The boy and I continue our chase, but I am slowing down, losing energy. The injection he gave me must have been some sort of concoction to slow down my body. I am slumped over as my feet shuffle to get to him.
He walks over to a table pushed against the back wall of the room and pulls it to the center with a loud scraping sound. Then he steps back, eyeing the table before walking back over to me. He grabs my outstretched arms and swings me around towards the table, pushing me onto my back like an overturned turtle. The boy pins my arms down and takes a small vial out of a small bag at his side. It has a blue liquid inside of it.
He uses his chest to lay on my kicking feet, pinning them down as well, and shimmies himself up to a sitting position on my stomach once again. My mouth is opening and closing, biting at him, and he lets go of my arms, holding the vial up high so I cannot get to it. He uncorks the vial carefully, then turns his body so he can hold down at least one of my arms down with his leg.
The boy brings down the vial at my face and my arm rises - the arm he isn’t resting his leg on - and swats at the vial. The boy is attempting to push my arm away, the vial shaking viciously, but to no avail.
I want to stop myself, but I also desire to scratch him. I try desperately to move my arm, to cry out, but I cannot. I feel nothing, I can only think. I’m trapped.
Me - the creature imprisoning me - prevails at hitting the vial, sending it flying. It hits the ground of the room with a loud shattering sound, seeming as if it’s going in slow motion. The boy turns his head towards the sound. I cannot see his face due to the mask he’s wearing, but I know he’s devastated, hurt, terrified. It’s how I want to feel, how I would feel.
He pounds his hand down on the table, crying out furiously in a rage. He grabs my arms again and slides off of my stomach to the side. The boy starts to pace back and forth, then exits the room quickly. All of the people that were outside of the window following him, their mouths all moving at once. Shambling, I follow them, but as soon as they’re out of sight, the walls obscuring my view, I stop. I stumble slowly to the center of the room and stand when I get there, doing nothing. Feeling nothing.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I don’t know how long I was standing there, but eventually I see a few faces walk by my window, stopping to watch again. The boy is there, mask off, and he looks exhausted, but somewhat proud. His facial features are contorted in a way that conveys a sense of triumph.
The boy says something to the other people outside. They all smile to him, and he gives them a small smile back. His eyes are softer now, as if he’s much more relaxed than he was earlier.
He nods a couple times, then places the mask on his face. He pulls gloves on as well and then walks into the room, giving a thumbs-up to everyone outside of the room.
Facing him, I totter towards him. Once again, he pushes me onto the table. This time, though, he uses his arm to hold down my neck. My mouth is open and he quickly opens another vial, uncorks it, and spins it over my mouth. He takes my right hand and squeezes it, making me swallow the concoction.
I can hear him sigh with relief, slowly getting off of the table.
Immediately I start to remember little things. I can remember that this boy is named Cody, and that he was - is - a scientist. I believe he infected me, but now he’s cured me.
That boy outside, the other teenager, is named Miles, and he and I used to go to high school together. He is quite annoying, but I’m excited to see his face again. It’s nice to see someone I recognize, to feel these emotions again.
Then there’s the little boy outside, and I know he has some relation to me. The memories start to resurface, him growing up, and that can only mean that he’s my little brother.
And the man standing with him - he can only be my father. Everything floods back, faster and faster, and my head is pounding. I cry out and Cody turns.
Then I realize I cried out. I made a sound, I controlled myself somehow.
It is difficult to move, to do anything by myself. I wiggle my fingers a little bit and my joints explode with pain.
“Help,” I breathe weakly. My voice is breathy and brittle, and Cody walks over to me, taking off his mask, only his mask. He seems as if he’s still afraid I’m contagious, but I doubt I am - I feel incredibly better already.
I can remember that my mom died. When Teddy was born, that boy outside. How my father, Mike, helped us get to where we are today.
“Are you alright?” Cody asks.
I cannot nod my head, so I breathe out, “No,” and Cody sits on the edge of the bed gingerly.
“It’ll hurt for a little while,” he tells me sympathetically. For once, he’s looking at me softly, as if he’s truly seeing me for the first time. He doesn’t have a sense of pride, or superiority, or pity - he sees me as an equal. As I see him.
“How old is your little brother?” he asks me. A test to see if I’m alright.
“He’s nine,” I respond, glancing over to the window and seeing my father nodding. He can’t hear me, but he’s reassuring himself that I’m okay, that I will be alright.
Cody nods. “How did your mom die?” He speaks this question quietly, averting his eyes from mine when he asks it.
“She was infected, and it killed her,” I respond. I keep my voice steady, my eyes on him, not wanting to show any more weakness. As far as I know, I’m rock-hard according to these people - I don’t want them to change their view of me just because of a little illness.
Then I realize that this isn’t a little illness. The entire reason we’re here, we’re together, is because people have died. Our families have died. Other people were infected and are now walking again, just shells, like I was and like Miles was.
“Ebony, you’re going to be okay. That antidote worked on you, and the first one should’ve as well, but I never got to test it,” he explains with a bit of annoyance in his voice.
“Hey, I couldn’t control myself,” I retort playfully. He chuckles a bit, looking down and smiling. He has a nice smile, and a cute laugh, almost as if he’s embarrassed of it. I like it - maybe I can get him to laugh again.
“The second antidote I made should include immunity boosters. We’ll be somewhat immune to it - instead of being able to kill us, the worst it could give us is a bad flu.” he rambles, using his hands to talk and waving them around. “I’m going to give all of our group an injection, and then we can go out and help around, alright?”
“Sure, but can I have a little time to heal first?” I ask, trying to sit up. Pain shoots through my upper body as I use my arms to push myself up and I whimper. Cody helps to get me up and in a sitting position, me leaning on his shoulder for support. We sit like that for a little while, in silence, thinking about all we’ve been through.
This epidemic is over. We’ve won.