PART 5, SECTION 13

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Ian tapped on the granary's wall. "Chris! What's going on out here, man! Who are these people?"

Chris appeared at the door.

He looked around at the desperate faces. "Crap. There's more?"

"What have you been telling people?" Ian demanded as he rolled the wheelbarrow into the granary's dark interior.

"I haven't said anything!" Chris said. "You think I want them here? You think I can treat any of them? Any of them? They just keep showing up! Somehow, word got out that we're here, I guess. I don't know what to do!"

"We'll just have to hide them all in one of the silos for now," Ian said, flustered. "Tell them not to make a sound. Home Guard will probably be crawling all over the place soon."

Chris looked more closely at Bryce. "What happened to him . . . ? He's positive, isn't he?"

"He got shot, that's what happened," Ian said. "And, yes. He's positive."

"I knew it," Chris said. "I thought something was up with that guy."

"Just get those people out of sight before someone shows up!" Ian said, hoisting Bryce from the wheelbarrow and laying him onto the granary's dusty floor.

Chris hurried outside to deal with the crowd while Ian took Bryce's pulse.

Bryce raised his head slowly, watching Ian as he pinched his wrist. He'd stopped bleeding. The small bullet hole in his stomach had started to scab over. His skin was a sickly gray color. I'd never seen anyone so pale.

Bryce dropped his head back onto the floor.

"Hungry," he groaned.

Ian was still holding on to Bryce's wrist.

"No pulse." Ian shook his head, confused.

Chris hurried back into the granary and fell to his knees beside Bryce.

"I can't find a pulse," Ian said.

"Of course you can't find a pulse! He doesn't have any blood left! What do you think?" Chris shined a light into Bryce's eyes. "Can you stand up?" he asked him.

Bryce shook his head. "No legs."

"The bullet must have hit his spine," Chris said. "He can't move his legs at all."

"Hungry," Bryce whimpered again.

"How is he conscious?" Ian dropped Bryce's wrist and sat back on his heels. "I don't understand! If his heart's not beating, how can he be conscious?"

Chris grabbed a disposable syringe from a box on his desk. He kneeled beside Bryce while unwrapping the packaging, then he tossed aside the clear plastic. He jabbed Bryce's forearm. He pulled the plunger backward, drawing fluid into the syringe.

What came out of Bryce's vein wasn't blood. It was a deep amber color, translucent, and thick like bacon grease left over in  a skillet.

"Honey," Chris said.

"What the hell?" Ian looked closer at the syringe. "I don't get it."

"I don't really get it either," Chris admitted. "Somehow the pathogen has replaced his blood with its own honey. His heart's stopped beating, but the honey is oozing through his veins somehow. It's keeping him conscious." Chris shook his head in amazement. "The larvae must need tons of protein and sugars to produce so much honey. That must be why he's so hungry. The pathogen needs him to eat. It needs the food energy."

Bryce flopped his head from one side to the other. His face was ashen. His hair was slicked with sweat.

"Just—want . . . to screw," he stammered. He started to cry. "Want to screw so bad," he whimpered. "Can't. Can't."

Bryce weakly pounded his hip with his fist. His legs lay limp, bent in the same awkward angle they'd landed in when Ian had lowered him from the wheelbarrow. It was obvious Bryce couldn't feel or move anything from the waist down.

"Want to screw so bad," he stammered, sobbing now. A thick, greasy tear spilled from his eye. "Why? Why?" 



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