Prompt: ” You have just returned to your camp after being bitten by a zombie to say your goodbyes. You are surprised to find the national guard giving your friends a vaccine. The world is saved. However, the vaccine only works on the healthy. You lost at the endgame and these your last 24 hours.”
“Medic! Medic! We need a doctor. Someone get a doctor!”
I heard shouts over me as I was slammed onto a hard table.
“I’m sorry, baby. Doctor! Where’s the doctor?”
My vision was blury, but I could make out my beautiful girlfriend standing over me. Sweat on her forehead. Fear in her eyes. My body was engulfed in pain emmiting from my shoulder.
“What’s happening,” I made out.
“It’s ok, baby. You’re going to be, ok. Just stay with me. Just keep your eyes open. A doctor is on the way,” She said trying her best to smile at me.
“There’s people coming, Tessa,” I heard someone else yell. “The military is here.”
Military? Here? That’s odd. There hasn’t been military personnel here for years now. Almost three years ago the military left. Abandoned us completely. Now they were here. How strange.
“What is the military doing here?” Tessa asked.
“They arrived while we were out collecting supplies. Everyone seems real happy about it,” The man said.
Collecting supplies? Right. We were out collecting supplies. We were low on gasoline for the generators. Horace thought that there might be some stuff South. We traveled there today as a group of four. Me, Tessa, Horace, and Rebecca. Horace was at the door looking out and answering Tessa while Rebecca was going through pill bottles.
“We used a ton of our antibiotics over the winter,” I heard Rebecca say. “I’m not sure how much we have left.”
“I don’t think antibiotics are going to do anything for him,” Horace said.
“We have to do something for him,” Tessa said squeezing my hand.
“Hurry, officers in here. We have a bite victim,” Horace said as two other people stepped into the building.
Another wave of pain hit me and I let out a gasp. More things came back to me. The bite. We went South over the old train bridge and found ourselves swarmed by an unexpected crowd of The Diseased. They surrounded us.
“How did we get out?” I asked Tessa.
“It’s ok Derek. You’re going to be, ok,” Tessa said with tears in her eyes.
I turned my head and looked over at my shoulder. My left shoulder was a bloody mess of red cloth and mangled flesh. That was my source of the pain.
“What’s going on,” The man in military uniform asked.
“We have a bite victim. Can you help him?” Rebecca asked.
A woman emerged from behind the military men wearing a long white coat and came over to me as I laid on the table.
“The vaccine! Can’t you give him the vaccine?” Someone yelled from the doorway.
“Vaccine? What are they talking about?” Tessa asked.
“After years of research, we have finally developed a cure to The Diseased. A shot that gives you immunity to the bites and its affect to turn the living into the dead,” The military man said. “That’s why we’re here today. We’ve been sent out to deliver the vaccines to all nearby settlements as it is developed.”
Tessa’s eyes lit up.
“Wonderful! He’s saved,” Tessa saved. “Give Derek the vaccine.”
“It doesn’t work that way,” The doctor said shyly as she tended to my shoulder.
“What do you mean,” I said through gritted teeth.
“It only works on the living. Not the dead,” The man said starring at the ground.
“He’s not dead! He’s alive! He’s bitten, but he’s alive,” Tessa yelled.
“It’s too late,” The doctor said with a soft voice. “After bitten, the bacteria is already in his bloodstream. We can make him comfortable, but eventually he will succumb to it and…and turn.”
“No! No! I don’t believe you. Give it to him! Give it to him now!” Tessa screamed.
She pulled the revolver from her belt and held it against the doctor’s head.
“Woah. Woah.” Everyone reacted around the tent.
The military man raised a rifle pointing it at Tessa.
“Drop it, lady,” He ordered.
“Please. I would give it to him if it would help,” The doctor said with fear in her voice. “I’m here to help. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Tessa, please,” I reached out and grabbed her arm. “It’s going to be ok.”
She looked over at me. She had tears streaming down her face.
I had only seen her like this a few times. Her face gets real red. Her nose starts to run. Her eyes swell up a little bit before the tears start. She was a mess. A beautiful mess.
“Tessa,” I repeated.
“Alright,” She said lowering the weapon.
The doctor let out a sigh of relief and then went back to cleaning my shoulder. Again the pain radiated through my body and my vision went blurry. I felt my consciousness go a bit and I blinked. My head was back on the wooden table.
“Derek,” Tessa came to my side.
“I’m fine. I’m fine,” I muttered as a little bit of blood ran from my lip down the cheek.
“It’s starting,” The doctor said.
“We need to move him to a place where he can’t hurt anyone,” The military men said.
“You’re not touching him,” Tessa snapped at him.
“Tessa, it’s alright,” I held her hand. “He’s just making sure that everyone else is safe. You know that I’ll eventually…”
“I’m not going to let them take you,” Tessa said.
“Tessa,” I said.
“I love you,” Tessa said kissing my forehead.
“I love you too,” I said giving her a slight smile.
The doctor finished up wrapping my shoulder with gauze and treating the wound. Rebecca handed me some pain pills and a water bottle. I took them which helped a little bit with the pain, but my shoulder was still painful.
“Let’s get you back to the house,” Tessa said before looking over at the military man. “If that’s alright.”
“We’ll have to monitor the situation,” He said. “We can’t allow an outbreak to happen. The vaccine is powerful and will prevent turning but even on Diseased can be a problem in a populated camp. We’re trying to win this war against the dead and we can’t let things slip through the cracks now.”
“Is that how you see it, just a war of us against them?” Tessa asked him.
“I know this is hard on you. We’ve all lost people. But don’t forget that we’re here to help you. If we want to put humanity back together, we’ll have to work with one another,” He said.
“We did pretty well without you,” Tessa said.
“That may of will be, but not everyone was as lucky as you,” He replied. “Many sacrifices lead to the vaccine’s creation and many more will be necessary if we are to reclaim the world from the dead.”
Tessa looked back at me.
“You could have come a little earlier, you know?” She said letting go of her rage.
“My grandmother was a Polish Jew who made it out of the concentration camp due to the Russian Army liberation. Three days earlier, my great-uncle, my grandmother’s brother, died of dehydration and malnutrition,” He said. “No matter when salvation arrives, it’s always too late for someone.”
With that the whole building went silent.
Horace took a step forward.
“My name is Horace. I’m the current leader of the camp,” He said putting out a hand. “Maybe I should show you around.”
“Yes. I need to make sure everyone gets the vaccine before I leave. Not one person goes unvaccinated,” He said as both him and Horace left the building.
Another women wearing a similar white coat approached with a plastic tackle box. She opened revealing small jars similar to baby food jars full of a light blue, transparent liquid.
The female doctor turned to both Tessa and Rebecca.
“May we give you the vaccine?” She asked.
Rebecca rolled up a sleeve and the nurse went to her to administer the vaccine.
Tessa nodded and the doctor gave her the vaccine.
I squeezed Tessa’s hand. I knew it was hard on her to accept it when I was here dying of the disease, but I was glad she would never have to suffer the same fate.
“Let’s get you moved to the house,” She said.
Both Tessa and Rebecca helped off the table and out of the building. We walked towards me and Tessa’s house which was less of a house and more of a double-wide shed. Rebecca laid me on the bed before making a quick leave letting Tessa and I alone in the house.
I laid against the makeshift headboard and wiped blood from my mouth.
Tessa sat down on the bed next to me and hung her head.
“I can’t believe it. We shouldn’t have gone out today. If we would have stayed here, you would have been safe,” She said.
I wrapped my arm around her and pulled her closer to me.
“Don’t have regrets now,” I said. “It’s not like us to shy away from excursions to get supplies. We always did find the best stuff.”
“Remember that creepy doll?” Tessa asked with a laugh.
“Remember it? I still have nightmares about it,” I said.
“I wanted to go back for it, but you told me you would dump it if I brought it home.”
“I stand by that,” I said.
“I love you,” She said.
“I love you, too,” I replied.
We spent the next few hours reminiscing about our time together.
Although the end of the world was horrible for a hundred reasons, at least the apocalypse brought us together. That’s one thing that we were both happy about. Survivors that both struggled on our own before we found this camp. She came here a few months before I arrived. We worked on the walls together for a few weeks before we were put on supply runs as a group. Tessa found a box of wine that was probably too far gone. We shared it getting really drunk and we ended up kissing. We officially started dating two weeks later. Crazy to think that was almost two years ago.
“I found something interesting today,” I said after a nasty coughing fit.
“What?” She looked at me.
I reached into the interior of my shirt and pulled out a small, metallic ring.
“I found in the jewelry store,” I said placing it into her hand.
“The jewelry store? Why did you…”
She stopped as she looked at it.
“An engagement ring? You found an effing engagement ring?” She gasped.
“I thought it would make a great anniversary present,” I said with a slight smile. “Of course you couldn’t wait that long.”
She threw her arms around me and hugged me tight. Again she began to cry.
“So is that a yes?” I asked.
“Of course, you big idiot,” She said as she cried into my shoulder.
There was a knock on the door and three people entered. The same military man, female doctor, and Horace walked into the room.
“Sorry to both you, Tessa and Derek, but we’re here to check up on you,” Horace said.
The doctor walked over and felt my forehead.
“Definitely a fever,” She said. “My prediction is that the change will happen soon. Maybe another hour or two.”
“We need to move you to a more secure location,” The military man said.
“I’m staying with him through everything,” Tessa said.
The military man nodded.
They moved me to a standard medical tent that the military had set up on the edge of the camp. They brought out handcuffs and handcuffed my arms and legs to the hospital bed. Tessa was angry about it, but I eventually convinced her it was ok.
There I spent my last couples of life. The pain in my shoulder got worse and worse. The fever got worse and worse. My fingers and toes went numb and there was a ringing in my ears.
Tessa kept looking at the ring on her finger and then looking at me. Her tears had dried up. It was a matter of time.
There was a short discussion on what to do with me after I turned.
“I’ll put him down. Then we burn the body,” Tessa said.
“Tessa, you don’t have to…” Rebecca started.
“Yes, I do,” Tessa said.
And that was that.
Eventually the breathing got harder and harder. My lungs felt like they were full of cement. My head was burning. My vision was very blurry. My heart beat like crazy, but my whole body was cold. My vocal chords tightened.
“I love you, Tessa,” I said.
“I love you too, Dereck,” She replied.
That was the last thing I heard before my eyes closed and my heart stopped beating.
Header Photo Credit to Board Game Geek and Wreck Age
Writing Prompt submitted to r/WritingPrompts by u/djvilaslt