I’ve been afraid of becoming a zombie this whole time. Everyone is, of course, but now I will become one for sure. I sit with the blood from the shirt cooling on my hands and I realize that I will die but not die. I will become –
I shut my eyes and force everything out. There is one last thing I must do. I have to get Cassie to safety.
I put the shirt on the ground and stand up.
“Come on. We need to get to the compound.”
Cassie just looks at me, crying and shaking her head. I make sure that there’s no blood on my hands and then I kneel down and gently touch her sleeves.
“We need to get you somewhere safe. Now.”
She nods and then collapses into more tears. Sunshine comes over and pushes her nose into Cassie’s hand. She hugs the dog tightly, and I’m glad Sunshine’s able to give her a hug when I can’t.
Emotionally, I feel cold inside, just cut off, with the thought of getting Cassie safely to the compound, before I turn, pounding in my head.
I get up and grab a bottle of water. I scrub my hands and my neck until they’re clean of blood. I take one of my shirts and tear off a strip and tie it around my neck, in a way that I hope looks like a nifty scarf. I double-check that I’m clean of blood and then walk over and gently touch Cassie’s arm.
She looks me over and then throws herself at me, wrapping her arms around me so tightly that I can’t breathe for a bit.
I sit on the ground, and that’s when we both dissolve into tears.
It’s a good cry. I feel like I should have done this long ago. But as it ends and we both quiet, I can just feel a bit of the pain from the virus spreadhing through me. It’s a dull ache at this point, but I know it’s a sign.
We get up and head out with Cassie’s hand in mine.
We walk for a long time. The pain spreads slowly, building bit by bit, just like some flus will. It reminds me a bit of a mix of food posioning and flu actually. It feels like you’ve been poisioned, and it feel serious.
I worry that we won’t make it there in time.
“How long does it take?” I ask.
“It’s different for everyone. Longer if you took the Shot.”
And now I’m back to thinking about the Shot. It took us so long to get the money. I got the last batch of the Shot offerred before everything shut down. I let that thought ping-pong through my mind and then I shut it down. I can’t have hope, not for my sake, and not for Cassie’s. Better not to have hope and then have it wrenched away.
I don’t want her to see me turn. I don’t want her to see me at the end, in all that pain.
I pick up the pace a bit, and then eventually, we come up over a hill, and there on the other side is the compound.