~ Chapter Thirty-Three ~

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Perri tucked the map into her pocket and grabbed Gavin's arm.

"We have to leave. Now." She said.

"What? Why?" Gavin tilted his head to examine her face.

"But, Doctor Holloway said you could cure us." Skeet's youthful voice drew their attention.

"That's right. The doc' said that the key ingredient to creating a cure was in your blood. That's why they kept you down there for three days." Stated Gavin.

"Three days." Perri muttered to herself, under her breath, in disbelief.

"And that's not the only major issue at hand." Started Norman, gaining the attention of the others. "I arrived here the day before yesterday. And-" He scoffed. "-the infected are behaving... differently."

"What do you mean?" Asked Perri.

"They saw me when I approached. I half expected them to go into a crazed frenzy and attack me. But... they didn't. Instead, they acted like I didn't even exist. I even tested my luck by entering the crowd." Norman pressed his lips together and shook his head before he said, "I walked among them, pushing past one after the next, right up to the front door. They didn't so much as sniff in my direction."

Perri looked to Gavin, as if asking for confirmation. His brows rose, and he nodded at her in response.

She turned her gaze back to Norman to say, "Last time I was out there, there weren't that many left. How big was the crowd?"

"At least a hundred, maybe more. And it's growing every day." Norman answered.

"But, they don't attack?" She asked, although not entirely expecting an answer.

Norman shook his head. "It's like they're waiting for something."

Or someone. She thought, pausing to ponder the idea, but suddenly she could hear Holloway's voice amongst the bunk-bed maze.

The others turned to his voice as well. He was demanding that people 'move aside' so he could get by.

"He doesn't just want my blood." Perri said, too quiet for anyone else to have heard properly.

"Huh?" Gavin leaned closer to hear her better.

"Holloway doesn't just want to take my blood, Gavin. He wants everything. He will kill me to make his cure." She assured him.

Gavin gaped at her and struggled to find the right words to use next. What question to ask. What action to take.

"It's true." Holloway's voice silenced the room, and everyone went quiet. "I need to harvest every last essence of her being. I need, stem cells, muscle tissue, blood, brain matter, bone marrow. Everything is essential in the creation of the cure. So, in short, yes." His hungry gaze fell upon Perri. "You would have to give up your life to save mankind."

People in the room began to murmur.

"Do it. Take her." Called a man.

"Don't be selfish. Save us." Shouted a woman.

"One death. Your death-" Another man called out over the rest as he stepped forward and wagged a finger at Perri. "-could save us all. You need to think about the greater good."

The people all cheered their agreement.

"That's right." Said one.

"Make her do it." Said another.

Perri sunk into herself and panted through her nose.

The group seemed to be shrinking in around her, so she took a step back.

A man stepped up, looking to grasp at her but, both Gavin and Norman moved to shield her.

Skeet tucked himself in behind them hold Perri's hand. "I don't want you to die." He told her.

Over the clamoring, Carter's voice sounded. "There's been so much death already. Isn't there another way?" He asked, his question directed at the doctor.

Everyone went quiet, eager to hear the answer.

"No, there isn't." He replied. "And if we don't act soon, we may very well be overwhelmed by the infected."

Many people gasp and yelp in horror.

"Sergeant?" Holloway called, and the military officer stepped forward.

"What he says is correct. There is a large amount of infected outside the building and their numbers continue to grow. Increasing by at least ten-percent every few hours." Sgt. Bradman stated, his voice booming against the silence.

His admittance to the fact only caused more damage to the situation.

People were scared, terrified and angry. They only resorted to yelling and shouting at Perri. At the soldiers. Demanding that they take her.

The group closed in on Perri. She could feel herself being grabbed at, prodded and poked.

Between being shoved about and verbally abused, she merely tried to protect Skeet from the frightened mob.

With everyone yelling over the top of one another, and both Gavin and Norman shouting back, everything went numb for Perri.

The voices drowned out to nothingness. She didn't know what to do.

Through a minuscule gap that opened between the bodies in the angry mob, Perri spied Dr. Holloway talking inaudibly to Sgt. Bradman.

The gap disappeared and not long after, Perri was jarred from the numbing deafness that had consumed her.

Sgt. Bradman fired a single shot into the ceiling.

Everyone froze, silence befalling them.

Holloway cleared his throat before he spoke. "This may well be the last and only chance that mankind will ever have to create a cure. Now, Perri. You can come willingly or by force. You have one hour to decide how you want to end this. It's your choice, whether you walk beside us with your head held high to give your life to save the world and to be a hero... or not. If you come, of your own volition, they will tell tales of you in the new world. A world that you helped save. Or... we can drag you. And history will not remember your sacrifice, but instead, will remember your cowardice." He then tapped his wrist three times. "One hour."

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