As Lyndi was being put to rest, laid down in a bed of flowers, Ramona stood with the other girls, simply watching. All of the flowers surrounding her couldn't hide the fact that her face had been caved in, try as it might to obscure that. The pale moonlight shone on her body like a spotlight, but only made Ramona feel just a bit more like a failure. She couldn't save her, and now she couldn't even give her that dignified of a funeral. She had to be better than this, because she was better than this, right?
Ramona hoped so.
Felicia was talking now, starting to cry, perhaps a bit hysterical, but it wasn't her place to interrupt grieving. In her life, Ramona hadn't attended many funerals. There was one for her great-grandmother Jeanine when she was like six, but then she was six, so she didn't remember much of it. Dead bodies? No, not really.
But now the cold face of one of her best friends was looking up blankly at the sky, mutilated. It wasn't pleasant. None of this was pleasant, and she felt as if she could do nothing. Powerless. Lyndi was crying, sure, and then Ramona had comforted her, but then it was Lyndi who leaped into the fray, trying to kill those evil-ass fuckers, and Ramona was too slow, one step behind, just getting there to see one of her friends receive a cleaver in the face.
She had no idea what to say, so she began to sing.
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."
Ramona hoped that wherever Lyndi was, she could hear this. Just this one thing, to hopefully make things right, make things better. She didn't even know whether Lyndi believed in God or not, but hopefully the sentiment was appreciated. She needed that affirmation. Some kind of confirmation that she had tried her best, but perhaps it just wasn't enough.
After she finished singing, and the other girls had finished saying their piece, they retreated back into the church. She hoped they couldn't see the tears that were slowly running down her face, so she quickly wiped them away with her arm. Not now. Not if her parents were watching. No crumbling.
That night, when she was absolutely sure that Felicia and Yumi were sleeping, Ramona tried to sneakily shuffle along the pew she was sitting on to her daypack, and then opened it for the very first time that day. There was food. Water. A flashlight, a first-aid kit. And then, in the center of it all, even with a small paper tag attached to it or something, there it was. A furby.
Fucking hell. Could she have done anything then? Was she just doomed to watch as her friend got slaughtered, unable to do anything?
But she knew there was something that she could have done. Ran just a bit faster, be just a little bit more aggressive. None of that hesitation.
It couldn't end like this. If there was one thing she was sure of, it was that. Something could be done. Something.
With that thought in her mind, Ramona tried to lay on her side and drift off into sleep.
It was as the sun began to make its ascent into the sky that she finally began to slumber.
That morning, she woke up groggily, and almost immediately managed to roll off the pew.
A hard thump on the ground was what she first noticed, and after that came a dull thud in her back. Her back, she noticed was sore. Her stomach was sore. Could her face feel sore? Because if it could, it definitely was. Grunting, she managed to make her way up to her feet, body swaying, right before the noisy blare of the announcements almost sent her right back to the ground with shock.
She stayed steady this time, though.
There were eight people dead, she dimly recollected. Eight kids, eight sons and daughters, all dead. Never coming back. Gone.
Faces in the hallway, a quick hi and bye, no longer there. Zip. Zilch. Nada. No heartbeat, just a body left somewhere, unthinking, unmoving.
Hearing Lyndi's and Panya's names hurt the most, though. Another reminder of a friend she failed to protect, another reason for her to just curl up and die. But it couldn't just be like this, right? There were still too many of her friends around here, trying not to get killed, with no one there for them. More killers, too. A girl had already killed twice, hadn't she? Katarina Koni-something? Track girl, had OCD or something similar to that? Probably should've asked Dad about that, he would've known. So many things she'd never know, so many things she'd never see. Paris. Cape Town.
Everything was meant to be in the future for them, so many paths of possibilities, but now there was nothing. Except for the possibility of forging a new path, rising from the ashes. They could do that, right? Or not. But she knew she needed to try.
Now, Ramona stood straight, back up, perfect posture. She was ready.
Until she turned her head, and saw Yumi and Felicia speaking. Then, Yumi leaving.
Should she call out to her? Walk up to her? Or simply let her leave, go on her own journey? She was about to take a step forward, walk up, when she realized something.
Out here, could she really try to watch over every person's safety? She tried to help Lyndi, and she died. Perhaps she needed to let Yumi grow as a person, let her become more assertive, become her own woman. She hoped that would be the case, rather than her walking away and instantly getting murdered, but she needed to hope.
She looked back at Felicia. She still looked plenty shook, but Ramona wasn't about to comment that. Not dignified. But they couldn't stay here, at the church. Too much bad mojo, and honestly, even though it was the body of Lyndi, she did not want to sleep in a building when a dead body was only lying a few feet away. Wasn't pleasant.
"Felicia, no. We can't stay here. Not anymore."
With that statement, Ramona strapped on her day pack, and began to exit the church. She marched forward, resolute in her goal, if not in direction. There still had to be a way out. Please.
She could only hope Felicia was behind her.
"It just ain't safe. We've got to go, girl."
((Ramona Shirley continued Now This Looks Like A Job For Me, So Everybody… Just Follow Me