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While not common, the parade of footsteps up and down the hallway the past few minutes had not been a cause of concern. It was the harsh banging, presumably on a front door, and the subsequent yelling that triggered the alarm in their apartment. For a moment, Sebastian thought Anna had opted to select a very unorthodox method of spreading the newest doom and gloom news. Then Lenore bolted up from the couch and rushed to the peep hole at the door.

Even before she muttered the word, “Shit,” Sebastian felt something was wrong. Very, very wrong.

“Lenore.” By the time he stood himself and moved to her, she had the door open and was staring down the hallway.

“Oh no,” she moaned when they both looked out into the hallway and saw Anna welding a machete. She smacked the handle against her open fist while she kicked at the door.

“Come on, Nathan, we just want to talk. We want to help Hayley. We can’t do that from out here.”

“What the hell is going on?” he asked, the sight of Anna holding a machete both terrifying and strangely alluring. His brief conversation with Nathan about a week ago sprang to mind, but nothing had come of it. This surely wasn’t the kind of advice he had been looking for then, and he wondered just what Nathan had gotten himself into.

“Hayley’s infected,” was his sister’s whispered response.

“No,” Sebastian shook the words off immediately. “No, there has to be some other explanation.”

But when Lenore turned to face him, true or not, he knew without a shadow of doubt that she believed it was the truth. That was just as terrifying. After all, what made truth? Reality, or what everyone believed?

“So she’s just going to go busting into his apartment swinging a machete?” Sebastian took a step out into the hall, but Lenore grabbed his arm. “Don’t you think we should try to help sort this out before things get out of hand?”

“I think we should stay out of the way so we don’t get hurt.”

Sebastian had called his sister an infinite number of snide, crude, and hurtful names before, but he had never felt the urge to call her a coward until this very moment in their lives.

When the door to Nathan’s and Hayley’s apartment stayed shut, Anna kicked it again, this time with more force. Sebastian thought he heard something crack. “Come on, Nathan. Don’t make this worse than it already is. We just want to talk.”

A bang echoed through the halls just as Davidson arrived on the scene. Sebastian watched as Anna ducked, a bullet splintering through the door and lodging itself into the hallway wall behind her head. Instinctively, Sebastian pushed Lenore back into the apartment.

“Oh hell no!” Anna snapped. All pretense dropped from that point on, but she stepped to the side and out of direct firing range once she realized Nathan’s potential.

Daniel appeared in the hallway following the gunshot, his head ducking out first to check the situation. Sebastian caught his eye as Daniel turned to glance down the hallway in their direction. Then he stepped into the hallway, but instead of heading towards Anna and Nathan’s apartment, he moved down the hallway towards them.

“Do you know what’s happening?” Sebastian asked as he approached, but Daniel showed no interested in him. He reached into the apartment and caught Lenore’s arm. Before Sebastian could register the motion, Daniel yanked her arm and pulled her into the hallway.

“Hey, man!” Sebastian snapped.

“This does not concern you,” Daniel snapped back before dragging Lenore a few steps down the hallway towards Nathan and Hayley’s apartment.

Sebastian followed after them, but Davidson caught them first. He placed a hand on Lenore’s waist as the other hand caught Daniel’s holding her wrist. “Let’s not start manhandling the ladies, all right?” Davidson suggested, though he carried the words with a commanding voice.

“She needs to see what she’s done,” Daniel said, drawing everyone’s attention back to the corner of the hallway where Anna had apparently given up on her version of the sweet talking method. As they all turned to look down the hallway, she swung the machete in an arc. It hit the wood of the door with a thundering crack. She managed to retract it and spin to the side as Nathan delivered another round through the freshly made seem in the door.

Sebastian was at a loss for words and struggled to comprehend the sight playing out in front of him. Machete and bullets in an enclosed hallway. There was no way this was going to end well for anyone involved.

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