The Ricards

“Looks like the end of the world is kicking off out there,” Jules joked as he let the curtains fall back into place.

“I don’t hear any sirens,” his sister replied from the bathroom after an obligatory moment of silence while she listened.

Jules sat down at the desk of the hotel room they shared. “No, come to think of it. And there’s not much to see either. It just looks - creepy. Not the sky, that’s all normal.”

“Blue or grey?” Gemma was standing at the bathroom counter, carefully brushing her fingers across each button of her shirt to make sure they were aligned. Leaning against the wall was a long white cane indicative of her blindness. “Is the sky blue or clouded over?”

“Sorry. It’s blue; doesn’t look like rain. And there’s plenty of people out there, but everyone is running about like they’re trying to find shelter or get out of Westchester before…”

“Before the end of the world,” Gemma asked? She sat down on the edge of the bed across from the desk and Quinn padded over to lean against her leg. Quinn was her seven year old black lab; a trained service dog - a canine companion for independence. For the most part he was a quiet animal, barking only when it would convey something of relevance to his handler.

“I know it sounds weird when you put it that way.” Jules unzipped an empty backpack and laid it across his twin’s lap.

Gemma started lightly touching each of the contents that were carefully laid out along the bed before placing them inside the pack. “You put it that way, I only repeated you. But this is as good a weekend as any for the end of the world.”

“Meaning?”

“Part of the reason for my visit this week has been to update you on some events in my personal life. I don’t think you’ll be glad to hear it so I’ve been putting it off.” Gemma zipped up the bag and slipped her arms through the straps. She took a deep breath. “So here it is.”

~~~~~~

Ten minutes later down in the lobby, the elevator dinged, the door slid open and Jules was still arguing with his sister. “I can’t believe it. You’re fucking Larry Rucker?!”

“I said I’m in a relationship with Larry; the details of our romance are none of your business and I certainly don’t need you sharing them with these fine people.” There were plenty of lowered heads and fast moving feet as strangers tried to vacate the elevator and the awkwardness of the conversation they’d been witness to since the 24th floor.

“I’m sorry, but that guy is a total -”

“Quiet,” Gemma warned and there was something in her voice that instantly brought Jules to her side as he peered around the lobby. There was a commotion at the concierge counter as people tried to check out and met resistance - or refusal. Gemma was listening intently for information and Jules gave her wrist a squeeze as he left her near the desk with Quinn. He moved to the front doors to look outside - things were definitely getting weird.

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