Thursday 13 December 2012

End of the Line by Ottilie Weber + giveaway

Today I'm featuring the first chapter of End of the Line by Ottilie Weber, a YA Sci-fi novel. Would you like to win a copy of he book? Ottilie was kind enough to offer four ecopies. Please leave a comment and email address, and I will choose four lucky winners. I, for one, look forward to reading End of the line.

Book Description:

When so much is lost how does one to have the strength to move on? At seventeen Lauren was prepared for yet another year of school. Then asteroids hit, killing all of those she knew except for a few other teens from her neighborhood. Joining forces with her classmate Aaron, they work together on the journey in the hopes of finding more people that are alive. On the way, threats of starvation, illness, and freezing to death don’t compare to the danger of Dean Manson. Manson is an ex-con out for revenge against Aaron. With so much working against them these teens fight for everything even if it means denying their feelings just for the chance to see a new day

About this author

In a fantastical land where the weather is always changing, not too far from the beach and the moon is high in a freckling sky Ottilie lives. This land is call New Jersey where she has lived her whole life and she mostly grew up in Wall Township. Ottilie is currently studying History Education at The College of New Jersey. Writing helps as a procrastination tool and a savior to her sanity. Ottilie has major support from her caring, supportive family along with her loveable, insane friends.

Buy Link: Amazon

Chapter Excerpt:

No one ever said the end of the world would be quick and painless. Actually, no one would have ever thought it would have only partially ended. All that was left behind would fight and struggle, one side trying to kill, the other side trying to stay alive. Good against evil would not be swayed regardless of destruction, starvation, and the need for survival.

This mess started just short of a year ago. Our neighborhood was having one of those very family-oriented, corny block parties as a celebration for Labor Day, which it has every year. I, being seventeen at the time, didn’t like being at the celebration at all. First of all, the party wasn't exactly for my age group. The parents thought we were still into the little ponies and treasure hunt games. Secondly, most of the kids in my neighborhood were younger than I was, and the few who were my age were able to escape the festivity. Later I would wonder, Was it worth staying at the gathering and living or escaping the party and possibly dying?

I was hanging around my little brother, Sean, during the party since my parents were with the other adults. They wanted someone to stay with him so he was being supervised. They were able to go drink while I was here waiting in line for a smelly animal, whose long face looked even more excited than mine at being there. I loved my brother, but I just didn’t want to be outside on the blocked-off road, with people racing around who weren’t ashamed to show their enthusiasm.

At the time, my brother was six and fearless. Slightly on the hyper side and full of questions, he tested my patience at times. At the moment, he was holding my hand, jumping up and down and searching for his miniature friend, Paige, so they could go on at the same time. My brother had a girlfriend.

I was currently single. Okay, so I went on a few dates. I didn’t need a full hand to count the guys, but I just never really had a full-out, real boyfriend. I’ve never had the genuine, strong emotions toward any of the guys I went out with. It was frustrating.

“Lauren, there she is! Paige, over here!” yelled Sean, letting go of my hand to wave his in the air while still hopping about. I was starting to blame those double-chocolate cupcakes for his energy.

I smiled, not sure whether to be embarrassed or to think his behavior was adorable. A little girl with dark red hair in long pigtails came running over to us. She was wearing a yellow shirt with a big kitty on the front. She was wearing yellow shorts, one of those little kid matching outfits you later yell at your parents for, wondering what they were thinking when they bought it. Yet Paige and my brother were too cute together.

That’s when the sky started to get darker. The past week, the sky was getting an odd glow of obscurity, not that I really noticed since I always kept my shades closed from laziness ‘til my mom threw a fit. The sun still set at night, but always had that little morning glow to it. Almost like a storm was about to start, but no rain ever fell. At this point, the sky wasn’t pretty to look at, possibly looking worse than it had previously. The atmosphere gave me the chills, to be honest.
“Sean, you want to go in and watch a movie with Paige? It looks like it is going to start raining. I’ll make you guys a big bowl of popcorn,” I said, letting my voice fill with excitement to try and draw them in.

I really hoped they wouldn’t pull the “I haven’t gone on the pony yet” card. The sky was giving me the creeps and I wanted to get out of there. I shifted from one foot to the other with my arms crossed over my chest. They looked at each other and whispered, their tiny hands cupped to each other’s ears. Then they both glanced at me and agreed to see a movie. I sighed in relief as I took their hands so we could stroll back to my house. I had to tell my parents and Paige’s parents so they wouldn’t worry when they didn’t see us outside.

We walked to the Jones’s back yard where most of the parents were sitting on the porch at the tables they had brought. Their laughter could be heard clear as a bell from the front yard where the horses were. Finally, I saw my parents sitting on deck furniture, drinking some form of alcohol that appeared summery with fun, tropical colors. Someone said something funny that had the parents howling once more. I would have needed aspirin if I were with them the whole time.

“Mom, Sean and Paige want to go watch a movie at our house. They’re getting bored.” I added the lie knowing she wouldn’t care about that little detail because she’d seen right through it.

We were close, and she knew her two children very well, our likes and dislikes even our very small habits. A lie could be sensed from another floor in or out of the house by my mother.

“Honey, didn’t you at least try to have fun?” my mom asked, pushing a stray piece of hair behind my ear before looking down at my brother.

I looked into my mother’s bright jean-blue eyes. I’ve got the same ones while my brother has green eyes. Sean and I both had the same auburn hair my mother had. Mine was curly like my grandpa’s, and it fell two inches below my shoulders.

“Lauren, how about you take Cole and Jill with you to watch the movie? They’ve been here playing cards the whole time. They’re probably bored out of their minds.”

“Okay, Mom, I’ll take them.”

It wasn’t like it would affect me. They would be watching a little kid movie. I didn’t care. I had no problem admitting I still liked Disney movies.

I turned around to see Cole (who was sixteen) and Jill (who was fifteen) playing war with a deck of cards, looking really bored and sitting at a circular, wooden picnic table on the deck. Mandy, on the other side of the table, sat with her head rested on her folded arms. At nine years old, Mandy was an only child, so she attached herself to the other neighbors. I walked over to them with Paige and Sean at my side. They were whining about how they wanted the movie now. The movie that I had to talk them into seeing was now taking too long to get started for their taste.

“You guys want to get out of here and watch a movie at our house?”

The two of them gazed at the cards as the parents continued on with high pitched laughter and then glanced at each other. They got up and trailed the three of us to my house. The door was unlocked since my parents lived next door and the whole neighborhood was outside, so we didn’t have to bother with carrying around keys. I pushed open the door; then the six of us headed downstairs to the basement. Flicking on the lights, we got to the corner of the basement, which my father had separated from the rest of the basement. In this spot my dad built a sound-proof room so everyone in the house wouldn’t have to listen to the video games or the shows that would be playing.

We walked in and I closed the door behind us. Sean and Paige ran over to the shelves of movies in order to pick one they both would like. Their eyes gazed at each title. The other three went to the table and started a new game of cards, whispering to each other. I guess they couldn’t really talk with the adults always chuckling. It was always a lot easier to talk when the adults weren’t in hearing range. I was the same way at times.

The two finally picked some Disney movie so I set it up and then sat on the couch with them. I put my thin-rimmed glasses on so I could get the screen to focus a little better. Forty minutes into the movie, when all of us were settled and calm, it started. The house began to vibrate and the TV went black. The lights flickered, then went completely off. The two little ones bellowed in annoyance, but that quickly turned into apprehension. My nerves were set off as I felt my hands start to shake along with the rest of the house.

Thinking quickly, I pushed all six of us under the table that just a moment ago was the home of a card game. I mentally thanked my mom for putting the old kitchen table down here instead of getting rid of it. I drew Sean closer to me as we squeezed as close as possible in order to fit. I buried my face in my brother’s hair as I felt the fear of death breathing down my neck.

As the tremor continued, heat and a gagging smell filled the basement. Paige started to cry into my shoulder while holding tightly to me. Her tiny fingers gripped the top of my shirt. I wrapped an arm around Paige to bring her closer to Sean and me. I could feel the sweat on my body from the heat, but I didn’t care. All that mattered was getting through this.

The sounds of wood buckling and glass shattering were muted against the clashing noises that I couldn’t pinpoint. The TV fell over and the screen shattered, shooting glass fragments around the room. The shelves that once held DVD’s and games quivered before collapsing to the ground.

After what felt like forever, though it was more likely just over an hour, the earth started to wobble less. Eventually, it completely stopped and the world seemed still. It took me a bit to even realize the shaking had stopped. The sudden quiet left a new air of heat on top of the New Jersey humidity, which already lingered over the state. A weird stench filled my nose, nearly burning the inside of my nostrils. I didn’t want to move for fear the floor would be taken from right under me. My legs were probably as undependable as the house had been just a moment ago. Slowly, I let go of the two little ones to creep out from under the table. I had to pry their fingers from me. None of us wanted to let go.

“Where are you going?” asked Cole, looking very worried.

The others were appearing more frightened than him. All of them were still clinging to one another. Mandy was holding onto Jill, trembling. Jill’s dark eyes were wide with fear as she held onto Cole. Paige and Sean attached themselves to Cole since I was gone. They were too petrified to move.

“Stay there, you guys. I’m going to see what just happened.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Cole, starting to shift to see if he could find a way out from underneath the table.

“Cole, stay with them.” I tried to muster up a hiss of an order, yet my voice wavered. “Someone needs to keep an eye on everyone, so you stay.”

I tiptoed toward the door. Each step was hesitant. I was preparing for the floor to start moving again. I could see the door only because steam poured through the cracks of the frame. I went to open the door, but I could feel the heat radiating from the door knob a few inches above it. Knowing I had to go through, I grabbed the blanket from the couch and wrapped it around the knob so I would be able to turn it.

When it swung open, I never thought I would witness anything like it. In front of the door, a rock the size of half my house blocked the stairs, a searing smoke emanating from it. The little of the sky that could be seen was black, and an eerie red glow striped the dark clouds. Utter silence has never sat well with me. There wasn’t even any laughter from where the parents were.

We needed to get out of there right now. This was all very, very bad. “Hello! Someone help us!” I screamed, my voice cracking with panic several times.

After what seemed to be the hundredth time of high-pitched screeching for help, I felt tears in my eyes. Smoke drifted around me, irritating my throat and eyes. I fell to my knees, wondering what just happened and why no one was coming to help us. I coughed, feeling the smoke filling my lungs. My throat felt raw from the yelling. I knew I had to get the kids out of here if there was any chance of surviving. I got up and pushed some of the ash that was mixed with parts of my house off of my legs. That was when I heard a sound.

“Help!” I screamed, feeling a little relief come.
I stared up in the haze to try to make out the face above me. I couldn’t, but it was someone who could help us out of here. Ash, drywall, and God only knows what else was clogging my sight.

“Is someone down there?”

“Yes!” I shrieked, not able to hold back the jumpiness of my nerves. “Yes, there are six of us down here! Can you help us?”

“There are six of you?” His voice was deep. “So more people did survive.”

I took a deep breath because I felt sick after his last sentence. “What do you mean?” I questioned, not really sure if he heard me.

“Hold on a second. I’ll come down and help you guys!”

Rope appeared a few minutes later. I didn’t bother moving, since I was stuck where I was. I watched the stranger as he lowered himself down to help us. When he was a few feet above the ground, he let go and landed right in front of me. By the little light provided by the scarlet, smouldering sky, I was just able to see who was standing in front of me. Part of the reason I could tell who it was is because I had seen him so often.
It was Aaron from school, who lived in the neighborhood behind my backyard. There was a good mile or mile and a half between our two neighborhoods. Aaron had fine blond hair that always had some thin strands falling into his razor-sharp, dark blue eyes. He is considered an unruly guy, who really doesn’t click with others outside his tiny group of friends. People from school couldn’t tell if his circle was snotty or just didn’t care to be around other people. Still, all the girls drooled over him and his friends. Seriously, some of the girls should carry a bucket around with them. As he was looking at me, I noticed he had some residue smudged on his face and arms.

“Where are the others?” he inquired and I was shocked he was
talking to me; we really didn’t talk in school.

I guess things had to change in our current situation.

“This way.”

I trudged back through the rubble to where they were all still hiding under the table. They had listened to me, either from fear of me or the weather, I wasn’t sure. I walked into the room and felt his five foot nine body against my back, which was not shaking in alarm like mine. Sean must have seen me because he ran over to me and held on to my leg. He was followed by a just-as-spooked Paige. I had become like a sister to Paige from all the time the two of them spent together.

“The other people down here are children!” Aaron yelped.

I picked up Sean as Paige held my hand. I didn’t care at the moment that Sean was getting too big for me to pick up. That was when Jill, Mandy, and Cole came out from beneath the table. Except now, Cole was standing tall, shoulders squared, his face blank. Was he trying to hide his horror?

“Lauren, have you seen what it looks like outside?” Aaron whispered into my ear.

“No, we were down here when the house started to shake. What
happened?” I turned to look at him. His eyes met mine and I saw a seriousness that I had never thought that I would see in his eyes.

“You’ll see soon. Now let’s go.”

He picked up Paige, who was still stunned from all of this. We moved collectively, staying close together through the steam and over the carnage of the room.

“Lauren, you stay down here and help the others down here go up the rope. I’ll go up first and pull, okay? That way you’ll have someone to help you up. I’ll take the younger two on my back since they can’t get up alone. Do you think you could carry one on your back as you climb?”

I looked into my brother’s frightened teal eyes. I felt like a failure and shook my head no. I was not even sure that I could get myself up, let alone with a six-year-old on my back.

“Lauren, give me your vest.”

I stared confused as I handed over my vest. That was when I heard a ripping noise.

“Trust me. They need this more as a blindfold than you do for a fashion statement.”

He blindfolded Paige and Sean. My heart started to race with wonder of how bad it was up there that he needed to do this. He handed Mandy one, but told her not to put it on until she climbed the rope. She nodded her head, still quivering.
Aaron put Paige on his back, and she held on for dear life to a guy she had never met before. He climbed the rope with ease. Mandy went up next, struggling with her chubby little-kid fingers while trying to stop shaking. I saw Aaron lean over the edge pretty far and then pull her up.

Using her lean and toned sport-procured muscles, Jill climbed up. She wrapped her legs around the rope and drew herself up, making it look easier than Mandy had. Next, Cole ascended without saying a word, though he was having a harder time than Jill. Of course, I knew his pride wouldn’t let him admit it. I had known these people all of their lives. I’d seen them around and learned each of their quirks. I then realized Sean was still attached to me and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to scale the rope with him. I didn’t have any upper body strength.

“Aaron, can you come down and bring Sean up with you?”

I held Sean unyieldingly, feeling that whatever was up there couldn’t be good. Sean, with his blindfold on, gripped me tighter. He feared what he couldn’t see and I knew it. Aaron didn’t answer, but I saw him coming down.

“Sean, listen to me. Aaron is going to carry you up the rope. I can’t do it, but this is for your own good. I’m here to protect you. Always remember,” I whispered into his ear, hoping that my words were soothing him.

“Come on, Sean, you and I are going to climb the rope so you can be with your friends.”

I could tell he was really trying to be comforting to Sean, possibly even to me, too.

“Is Paige there?” Sean asked in a timid voice.

“She’s up there waiting for you,” I replied in a low voice, thinking they were so innocent and lucky to have each other during something like this.

“Okay, you have to hold on really tightly.”

Sean nodded as he held on. I watched Aaron, a guy that barely knew me, take my brother away. I took a deep breath, trying to calm my racing heart. I was going to be sick if I didn’t calm down soon.

“Lauren, we’re up and he’s safe—it’s your turn.”

I wrapped my hands around the rope, hoping I could do this. I could almost hear the laughter from my old gym class in my ears as I pulled myself up. My muscles tightened as I kept pulling. The rope burned against my skin and I didn’t think I could keep going. Aaron leaned over and pulled me up, just as he had done for Mandy. I finally had my feet on the ground and didn’t even look at Aaron as I grabbed Sean close to me, closing my eyes against his head and held him.

“Thank you, Aaron,” I murmured.

I bent down and held Paige, who had tears running down her face from under the blindfold, soaking the fabric. That was when I glanced up and I wished I hadn’t. I turned to look at Aaron and he just nodded his head, unable to speak. My once manicured neighborhood seemed like another planet as a red glow enveloped it. A thick vapor rose high in the air, acting like a thick fog. Rocks the size of an average house were everywhere, mixed with the wreckage of what used to be where we lived. That was when I saw the reason for the blindfolds. Dead bodies littered the ground, destroyed to the point where I couldn’t tell who used to be who. I thought I even saw bloodied hooves under a pile of debris. Behind me, Mandy started to throw up from the stench around us.

“I’ve been going around our area and I haven’t found anyone except for you guys still alive.” He spoke in a low wounded voice in my ear so the others wouldn’t hear.

I felt tears in my eyes, understanding that everyone from the party was now lying in their graves. Our friends, neighbors, and families were all dead. We only had each other. Aaron picked up Paige and was on the move over the ruins as the other two followed leading a blindfolded Mandy. I was in the back, holding Sean, his arms clenched around my neck. I tried to catch up with Aaron, hard to do as I was barefoot, and there were no soft surfaces to walk on. Rocks and who knows what stabbed the bottom of my feet. I nearly had to jump with each step, trying to hold back the whimpering that surfaced. Finally, I caught up so we could talk about what to do. I wasn’t going to let us die now. We spoke in hushed tones so we wouldn’t scare anyone.

“Aaron, what are we going to do?”

“We have to get away from the bodies so we don’t get sick from them or have to smell them.” My eyes widened as he said that and my jaw dropped. “Don’t look at me like that! I know it’s horrible, but it’s true. I’ll help you guys, if you need the help with the kids.”

“Thank you.”

“I wasn’t expecting to find kids or you down there.” His voice sounded like he was somewhere else.

“I’m happy you found us. I thought we would be stuck down there ‘til we…” I couldn’t even say what I thought would have happened.

He put an arm around my shoulders, bringing me close to him, rubbing my shoulder slightly. I looked at the ground, fearing to see the distorted bodies of everyone that I knew and grew up with. Aaron was steering me in an unknown direction. Cole and Jill were quiet behind us because they, like us, had seen what had happened. We walked to the pond, about a mile from our homes. Then Aaron put Paige down to wash his face and hands in the water. There, on the opposite side of the lake, was a giant asteroid.

I placed Sean down, and then he and Paige took off their blindfolds. They sat by the water, putting their feet in it. I sat next to Aaron as he was cleaning himself off; dirty water dripped off his body. His sleeveless black shirt was covered in ash and plaster just like his jeans. I glanced down at my own red camisole and shorts. They weren’t as dirty, but had some ash dusted on them.

“How did we not get warning of this?”

He looked up, confused.

“Just about every country has a space program,” I continued.

“They probably knew they couldn’t do anything. Those aren’t your average-size asteroids and they are supposed to shrink when they hit our atmosphere. So they knew that the end was here, so why send the world in an uproar when they knew it couldn’t be stopped?”

I stared at the lake, seeing my own reflection in the water, the reddish haze of the air in the background. I drew my legs to my chest as a few silent tears fell down my face. My legs seemed to turn to jelly. Once I was down, there was no chance that I would be able to stand again. I really didn’t care if anyone saw me. What does it matter now? We didn’t even know who was still alive.
I glimpsed over at the other three who tried talking, but weren’t sure what to say. I saw Cole struggle to calm them down and I studied my reflection in the water. It appeared pathetic. Sean and Paige found a way to escape this if only for a moment. I wished I were in their shoes instead of my own right now. That was, if I were wearing shoes.

“Hey, are you all right?”

I glanced over at Aaron, who was titling his head at me. I felt really stupid at the moment.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Can I ask you something?”


“Why are you helping us?”

“You have to be kidding me,” he started, pausing as he wiped his hands on his pants. “I’m not even going to answer such a stupid question. I’ll say this though. You are a nice person, who puts up with a lot of crap from people at school, and you were in trouble. I was alone after watching my parents getting smashed by one of those rocks and I had to find someone who was alive. I walked around for an hour, trying to find someone who was at least moving and I heard this little voice about to break out into tears. I had to save the person in tears.”

“I’m so pathetic,” I whispered as I buried my face into my knees.

“Self-pity later. Right now we have to figure out how to stay alive and take care of them.”

“At least someone has their head together,” I half-muttered, half-sighed.

“Give yourself a few more minutes. We might also have some more trouble.”

I let out a snort of laughter as I finally looked up at him. “You don’t call this trouble?”

“Even more trouble.”

“What? Are more rocks coming to kill us?” I asked dryly.

“No, Mr. Dean Manson is alive.”

“Why does that name sound familiar?” I squinted, staring at him as I tried to search my files in my memory bank.

“He was the mayor here for years and was head of the police department at another point. I got him in trouble, which I’ll explain later on, and he lost everything important in his life. He’s been out to get me ever since. There isn’t any order now, it seems, so this would be the prefect chance for him to get back at me.”

“What could you have done for him to want to hurt you?” I asked, scrunching my eyebrows together.

He gave a weak smile and glanced at Sean and Paige playing in ankle-deep water.

“Let’s not get into this now, okay?”

I nodded my head.

“Let’s just leave it at it was really bad and he has been after my head since. Now, he has the perfect chance to kill me.”
I was going to be sick. I wrapped my arms around me tighter as I leaned my forehead on my knees. I wanted to be younger so I wouldn’t have to be responsible. My stomach felt like it had been turned upside down.

“Look, I can see you’re having a hard time with this—”

“Of course I am. Everyone around here is dead and we don’t know if it is like this at other places too. You just basically told me that the people that I grew up with are dead!” I spat.

“You have to be strong for your brother.” Aaron barked.

That’s when it hit me. I quickly turned to look at my brother. I had to take care of Sean. The reason Aaron was thinking clearly was because he knew that we had to focus to keep the children alive.

“So the plan, I take it, is to look for those who are alive?” I inquired.

“Yeah, we have to see if it’s like this in other areas… maybe even other states.”

“It’s going to be tough with little kids. They won’t want to walk that far.”

He smiled a small, sad smile. “I know, but if there are other
people that can help us, it’ll be better in the long run.”

“Will you help us?” I questioned, hoping he would stay with us.
I really didn’t know what I was doing, and to have another person to help I would be amazing.

“Yes, I’ll do the best I can, but no promises. Just remember, Lauren, I can’t always be with you guys since Manson is after me. I barely believed it myself when I saw him wandering around before I found you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“We’ll stay here tonight; then we move tomorrow.”

“Sean, Paige, come here please,” I called to them.

They ran, laughing happily, to Aaron and me. I hugged them close to me. They were soaking wet, and I was happy for the heat so they wouldn’t get sick.

“Lauren, where is my mommy and daddy?” Paige spoke up.

My heart stopped.

“How about we go to sleep now, okay?” suggested Aaron, trying to get their minds off of this.

“Awe, but I’m not tired,” yawned Sean.

“Come on, you two. Lay here and go to sleep. Aaron and I need to talk for just a bit longer then I’ll come, okay?”
They nodded, too worn out from the excitement of today. They fell asleep quickly. I got up and went after Aaron, who was with Jill, Cole, and Mandy. Mandy appeared to be in tears and Cole looked as if he was going to hit Aaron. So I rushed over.

“What’s going on?” I spoke in a low voice, hoping not to wake the little ones.

“Why should we listen to this guy?” Cole growled, his eyes still on Aaron. “Do we even know him?”

“I kind of know him from school, Cole... and he saved us!”

“Kind of? You’re placing our lives in the hands of this jerk.”

“Look here, kid,” Aaron said, getting angry, and picked Cole up by his shirt collar. “I can go put you back there! Would you rather be with the bodies that got incinerated by the heat?”

“Stop! You two are making Mandy cry more!” Jill shouted as she bent down, wrapping her arms around Mandy.

“Guys, I get that we are all a little testy at the moment and I still don’t have my wits on me, so please keep it together! Now go to sleep, so we can move tomorrow since we have to see if there are any areas around here that weren't affected by this.”
Aaron dropped Cole onto the ground with a thud. Cole shot him a dirty look.

“Look, you three, Lauren and I are in charge. You can’t go anywhere without either one of us. It is for your own good. If we have any chance of staying alive, you have to listen to us. Got it?”

Jill and Mandy nodded their heads and went to join Paige and Sean. Cole stood up and tried to stare down Aaron. My heart started racing, hoping Aaron wouldn’t kill Cole now. Hadn’t there been enough death today? I had seen the not-even-trying fights Aaron was in at school, and Cole wouldn’t stand a chance. Cole has always been more talk then punch, even when we were little.

“I don’t even know why Lauren is putting so much trust in you,” Cole voiced roughly as he scowled at Aaron.

“Watch it, kid. Enough blood has been spilled today. Just go to bed before I kill you myself,” Aaron muttered between gritted teeth.

He gave Cole a small shove toward where we were all going to sleep; he stumbled only to turn and watch us, waiting for us to make our move. I walked over, leaving Aaron to follow me or stay there, giving him the choice on what to do. I sat by my brother’s feet, not believing he could possibly be the only family I had left in the whole world. As two tears fell down my face, I pressed my hands over my eyes, trying to brush away the tears.

“Lauren, get some sleep. I’m a light sleeper so I’ll make sure everything’s all right,” Aaron said softly.

I looked up at the guy who I barely talked to at school. The guy whose table I couldn't even sit at because I wasn’t on his or his friends’ level of social being. I made a fool out of myself in front of him on numerous occasions in gym. Yet, here he was. I slid down on the grass, knowing I wouldn’t get any sleep, but I still tried. I brushed some of Sean’s hair out of his face; he almost looked at peace. Through the whole hour of sleep I managed to get that night, the dark horrors of what happened played before my eyes over and over.