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The Last Day [2/?]

 The Last Day
by Effy
Rated R
Faberry; Brittana
[Warnings: Non-Faberritana character death; language; graphic violence; suggestive situations]
Genre: Romance, Action, Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction

The government is forever overstepping boundaries, scientists are forever pushing ethical limits, politicians are forever sweeping mistakes under the rug. Then came the mistake that they couldn't contain and a few impulsive, power-hungry people were suddenly responsible for changing the world. Civilization collapsed over the course of three days.

-

Everything in her life, it seemed, went downhill after Nationals in New York City. It had been so wonderful there and she had felt as though she was on top of the world in the greatest city on the planet. Skyscrapers towered over Times Square, neon flashing lights advertised this and that, constantly moving images looped commercials and movie trailers, and a flash mob broke out directly in the middle. It was mind-blowing.

It all had been going so smoothly until she turned down that kiss from Finn. He slouched back into the hotel sometime after she did with the look of a dumbfounded, kicked puppy and sulked in silence while everyone else had fun. The only one who noticed or cared about their temporary absence for dinner had been a neutral-faced Quinn Fabray. Then the performances came and she knew that she blew everyone away when she sang, she could feel it.

It came as a particularly nasty shock when Finn got the bright idea to kiss her during a song. Apparently, the explicit 'no' the night before had not been enough to fully process in his mind. Rachel had felt queasy and, while she didn't return the sloppy, insistent pressure against her mouth, she was too slow and shocked to avoid it entirely. The damage had been done even without reciprocation on her part. Finn had looked all too satisfied with himself, a glow in his eye that told her that he hadn't even noticed that she didn't kiss back.

After the news of their dreadful failure to even notably place, everyone in the club had turned their eyes to her. She didn't understand what came next though she had expected it. The eyes glared at her. Every pair of downtrodden, furious, and disappointed eyes was focused on her. They rejected her presence and placed the blame for their loss squarely and solely on her shoulders. Every negative thought and feeling was aimed at her, only her. It was like no one cared that Finn had been the one to spontaneously act upon his selfish desire. It was all Rachel Berry's fault. Always Rachel Berry's fault.

The trip home left her miserable and isolated. Santana refused to look at her while everyone else ignored her existence. Mr. Schuester, the competent advisor that he was, just mumbled something to her half-heartedly about not being too hard on herself for her mistake and then left her alone like everyone else. On more than one occasion, she had found herself questioning Schue's ethics when it came to teaching and acting as advisor to the club with the lowest ranking at McKinley. He played favorites, totally ignored her most of the time, and never stepped in when there was a case of bullying or if there were serious confrontations. Hell. He had even watched her get slushied and managed to do nothing about it.

Finn, after he finally realized that he maybe should feel bad about what he had done, mostly kept to himself. He would glance at her with those mooning eyes every so often, but he never once said a word. Finn, as far as she was concerned, was officially in the metaphorical dog house. He was in that little dark red and white house with nothing but the necessities and a chain to keep him far, far away from her. The boy, she could grudgingly admit, was remarkably unintelligent. To the extent that Rachel had questioned his progress into high school at all. Really, how had he managed to get into high school and make the grades to keep his place in the realm of sports.

It was the first Monday back home since Nationals, Glee club had finished its season and she expected life to go back to how it usually was: miserable and lonely. She had resigned herself to a multiple slushie attack from the Cheerios and football players. During her due preparation for the assumed inevitability of the assault, she had packed five extra outfits and stored them in both her gym and regular locker. Rachel Berry was, after all, back at the bottom of the totem pole. She was the dirt beneath the iconic high school metaphor; a worthless, overlooked nothing meant to be stepped on and kicked around especially after such a devastating end to what was meant to be a Cinderella success story.

Her muscles ached from being tensed the entire way to first period as she quickly ducked through the hallways even with the act of holding her head unashamedly high. A few times she doubled back after spotting the ominously familiar plastic drink cup in an attempt to avoid the sticky, colorful shower that had to be waiting for her any second. By the time that lunch came around, she was in serious need of a massage because every part of her body was sore and refused to stiffen any longer. The cups were still being carried around, but they also had bright red straws sticking out of them. That was a change.

The student body as a whole was drastically more subdued than usual. The chatter only rose to a low hum with few exceptions here and there. The normal slamming of lockers was replaced with delicate clicks. Footfalls were largely muted and unhurried against the dusty linoleum. There was no shoving or being thrown into lockers. In fact, the seemingly diligent pupils were filing to class in an almost orderly fashion. Here and there, she would see a face just as thoughtfully confused as her own but no one made a comment about the change all day.

She came face-to-face with Karofsky during the last class change of the day when she sped around a corner to quickly avoid Santana. The little brunette had come to a total stand-still in front of the hulking football player and his nearly constant cohort, Azimio. They both held the signature soda cups in their meaty fingers and were undoubtedly about to unleash a cold hell on her small frame. Her eyes squeezed closed in an automatic reaction to protect herself from serious damage. Rachel stood there, waiting for the dousing to arrive. Seconds ticked by and turned into a full minute of inaction.

A grunt and then sucking noise.

Rachel squinted her eyes open just slightly, peering up at the round faces before her. Karofsky had his lips pursed around his straw while his eyes watched her with what could only be described as mild curiosity. Meanwhile, Azimio was looking this way and that in a show of total disinterest. The former reached out a hand and engulfed her shoulder in his grasp before leading her out of their way. He let go, gentle as a lamb, and lumbered by with his friend. No slushie attack, no hateful comments, not even a glare.

At another time, she might have gone after them and demanded a reason for them to have ended their torment. It only took a moment of thought to conclude that she didn't care and simply wanted to be grateful for the mercy. The teacher of her final class, Biology, did something that she had never seen before. She smiled and her trademark irritability had been replaced with a vocal nuance similar to affection. Only one other person seemed as focused on the differences as she was. Scott, a tall black boy with a frame like a pencil, was tapping his fingers urgently against his desk. His brow was harshly creased and eyes darting around the room wildly. The sheen to his skin also made it apparent that he was perspiring heavily.

Rachel allowed the oddities to be pressed to the back of her mind as her teacher serenely spoke about the parts of the brain in review for exams. She took notes in neat, compact handwriting in her notebook and allowed only a glance up at the board as needed. Long breaks between writing had to be taken because she was copying the notes far faster than they were being given to her. Somewhere between the slow discussion of the fornix and the beginnings of what would most likely be an equally lengthy explanation of the corpus collosum, it seemed that Scott's anxiety had gotten the best of him as his formerly quiet self-musings rose in volume more and more. Suddenly, he was screaming and overturned his desk with a violent shove before lashing out at the nearest person, his seat partner.

Everyone in the class just stared at him. Even the boy getting viciously whaled on seemed to see no reason to react to his beating. The only one in the class to have even gotten to her feet was Rachel herself. The small brunette rushed from the classroom to get help. It didn't come from the first, second or third teacher that she visited and by the fifth, she was starting to think that everyone had gone crazy. Quinn in the second classroom had gaped and looked appropriately shocked at what was happening. Santana and Sam in the third reacted like human beings too as did Brittany and Puck in the fifth class. Finally, Mr. Schuester came rushing back to Biology with her in time to pull Scott off of what seemed to be his third bloodied victim. Scott was still screaming when Mr. Schue wrestled his from the room with the wounded three dutifully following without speaking.

The remainder of the class passed uneventfully until she was heading to her car with the other of-age student populous. That was when she came upon a group of Cheerios hovering around Replacement Quinn's sporty red vehicle. The Cheerios were an elitist, entitled group of young women with minds vengeful, obedient and creative enough to meet the standards of one Sue Sylvester. They were feared and almost universally hated except for their jock counterparts. It was basically a teenage, high school soap operas come to life. The Cheerios, as much as she liked to pretend that their words didn't affect her, wore down her formerly strong image of self-worth with the jeers and vicious slurs. None caused as much damage, of course, as much as her fellow Glee club members. One of the younger girls called out an insult, causing her to look over with a sinking heart.

Then it happened again. The rest of the Cheerios, save for two including the one who had initiated the confrontation, just stared at her blankly. It was a long moment, but she realized, with a growing sense of disconnection, that they weren't going to say anything hurtful about her or her fathers. The young pair of Cheerleaders seemed to come to the same perplexed realization when they watched an older girl smile serenely and wave. They didn't say anything further and just turned back to whatever conversation they had been having.

Rachel, worried about this sudden change and what devious plans it might ultimately lead to, quickened her pace, slammed and locked the driver side door shut behind her. A glance back over at the unoffending group of her peers caught her attention with a frown. Quinn and Santana were both gazing, dumbfounded, at their former teammates. Brittany just appeared to be upset that her non-girlfriend-girlfriend was unhappy. No one was really sure where Brittany and Santana fell in terms of their relationship. Was it a relationship? Was it lust? Was it love? No one except the Unholy Trinity seemed to have any clear idea exactly what was going on between the lithe blonde and spitfire Latina.

She rolled to a gentle stop at a red light, absently considering the pedestrians as they went about their average days. They smiled at each other, expressions smooth and calm, they stopped for mere moments simply to chat through their smiles. A single young man scurried through the sidewalk, avoiding eye contact and disrupting the serene atmosphere. He even muttered something irritably to a pair taking up the whole walkway with their conversation and shoved them rather rudely. They looked confused and then it fell away to that omnipresent smile.

The smile.

It chilled her internal organs and she found herself trembling with an indescribable emotion. Her foot pressed a bit too hard on the accelerator which caused her car to leap forward like an overeager puppy before settling into a consistent hum as it rolled along. It wasn't long until she was safely parked in her driveway and felt reassured that her fathers would tell her that she was just being paranoid about the whole thing and the stress of honing her talent was getting to her and maybe she should just learn to relax and be a kid. It was with those high hopes and assumed reassurances that she took a deep breath and bounced out of her car.

Really, she was just too overworked. She was tired. Her mind was playing odd tricks on her. Karofsky and Azimio and the Cheerios were just have a bit of an off day. By tomorrow, they would revert back to their original schedule and cruel state of mind. Okay. No. That didn't make a fantastic amount of sense either. When those sort of people had a bad day or night or just stubbed their toe, they were quick to blame Rachel and made her pay for her crimes appropriately. At the thought, her chin tilted up just so in a silent show of toughness and pride.

She entered the house and dropped her back at the foot of the stairs, staring around through narrowed eyes. The thermostat must have been turned down real low because every wooden and stone or metal surface felt like solid ice. The lights were normally warm and glowing, but they had all been shut off or appeared to be until she poked her head around a corner to see the glow emanating from the kitchen and faint, indistinct mumblings of conversation.

It had sounded like conversation until she walked into the kitchen. Dad was sitting at the table with a smile fixed to his face while Daddy glared at him, muttering under his breath in an increasingly angry tone. Clearly, they must have had a fight about something. Rachel's stomach churned and she bolted up the stairs without a word to either. She would talk to them when they were in better mood.

That was first day; the day of three reactions.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
mrtoulouse
Aug. 9th, 2011 05:55 am (UTC)
Well, holy shit, fuck me. I can't believe I missed on reading this when you posted the first chapter. I don't know how I managed that one because this fic is basically bursting with themes I love to read about. I mean, the warnings and genre tags alone should've clued me in that this was something I had to read. Apocalyptic scenario? Check. Horror, adventure, and sci-fi? Check, check, check. Throw Faberry, Brittana, and a promise of some action into the mix and you have the sure-fired combination to get me singing your praises.

Getting through the first chapter was an odd test of patience; I was hooked on every word, but at the same time couldn't seem to read fast enough to get to the next chapter I knew was waiting. I'm looking forward to seeing the current timeline catch up with where Rachel is in the first chapter. One of my favourite parts of post-apocalyptic scenarios is learning about the survival - how people are getting by. I'm looking forward to see how you explore this 'verse.

The violent outbursts from some of the affected remind me of Crossed, the comic. I don't know if you've read anything from the series, but I recommend it if you're looking for some really gory post-Apocalyptic stuff. But, just - extreme gratuitious violence, guess that's my fair warning for it.

Anyways, this is getting really damn long now, sorry. Suffice it to say : Amazing. Love it. Can't wait for more. And, again, amazing.

Also : hello, noticed the Fallout : New Vegas location tag. It's like you're everything awesome all rolled into one.
asutex
Aug. 9th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
I love long reviews and comments. They make me spectacularly happy. I did, after all, join livejournal in order to have a more interactive connection with other writers and the audience than is really available on fanfiction.net. I've been wanting to write a story like this for quite a while but the inspiration really hit me when I woke up one morning with the idea fully formed in my head.

I'm extremely excited to elaborate on the survival and social dynamics that have had to change in order to adapt to the new world order. I find it fascinating to consider how people would have to change their views in order to thrive in such drastically different circumstances. It's why I love Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas so much. Trust me, I'm really pumped for writing this.

That sounds fantastic! I love gore and post-apocalyptic worlds, so it sounds perfect for me. Thank you very much for the recommendation, really! I appreciate it :). And as for length with the review - the longer, the better.

That's what she said.

I hope I can live up to your expectations with the rest of the story.

P.S. I'm curious, would you read a sequel if I split this into a pair: one for the setting and what happened, the second for the survival and conclusion? Or would you stick with reading it if it turned into an epic (20+ chapters)?
mrtoulouse
Aug. 10th, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
I'm glad my long-ass comment was complimentary and didn't just come off as some frenzied rambling. I re-read it after replying and it kind of felt that way - probably my bad for trying to cram two chapters worth of praise, information, and general opinions in without writing something as long as your fic, haha.

It's great that you're enthusiastic about post-Apocalyptic stuff, really makes me look forward to what you're going to be writing, knowing that you're as into the world building (or, re-building, rather) involved in this. Also makes me much less wary that you're going to drop this fic before it's seen its end. I've seen a few too many AU's in the same genre stopped and, well, as someone who eats this kind of shit up, that goddamn sucks. I think I've racked up something like 200 hours between Fallout 3 and New Vegas? Yeah, and I'm not even done re-playing them, or beating the original two games.

If you don't mind a few other recommendations - sorry if you've already watched/read a few of them -, I also suggest Y : The Last Man, another post-apocalyptic comic; Children of Men, one of my favourite movies, it's also a book; The Walking Dead, I've only watched the TV show, but apparently the comics are excellent, too; Stephen King's The Stand starts out really well, all the stuff about the forming and governing of a community is fascinating, but, in my opinion, it gets a little too supernatural around the end; The Silent Land by Grahamn Joyce, I'm just starting this one, but it seems promising; and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, which are a bit more shooter than RPG like Fallout, but still great. Uh, yeah... Like I said, I eat this shit up.

Personally, I'd stick with reading an epic length fic, especially if it meant you could delve deeper into the details of the world. I'm as much a sucker for exposition as I am for post-Apocalyptic stuff.

So, this turned out to be a monster-length comment again, sorry about that.
ayden07
Aug. 9th, 2011 06:44 am (UTC)
Damn, these people are acting totally weird!! Rachel, the Unholy Trinity, and Puck seem to be okay. my guess is that something went down while they were in NYC or they somehow have avoided changing into calm,mindless zombies. This chapter freaks me out with the reactions Rachel saw. Im got the creeper chills up my back. Great Writing!!!
rosebella5903
Aug. 9th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
This is so amazing. There is not enough stories out there like this one. This is just so interesting. Please continue.
synergyfox
Aug. 22nd, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like how this is going. The turn of evets, past though they my be, are very interesting.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )