Word Count: 809
Everything was still and silent. Nobody knew what to do and nobody was one hundred percent sure of what they had just witnessed. I was still trying to wrap my head around it. Zombies didn't exist in real life; it was physically impossible for a human to die then come back to life with no other functions or feelings of their bodies except for hunger and movement. The woman had growled too so she must have some control over her vocal cords. I had seen Dawn of the Dead a thousand times and had numerous zombie novels and comics back at home but absolutely nothing could prepare you for something like this. It was like a horrible nightmare.
My dad sat on the edge of the bed staring off into space. His fingers were trembling and for the first time I noticed he kept his fingers locked tightly around his arm.
My stomach plummeted a thousand miles.
'Dad,' I croaked. 'Did you get bitten?'
He looked at me, still with that vacant expression and everything crumbled around me. I ran over towards him, prised his fingers away and saw a set of teeth marks. They weren't deep but the skin around it had already turned a nasty looking purple colour and the blood was congealing. The contents of my stomach threatened to erupt right there and then but I told myself to stay calm. To be level-headed.
'Joe,' he whispered. 'Don't tell your mother. Please.'
'You can't keep something like this from her.'
'I'll be okay Joe. I will.'
I think he was trying to assure himself more than me but I nodded, trying to believe it for myself. Just because someone was bitten it didn't mean they'd catch the virus, did it?
'When?' the word fell from my lips.
He looked me right in the eye and although he was trying to be brave I could see the fear hidden behind them. It broke my heart. 'When I saved that man. She bit me instead.'
'Dad it's going to be okay,' hot tears streamed down my cheeks and Dad pulled me in for a tight hug.
'Joey I need you to be brave. Please. Be brave for me and be brave for your mother.'
I nodded, not trusting myself to speak anymore. Instead, I buried my face into the fabric of his shirt, holding onto him tightly. I barely noticed when the door opened and mum walked in from the bathroom, looking pretty shook up. Dad gently pulled me away and smiled at my mother.
'Are you okay?'
'I'm just trying to understand what's going on,' she replied, oblivious to the emotional exchange I had just been having with my father. She walked over to the door and checked it was locked for what must have been the twentieth time in half in hour. 'What happened down there? Was she on drugs?'
'She was't on drugs,' Dad replied. 'It's the virus. It's the hallucinations and the fever. She didn't know what she was doing.'
'But she died and then came back to life.'
'Maybe her heartbeat slowed down to a point where you couldn't hear it.'
I knew Dad was just trying to placate Mum but he was wasting his breath. We all knew what was going on, even if we didn't believe it was possible. Mum was in denial. I waited for Dad to tell my mother about the bite mark, but of course he didn't. He remained silent and brave.
The television suddenly flickered on, making us all jump. It had been down since we had come back into the room and we all gathered round it, as though seeing it for the very first time. Static filled the screen for an agonizingly long moment until a broadcast came on.
'Fellow American citizens. On July 20th the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia had nearly perfected the cure to a highly dangerous virus known simply as Virus X. For unknown circumstances, this virus was not contained within the building and leaked into nearby communities. Authorities have managed to get it under control and urge citizens to remain calm. The threat has ended. However, if you know anyone who has been bitten or infected in anyway, you must isolate them immediately to avoid further outbreak. There are several refugee camps being set up around the affected areas. There is a number on screen that you can call to find where the nearest camp for you is. If you are infected please make your way to the refugee camps immediately. You will be treated promptly. We apologize for the panic this has caused.'
The television died off again as suddenly as it had come on. Dad and I shared a look, a mutual agreement.
'Honey,' he turned to face my mother. 'There's something you need to know.'