"Is anyone sick?"
The guards look around the car. There is a pause. I can see their guns. They don't trust us. Hell, I wouldn't trust us either. Guards have surrounded the limousine. We barely made it. Thank god Quest was good with cars because he had to stop and make repairs on the old hooptie a million times. One time he was attacked. It was me and Ignacio that went out to save him right before he was bitten. That's all it takes. One minute. One minute where you aren't looking. One minute where you feel safe and put your guard down.
And a zombie comes.
All it takes is a bite. The saliva was like venom seeping in, but it doesn't kill you fast. It kills you slowly. Then brings you back. But you're not alive. You're just...moving.
It was my worst fear. We'd made it though. Thankfully.
"No. No one's sick."
"We don't let anyone in. We have a process."
"We aren't just anyone," Valentina states, "We're looking for our mother. Her name is Dr. Serrano. She'll want to see us. She'll want to see what we have with us."
I notice how she says what instead of who. I don't like it. I look over on Sunday wondering if he notices at all. Luckily it goes over his head.
Something Valentina said must have triggered something. I hear the guy on his radio. He's saying something. I look around the limousine. Everyone's nervous. Mitch is breathing heavy, Valentina keeps tapping her foot and then there is Sunday. He keeps looking at me. It feels good. It's almost like he's trying to find comfort in my eyes. So I give it to him. I smile back at him and nod, slowly. It's not much but I want to let him know everything's going to be OK.
He nods back and it's clear he's gotten my message loud and clear.
The guard comes back.
"Dr. Serrano is expecting you. Welcome to Atlanta..."
"This can't be real. This can't be Atlanta," Quest states, "This is my home. This is where my family lives..."
"This is Atlanta alright. What's left of it at least," the guard says, "Follow the escort. We'll take you to the refugee camps."
I didn't know Quest was from Atlanta. I'd come up here a few years ago when Beric was performing at the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. It was something completely different now. There is a huge fence that outlines the city. There are guard stations everywhere. As we drive through it's clear most of the city has been barricaded off.
Police and military have been dispatched. For a while, that's all I see. It looks like they have closed off all the roads leaving the city. You can only travel on marked paths. A few more policeman and military units scan the perimeter. I notice the burnt buildings as we drove by. I wonder if the military intentionally set those buildings on fire.
"Are you OK?" Mitch asks Quest.
Quest just keeps driving but I can tell he's distracted, "They burnt it. They burnt everything..."
"Let's switch places," I tell Quest.
He wasn't fine. Tears were filling up his eyes. I can almost HEAR his heart breaking. I could only imagine how he felt. Atlanta wasn't my home. Hell, Savannah wasn't my home either. But I could imagine how it would feel knowing your home was in the condition it was.
"Let's switch," I tell Quest, "You don't have to be hard right now. You can let it out man. You can let it out."
When I first met Quest I thought he was trash. One of those guys who'd never make it anywhere. He didn't speak in complete sentences. He was abrasive and rude. I thought that was all there was to him. But he's been the one working hard driving us around and not complaining. He made sure we got to Atlanta. So I was going to be there for him now. Because he needed it.
I take the wheel and he gets in the back. The others are trying to comfort him, especially Mitch. I'm glad he has someone to do that because it doesn't seem like there is much of anything left of his hometown.
Then I hear him cry. It's the saddest fucking thing in the world. Maybe that's why I put the partition up in the limo. I can't deal with it. Not right now.
"You need some company up here?"
I don't realize Sunday gets in the passenger seat until he does. Our escort seems impatient and stops. I think they are wondering why we stopped so I don't really have time to react to Sunday sitting there before I have to get moving again.
"The city looks like shit."
"They burnt it," he explains to me, "That's what a quarantine is."
"I thought it was going to be...you know, normal."
"Yeah, me too. I hoped at least. A part of me knew. I saw what it did to Savannah. I saw those zombies on the march. I guess my virus spread faster than we thought."
I turn to him looking in his face and making sure I was real clear, "That isn't your virus. Don't blame yourself for what happened."
He smiles. I don't think he wants to smile. I think he wants to put on a brave face for me. I smile back. I can't help it. Sunday is so cute. He doesn't even realize it. I lean over and take his hand at that moment. I want to lean over. I want to kiss him. I'm not sure how he'd react though. What happened in the bathroom at his house was intense. It just happened. I wasn't sure what the expectation was moving forward. Maybe that's why my hands sweat when I'm holding his hands. It's awkward. That good kind of awkward where you find yourself excited to see how someone would react.
"You're so fucking handsome when you're sweet."
He bites his lips when he says that. I love when he says it to me. I try not to react. Truthfully I hide the bulge in my pants at that moment. I was getting hard. It happens a lot when I'm this close to him. I can't help it. Luckily I don't think he notices.
He closes his hand around my fingers.
"You think this will be our new home?" he asks me, after an awkward silence, probably wondering why I didn't say anything to his compliment.
"I hope so."
It wasn't exactly homie but there were military people here. Military people here with guns. It was a lot safer than winging it on our own. That was for damn sure.
He stops talking. I don't understand why.
"Maybe we can spend some time together," he opens up a little bit, "You know? Just me and you. Just get to know one another."
There is nothing more than I would like than that. Nothing in the world. But I keep thinking about Valentina. She was pregnant. I'll have to deal with that first before I could be man enough to give Sunday the attention that he deserved.
"Now's not the best time," I tell him, "You know...with Valentina..."
He looks over at me, "Wow."
He releases my hand. It becomes really clear that he took this entirely the wrong way. I try to grab his hand back, "Wait let me explain..."
Sunday looks hurt I can see it all on his face. I didn't mean to say it the way I thought and I definitely don't want him to take it as I prefer to be with Valentina. Valentina and I have grown noticeably distant from one another ever since all this started. Maybe it's the fact that she's pregnant. Maybe it is the fact that our relationship started off on the wrong footing from the beginning. I'd always struggled with my sexuality. I was always attracted to Sunday and I was so confused back then thinking the best way to get closer to someone I was attracted to without really acting on it was getting with a girl close to him. And somewhere in my fucked up head that made sense. I was literally just around Valentina because I had the biggest crush on Sunday.
Now my crush is actually wanting to spend time with me and what do I do? I fucking blow it. I'm desperate to explain.
I'm so desperate the words start coming out like mish-mash. I'm fucking this situation up with Sunday fast.
"You don't have to explain," he finally states when I start tripping over my words.
"Sunday, I want to."
He probably thinks I'm trying to save face. He doesn't look mad, he just looks hurt and disappointed. I stop the car when we arrive at the CDC building. He uses the hand I was holding to point.
He gets out of the car. I get out to try to catch up to him. I get close, grabbing his hand and pulling him into me. Pulling him real close.
"Not so fast."
I want to pour everything out on Sunday. Everything I've been feeling since I first laid eyes on him. I wanted to finally let him know that I want to spend some time with him, outside of the heavy sexual tension we had when we were alone. I wanted more than that.
Instead of being able to do that we are interrupted, yet again. It's almost becoming like a joke that I can't have alone time with him. This time it's coming from Ignacio. He is the first one out of the limousine and he is calling Sunday over.
It's not like I can talk to Sunday the way I want with Ignacio right there. The others are getting out as well.
I wonder if Ignacio did it on purpose. Some desperate crush he has on Sunday.
"You OK bro?" Nixon asks.
"Just thinking," I respond.
"About Beric right?" he asks.
It's not about Beric. Nixon would understand if I told him or at least I hoped he would. I really needed someone to talk to about this situation. But now isn't the right time. The others are coming out of the car. Everyone's gathering together in a group to meet our escort. Now isn't the right time.
"Yeah, Beric," I lie.
"Beric is going to be fine," I explain to him, "Trust me. We'll see him again and everything's going to be great. We got rid of the Luna girl. Hopefully, that'll be enough when we see that group again."
"Yeah. Hopefully," I respond.
I don't want to argue with Nixon about how I think it was wrong that we left Luna like that. I don't want to point out that Quincy didn't just seem upset with Luna. He blamed all of us. Right now, my brother was happy. Maybe it's the fact that there are other people around. Real people. And it feels good. Sure Atlanta had been affected by the virus but there was civilization here still and for now, that was enough to put smiles on my group's faces.
A selection of strangers comes out to meet us. It's clear they are scientists. Dr. Serrano is with them. I watch as Ignacio runs up to her. It's clear he is a mother's boy by how they interact. Valentina can't get in to embrace her mother until a few minutes later.
I feel happy for them. A part of me knows that sooner or later I'd have to go out to find my own mother in the camps set up by the CDC.
"Sunday," she states.
She reaches over to hug him. Sunday is reluctant. I know why.
"Hey Mrs. Serrano," Sunday says sweetly from a distance.
"I'm happy you're safe," she states, "From your disposition, it's clear that you know the truth?"
"Well," she states tightening her lips a little, "You're very important. Let's get you and your friends in here."
Dr. Serrano gives us a tour of the place. She is a well-spoken woman. Ignacio hasn't left her side since she got here. I stay distant.
"You all will be safe here," she tells us, "Even though I'm sure you must be tough by now to make it all the way here. I've been so worried. We sent so many recruits out there looking for you guys. It's all over now. It's all over."
"Actually," I butt in, "There is a group of zombies headed this way."
Ignacio should have said this first, but for some reason, he seems so emphatic about being back in his mother's presence that he forgot about the fucking army marching up to Atlanta. This isn't something that is so easy to fucking forget either.
"We have scouts. We know about the threat..." she states, "Thank you for that information."
"What are we going to do about it?" I ask.
"We?" she asks smiling a little bit, "Sorry...your name was..."
I don't like how she says it. It's sort of degrading almost as though I wasn't important. The lady reeks of condescension. Now I see where Ignacio gets it from. I'd met her before, that was the worst of it. I want to think she doesn't remember. I want to think maybe all this bullshit with the dead just made things like that far less important.
"This is Alaric," Sunday states, "He's been dating your daughter."
I'm confused when he adds the last part in. It's just unnecessary but it also just seems like a rude reminder that I still hadn't broken up with Valentina. I got his message loud and clear and I feel my cheeks blush just thinking about it. I knew I had to do it soon. I had to end things with Valentina. It wasn't fair to Sunday and it definitely wasn't fair to Valentina.
"Well Alaric, sweetie," she states in this motherly tone that irritates the fuck out of me, "The zombies are moving slow. Real slow. By the time they get here we'll have things handled. By we, I don't mean a group of teenagers."
It was rude. Real fucking rude.
This time she wasn't hinting at it. This time it was clear she was looking down at us.
"Ouch," Quest says clearly recognizing the jab.
"Dr. Serrano, with all due respect, this group of teenagers got the most important person in the world here right now safely," I state, looking over at Sunday.
I don't want to throw it in her face but if Sunday was that important they could have tried harder to find him. She said something about sending people but clearly, that wasn't enough. If it wasn't for us who knew what would have happened to Sunday. Who knew what would have happened to the cure.
"And we appreciate it," she tells me, "You're a brave boy, Alaric."
She holds after she says that, wanting me to respond. I can't tell if she's being sarcastic or not. I just find her comments to be rude, to say the least, but I'm not going to go off on Valentina's mother, not now at least. Not with everyone else so excited to be here.
What else do you say to something like that?
She smiles walks over and pats me on my shoulder, "I have a surprise for you all. Not too long ago someone showed up. A member of your group."
We all look at one another. My heart drops. Could it be Luna? Did Luna fucking make it here before we did? I think all of us get immediately scared. All of us are thinking the same thing. What the fuck was going on here? How the hell did Luna get to Atlanta?
That was when someone walks out of one of the tents we are approaching. It's not Luna. It's Michael Power. There is a sigh of relief at that moment. Half the group isn't even friends with Michael Power but I see how excited they start acting when they see him. We saw what happened to Zoe and we'd hoped at least Michael had survived. I guess we're just glad it wasn't Luna. That would have been really awkward to see her again after leaving her like that.
The tents outside the CDC are all outlined. Dr. Serrano assigns us tents to stay in. She lets me know that I'll be staying with my brother Nixon and Michael Power. Valentina is in a tent with her brother. Quest and Mitch are in the last tent. And then there was Sunday. He didn't get a tent...
"Make yourselves at home. The refugee camps aren't the best, but we're safe," Dr. Serrano states, "We eat twice a day all together over by the dome for ration purposes. We have secure borders so you can hand over your guns."
Ignacio doesn't even hesitate. He hands over his gun quick as fuck. The others follow suit. When they get to me I'm a little bit more reluctant but I do what the Dr. says. She's Ignacio's mother. Besides, there was a bunch of military folks around. She had a point. We were all safe.
I feel Michael Power put his hand over my shoulder, "Yo...they got fried chicken bro."
I smile at the thought. Fried chicken was nice. I look at the other people in the tent. They were clean. They didn't look hungry or anything. Sure they weren't the most comfortable but I keep thinking to myself that this is the best we could ask for. I look around wondering if this was it from now on. If this was life or, at least, life until the rest of the zombies were taken care of. I'm not sure even Dr. Serrano knew the answer to that.
The others are quick to start moving their bags into the tent. I can't help but to notice Mitch and Quest walking away immediately. I notice Quest reach over and grab Mitch's hand. Mitch acts shy about it. I guess he's given up pretending to be straight. He blushes and it's obvious he's not used to attention from a guy that looks like Quest, but it's cute. They are opposites. Mitch was a semi odd looking, white, geeky kid and Quest was handsome, black, hardcore thug. And somehow it looked like they were making it work. A part of me wonders what they are about to do. It's kind of obvious there is something there between the two and I wish that could be me. I wish I was going into a tent with Sunday.
But I can't...
I look over at Sunday. He's standing with Serrano and the other doctors. I make my way over to them trying to find out why he hasn't gotten a tent yet. I'm hoping he has his own tent. Maybe it wouldn't be weird to anyone if I stayed with him since my tent had 3 people in there.
"Sunday, we were hoping you'd come with us while your friends get settled," one of the doctor's says.
"Actually I was hoping we'd all stick together," I interrupt.
"Can they come?" Sunday asks.
"No room," Dr. Serrano states.
"I'll wait outside the room," I argue."
"There's no waiting room. This isn't a hospital. This is a lab facility," she explains to me.
"I'll wait in the hallway," I state, "I don't understand what the fuck the issue is here."
"What's your problem?" Ignacio asks.
I almost don't see him because he's so far up his mother's ass. He's being confrontational but it was a fair question. I didn't know what my problem was. I just had a weird feeling in my gut and I didn't feel comfortable. Maybe I just wanted Sunday with me. Maybe it was something else. But what?
"Nothing, I just thought we agreed to stick together."
"Yeah but that was until we got here," Ignacio states, before pausing.
"It's OK," Sunday states smiling at me, "I'll go with them, Alaric. It's what I am here for."
I hate Sunday is starting to adopt that mindstate. Sure he is here to help out but the way he says it makes me think he's looking at himself more like a tool than anything else. And I fucking hate it deep inside.
If he wants to help, I can't do anything about it. So I stay quiet when I see a dozen men in white take Sunday away into their lab.
Ignacio keeps looking at me. I can tell he's acting weird.
"I just feel...weird about all this."
He squints looking at me, "What's the issue?"
That was the problem. I didn't' know what the issue was.
That's when I hear Ignacio's mother calling out to him, "Ignacio. Come on baby. I need to hear all about your little adventure."
Ignacio nods at me before he walks away.
It's the middle of the night. We are gathered around a fire. Everyone's energetic. It was Quest who came back with all these beers. No one asks how he got them, they are just happy. I suspect he stole them, to be honest. We're all talking around the fire.
"You mad you can't drink?" Quest asks Valentina, "After all this, you definitely need one."
Valentina looks down and out. I'm glad I'm not the only one.
"She's always mad," Michael Power states, "Don't ask her why either. She'll run from the problems."
"The same way you ran from us back at that gas station?" Valentina asks.
The group gasps. I could tell Michael was just joking around but Valentina is being really snappy at this point.
"I didn't run," Power states, "I asked if you wanted to go. Your boyfriend said no. It was chaos when we got to Savannah. We had no weapons. We were swarmed. Zoe...Zoe..."
He gets quiet. I feel bad for him. Power wasn't the most down to earth person. He wasn't even the nicest guy in the world. Hell, I'll admit it. He was a dick. But at the end of the day, we all lost Zoe. No one deserved that.
"Let's just drop it," Ignacio tells everyone, "Let's just enjoy this beer. Enjoy our night. Let's just be happy we are alive. Enjoy we are here together. West. Here."
Ignacio is good at the leadership thing. I think he knows that. He throws me a drink. I look at it. I don't really feel like drinking but everyone else is. My brother pats me on the arm. Everyone's happy. Everyone's drinking and I'm here looking like a fucking rock.
"Thanks man," I tell him.
It's rare Ignacio is nice to me so I'm going to take advantage of it. I take the drink. I drink it. I drink it probably quicker than I should.
That's when Power focuses his energy on Mitch and Quest sitting together, "So what are you too like the group's gay couple now? How much did I miss?"
They get to talking at that point. Mitch denying anything gay and Quest admitting to it. Everyone found it hilarious that feminine Mitch is denying being gay all the while sitting so close to masculine Quest that you would think they were sewn in together.
I zone out until I hear Ignacio bark an order, "Kiss the boy!"
He starts a chant. Everyone's chanting, except Power of course. He looks halfway disgusted by it all. It's all in good fun, I think. They wanted entertainment. It's Valentina who reluctantly nudges the two together until they have their first public kiss. I watch Quest mac DOWN on the frightened Mitch. Mitch gives in, pretending like he doesn't like it but he doesn't stop Quest's tongue from going down his throat.
It's getting hot and heavy. Quest grinding up into Mitch, grabbing onto the smalls of his back.
"Wish I got kissed like that," Valentina states, rolling her eyes.
I'm not sure where her shitty attitude is but by the look my brother gives me I think it's directed towards me.
"I'm a little tired," I state.
I leave at that moment, leaving Valentina high and dry. I know I shouldn't. I know it's wrong but I can't fake it anymore.
I'm in there laying on a cot. It's not comfortable but it's better than sleeping on the bus or trying to get comfortable in a limo or hell even Sunday's floor. Right now I just want to be alone. That's all I want. I'm in there for hours until my brother comes in drunk, shirtless with the words THING 2 written all over his chest with a permanent marker. I don't even want to know.
"Where the hell you been?" Nixon asks, "You're missing everything. Ignacio literally just ran into a pole face first play fighting with the guys. He's going to need stitches. At least 10. Totally going to start telling people his parents died fighting Voldemort..."
Nixon can't stop laughing at his own shit. Normally I would have found it funny. Nixon's sense of humor was relentless at times.
"Glad you guys are having fun."
"Hell yeah. Where were you, Sunday's been back for hours..."
I jump up at that moment. I'm headed out when Nixon laughs under his breath, "No. Hell no. I'm just fucking with you. But by the way, you jumped up like that it's clear you got it bad."
"Shut up...someone might be listening."
Nixon opens the tent, "HEY GUYS! MY BROTHER HAS A CRUSH ON..."
He is a drunk mess. I grab him up hard as I can before the others can hear. Luckily it's a fucking circus out there.
"You tell anyone and I'm going to kill you."
"Great. I'll have two brothers who want to kill me," he laughs.
I grab Nixon and throw him outside of the tent. I almost hit someone while doing it. It's Mrs. Serrano. She stands there and smiles at me. It's awkward as fuck.
Nixon is out of the tent and now she walks in. She is slow and offers me a smile.
"I expected you to be outside having fun with your friends," she states, "Being a teenager..."
"Nah. Can't really sleep when there's an army of zombies headed this way. You got it covered though. Huh?"
I roll my eyes.
She ignores my comment, "We got off on the wrong foot. That's clear enough. But I do think we have a situation where we can get on the right foot. Ignacio told me about my daughter's situation."
"You mean her pregnancy?" I ask.
She smiles. Uneasily.
"We'll take care of it."
She means an abortion. I can tell.
"Does she want that?" I ask.
"The question is...do you? You're young. You're handsome. Most handsome boy my daughter's ever dated. Look at that handsome face. Oh my. I hear you want to be a movie star. When this crisis is over, do you really want to be held down by a baby?"
"I want whatever your daughter wants."
"And my daughter wants whatever I say she wants," Dr. Serrano finishes off, "So we are on the same page. It'll be dealt with by tomorrow. Have a nice day, Alaric."
She starts walking out. Just like that. She's a power driven woman. That's clear enough. Power hungry and clearly intent on making sure whatever she wants gets through.
I stop her.
"Where is Sunday?"
She hears my question. I know she hears my question.
"Good night Alaric," is her answer.
And I can't get it off my mind. Something is wrong. I fucking know it. He's been gone all day. The others are too busy drinking and having fun to really see that but I know somethings wrong. What was the rush? They took him away immediately. Then they kept him separated from us. It's weird. They could have let his friends in there with him for moral support. They could have let ME in there with him.
I can't sleep. Not even when Nixon and Michael Power come stumbling into the room and I find out who Thing 1 is. They don't even make it to their cots. They fall asleep by the entrance to the tent.
I feel so sick that I end up going outside. Just watching. Just waiting. Not knowing what I'm listening for. For hours, just staring into the darkness, thinking about Sunday.
And that's when I see some movement.
Ignacio. He's not alone. A little bit ahead of him I see his sister. Valentina.
What the hell were they doing up? It had to be about 3 am. At first, I think he just went out to go pee or something but he walks past the big port-a-potty that is stationed outside of the tent that Mitch and Quest are at. He is walking fast, real fast. A man on a mission. His sister is way ahead.
I can't help it. I'm up and I follow him. I watch him walking towards the CDC building. He doesn't go in the front though. He goes on the side. A door was left open for him. He leaves it open, maybe hoping to get out the same way. It's lucky for me because I sneak in after him.
I follow Ignacio and Valentina to a room where I hear voices...
"He looks bad Mom," Valentina states, "Real bad."
Ignacio agrees with his sister, "Mom what if he doesn't make it through this. Please tell me Sunday is going to make it through this."
I walk to the door and peer in. Ignacio is getting stitches. His mother is the one giving it to him. My heart is racing when I see who he's talking about. Sunday is there. He is tied to a machine. He's either sleeping or passed out. I can't tell but I can see the veins all over his skin. I can see this machine tied up to him. Ignacio's mother is in the room. She has coffee. She also has an assistant with her. It's clear now just how high level his mother is that they would leave her with Sunday alone.
"Maybe we don't want him to Ignacio..."
Both twins look a little shocked by this.
Valentina asks, "What?"
Ignacio is tripping, "Get the fuck out of here."
Valentina shakes her head, "Why wouldn't he make it?"
"You have to prepare yourselves. Especially you Ignacio. I called you here tonight to have this conversation with you in person. I know you love Sunday. We all do. But you've always been the closest to him, even more than Valentina and I. His mother died and his father is working for the New World Order. No one is going to miss Sunday. No one but us. I need you to prepare to miss him..."
"What are you saying?"
"We are going to kill Sunday after we get what we need from him..."
"That wasn't the fucking plan Mom!"
"The New World Order is a terrorist group. If they get their hands on Sunday...a living Sunday they can create more of those zombies outside. They think they can control those things. They are fucking idiots. And they won't stop. Leaving Sunday alive will ruin everything."
Ignacio is crying. Valentina is standing there shaking her head.
"Is there no other way?" Valentina asks.
"Mom. We can't do this."
"We have to," she states, "I don't want to. I really don't but at this point, we have to ensure the survival of mankind. Sunday is the gift and the curse. He can cure the disease or spread it. Now that we have the cure we have to kill the curse."
I don't know what comes over me but I run in the room. Ignacio looks over at me. I can see the tears in my eyes. He's shocked to see me. I run straight to Sunday and he tries to stop me but I punch him. I punch him as hard as I can in the jaw. I can hear his cheek crackling under my punch and I don't feel sorry about it. Not even a little bit.
Ignacio brought us here. He'd promised Sunday would be safe. Now it was clear that his mother was planning on using Sunday and then fucking killing him.
I never hit someone so hard that he falls on the floor and he opens up his stitches. I run over to Sunday. There was no way in hell I was going to let something happen to him.
Valentina looks over at me. She isn't stopping me. She is just standing there. I watch her nod when I approach Sunday! She wants me to get Sunday out even though she doesn't verbally say it. I knew her. I could read her hoping I can help him.
So I keep doing it.
I hear him waking up.
"I'm getting you, baby. I'm getting you out of here," I tell him.
I don't know why I call him baby. It just feels natural. The same way it feels natural to help him right now. It feels natural to save him. It feels comfortable to lean in and give him a quick, swift kiss on his lips letting him know that everything will be OK. No matter what I had to get him out of here. I almost forget that Valentina is there.
"Baby?" Valentina asks.
The look on her face says it all. She's hurt at that moment. Real fucking hurt.
That's when I feel the metal on the back of my skull.
Dr. Serrano has a gun.
"I thought we were starting over," Dr. Serrano states, "It's a shame. Looks like we'll have to pick up from where we left off..."
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