I awakened out my deeply unconscious state slowly. Everything was fuzzy, like my mind had been suffocated by a thick fog. I struggled to remember what had happened prior to my bout of unconsciousness, but the memories were too heavy to drag fully to the surface of my mind.
We had been running. Running from the infected dead - that had been the unexpected and horrific result of some sort of radiation leak at a local factory – when I slipped and toppled to the ground.
'RUN!' I had screamed to my family, my mother and father had stopped, presumably to pick me up.
'RUN! DON'T BOTHER WITH ME! GET MYLES OUT OF HERE!' They paled and nodded, not wanting to sacrifice their eldest child, and only daughter, but understanding three year old Myles was more important.
I had watched them leave until I felt the first of the infected catch hold of my ankle. I closed my eyes then, not wanting to watch them chew on my flesh.
I must have passed out either due to the pain, or the loss of blood. I was awake now, and my right arm was gone. The infected must have gotten distracted though, as there was no-one else around. I tried to get up, and realised that my body had become stiff, unresponsive. The pain I had felt when they were ripping off chunks of my arm was still there, throbbing constantly. I groaned. My voice sounded dull and hoarse. Realisation dawned. I was one of them. Infected.
I must not have been too far gone then, I could still think sort of clearly, if I tried hard enough to push the fog aside, but I knew it wouldn't be long. Just then I saw movement in the corner of my eye and turned slowly, jerking around with little control over my obviously dead limbs. It was my parents. They must have hidden and waited for the area to clear, to come back for me.
I lurched over to them, stopping suddenly when I recognised the feeling welling up in me as I got closer. Hunger. They stepped back a few steps, understanding I was dangerous now. I was grateful I wouldn't have to explain, I didn't think I could manage a full conversation right now.
'Jem? If you can understand us, we can help you. We have just heard on the radio, They think they have found a cure. Some doctors from London are coming here to the Police station, we can take you there.' A flicker of understanding passed through my brain.
I shook my head, hearing the bones groan and squeak as they protested the movement.
'Safe.......House.....' I managed to get out, feeling disgusted at the zombie quality of my own voice.
'But the police station!' My mother almost screamed, but I cut her off with a nod that must have looked jerky and painful. All my joints were stiff now.
'Hung.....ry...' I forced out, lurching towards them on instinct, not really in control. They understood and fled hopefully back to where ever they had left Myles hiding. I fought my newly discovered monstrous instinct to follow and spun around to head in the direction of the police station.
My body was slow, my feet never leaving the floor, just shuffling along, jerking forwards occasionally. My long black hair hung lifelessly over my face, I couldn't raise my arms high enough to move it. I made my way across town, once stopping to chew on some poor soul I found lying still in the street.
I was disgusted with myself, and if I could have cried then, I would have. If I could have died, I would have taken it gladly. It was not to be, and I was forced to continue on my way sickened by my actions.
I had to focus the part of my mind that was still me - still me and not some invading instinctual monster – in order to continue on the route to the police station. By the time I had arrived outside, I had forgotten why I needed to be there so badly.
Luckily for me, the un-infected inside had not forgotten why they were here. I was tranquillised from an upstairs window and when I woke up, I was tied up and locked in a cell. The small rational part of me that was left, understood why they had taken these measures. The monster in me was angry that lunch had made itself impossible to get to.
I started shouting, or that's what I intended to do, all that came out of my mouth was a series of loud, illiterate groans. I must have alerted the doctors to my awake state, as they came immediately and began to prepare to inject me with something. I groaned louder at the sight of them, I was hungry after all, and the doctors spoke in hushed whispers.
'Are you sure? She's just a kid, we don't know if this will work.' One had said, looking concerned. Apparently, some people even harbour concern for the evil hordes of hungry un-dead roaming the streets killing and eating and destroying.
'Either way, it's worth a try, she's not going to be much better off left like this.' The man in charge had told this concerned fellow, he sounded exasperated.
'How would you like to be left like this? What if she is aware of what she is doing?' I laughed to myself, it came out as more of a snort but still, he had hit the nail on the head there. I was still here, and I was disgusted with myself.
After much debate I was administered the 'cure' that wasn't really a cure yet. They hadn't had chance to test it on an actual infected person. The masses of infected hadn't made it out of Manchester yet, London was safe.
I remember getting sleepy, and the feeling of hunger dissipated. The next thing I know, I am awake again and I am feeling better. My joints are moving again and the fog is lifted. It worked! I hammered on the door to the cell, someone had untied me while I was out it seems. The doctor in charge came and looked at me. He ran tests to check my responses, my English and my motor skills. They decided I was actually cured, the test had worked! I told them I had to go and find my family.
After some debate, I was let go, and ran to the safe house to share the news. The doctors were preparing the cure into dart guns, to cure as many infected as possible, as quickly as possible. When I arrived at the designated house, my heart stopped. The door had been torn off it's hinges, and there was blood everywhere.
I found pieces of my mother and father, and of Myles. It was clear none of them were going to be turned into out of control infected, but that meant they could never be cured. They had been torn apart completely, probably by a group fighting over them.
I may have been cured that day, but I lost everything I had. My whole family had been destroyed while I was being kept, tested and cured. If I didn't consider myself so lucky to be alive, I would put an end to my life right now. As it stands, I live to honour them, they wanted me to be cured and to live. So I will. The only differences between now and the past, are now I am on my own, and now I like my meat rare.
© Copyright 2016 R A B Bradbury. All rights reserved.