“Come on, we need to find somewhere to rest and dry out,” Benj encouraged. He shuffled down a side street, glancing at door frames and alleys he passed.
“Hey genius, all these places are going to be as cold as it is out here. Where do you think we should stop?” his sister barked sarcastically. Dark alleys raised her hackles. The city reeked of piss and mold and gas. She lept away from a loud bang of a massive icicle falling from a building, hitting a metal dumpster. She was exhausted and done with the place.
Deck reached for her, pulling her under his arm as he put himself between her and the dumpster. “Sunny, play nice. We’re all in the same spot as you,” Deck bit out between chapped lips.
She recoiled and lowered her head to her brother. “Sorry.”
“We’re all tired, it’s okay.” He blew hot air into his gloves for the momentary heat. He eyed Deck’s manhandling of his little sister. She had calmed under his touch. He was left off to his own with everyone else buddying up for warmth. He flinched at a touch to his hand. Nat pulled him back to their group and moved Zola over to him. She chewed on her lip at the sudden change and tried to hide a smile when Benj wrapped his arm around her.
“Hey! My handwarmer,” Yeller protested the cold.
“I’m warm,” Nat offered.
Yeller side eyed him. “I’m good.”
Building after building they tried to find a deserted space out of the wind, but every turn they made, they found another group of people who told them to scram. Hours passed and thunder boomed low in the sky above their heads. An icy wind howled through the streets, gnawing at the group. Sleet drizzled down the walls of the buildings, creating murky puddles in the streets. The pavement turned treacherous in the muck.
Yeller spotted an empty east-west alleyway close to seven in the evening. The burned out buildings on either side of the scrawny throughway were tall enough to hide them from the wind. The group scuttled to an concreted alcove that had once been a backdoor. Nat sighed as he leaned against the wall. The group looked up in horror when he sloughed to the ground.
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