"Well… I went down to… the 3rd floor."
"..." George, who just entered the room.
A pin drop silence developed in the entire room as I looked at everyone present there before turning to George.
"You seem exhausted. How is the absorption going on?" I asked, trying to change the topic, but they were still looking at me with that stupefied expression.
"You went down until 3d floor?" White asked with a questioning look.
"What about the zombies? How did you get past them?" George inquired with a slight, hopeful look.
"I killed all of them," I spoke, as I observed his expression changing to stupefied again.
Once again, an awkward silence developed throughout the entire room.
This situation was kind of nerve racking. I mean, fighting the D-grade zombies was actually easier than trying to figure out what to speak at this moment.
"Well… is this how he always is?" George asked looking at White, who simply raised his both hands in surrender as he spoke,
"Don't ask me. I just met him a few days ago when he came to the top floor."
His eyes then drifted to Caroline, who also made an awkward smile before turning at me with a slight glare as she asked,
"Couldn't you have waited for me to wake up? I know you are strong and stuff, but don't you think, Michael, that you should depend on others a little?"
Her eyes were piercing mine, and I was trying to avoid her gaze as much as possible right now… I was going to tell her about the D-Grade zombie that I fought with but looking at her…
'I should rather not tell her, if I want to keep my life,' I made an inward dry chuckle as I looked back at her.
"I don't expect you to listen, so from now on I'll always be with you and that's final," she declared and I kind of reacted with a surprised expression as I tried reasoning with her,
"But?" She glared at me with a threatening look and I shut my mouth.
"Sister is scary!" The girl sitting beside Alex spoke out with fear in her eyes and observing that she was getting terrified, Caroline then sighed before smiling at her.
"What is your name, sweetheart?" She asked the girl and even though the girl was scared, she answered in a sheepishly low voice,
"My name is Clara Reeva, sister."
"That's a really nice name, Clara. Where are your parents, Clara? Won't they be worrying about you right now?" She asked and Clara turned silent at that.
Her eyes were looking down, and soon tears began falling down her eyes.
Alex kind of sighed at that before comforting the girl with a pat as he spoke,"Clara's parents are office workers, working in the office right in front of our building. Good news is that they are alive, but… the zombies have flooded that building as well, so…."
Alex's voice trailed off in the end before he spoke,"let's go, Clara. We should let the elders talk among themselves."
Alex, before moving out, turned to me and said,"brother, can I ask you for a favor?"
I nodded at him.
"Can you at least talk with the people above? I know they are… how they are, but still. Please talk with them at least once," he spoke before moving out of there.
For the next few moments, I kept quiet before I turned to White as I asked,"out of 10, how bad things are with the survivors?"
"I would say 7. It's not impossible to talk it out with them, but based on what has just happened, I guess they are going to be angry for a while," he spoke with a pondering expression.
"Is it because of the deaths?" I asked again, but this time George chimed in as he spoke." I don't think so. I mean, the deaths might have affected them, but overall, they had already seen their fair share as we were moving up.
Blake and Adam weren't even related to them. They just came here from outside to stay the night at my apartment.
If anything, it's related to you pressuring them into unwanted circumstances, against their will. I mean, there wasn't any better option visible to us back then, but… you know how people are, right?"
I observed George for a few moments before pondering about what we should do next.
"Actually, it's not that hard to gain their trust though," it was Caroline who spoke out this time and all of us turned to her.
"While I was helping them out, I noticed that there were only three basic things that they wanted.
Food. Protection. Fear free future.
If you can provide, maybe at least one of the three or possibly two of the three things, I guess you can gain their trust back."
White was surprised to see such a keen observation from Caroline and in the end he too agreed that all she said was correct.
As for George, he didn't give out much reaction this time. Instead, he asked me,
"What are your plans after this? I mean, after escaping from this building?"
This made me think about my future plans once again.
Earlier, I just wanted to escape away from here and reach my family, but while going down the floor I thought of another idea.
"I was thinking about… barricading the entire building, including the parking area and making this place a safe zone… though it is a kind of pipe dream if you ask me… still I was thinking if it can work?"
I think I saw George faintly smiling before his expression changed back to normal and he nodded as he answered.
"I'll think about it as well. If I get any good ideas, I'll tell you."
Then I saw him going outside from the room as he said," I just came here to check up on you since I heard your voice. I will be back to absorbing the cores now."