A piercing scream ripped through the darkness. It rocked me awake in an instant. I bolted upright, it was easy to identify the origin of the sound—Guy thrashed on top of his bed.
I threw back the covers and ran to his side. His shirt was damp beneath my fingers but I shook him awake. His bloodshot eyes were wild. They frantically scanned the room, searching for whatever haunted his dreams.
Moments passed which, judging from his expression, seemed longer than they were. Eventually he relaxed. He sat up and scrubbed his uninjured hand across his face. His body dripped with perspiration, his skin paler than before.
Nicole flicked the switch, illuminating the bare bulb suspended in the middle of the ceiling. Guy shielded his eyes, pulling back into the shadow of the bunk as if the brightness blinded him.
Mouse sat in her cot and Briana hung over the edge of her bunk.
“Ugh, turn that thing off, will ya?” he mumbled. “It was nothing, a bad dream. Go back to sleep.”
We didn’t protest. The room once again fell into darkness and Nicole climbed back into bed. I couldn’t sleep though; Guy’s labored breathing worried me. Something was very wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. A trembling twitch raced around my wrist, I scratched my arm to chase it away.
Lying in bed, thoughts raced around my head, unbidden. I didn’t like them, not one bit. The differences between the Guy we escaped with, the one we’d known for most of our lives, and the one across the room from me now, were already obvious. They were small and could be blamed on any number of things, but after today I couldn’t push my thoughts away. Those creatures looked like they used to be human—what if the bite had done something to him?
Trying not to disturb Nicole, I climbed out of bed and retrieved the sword from where I’d dumped my bag. For the rest of the night I sat at the edge of our mattress, watching and listening, the weapon held tight between my hands.
Would I actually be able to use the sword if the worst came to pass?
As the hours traipsed by, Guy’s breathing slowed. Not by much, but I could definitely hear the difference. He began secreting a strange scent too. By the time I woke Nicole at dawn, his skin seemed to have tightened over his features.
I didn’t say much except that she needed to watch him while I showered. She gave a barely perceivable nod, took the sword in hand and claimed my post.
I took my time under the stream of hot water, enjoying the heat cascading down my back and the motel’s free shampoo. It was fruity and sweet. I didn’t have to worry about any guards watching, nor did I fear they might turn the water off on me because I took more than the three-minute allowance.
Another twitch surprised me when I twisted the tap to stop the flow of water. This time it danced along the length of my upper leg. I attempted to massage it away, digging my thumb into the fleshy part of my thigh. It stopped several seconds later.
I found the clothes we’d bought and pulled my set on before pushing my feet into the old sneakers. I'd just finished tying the laces when a growling noise drifted from below my feet.
I rushed to the door and wrenched it open. The girls were upright, but Guy hadn’t moved a muscle.
The quake wasn’t as big as the one that destroyed the labs, it was barely a tremor. The entire room shook. The floorboards rippled, several bent too far and fractured. It didn’t last long and disappeared as quickly as it’d come.