About twenty minutes passed before all of us were searched, and let pass the front door. The doors were shut behind us forcefully. Being locked and barricaded from the inside. I watched as they took our weapons to a place I couldn’t see. In silence, we were led up the dimly lite, trash littered staircase.
Being stopped after ascending three flights of stairs. The door to the fourth floor was guarded by three people. Their collective gaze seeing through the old man to us. Giving us a through visual examination before looking to the old man. Their expression becoming changing to something akin to mystified. Almost as if they were trying to figure out why we were let inside.
“Let them enter, they can’t do us any harm. Their weapons were taken when they entered, as they seek shelter from the rain,” feeling Jet push his through us as the old man spoke.
Approaching the African American women guarding the center of the door. His sister following at a slight distance behind him. The woman’s unblinking gaze lingered on both of them for several minutes.
Barely above a whisper, Jet asked “Aunt Beth?”
The woman blinked several times before hunching down some, looking directly at Jet. Pulling him against her tight, tears beginning to leak down her face. Speaking through her tears, “I figured you and your sister were long dead,” letting Jet go some. “Where are my sister and her husband,” still crying a little.
Jet lingered as he looked over his shoulder to his sister. Jillian shook her head left to right, before looking down at the floor.
The woman sighed, motioning Jillian forward with her left hand. With cautious steps, Jillian walked forward. Her gaze barely looking up from the floor. The woman chuckled softly before pulling Jillian forward. Embracing them both making for an oddly happy sight in this miserable world.
The other two looked at her skeptically for a few moments. Shifting their mutual gaze to the older gentlemen that let us in. With a simple motion of his hands, they moved aside. Pushing open the door to let us through. With a hand on both Jillian and Jet’s shoulders, she led them inside. Motioning us forward the rest of us followed suit. I assumed he would follow us inside once we all entered.
Glancing around the room we entered, I noticed the room was overly filled with beds. A few had people laying in them, the sheet around them stained red in spots. The other occupied beds had at least one person watching over them closely. Their gaze temporarily moving to us as we entered. A small handful of people seemed to be sleeping in the beds on the far left side of the room. Unaware we even enter the room as strangers.
Pushing his way through us the old man took three steps forward. Giving the others in his group a slight glance, with a shift of his head. Turning around to face us, he addressed us all “These strangers mean us no harm. We have stripped them of their weapons for everyone’s protection. I brought them inside to grant them shelter from the approaching storm. Any suspicions you have about them are understandable, but they will stay silent. The storm will raise our tensions enough without having to worry about skirmishes between us. Please behave yourselves everyone, and we can focus on our common goal. Our mutual survival.”
The skeptical gazes of his group softened some as his speech concluded. Given how his group respected him, I had to wonder what he did before this. Perhaps he was a civic leader or someone of authority. Given how he carefully worded things, and his resistance giving civility away. I believed it was a reasonable guess, despite his earlier suspicions about us. As the storm forced us inside, I would have plenty of time to find out. For now, I just wanted our group to rest some. Safe from the monsters, as the storm raged on outside us.