"Do you remember the time we went to Tennesse?" Bry asked, startling me out of my sad quiet thoughts. "Yes" I answered, thinking fondly of the place as it had been. We had gone to a huge hotel, as the usual tourists. There was a huge man-made river running through the hotel, and trees and aquatic plants were in abundance. There were Koi fish in the small river, waterfalls and flowering plants in rock beds. It had been a beautiful trip, even if it was a short one. My attention focused back on Bry. He was looking worse and worse every minute. His eyes were now beginning to sink in, his skin was startingto get mottled, and he was breathing was more sporadic. He had a strange haze over his once steel blue eyes. He spoke again. "I thought about that trip a lot the past few months. Before everything happened. I just want you to know that I'm sorry I left you and the kids there to fend for yourselves-" I cut him off. "We did fine. I didn't think you were alive any more. As it turns out, you really aren't." His head lowered. He whispered "Despite what happened, I do love you." Those were to be his last words.
He dropped to the ground before I could utter any resemblance of a response. His body went limp, and for a second I didn't think he was going to get back up.A sort of gurgling sound escaped his lips, and he turned his head. Or rather, I should say IT turned it's head. It was no longer the man I had married, no longer the man I had taken a business trip with to Tennessee. Now he was a wretched flesh eating machine. Nothing more. It looked at me with a lust for blood that I had never seen before. I pulled my luger and fired. The bullet missed somehow, and he got up. I retreated a few paces to get some distance between him and I. Zandra and Robin came out of the house to see what was going on, and his attention was turned to them briefly. That was my chance. I recorrected, fired and the bullet hit it's mark. The top of his head splattered, and he dropped to the ground twitching. Poor Bry, he had a bad day.
Robin and Zan fell on their knees, crying out. "Nooo!!!" they both yelled. "Look, he turned. It wasn't safe. I had to do it, just as he had to take care of Bob when he turned." I said, trying to keep my emotions together. I had to be strong, for everyone. A heavy sob escaped me, and quickly I shouldered my grief and walked to Bry's body. "Help me bury him. He deserves at least that." I said to Robin and Zan, who were holding each other. They looked at me with fear, grief and hatred. I understood all three emotions for what had just happened. I didn't blame them one little bit. At the same time, I wanted to get him buried and get back indoors. "Please! I promise you we will all grieve after it's done. But you need to understand that we need to get him buried before more get here. As I was driving here yesterday there was a group of them. They could be as close as a quarter of a mile by now, if they were heading this way. So please,help me." I pleaded with them. They got up and helped me move him to the grave. We started to bury him. I could see the emotion in their eyes, each shovel of dirt that was placed on top of him added to their grief. I felt coldness, nothing more. Sounds heartless, I know. After all that had happened, after each night of wondering if he was alive, praying he was coming back for us, I felt that the tears I shed then were enough for a lifetime of grief now. I had to be strong. Strong for these two women in front of me, for the children, and for myself. If I was weak, we were dead. Plain and simple. One of "them". Nothing more and nothing less.
With Bry buried, we retreated to the house. I immediately went into the bathroom and washed up. Put cold water on my face and looked in the mirror. I looked terrible. I knew I hadn't slept much, but I didn't realize I was that worn out. I had dark circles under my eyes, and I'm sure I'd lost at least thirty pounds or so since we'd began traveling. I wouldn't doubt it. The fact that we've been walking so long, along with the fact that food had been sparse. My goal was to keep the children fed and safe. I would ration out food to them first. When they were done, I would eat if there was anything left, which alot of the time there was minimal. Just enough to stay alive. It was worth it for my children's well-being.
After washing up, I went back into the kitchen, where Zan and Robin were sitting. They looked horrible, their eyes were swollen from crying. All was silent. I spoke after a moment. "I realize I seemed kind of heartless back there. I really didn't mean to, but if I hadn't stepped in we would all be dead by now, or at least waiting to die." They both looked up at me, both trying to see the sincerity in my eyes. That's when I knew they weren't about to like what I was going to suggest for our next move.
It's a funny thing, remembering things from the past. I had never been one to dwell on the past, there was nothing I could do to change it. But looking back sitting there at that table, I had a few regrets. These two women had never really gotten close to me. Part of that was my fault, I had always thought that they didn't like me to begin with so I never really pushed for a relationship with them. Sitting here now, there was an odd sort of awkwardness that filled the air.