BuzzingMature

“Dad? Mum?” I shook myself mentally - of course my mother would be busy at the hospital now. “Evelyn?”

And even though I confessed to hating the Rash, my voice sounded strangled as I moved through the doors connecting the living room to the dining room.

“Leia?”

I almost screamed but restrained myself at the last second. The last thing Evelyn needed in her condition was somebody confirming how awful she looked and hoe scary what was happening to her was. She was slumped on the floor, her back propped against the legs of one of the dining chairs, chalk white pallor mostly hidden by smears of blood darkening as they dried. Her school blazer sleeves were coated in it; it looked as if she had tried to keep wiping it away but when it wouldn’t stop she had stopped trying.

I shrugged my schoolbag off my aching shoulder and ignored the thump of it hitting the floor. I grabbed hold of Evelyn’s arm and heaved, attempting to pull her up.

She made an incoherent moaning sound of protest or pain; I couldn’t tell which but she leaned away from me, her eyelids fluttering to reveal strips of white eyeball.

“Oh God,” I muttered, trying hard not to hyperventilate. The smell of the blood all over the place, soaking her clothes and smudging on my hands, was making me dizzy.

I wondered when she had come home. She had been well enough to taunt me last night and that was only twelve hours ago. Could the symptoms come on so fast? How long was the incubation period?

I dropped Evelyn’s arm and stepped away, too late. I realised that her blood was now all over me. There was no doubt that I was contaminated now.

I sat down on one of the chairs, wiping my hands on the white tablecloth. It didn’t matter much, there were already rust coloured spots dotting the hem near Evelyn’s head.

I fumbled in my pocket for my mobile, and when I finally fished it out it took me three tries to type in the hospital number. My mother never turned her mobile on at work.

The signal was busy. I sighed and hung up, trying again four times, but getting the same result. The hospital phone line was jammed with panicked calls from all over the nearest towns. I wouldn’t be able to get hold of her for hours. It probably didn’t matter anyway - if the hospital was crowded with people with this illness there wasn’t much she could do to avoid it.

“Come on, Evelyn,” I muttered, grabbing her again and hauling her half to her feet. God, but she was heavier than she looked. There was no way I

could drag her all the way upstairs to her room, so I took her to the sofa instead. I fetched a blanket and some tissues from the bathroom and did my best to mop her up and cover her with the blanket. All through that she remained unconscious. I wondered what was happening with everyone else.

I picked the cordless phone out of its cradle on the low coffee table and dialled Caitlin’s number. It rung for thirty seconds before cutting off abruptly. I tried Summer’s next, and it didn’t ring at all. There was just a disjointed buzzing.

The End

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