Lisa showed Jill how to get onto the roof but elected to stay back herself. She was nervous enough about letting Jill up there (even though she’d deliberately changed out of the impractical dress).
“Are you scared of heights?” Jill asked, a note of curiosity in her voice.
“No,” said Lisa. “I’m afraid of falling off roofs and I don’t like what they do up there.”
She looked a little upset.
“Well it’s probably for the best then,” said Jill. “Who better to nurse us when we fall off?”
Lisa shook her head.
“Don’t say that. I can’t fix a broken neck.”
Jill left Lisa to her worrying and climbed up the ladder. The loft skylight was already open.
As Jill poked her head out into the cold air there was another loud bang. A gunshot. She flinched and searched for its source, clambering out onto the roof as she did so.
“You see that one down there?” said Andrew excitedly. “I can hit it easily from here.”
There was a smug note to his tone.
“Hit what?” Jill asked as she carefully joined him (Lisa had been pretty insistent about being careful).
Andrew, Sophie and Jack stood in a group together, just enough space between them to allow for the large gun. It was a hunting rifle, Jill noted. At least this meant that she no longer had to gun-share with Jack.
“The zombies!” Andrew said cheerfully.
Jill shuddered. It was cold out here in the beginnings of early night.
“Don’t call them that,” she muttered.
If Andrew did hear her, he chose to ignore her.
“Look, look there’s a zombie just there!”
His enthusiasm was disturbingly reminiscent of Jack’s but since Andrew was younger Jill found it easier to forgive. She followed his outstretched finger until her eyes picked up on something moving faintly in the distance below.
Sophie rolled her eyes.
“He likes shooting things,” she said.
“Nothing wrong with that,” Jack remarked.
“That would be true if he was a decent shot,” said Sophie.
“I am a good shot!” Andrew whined.
And with that he took aim and fired. He was using a silencer but Jill knew from first hand experience that they were never as silencing as the movies depicted. He missed the creature by about a metre. A metre wasn’t terrible but to survive in this world you needed to be a much better shot than that.
“Give it here.”
He snatched the gun from Andrew, aimed and pulled the trigger. Jill didn’t have to look to know it was a bullseye. Sophie let out a low whistle but Andrew simply scowled. Jack swelled up with pride and handed the gun to her.
“You guys do this a lot?” Jill asked, as Sophie aimed.
“There’s not much else to do around here,” she replied.
There was a brief pause, punctuated by a gunshot. Another bullseye. Jill wasn’t surprised. With all of her scars, Sophie seemed like a survivor.
“Where’s Joseph?” Jill asked.
“Not up here, that’s for sure,” said Sophie.
“Father Daniels doesn’t like heights,” Andrew added. “Can I have my gun back now?”
“Did daddy not teach you how to share as well as how to miss your target?” Jack teased.
Heights had never bothered Jill but being on a rooftop in the dark, shooting at creatures alongside people she barely knew and one who she definitely didn’t trust, was a step too far.
“I think I’ll go back down,” she said.
Jill figured that Jack wouldn’t do anything too rash at this point if she left him alone. He was enjoying himself too much. He liked Sophie and Andrew was a toy to play with. The company would keep him occupied and if he did try anything then Sophie could take care of it.
Jill returned down the ladder to find Lisa exactly where she had left her, staring up at the skylight with concern in her eyes.
“Hi,” she greeted.
“Hi,” said Lisa.
“You keeping an eye on us?” Jill asked.
“You, actually,” Lisa admitted.
“I don’t like leaving concussion patients alone for too long,” Lisa said quickly, her face reddening.
There was a slightly awkward silence. Jill used the time to properly take in the doctor’s attire. Contrary to her father’s beliefs, she’d always thought that a person’s clothing said a lot about them. Fashion was personal.
Lisa was wearing a knee length blue skirt and a plain blue top. They were the colour of a doctor’s scrubs and Jill wondered to what extent that was intentional.
“Where’s Joseph?” she asked eventually.
“He’s gone to bed,” Lisa replied, grateful for the subject change.
“Yes,” Lisa replied. “He has troubles with his back. It was one of the reasons why Cedric brought him here. It can take him a while to get comfortable.”
“Oh. What’s your favourite colour?”
Lisa frowned at the subject change but answered nonetheless.
Well that explained it.
Another gunshot sounded above them. Lisa closed her eyes and sighed.
“Hey,” said Jill, putting her hand on the doctor’s shoulder. “No broken necks yet!”
Lisa gave her a weary smile.
“You missed the tour of the house earlier,” she said. “Would you like me to show you?”
“This place is amazing. A dining hall, huge bedrooms, grand pianos -”
“We’ll start from the top since we’re already here,” said Lisa with a smile.
Jill spent the next hour or so being shown around the mansion. It had 3 floors that seemed to stretch out forever, each one as impressively luxurious as the next. There were bedrooms and toilets on each floor, plus an assortment of sofas. However, what really made Jill’s eyes light up wasn’t the private cinema, the chocolate fountains or the varied selection of instruments. Jill was drawn to the heated indoor pool. Blame it on her occupation perhaps but, despite all the trouble it caused nowadays, she was a fan of water. She loved to swim.
“How is it kept clean?” Jill asked.
“Chlorine and filters I think,” Lisa replied with a shrug.
Jill knelt beside the water’s edge and ran her fingers across its surface, a smile gracing her lips.
“I should be getting to bed,” said Lisa.
“I have to get up early in the morning,” the doctor added.
“I’ve got first watch for Cedric,” Lisa explained.
Jill wasn’t sure how to feel about keeping watch for this mysterious man. To her, the mere action felt optimistic. There were no surefire guarantees of his return.
“Feel free to pick a bedroom, so long as no one else is using it,” Lisa continued.
Jill sighed, a playful look in her eyes.
“I guess that rules out yours?”
Lisa didn’t go as red as before but she definitely went a deeper shade of pink.
“Walk you to your room then?” Jill asked.
Lisa nodded and they turned around to head back down the corridor. Jill had learnt by this point that most of the corridors were covered in Mr Keaton’s hunting trophies, in the form of animal heads and the like, or impressive paintings.
“How many animals have been mounted here?” Jill asked, looking around in wonder.
“Cedric did tell me once,” said Lisa. “But I forget.”
Jill didn’t blame her.
They walked on in silence. Lisa opened her mouth and closed it, glancing shyly at Jill.
“What?” Jill asked.
“I was just wondering, like Sophie said, what you did before all this shit.”
The swear word sounded particularly crude and out of place coming from Lisa.
“I had a house in Cambridge,” Jill replied. “I used to work at the university as a marine biologist.”
Lisa looked impressed but slightly confused.
“What is a marine biologist?” she asked, hesitating slightly before she opened her mouth.
Jill guessed that the term didn’t come up much in casual conversation.
“Someone who studies sea life,” she explained patiently.
Lisa nodded in understanding.
“It’s okay to ask me questions like that you know,” Jill added.
Lisa nodded again but didn’t meet her eyes.
“I don’t like to get my words wrong,” she muttered.
Jill shook her head.
“Everyone makes mistakes and yours are minor.”
She put her hand on Lisa’s shoulder.
Lisa looked up enough to realise that they were standing outside her bedroom door. She stepped back, much to Jill’s disappointment, in order to open it.
“Is this it?” Jill asked.
“Well I guess I’ll see you in the morning,” Jill sighed.
She turned and started to walk away, wondering which bedroom she should choose but Lisa’s voice stopped her.
“Jill!” she called. “How did you come to be traveling with Jack?” she asked.
“I’ll tell you later,” said Jill. “It’s a long story.”
As she walked away she caught a reflection of Lisa on one of the golden picture frames. She was still standing just inside the doorway, her head tilted to one side as she watched Jill leave.