This is Issue #64 of Dead Frontier by Walkerbait22, titled Wide Awake. This is the fourth issue of Volume 11.
Issue 64 - Wide AwakeEdit
Alexander takes Cole, Alec, Lienne, and Devon on an interesting tour of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and its history under the hands of Alexander. There are two towers, connected by a skyway, that hold over 2,000 rooms altogether. As of now, everyone is aggregated in Tower 1, but once more survivors find their way to the Hyatt, Alexander would like to start to start shifting people to Tower 2. Each room holds a beautiful view of the city, showcasing the decrepit streets below but also the wondrous skyscrapers that loom over them.
Alexander was staying in the hotel on the first day of the outbreak with his daughter, Lucy. As the inhabitants of the Hyatt turned into cannibalistic savages rising from the dead, they boarded up in their room.
Information slowly trickled in through radio, and they learned the easiest way to deal with these new threats, dubbed “Infected.” Alexander’s past boxing experience and his willingness to teach Lucy how to fight soon encouraged them to clear out the hotel to the best of their abilities, and finding anyone who might have hidden as well.
Alexander decided to start anew: confident in the security of the hotel, he created “The Regency,” led by him and a group of others in the Hyatt with the main goal of starting a welcoming community to forget the horrors of the outside. Alexander takes pride in his creation and considers The Regency a success.
They turn onto the next floor on the tour. “Ready to see the rooms?” Alexander asks. “They seem to be the newer residents’ favorite part.” He opens a pair of double doors, revealing a large room. It holds two king sized beds covered in lush comforters. The purple blinds in front of the large window are pulled apart to reveal the breathtaking view outside. “Nice, eh? We spruced it up a bit.”
“Ho-ly shit,” Alec mutters. “I’m asleep. I’m asleep, right?”
Alexander laughs. “No, buddy. You’re wide awake.”
Alec collapses onto one of the beds of his newly-assigned room, relishing in its softness; Devon lies down next to him. She grabs a pillow and shoves it in her face. “Oh, my God. Everything is so SOFT!” she shouts, her voice muffled.
“I know!” Alec responds. “It’s like we’re in the land of cotton candy...”
“That place sounds delicious.” Devon turns onto her side to look at Alec. He lies on his back with his arms folded behind his head, looking up at the high ceiling. “Think we could ever just...relax here? And forget about everything?” Devon asks.
“And pretend we live in the land of cotton candy?” Alec responds, and Devon smiles. “I don’t know. Knowing my luck, probably not. We’ll probably just push everything to the back of our minds...but all the bad shit that’s happened, it still happened. And more bad things will happen, honestly. But hey, I’m not a fortune teller. Who knows?”
“Jesus. Debby downer over here.”
“Sorry. But it is the truth, right?” He notices a flicker of hurt cross her face.
“Yeah. It is.” She turns onto her back and stares upward, at the ceiling. “The bad shit’s always there.”
“I didn’t mean to remind you about...your family or anything. I just meant...I was just asking a rhetoric--”
“I know. Forget it. Can we just talk about cotton candy again?”
Alec laughs, and they fall into a silence. He swallows hard and scratches his head, feeling a bit awkward. He catches his breath when she turns and puts her face near his. “I have a question," she states quietly. "It's a weird question, though.”
"Oh. Um, that's okay. What is it?"
"Are you...a virgin?"
“Oh, my God,” he says a little too loudly. “Wow. Are you...serious?”
“I...I mean, are you?” he asks.
“Asked you first.”
He feels sweat beads popping up on his forehead. “Yeah. I just...I never--you know. Had the chance?”
“Me either,” she says.
“Is that surprising?”
"Because...because you’re very...bold. And hot.”
Devon grins. “So, later?”
Devon finds his obliviousness too cute and laughs. “Do you want to have sex later?”
Ho-ly. Shit. “...Yes. Yeah.”
“Later, then.” She gives him a quick peck on the cheek and leaves; he’s left there staring at the ceiling in total bliss.
Billie pops a gummy worm in her mouth and nonchalantly throws a dart at the crooked dart board. She hits a few inches away from the bullseye.
“That’s good,” Robbie says from next to her, “but you’ve gotta get a good wrist snap. Watch me.” He grabs a dart from the table and flings the dark with great precision, hitting the bullseye perfectly.
“I just can’t do it. I think I need your blessing,” Billie responds.
He places a hand on her shoulder. “Alright. I bless this girl with the ability to hit the damn bullseye!”
Billie laughs and sets her feet again, concentrating. She flings it, and the dart speeds to the edge of the dartboard. Nope.
Robbie puts his arm around her shoulder. “Aw, you’ll get it one day. Maybe. Hell, at least you’re better than Hiro, right?
“Better watch out: you don’t want him to hear you. He might kick another chair,” she responds with a smile. "Eh, I'll get it, sooner or later." She sighs and grabs a few gummy worms before taking a seat on the windowsill; the dreary weather still plagues the outside.
Robbie takes a seat on the table and sets the bag of candy on his lap. “How’ve you been doing, girl?” he asks.
She blows a few strands of hair out her face before answering: “Better, I guess. It’s just weird, him not being here. But it’s whatever. He’s not coming back, I’m over it.”
“Two weeks is an awfully quick time to get over something like that.”
She hates these conversations, and wishes people would just stop pressuring her into them. She knows Robbie has the best intentions, but when she's ready to be open about Finn, she will. On her own time. She’s silent for a few seconds, then suddenly says, “Rain’s making me sleepy. I’m gonna take a nap. See you later, Rob.”
He sighs and raises his hands in defeat. Well, at least he tried.
Cole is in the cafeteria, amazed over the fact that they have instant coffee. He finishes adding the water and stirring in the creamer, and waits a few minutes before taking the much-awaited first sip.
After months of just water, he can’t imagine anything tasting better, and ends up chugging it down, ignoring the slight burning in his throat.
“Is it good?” says someone from behind him with a laugh. It’s an unfamiliar, but feminine, voice.
Embarrassed, he quickly halts his drinking and wipes his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket. He turns and finds a young, brown skinned woman flashing him a bright, charming smile. Her beauty is so stunning he ends up actually choking on the last bits of coffee he’s trying to swallow.
He goes into a coughing fit, and the mysterious woman just stands there, trying to keep the smile off of her face. “You okay?” she asks.
Cole raises a finger and clears his throat a few last times. He knows his face is probably red, but from embarrassment or choking, he doesn’t know. “Sorry. I--I choked. On the coffee,” he explains, lifting the cup in his hand.
“Yeah, I saw.”
“But it was good. Yeah.” He hastily grabs a napkin from the table and wipes his face again, just in case.
“I’m guessing you’re Cole, right?”
“That’s correct.” He extends his hand, and she shakes it.
“Thought so. My dad said you were the tall, good looking guy. The good looking part was an understatement.”
Cole laughs sheepishly. “I-I’m flattered. Thank you. But you are...?” he asks.
“Lucy Brinkley. Alexander’s daughter. Resident of the Hyatt. Among other things.”
“What kinds of things?”
“Maybe you’ll find out soon enough,” she replies coyly, then locks arms with him. “Come on. If you’re done choking on your coffee, I think a special tour is in order."
"Oh, really? Just for me?"
"Just for you."
"Guides don't usually walk arm in arm with their tourists," he observes.
"This isn't an official tour, so I'll make a special exception for you, Mr. Pruitt."
She leads him all throughout the tower, up the many flights of stairs and into various rooms, like the Presidential Suite, the library, and the ballroom. She even takes him to the roof where skyscrapers rise high over the hotel. It must take upwards of an hour, but Cole doesn't find it tedious in the slightest. Lucy's company is uplifting and enjoyable, and he finds he's a bit disappointed when she decides the "tour" is almost over. Lucy leads him to their final stop.
"The skyway," she says. It's a long, wide corridor and instead of walls on either side there are windows that expose the city. People come and go through the corridor, transporting between the two towers. Cole finds himself awestruck by the view from the window. He stands in front of it, hands in his pockets, just staring. "Wow."
"Nice, right?" Lucy asks, a small grin on her face.
"My favorite spot in the whole place. It's a good thinking spot. Y'know, you can just sit and contemplate."
"Okay, Socrates," he teases.
"Whatever! Don't make fun."
Cole laughs. "I'm not. Just joking. It is really nice, though. Thank you again for the 'tour,' Lucy," he says.
"And why do you say it like that?"
"I dunno. Maybe because you're the biggest flirt I've ever met in my life."
"Hey, I don't think I'm the only one that can be accused of flirting here," she counters.
"Maybe not, but you've got it down to a science. Subtle enough to not make it completely obvious, but still bold. I know that game."
A sly smile forms on her face. "You know the subtle game, then, huh?" she asks. "Okay. Let's try something different: you're going to have dinner with me tomorrow."
"I'm going to have dinner with you? Do I have a choice?"
"No,” she decides, “and even if you did, you'd say yes."
Man, she's good.
- First appearance of Lucy.