The time comes when my eyelids slide open and I sit up, only to be reminded why I had to lay down in the first place. The soreness has set in double time, and I cringe at the bandage pulling at my skin and baby hairs.
"Hey," Travis greets me from the other side of the room. His face is lit by the glow of the kitchen lamp.
My eyes meet his. "Hey."
"How's your..." he points to his neck multiple times.
"It's sore," I tell him. "But I'll be fine."
"Do you want help up?" he offers, and sluggishly rises up from the kitchen chair.
"Yes, please." I grab his hands and he carefully draws me up and into a full-on embrace, holding me longer than I expect him to. His body sinks into mine like water being absorbed by sand.
"We should get something to eat," he proposes, and walks to the cabinets without giving me another look. "What do you want?" His hand lingers by the cans until he receives my order.
"Surprise me," I say, shrugging and take a seat at the table. He nods and pulls out a can of fruit cocktail. "Spicing it up, I see."
"Yep," he says, and grabs a utensil. One.
Hungry after my chaotic morning, I waste no time to pop open the lid and jab at a soggy grape with my plastic fork. Meanwhile, Travis fixes his gaze on the tabletop.
"Did you already eat?" I ask. His Adam's apple dips as he gulps back his response. "Well?"
Finally, his His baggy, glazed-over eyes reach mine. "Emmie's sick."
I grimace and drop my fork into the fruit syrup. "What?"
"What do you mean?"
"She's got it."
"Got what, Travis?" I ask as my mouth becomes a desert.
"Don't play stupid, Aurora. She's got the virus. She already has the fever," he explains, no emotion in his words. "The fatigue hasn't set in yet, but it's hard to judge now that she's sleeping."
"Well, Is it late?"
He nods. "Bedtime, I guess. I just can't sleep. Plus, I wanted to be up when you woke so I could tell you."
I push the can to the side and stand up. The metal chair's legs shriek against the concrete. "Are you...are you sure?" Emmie can't be infected. She just...can't be.
"Well, it's dark out, so I guess it's more of an assum—"
"I'm not talking about the time of day," I growl.
"I'm sure," he finalizes. "About forty-five minutes after you crashed, she started complaining of a headache. I felt her head and took her temp and..." he drones on, but his words become obsolete to my mind. I can't focus. I can't hear. "It's probably been three hours, and you know it will start debilitating her at—"
He halts only for a moment. "She probably has two days."
I wince. "Travis, will you quit? She's a little girl! Not some—" My breath catches, and my fingers begin to fidget. My mind takes me back to the family on the side of the road, and I see Emmie's face on the child laying in the grass.
"It was bound to happen sooner or later..." Travis says apathetically.
I glare at him. "You're wrong. This didn't need to happen. This shouldn't have...this didn't have to..." I start to pace. "This is my fault," I whimper, shrinking down to the floor. "This is my...she's going to..." I cradle into a ball and sway back and forth on the floor. If I hadn't taken her out there...
YOU ARE READING
OTHERS (Formerly The Scarlet Effect)Science Fiction
The pandemic was just the beginning. After an unknown virus sweeps across the globe, Aurora and two other survivors seek out safety in a bomb shelter with enough supplies to last a few years. Just as she starts to adapt to her new way of life, she i...