The tunnel was long and dark. It seemed like it never ended. It wasn’t a perfect tunnel either, the walls were leaking of dirt and soil. I walked down it, traumatized. Tony was still carrying Felicia who cried out in pain every few steps. The other three strangers who had saved our lives were up front, making sure it was clear. It was silent; no sound in the tunnel except for our footsteps.
The young girl was the only one of the strangers who didn’t have a weapon. She was walking beside me, trying to keep up with my speed. In the corner of my eye, I could see her face me and open her mouth, as if to say something, only to close it and look straight ahead again. No one dared speak. Tony turned his head around to look at me – probably making sure I’m still standing. The girl finally spoke to me.
“Are you okay?” she asked, moving slightly closer to me while we walked.
I just turned to her, and suddenly noticed her eyes. They were the weirdest shade of brown, almost black. I nodded and looked straight ahead again.
“I’m Georgia.” She said it as if she held out her hand, but she didn’t.
“Katie,” I said, lightly smiling at her. She was quite nice for a sixteen year old.
Just then, the group stopped walking. My smile faded as I quickly stepped beside Tony. I peeked at Felicia. She looked terrible. Tony set you down on the ground and kneeled down beside her.
“The opening is just here. But we can’t go on with the girl moaning in pain every five seconds,” the cop said. His gun was at the ready to his side and it frightened me.
“I can’t help it. It feels like I’m burning,” Felicia moaned. She held at a cloth that was over the bleeding section on her arm. I couldn’t quite see it.
“Felicia, what happened?”
“You mean from the obvious?” Tony said to me with a hint of frustration in his voice.
“No, I mean, did he scratch you or kick you? Or did someone shoot at you?” I ignored Tony.
Felicia kept looking at the ground. For a moment I thought she was unconscious, but then she lifted her head and looked me directly in the eyes.
“He bit me.”
All four of the stranger took a step back. I stared at them in wonder.
“What?” I asked.
“That’s how the virus spreads,” the girl said. I couldn’t remember her name or whether she had told us or not. “Haven’t you ever seen the Zombie movies?”
I frowned. It was the first time anyone had ever said what they really were out loud. At least around me.
“You can’t know that for sure.” Tony stared at her as if he was going to tear her eyes out. He stood and his large body, towering over her, should have frightened anyone in her position. But she stood her ground.
“How else can it be?” the boy said.
“Anything. It could be anything!” Tony took a step back, protecting Felicia.
“Tony, come on. You know they’re right!” Felicia had anger in her voice. I shuffled my shoulder bag slightly and they all looked at me. I stared at all six of them, not really knowing what to say. Tony removed his eyes from me and kneeled down next to Felicia again.
“I’m not going to put a bullet in you until I’m sure.” Tony’s words were so soft I could almost not hear him. Then I realized I wasn’t supposed to.
Georgia and the cop had been whispering while this was going on. Finally, the cop got between them and us.
“Look, we came out of hiding to do research. That’s where we were headed when we heard your explosion. We were going to go to the library. Once we get some books and some information on… these things, we will decide what to do. Seth, you and the girl… I’m sorry, what’s your names?”
I pointed as I went through the three of us. The cop nodded.
“This is Georgia, Kelly,” he pointed to the girl that looked around my age, “Seth,” and then to the guy, “and my name is James.” I nodded, taking in their names. Tony didn’t seem to be paying much attention.
“Okay, Seth, you, Kelly and Katie head to the library and get what you need-“
“Dad,” Georgia said, “Don’t you think I should go with them? It was my idea in the first place, remember? Besides, I know that library backwards and forwards.”
“No, no. You’re staying with me.”
Father and daughter stared at each other for a moment, and then James just sighed. “Fine. But you two better take good care of her.” He pointed to Seth and me.
I nodded, so did Seth, and then I gestured towards Tony.
“What about Felicia?”
James looked Tony and Felicia up and down and frowned. “Where are you staying at the moment?”
“The corner of Winfield and Ike,” Tony said without hesitating.
“Is it above ground?”
James frowned again. “Your place is closest for now. But when the others get back I suggest we go to my place. It’s underground and probably safer.”
“We don’t need your help!” Tony almost yelled.
“Tony!” Felicia yelped.
‘Son, it’s not about help. It’s about surviving. At the moment, numbers are our strongest suit.”
Tony stared blankly at the wall and said nothing, admitting defeat.
“I guess we should go,” Georgia said, loading a gun Kelly had just handed her. I saw James wince as she armed it.
“Yeah,” Seth replied. “Now, the library is in the opposite direction. So we should go our separate ways here.”
James nodded. “If your place is where you say it is, we should be able to follow the tunnel a little longer and go out through a further door. Katie, do you know where to go to get back to the base?”
Base? “Um, sure. I’ll figure it out.” Then I remembered the com’s. “Oh wait.”
I reached into the bag and pulled out a set of com’s. I handed one to James. “I trust you know how to use these?”
James nodded and put one on. “We’ll be in touch.”
And before I could say goodbye, the turned and followed the others. I swallowed and turned to Seth and Georgia.
“You know where we’re going right?” I asked Georgia.
“Trust me, I’ve been there heaps of times.”
Somehow, that didn’t make me feel any better.
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