It doesn’t take very long to make quite a few vials of the antidote. I make around ten of them, and my father and brother, working together, made around fifteen. It’s enough to get us started, and the materials don’t run out too quickly, so we’ll be able to make enough for so many of the creatures outside.
Another upside to making it is that it’s easy to make, even while walking around, as I’ve been mixing as I examine the room and getting the supplies to make them.
I start work on my eleventh vial when Cody and Miles are standing at the door. Miles is smiling, but Cody looks serious, not in a grave sense, but in a sense where he has nothing to smile at.
“Hey, we’re ready!” Miles addresses. He walks over towards me. “How’s your work going?”
I look up at him from the vial, swirling the liquid around. “It’s going great,” I tell him, giving him a small smile as well and trying to make it look realistic.
“We’re just going to give you two shots, okay?” Miles explains to Teddy and my dad, leaning down so he’s eye level with Ted. They both nod and I turn back to my work, finishing up my eleventh vial as they receive the medication.
“Miles, did you get a shot as well?” I ask, and he nods, rolling up his sleeve to reveal a cotton ball taped onto his upper arm.
“Okay, are you guys ready? Teddy, Mike, you guys can continue mixing while we walk, if that’s alright with you,” Cody remarks, waiting for them to respond. Both of them look to each other, nod, and then turn back to Cody. “Good, okay. Ebony, Miles, you guys can help me inject the creatures. It’s just in the upper arm, but it doesn’t matter to a point. Just don’t stab them too hard. And don’t get scratched.” he warns. We all help to pack up the materials, putting all of them into one bag, which Dad slings over his shoulder.
And like that, we’re off. We head out of the hospital slowly, all looking around and making sure that we haven’t forgotten anything. We find nothing that we might’ve left or wanted, and Miles opens the door for all of us with a creak, holding it open so we can all exit.
Our group starts to head through the woods, not finding any creatures. My father and Teddy continue to make the antidotes, working together and reaching periodically into the duffel bag containing materials. They hand all of the finished vials to Cody, who places them in his smaller bag. He asks for a sweatshirt or some article of clothing and I hand him my jacket.
“I want to create some kind of cushion for the glass. I don’t want them breaking,” he spells out.
After what feels to be about half an hour, we see a few creatures meandering around the forest. The first two have red eyes already. Miles and I take two of the needles and fill them with a bit of the antidote. I jerk my head towards the one on the right and Miles nods, veering slightly left.
I stick the needle into its arm somewhat carefully. I look into its eyes to see any change, but there is none for a few seconds.
Then it falls to the ground with a thump. I take its pulse, trying to see if its alright, but it’s beyond saving - dead.
Miles walks over to me. “What happened?” he inquires, confused. I’m confused too, but I take another needle and head over to the next one. This one does not have red eyes and I inject it.
It falls to the ground but its eyes stay open. The creature moans - still alive.
“Their eyes,” I remark, surprised. “I think that if they have red eyes, they’re gone already. No use injecting them. But the ones without red eyes are okay, they can still be saved.”
Cody walks over to me as I explain. “Seems logical,” he agrees, and we continue on. There are three more in the herd, and one of them has red eyes. I kill that one quickly, but the other two are injected, falling to the ground but still alive, still healing.
Then we continue walking around the woods. Teddy and my dad are working in perfect unison, making the antidotes, and Miles, Cody, and I are also working in perfect sync, killing the creatures that need to be killed and injecting the ones who we are able to save.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We sweep the forest until nightfall. It gets dark quickly once the sun starts to set, but we have no reason to fear. We have each other, an antidote, an immunity. For now, we are safe.
“Ebony, Ted, we should probably head somewhere. Find a place to stay.” my dad offers.
Cody chimes in, “I think I’m going to keep going, follow the highway down. You guys take half of the supplies, and then maybe you might find more. I might find more. I have to keep going, though. I won’t be satisfied unless I keep going.”
Everyone is silent, looking down at the ground and into the trees, not wanting to look at eachother. The emotion, the tension, is almost tangible, but it’s finally broken by a sweet, high-pitched voice.
“I’m so happy I got to meet you,” Teddy tells Cody, hugging his leg. Cody picks him up with a sweeping motion of his arm and hugs him, swinging him around.
“Don’t ever change, little buddy,” I hear him say. Cody puts down Teddy and walks in front of me, marching like a soldier with his hands down at his sides, balled into fists.
“I hope our paths cross again one day, Ms. Ebony.” he tells me, taking my hand and kissing it formally.
I giggle and he stands, turning then to my father and Miles. “You men, stay out of trouble,” he tells them, hugging each of them in turn. Their hugs seem rough, with pats on the back, but the emotion is still raw and powerful.
Miles helps Cody to split up the remaining supplies. Our group gets over half of them, but Cody explains that we have a bigger group, more ground to cover. Then he heads off towards the moon, waving at us until his silhouette disappears behind the forest.
“I’m glad I’ll finally get to know you,” Miles states next to me, quietly, so only I can hear. I laugh and take his hand, then taking Teddy’s hand with my other one. Teddy takes my father’s hand and we’re connected as one, together as one. Survivors.
Our group, our broken family, turns the other way and starts to walk, heading diagonally towards the highway. We’ll follow it in the opposite direction, find a home. We will rise from the ashes of civilization like phoenixes, ready to start anew.
And with that, we begin to wander, wondering what the future will bring. We have beat this terrifying time, together. We may be broken, cut up, bruised. Our minds have been traumatized, but we survived, lived when so many others have died. Countries have fallen, entire cities burned to the ground, and yet we remain.