Chapter Twelve

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Forcing my legs to stretch farther and run faster than ever before, I stormed through the zombies, dodged the last few to make it to the water’s edge. Without stopping, I leapt into the air and into the arms of two waiting soldiers.

They grabbed my arms and pulled me onto the barge. “It’s okay,” one said. “You’re safe.” I hadn’t realised how much I wanted to hear those four words until he spoke them.

“Thank you,” I said, choking back tears. “Thank you for saving us.”

He nodded before turning his attention to Lea and Ash, who were right behind me, leaping onto the barge.

Lea looked to be in disbelief. “We made it!” I wrapped my arms around her and Ash as we began floating out into the harbour. A masked figure in a biohazard suit waved us over for testing, and even though I knew I was uninfected and healthy, I felt nervous.

“Hello,” a voice said from inside the suit. She began asking the three of us a series of questions, inquiring as to if we were bitten or otherwise exposed to the virus, how we were feeling, if we had a fever or migraine. We all shook our heads. “Good. I just need to run a couple of simple tests before we can let you on any of the ships.”
“Ships? There’s more than one?” I asked, but she didn’t respond.

We let Ash get tested first as she needed the most urgent medical attention. I watched curiously as the woman pulled a white hand-held device with a small screen off of her yellow belt and held it over Ash’s palm. The device pricked her index finger, leaving a minuscule drop of blood. The woman clipped the device back on her belt and pulled a small, pen-shaped light from her pocket and held it over Ash’s eyes. Satisfied with whatever she saw – or didn’t see – in Ash’s eyes, she slipped the flash light back in her pocket and unclipped the device again just as it began to beep. She looked at the screen and nodded. “Okay, you’re all clear. You’ll be taken to the M1 medic ship to get that arm looked at.”

Ash nodded and stepped aside – it was my turn. I held my hand out so she could prick my finger and stood quietly as she inspected my eyes.

I reminded myself that Priya had given me the all clear back at the field hospital, but my heart still skipped a beat when I heard the device beep.

The woman looked at it, then looked at me and nodded. “All clear. Step aside please.” I breathed a sigh of relief and stepped aside to make room for Lea.

A few minutes later, Lea was declared all clear and the three of us were sitting side by side, our legs dangling over the edge of the barge. As we slowly cut through the water, passing the bayside neighbourhoods, I watched the zombies roaming on the land and I hoped Jo, Wyatt and Ben were not still there with them. As elated as I was to be leaving, to finally be free from my nightmare, there was deep sorrow in me.

“Lea?” a quiet voice said from behind us. The three of us turned, and as soon as Lea laid eyes on the girl, she was jumping to her feet.

Even if I hadn’t seen the photo of her the day before, I would know it was Skye by the way Lea wrapped her arms around her.

They stood amongst the crowd, weeping in each other’s arms. A smile spread across my face as I watched their reunion, knowing such a scene was sadly very rare for those of us who had made it out.

“Are you okay?” Lea asked as she affectionately pushed a stray hair behind Skye’s ear.
Skye nodded as a tear rolled down her cheek. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

Seeing Lea reunited with Skye made my heart soar and shatter at the same time. It only highlighted to me that I was separated from the people I cared about most in the world.

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