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Behind Blindfolds

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The end of the world is always expected to come sudden, unexpected, and uncontrollable. That much is true, but it doesn’t come with a bang, really just screams turning into strangled cries and the sounds of people dropping one after another. It came without warning at possibly the worst time. But isn’t any time a bad time for humanity to end?

Beverly had been in the car, another driver swerved at her, sending the car flying off to the side like it was weightless. Surreal. She has to climb out of the car when it’s turned upside down, gripping her pregnant stomach. She never felt much attachment to the fetus inside, now isn’t any different. It just makes it worse that she’s doing this on her own.

The baby has a father somewhere technically. Tom Rogan, the idea of him makes her goddamn blood boil. She could sometimes handle him when it was just the two of them, but she made the choice to up and leave the moment the pregnancy test revealed a cross to her on that dim night. He just can’t raise a child, he really thinks he could, but with how he treats her, like her own father, makes his lack of paternal instinct clear.

She reflects on all of this now, sitting on the wood floors of this unfamiliar home as she tries to catch her breath, tries to wrap her head around what she’d seen out there, some of the most unseeable things anyone could see. But it’s not over yet. She brushes a reddish strand of hair behind her ear with a scratched up hand, finally studying the faces of the people around her.

The one standing over her looks angry with her, showing his dominance, filling her with a hope that she’s not already on his bad side just being here. The next one is in the red vest she can only attribute to the local supermarket, she doesn’t recognize the man though. The next one she tries to read is standing near the stern looking dark-haired man, he has skin of a deep brown, his face set similarly, though more determined than angry, an undertone of warmth coming through. It’s hard for her gaze not to snap to the next one, an ashy blond man, gripping an inhaler and taking a puff from it, he’s thin and nervous, though he holds a similar determined energy.

What makes her most curious is a man in a bright pink button up, tossing a ball at the wall to catch it, over and over, like he’s just trying to keep his sanity. Suddenly one who wasn’t there before appears in the archway, crossing his arms over his chest, his hair having almost the same copper tones as Beverly’s own. “Another one? G-good, this thing doesn’t work as fast as we thought it did.”

Bev just nods to the group, “Who are you all? And who- who was that woman who tried to get me here?” she asks, having a habit to be automatically suspicious of people after all she’s been through, especially strange groups of men she’s never met before. She pulls herself to her feet, a bit difficult with her center of gravity so drastically changed by the child growing within her.

The intimidating man of the dark hair and olive-y toned skin looks her up and down before speaking. “I think considering this is my home I hold the right to ask that question first, who are you?” he asks, wrapping his arms across his chest. It’s obvious he’s trying to be an authoritative presence, but really he just seems bossy and largely insecure.

She nods and sighs out, she should have known she would be asked that. “I’m Beverly Marsh, I live a couple blocks down, now can I know who you and that woman are?” she asks, feeling unsafe and impatient, who could blame her?

“Call ourselves the survivors for now. I’m Stanley, the one in the red is Ben, not to be confused with Richie, the one in the eye bleeding bright pink. Eddie’s the one that looks like a shaking chihuahua. Bill is the blunt asshole in the archway there. The one next to me is Mike, he’s about the only other sane one here. And that woman who saved you? That was my wife. Patricia. Much rather her over you,” the last sentence is spit out bitterly like a stab to the chest. The man keeps his arms crossed across his chest, swiftly turning around to leave the foyer, it’s as if he can’t even look at her without thinking of Patty and making his green eyes swim with tears. Too fresh.

She looks at the others, her own green eyes pulling in everything around her, the room is dimly lit so it’s hard to catch all their features, but besides Stan they don’t seem too upset to have her around. The next one to talk is the one he’d gestured to calling him Richie. The man doesn’t look away from his game of ball, his eyes trained on the bouncing and the wall. “Don’t worry about the bitch boy, he’s just an elderly man in a young adult man’s body, but he couldn’t hurt a fly, bet he’s got the joints of one too,” the man runs a big hand through his brown hair, snorting at his own playful insult. Whatever keeps them sane, for Richie it’s quite obvious that it’s his humor.

Eddie isn’t so much entertained by Richie’s rudeness and vulgarity, he’s been dealing with it for more consecutive hours than the others, they’re sure to get fed up too. The two of them are in police training, they were in the same carpool at the time everything outside started to go awry. Richie would call them buddies, Eddie, not so much. He takes his inhaler and slips his backpack off his shoulders, hastily unzipping it and putting the asthma medicine away, not wanting to seem even weaker than their pregnant newbie. He’ll have to pretend he’s not wheezing every breath he takes out of sheer anxiety.

Bill seems the most stable of them all, standing taller than everyone except for Mike, he seems to be constantly scanning every bit of everything happening as it does. The observer, quite useful to have around, but maybe not in a situation plagued by a monster who can only hurt you once you’ve seen It. they haven’t come up with a name for it yet, so it’s simply It. Or the shadow, but once you’ve seen it you don’t call it anything, all you can do is cry for mercy.

“You w-want a glass of water?” he asks, also seemingly the warmest to the newbies. He’s cautious yes, but he’s not cold and uncaring by any means. She nods at his offer, trying not to be so timid. Be a big girl, Beverly, be strong, she tells herself, she’s been telling herself that since her childhood years. It’s sung by a harsher voice in her head now that she’s going to be a mother, she hopes that voice stays in there and never has the need to spring from her own mouth.

She follows him to the kitchen, sitting on a stool at the island in the center, looking around, it really is a nice home. The counters are marble, the chandelier is modern, the appliances all stainless steel. Stan maybe be an asshole, but either he or his wife are excellent interior decorators, or at least know how to hire one. “How long do you think this will last? Like how long do you think we’ll be stuck staying here?” she asks, leaning her elbows on the cold counter, she’s not sure if the shiver that goes down her spine is because the temperature or the grave look that Bill returns her with.

She’ll never forget the way he says it. “I’m n-not so sure, we don’t know exactly when it b-began. The news can’t p-pinpoint it. We aren’t s-sure what causes it either. It’s i-indefinite. Hopefully you can go home soon, though,” he talks with words on unconfidence but his tone is unwavering. “It always could be worse though, a-at least it hasn’t gotten you,” he says as he stops the tap and passes her the glass. A nice cool glass of water is about the only method he knows to calm people down, his own methods of self soothing are to ignore the problem, and he can’t exactly ignore people’s problems for them without being some level of rude.

She nods slowly. She doesn’t know how to respond, of course the idea of it terrifies her. She watched person after person on the street just fall dead. A glassy look grows in their eyes, they go bloodshot for a moment before anything else happens, a sign It’s hit. She’ll never forget the look. That woman, Patty, she had these beautiful golden brown eyes before they shifted. She had kind eyes, she can understand why Stan cared about her so deeply. She gave her life to help a stranger, there’s about no greater sacrifice than that.

“How’d you end up here?” she asks, her voice soft, he seems to be able to hold his own, she wonders why he hadn’t been hiding out at his own residence, he seems fully capable of it. His expression changes, a little less so sure, less full of determination and hope. One more of… grief.

“Was at the h-high school tennis team’s m-match at the park. S-supporting my brother, George. We were f-far from home, he got injured d-during the match, can’t run a-as fast as I can,” Bill says, chewing the inside of his cheek and letting his eyes trace discernable patterns in the swirls of the black and white marble. There it his, his reason to bottle this all up. He looks early ready to cry but instead looks up. “But it’s l-like all you are m-my siblings now. G-gonna protect you guys, if you’re o-okay with that,” he says, it’s like he can snap back into his role any time, like he’s had practice.

“Bill? You know it’s not your fault, right?” she asks, she doesn’t know him but she feels her heart pound with pain for him. She watched people die, but nobody she cares about. As morbid and evil as that may sound, she lives alone and she’s never cared much for anyone in this goddamn town. Derry is supposed to be a pit stop between her shitty life before and the greatness she knows she’s destined to become.

“Moving on,” he says, walking around the counter, “You’re gonna have a baby? Do y-you know where the dad is? M-maybe we can help find him for you i-if he’s still alive?” he asks, his God complex and need to save everyone around him becoming increasingly evident. It’s endearing.

“Oh God no I hope he’s dead, if he’s not could you do me a favor and make him look into the light? He could use a fucking lesson,” she grumbles, smacking her hand on the counter in front of her in emphasis. She may have loved him sometime, at some point, when he was someone else. But the man she left wasn’t the man she loved, she wants absolutely nothing to do with him.

“Understood,” he says, the conversation getting cut short with Ben coming in and settling himself on the couch with a beat up notebook, dozens of post-its sticking out, the frilly edges of paper sticking out at several angles from the spiral spine of it. Obviously well loved and constantly used, Bill knows what it is already, but Bev is curious.

“Whatcha got there, supermarket guy?” she asks, not even minding to check his nametag, still in his work clothes. She gets up and squats herself on the couch next to him, even eyeing coffee stains and ribs on the pages, it’s almost like he takes that ratty old thing everywhere with him.

“First draft of my novel” the man says distractedly, running his hand over the scruffy beard starting on his chin and jawline. If he were to even look over he knows he’d be intimidated by her beauty like he had been in the hall, so now he simply refuses. “It’s about the end of the world. Won’t market well now,” he jokes with bitterness in every undertone of his words.

She smiles just as dryly as his words had come out, “Good talk,” she says, patting him on the shoulder and standing up. She feels like a character in a video game, walking around the room and speaking to all the different people she’ll be stuck with. It’s for the best after all, probably. She sees Mike, she knows she hasn’t spoken to him yet, he seems to be another one of the quiet ones.

“Mike, that’s your name, right?” she asks as she taps him on the shoulder carefully. Not a good time and environment to sneak up on someone, but she doesn’t know how else to get his attention. Like Stan and Bill, he seems to be a leader, she likes that about him. He’s the quiet leader, not too stern and not too soft.

“Yeah, Beverly you said?” he says after his shoulder twitches and he whips around, sighing in relief at the sight of something actually human. “You know, I’m glad we saved you, the idea of a dead pregnant woman would haunt me forever if we hadn’t. My sister is pregnant, she’s up in Canada though, moved for college,” he says, revealing his own flaw, he rambles when he’s nervous.

Stan is the quick wit. Richie is the jokester. Eddie is the anxious one. Ben keeps to himself. Bill feigns a bravery he doesn’t truly have to make the others feel safer. Mike is the rambly handsome one who seems to know the place as well as Stan does. And Bev? Beverly is so far just here for the ride, but she’ll find her place.