"Baby, listen to me. There is no reason to feel afraid. I'm here and your brother's here. We'll always protect you no matter what."
"No buts. Look, we all know what has to be done and I plan on finishing this."
"I know dad."
"Both of you, I want you to realize something. I need you to be strong and brave. This new world ain't meant for pussies. You'll need to do things that may not be right but I want you to survive as long as you can. I need you to survive as long as you can. Just until you meet back with your Uncle Shane. Now you guys stay quiet and hidden no matter what you see or hear. I love you both. And be safe."
I shot up from my bed and banged my head against the headboard from the top bunk where Jeremy was sleeping. I cursed as I rubbed my forehead, knowing it cause a nice bruise later on. I sighed, running a hand through my hair. I looked at the digital clock beside me which read 12:32 a.m. I kicked my feet over the bed and placed them on the cold, hardwood floor. I tugged at my black, long sleeve shirt as my bare feet padded on the floor. I couldn't sleep anymore - not after the dream I had had. So, I decided to maybe get a drink of water or something to calm my nerves. I began walking through the hallway when I bumped into someone. "Hey, watch wher' ya goin'!" A voice scolded me. It was Daryl and his words were slurred; his breathe smelled heavily of alcohol and I could tell he was drunk.
"You okay, Daryl?" I asked, his features seeming a bit distressed.
"Course I'm fine. Now jus' leave me be." He slurred, pushing past me. I didn't push the subject further, knowing never to agitate a drunk person. When I reached the sink, I grabbed a cup that lay beside me and turned on the faucet, the water pouring out slowly at first then faster as the the pipes groaned. I filled it up halfway and drunk it in one sip. I heard rattling from behind and turned around to see Shane groan as he sat in a chair at the table, hiding his face between both of his hands. "Shane?"
He flinched at the sudden sound of my voice and he slowly lifted his head out his hands and sent me a forced smile. "Hey Cheyenne."
"What are you doing?"
"I could ask you the same question." He chuckled.
"What happened to your neck?" I asked worriedly, seeing three scratches that ran down his neck.
"Oh, uh, I-I had this real bad itch on my neck...and I must've scratched a bit too hard." He explained. I wasn't fooled by his tall-tale. I always could figure out when people were lying, especially Shane since he was such a bad liar. "You're lying. I could tell. What really happened?"
"Nothing Cheyenne. Sheesh, you're just like John - always trying to get to the bottom of things."
"Well I would think so. He was my father."
"Now Cheyenne I know you wanna take it there but please, for my sake, just don't. I don't wanna have to deal with another hormone-crazed woman."
I furrowed my eyebrows. "Another woman? Shane, did Lori do that to you?"
Shane groaned. "C'mon now. Can we just drop it?"
"She did, didn't she? Shane what did you do to her?"
"You taking her side now?" Shane asked in disbelief.
"I'm not taking any sides. All I know is that you both have been having problems and she wouldn't do that to you if hadn't done something first."
He slammed his hands on the table making me flinch. "You know, what I'm done with this conversation." He stalked away angrily and I could hear him cursing under his breathe. I sighed and ran a hand through my hair, intending to find out later what Shane was up to. I was sick and tired of Lori and Shane's soap-opera drama and I really wanted to get to the bottom of it. I knew it really wasn't any of my business but I was a curious to see what was beneath the layers of their relationship. I walked back to my room after a few moments and was greeted by a now woken up Jeremy. "Hey."
"Jer, what are you doing up?"
"Dammit woman, I'm 25. Do I have still have a bed time?"
"Hey Jer, do you remember the night dad died?" He stood quiet for a moment and hesitated to answer.
"Yeah. Why?" Jeremy asked, his voice dry.
"Do you think he's in a better place now?"
"Chey, you know I don't believe in heaven."
"But he doesn't have to worry anymore, Jer. He doesn't have to be scared anymore or feel any pain or-"
"Cheyenne, just go to sleep already. That alcohol's probably having an effect on you."
"Go to sleep." He said sternly, turning over in his bed so his back would face me. I sighed, giving up and crawling into bed - trying to get as much sleep as could.
We all walked into the lab, Jenner preparing to show us something. "Give me a playback of TS-19." Jenner commanded Vi. The big screen began to show blue images which loaded onto the screen. "Few people ever got a chance to see this. Very few."
I could see Lori, Rick, and Shane join us through the corner of my eye. "Is that a brain?" Carl asked, seeing the diagram of a head on the screen.
"An extraordinary one. Not that it matters in the end." Dr. Jenner replied. "Take us in for the EIV."
"Enhanced Internal View." Vi repeated, focusing the diagram into the actual brain.
"What are those lights?" Shane asked.
"It's a persons life. Experiences, memories, it's everything. Somewhere inside all that organic wiring, all those ripples of life, is you - the thing that makes you unique and human."
Daryl scoffed. "You don't make sense ever?"
"Those are synapses, electric impulses in the brain that carry all of the messages. They determine everything a person says does or thinks from the moment of birth to the moment of death. "
"Death? That's what this is, a vigil?" Rick chimed in.
"Yes. Or rather the playback of the vigil."
"This person died? Who?" Andrea asked.
"Test subject 19. Someone who was bitten and infected...and volunteered to have us record the process." Jenner replied. "Vi, scan forward to the first event."
It scanned to a new image, the brain seeming less alive than it used to be. The middle of the brain was no longer bright blue but rather a dead burgundy color.
"What is that?" Jeremy asked with wide eyes.
"It invades the brain like meningitis. The adrenal glands hemorrhage, the brain goes into shut down, then the major organs. Then death." The brain on the screen was no longer illuminated with any blue but was dead with no lights.
"Everything you ever were or ever will be...gone."
"Is that what happened to Jim?" Sophia piped in.
"Yes." Carol answered. I could see Andrea was more in distress than the rest of us since that is exactly what happened Amy not too long ago.
"She lost somebody two days ago. Her sister." Lori informed Dr. Jenner.
"I lost somebody too. I know how devastating it is." He told Andrea. She looked up at him but didn't say anything. "Scan to the second event."
"The resurrection time range widely. We had reports of it happening in as little as three minutes. The longest we heard of was eight hours. In the case of this patient, it was two hours, one minute...seven seconds." The screen now showed the brain still dead but the difference now is the red light embering in the middle of the brain.
"It restarts the brain?" I asked curiously.
"No, just the brain stem. Basically, it gets them up and moving."
Rick stepped in. "But they're not alive?"
"You tell me."
Rick shook his head. "It's nothing like before. Most of that brain is dark."
"Dark, lifeless, dead. The frontal lobes, the neocortex, the human part - that doesn't come back. It's just a shell driven by mindless instinct." Dr. Jenner answered. There was a sudden movement in the brain of the patient.
"God, what was that?" Carol asked.
"He shot his patient in the head." Andrea answered.