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22 Idle Talk and Introductions

 Ange and the others finally felt relieved when they saw Mark who looked very exhausted, safely reached the rooftop. They can't help but approach him to welcome him and thank him for what he did. But then panic came over them as they saw Mark fell down to his knees while shivering in pain before they could even get close.

They ran faster and it was Ange who was first to reach the pained Mark and the worried Mei.

"Are you okay?"

She asked Mark and like that, she received a sarcastic reply.

"Well, 'cough', yeah, do I look okay to you?"

Ange realized that she asked a stupid question.

Paula also arrived while with the mother behind her carrying her daughter. The cleaners and the employee reached them soon after.

"What happened?"

Paula asked as she crouched in front of Mark.

Mark looked at her but did not answer her question, and instead...

"Get my bag for-No, open the duffel bag and get the smaller bag inside. Also bring me something to drink." He said.

Paula and Ange heard him. Paula nodded at Ange telling her to get what he needed.

Ange dashed back to where they sit before as the bag was placed by the nearby wall. She immediately opened Mark's bag to search but then she froze in surprise.

Noticing that Ange not moving in front of the opened bag, Paula yelled.

"Ange! Hurry up!"


Hearing her friend's shout, Ange searched for the smaller bag inside. She immediately found a small strap bag inside. As there's no other things inside that resembled a bag, except for a plastic bag filled with snacks and drinks, she took the strap bag out before picking up a bottle of water and brought the things to Mark.

Under the worried eyes of the girls and the employee and the curious gaze of three people he wasn't familiar with, Mark took out two blister packs containing medicine, one containing tablets and the other had capsules, from the bag. The tablets already had several empty spaces while the capsules are visibly untouched. He popped out one of each and swallowed the medicine before drinking several mouthfuls of water. The water bottle was almost empty when he put it down.

Mark felt a little better after drinking water but he can't still move too much due to pain and his spasms haven't ceased since the medicine had yet to take effect.

"Just let, hah, me rest for a bit."

He leaned his back on the wall and sat at a more comfortable position. He then shut his eyes and started breathing calmly and deeply.

Seeing that he shut his eyes, the people around him decided to give him some space and left though they relocated their resting areas closer to his position.

The only one left was Mei who kept on holding his right hand as she sat worriedly beside him.

Ange and Paula would look at him from time to time as they were worried that he was already bitten would turn into a zombie but abandoned the thought later on. They saw their classmates and friends turn after several seconds of being bitten, but several minutes already passed and Mark still stayed silent.

As they were talking, the cleaners and the employee also joined the girls. After all, none of them had any bad intentions and the only reason the males separated was because of Mei, who now sat beside Mark.

As they just managed to have the time to talk, everyone started with their introductions.

As a courtesy, the older cleaner was the first to introduce his name as he was obviously the oldest here.

"I'm Bernard, Bernard Macaraeg, you young'uns can just call me Uncle, and most people here do call me that. This one is Joseph, he might look like this but he is my son." Bernard pointed at the younger cleaner.

"What do you mean by that?!" Joseph tried to intercept.

"And this is." The ignored Joseph and looked at the middle aged cleaner who then introduced himself.

"Calvin Roxas." He doesn't seem to be the talkative type as he kept his introduction short.

"Mine's Angeline. Angeline Perez. My friend here is Paula Mae Clarence." Ange introduced herself and Paula. Paula bowed her head a little as a greeting.

Next was the employee who was visible nervous introducing himself in front of the girls.

"Um, I'm Fernan, yeah, Fernan Enaje."

"I'm Reyah Ismail." It was the mother who then said her name. And the last one to introduce herself of course was.

"Come on baby, tell them your name." Reyah told her daughter.

"Sariya!" The daughter said her name loudly.

"Muslim?" Ange asked in surprise.

"Well, yes. I am. Is there something wrong?" Reyah seemed troubled.

"Ah, no." Ange realized the blunder she made and continued.

"It's just I rarely see female Muslims not wearing that veil something."

"It's called hijab Ange." Paula filled her in.

"Ah, right, that hijab veil thing."

Paula had the urge to heavily smack her friend's head.

Reyah became somehow gloomy and replied.

"I'm wearing one earlier but I had abandon it. One of those zombies below somehow managed to clutch unto mine if I did not let it go who knows what would have happened. Also it's not I like wear it because I wanted to but rather I had to. It's because of tradition."

As the introductions are getting strayed off, Bernard cut in.

"What about them?" He pointed at Mark and Mei.

Ange looked at the two before replying and she realized something making her scratch her head.

"Uhm, the girl is called Mei'er, I think. He called her that right?" As she wasn't sure, she turned to the others and they consented.

"As for him."

Ange didn't know how to continue. They all now realized that they followed him and they are saved by him. Yet, they know nothing about him. Not even his name. They did not ask and he did not tell them either. He also did not ask for their names. He just went and did everything he had done.

They exchanged a few topics about this and that. Afterwards, Bernard asked the youngsters.

"He is the one who saved you guys, right? You guys think he would be fine?"

"He should be." Paula replied and Ange nodded.

"I mean, he's not bitten isn't he? From here, we saw the people below got bitten then turn into one of those."

Of course everyone in Mark's group knew what Bernard is talking about. They saw it happen with their very own eyes.

"We don't think he is. We saw it happen several times and they all became zombies after a few seconds. He is taking too long to become one if he is really bitten."

"Zombies? Are you sure about it?" It was Calvin's turn to ask.

"That is what he called them." Paula answered as he glanced at Mark once more.

"I see."

"Ah! Do you have a phone we can borrow?"

Ange suddenly interjected as if she just realized something and asked the three men.

"What do you want to do with it? If you want to call the police or some emergency hotline then forget it."


Bernard did not reply and just urged Joseph to take out his phone. He took his son's phone under his protest and dialed some numbers before showing the screen to Ange.

At the screen of the phone, a rectangular prompt popped up with the message "Network Busy".

"We already tried calling several times and different numbers using different phones but we got the same result." Bernard added.

Ange and the others felt dejected to this.

"I want to ask something." Joseph said meekly as he faced Paula.

"You said she is Androphobic right? Then why is she-- Ouch!"

He pointed at Mei as he try to ask his question but he wasn't able to finish what he wanted to say as he received a hard smack on his head.

"What would you do that for?!" He snarled at his father.

"There are things you can ask, you should ask and things that you shouldn't!"

On the side, Calvin just shook his head. He seemed to be used to the father and son's banter.

"It's fine." Paula said stopping the two.

"See!" Joseph wanted to refute his father some more but flinched when his father posed another smack for him.

"About his question..."

The father and son duo waited for her answer. Bernard might have scolded his son, but its is just because he know how to control himself. In reality, he was just as curious as him.

"You can say that he is the only male she trust, or maybe, the only person she trust in the whole world right now."

Paula decided to say what she thought about Mei's behavior.

The talk went for about another 10 minutes before they stopped. They stopped because they saw Mark weakly stood up and walked towards them with Mei following behind him.