like she seriously doubted it.
“Really?” The surprise in Rosalie’s voice said more than her words.
“Don’t sound so surprised. I told you I was saving the other. And contrary to popular belief, I am not a raging alcoholic.” Ravenna retorted acerbically.
“Ya…” Rosalie trailed off not sure how she should counter that; best to leave it be. “So, what you been doing all day then?”
“Well that’s very explicit.” An edge of frustration crept into Rosalie’s voice. “Would you mind enlightening me?”
“About what you said.” Ravenna answered dryly.
“Oh really? And what have you decided?”
Ravenna sighed, shrugged her shoulders and went on. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but maybe your right. I think that maybe, maybe, something is going on here.”
“Well how about that, who would have ever that maybe I was right?” Rosalie asked theatrically, a look of shock on her face as she gestured to the whole room and then herself.
“Don’t be coy with me Rosalie. Look, I’m not saying I believe you one hundred percent about this whole zombie deal, in fact I’m pretty sure that whole bit is just a product of you reading waaaay too many horror novels—”
“Look who’s talking…” Rosalie mumbled under her breath.
Ravenna ignored the comment. It was true she liked to read horror novels as well, a habit she had picked up from Rosalie who had an extensive personal library she was willing to let other use. But Rosalie was the horror queen. Moving on… “I’m just saying that I agree that there’s some sick freak out there that needs to be stopped.”
“And you think we’re just the people to stop him?” Rosalie asked dubiously.
“Well I’m not saying that we should go all Spider-man and deal out some vigilante justice, but according to you, the cops don’t have a clue and we can’t just go barging in there with some zombie story. They’ll never buy it, and all it will get us is a rubber room and matching jackets. So maybe we could just like hang around and check things out. Then if we find any solid evidence we could just hand it over to the police.” Ravenna suggested with a shrug of her shoulder’s, like she didn’t really care who was living or dying out there or why. It didn’t fool Rosalie for a second.
“I don’t know about the police, but its sounds like a plan to me.” Rosalie said with a slight nod of her head.
Rosalie and Ravenna bumped knuckles and then stared at each other in silence for a moment. Unspoken thoughts slid behind their eyes, they would see this through to the end like everything else: together. Rosalie was the first to look away.
“Since we’re sticking around now, I’m gonna go get my laptop, there’s a few more things I wanted to check out.” Rosalie walked back to the table, picked up her laptop, and fished through a few more sites. After she had everything she wanted she turned the computer off and started sorting out her papers.
“What’re ya doing now?” Ravenna asked from over Rosalie’s shoulder—at some point she had gotten up and made her way slowly over to the table
“I’m organizing, from most likely and relevant to probably way out in left field.” Rosalie explained as she continued shuffling her papers.
“Dude, you're such a nerd.”
“Ah shut up and finish your drink.”
Ten O’clock rolled around with no excitement. Ravenna glanced at the clock then at Rosalie, who was hunched over studying the crime scene photos she had printed off—she’d had to go and get her printer from the car—and their victims. Who brings a printer on vacation? Ravenna mused to herself with a shake of her head.
Rosalie looked up, a less than patient look on her face. “Look, I know you’re impatient but I’m afraid these things take time. Just because you’ve finally decided to play along doesn’t mean the monsters are just gonna jump out and go ‘BOO!’”
“I never said they would.” Ravenna replied flatly.
Rosalie just kept her eyes on Ravenna, the expression on her face unchanging.
“What? I didn’t.” Ravenna said, this time more defensively.
“Could you at least be useful and mark off the murder locations on this map?” Rosalie said tiredly. She rummaged through the papers on her lap, pulling out a large detailed map.
“Sure can.” Ravenna let out a low whistle as she unfolded the exceptionally sized paper. “What’d ya do? Go out and draw this yourself? Where’d you find this billboard?” She held the map out unfolded to its full length; it was nearly as wide as her outstretched arms. She honestly had no idea where or how Rosalie had managed to find it in the last two days. Maybe she went and got it while I was at the liquor store..?
Rosalie rolled her eyes but didn’t answer, instead she returned to her scrutinizing. Ravenna waited for an answer for about three seconds and then realized there was no point. Rosalie was in one of her frustratingly cryptic moods which mean there was no getting anything out of her until she chose to reveal it. Ravenna sighed and went to find a workable surface big enough for the map. It ended up being the floor. She laid out the other sheets of paper Rosalie had given her containing the crime scene locations then set herself to work.
For several hours the two continued to work in silence, or mostly silence, Ravenna’s complaints about the obscurity of the locations breaking through now and again.