Four: End of the Innocence

zombie-toddle-image

 

As Joe ordered, they remained in their home to try to avoid whatever was infecting people all over the world.  Sam strove to keep the same routine for Joey as happy as possible, but even he was quieter than usual as if he could sense that something was not quite right.

Sam had gotten Joey down for his mid-morning nap when she entered the kitchen in time to see Joe pacing back and forth between windows.  In his ears were ear-buds to an iPod hooked on to his pants’ belt.

“Honey?” She approached Joe slowly as if not to startle him.

He stopped and pulled the ear-buds from both ears. “It’s mad out there, Sam. Nearly a billion now infected with mortality rate as high as 100%!”

She glanced out of the window directly over the kitchen sink.   A military Humvee with a machine gun on top sat out front of their house.  The soldier manning the weapon wore a mask with a thick face glass.

“Is this really happening?” She said. “It all feels so surreal to me.”

“Like some kind of a movie?” Joe set the iPod down on the kitchen table. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

“I’m going to call Meg and see if she found out anything more about her sister.” Sam pulled the cell phone from one of her pant’s side pockets.  She dialed the number and placed the device to her ear and heard nothing but static.  She tried again.  Once more, only the sounds of static greeted her.  “Can’t get through.”

“The military probably cut off all forms of communications.” Joe stated.

“Why would they do that?”

“To prevent a full-fledged panic.” He answered as he placed the buds back into his ears. “Damn…lost radio signal as well.”

Suddenly Joey let out a high pitch scream which caused both Sam and Joe to jump.  They ran to his room to find the two-year old writhing in the bed, bawling.

Sam reached her son first as she instantly picked him up and cradled him in her arms. “Momma’s here, sweetie.” She soothed the toddler.

“Sam.” It was the tone of his voice that caused her to stop and glanced down at her little boy.

His face was pale and covered in a layer of sweat. His eyes were blood-shot. It was then she noticed how hot his tiny body burned her arms.

“Oh no…not my Joey!” Sam blurted as tears immediately trickled from her eyes. “How?  How did he get sick?”

Joe stepped towards his wife and placed a hand on her shoulder. “He was in daycare the other day.  He could have been exposed then.”

Sam shook her head as she pressed her lips down on Joey’s forehead.

“We’ve all been exposed.” Joe muttered. “They did say that the incubation period could be as long as 48 hours.”

Sam was too grief-stricken to speak as she continuously held on to her young son.

“Sam, you’ll need to put him back in bed.” His grip on her shoulder tightened slightly.  “Give him fluids to try to keep the fever down.”

She nodded and did as she was told.

 

 

She sat with Joey for hours before Joe came in to spell her.  Night had fallen by that time, and she hadn’t eaten since the morning.

“Get something to eat and a few hours of sleep.” Joe said as he sat in the chair beside his son’s bed. “I will stay with him.”

Sam didn’t want to leave her baby’s side but she was too emotionally distraught to argue with her husband.   Instead of eating, she lied down on the sofa in the living room, and closed her eyes.

It felt like seconds later when a hand touched her leg.  She opened her eyes to see Joe hovering over her.   His face pallor looking.

“Joe, what’s wrong?” She immediately sat up.

He held up an arm.  The cotton sleeve, blood-soaked.

“What happened?” She asked, her eyes now wide in fear.

“It’s Joey.” He replied.

Sam sprung from the sofa and rushed to the toddler’s bedroom.  She gasped at what she saw.  Her boy now bound to the bed, with ropes, by arms only.  As she neared the bed, snarls emanated from him.  His face now nearly white as the sheet on his bed, and his eyes were no longer blue, but grayish.  Blood and pieces of flesh traced around his tiny mouth.

“Joey?”  She reached out for her son.

“Don’t touch him.” Joe’s voice suddenly sounded from close behind. “He’s no longer there.  He’s gone.”

“G-gone?” Sam slowly withdrew her hand.

“Tell him good-bye.”

She turned to face him. “What?”

Joe took one step towards her. “You heard me, Sam.”

“N–no…” She violently shook her head.  “I won’t!  He’s not dead!”

“Trust me.  The son we knew is now…dead.” Joe’s voice emotionless. “Promise me something, Sammy.”

He hadn’t called her “Sammy” since they dated.

“Promise me you’ll find a way to survive this.”

Survive?   It sounded as if he was telling her good-bye.

They were both gone by morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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