I suppose I have a decision to make. I can stay here and not listen to whatever Dee is going to say, and I think that she is going to get Max to talk, or I can follow them. I don’t know. It would be great if I could put Max on a perfect pedestal. He is a big bear of a man and to say I’m not attracted would be a lie. I’m just not certain I will like him after his confession. Staring at the floor I notice that we have tracked some dirt in. I get fixated, not thinking about anything. If only this were a nightmare.
“Bitsy?” Max has come back and is standing in front of me, a concerned expression on his face. “Are you okay?”
I didn’t even notice that he had come in. I nod and swallow, my mouth suddenly dry.
“Come on then,” he says.
I nod. How do I explain to someone that I don’t want to hear the bad stuff because I want to like them? A small voice reminds me that the world has changed and you need to know the truth. That the future may be a lonely one.
I follow Max.
In the canteen Dee has taken the table furthest from the door. The banging has stopped and it concerns me. At least when it was hammering on the door I knew where it was. I stop and stare at the grey paint. Max stands next to me.
“I don’t like not knowing where it is,” I say quietly.
“I know,” Max agrees.
“I’m over here,” Dee says, her voice oozing sarcasm.
I’m not sure I’d like her if I met her under normal circumstances. But then these aren’t normal.
Walking over I give a hesitant smile. She doesn’t return it.
Max and I sit. I notice he decides to sit at the end of the table so that he can see both of us and the door. I have my back to it, but I realise that I am comfortable because Max can see it. When did I start to trust this man?
“You were in the air when it happened.” She pauses and I notice that her face is haggard. She can’t be much older than me but she seems much older with dark circles under her eyes.
“It spread from the airport. Someone came from Vienna and they had it…” Dee looks at us. I didn’t tell her where we had flown from and there is no way I’m going to tell her now. “It spread like flu, but very fast. You died within two hours of getting it. Except some didn’t die. Instead they become something else.”
“Do they retain anything of themselves?” Max asked.
“I don’t know. But the problem is that they can’t make vitamin D or retain iron, so they crave blood.” She winced. I wonder if she is remembering something, but I don’t ask. “They attack you because they have to. They have no choice…” She trails off.
“What about the sun?” I ask, thinking of the two we saw outside.
“It’s what happens. We aren’t sure why, but they become light sensitive and…”
I nod. “We saw outside.”
Max leans forward. “Why aren’t you…?” He waves his hand at the door.
Dee shrugs. “Some are immune. We didn’t catch it. But we can still get it.” She pauses. “Any scratch or bite can pass on the virus.”
“Virus?” Max asks, but all I can think of is Colin. That’s why she was insistent on locking him up.
“No antibiotics work,” Dee says, but I am only half hearing her. Instead, I wonder what is happening to Colin, and how we are going to find out. If we open the door and he has changed then one scratch would infect us.
I snap out of my thoughts. Both of them are looking at me. Dee blankly and Max appears worried. On the table in front of me I realise I have locked my hands together and my knuckles are white with the pressure of clasping them.
“I’m okay,” I whisper.
“Max is about to explain what he knows,” Dee says. I feel as if I have been caught daydreaming in class and a wave of unease flows over me. I turn and look at him. He doesn’t meet my eyes.