Gone

An epidemic is spreading. An epidemic that nobody has ever seen before, that nobody was ready for. It doesn't just kill people; it evolves them, wipes them into shells and reinvents them into machines to spread this disease before painfully removing them from the Earth. Ebony Wilson has lost her mom to this plague, and has lost the rest of her family in the chaos. Unsure of where they are, and what steps to take when she finds them, whether they're infected or not, she works day by day to make it through this. To make it up to her mom and to find her family. Will Ebony keep her head long enough to make it through, if this epidemic ever ends?

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16. Chapter 16

    It’s almost as if the past couple days, weeks of my life are being erased and rewritten.

    I can’t really remember what it was like to be Infected.  I was in pain, I can remember that, but the fear and the sorrow of not being able to be in control of myself is dissipating.  It is slowly becoming less and less vivid, the memories only wisps, ghosts of what had happened to me.  For this I am grateful.

    I used to have the urge to touch people, to find living creatures, to kill.  It overtook me, and even when I didn’t want to, the urge was prominent.  It was honestly terrifying, and I can remember that.

    But I am also starting to remember the great memories of my childhood, everything that happened.  I can remember my older sister, how she used to drive me around and we would play games together.  She used to tease me, especially around her friends, but when we were alone she was sweet and caring.  I loved her dearly.  My parents were great, but my sister, being only a year older than me, understood me.  She knew what I enjoyed and what I wanted.  I miss her incredibly.

    I can remember school, too.  I’m not sure where I am, but I know that before I was infected, I was near my old school.

    And I remember my old friends.  We used to play catch on the school grounds and we’d play soccer, and when it got cold we would play basketball in the auditorium.

    I’m proud to say that I can remember my name now, too.  Miles Brooch.  The boy with me told me that the name is usually the last to go, but also the last to be remembered.  Everything else will vaguely be there, more or less, and start to come back and clear up as time progresses.

    The boy’s name is Cody.  Cody Thompson.  He explained to me that he’s 18 and he thinks he knows how to stop this thing.  I want to help him as much as I can, knowing what it feels like to be Infected.

    I can remember chasing the girl at the school while I was Infected, too.  Her face was familiar to me then, and I realized that I do know her.  At least, I did know her before the outbreak.

    I used to go to high school with her.  Her name is Ebony, and I remember that she and I never were close.  Now I regret that, but maybe Cody and I can go and find her somehow and stick with her.  She was always so sweet, but now she seems like she’s as hard as a rock.  I don’t want to find her just because she’d be an amazing asset - I’d finally get a chance to get to know her, talk to her.

    Ebony always was more popular than me.  I mean, she wasn’t truly considered popular, but I was never remotely popular.  I hung out with ordinary people and we did ordinary things.  Nothing in the value of high school to become particularly popular or well-known.  I passed just under the radar, and it never bugged me.  I just wish that it was easier to get to know other people who were higher than me on the popularity scale.

    The memories were especially broad coming back at first, things like my birthday, August 4th.  Then the more specific memories started coming back, like individual birthday parties.  I can remember my seventh birthday party the most vividly.

    I had spent it with a few of my friends, and we went to a facility that had blow-up slides and trampolines.  I had sprained my ankle during the party, and we had to continue it in the emergency room.  It was embarrassing, but my friends and their families were so nice to me.  I felt bad for liking it just a bit, but I had an excuse - it was my birthday.

    I could remember Thanksgivings with my family, how hectic and crazy they could get.  I had a quite large extended family, but my immediate family was small, and everyone else lived at least two hours away.

    There was always so much food at Thanksgiving, to the point where we could barely move.  We all stuffed ourselves to the brim, still unsatisfied.  Even though my family was crazy, they were really great cooks.

    I had many cousins, most of them older than me, and growing up with them was incredible.  They were so different, so unique, and we all fit together like a puzzle when we were together.  The experiences I had with them were like no other, and we always had so much fun.  I miss them crazily - what I wouldn’t give for just one more gathering with all of them, just one more time.

    Cody brings me some more food and medicine.  They are painkillers that worked originally, but now they are starting to dull, not working as powerfully.  I don’t know how long it’s been since he found me, but it feels like at least a couple days, probably more.  I’m still not strong enough to be walking around, but he’s helping me gain my strength one day at a time.

    I can barely ever keep the food he brings me down, but I eat it anyway.  He tells me that I am at least getting a few nutrients.  It tastes wonderful, much better than the old canned food that I’ve been eating.  I’m pretty sure most of it is still canned food, but it’s better preserved.  Maybe it’s just a trick being played on my mind, but either way, it was great.  I realized that I hadn’t eaten since I became infected, which I believe was a few days, maybe a week or two.  That could be why it tasted so good to me.

    The first couple days, I was so weak, I could barely lift up my arm.  I’ve gained enough strength now to be able to stand with some support.  My legs are incredibly wobbly and as soon as I stand, the blood all rushes from my head, giving me a headache.

    Cody heads out every once in a while, leaving me all alone for a little while.  It’s nice to have some time to think, but I’d rather be able to think with someone by my side, or even aloud to someone else.  This entire epidemic has created a dreary, lonely existence, and having a friend is one of the greatest assets.  Even having an enemy is better than being alone - that way, you have something to pull your focus, draw it off of the fact that there are killing machines everywhere that are waiting for you around every corner, behind every wall.

    It scares me to be alone.  I’m afraid for the day when I get trapped in this house with a creature.  Will it affect me again, or am I immune to it?  I highly doubt I’d be immune to it, and if it infects me again, would it kill me faster or slower?  I’m almost tempted to find out, but I know it would be even more painful, especially because I’ve had a sort of break from it, an escape from the terror.

    It’s not like I have much to worry about.  I try to sleep while Cody’s out doing whatever it is he does out there, and usually I’m able to doze off for a bit.  Yet another escape from the terror, but this one is only temporary.  You fall asleep and think everything is fine, back to normal, that your dream is a reality.  Waking up is terrible - you are faced with everything you just spent your downtime forgetting.

    After I finish the food and medicine he just brought me, he suits up, putting on his gear.  It’s intelligent - full-body protection, gloves, the works.  Enough so he’s relatively safe, so that if he were to get caught in a compromising situation, he’d be able to make it out unharmed.

    “I’ll be back soon, don’t get into any trouble,” he jokes, giving me a small smile before pulling open the door swiftly.  He checks his surroundings, around the walls, making sure that there aren’t any nearby creatures, and then heads out, shutting the door quietly behind him.

    After a little while, I hear some shambling footsteps, accompanied by growling.  I tense up, hearing a bang on one of the wooden walls.  I hold my breath, my chest burning.  It hurts, but I can’t risk anything, even if I am safe within this little hut.

    It passes, but I hear a few more creatures walking by.  All of them shuffle by, and some hit the walls of the house with great force.  Then I hear more competent footsteps approaching, followed by a few large thuds.  There is a knock on the wooden door.

    “Come in,” I call, my voice raspy, and Cody enters through the door.

    He takes off some of his gear, sweating visually.

    “Anything new to report?” I question, smiling.

    “Nothing much.  Swarm outside.  I want to try to study that camp nearby, but it seems too dangerous.  Run by the government, and I know for sure that they don’t let you leave without certain qualifications that are nearly impossible to get at this point.  They seem to be on some sort of lockdown on top of it all.”  While he’s explaining, he’s opening drawers and placing some things in, taking some out, taking off gear.  He seems distracted, like he keeps forgetting things.  He seems very scattered, but it’s fun to watch, and he’s extremely smart.

    Out of all of the people I could’ve been stuck with - friends, family, enemies - I’m glad to say that I got stuck with him.  I’d love to be with my old friends and family, but they’re gone, and I have to accept that.  Cody is here, now, and he’s helpful.  He’s willing to help me as long as I’m willing to help him, which I am.  I cannot wait to help him.  I want to gain as much strength as I can to help him, because I owe him so much.

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