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#26
N O V A

The reply to Nova's call was a loud, dull clonk farther in the back of the store, followed by declining metallic thuds of the same quality. Nova flinched at the unexpected loud noise, then nodded at Max's comment. "Yep, it did," she murmured back, not quite sure whether to drop to a whisper as well or just talk normally.

She rubbed the space above her left eyebrow with her index finger, frowning as she tried to think of a good reaction. Seemingly someone had thrown an object around, which wasn't a particularly friendly, welcoming response. Then again, they hadn't thrown it at her or Max, which didn't make that person seem outright hostile, either. But what to make of that, then?

Staring down the nearest aisle, Nova wondered whether they should just go and look for the sound of the noise, but who knew when their mystery person hurled the next object, and more importantly, where to. Maybe she could just keep talking instead, and eventually she would get a decent reply. Yes, she would do that - it wasn't like she was likely to come up with a better idea, and Max appeared content to stay out of the interaction for now.

She cleared her throat. "Um... okay," Nova spoke up again, her uncertainty audible. "Do I count that as 'yes'? Uhh... One clang is yes, two clangs is no, something like that?" She laughed nervously and covered her face with one hand. What was she even saying? One job possibility in her past she could definitely rule out now was negotiator, Nova decided.

Turning to Max, she shrugged ostentatiously with a helpless smile and gestured between the entrance and the rows of shelves before them - What do you want to do?
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@crescendi, @hostage, @NivieApple
 

NivieApple

Netflix Enthusiast
#27
PHOEBE
Phoebe felt completely conflicted at this point. She had been ready to follow through with this 'distract and run' plan when he had explained it, but when the can had clanked to the ground the people at the front seemed almost, well, unaffected. Still, she waited a moment for a signal from the man. Then, the people they were hiding from spoke up again. Asking if the clunking was some kind of conversation method none the less. She chewed her lip in confusion and faced the man she was with.
"Maybe they're like us? We could at least communicate with them, " the blonde girl said in a hushed whisper. She didn't want to interfere with whatever plan this guy had, his bad side did not seem like the safest place to be, but these people didn't exactly sound hostile. Though she wasn't sure how great she was at reading people. Maybe it was an act?



@hostage
 
#28
Petr
Obviously, his plan had failed. He let out a low rumble of dissent, cursing under his breath. The second can he held was useless, so he set it down. The people in front had obviously not gone for his bait.


“Phoebe. Do you have an idea?” he asked, glancing back at her. He had heard her previous statement, but didn’t want to risk it. He had no idea how to say that, though. “They are... návštěvník, not known,” he said, again trying to articulate his wariness.

@NivieApple
 
#29
Max
“We could split up,” Max offered, seeing Nova’s unsureness (was that even a word?). She kept her voice low, following some unknown instinct. “I go toward the noise, you go to, uh, the other way?” She shrugged. That sentence structure didn’t make much sense, did it. “Unless you want to switch. Or we could wait to see if who-or-whatever will respond.” Max shrugged again, a hapless smile twitching at her lips. At slightly louder volume, “I—I’m not really sure what to do, really, but we do have some options, at least.”
 
#30
N O V A

Nova nodded, thinking Max's ideas over. Splitting up seemed like the best way of finding the source of the noise, but the whole situation was starting to become tedious and a tiny bit worrying - there had been no further response to her questions, and who could say the earlier clatter hadn't been just been an accident and not a reaction to her call at all?

"It doesn't look like they'll respond, actually," she muttered softly, shaking her head slightly in frustration. "Also, this is probably just my imagination running wild, but what if whoever broke this door isn't even human, but a wild animal or something? I don't think we should try to confront them without knowing what we're getting into." Nova resumed rubbing her forehead. They didn't have that many other options, though, unless they just backed off for the moment. "Maybe I'll just say we'll wait outside? If it's a human, they might follow us, and if it's an animal, it probably won't do anything it hasn't done already."
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@crescendi
 
#31
Max
Max exhaled, long and slow. This was getting frustrating, but the evasive answer only made her more curious. There wasn't enough evidence to create even a concrete theory, but the risk of getting said evidence didn't escape her. She was determined, not stupid, after all. She pursed her lips, waiting for a beat before speaking.

"I don't think it was an animal. Didn't you notice that there were none outside?" Max pointed out. No birdsong, no bugs, no strays. She couldn't put a name to what this place was, but she could put a descriptor: not natural. There was no room in her mind for the possibility that the source of the noise came from an animal. At least, not an animal that was of the natural plane. "Leaving isn't a bad idea, though." She bounced on her toes, filled with a sudden surge of nervous energy.

@Felis
 
#32
N O V A

Nova hadn't paid much attention to her surroundings past the fact that she was in a fairly empty city, but Max made a good argument.

"Now that you mention it..." she conceded quietly, but that just made the whole situation more puzzling and possibly quite worse in case the being a few aisles away truly wasn't human. Even those thoughts aside, she was relieved that Max agreed with a "tactical retreat" of sorts, so Nova nodded and cleared her throat before calling out one last time.

"Uh, how do I say this...? I'm sorry if this was a bad time to come in or something, so I'll just be outside if you want to talk later, I suppose? Umm, see you then? Bye?" She ended on something between a sigh and a groan - this one-sided conversation had turned out so awkward! Hopefully, the next time Max or she came across a potential fellow human, Nova would be able to think of something to say that provoked a better response than thrown objects and silence.

She turned around without paying attention to whether she stepped on more glass shards in the process, then passed through the broken front door more cautiously.
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@crescendi, @hostage, @NivieApple
 

NivieApple

Netflix Enthusiast
#33
PHOEBE
Phoebe pursed her lips, a struggle going on silently in her brain. For one thing, she was worried too, that whoever up front was just acting the fool to lower their guard, but another part of her brain was just glad to hear another human in this whacked-out place. Still, an even louder part of her brain just didn't want to do anything that this guy didn't agree with. When she finally heard their plan to leave and wait outside she relaxed a little.
"Maybe there's a back exit or something? I mean, if you really are against talking to them. Or maybe we could just sneak up to the front and see if we can watch them? Just get a real read on them before engaging in any sort of conversation?" She was running out of ideas, but she had to try something. Heck, she had taken a chance on trusting this guy and now they're hiding in the back of a store. There has to be some way to figure this out that doesn't lead to her being on this guy's bad side or the people up front's...



@hostage
 
#34
Petr
Escape was not an option available. He knew that. What he didn’t know was who, or what, was outside. Heck, Petr didn’t know why he was here in the first place. He was barely an adult, and for some horrific reason, he was dead. He furrowed his brow, rubbing his temples as the influx of thoughts left him confused.

“We go out,” he finally said. His other ideas seemed not to work, and Phoebe didn’t seem too against seeing what was out there. The voices had sounded human, so Petr had to go with that.

As Petr stood, he realized that he would not be going in with no means of fighting. The glass at the front had probably broken in some larger chunks. He gestured to Phoebe to follow him, and snuck towards the light. There, Petr could see the broken window. He stepped forward, his knees bent in an almost comical way. A shiver of movement outside caused him to flinch, but eventually he stepped into the light.

Just outside the window were two people. In a snakelike movement, Petr dropped down to grab a shard of glass, his palms digging into it enough to break his skin. “Chci mluvit s právníkem!” he yelled. Literally: I want to see a lawyer. But he had not thought much about what he was going to say. The “authoritative” sound was good enough for him.

@NivieApple @Felis @crescendi

 
#35

N O V A

Nova squeaked at the sudden, harsh call in surprise - both the sound of an unfamiliar voice and the arguably aggressive tone were enough to catch her off guard. She wheeled around, still only some steps from the supermarket, to see a young man gripping a glass shard in the entrance and, understandably, uttered another small cry of shock.

"Whoa, sorry, I'm sorry, okay?" she exclaimed, backing away with her hands raised. This was not among the outcomes she had expected, and her mind struggled to complete a coherent thought, let alone form measured sentences. "I didn't mean... I don't-" Nova broke off as she realized the man's shout hadn't been in English. There was a slightly familiar sound to the language as if she had studied it at one point, but even so, she hadn't been able to the sentence.

"I... I don't think I speak your language, actually," she sheepishly explained, calming down after her initial scare, even though she kept moving away from the man. "Sorry...? I mean, uh..." Nova wanted to repeat her 'sorry' in that language to try and calm the situation, but despite it being a basic term and her feeling that she should know, no matter how she searched for the term, she drew a blank. What a moment for a leaky memory.

She tore her eyes away for a moment to look towards the person she - to some discredit - had forgotten for a few seconds, preoccupied with the threat of a sharp piece of glass. Maybe Max had an idea how to defuse this situation?
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@hostage, @crescendi
 

NivieApple

Netflix Enthusiast
#36
PHOEBE
Phoebe was glad when he decided to head to the front. Glad for everyone's sake. That is, until he squares down and picked up a large chunk of glass. She backed up from where she had been closely following him, and now was a few steps away. Then, he shouted again in that same language he seemed to use often, sounding strong and determined. She pursed her lips, unsure of what good would come of this. Next thing she knew one of the people they had heard was moving away, in fear most likely, and calling out apologies before looking to their 'accomplice'. She looked nervous, through Phoebe was sure she must have looked very similar, and suddenly, on instinct, she reached out to put a hand on the boy's shoulder.
"Maybe we should try English?" she said as calmly and quietly as she could, only loud enough that he could hear, and quickly removing her hand from his shoulder. She would have asked him to put down the glass as well, but didn't want to push her luck. And anyway, if they were, in fact, an unfriendly couple of people, it might be good to have a weapon. She didn't think they were hostile though. They seemed just like her. Confused. Scared. And pretty darn freaked out.


@hostage
 
#37
Petr
His fingers tingled in response to his brutal grip on the glass, and scarlet blood slid down his fingers. His vision blurred with his effort, and he could feel his knees shaking. The rush of adrenaline that coursed through his veins before he had confronted the others was too much.

Petr’s eyes darted from side to side as he listened to the girl stammer in a surprised tone. His brain grasped at the words that left her mouth, but he caught only a few words. It was almost, but only almost, a relief when Phoebe touched his shoulder. He stiffened, surprised with the contact.

He listened closely to her words, his eyes never straying from the others in front of him before nodding. Part of Petr wanted, pleaded, for Phoebe to speak. She seemed much calmer than he, for whatever reason, but it seemed as if he would have to end what he had begun.

“Okay... okay. I will,” Petr muttered back, nodding his head and taking some deep breaths. “I am asking of you, who are you?” he raised his voice a tad, projecting it out, yet not shouting. “Why also are you here?”


@NivieApple @crescendi @Felis
 
#38
N O V A

It seemed that the man had acknowledged Nova was at least not a direct threat, as he didn't advance on her and had lowered his voice a little when he spoke next. That alone was a relief, and the fact that he indeed switched to English helped immensely, as well. Nova allowed herself to take a deep breath before her next reply, feeling her accelerated heartbeat calm a little.

"I'm- My name's Nova," she introduced herself, then pointed to her acquaintance, "and this is Max. But I don't know why I'm in this place myself, to be honest." She shook her head. "I don't even know what city this is, or how I got here."

Nova was about to ask whether he knew whether there was still a functional police station or the like (part of her still hadn't given up on this mess being just a string of unfortunate, but perfectly rational coincidences), but then held her tongue at the last moment. Judging by the fact that he was obviously the one who had smashed the supermarket's doors, either this place was deserted or he had broken in - in the latter case, she might find out how sharp the glass shard in his hand was exactly if she mentioned police. Let's leave out some deaths at least, alright?

"Do you know if there are any other people left besides us?" she asked instead, brushing her hand through her dark curls nervously.
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@hostage, @crescendi
 
#39
Max
Max had lingered for a moment after Nova had turned and left, brow furrowed. Then, she’d made to follow her companion when the shout had torn through the emptied store. Max turned back around so fast her head spun for a second. It was in a language she didn’t understand. Her spine prickled with extra energy.

Her eyes flashed down to the glass shard, a glitter in the stranger’s hand. Air hissed between her teeth, and she shifted forward, perhaps in some subconscious attempt to shield Nova, or at least make herself seem like the easier target. “Let’s be rational, here—we’re probably as lost as you are.” The convinction in her words was wavering. She hadn’t convinced herself the stranger was not a threat yet, but fingers crossed, right?

@hostage @Felis
 

NivieApple

Netflix Enthusiast
#40
PHOEBE
The blonde girl smiled grimly as the boy she was near seemed to accept her suggestion, despite his sorta strange way of speaking. Maybe she had gotten through to him? The girl outside seemed a little calmer now that they were communicating better, and she introduced herself, but another girl who seemed still very on edge was now speaking as well. Finally, Phoebe spoke up.
"Yes, let's," Phoebe said in response to the girl's 'let's be rational' statement. She had meant it to sound confident, but, in the end, it had come out sounding more like a question. "My name is Phoebe, and I really don't know what on Earth I'm doing here either, or if there's anyone else besides us four." She rubbed her arm uncomfortably, around the area where that needle mark was. She then turned to the boy she was with and was about to introduce him as well, but she stopped when she remembered he had never actually given her his name, and she didn't exactly want to force him into it saying it now if it would make him uncomfortable. Not when she finally thought he was starting to trust her.
 
#41
N O V A

Nova shot Max a half thankful, half worried look as she stepped forward, then her eyes widened in surprise when another person came into view in the supermarket's entrance. It was a young woman with blonde hair who looked somewhat insecure as well, but she didn't hold anything sharp and dangerous, so that was reassuring already.

"Nice to meet you, then," Nova replied to the introduction, relaxing sufficiently to manage a smile. "Us four", Phoebe had said - from that phrasing and the fact she seemed comfortable enough around the man despite him holding a large glass shard in his hand, it sounded like everything between them was just a misunderstanding. Hopefully, they could put their rocky start aside now and see if they couldn't find a way to get out of their arguably unpleasant situation.

"But in that case, I suppose even if we find more people in this place eventually, they'll be the same," Nova thought out loud. "I had kinda hoped we could get back to civilization somehow, but..." She shrugged helplessly again - this was slowly becoming her signature move, she realized with some indignation and purposefully moved her shoulders down again. Still, this situation was weird. If none of them knew what they were doing here, this was moving beyond coincidences, wasn't it?
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@crescendi, @NivieApple
 
#42
Petr
The small group was not as tense, he noted. Thanks in part to Phoebe, the strangers had started talking, spitting out ideas and questions as if they were the vending machines that were sprinkled around America’s towns. He chuckled internally. Put in a new scenario, and you will be met with nothing but confusion.

“You are much sheep minded if you think that others will come,” Petr piped up. He threw an hand out to the grey city. Showing them, of course, nothing. Not a brick moved from the rubble of a store. Not a sound echoed through the narrow streets.

“I have seen nothing that gives me an idea about where we might be,” he added. He spat on the sidewalk. “And you may call me Petr. No Pete. Petr,” he said, acknowledging mostly Phoebe.

@Felis @NivieApple @crescendi





 

NivieApple

Netflix Enthusiast
#43
PHOEBE
Phoebe nodded absentmindedly as the guy spoke up. What Nova had said about getting back to civilization sounded good, but also it sounded, well, impossible, given the circumstances. So what Petr was saying about there not even being anyone else in this place was logical, though maybe a tad disheartening. Her head slowly turned to face him, and when he mentioned his name she smiled a little. Petr. She decided that no matter what tragedy had gotten her here, or whatever messed up crap was going on now, she would have to find the little things to keep her spirits up. Gaining Petr's trust enough for him to share his name was definitely one of those things.
"So. Any ideas of what this place even is?" She paused for a moment, not exactly wanting to ask for fear that it could be true, but needing to anyways, "Like, are we in some kind of... Hell?" She said the last word in a more hushed voice, as if worried that if something out there heard her say it, the ground would open up and swallow her whole.


@Felis @hostage @crescendi
 
#44
Max
“Phobe,” Max repeated, committing the name to memory. Confused. A woman, young. American. Athletic, maybe. Max didn’t think she knew the man very well. “Petr.” Confident, maybe overconfident. Disdainful of them, English as a secondary language, younger than any of the four them. She noted the insistence on the name Petr. Looked like he was another victim of Anglicization. She could relate, after all she...she...she, what?

Another gap. Frustrating.

Like are we in some kind of...Hell?

“I could make an argument that we are in some kind of afterlife,” Max offered. “Although, I wouldn’t say hell, not yet. I wouldn’t think in such Christocentric terms, and I haven’t seen any gates of brimstone. Yet.”

@hostage @Felis @NivieApple
 
#45
Petr
Petr bit his lip. Hell was certainly a good guess for where they were. Though something about the town seemed familiar. The answer lay on the tip of his tongue, but he simply could not reach it. Somehow, Petr became aware of something in his brain. A wall, of sorts. And his senses told him that his answers lay beyong that wall. His whole body suddenly began to tingle, as if even thinking about the blockage caused stress, and he dropped the shard of glass that he had forgotten he was holding.

“Whoa,” he muttered. This was... unexpected. If they were in hell, what purpose would forgotten memories serve? A way to drive them all crazy? Petr certainly thought he was crazy. Rather than announce his observations, he swallowed quickly and shoved his thoughts away. There were more important matters at hand.

Petr grabbed Phoebe’s shoulder, leaning on her. “Nova, Max,” he tested out their names as well. “I say we shall get food. There is much inside, but we have no way of opening the cans,” he suggested. Petr then stepped back inside the dark market, peering down the aisles carefully. Something told him to be aware, and cautious.

@NivieApple @Felis @crescendi
 
#46
N O V A

Nova held back a remark of her own after Petr's quip. Well, excuse me for trying to be optimisic, she instead thought to herself and then tried the slightly unfamiliar pronunciation of his name. "Petr, she attempted to emulate the 'r' sound of the language he had spoken, but was unsure how close she got. She couldn't shake the feeling that very sound had given her trouble before - if she could only remember! Well, her inflection was far enough from 'Pete' to upset him again, Nova figured, turning her attention back to the conversation.

"Hell?" she echoed incredulously. That thought hadn't even crossed her mind so far. Sure, the scenery was bleak to say the least, but... "I doubt it. Whoever runs Hell would have had more fun if I weren't literally up and running. But-" Nova broke off, a crease forming between her brows, "Are you saying you all died, too?" With all that had happened, the topic hadn't come up for Nova since she had woken up, and until now, she had managed to push the implication of her only vivid memory out of her mind.

In that sense, it was a welcome distraction when Petr spoke up again. What he seemed to be lacking in social grace at times, he made up for with practical thinking, Nova noted, feeling a bit reconciled. "Good idea," she agreed. "I mean, it is a supermarket though, so maybe they used to sell can openers, too? Or some other tools we can use."
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@hostage, @NivieApple, @crescendi
 
#47
PHOEBE
The blonde girl couldn't help but find a little comfort in the fact that none of the others seemed to think this place was hell. Though she couldn't completely shake the thought. And when Nova brought up us all being, well, dead, she nodded solely and rubbed the back of her neck. She didn't expect anyone to notice the small motion though. Then she felt a hand and weight on her shoulder and turned her head to face Petr. His words brought her back to her empty stomach. How was that even possible that she could feel hunger, when she was definitely dead. Wasn't she? Nova pitched in too and Phoebe nodded in agreement and followed close behind Petr into the market.
"Should we split up and look for the tools?" she muttered sorta quietly. This place gave her w pretty uneasy feeling, and splitting out definitely didn't sound fun, but it might help the search go quicker...


@Felis @hostage @crescendi
 
Last edited:
#48
Petr
Petr nodded at Phoebe’s suggestion. “Good thought,” he replied. “Phoebe and I will go to this side for food. Max and Nova will go to the other for others. Take a cart, too,” he said, directing the others quickly, only stumbling over a few words.


Petr led the way with Phoebe, going to look for the shopping cart that he had left half full. As he was walking, Petr’s mind finally caught up with what had happened. He was not alone here, and everybody else was “dead” as well, based off of Nova’s question when he had brought up hell. This could not be hell, as the group of course was not being tortured nor killed.

Petr then thought of his one memory. Falling. Almost as soon as he thought about that, a spot on his head throbbed. Right above the tip of his ear, a tingle began, accompanied by a slight pinprick of pain. He stopped in the aisle, and reached up. His fingers grazed against the spot, and his eyes widened. “Phoebe,” he whispered to get her attention.

This was the spot on which his head had hit, killing him. He just knew it. The spot seemed to be caved in, with a protruding pieve of bone jutting out. Not able to be seen by any, but he could feel it well. He turned around to face his partner. “You died, right?” he asked.

@crescendi @NivieApple @Felis
 

NivieApple

Netflix Enthusiast
#49
PHOEBE
Phoebe gave the smallest of smiles when Petr had taken control and split them up; she was mostly just grateful that she wouldn't have to walk the store alone. She noticed he didn't even wait for anyone elses response and he led her along with almost confidence. She just tossed a last glance at the two they were leaving and followed close behind Petr. Her eyes were on the shelves of food and other stuff as they walked along, and she kept an eye out for anything that could be used as a makeshift can opener... or an actual can opener, that'd work too, but suddenly she realized Petr wasn't walking anymore, and then she heard her name and she stopped a little ahead of him and turned around, confused and a little concerned. Was something wrong? Then he asked her that question and she froze, but only momentarily. She had at least sorta come to terms with the fact that she was dead, still, her hand flew instinctively to the spot on her abdomen where there was still a small, bullet sized hbullet-sizede had been shot. She shook off the chill that ran down her spine and nodded slowly.
"Yes," she muttered lowly, "Bullet... Lots of... Blood." She kept pausing between her words, as if it took too much effort to speak now. "Why do you ask?" she wondered alloud, a bit concerned at the sudden shift in his attitude.


@hostage
 
#50
N O V A

Nova just nodded to Petr's instruction and moved to grab a shopping cart from the line. With a nod to Max, she headed deeper into the store in the opposite direction Petr had taken. It was good to have something practical to think about - anything to cushion the belated realization of what she had lightheartedly spoken out loud just moments earlier. Died. Dead. But Nova still felt very much alive. How was that possible? Or rather, could you even feel truly dead? How would she know the difference, anyway?

The first aisle held freezers on one side and sweets on the other. The refrigerated food was out of the question, who knew how long the power had been off already. While sweets weren't exactly the type of food they'd want, Nova still picked up a pack of experimentally, only to see them crumbling at her touch through the transparent window in the plastic. Shaking her head, she put it back, softly muttering, "I just hope the contents of the cans are better preserved than this." She looked back to make sure Max was still close enough to see her round the corner, then proceeded to the next aisle.

In the dimness of the interior, it was both hard to find what they were looking for and easy for images to form before Nova's inner eye. Especially the ones containing nothing but the murky darkness of the water. She tried to push them out of her mind, but that effort only made things worse as she could not think of other memories to replace the ones of her death. Why was that the only thing left? Why couldn't she even remember what had caused her to fall? Moreover, how were her legs even back to working?

"Um," Nova finally spoke up again, stopping in her tracks and turning to Max. "Didn't you say before you had some sort of idea what's going on?" Even if it wasn't the best question for the moment, any sort of conversation would at least keep Nova's mind busy enough with the present to properly focus on their search again.
---
I N T E R A C T I O N S:
@hostage, @crescendi
 

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