Midnight came and went.
The moon moved across the sky as the seventh day of the outbreak began. A week had passed and in that week the fires had truly burnt out, the ashes were growing cold and the number of rotting corpses trudging along through the streets seemed to increase.
Splotches and splashes of crimson blood, were replaced by smudges and blots of inky black blood. Those bodies far too damaged to come back were starting to rot, as a swarm of buzzing flies began feasting away slowly on the greying flesh of those that lay truly dead. The buzzing of the flies seemed to be the only other hum in the city of Delham. Other than that of the endless hissing of the Black Dead themselves.
In the dead of the night, thirteen survivors of this outbreak twisted and turned within their slumbers. Quincey Jones however was not one to lie around. Especially when his curiosity was too great.
The loud man had an amazing gift for being quiet when he needed to be, besides he hadn't told anyone much about his past. Or what had happened to him in this building. A cauldron of bad memories came frothing to the surface when he thought about it.
It happened on the roof. Years ago. He didn't like to recall it any more than he had too yet as he watched the others come over the rope he shook like a leaf when he saw that they almost fell and a few did, yet he had to maintain his light facade. It would keep Rose calm and the other's drew off his optimism and jokes, he couldn't drop it because he got scared for a few minutes.
Besides right now, he had more pressing matters on his mind.
He waited as Delilah and Rose dropped off next to him and Rose slept like a baby, Quincey was glad for this. Yet she could sense that like him, she hid her inner fears through a light facade. Call it a sibling thing but he could just tell what his ten year old sister really hid behind her bright blue eyes.
As for Delilah, she was slowly de-frosting and warming to Quincey, he was glad for this, admittedly he had a little crush on the mixed race beauty, with her luscious black curls and piercing green eyes. As she slept she turned over and leant on Quincey's arm, he had to lift himself up carefully as he gently set her head on the pillow before he departed his face burning as he did.
He liked his roomates. Loved them. There were people he disliked here *cough Stephanie cough* some he wasn't sure about (Mariam) and others that needed to know more about and Antonio was such a person. Delilah curiosity over his mask today surfaced with her question, this also rekindled Quincey's interest with the man and why he was adamant on wearing that black mask all day long.
All day long.
"He can't go to bed with it on" Quincey thought, praising his inner genius.
So know he was just going to take a "peek" at the face under the mask. To see what Antonio really looked like it can't have been that bad for him to hide it all the time. He knew where the Spanish man's room was, creaking open the door nervously, he glimpsed inside and caught a figure lying face down on the bed.
"Bingo!" Quincey mouthed.
He shut the door behind him without making any noise, he was tempted to let Stanley in on this. But the kid was loud and Quincey didn't want to risk being caught by Stephanie, how would he explain himself? Being caught outside her son's room in the dead of night? She'd get the wrong idea and order a petition to have him thrown at the stumblers when they ran out of nails to use.
He crept along closer to Antonio on his tip toes. So focused on the sleeping man, he didn't notice the tripwire he set up on the floor next to his bed. Quincey felt his foot snag on something before he could gain his balance, he toppled to the floor, he hit the floor face first as he kicked, something on a nearby drawer went flying and Quincey yelped aloud. Add that the to dull thud when he hit the floor, this caused enough noise for Antonio to bolt awake.
Alarmed, he instantly reached for his mask on the side table Quincey however was up before Antonio could, determined to see what the man was hiding from them all. He sprung onto the bed, pushing Antonio's hand's to the floor. Antonio tried to kick out of his grip, but Quincey leapt on him. Pinning him down...
"NO MIRE!" Antonio roared.
"C'mon dude! You're face can't be that...!" Quincey began, he finished as he finally glanced at Antonio's face.
There were two things shocked him.
Antonio had a fine lock, of very wavy, curly like, sleek back hair, an a perfect golden tan. Expect Quincey realised Antonio can't have been forty or thirty like he previously predicted. Antonio was. (To be quite frank) A teenager! He can't have been more than twenty years old. His face smooth with youth, with no stubble coating his jaw as Quincey had imagined.
And secondly Quincey had seen that Antonio had one deep bronze eye, so he saw one deep bronze eye staring back at him.
There was no other eye.
One half of Antonio's face was that of a handsome young hispanic man. The other was... a mess, to put it politely.
Three massive scratch marks, had gouged themselves into his face, right down to the muscles on his cheeks, his empty eye socket was as black as could be, Quincey could even glimpse the bit of skull behind the damaged flesh on the left side of his face. The three gouges in his face extended from the tip of his forehead right down to his chin.
Although his nose and mouth were intact just fine, It had looked as though his left cheek was beyond recognition, the left side of his face also seemed to sag slightly compared to his right side. Not expecting to find such horrific scars, Quincey backed away from the lad, rather shocked.
"Dude what the hell happened to your face!?" Quincey asked in horror.
Antonio dug up his trusted dictionary, finally he muttered "Is-It-Ugly?" he made no attempt to cover his face now that Quincey had seen it. Instead he hung it in shame Quincey felt bad for him "No-it's not ugly, no ugly!" he repeated. He could tell Antonio saw behind that lie.
Quincey approached him slowly, as he rubbed his facial wounds.
"How did this happen to you?" he muttered.
"They- scratched me" was all he could utter.
"It must have hurt like hell" Quincey mused.
"Yes, hurt" Antonio echoed rather distantly.
There was a silence between the pair of them for a couple of seconds.
"But why, hide it?" Quincey asked lifting the black mask on the desk, Antonio knew instantly what he was asking. "No want to scare people" he said sadly.
"C'mon there has got to be more than that one reason!"
Antonio finally caved in at Quincey's persistence.
"Me, no look like them!" He said seriously grabbing Quincey by his slumping shoulders and forcing him to look at his face.
"No you don't look like the monsters" Quincey said rather simply yet he said it without thinking first and as Antonio let him go it was then that he did think about it.
Wait, what if Antonio was infected?
Delilah had said it only took one drop to turn and if he had his face demolished by the dead, then surely one drop would have entered his system.
"Delilah also said it takes up to 30 seconds to an hour to turn, he would have turned by now if he had" The rational part of him argued.
"Then why haven't his wounds healed? You saw them Quincey, admit it they looked odd" The paranoid part of him spoke up.
His mind was fumbling for an answer, did all the infected need to be shambling corpses it was spread through fluids. His mind reached a conclusion, his heart seemed to fail.
The only thing he could do after that was promise Antonio he wouldn't tell anyone and that he was fine. Getting the message Antonio thanked him, as Quincey slowly crept out of the room once again. Antonio seemed at ease now Quincey had explained himself and seemingly saw his "secret" as nothing to worry about.
But as Quincey laid back in bed next to Delilah, he was the one now on edge.
Antonio had hidden his wound for a good purpose, because if other people saw it they would wonder why it hadn't healed. Why it looked odd. Questions would arise and he had asked Quincey that question for a reason. No he didn't look like the dead.
But he knew, and Antonio probably knew deep down too, he wasn't a walking corpse, but he was infected. He had to be. Or maybe Quincey was over-thinking the situation.
Either way, he was wary of Antonio now one drop of his fluids was all it took, for one of his loved one's to become infected.
They had one of the Black Dead among them.