“Ah, I see,” Bishop nodded knowingly. “The one good thing about all of this is that it’s really brought people together. Strangers helping strangers, getting to know one another.” She finished her thought, then cocked her head, narrowing her eyes at Lazlo. “I’m sorry, but do I know you from somewhere? You seem so familiar to me.”
“Um… I used to be famous,” Lazlo said sheepishly.
“He was in a band, Emeriso,” Harlow said, which only made Lazlo squirm with embarrassment.
“Oh, yes.” Bishop kept smiling, but her expression faded. Her eyes got faraway, thinking of something else. “My granddaughter listens to them, to you. Well, she used to. She would be so excited that you were here.”
The statement hung in the air for a moment, a familiar sentiment I’d heard before. Everybody who’d survived this long had lost someone, if not everyone, who mattered to them.
“Anyway,” Bishop clapped her hands together once, breaking herself out of her funk. “They took all your clothes from you, yes?”
“We only had the clothes on our backs anyway,” Harlow shrugged.
“We have clothing here that you’re welcome to, things we’ve picked up along the way and some things we’ve made,” Bishop said, and Harlow’s face lit up. “I’ll take you down there to get some. All the towels and blankets in here are all you have, so treat them well. We do our laundry in the sink, and hang them up to dry. Unfortunately, we don’t have laundry soap, but we make all our own bar soap here. That’s something you might end up doing yourself.
“All the meals are served down at the mess hall.” Bishop gestured somewhere off to her right. “All the food has to be rationed here. We have some canned goods and dried goods, but we’re trying to be more self-sufficient with gardening and hunting.” She wagged her head, as if the idea only seemed so-so to her. “It’s still a work in progress but we’re getting there.
“You’ll all be assigned work detail, once you get settled in, but we give you a day or two to get rest up from what you’ve been through.” She looked at me then, meaning I looked worse than I thought I did. “It’s mostly basic things like gardening, cooking, cleaning, etc. So far, the government and the soldiers handle the more difficult tasks. But we’re working together, and everyone is being taken care of. That’s what counts.”
“Do you know if my little brother is here?” I asked, returning to my mission. “His name is Max King, and I think he’s in the medical ward.”
“I don’t know of a Max King out here, no,” Bishop shook her head. “But if he’s in the building, then I wouldn’t know. They keep most of that separate from us. You’d have to talk to the soldiers about that.”
“I understand,” I sighed.
“Why don’t I take you to get some clothes, and show you around the place?” Bishop rubbed her hands together and looked at us.
There was no way I could wander around here, bleeding everywhere, and my body definitely didn’t want to. I ached all over.
“Um, I’d like to pass on that for now, if that’s okay,” I said. Harlow looked at me, her expression sagging because she thought it meant she’d have to stay behind too. “You go ahead. You can pick out clothes for me. I’m sure you know my size.”
“Are you sure?” Harlow asked, but she was already brightening.
“Yeah, go ahead,” I nodded.
“I think I’m gonna stay behind too.” Lazlo rubbed the back of his neck.
Bishop wished us well and promised to see us for lunch, and she and Harlow left. As soon as the screen door slammed shut behind them, I moved away from the wall. I put my hand on my hip, covering up the blood, and hobbled over to the couch on the other side of the trailer. It hurt like hell to walk. The pain was getting worse.
“What’s going on? Are you okay?” Lazlo’s face crumpled with concern, and he put his hand on my arm, helping me to the couch, but I pushed him off.
“I need you to get Blue,” I said through gritted teeth as I sat down. The couch had been covered in a material reminiscent to a burlap sack, and I tried to situate myself comfortably on it.
“Blue? Why?” Lazlo asked. For his part, he didn’t flare up with any signs of jealousy like I had kind of expected him to. He just looked worried and confused.
“I just… I need him,” I said lamely. I knew I could trust Lazlo, but I didn’t want to tell him about the bite. I didn’t want anyone to know who didn’t absolutely need to know. “I need a doctor, and Blue’s the only one I trust.”
“What do you need a doctor for?” He tensed up, his dark eyes flashed with fear.
“Just some cuts from the car crash,” I brushed him off. “Just please find Blue.”
“Remy,” he breathed. Something about the way he said my name sent a shot of warmth through me, but I ignored it.
“You’ll be okay while I’m gone?” Lazlo took a step back.
“Yes,” I nodded.
“Yes! I’m sure!” I lied.
“Okay.” He moved towards the door, then paused. “You know… you look really pretty with your hair down.”
“Laz!” I groaned, leaning my head back on the couch. “Don’t tell me I look pretty when I’m in pain. Go get Blue.”
“Okay. Sorry. But… you do.” He sighed uncertainly and pushed open the door. “I’ll be back as fast I can.”
As soon as he was gone, I pulled up my shirt to look at the bite. Red and swollen, with blood and pus soaking onto my shirt, it did not look good. This would be just my luck. I’m immune to the zombie virus, but a good old fashioned infection kills me.
I got up and limped over to the kitchen. I rummaged through two drawers before I finally found a dishtowel with blue flowers on it. I pressed it against the wound and sat back on the couch.
Lazlo seemed to take forever. It gave me plenty of time to worry about whether or not I made the right choice in not telling anyone about the bite or my zombie immunity. It also gave me lots of time to wonder if Max was even here, and what I planned to do if he wasn’t.
I’d been so certain if I just got to the quarantine, I would find him, but so far, nobody had even heard of him. Maybe this was the wrong place. Or maybe he’d never even made it here.