When I wake up, Kaylee is moaning and writhing around, seizing again. I jump up from my makeshift cot and run over to her, turning her again on her side. It stops soon and she is unconscious again.
I fold up the mat I was sleeping on and put it in my bag, packing up a bit. No matter what, I have to leave for the camp tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest. I don’t care if that means carrying Kaylee or having her walk beside me, or even if I have to put her down. Putting her down will be extremely painful, but there will come a time when I will have to - nobody survives the disease without medicine, and I haven’t heard of anybody that’s survived period.
I feel bad for Kaylee, but at this point I feel almost numb to the fact that she’s sick and that my family is missing. I will find my family, and Kaylee will go in a peaceful way. I do not feel - I just know the information.
She grunts and I head over to her, still keeping my distance a little bit.
“What is your name?” I ask her cautiously.
“Kay… Kaylee,” she states, a bit unconvinced.
“What is my name?”
She looks at me with pure confusion and terror. “Who are you? Where am I?”
My heart skips a beat. She’s becoming an Infected, her memories leaving her one by one, and rather quickly. Names are usually the last to go - she must have been progressing throughout the course of the night. It must not be painful - I was restless and did not hear her at all. I wonder now if she lay awake all night thinking about all of the blank space in her brain now.
I walk back over to where my items are spread out and I start to pack. The last thing I pick up is the map, and I study it carefully, looking at the general area where I am currently staying and where the camp is.
Then I walk around the small area I have wired off and take it down, coiling it carefully and tightly. The tarp is folded, and all of my belongings are packed. The last order of business is Kaylee.
“What am I doing here? Take me home, now!” she is screaming. That is when it starts to hit me, the numbing starts to wear off. It scares me, honestly.
A sob wracks my body, but I try to keep myself cool. I hit Kaylee over the head with my heaviest bag and she falls to the ground with a loud thump.
I then take out my gun with the silencer and I line it up with her temple. I want to make sure it’s painless for her, quick, and the easiest way to kill her. I don’t want her to suffer, and my finger rests on the trigger, tensed. I relax a bit, roll out my shoulders, and close my eyes.
Then I pull.
I check for a pulse on her, sad to find that there is none. I bring her body over to the highway and prop her up on the barrier. It looks like she’s sleeping, or waiting for a ride, instead of dead after pain and suffering in this cold, hard world now.
I miss her immediately. The memories we created, while slim, replay in my head, over and over again. She saved my life more times than I can count, and I want to say that I saved hers. But I don’t think me saving her life matters anymore - it was me who ended it.
Teddy and my dad would have loved her. She was kind and sweet, always smiling and joking. If she could make the best out of a situation, she could. It wasn’t often, but I knew the kind of person she was. Leah was very similar to Kaylee, very optimistic and kind. Her heart was gigantic. I miss them both incredibly.
Leah was so much different than anybody I had ever met. The same goes for Brielle, but Brielle was more of a popular type, enjoying dresses and ribbons. We all had great times together, and to think that both of them, as well as Kaylee, are gone now is almost unbearable. But I know I can bear it, I know I’ll make it through. Not everybody I love is gone just yet - I will find my dad and Teddy.
I start to head down the highway, constantly checking my surroundings for Infecteds and Reds. A few hours pass and I decide to hunt a bit, setting up a few traps by the highway. Once they’re set, I sit down to examine the map a bit more.
I notice a familiar name scratched into the surrounding area of the camp, but I can’t quite make it out. It looks like the name of my old school - it easily could be. I’ll have to check, make sure, but it would be a nice surprise - something I’m actually familiar with in this confusing world.
Eventually, I look up and shake myself out of my head, then walk over to the traps I’ve set and take them down. A squirrel is caught in one of them, dead, which is the only one that seems to have been set off.
The traps are all taken down and I head off by the highway again. The sun is in front of me, the sky turning orange, and I realize that it’ll be night soon. I walk as far as I can before I start seeing stars and then I find a small clearing off of the highway. Instead of stringing the wire, I take some rope and cloth that I had in my bag and string it. Then I tie a few empty cans to the rope, cans of food that Kaylee and I had eaten, and I rattle them a bit. If a creature comes, they’ll rattle the cans loudly, and I know it will wake me up. I barely sleep nowadays anyway.
I create a flame in a small pit that I make out of rocks and continue to study the map. It makes me so nervous, looking at it, and I don’t know why. I think I’m anxious to reach the camp and not find my family there. I’m nervous for the swarms that I know I will encounter, but I will fight and go down fighting.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Finally the morning comes and I pack everything up. I got a few winks of sleep, but not enough to exactly count as sleeping. I feel energized and excited.
I start to head off after I’m all packed, heading still down the highway and to the west. I run for periods, wanting to get to the camp as fast as I can.
While I’m walking after a few hours or so, I look up and see the top of the high school that I used to go to. I start to run, but I fall and twist my ankle, spilling my bags all over. My first thought is to look around for Infecteds, and upon seeing none, I crawl over to my nearest bag and pick it up. I then lift myself up on my elbows and try to hoist my body up. After a few falls, I am able to get on my feet. My ankle is very obviously swollen and it hurts when I put my weight on it, but I limp over to the other bags spilled on the road and pick them up, slinging them over my shoulder.
The school isn’t too far away, and I start to limp towards it. I have to take a few breaks throughout the course of the journey, but I eventually make it to school, the sun nearly overhead.
I hobble over the familiar tile, surveying the cracking walls and the dirty floors. It’s so much different than I remember it but at the same time it’s barely changed, and the structuring is so familiar that it nearly overwhelms me.
Following the corridors, I head into the gymnasium, where there are bleachers and lots of space, with few doors leading out of it. Upon walking inside, I only spot a few Infecteds. I take out my gun and shoot them all, and they all fall to the floor soundlessly. I’ll have to dispose of the bodies when I’m strong enough, but for now I will simply stay away from them.
I once again drop all of my bags, placing them onto the bleachers, and then I use them as a support to walk over to the door in the corner of the gymnasium. It’s slightly ajar, so when I get there I shut it quickly and lock it with the deadlock on the door.
Hopping, I head over to the side door. This door is completely open, and I can see how the Infecteds got in. Thankfully, I didn’t know any of them, or at least I don’t think I do. I’ll have to check soon anyway.
Before I shut the door, I look out and see the highway I was heading down, and I am able to see where I would be heading at the moment. Up above the treeline I see a large trail of smoke. It’s not in the direction that my house was, so it has to be the camp that I’ve been heading towards.
A civilization, almost. With people and rules and order. I’m excited to get there. I’m excited to see fellow survivors, people who have been through the same things and in the same situations. I am simply and utterly excited.
My ankle is throbbing, so I decide to lie down for the night. There’s not much I can do without my leg, so maybe I’ll sleep and head out in the night. It feels odd, getting ready to sleep in the middle of the day, but I am grateful for a free block of time when I can finally not worry about the impending danger all around me.
For now, I know I’m safe and that my family is most likely safe somewhere. For now, that is all that matters.