Gray woke before I did. Maybe she didn’t even sleep; the dark rings around her eyes still haunt me. She was sitting up for me.
“Did you call the plane?”
She shook her head. She didn’t say anything. That whole morning she wandered around like a ghost. The survivors were kind enough to give us a fresh breakfast to thank us for our work. I wasn’t going to turn it down and thought it might make Gray feel better.
I don’t need to tell you about the call back home. You probably know the time better than I did. I kept it short and simple, just saying that we needed pickup and that we’d be able to make it back to the airport if you could send the Cessna.
During that call, Gray hopped the moat. Or at least that’s what I think she did. We spent some time looking for her on the museum grounds, but she might have been hiding somewhere.
I know we’re not supposed to leave anyone behind, but I think Gray got left behind long ago. I think she knew that once I’d called the plane I’d have to go whether or not she came with me.
So I headed back through the city. On the way, I saw a couple dead crawlies. For a moment I told myself that Gray must have started back before me, that she just was trying to prove a point. Then I checked the bodies. The virus got them. No injuries, just late-stage hydrophobia leading to an unpleasant death.
I hope what the doctors say about the neurological effects are true, that the victims lose their consciousness before they turn into crawlies.
I didn’t see anything alive in the city. Just facades graffitied before the outbreak and windows broken by crawlies or survivors looking for whatever used to be inside them. It’s the worst feeling, knowing that you’ve left someone behind. But when everyone’s lost things, you can’t focus on the one you lost.
I couldn’t find the part of the airport we left through on the first day, so I cut through the fence again. I was there early. I went up to the air traffic control tower. Had to break down the door, but it wasn’t a terrible feat. I spent that entire hour looking out over the city with my binoculars.
Nothing. The only movement the whole time came from a few blades of swaying grass.
When I heard the plane coming, I ran out so it wouldn’t have to idle on the tarmac. Just because the bandits didn’t seem to be out doesn’t mean they’d died out since they ambushed us that first night.
As we were flying out, I saw smoke from a fire. I don’t know who lit it, and I couldn’t see what it was coming from. I wish I could tell you it was Gray, that she was trying to signal the plane to come back for her.
But I don’t think so.