Donovan lay down shaking on the floor in the stairwell, pulling his legs close to his chest. He felt his eyes closing. The void around him and the darkness beneath his lids began to meld together and soon he had no idea whether his eyes were opened or closed. His breath slowed and evened as he drifted out of consciousness. In his dreams Donovan saw Vicky chasing after Felicia, the beast had leapt through a window onto the roof of the strip mall below. Vicky barely even hesitated as she threw herself out of the window after Felicia. She hit the roof and rolled to absorb the impact then got up onto one knee and shot at the monster, barely missing it. Vicky shook her head and shot again but stopped as her eyes grew wide.
She turned and saw a quick moving and angry swarm of zombies start to fall out of the window she’d just escaped through. She gritted her teeth and focused her gunfire on them. Her automatic weapon was much more efficient than Lila’s handgun and Vicky sprayed the swarm with hot bullets. They fell before they could reach her, but when Vicky turned around, Felicia and Cynthia were long gone.
Donovan’s dreams slipped away and turned back into darkness. His eyes fluttered open and he didn’t know where he was. He examined the dark room and recognized the curtains hanging from the ceiling as the ones separating the beds in the infirmary.
“You’re awake!” Noah called as he stepped over to his friend’s bed. “How are you feeling?”
“Sore,” Donovan said as Noah helped him sit up. “What happened to me?”
“You passed out after Felicia escaped.”
Donovan turned to his right and noticed the girl who’d come with Daryl was lying beside him. “What happened to her?”
“Same thing. You both were screaming and neither of you would let anyone get close, then just as quickly you were out cold.” He held his fingers over Donovan’s wrist and counted quietly to himself. “Pulse is normal, now roll over.” He grinned and pulled a thermometer out from the chest pocket of his lab coat.
Donovan inspected the thermometer and cocked a brow. “Just where do you think you’re putting that, sir?”
Donovan shook his head and crossed his arms. “I mean, at least buy me a nice dinner first!”
Noah laughed and patted him on the shoulder, “Oh? Any suggestions where we could go? I’m feeling sushi myself.”
“Sushi is overrated, friend, let’s get some Thai.”
“Really? Thai? That’s like, so twenty-thirteen.” Noah rolled his eyes as he joked with Donovan.
“And sushi isn’t? If we’re going to do this thing, we’re doing it my way.”
“You are so lucky you’ve got Jasper.” Noah laughed. “I don’t know any other man who could put up with that attitude.”
“I’m just particular,” Donovan said, shrugging. “Not to mention, amazing in bed, that helps.”
Noah laughed some more and Donovan finally cracked a bit of a grin.
“It’s good to see you still got your sense of humour,” Noah said. “And you’ll be glad to know that I had zero intention of putting this anywhere but under your tongue. Now, open up.”
Donovan opened his mouth and Noah slipped in the cold thermometer. He waited patiently as the glass warmed up in his mouth. If he crossed his eyes he could see the mercury rising.
Noah finally pulled it out and Donovan asked, “What’s with the old school thermometer?”
“Well, the electric ones are a little more accurate,” Noah said, flipping through some pages on a clipboard that hung at the end of Donovan’s bed, “but since we now have to ration batteries, they don’t come out too often. You’re running a little hot but that shouldn’t be a problem, I’ll check again later.”
A jolt shot through Donovan’s brain as he remembered why he was in the infirmary in the first place. “Cynthia, Vicky! Where are they?”
Noah looked up and bit his lip as he thought of what to say. “Vicky’s okay. She’s been on the training floor all day long, working out some... emotions.”
“And Cynthia?” Donovan didn’t need to ask as he knew she was no longer in the apartment building. He could feel that she was missing.
“Felicia took her,” Noah said, trying to avoid eye contact. “I’m sorry, man.”
Donovan fell silent and still. He lay back down and turned to look towards the still unconscious Eden. He stared at the wall and lost himself in thought. He reached for a bloody piece of paper on his bedside table. It was the drawing Cynthia had made, Noah must have put it there. Donovan inspected every line and he felt the reverberating impact of the effort Cynthia had put into it. His eyes lingered on the gray figure of himself and goose bumps spread down his back. He was learning how to embrace the strange new abilities he seemed to be manifesting, so much so that he’d almost forgotten how it had all started.
Night descended outside the windows but he couldn’t find sleep, no matter how hard he tried. He watched Eden as she began to moan and fidget under her sheets. He propped himself up on his elbow and said, “Hello?” Causing Eden to gasp in surprise.
She flipped over to look at Donovan and breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m sorry, you scared me,” she said, her face flush. “Where am I?”
“Well, this is the infirmary.” Donovan could tell Eden was still confused and tried to explain it better. “There was this attack and you... we both passed out I guess.”
“Both of us? How?”
Donovan tried to remember what had happened. There were dozens of zombies all around him, but none of them were touching him. He could hear a voice, the voice, echoing all around him as they surrounded him like a current around a wayward salmon. “I don’t know. Lot’s of weird things have been happening though. I mean, other than the whole dead rising from their graves to claim the planet for themselves, thing...”
A cynical sigh escaped Eden’s lips and she said, “You’re telling me.”
“My uncle came here with you and your brother, right? And your husband?”
“Ex, I guess.” She rolled her eyes away from Donovan as she added, “He’s the one who started all the drama, he turned and found his way to the dining hall.”
“Well, the woman who turns into a reptilian banshee beast and commands legions of undead is my aunt so... I guess we’re even? What about your brother?”
Eden laughed and shook her head. “I don’t think I wanna talk about him right now.”
Donovan took in that statement for a moment and felt a pain in his chest. “Why not? He’s your brother.”
“It’s complicated.” Eden turned away from him and closed her eyes, but he wasn’t going to give up so easily.
“Well, I’m sure he’d feel relieved knowing you were okay.” Donovan felt like he could feel her pain, he knew for some reason that she felt betrayed and he sympathized with her. “And for the record, I don’t think it was his fault.”
“What did you just say?” Eden asked, turning back to look at him again.
“You said you don’t think it was his fault, what don’t you think is his fault?”
“I don’t know.” Donovan shook his head. “Forget I said anything.”
“Did you know about it some how? Was it some big gay secret?”
“I’m sorry, I really don’t know anything. I just get these feelings. I mean, I can tell that you’re mad at your brother, that’s obvious, but when I look at you and listen to you I get the sense that you’re falsely accusing him. Like something bad happened to him and that made you mad, but it’s not his fault.”
Eden’s eyes squinted and Donovan saw her hands tighten into fists. He assumed she was angry, but instead of scolding him she said, “What do you mean, feelings?”
“It’s happened all my life, sometimes I get too sensitive to the way other people are feeling and then I start to freak out and hyperventilate. They thought I might be autistic or something. But lately it’s become something... different. I don’t know, it’s stupid, I’m sorry if I offended you.”
Eden stayed quiet, staring at Donovan. “Do you think he’s mad at me? Corrigan I mean.”
Donovan was beginning to feel a sense of kinship with this stranger. He could read her very clearly and it seemed like they had nothing to hide from each other. “He’s your brother. Some people think family always forgive each other.” Donovan thought of how long it had been since he’d seen his own brother and sighed. There was a moment of silence between the two and Donovan struggled to come up with a topic of conversation. “Do you have any other family?” he asked and Eden sprang up out of bed.
“Jacob!” She looked as if she’d had some great recollection. “My other brother, he’s hurt, I know it!”
“You’re not the only one who gets feelings.” Her tone was mocking, like a school yard bully. She took off toward the stairs and Donovan called out to her. He got out of bed and followed, both of them dressed in pale green gowns as they struggled through the darkness to get to the twelfth floor.