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Vampires - guaranteed to make you soil your clothes

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We didn't want to take Rosie to the hospital. The trip could very well kill her. But as Sharon and I watched my sister's fever steadily rising and coughs racking her little body for three days straight, we knew we had no choice.

If the vampires didn't get her, the chest infection would.

"Get the car to the front door, Maya," Sharon said, "and I'll bring her out."

I was yet to pass my driving test but I drove all the time. As I opened the front door, the outside air making me shiver despite it being April, my heart pounded. Could they tell? And why did it have to be night-time? I'd have felt much safer if it had been mid-day, sun high in the sky. Even though sunny days in Dunrovia's capital city happened... ooh, once a month if we were lucky.

To minimise the distance between the front door and the vehicle, I parked the car side on to the house and up on the pavement. Sharon stumbled out minutes later, Rosie wrapped in a blanket, clutched to her chest.

She yanked open the door and got in next to me. "Go!"

Nothing appeared. Thank you, universe thank you thank you thank you.

I drove through several red lights to get to the hospital. Just as well I looked like Sharon. If the cameras caught me violating so many traffic laws, we would pretend she had been the driver. Otherwise, we'd be in deep shit. No licence. No insurance. And no money to pay fines.

The doctor gave Rosie a course of antibiotics and kept her in overnight. We returned the next day—Sharon driving this time—to pick her up. Our healthcare did not run to extended hospital stays, even if Rosie would have been better off there for a few more days.

"All we need to do is get her home and I'll sort her out," Sharon said.

I trusted her. Sharon, otherwise known as my mum, had been a nurse for twenty-odd years and was good at it. Then I caught her eyes in the car mirror, wide eyed and frightened. The way she always was around Rosie.

I did the grown-up reassurance thing. "Yeah, she'll be fine. Once we've got her back home."

Both of us glanced up. The skies gave no clue. This time, it was broad daylight and all around us were the sights you might expect at that time of day. People making their way to work or the college. Black security vans taking up too much room on the roads, beeping horns. Shops and businesses shoving open graffiti-covered shutters.

Logos for some of the illegal terrorist groups emblazoned the walls—a slogan Stake 'Em High! the most noticeable one. I sighed. How could the State blame people for the protests, the demand for change and tighter restrictions? When this, me and Sharon forced to scurry between buildings protecting our precious, vulnerable Rosie, was the norm for the many people like us who were unable to afford immunisation against vampires?

"She'll need to take the antibiotics for another five days," the paediatrician told us. We stood in the reception area, the signs above directing people to different wards. The doctor looked as if she wanted to collapse on a bed and sleep for a week. Hospitals here catered for far too many people and were under-funded. Our healthcare insurance covered diddly squat. Rosie's overnight stay was thanks to the doctor's kindness. The itemised bill Sharon held did not include it.

"Can you tell us if Rosie has moved up the emergency immunisation waiting list?" Sharon asked, ever hopeful. The doctor closed her eyes briefly, pulling out her phone and typing Rosie's healthcare ID number into it.

"When's her fifth birthday?" the doctor asked, shaking her head when Sharon said the date. If the vaccination was to work, Rosie needed it before or on that day. In just over two months' time.

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