“Why didn’t you tell me you’d been treated for the infection?” he asked.
“I didn’t intend to be dishonest,” I said truthfully. “It’s just … I came so close to death too many times to get to the rescue ship. I was afraid you’d kick me off if you knew. I thought that, once you read the full report, you’d believe I wasn’t a risk to anyone.”
“I know you’re not a risk to anyone,” he said. “But I need to know all the facts. You show no symptoms of the virus, and you were tested on the barge before arriving at the ship. Testing you again is a security measure. We need to take all precautions necessary to ensure the safety of everyone in this fleet, including yourself. What’s more, analyzing your blood will likely help our researchers even more.”
I nodded, irritated at myself for not being brave enough to tell Eric the truth earlier that day. The boat slowed alongside the hospital carrier and we stepped onto the platform. Eric took me to the secured floor, where we passed a room full of people in biohazard suits cutting open a zombie that had been strapped to the operating table. I was shocked to see it was still moving as they sliced into its abdomen.
“Why isn’t that thing dead?” I asked, alarmed at the sight.
“When the brain dies, the virus dies with it,” Eric explained. “They need to keep it animated for the duration of the live autopsy. But I assure you, the moment the corpse is unnecessary, it’s taken care of.”
“I’m sorry,” I said angrily. “That’s not a good enough answer.” I slammed my palm on the window, attracting their attention. “Kill that thing!” I called through the glass. “You can’t keep them here! Kill it!”
“Eva,” Eric said, taking my hand off the glass. “That’s enough. They know what they’re doing.”
“Bullshit,” I spat. “If they knew what they were doing, that monster wouldn’t be anywhere near this ship.”
He ignored me, as did the people in the room, who continued slicing into the zombie. Their ignorance infuriated me, and I knew if they had seen what I had seen, they would listen to my warnings.
Eric continued walking, pausing to wait for me to move along, and I did so reluctantly. We walked by another room, where it appeared a live autopsy had just been completed. One of the scientists slid a thin spike into the zombie’s head, killing it swiftly. We reached the end of the long dimly-lit hallway and entered a room where four scientists were waiting for me. They instructed me to lie down and proceeded to take a sample of my blood.
Ten hours later, my stay at the hospital was over and we were speeding over the sea towards the cruise ship. My blood work had come back clear – as I knew it would – and they had enough of it to analyze and add to their own research of how the treatment works. With their results matching Priya’s exactly, they had confirmation that the treatment works and they intended to start working on it straight away.
Even though I spent most of the night on the hospital bed, I didn’t get a moment of sleep. A room full of strangers watching me while they tested my blood was not conducive to a restful night. Not to mention the fact that zombies were only a few feet down the hall, every now and then screeching loud enough for me to hear. I hoped that Priya’s work would be enough for them to produce the treatment so they could stop using infected corpses for research. Having those zombies on board was too dangerous, no matter how much it helped their investigations.
“Thank you for your co-operation, Eva,” Eric said. “I must insist that you be honest and forthcoming about everything from now on.”
“I will be,” I said before I stepped off the boat and back onto the ship. Eric stayed on the boat, as he was needed back on the HMS Saviour to prepare for the Melbourne rescue.
The boat sped away, disappearing among the colony of ships around us. I sleepily walked back to my room, hoping Jo, Lea and Skye hadn’t worried about me all night. I slid my keycard in the door and turned the handle, looking forward to getting some rest after such an odd night. I stepped inside, not expecting to see anyone in there, let alone the two people who stood waiting by the window.
It was Wyatt and Ben.
My heart skipped a beat and a wide smile spread across my face as they saw me, but their astonished expressions told me that they hadn’t heard the news of my survival.
“Eva?” Wyatt croaked, his voice catching in his throat from surprise. Ben stood next to him, his jaw hanging open and his eyes wide.
“Don’t freak out,” I said, holding a hand out. I walked towards them, unable to hide my happiness even though they were clearly in a state of shock. “I can explain.”
Wyatt exhaled as though he’d been holding his breath for days. “Eva.” He stepped towards me and took me in his arms, and I could feel his heart racing in his chest.
“I missed you,” I said, trying to fight my tears. I relaxed into him, relieved that he was okay, that we were all okay. He held my head in his hands and kissed me, and I felt his tears falling into my own.
“I don’t get it,” Ben said, confusion in his voice. “You’re not infected?”
“Not anymore,” I said as Wyatt moved aside so I could hug Ben.
I heard the click of the door handle and turned to see Jo walking inside, gasping and holding a hand to her chest when she saw us.
“You’re here!” she grinned. “You’re all here!” She hugged us all, and it felt good to be all together again. “How did you guys get here?”
“Some army guys came into our room this morning,” said Ben. “They said we were being moved to another ship, and brought us here.”
“They gave us a room on the floor below,” Wyatt added. “But then told us to wait in here. I guess now we know why.” He turned to me and took my hand. “How are you here? How did you …?”
“It’s a long story,” I said.
The four of us sat on the bottom bunks and I told them everything, explaining to Ben and Wyatt how I survived the river and the infection, and telling Jo why Commander Renner had taken me during the night.
Thanks for reading! Next chapter coming TOMORROW :D
Are you happy to see Wyatt and Eva reunited? <3
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Before It Fades (The Eva Series #3)Horror
This is the much anticipated third book in The Eva Series, a Wattpad hit with over 4M combined reads. In BEFORE IT FADES, Eva and her friends are on a race against time. A team of rescuers are on their way to Sydney to evacuate survivors of the outb...