The scientists all huddle at the other end of the room while Max and I finish our food. My stomach gurgles in happiness and I can’t help but grin. I just hope that Conor and the others are being fed. Finished, I wash my hands. Max turns me and places a thumb at the corner of my mouth.
“Missed a bit,” he rumbles licking the red sauce off his thumb. I feel my knees go weak. He lowers his head and licks the corner gently. Then he places a kiss on my lips. For a moment there is no gone, no scientists, there is just Max and the sensation of his kiss.
Behind us there is a cough. Max groans and pulls away.
“What about the people you came with?” Jonas asks.
I share a look with Max. Do we trust them?
“They are human,” he says.
I guess we don’t trust them.
“The gone have become two different types; one that shambles and eats you and the other that sits and thinks,” Max says.
“I think there is more than that,” I say.
Max looks at me with surprise and I shrug. It is just a thought I’ve had. “It almost seems as if they are acting like a hive, and…”
“A hive has a queen,” Jonas says, looking very interested.
Temple looks between us. “It has more than a queen. There will be warriors, brains and drones. To name a few.”
I shrug. It was only a thought.
Temple looks thoughtful, and starts toward the doors. Theo stops her with a hand to her arm and motions to us. It is done silently and fast, but I notice. What is going on?
She stops but I see her pout. Theo shrugs and rolls his eyes. I glance at Max but he is watching Jonas.
“So how does the cure spread?” he asks.
I pause but Max answers for us. “A bite.”
“Exchange of fluid?” Jonas prompts.
“Alert Red,” Jonas yells. Everything in me freezes and tightens up.
The doors into the room are opened and a man walks in carrying a rifle He points it at Max. I’m already moving, my one thought to get out and get to Conor.
Max is nothing but air as he pushes past the much slower humans. I can hear them saying something, but I am moving too fast to catch it. Pushing past the man with the rifle I follow Max. The next door is locked but he just runs at it and it shatters. Then we are retracing our steps. At one point I smell Conor.
“Max!” I cry and turn to the scent.
He doesn’t stop. He doesn’t hear.
I run to the right and come across another locked door. I’m about to run at it when someone comes out. I shove the man back past the door and close it. It gives a clunk and locks. In front of me are a series of locked doors. I look down and notice that the guy has lost consciousness. I can hear noise in another part of the complex and I guess it is Max. I hope he is fine…
I can’t worry about him now. I can smell Conor.
In front of me is a long corridor with a series of doors coming off them. Each door is closed and there is a window thing in them, just about the right height to peer through. On the front is a number. Apart from that everything is white. It looks like the classic asylum from the movies. There are banging and screams coming from inside. Amongst them is a higher scream. A scream that is crying my name.
I reach down and grab the human. Dragging him up I hold him against the wall. Slowly I check his pockets until I came across a key card. I drop him and then think better of it. Grabbing his white lab coat at the neck I pull him behind me.
I stop at the door and swipe the card. The door clicks. Inside Conor goes quiet. I push the door open and standing in front of me is Conor. I can see he is going to run. His face goes from fear to smiles.
He throws himself at me.
“Bitsy,” he cries, hugging me close.
“Conor, are you okay?”
He nods, not releasing me from a powerful hug.
“Where are Colin and Aaron?”
He looks at me and his lip trembles. “I don’t know.”
One thing I’m certain is that I can’t smell them. They aren’t here.
“We’ve got to run,” I say. Slowly I push him away and he stands with his hands around himself. “This won’t take a minute.”
I grab the human and push him into the room, closing the door on him.
“Let’s go,” I say.
As we pass the place he had collapsed I pick up the clipboard he was holding. I don’t check to see what it says, I simple rip the paper off and stuff it into my back pocket.
“Let’s go find Max,” I say.