He comes over the top of the hill and I stop still.
Sam’s covered in blood. His shirt’s torn and his hair’s messed up. And his leg... His leg’s been mangled.
Tears slide down my cheeks.
“Delilah,” He says softly.
“Please tell me it was a dog,” I say.
“Can’t.” He collapses to the ground.
I scream. I don’t care if the damn zombies come. I scream and I shout – “No!” over and over.
He lays there in a little heap, like he feels really bad. And I realize that what I’m doing isn’t helping at all. The tears stream down my face and I do everything I can to pull myself together, to calm down long enough to help a bit.
I kneel on the ground and pull him into my arms, and he makes a long, low pain sound.
“Are you hurt inside?”
“No, not like you mean. Just the virus.”
There are streaks of sweat down his face. God, if I’d gone out earlier I could have helped him, could have eased his pain, even just a bit.
I carefully shift so his head’s in my lap. He snuggles into me, even though I can tell it hurts. Sam closes his eyes for a minute, and then opens them his beautiful green eyes to stare off into the horizon.
“The Jeep’s fucked. So after the fight I went to get oil. I’d noticed a convenience store a bit before we pulled over last night. Thought that was worth a try.
“I was in the store, looking for the oil, when it bit my leg. You just don’t expect them to go straight for your leg, you know? You don’t expect them to crawl on the floor. But that’s what it did. Just crawled right up and took a chunk out of me.
“I put five bullets in it and it almost reached my neck before it finally stopped. By then it was too late. It took me hours to get back here.”
I’m not going to stop the crying, it’s all I can do to keep breathing normally. I stroke his hair and he pushes his head into my hand.
“I’m sorry I didn’t come find you.”
“It’s okay,” He looks up at me. “You would really tell people you’re married to me?”
“Yeah.” And a smile spreads across my face at the thought, even from under all the tears.
He smiles then and it’s his glorious, happy smile. He leans up, even wincing from the pain, and we kiss.
It’s the best kiss I’ve ever had. He reaches up and we hold hands. Carefully, I break off the kiss and then slide down, so we’re holding each other.
Then I think of something. I search both his wrists, slide my hands up higher.
“Are you just not wearing the bracelet? When did you get it?”
“The Shot. When did you get the Shot?” My mind races through the months, trying to remember from the memos which batches of the Shot were the strongest. Obviously, the later he got his the better we chance we have.
“I didn’t get the Shot.”
“What?!” I stop my frantic search and stare at him.
“I didn’t get it Delilah,” He says gently. “Too broke. Nobody cared. Nobody ever cared, except you.”
He kisses me again, even as the tears flow faster and faster. We wrap ourselves around each other. Then he breaks off the kiss and holds my face. He strokes my hair with the other hand and looks straight into my eyes.
“Come with me, Delilah,” He says.
“What?” I ask, surprised.
“Come with me, just like Sid and Nancy.”
I don’t know what’s on my face at this moment but my heart’s beating like a drum.
“They didn’t get to die together at the same time, but then they still got to be together. If we die near the same time, we’ll get to be together.”
“But we won’t be dead.”
“No, see, that’s even better. I’ve seen them Delilah. I’ve seen the zombies that still hold on to each other. We could be like that. Together, until Cassie finds the cure.”
And then he kisses me again.
My heart’s pounding out of my chest.
I don’t want to die.
What’s he’s saying is very romantic, very sweet. Yes, I would like to spend the rest of my life with him, but I don’t want to die.
“I’m afraid.” It slips out and I didn’t even mean to say anything.
“Me too,” He says. “But we’ll be together. It’ll be okay.”
And it will leave Cassie all alone in the world.
I pull back and look at him. His eyes are warm and so full of love. He really does want to be with me.
“I love you,” I say and I really mean it.
“I love you too.” That glorious smile breaks over his face like a sunrise, and he kisses me and then holds me close.
I close my eyes and breathe him in, feeling his chest rise and fall. He’s so warm against me. Then he stiffens.
“No,” I moan, and tears start falling again.
“It’s okay,” He pats me as best as he can, and then he tenses again, and pulls away from me in pain. He turns so his back is on the ground, and pulls up a bit from the pain, his hands clenching and opening. I grab his hand and find that his skin is burning hot.
He grips my hand and looks into my eyes.
“I love you,” He says. Then he gives out a long low moan, and goes still.
His hand is still warm in mine, and his eyes are closed, and I lose it.
I get up and I walk a few steps away with my back turned, and totally lose it.
I cry and I make those horrible sounds like my Mom made. I finally understand why she made them, what it took to wrench them out of her.
God, this hurts. This hurts so much. I want him back now.
I turn and look at him.
Maybe I should have gone with him.
“Delilah?” This tender girl’s voice calls out.
I wipe my tears away, tyring to see, when Cassie comes over the hill. It’s at that point that the zombie that is Sam opens his eyes and moans.
He moves, and that’s when I realize. He’s in between me and Cassie. He’s closer to her.