Sedona and I run. For how long, I am not sure.
I turn around, still clutching Sedona’s hand, unsure if we finally lost Etan. He didn’t seem to be behind us anymore, so I decide to turn one more corner before stopping to catch my breath.
As I gasp for air, I tell Sedona, “You really weren’t messing with me.”
“Of course I was—!” she screams at me, and I cover her mouth before she can finish.
“Do you want him to find us?” I whisper angrily. I’m still skeptical that we lost him that easily. That buru—whatever it’s called—didn’t seem like someone to give up easy.
I take a peek around the corner. My heart pounds out of my chest, and I break into a sweat. I never thought I could ever be afraid of my brother. But the murderous look he gave Sedona and me, it was as if I was staring at a beast, like a lion was preparing to pounce on its prey.
He is not there. We are safe...for now.
Etan is no longer Etan. Is he dead? Did that...thing take his life, and is now inhabiting his body? Too many questions, not enough answers. But now isn’t the time to focus on Etan’s safety. I have to take Sedona somewhere safe.
“Ok. I know where they’ve set up medical tents to quarantine the infected. We can hide from Etan there; he would never expect us to hide amongst the others,” I tell her.
She dissents immediately, stamping her foot impatiently, “Do you realize that more buruburus will be there? I would rather take my chances with Etan.”
“Just hear me out,” I reply desperately, “How many of those buru-things would really confine themselves to a few quarantine tents? We could blend in there, buy ourselves time. Maybe the thing possessing Etan will give up after that?”
“And what if it decides to kill Etan after it gives up? Do you even know what we’re dealing with? You’re plan is filled with one too many holes,” she retorts.
There is a fire within me burning. As much as I want to save myself instead, Etan is my responsibility. I cannot let him die.
Still, we need a plan. Something that keeps us away from Etan, but doesn’t force him to tire. We have to stay within the city then, but where could we go?
“I know,” I mutter before my brain fully analyzes my plan. “I have a—friend—who’s in town for the month. We can stay there, if she’s not infected.”
“It’s better than being stuck in a room of buruburus,” I assume she agrees and lead the way.
I knock on the apartment door and stamp my foot. Sedona stands beside me, almost mimicking my movements. She is just as impatient as I am. No wonder we don’t get along.
I hear a click and see the doorknob turn as the door slightly opens. The door comes to an abrupt stop for some reason. I look through the crack and notice the chains locking the door in place. Then, she appears, half of her face covered behind the slit she created.
“Dylan?” she asks.
“Venice!” I whisper with a few ounces of excitement. “Can you let us in?” I ask, then turn to Sedona, who rolls her eyes.
“Who is this?” Venice focuses on Sedona, “Your new girlfriend?”
“No,” I elongate the syllable, “She is way too young for me. I’ll explain inside.”
Venice sighs, then shuts the door to remove the chains, and opens it once more, this time forcing it as wide as possible. I walk in and take a quick glance of the place, but cannot discern furniture from open space. Why the hell are all her lights off?
Sedona follows me in, hugging the wall and feeling it for a light switch. She finally finds it a few feet from the door, and flicks it on. “Ah, now I won’t bump into anything,” she cheers.
Venice’s face is finally visible also. She still has that light brunette hair with those stone grey eyes. She is beautiful; so glad I hit it off with her last year.
“So, what are you doing here?” she glares at me suspiciously.
I decide to get straight to the point, “We need a place to stay.”
“Why? Did something happen?”
Do I tell her what happened? No, that would freak her out, “It’s a long story that I don’t want to get into. We only need to stay here until the quarantine is lifted.”
Venice gasps, “Did someone get infected? Was it your brother? What was his name again...Nathan?”
“Etan,” I respond, “and yes, and our home is most likely contaminated. Hers too,” I point to Sedona.
Sedona remains silent. It's a good thing she realized what I'm doing.
“Well, if it’s only for a week, I don’t see why not.”
“Thank you, Venice,” I smile. Why does the truth always seem to hurt more than a lie? At least she believes the tale I spun for her. We should be safe until the quarantine passes, and hopefully, Etan will be back to normal by then.