Day 39

 I do not sleep all night. There is chaos in the city. Sirens blare through the cold night and there are lights, indicating several fires. People riot and run equally. The zombies escaped the compound we had been in and are in the city. We are parked in the same garage we had been in that first night after escaping. We grabbed food and water from the back of the Hummer and feed Dawn, Charlotte and Seeley. Waking each up to make sure the eat. It takes some time to feed them and get them to drink, but eventually each is filled and sleeping, color already coming back to their faces.

I flex my fingers as Josh and I sit in the Hummer, Connor on my lap, discussing options on getting out of the city. Neither of us know what the borders look like, except for the one we came in through. I was unconscious and Josh says there is not much to see. They passed into the city and drove for ten or so minutes before arriving. We could go out the way we came, however, we want to travel east and south. If we can get out, we need to get out on the East of the city.

Everyone is still sleeping, I am holding Connor and Josh is driving us out of the city. The chaos is growing. I have yet to see a zombie and still people are running as if they have come in the thousands to destroy the city. Many try to get into the Hummer with us. All it takes to get them off, however, and at least at this point, is a wave of my gun. I know, that soon, that will not matter.

As we move through the city, and a slow rate to avoid hitting anyone, the chaos grows. We see a zombie for the first time in the city near down town. The thing is dressed in normal clothes and heavily scarred. There is a gash across its leg and it is obvious by the lack of flesh on its arm that a zombie had killed it by eating off of that arm. It is running after a man who had been carrying a protesters sign. It is ironic, and the sign says, “Zombies are people too.” I want to laugh, but can’t bring myself to, which is probably for the better. Josh stops the car, gets out and fires several rounds towards the thing. He hits its head and it dies. The man running from it stops and, resting his hands on his knees, panting, nods towards Josh in thanks.

He gets back in the car and continues driving through the crowds. There are more and more cars on the road. People trying to escape the city, trying to get out with anything and everything they could. I can tell Josh is getting anxious with more and more people, which brings more and more violence. I lean over and set Connor between Dawn and the door, making sure the door is locked. I then grab my pistol and rest it on my lap, still holding it cautiously.

We follow the main road, and occasional Highway sign but things are slowing down. Soon we are at a standstill with people all around us running and fighting. I spot another zombie tackle someone, but no one helps they stand back and watch or run.

“Lock the doors after me,” I say, and step out of the car. I have my M21 in hand and run to where the zombie is. I shoot it in the head and kill it. The woman it had tackled does not look to be bitten or have any blood on her that would compromise her and so I let her be. I turn back to where Josh is sitting idle and run back. There are people all around and I can see a lot of commotion up the street. I hold my finger up to Josh, indicating for him to wait and run up the street.

There is a light drizzle as I run and I can see that it will only be getting worse. The sky is dark and gray with low clouds. I can see in the distance areas where it is raining harder and expect that to be here soon. I run up the road for nearly half a mile when I see them. Military tanks, soldiers. It’s impossible. How could they have this type of military force. There is a blockade stopping cars from leaving the city. I run up to it to speak with one of the men standing at the barricade.

“What is going on?” I ask.

“We’re quarantining the city,” he says shortly, blowing me off quickly.

“Where’d the tanks and soldiers come from?”

“We recruited army personnel after the outbreak, in order to keep quarantine if such an outbreak happened here. These are all civilian volunteers.”

“The tanks?” he ignores me. “How is it you have so many tanks?”

“Sir, I am going to have to ask you to leave now.” I look at him, and he looks at my rifle. I grip it tighter and walk away.

The rain starts to fall harder and when I get back to the Hummer I am drenched. Josh is helping Dawn take a drink of water. Charlotte is awake and eating and Seeley also has a cracker in either hand. “We need to get somewhere safe,” I say. They’ve quarantined the city, but I can only see this ending badly.”

“Wait, what?” Josh says, “Wouldn’t quarantining just make more zombies?”

“I don’t think they want to let it get out. But I don’t think they know what it is like out there. With no communication or anything they may think that there are a lot of other cities like this one.”

“If only they could see Sacramento.”

We pull out of the line and drive slowly another direction, looking for a good place to weather through this. The chaos around us is growing and we know we need to hurry, but there is little we can do. Occasionally, someone will jump on the car, trying to get us out. Once Josh got out, put his gun to the mans head and said something to him. The man got off, looked in, and then walked away. The further away from downtown we got the less people were there. Or maybe it was just this section of the city.

Dawn spotted a building, a few stories high and looked like a hotel. He drove to it and found it to be abandoned with a sign on the door saying they’d left town. I broke in through a window and let the rest in. We’d later move the supplies up and wait. Wait for everything to explode and then die into a dead city like Sacramento, or Reno or Medicino.

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Day 38

 I spend much of the day looking through the local buildings that are near the testing facility we were in. It is a long process. I go into each building and check each floor. One at a time. Calling out to them. Opening countless doors. But there is no sign of them. There are several buildings still in use. Corporations still working on different projects or other companies doing things that I assume are meant to get them ahead during a zombie take over. It makes little sense to me, but then again, business always has. Other buildings are in use by charity organizations, rebels and rioters, or protesting headquarters. I ask questions about what’s happened in the country, and ask about my wife, but they seem to be less informed than I am in the state of things, and have not seen two women and a baby.

I decide to go back and spend the last hour of daylight with Connor. I’ve checked the buildings with no sign of them and feel that I need to say goodbye to him, just in case. I bring a dinner that I stole. It’s nothing like a chicken, but I am able to smuggle dry Ramen noodles and some juice. Connor’s face lights up to the purple drink and asks if he can pour it. For a moment I feel like I am back at home, fighting him to let me pour the very full bottle of juice. I let him pour this one into the plastic cups we find in the building. I give him a hug before I go, and tell Josh not to try to find me if I don’t come back and to take care of Connor. He wheezes an acknowledgement and I leave, saying goodbye one more time. Telling him I love him.

No one leaves. I don’t know what I expected, car’s leaving filled with people going home, the staff decreasing. But in a city like this, normal behavior is far from what it was less than two months ago. As I walk closer to the building, out of an alley way a man appears with a knife. I raise my rifle at him and just stare.

“It’s cool, Man.” He says, raising his hands. I notice he doesn’t drop the knife.

“Leave it.” I motion the rifle to his hand, pointing to the knife. He drops it and walks away. I grab the knife and throw it in a drain, lining the curb. There is a fence with barbed wire around it and a single whole of fallen down chain link where we had driven the hummer through. It has not been fixed. I walk across it, the rifle in front of me. It is dark and I am unable to see movement as I walk up to the building. There is a guard building and I look in it as I walk by it from a distance. No one is in it.

I run up and get to the entrance, or exit, that we had taken to get to the Hummer. There are lights on, some flickering, that light up the hallway with white neutrality. I do not hear any movement, however, I am still a ways away from where we were held. The rifle is in front of me as I walk and I sight down in. But still I see no one.

The halls that we were held in are now void of Chad’s body, which I am grateful for, however there is still a large blood stain on the floor where he fell and a streak of blood for some feet, showing the direction he was dragged. I feel like throwing up. Not from the gore, but from the fact that what I am seeing was from Chad. A light flickers and I jump, turning towards the light. I remember then smashing the vile of blood on Doctor Grants skin. And I realize he could be in here.

One thing I’ve realized over these events are that the zombies are most deadly when alone. They are quiet and patient, it seems. They attack using surprise. It is when they are in a group that they become predictable and loud. I walk slowly, tuning around the hall, checking each and every door for any signs of them. On the second hall, the same Connor was on, there is a room that looks used. It is the first, other than those I, Connor, Josh and Chad were in, that has any indication of someone being in it. There is one other. Empty as well. With there being two, it gives me hope that Seeley had been in the same room as Dawn. My room’s door is empty and Doctor Grant is not in it. Anxiously, I look around.

There is a second story to the building that I had noticed from the outside. I go into the stairwell and the lights are off. I do not have a light and so try locking the door open. It gives a little light, but not much by the time I am up on the second level.

This level is dark. Not like the stairwell, there are some windows, but they are few. Most of the light filters through windows on some of the doors. I creep along as quietly as possible. My nerves are getting the better of me and I jerk around at random times, feeling as though someone or something is behind me, following me. I can feel the eyes, but each time I turn there is nothing, (from what I can see), there.

I can see where the hall turns to the right and there is a flickering light coming from that hallway. It only comes on for several seconds, blinking as it does so, not allowing a steady stream of light. As I near the hall I notice papers littering the floor, documents typed out as well as many hand written. There is a knocked over tray with food, crackers and some meat with juice lying on the floor. I check each room, but do not see them, or any signs of them.

I round the corner slowly, looking down the length of the hall. It is dark, the flickering light has stopped. There is less light coming through the rooms and I try opening my eyes more to allow more light in. It doesn’t help. My rifle is in front of me, ready to fire, but I have lowered it slightly to have a better view. I look in the first doors window, but there is only a small room—office looking.

I turn back and look down the hall. The light flickers again and in the brief light I see the silhouette of a man some distance down the hall. The light goes out again and I let out a quick scream, realizing what I just saw. I hear rustling and can see the light on the left hand side of the hall blink out and come back as something blocks the light from hitting the wall briefly. I stumble backwards, trying to get my rifle up and fire. The rounds are loud and echo through the hall. Each of which lights the hallway for a second. I can see the figure running towards me and I try to aim in the dark. I hear it scream, but whether it is from me hitting it I cannot tell.. I fire several times more and hear it stumble and land hard on the ground. I walk towards it, and see it as the light flickers again. It is starting to get up. It is in a guards uniform, but most definitely a zombie I quickly aim, and in the dark fire at where I think its head should be.

I hear it drop from its arms and slump over, dead.

Instantly, I know why the guard is a zombie, and I know there are more in the building. And, I know that they heard the shots.

There is banging coming from somewhere down the hall. It is faint, but I can hear it. I move closer, not sure of the source and as I do I hear a faint voice, almost a whisper. “Help.” There is another voice and I know it instantly, it is Dawn.

I hurry down the hall, still attempting to be cautious. I can hear them louder now and I start checking each of the rooms. I find the one the banging is coming from and look in the window. Dawn, Charlotte and Seeley are there. They see me and start to cry. Seeley is in Dawns arms and looks dead. Panicking, I check the door. It is obviously locked, and after getting them to go up against the wall I fire a round at the lock. The door swings open.

No one gets up as I rush in. I give Dawn a hug and inquire about Seeley. He is alive, but only just barely. They’ve had some water but no food in almost three days, they tell me. Each is week. I have a water bottle in my bag and I get it out, allowing each of them to drink. Seeley wakes briefly and drinks. He starts to cry.

“Shit,” Charlotte swears, “they’ll hear the crying.”

“They’ve already heard my gun. Can you guys walk?”

Dawn nods but doesn’t speak. They look frail, as though there is almost nothing left of them.

“OK,” I hand Charlotte a pistol from my bag, Dawn carries Seeley in both arms and we leave, going slow. I am alert and move from the front to the back regularly. I hear no movement other than ours and assume that anything on this floor has filtered down to the first. However, as I am thinking this I hear rustling behind us and I turn to see something running directly towards us.

“Keep going,” I say as I wheel around them and soon start firing. We are near the stairwell and the light in the hall is better. I kill the thing as another comes around the corner. This one stumbles several times before getting back up. I fire several bullets and drop it when it is only a few yards away.

There are shots in the stairwell. I run towards them and by the time I get down the stairs they are out and walking as fast as they can down the hall. At the bottom of the stairwell is a zombie, head blown in. I chase after them, and lead them out of the building. It is dark outside, the only light coming from bright lamps around the building.

Charlotte passes out as we go down towards the fence and I pick her up, cradling her as I walk along side Dawn.

“Are you OK? You gonna make it?”

She is panting, and even in the sparse light I can see that she is very pale. “Yeah, I think I’ll be OK as long as it is close.”

“It is.” I stop as I hear screams coming from the building. It is that same scream that I’ve heard so often. That which comes from the zombies. We need to run, but can’t. I throw Charlotte over my shoulder and raise my weapon up, firing several times, hoping Josh will see and help us.

I see headlights in front of us. We are running and I can tell Dawn has little energy left. They pull out of the alley our Hummer was in and move towards us. It is Josh. Dawn collapses but turns her body, holding onto Seeley as she does. I stop, put Charlotte down near her and check her. She’s breathing and so is Seeley. Charlotte as well looks in a bad state, but is breathing. I hear the scream mixed with the accelerating engine. I see several zombies running towards us as fast as they can. I start to fire at them as Josh pulls up. Connor is in the passenger seat, buckled in awkwardly.

“Grab them,” I yell as I fire once more. Josh gets out and grabs Charlotte, the closest to him, first, placing her in a seat. He then picks up Seeley and lays him on the back seat. Dawn is next and as Josh and I get in zombies are on us, just as we close the door. I buckle everyone in and hold Seeley as Josh turns the car around and heads away from the building and away from where we had stayed for nights, before.

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Day 37

 Josh leaves the building in the late morning after discussing our best way of finding the others. He is planning on visiting the surrounding buildings to see if they are waiting for us to come out, watching from a window. Essentially doing the same thing we are doing. We watched a group of protesters march down the street this morning, chanting something about how zombies are living creatures too and should be respected and not studied and dissected. They were marching and yelling near the building we had escaped from and so I assumed that they thought they captured and experimented on zombies. My first inclination was to blow it off, thinking that they obviously did not know what they are talking about. However, how were they able to test my bodies immunity and know that I am immune to the zombies? There must be some way to test it. And so maybe there were zombies in there.

The ignorance of these protesters annoys me. None of them, I am sure, has ever actually lived out there—outside of their borders—and experienced what these things are really like. There is nothing humane about them. They are evil and conscious-less.

I wait with Connor in our building. Continually staying by the window, watching for them. Connor is acting relatively normal, but I can tell that the experience is still fresh. We play simple games up in our room. He chases me and I let him catch me, falling to the ground as he laughs and as I laugh. Spending the day with him, devoted to him seems important. I think he needs it. I check the window less and less as time goes by. We continue to play, we explore the room and several others. I try to teach him some spelling and we both take a nap together.

Before all of this happened I did not have a lot of time to spend with my kids. It is not that I worked too much, but that I worked so that my wife could stay with them, and I went to school. There were times when I did not see Connor or Seeley for one or two days because of leaving early for work and getting home late from school. Those days were hard and lonely. I wish there had been another way to see them more often, but something about this day makes up for it. And I realize that when I wake up; Connor is next to me, resting his head on my right arm which is lying limply, cast still on my hand, supporting his head. He still sleeping. We are laying on the floor with blankets we’d grabbed from the Hummer around us. It is cold, but the building still seems to have some working heating system in it. It is moments like this when I feel like everything is going to be OK. That we will find a place to live and start over. Maybe the zombies will die. Maybe there is hope in this world.

After this week, after losing my family I feel as though I owe it to them to believe there was a way out of this. That there has to be somewhere we can go and live, and bring up a family. Somewhere we can start over.

Josh comes back just before sunset. He has some paper bags in his hands and drops them as he walks in. He is hurt.

I rush over to him but he waves me off. It isn’t really anything. He is not bleeding from what I can tell and then I notice a bruise on his cheek and some blood on his hands.

“What happened?” I ask, grabbing the bags, noticing he’d brought back food. There are also several books in the bags, two of which are for Connor. He doesn’t respond for some time and while I wait I dish Connor up some of the cold chicken he’d brought with a slice of bread. He starts eating as Josh responds.

“I was jumped. They got me from behind and knocked me to the ground. Started kicking me. I don’t know what happened. I lost it, or maybe I was confused—” he pauses. Looking towards his hands. “There was one stepping on my neck while the others kicked me. I reached under me and pulled out my gun. I shot the man holding me down and the others ran away after.”

I put my arm around him, “things are different now,” I say, “they could have killed you, and then where would we be? Sometimes, Josh, you need to do what is required. I know it’s hard, but it gets better.”

He never saw them. They were not any any surrounding building. Nowhere near by. We make plans for tomorrow. Doing basically the same thing. I am nervous about leaving, but I don’t want Josh to leave each time. It is too dangerous to have Connor out. There is something worse about having to fight people who are, at least in my, consciously aware of what they are doing. Suddenly Josh, who was laying on the floor sits up.

“We need to check the building. Uh . . . the place we came from.”

“What?! Why?”

“We don’t know if he was telling the truth about letting them go. He never told me anything like that. Only you.”

I swear out loud. Josh is right. And for hours more, going into the night we plan on how we can get in and out. I will be the one to go. Josh will stay here with Connor. Josh is breathing harshly, and still shaken from the event. I use the machete, just before going to sleep, to saw off the cast on my hand. It aches and the fingers are stiff and obviously still broken, but I can move them. I grip the handle of my machete and test my strength. There is enough. I hold up a rifle and it is easier than I thought it would have been to hold it and pull the trigger.

I look at Connor. He is sleeping in his nest of blankets on the floor. Josh is sitting near him reading a book. He looks up at me and tells me to get some sleep. I’ll be out most of tomorrow, checking the surrounding buildings again, and then, after dark, will be moving into the building to try and find the others.

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Day 36

 It is dark; sometime in the middle of the night. We find a parking garage and drive up about three stories before pulling into a stall and park the car. No body talks. Josh, Connor and I just keep to our own thoughts. Chad is dead. And who would have thought it would be from a human. A non-zombie. Even during everything that has happened in the last month, humanity is no better than it was before. In fact, it may just be worse.

I am sick inside and hold Connor, who has now fallen asleep, close to my chest. He gives me some comfort in all of this. Chad did not die pointlessly. He provided away for my son to escape. I feel that I owe him a great debt. I wish his family could have been with us. I think things would have been different. I can’t help but think that we’d all still be together. But now Chad is gone and my wife and son and even Charlotte are separated from us by an entire city.

I look over at Josh and he is asleep. I can’t blame him. I know I will be asleep soon. I am emotionally drained and want nothing more than to leave everything behind. Forget everything that happened today, and since a few days ago, and a month ago. I lean the chair back slowly as to not wake up Connor, and finally drift off into a sleep filled with blood, murder and death. Chad found his way into my dreams. He stood with Crystal, holding hands, Clive somewhere playing behind them when they turn, looking dreadfully at me and leave me, alone and tired and sobbing.

I woke several times in the night. Partially from discomfort but mostly because of the reoccurring dreams. Connor was still asleep and so, after slowly raising my chair up a bit I looked out over the city in the morning light.

The sun is just coming up, peaking around buildings and leaving long shadows on the streets. There are few cars on the road, many speeding much faster than I felt was wise, especially in a city. In fact it was bizarre how every car was speeding down the small road in back of the parking garage. Two men suddenly ran out in the middle of the road. They stopped, looking quickly both ways and threw two large rocks at a class door. There was an alarm sounding but they ignored it, walking into the building. As they walked in another car drove by, the driver not bothering to put the brakes on at all.

Moments later they came out with two bags filled with something and walked down the road a ways and were out of sight. The alarm still sounded but no cops ever came.

Soon Josh woke up. He looked at me and I could see the sadness in his eyes. The same sadness that I had seen while he tried to explain to Chad what had happened to his family. I felt as though I had that same sadness. We acknowledged it and he said, “we need to keep going.”

And I said, “I know.”

He crawled back and grabbed two pistols, my bag and Chad’s katana. I put my bag at my feet, the machete still connected, I position it so I can grab it if I need to. Josh wedges the katana between the floor and dashboard console and then leaned it against the center tray. The pistols were placed on the tray as well. He looks at me, pulling out and says, “I’m going to start by going back to that building . . . if I can find it, and see if they go back and, I don’t know, wait for us . . .” He ended it like he was asking a question.

“It’s worth a shot. I don’t know where else we could find them to be honest.”

We drive down the spiral garage and pull out onto the street. The streets are trashed. I hadn’t noticed the night before, but now, we see trash and clothes and random objects littering the streets. From a ways down we see what looks like protests. I roll my window down slightly and can hear the angry shouts. There is gun fire from somewhere and I roll the window up again.

“We need to get out of this city as soon as possible,” I say, and Josh agrees.

He retraces his steps, trying to find the building we’d escaped from. It takes nearly an hour, having gotten lost, and then we had to avoid several violent mobs and protesters. I was curious what it was they were protesting and wondered if they too were trapped in this city. Not allowed to leave. In some of the groups there are military police (or that is what I would guess they are). They marshaled the crowds and in one we watched them throw tear gas into the crowd. For the most part, however, we were ignored. It wasn’t a cut and dry, “if you’re not with us then you’re against us,” mentality, but more of a desire for justice from those who could bring it.

Eventually we make it to the building. We do not drive directly up to it, but rather park some blocks away, hiding the Hummer as best we can, and walk to a building where we could see anyone near the building. I have a pistol in my bag, and my machete. Connor is holding my hand while Josh leads the way. He breaks down the door to the building after trying it. It seemed abandoned; and it was. We climbed several stories before going into an office building and setting up a chair by the window.

We watched the entire day but never saw them. We barely saw anyone. We did not talk much. Any death is hard to deal with, but in the situation we were and are in, it seems worse. After dark I walk down, alone, to the Hummer to check on it and to grab some blankets. I hope to see Dawn around a corner, or hear Seeley cry, but I hear nothing. I grab some blankets and bring them back up. Making a bed for Connor.

“We’ll find Mommy and your brother soon, buddy,” I tell him after we’ve sang and I’ve told him a story. “We just have to wait a bit.”

“Mommy and B-seeye come back tomorrow?” He calls Seeley, “B-seele” for baby Seeley.

“I sure hope so.”

“Where did they go?”

“I think they are just trying to be safe, Connor.” I pull a blanket over him. “Now go to sleep, OK. I’ll be here, right by the window. Try to close your eyes.”

He closes them and I sing one more song before standing and walking to a chair by the window next to Josh. “We’ll find them tomorrow, Josh.”

We chat for an hour or so and then he goes and lays down by Connor. I keep watch for much of the night. Hoping to still somehow see the three forms emerge from an alley, waiting for us to run down and meet them, and save them.

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Day 35

 What little sleep I did get, I dreamed of the man I had killed, of Crystal, and of Doctor Grant.

He brought in my son in his arms. He was dead. He then dragged in Josh and Chad. He laid Connor down, but it wasn’t Connor. It was a fake. I knew that. And soon they started waking up. Moaning and groaning. Crystal was suddenly there too, and that man. They started moving towards me and all I could do was apologize. I kept saying, ‘I’m sorry, please forgive me,’ but it didn’t matter. They were hungry.

When I wake up there are technicians, all wearing masks holding me down. “Where is my son!” I scream, but there is no answer. Soon Doctor Grant comes in and pulls the syringe from his right lab coat pocket and puts the needle into my IV. I feel sleepy but still fight clumsily. My words are slurring and I mumble and within a few seconds I am still and asleep.

The next time I wake I am alone. There is a patch on my right arm, just above the cast they had placed there because of my broken fingers. I don’t know what it is from. I still have my IV drip and the bag looks full. Someone must have recently changed it. I walk over to the toilet and relieve myself, finishing up just as Doctor Grant walks in with the same guard who scowls at me.

“You’re doing well,” he says, but is all to aware that I don’t know what I am doing well at. “So is your son and brothers. There are more tests to run, of course, but I just thought I’d let you know that this immunity is quite the powerful thing.”

“When can we go?”

“Go?” He seems genuinely surprised. “Why . . . I don’t think I know. Not for some time.”

“Not for some . . . time?” I say each word slowly, emphasizing the last. “No!” I lose it. ” We will be released today! You’ve done tests on us, easily waving our rights away. No. I think you’re done today.”

“You’ve already told us your feelings on this country,” the guard says suddenly, “and so as far as I can see, you’re not even a citizen, and if I decide that you are to stay here until we are done. You will stay here until we are done.”

I get up but he hits me hard in the stomach with his rifles butt. I sit down holding my stomach. Doctor Grant raises his hand and shakes his head at the guard who reluctantly backs off.

“This is very important, Aaron.” Your family are the only ones we know of who are immune to this disease. We need to—” he pauses briefly, “we need to test the immune responses.” He pulls out another injection and screws it to the IV connection injecting me with something else.

“Lay down and relax,” he says. “Just remember, this is for a greater good.”

It is twenty minutes after the injection when I start to feel the burning. It starts in my legs—my thighs—and moves up my body. It grows until my body is shaking and burning. My hands are clinched tightly at the sides of the bed. It is growing and becoming more and more unbearable but all I can think about is Connor, likely going through the same thing. I could kill them, and if they came in, I think I would. I start screaming from the pain and from my anguish at the thought of them torturing Connor.

The door opens and the guard walks in, followed by Doctor Grant.

“I have something to help,” he says, “It should dull the pain, but we need you awake.”

I act fast. Faster than I thought possible. I swing off of the bed and kick the guard hard in the face. I hold the hand containing the syringe with the pain killer and reach into Doctor Grants right lab pocket, grab the needle and throw him back. The guard is getting up as I uncap the tranquilizer they had been using on me and I jab the needle into his neck, squeezing the liquid quickly into his neck. He gasps and falls instantly to the floor. I grab the syringe that the doctor had been holding, which had fallen to the bed and place it in a large pocket in the pants they’d given me.

I am shaking, but I see Doctor grant move towards the door. I grab him and throw him on the bed. A vial of blood falls to his side, onto the mattress. I grab it and look at it. It has Josh’s name on it.

“You are so eager to study this disease,” I say, looking from the vial to him. I smash the glass against his arm and it breaks, the blood running over his arm. There are some glass shards sticking from his skin. “Now you have the chance.” His eyes are wide with terror and unbelief which conform my theory. We are immune, but we are still carriers.

I grab the rifle the guard had and take off his belt as well, which has a pistol and taser. The doctor seems to be in shock and is not moving on the bed. I leave him. I look out the small window and am not able to see a guard near my door. I am shaking violently still, and I ignore the pain from whatever they had given me. I grab both the doctors and guards key cards and I open the door a crack and look one way. Nothing. I look the other and there is still nothing. I can hear commotion down the hall and realize it is coming from Connors room. I pull out the taser and run down the hallway until I get to the first door with a light on.

I can hear him. Connor is crying uncontrollably. I at first had thought that someone was in there with him, but I do not hear anyone. Doctor Grant was probably going to go to him next. I swipe the key card and the door opens. There, on the floor is Connor. He is crying loudly. It is obvious that he is in pain. I go to the IV connect, stab in the syringe I’d grabbed from the doctor and push in the liquid. But only half of it. Seconds later Connor relaxes.

“Buddy!” I say, getting on my knees and scooping him up. “Are you OK?” He shakes his head. His eyes still closed. I hold him tight. “It’s all over. I am going to get you out of here.” The taser is put away and, holding Connor with one arm—my right arm—I swing the rifle around on its strap and hold it up with my left. “Alright buddy, I got ya. Be very quiet, OK?” He nods and I leave the room, awkwardly swiping the card to get out.

There is still no one in the halls and I assume no one, as of this moment, is watching the cameras. It must have been just that guard if it’s late. I have no idea where Chad and Josh are and so I continue down the hall. Listening for them. The hall turns to the left. I stop before the turn and peak around. There is one guard walking down the hallway.

“Connor,” I whisper, “I need to leave you hear for just a sec. I need to make it safe down there.

“No, Daddy. I want to stay with you!” he says loudly, and I am sure the guard heard him. I can hear footsteps moving our was quickly. I hold Connor close to me and pull out the taser.

I watch for the first sign of the guard. Checking over the taser gun making sure it is unlocked and will fire. The moment I see his gun barrel I turn the corner, pulling the trigger. It hits him in the head and he convulses violently before dropping. Connor had been looking the other way which I was glad of. I Move the guards body towards the wall and run down the hallway and silently as I can. There is another door with a light on and I can hear the bed shaking. I swipe the card and go in.

Josh is in the fetal position, panting as though he’d ran for miles. Upon seeing me and Connor he slowly sits up and hugs us.

“Thank you,” he says, crying and I hug him back. I give him the rifle after he is able to stand. He’s still shaky like I am.

“Listen,” he says, “I’ll go find Chad. You stay here with Connor and we’ll come back for you. ” I agree and give him a key card. He leaves and I sit holding Connor. I don’t ever want to let him go. I can feel him crying softly and I rub his back, under his shirt just like he use to have me do when I sang to him at night. I start singing his favorite song, New Slang, by the Shins. He’d sing some of the words with me in another life. I then sing the “rainbow song”, or Somewhere, Over the Rainbow. I cry a bit when I start, but regain myself. I am starting to shake badly again and I can feel the pain that the adrenaline had suppressed coming back. I try to put on a brave face for Connor, but it difficult. He holds me tighter.

Josh comes back with Chad twenty minutes later. I was surprised it took so long, but after their explanation I understood. Josh had gotten Chad out, and they decided to scout the way out. The facility was not officially governmental. The Hummer was parked in a parking lot just out side of the building. It is night, and so a skeleton crew is working which they said they “took care of.” I don’t care what that means anymore.

“So, this isn’t government run?”

“No, not at all. I think the building was some sort of low level laboratory. They have minimal surveillance and crew. I get the impression that they’ve quarantined this city on their own and do only some of their tests . . . experiments . . . here.” Josh looks at Chad who is still shaking from pain. “We found our clothes in some lockers a little ways down, and then we can grab the Hummer. No one should get in our way.”

“Well,” Chad says, in response, “now that you said that . . .” I try to laugh, but can’t.

Chad walks out of the room and is shot through the head. His body crumples to the ground. Dead and lifeless. I can hear Josh screaming, running out with the rifle and firing down the hall. He is screaming at someone. A murderer, who killed our brother. I pull out my pistol and run out of the room. I see him standing at the end of the hall, a hole through his head—the guard who I had drugged—falling down dead. Killed by Josh. I turn and look at Chad. There is a pool of blood around his head that is spreading. Connor tries to turn and look but I hold him so he is facing the other way.

“Don’t look, Connor. There’s nothing there.” I fall on my knees as Josh runs over, going to his knees as well and bringing him up to his chest, sobbing. I am too, and I fight to not let Connor see the bloody mess.

“What . . .” Josh says through sobs, “what do we do with the body?” I look around desperately and shouting comes from around the corner behind us.

“We need to go,” I say, getting Connor over my shoulders.

“No, we need to stay!” Josh spins around and points the gun.

“Think about this Josh! Think about what you’re doing. I need you to help get us out. Please! I need to get Connor out.” He lowers the rifle for a brief second before putting it back up. Finally he stands and turns towards us. He bends down and pulls Chad’s wedding ring off of his finger.

“I love you,” he says and he walks off.

Before I follow I bend down and say the same, adding, “be with your family. You were the best big brother I could of had.” I then run after Josh, following him out, forgetting about our clothes they’d stripped from us. He gets in the drivers seat of the Hummer and finds the keys in the center tray. He starts the car and speeds off. There is a shot from behind us and I hear it hit the rear of the car, but no one is hurt. The sky is dark and wet and we are alone, driving through a silent city, running from death and pain and memories. Each of us still in pain, and still silently crying for our lost brother.

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