Chapter 9 - Entry 4
May 22nd cont. - May 30th
There’s something to be said for being bored. After the maelstrom of nearly constant action since the world had ended a month before, words simply cannot describe just how nice it was to lay around in bed with Molly all day and fuck.
The man who was bitten by a zombie hadn’t turned into one by the twenty-four hour mark so we let him off the chain. Most folks watched him warily though. Understandable given the situation. Still, aside from the wound itself, he seemed fine.
Surprisingly enough, we didn’t have any visits from the Dead Cross group. Sentries reported nothing but undead on the roads surrounding my woods. Not even the sounds of vehicles or gunfire off in the distance.
I doubled the number of guards.
The first pair of homes in our little village were done by the second week’s end. Ugly square buildings with low, flat rooflines and rows of narrow windows near the ceiling. I had a tour once they’d filled one with furniture; cute little two bedroom setup with a common area dominated by a large fireplace. Bathroom between the two bedrooms. Kitchen equipped to run without electricity.
The door to a root cellar sat between the finished buildings. Apparently every two homes would share one underground storage space. All in all they were cozy, comfortable and made mostly of concrete that could withstand an army of undead. Exactly what was needed.
Cleo and Shakespeare kept busy with their individual projects. She had a pretty sizable collection of seeds that would be planted once Paulie and crew got around to building the tribe’s greenhouse. Shakespeare set up a card catalogue and check-out system for the books already on hand.
I started to learn people’s names by wandering around the village and talking to folks. A sense of community was quickly forming in a very real ‘Us against Them’ kind of way. Couples, and a few triples thanks to fewer men than women, likewise started to form. Belongings and sleeping arrangements shifted from one tent to another as those pairings solidified.
Naturally something bad eventually had to happen. Six days into bliss, one of the pregnant women lost her baby. She was seven months along. Then the other woman lost her child the following morning, two days into her third trimester.
Doctor David and Sandy were at a loss as to why. There were just too many things that could be blamed between the zombie-causing ash, stress, lack of proper sunlight, available food, and their altered condition. It was really anyone’s guess.
We gathered that evening to hold a small ceremony for the loss of such precious, unborn life. Tears were shed. Hugs offered aplenty. Silence filled the air more often than not. Along with an unspoken question: Would this happen to all the tribe’s women?
Molly and I were awakened by a scream the following morning. Racing down to the floor below, we found Hope standing over a pair of children where they lay in their beds. The other kids had formed a semicircle around their peers, crying loudly as other adults began to arrive.
“I tried to wake them. They won’t wake up. They just won’t wake up.” She stammered, nearing hysterics as I pulled her into my arms.
Two boys lay in their beds, blood-red eyes wide open and staring at the ceiling overhead. Their chests moved up and down in a rhythm of slumber occasionally marred by subtle shivers and spasms. Neither moved otherwise. Not when Molly tried to shake them awake. Not when Doctor David arrived and began inspecting their little yellow bodies. And not when a hysterical woman, the first mother to lose her baby, repeatedly slapped one across the face over and over again before she was finally restrained.
Cleo ushered everyone out so the doctor could finish his work. He stepped outside an hour later and shared his findings with the group.
“It’s a coma or some similar state,” The doctor offered softly, wiping a tear from one red eye. “Vitals seem fine but we obviously can’t wake them. Pupil responds to light stimuli. Nerve reflexes are muted but present. Breathing is deep and mostly regular. Pulse slow but steady.”
“What can be done for them?” I asked, mostly to fill the heavy silence.
“We’ll need to keep them fed and hydrated somehow. Hopefully they’ll come out of it.”
“Do you have what you need to make that happen?” Elizabeth asked a few moments later.
“I do but I have no idea how long we’ll need to manage their condition. A few weeks we can handle. More than that and we’ll need to find supplies.”
Questions were fired off from all directions as a verbal dam broke. Would it happen to all the children? Were they in pain? What was the cause? Why couldn’t he fix it? David withered beneath the onslaught, muttering something quietly before returning to his patients.
I stood blocking the door when others tried to enter.
Cleo called a meeting of the adults shortly thereafter and a quick headcount immediately showed one person was missing. It didn’t take long to find him, still wrapped snuggly in his sleeping bag inside one of the tents. Same as the children, Paulie Roberts lay unmoving, eyes wide open, in a deep, unwakeable sleep.
To say the tribe was wrecked would be an understatement. Fear washed over everyone in tangible waves as some openly cried and others reacted with anger. Elizabeth and Cleo tried to keep folks calm and succeeded to varying degrees. Brandon managed to get a work crew started on the next home to be built.
Our old RV bus was converted into a makeshift hospital where Doctor David and his wife started IVs for the three stricken patients. A constant line of visitors peeked through the windows, hoping to see some sign of improvement.
An entire day passed that way. Fucking. Miserable.
I sat with Molly atop the Home’s tower the next morning, chainsmoking as we watched shell-shocked yellow-skinned people shuffle about in a daze below. Her hand was trembling when it came to rest on my own, red-eyes filled with moisture as I turned to face her.
“What if that Messiah guy was right?” She asked after awhile.
“He said they’d die without his blood.”
“I don’t know hun. I honestly don’t know.” She cried against my shoulder as I wrapped an arm protectively around her.
Face buried in my neck, she was spared the sight of a woman collapsing near the tents. People froze when her body hit the ground, staring at the unmoving form as if it were about to explode. Cleo rushed to the crumpled form and gently rolled the woman over just as Molly lifted her gaze. It settled on the scene below and in that moment my heart broke. Acceptance washed over Molly’s features, evident in the empty, haunted eyes that met my own.
“Its going to happen to all of us,” She whispered. “All of us except you.”