I shook my head. “We’re not killing him.”
She put her hands on her hips. “Well, what do you suggest then?”
Gazing at Guy, still thrashing in his bindings, memories raced through me one after another. It was like that moment they speak about, those final seconds where your whole life flashes in front of your eyes. Except it wasn’t my life, it was his.
“I can’t do it.” No matter what he was now, Guy was the closest thing I had to a dad. The closest any of us had.
“It’s okay.” Nicole stood up, wrenching the still-wriggling man up with her. “I’ll do it.”
“Can’t we just leave him out in the trees? Phone someone and tell them where he is?” I knew I was clutching at straws, but I couldn’t let it happen without at least trying to think of a better alternative.
“What if he gets free? What if the scientists find him and take him back to the lab to study? What if somehow the virus mutates? He could begin infecting animals, which means it could spread faster. We need to do this.”
Nicole’s reasoning was sound, but it didn’t help. My throat tightened and tears prickled at the back of my eyes.
I turned as Nicole and Briana yanked Guy to his feet. He continued to fight them every inch of the way. I may not have been able to see him, but I could still hear him.
Mouse’s arms wrapped around me, holding on tight. I couldn’t halt the gasping breaths as the sobs sent shudders through my body.
“Wait!” I pulled away from Mouse and sprinted toward the others on the far side of the parking lot.
They paused, their expressions obvious as they turned to me: shut up and hurry up.
Careful to avoid his gnashing jaw, I removed the silver dog tags from around his neck. I left his wedding ring securely on his finger. These were ours to remember him by. Although not a religious person, I silently said a quick prayer that he’d find his family again wherever he was about to go.
The girls dragged him into the trees until they were completely obscured from view. I didn’t ask any questions about what they were going to do. I didn’t need to. I returned to our rooms and began packing.
Mouse and I didn’t see anyone as we loaded our stuff into the back of the car, nor when a small aftershock shook the earth. I turned on the radio, hoping for something to distract me from memories of Guy, but it was only conspiracy theories and disaster stories.
“How many earthquakes have there been this year?” I tried to sound normal while fighting back tears.
“That aftershock makes it six,” Mouse replied. “We’ve never had this many before.”
“They’re really spread out too.” I tucked what remained of our food between the bags. “We’re not even in South Carolina anymore.”
“You never know, the Mayans could have been right,” Mouse said.
“The Mayans?” I swung the last of our bags onto the vehicle.
“Yeah. They prophesized that on December twenty-first, twenty-twelve, the world would end. There’s a cult that believes them and they’re doing the whole ‘the end is nigh’ thing. I read it in that book,” she explained.
“That’s really reassuring…”