14 - A B D U C T I O N

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Lately, it's an icebox down here in the shelter, and as much as I make the effort to snuggle up in the covers, I can't get comfortable. Yesterday, I received some of the worst news of my life: Emmie caught the virus and will be taking Travis with her.

Travis and I's conversations have dwindled down to zero. I can't bring myself to talk about any of it. After his bizarre stunt last night to try and...infect me? We haven't talked all day. Even watching him has gotten harder; he's slowed down drastically since yesterday. Right now, he's at the kitchen table doing something with his gun. Slow, shaky movements like he has Parkinson's.

I can't help but focus on the illness and the fact that I haven't noticed any difference in myself after Travis's kiss. Part of me wondered if his idea was going to work—though another knew it wouldn't. The day Travis and I met, all kinds of fluids mixed with my own. Blood and sweat would have done me in that day, following Travis's theory. I guess he never really believed that the man from back then was infected. Really, he just didn't want me to be right. Now he has proof I was.

When Emmie finally wakes up from her third nap of the day, the gravity in the room shifts. Out of the corner of my eye, Travis watches me slither out of bed and get her. "Hey sweetie. How are you feeling?"

She rubs her eyes and yawns. "I don't know," she mumbles.

"Feel like eating anything?"

"I don't know," she repeats as I lift her down. Her answer has been the same. She hobbles over to Travis and takes a seat at the table, watching his hands move around the gun.

In my mind, I see the eyes of so many fallen staring at me. I felt their gazes upon me constantly as I traveled the roads and dug through buildings, like they were silently screaming for help. To ease some of my discomfort, I remember sliding down so many of their eyelids with my own hands. They were dead and there was nothing more I could do.

But maybe there was.

The possibility of being immune could change lives forever. It could save whoever is left. If I find the right people, if I scour the remainder of Earth and search for survivors who can help, I could revive the collapse of humanity.

I move over to them and put my hand on Emmie's shoulder.

"What do you feel like doing today, sweetie?"

Her eyelids seem to weigh fifty pounds as she blinks up at me. "I want to lay back down," she settles with.

My throat locks as goosebumps prickle along my arms.

Travis rises and grabs her hand. "Come on, bud," he murmurs and leads her back over to his bed. He squats down and leans his body against the bunk, blocking me from seeing her. In a low, hushed voice he starts talking, telling her a story that even ten feet away I can barely hear. While he continues his tale, I swear I hear him mention his brother, Noah. I try to eavesdrop to the best of my ability, but his voice is too soft to catch a string of words. Only when his whispers stop completely, do I glance over.

Travis sighs and ducks to crawl into the bed next to her. He doesn't peel away the covers as if he's going to sleep, just sits atop them and hides his face with his palms. I shiver at the fact that Emmie is already conked out.

"Aurora?" he says without the slightest peek at me. I almost thought I had imagined it.

I lean off the counter and wait for his next move. "Yeah?"

His gaze still elsewhere, he beckons me over to him. I inch over and take a spot of the floor next to the bed. Beside him, I brace myself for his touch. Anticipate it. Fear it. Yearn for it. His hand caresses mine. I look to my knees, unsure of where to keep my eyes.

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