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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25. Chapter 25

Section 6: Gone

    The trip wasn’t terrible.  My brother and I played a few games with each other on the way, games that the others might not understand or remember.  He would point to a tree or a certain cloud and we would burst out laughing, sometimes for no apparent reason, and it felt incredible.  His laugh was wheezing, and he would often have to lean on me afterwards, but I didn’t mind at all.  Feeling his heat on my body is incredible, and it excites me to know that he is alive, he’s okay, and he’s standing here next to me.

    The trip seemed quite long at the time, but looking back, it didn’t take an extraordinary amount of time to arrive.  The journey was not far at all, but we had to go slowly because of Teddy’s and Miles’ weakness.

    We stopped to sleep twice, setting up an extremely small area, just big enough for all of us to sleep, spread out minimally.  The nights were quick, sleeping for a while and waking up at dawn.  Cody showed us his tactic with the barbed wire, spreading it around the trees to keep out Infecteds.  We decided to just work with the can method, however, when an Infected became snagged and started screaming in the middle of the night.

    I continued to care for Teddy and Miles, but I admittedly cared more for Teddy.  Miles uneases me - I used to know him, and we never hit it off.  I wish I had known him better, but alas, I do not.  There’s time now, and I might want to, but it’s difficult to change, especially when all you’ve known is change.

    Both of the boys are stronger now, with more stamina.  Their strength is slowly regaining, and they’re gradually returning to their old selves.  It’s nice to see.

    I was sad on the trip, thinking about my mom and her final days.  Not that it’s anyone’s final days or anything; both of them being sick reminded me of her.  Seeing Teddy so optimistic and positive during his sickness was uplifting.  I was afraid he would be terrible, crabby, rude, but he wasn’t.  Every time I saw him when he was awake, a smile was plastered onto his face.

    I nearly lost my dad as well, and Teddy.  Not being able to find them was terrifying - I hope I’m able to stay with them until my end.  Of course, that might not happen, but the end will come for everyone.

    Everyone is alright at the moment.  We’re okay, everyone here is fine.

    We made it to the hospital with no huge complications.  There were quite a few Infecteds outside of the hospital alone, and Cody and I quickly got rid of them.  Miles helped Teddy to cover his eyes and my dad turned away.

    The Infecteds outside of the hospital were stubborn.  Dozens of them were coming out of the forest and from behind the building, but we were able to clear them out after a little while.

    Now, standing in the middle of rows upon rows, piles of dead bodies, we all straighten up, fix out clothing, and get ready to head inside.  Without a doubt, there will be more Infecteds in the building, but we’re ready to handle it.  My knife is drawn above my head, my hands almost white from holding it so tightly.  Cody has out his knife as well, but it’s down by his waist, with the blade out in front of him in a more lax manner.

    The doors of the hospital open with a loud creak, and I cringe at the sound.  This sound is followed by moaning and I turn to look down the long hallway to my right, seeing a swarm of the Infecteds shambling towards us.

    I look to my left for a second, seeing yet another swarm.  I nod at Cody, then nod at the swarm to my left, indicating for him to take care of them.  He grimly nods back at me and I head over to my right, changing the grip on my knife to make it more comfortable.

    I raise it even higher above my head and bring it down on the skull of the closest Infected with an extreme force.  It nearly gets stuck in the skull, but I’m able to pull the knife out as it falls to the ground.

    I spin around, stabbing the next one in the temple.  It scrambles for a bit, its muscles spasming for a last time before hitting the ground with a thump.  The next few I kill with no trouble.

    I go to stab another one, this time in the throat and up under the chin.  However, I trip on my own shoe, falling into it and stabbing it in the heart.  It stretches out its arms to scratch me and I am unable to pull the knife out.

    I back up quickly, reaching down to my waist to pull out the last knife I have in one of my sheaths.  I’m scrambling backwards as the creature gains on me, the knife protruding from its chest eerily.

    I finally gain my balance and stab it correctly this time and it finally stops moving.  There is space between me and the next Infected - there are only two or three left in the hallway - and I have time to step on the creature’s chest and yank the knife out.  I feel almost like King Arthur, proving my worthiness in this epidemic, and I am proud for a moment before heading to kill the next one.

    I’m finished with clearing out the hallway finally and spin to see how Cody’s doing.

    He is panting, standing over a body.  He’s tense and he looks irate, upset at these creatures.

    “You okay?” I ask, wandering towards him.  As I pass the glass entrance doors, I wave for Miles, Dad, and Teddy to come into the hospital.

    Cody sighs greatly, wiping his face with his sleeve.  “I’m alright,” he breathes, and pushes past me to head up a different hallway.  He walks slumped, looking down at the ground somewhat discreetly.

    

    Cody looks in each room briefly, scanning it with his eyes.  I am not sure of what he’s looking for, but eventually he finds it, straightening up and heading inside.  Cautiously, I follow him in.

    Inside the room is a variety of chemistry equipment - beakers, chemicals, burners, anything and everything he might need.  He’s already spreading his items out on the desk, scribbling furiously in his dark blue notebook.  From my angle I can see all of the notes he’s taken.  They cover the page in different sizes.  There are charts and small sketches all over.  Sometimes the print is extremely straight and neat, and other times it’s drawing and looping, scribbles that only he might be able to read without careful examination.

    Cody glances up from his work slowly, his eyes fixing on me.  He scans me for a few long moments, and then he leans even further over his notebook.

    “Need any help?” I ask, stepping carefully into the room, putting my feet in front of each other in slow motion.

    He looks up again, in the same fashion, and he stares at me, shooting daggers.  “No,” he states finally.  Then he straightens up and grabs a vial of some sort of chemical off of the nearby shelf, quickly returning to his work.

    “O-kay,” I say, turning on my heel to walk out of the room.  I see a shadow in front of the door, but they move away quickly - not an Infected.

    Turning as I reach the doorway, I fix my eyes on Cody for a last time, but he is absorbed in his work and doesn’t even notice.  Sighing, I walk back out into the hallway.

    “What’s up?” Dad says, patting my back and turning to walk back with me.  The rest of the group is standing in the entrance, looking around the building and taking everything in.  It is an extremely nice building, and one of the cleanest we’ve seen in a long time.

    It’s a bright white, and the walls are adorned with all sorts of paintings and artwork.  The tiling on the floor is in a checkerboard pattern, with reds and blues and whites.  Hospitals usually make me a bit squeamish, but I enjoy the sights.  It’s nice to see after weeks of terror and uncertainty.

    “Cody’s just doing some research,” I explain, looking down at the ground.  My hands are in my pockets and I am slightly shuffling, but I look up when I reach the entrance hall.

    I give a tiny wave to everyone else.  Teddy smiles at me and Miles purses his lips in a small, sympathetic motion.

    Miles nods towards a small armchair in the corner of the entrance hall.  There are three different hallways heading off of it - the one I cleared, the one Cody cleared, and the one that Cody is working in now.

    We pause around the chair, and finally we wave for Dad to sit.  Teddy jumps into his lap, sitting daintily on my dad’s knee.

    Miles starts talking randomly, about any topic that comes to mind.  I’m only half listening as Teddy and my dad join in, but it’s nice to hear the buzz of all of their voices blending like we’re at the dinner table again instead of in the middle of an epidemic.

    The buzz stops after a little while and I snap out of my trance-like state, looking up to see Cody standing stiffly at the end of the hallway.

    “Hey, Cody,” Dad says.  “What’s going on?”

    He looks around for a moment and awkwardly walks over to us.  “The-the research is going alright,” he states.

    We all nod, waiting for him to say more.  The way he ended his sentence made it sound as if he was leading into something.

    “I thought I only needed a little more after I… um, tested Miles.  But the chemical reacts in different ways - I need some more tests.”  He’s rubbing his foot on the floor, arms behind his back.  He looks almost like a little kid confessing that he broke the window to his parents.

    Then Cody takes a deep breath and folds his hands in front of him.

    “I need a newly infected person for my tests.  Just briefly, and then I’ll have the cure.” he explains.  “Probably….” he adds, muttering.

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