The quarantine is over, yet there is still an unease within me. Etan is still out there, and who knows how many he’s killed by now. Then again, if they lifted the quarantine this soon, perhaps the buruburus are biding their time until the city no longer sees them as a threat. At this point, the only people out on the streets are buruburus searching for people to kill. Or at least, that was Sedona’s explanation.
Still, Sedona and I have been contemplating staying at Venice’s apartment for another day, just to play it safe. I don’t think the world understands what’s actually happening, and lifting the quarantine may be the best and worst event to happen to Etan and the rest of the possessed citizens.
The two of us finally come to consensus that an extra day will suffice. Now that people will flood the streets again, Etan will have prey other than us to hunt. Another day shouldn’t hurt the situation.
“Venice,” I call her after stretching from her couch. “Do you mind if...we stay for one more day?”
“One more day? I’m sorry, Dylan. But you have to leave today,” her face contorts.
“But Venice, the city still isn’t safe,” Sedona chimes in, “The doctors and the press have absolutely no idea what these things are capable of.”
“If the quarantine was lifted, then they’re gone now. L-listen, you both have to leave today. I can’t let you stay another day,” she rambles through her sentences with distress, stuttering between them.
“Are you not listening!?” I scream angrily, “Those buruburus are still out there! It’s not safe yet!”
“But are you listening to me!?” Venice frustrating competes with my anger, “I cannot let you stay another day! Now get—!”
Venice’s front door slams open unexpectedly. I can hear Venice curse under her breath as a burly man stamps into the den. He is awfully muscular, and can probably knock me out in a matter of seconds. An aggravated frown paints his face, and the wrinkles that form around his mouth make it seem like he rarely smiles.
“Who the hell are these two, Venice!?” he howls.
“Jarrod, this is Dylan and Sedona. They needed a place to st—”
“Have you been cheating on me!?” He brashly jumps the gun with that assumption.
I had her first, I think to myself.
“No, Jarrod, it’s not what it looks li—”
“It’s exactly what it looks like!”
At that moment, Sedona wears a fearful expression. She realizes it before I do, but I do realize what frightens her.
Jarrod’s eyes are red, just like Etan’s were when he snapped. Looks like it’s time to leave.
Jarrod reaches out to Venice’s neck, and lifts her into the air. His mighty grip forces veins to pop from his brawny arms. My body petrifies as I watch the life being sucked out of Venice. I lose all focus, all concentration.
All but my will is shattered. My will to survive snaps me back into reality.
I grab Sedona’s arm like I did with Etan, and bolt out of the door before Venice’s boyfriend can assess the situation. We turn left and enter the stairway, where we rush down to the first floor.
Sedona, however, is smacking my wrist for some reason. I ignore her until we safely exit the building, and hide within a convenient store a block away.
I try and blend into one of the aisles, in between the fridges of booze and kid snacks. The bathroom is right at the back of the aisle. Not the best combination for a corner store.
When she catches her breath, Sedona starts yelling at me, “Dylan! You just left her to die!”
“Well what the hell was I supposed to do!?” I snap. “That monster would’ve killed all three of us if we stayed!”
“So that’s it? You were prepared to let her die for our sake? I think both of us know who the real monster is.”
Infuriated, I yank Sedona’s arm and toss her into the bathroom in the back of the aisle. I lock the door, and slump onto the ground in front of the door to make sure she can’t get out. She wildly bangs on the door in order to escape, but it is futile.
“Dylan! Open the door!” I can hear her muffled yelling.
Something about Sedona’s words still got to me though. I ran away from Etan, and I ran away from Jarrod when Venice needed me the most. Maybe I could have knocked him out with a blunt object, like how I whacked Etan with our mother’s vase.
She is right. I could have saved her, but I’m not willing to accept it. I have to live through this, even if...I am branded as a coward because of it.