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Authors: Tara Brown writing as A.E. Watson

The Seventh Day

BOOK: The Seventh Day
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The Seventh Day
 

Tara
Brown writing as AE Watson

The
YA side of Tara Brown

 
 

Copyright 2014 Tara Brown

http://TaraBrown22.blogspot.com

 

Amazon Edition

 
 

This ebook is a work of fiction and is
licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or
given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re
reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use
only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard
work of this author. No alteration or copying of content is permitted. This
book is a work of the author’s crazy mind—any similarities are coincidental.
Any similarities are by chance and not intentional.

 
 

Cover Art by Once Upon a Time Covers

Edited by Andrea Burns

 
 

Other Books by Tara Brown writing as

TL Brown, AE Watson, Erin Leigh, and Sophie
Starr

 

The Devil’s Roses

Cursed

Bane

Hyde

Witch

Death

Blackwater

Midnight Coven

Redeemers

 

The Born Trilogy

Born

Born to Fight

Reborn

 

The Light Series

The Light of the World

The Four Horsemen

 

Imaginations

Imaginations

 

The Blood Trail
Chronicles

Vengeance

 

The Single Lady Spy
Series

The End of Me

The End of Games

 

My Side

The Long Way Home

The Lonely

LOST BOY

First Kiss

Sunder

In The Fading Light

For Love or Money

Blood and Bone

White Girl Problems

 
 
 
 
Prologue
 

There is a question burning on all our lips.

Chapped lips coated with saliva from the nervous licking
and the dehydration that comes with constant running. The question is, how long
does someone with CJD live?

After they've died of course.

I know I'm getting ahead of myself but it's all we
think about. I haven’t stayed anywhere long enough to know the answer.

I know some things and hope for others. I know in
my heart, my father is still not infected. He was thousands of miles away from
me when we started this journey, and I don’t know how far we've come, but I
know this—my father has to be okay. He has to be.

My mother is dead. I watched as her fingers
twitched their last movements.

My cell phone hasn’t worked in what feels like a
lifetime. Those and regular phones haven’t worked in a week. We ran out of gas
in the car we stole yesterday. But the important thing is Joey and me are still
alive, and in my heart I know our dad is still not infected. I smile, thinking
about my father—knowing he has to be safe. I know this. Even if I don’t
find him, I will die knowing it.

 
Chapter One

Seven days ago

 

The dream felt like a dream, like when you're
sleeping and you just know it isn’t real but it hurts regardless. It was one of
those dreams.

The dream was a haze of mixed images and my mother
shaking me awake. I could hardly make out her face in the flashes, but her
voice was crystal clear as she screamed at me, biting her fingers into my arms
and repeating one word. Over and over she said it. Her shrill voice made my
hair stand on end.

"RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!”

But it was just a bad dream. I woke this morning in
a gasp and the dream faded away with the haze in my head. As it pulled back
from me, my mother’s screams faded too. It was an eerie way to wake, and
regardless of how badly I want to shake it, I can’t. It’s stuck in there,
lodged in my mind and replaying constantly.

"Get your backpacks and get to the
car." Mom points, offering up her fiercest pre-coffee face. The hardness
of her looks, combined with the severe makeup job she wears on court days,
doesn't make her look anything like a mother.
Especially not
the worried one from my dream.
Instead, she looks like a model on a
Revlon commercial. Dark hair pulled tight into a bun that gives me a headache
just looking at it. Her blush is nearly a sharp line on her jagged cheekbone.
Her lips are lined in a way that makes me think she might have been annoyed
when she did it. I think she’s always annoyed.

I shudder remembering the way she screamed
at me in the dream as my eyes almost roll themselves. "Mom, it's not time
for school yet."

“You can spend a bit of time in the library
before school starts.” She doesn’t look at me or care. She just shakes her
head. "I have to get to work, so you have to go a little early today. I
don’t want to hear it."

Before I can stop myself, a snarl tears out
of my throat. "Dad doesn’t leave us at school early. It’s not safe. The libraries
aren’t open at my school or Joey’s. All the early kids just stand outside
waiting for school to start. And we can’t leave Joey outside alone."

She continues ignoring me, muttering things
I know I don’t want to hear. When Dad's gone on mission she’s distant and
self-absorbed. She is a martyr and a victim of circumstances—a single,
working parent who suffers through life for the duration of his work away.

She has no clue what a mom does, let alone
a single one.

She doesn’t see that she’s terrible at
this—she thinks it's us. She thinks we’re badly behaved for her, saving
all our proper behavior for him. What she doesn't see is that the respect he
gives us makes us behave for him. The care and love goes a long way with us.

Joey, my little sister, gives me a freckled
frown. "Maybe we can stay home today? My belly feels funny anyway."
Furgus, our dog, nuzzles into her, whining like he agrees wholeheartedly.

The bitter sneer that has claimed my lips
makes my response to her, and the dog, a little harsh. "She won't let us.
Just get in the car."

Furgus backs away, bowing his head as Joey
gives me a look, silently letting me know that she didn’t deserve the harshness
of my tone and I know it’s true. I offer her a look but she sighs and stalks
off to put the dog in the backyard and then head for the SUV in the garage.

The drive to Joey’s school is awkward. The air
is filled with Mom barking into her Bluetooth and we sit, listening to her poor
secretary
take
the demands and criticisms. I shake my
head, muttering at her reflection in the rearview mirror, "Why don’t you
just make coffee before you go, so you aren’t in such a hateful mood?"

She flashes a scornful response in the
rearview mirror. I scowl back. She doesn't scare me—I see the
ridiculousness of her.

Dad makes the coffee in the morning. If he
isn’t here, she doesn't make it. She buys it. She's a princess—a bitchy
one at that. She doesn’t cook, she orders. She doesn't clean—she hires a
maid. She expects everyone to jump at her every whim and command, like she is the
captain of our ship. But then he comes home and she changes, relaxes almost.
It’s odd, contradictory at least. She is a ball-busting, independent woman,
until he walks through the door. Then she has never needed a single thing more
than she needs him and he tolerates it all.

I don't understand marriage.

I don’t want kids when I’m old enough to
have them, but if I ever accidentally had them, I would never be the kind of
parent she is. I would want to be more like my dad, even though I don't think
it comes naturally for me to be like him. Joey is like our dad. She is calm and
sweet. I get scared sometimes when I hear myself say something that’s too
harsh.

Mom sighs impatiently. "Just make sure
that the lunch meeting is rescheduled. I refuse to eat there again. The waiter
was rude to me last time." My mom is always rude to service staff. She
barks orders, never thanks them, and always sends her food back. In my opinion,
she gets what she deserves.

Julie, the poor defenseless creature my
mother has as a secretary, sounds sweet, if not a little scared, "Of
course, Ms. Nelson."

Ms. Nelson—she couldn’t just be a
Stoddard like the rest of us? At least Dad had enough balls to deny her
Nelson-Stoddard request. I always feel sorry for the poor hyphen kids. It
sounds like their parents either got a divorce, or their mother was married
before, or she just didn’t love the dad enough to choose one name and be that
together. I always imagine they hate it and just wish they could be one name,
one family.

I turn my head as she drives us to Joey's
school's front door. Mom doesn't turn around to say goodbye. She stops the SUV
in the drop-off circle and waits, sending a text on her phone as she parks. I
think she might not realize she’s not even saying goodbye, but we do—I
do.

Joey sits for a second, waiting for the
kiss or the hug or even just a wave. When nothing happens she grabs her bag,
not noticing the thing my eyes are stuck on. The way they sit there, Mom
preoccupied and Joey annoyed, I imagine neither of them sees it—but I do.
I grab Joey’s arm, holding her in the car, stunned by the thing in front of me.
It’s so out of place, I don't think I comprehend what it is, not fully. It
takes me a second to puzzle out whether the thing I see is an injured man or a
dangerous one. I almost have the instinct to jump from the car and see if he’s
all right, but the way he stands stops me. It stops my breath.

There are no other kids in the
schoolyard—there is just the man, standing in front of the school. I
can’t see a single duty or teacher—just the man. He looks homeless, but
in a way that screams dangerous addict. His nose is pressed to the glass of the
front door, and in the reflection I can see his eyes are fixed on the inside of
the locked school.

In my peripheral I catch a glimpse of
Joey’s small hand reaching for the door. As she opens it his head twitches to
the right.

"Wait," I say and pull on her
other arm. My stomach has a tickle—it always has a tickle when something
isn’t right. When I was little, my dad said it was magic, but I suspect it is
just intuition. For a scientist, he is always a little whimsical.

Joey sighs. "Mom, no one is even here
yet. You can’t leave me here alone. I'm only ten. The teachers say you have to
be twelve to be at the school before the duties."

The man's head twitches again.

"Close the door," I whisper,
turning to my mom.

She turns around, impatiently but doesn't
speak as her eyes narrow and her gaze stops on the man. Her mouth remains open,
ready to say something harsh but her lips don't move. Her left eyebrow rises as
she ponders the man. I nod, about to say something about him, when in my
peripheral I catch movement from the man.

"CLOSE THE DOOR!" I drag Joey
back as she panics, pulling the door shut just as the darkness of his shape
flies toward us. We all jump when his bloody hands land on her window with a
thud. Joey and Mom scream but I just stare. His eyes are dark, bloodshot, and
confused. His bloody hand makes a sound as it slides down the window.

He calms down the moment he reaches us,
lost in his reflection or the bloodstains, or just the fact the SUV is there.
His hand slowly drags down the window, smearing the dark blood everywhere. His
neck is bleeding and his frothy lip trembling when he whispers, "Help
me!"

Mom clicks the lock button, making his eyes
dart up to my face again, and like a switch has been flipped from the noise, he
slaps the window again. His lips part as a scream tears from them.

Mom throws the SUV into drive and hits the
gas. As we get around the circle drop-off, I see a pair of twitching feet
behind the recycling bin. They look small, like Joey's. The soles of the feet
are facing us. The rest of the body is behind the dumpster.

“WHAT WAS IT? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HIM?”
Mom’s screaming makes Joey rock and hold her trembling hands against her ears.

“MOM! STOP!” I wrap an arm around Joey. “He
was probably just a junkie, Joey.”

Mom speeds away, continually pressing 9-1-1
and On-Star, but there is no answer, just the message that the circuits are all
busy. She dials again but the lady’s voice in the message is the same the
second time. “Please continue to try until the operators are free. We are
experiencing higher than normal call volumes. Please hang up and dial 9—”
Mom slams the Bluetooth off and punches her steering wheel. Her sobbing and
slamming is making Joey worse. I hold Joey tighter, whispering, “He was
probably on drugs, Jo. He was sick. That’s all. They’ll cancel school. It’ll be
fine.”

She shakes her tear-stained face. “What
about the other little kids? What about the walkers? They’ll walk to school on
the trail and he’ll kill them! Julia is a walker.”

I want to go home but she’s right. “Mom,
drive to Julia’s. It’s in behind our house. Do the circle.”

Mom nods, heaving her breath. “Okay. Okay.
Okay.” She makes the turn, wiping sweat from her suddenly moist brow.

The moment I see Julia on the road with a
group of other kids about to go down the trail to the school, I jump out of the
SUV as it’s still slowing, waving my hands like a crazed nut. “GO HOME! THERE’S
A DRUG ADDICT AT THE SCHOOL COVERED IN BLOOD! GO HOME NOW! CALL YOUR PARENTS!”

“What?” Julia freezes. Her little brown eyes
seek out my sister as she panics and runs for our SUV. Joey gets out
sputtering, “Th-there was a man covered in blood and he was acting crazy.”
Joey’s little body shakes when she speaks, so Julia grabs her, hugging her
tightly. They always act so old and dramatic; the moment finally suits their
usually odd behavior.

I speak calmly as more kids and parents
make their way to us.

“What’s happening?”

I nod at the trail. “A man covered in blood
is hanging out at the school. We can’t get 9-1-1 on the phone. The circuits are
busy.”

One of the ladies cocks an eyebrow. “My
husband is a deputy. I’ll go call him.”

Another woman nods, grabbing at kids and
shouting at the rest. “Go home and tell your parents you don't have school.
Just stay in the house until we know if he’s caught. Lock the doors. No matter
what, don't answer them. If you're scared you can come to my house and call
your parents from there.”

Julia backs up, nodding and afraid. More
people round the corners on the sidewalk as schooltime nears. I shake my head
at the herd coming toward us. “There is no school. There was a bloody man at
the school. He slapped his blood or someone else’s on the SUV.” When I point at
the bloody handprint, I notice my mother is still sitting in the SUV. She’s
shaking her head slowly and staring out the window.

I turn back to see all their faces are
stuck on the bloody handprint. It’s a few seconds of us all frozen in the image
and fear it creates. The moms grab their kids. A woman with dark hair walks to
the trail, shouting back at us all, “I’ll stay here, letting everyone know. You
should get the cops. Cindy, you should go to the top of the street that way, so
the kids over there don't even leave their neighborhood.”

Joey waves for Julia, who runs back to us
and hugs my sister. For ten they always seem grown up with their reactions. My
mother is the only one acting insane. The other moms are organizing and
shouting, and the entire block is becoming more of a militarized zone than a
suburb.
All the other moms but mine.
Mine is lost in
her own trauma, not even seeing my sister’s. I pull Joey back to the SUV.
“Julia, if your mom isn’t home,
call
me. I’ll come and
get you.”

She nods. “Okay.”

When we get back into the SUV, I slap the
steering wheel. “Mom, home.”

She puts the SUV into drive, heading home
but staying in her trance. When we get to the house, Mom leaves the SUV running
until the garage door lowers all the way. She turns it off and we all sit
there, in silence. It’s almost as if we are exhausted from the frantic mess the
morning has turned into.

I look at the dried bloodstain as Joey
reaches for her door. Her little face is still pale so I grab her, hugging her
to me. "We can get out on my side, don’t touch the door where his
handprint is." My words are cold and distant, but if he was sick, his
blood will be contagious.

BOOK: The Seventh Day
6.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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