Yes, all this Ravi knew. He wasn’t stupid, wasn’t ignorant. But he still didn’t know what rabies actually was. What it meant. For him, Ravi. For Benny. Suffering, pain? Death? Or just a month’s imprisonment but no harm done?
Abruptly, he stopped in his tracks, realizing that he didn’t have a clue in the world as to where he might be. He looked around, searching for some familiar landmark, and found nothing. He was just about to turn around and retrace his steps when he caught sight of something.
There was a little girl, no more than four or five years old, standing in the gap between two ruined building, watching him. Her hair was tangled and her dress was torn, and she held herself in a manner that struck Ravi as extremely unnatural—listing, almost, to the right. Her head was tilted in the same direction, and saliva ran from the corners of her mouth and hung like cords from her chin. In her hand she held a butcher knife.
Ravi abandoned the wheelbarrow and backed away slowly. She left the shadows and began to limp—no, lurch—after him.
“You…don’t…belong…here,” she rasped. Her speech was slurred, as if she was drunk. Then she pounced.
Ravi was too fast for her. He dashed off blindly, knowing not where his feet were taking him. He knew only that he must run for his life. He didn’t look back, sure that she was right behind him. He could hear her uneven footsteps, her ragged, choking breathing—or at least he thought he could, he may have been imagining it.
Then, somehow, he tearing up his own porch steps and flying through the door. He turned the deadbolt behind him, staggered into the wall, and collapsed on the floor, his heart pounding in his mouth. He was soaked in sweat and crying like a baby and he felt sick. That’s how scared he was. But his questions—or one of them, at least—had been answered.