“What has monthly vaccines go to do with repopulating the Earth?” Duncan asked.
“You know, for such a pretty face, it’s a shame you don’t have brains to go with it.” Leah said.
“It’s not a vaccine.” Daniela said. “It’s something else.”
A thought came to Daniela then, and she ran to her laptop, bringing up the results she was looking for from previous subjects. When she found it, a light seemed to go on in her head.
“This treatment we’ve been getting. Have you all had it too?”
“One injection a month for a year.” Charlotte said. “But I was told it was a vaccine as well.”
“Of course you were told that.” Kirsty said, and then added in a stage whisper. “No need to involve the civilians.”
"What is it?” Duncan asked.
“But I don’t understand.” Daniela said. “What was the point of giving you the injection as well?”
“The results had to be accurate.” Leah said. “There couldn’t be any variables in us that differed from you. If a cure was to be found, we had to essentially be the same. Given that it was always the plan for you to have these injections, voila. We all had them too.”
“Would someone please explain what’s going on?” Duncan asked.
“They were all 100% healthy when I started working on them.” Daniela explained. “Every single one of them scored perfectly on all their pre-exposure tests. I always found that weird. Most people will have something wrong with them; an odd lump, a slightly raised cholesterol or heart rate. But all of them were completely normal. It didn’t last after the exposure, their bodies all went haywire in reaction to it, but before? It was completely abnormal just how normal they were.”
“And that’s down to the same injections that we’ve been getting as well?” Duncan asked.
“So it would seem.” Daniela answered.
“So what? These injections are some kind of vitamin to make our bodies healthy?”
"I’m not sure.” Daniela said. “Leah?”
“Oooh, look at them try to work it out.” Kirsty said. “And suddenly our lives have meaning again. We die and the secret dies with us.”
“Stop being such a bitch, Kirsty.” Charlotte said. “And besides, we die and they can just go and ask the doctor in the other room. No loss there.”
“But the doctor’s under strict orders.” Kirsty said. “He won’t tell them until he’s instructed to. And here we are, able to tell them straight away what it is that they have been putting into their bodies for almost a year.”
“So we wait a few months.” Duncan said. “I think we can handle it.”
“And continue allowing them to inject you with the unknown substance?” Kirsty asked. “That would be foolish. Especially as the only people you know who have had this injection previously are all either dead or dying.”
“That relation is irrelevant.” Daniela said. “It was the exposure that killed you, not the injection.”
“But how can you be sure?” Kirsty asked.
“Because it would be pretty stupid of them to save only 1000 people just to inject us with something that will then kill us off entirely.” Duncan said.
“Oh look, Leah.” Kirsty said. “The man does have a brain cell in there.”
Daniela didn’t know what made her do it, she was already on edge with everything that was going on and the emotions in her body were constantly at odds with each other, but at Kirsty’s words a flash of anger unlike anything she had felt before soared through her and the next thing she knew, she had Kirsty off the bed and pinned up against the wall by her neck.
“Daniela!” Gary’s voice was suddenly reverberating around the room. “You’re going to kill the woman, put her down!”
Red mist surrounding Daniela’s eyesight, seemed to evaporate and suddenly she was aware of how purple Kirsty appeared to be getting. She was spluttering and pulling on Daniela’s hand which still held on tight to her neck. Daniela felt a slight panic and suddenly didn’t know what to do. She felt frozen in place, holding onto Kirsty’s neck. She willed her hand to move but it wouldn’t comply. Kirsty’s face turned a deeper purple and the panic in her eyes started to match a panic flurrying at the very base of Daniela’s stomach.
Then two hands touched Daniela’s shoulders and a current of electricity soared through her, soothing her panic and allowing her to find the movement she needed to let go of her grip on Kirsty’s throat. She backed away, finding herself cowering into the open arms of Duncan and welcoming in the familiar high from being in contact with another Danel. Kirsty fell to the floor, coughing and gasping for air. Duncan led Daniela away to the other side of the room, soothing her panic with soft whispers of comfort that only she could hear.
“Well, it’s not like they didn’t warn us.” Charlotte said. “Rule No. 1 about being a Volunteer. Don’t piss off a Walker, they tend to be a little stronger than us. Or did you forget?”
Kirsty threw Charlotte a dirty look but didn’t respond as she kept all her attention on catching her breath once more.
“I’m sorry.” Daniela said, peering out from her small safe haven in Duncan’s arms. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’m just not as well balanced as I have been.”
“Don’t apologise.” Leah said. “She knows better than to piss you off. She’s just venting. The whole dying thing brings out the inner bitch in Kirsty, it seems.”
“I’m ready to die now.” Kirsty whispered from her corner of the cell. “I don’t want to be here anymore. I don’t want to wait around talking to you guys. I want it done with.”
Daniela froze, unable to move her body once more.
“Sssh, it’s okay,” Duncan soothed. He gave her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “What do I need?”
“I’ve set up the doses on the table over there.” Daniela said. “A lethal dose is in a small vial and set up in an injection. There should be three.”
“Straight into the drip in their hands?” Duncan asked.
Daniela nodded and untangled herself from Duncan, moving to the farthest edge of the wall and turning her face away from what was about to happen.
“What about you two?” Duncan asked. “Do you want to wait it out, or are you ready?”
There was a silence as Charlotte and Leah seemed to weigh up their options.
“There really is no way I’m getting out of this alive, is there?” Charlotte asked, her voice small and lifeless.
Daniela turned to her then, Charlotte deserved her attention, she had been so good to her.
“I’m sorry,” Daniela said. “I really tried, but I couldn’t find the cure. I’m so sorry.”
Tears pricked in Charlotte’s eyes but she quickly blinked them away and pasted and weak smile onto her face, nodding her head in acceptance of Daniela’s words.
“Okay, no worries.” She said. “It was always the most likely answer to me being here. It’s fine.” She turned to Duncan, her weak smile fading slightly. “I’m ready to go too.”
“Leah?” Duncan asked.
“Is there anything that you can learn from us staying alive for as long as possible?” Leah asked Daniela.
“Only confirmation that the drug works to the very last moment,” Daniela said. “But I’m already 98% certain of that. There’s nothing else that I can start on with such a small amount of volunteers.”
“Then inject me up, sexy silver man.” Leah said, putting on the bravest show of strength Daniela had seen in a long time.
Daniela turned away from the women. Panic was creeping into every crevice of her being and she began to feel her breathing increase.
“Daniela,” Charlotte said. “How about you wait down the hall? You don’t need to be here for this.”
“No.” She said, forcing her eyes back to them and pushing hard against the increasing panic inside. “I started this, I’ll see it to the end.”
Duncan nodded slightly at her words and took the first injection from Daniela’s work station, turning to Kirsty who was first in line.
"What will it feel like?” Kirsty asked.
“You’ll feel a slight pinch and then you’ll suddenly feel really tired and lethargic.” Daniela said. “Go with the feeling, don’t fight it and it will happen a lot quicker.”
“Will it hurt?” Kirsty asked.
“No.” Daniela said. “You’ll just go to sleep.”
Kirsty nodded and offered her arm to Duncan. Duncan inserted the injection into her drip and administered the dose immediately, choosing not to drag the process out any longer than it had been already. Kirsty looked at Duncan, confusion on her face suddenly. She stayed that way until her eyes started to flicker and eventually closed. Her chest slowed it's steady breathing rhythm, the rises and falls becoming more laboured and longer drawn out. Eventually her chest stopped moving altogether and a loud sob came out of Charlotte’s mouth.
Daniela turned to Charlotte and saw her eyes fixed on Kirsty’s unmoving body, her hand clamped over her mouth as she stifled any further sobs from escaping her. Her tears were falling steadily and freely and she was visibly shaking.
Duncan walked over to her and gave her arm a reassuring squeeze.
“If you don’t want to do this…” He started.
She shook her head. “No, do it now.” She said. “Please. Before I change my mind. I can’t sit around hoping any longer.”
Duncan nodded in understanding and helped Charlotte down onto the bed. She continued to shake, her sobs getting louder and increasing in the audible pain that she was going through. Daniela couldn’t take it anymore and rushed to her side, taking her free hand opposite Duncan.
"Ssshh,” She said. “It’s going to be okay. Think of everyone you know who will be waiting for you. Your family, your friends, you get to see them all really soon.”
Charlotte turned her panicked look to Daniela.
“I’ve never believed in that before,” she said. “Do you think that it’s possible?”
“I think it has to be.” Daniela said. “Wherever it is that you go, the place has to be better than the one here. You’ll be at peace at last. No longer worrying about the end of the world and what it will do to you. Regardless of religion or anything, that place will be a lot more peaceful than being here.”
Charlotte pursed her lips and nodded her head in agreement. She squeezed tight onto Daniela’s hand and Daniela raised Charlotte’s fingers to her lips, kissing them lightly. With Charlotte’s eyes still on Daniela, Duncan administered the drug and Daniela watched as her eyes began to shut, tears still falling free from them. It was when the tears stopped that Daniela knew she was gone. A peaceful sleeping body lay where Charlotte’s panicked wakened state had been. If Daniela knew how to cry as a Walker she would have broke down then. Instead she just watched her patiently.
Duncan disappeared from her sight and somewhere in the distance Daniela could hear him offering words of comfort and advice to Leah. Soon Leah’s voice too disappeared and Daniela knew that the deed had been done. All three women were now dead which took the amount of people she had killed to 100. She stayed where she was, gazing at Charlotte’s still form, resting her cheek against her limp hand, held tightly inside both of her own.
“Daniela.” Duncan said. “Come on. There’s nothing else to do here now. It’s time.”
Daniela took a deep breath and nodded in agreement. She kissed Charlotte’s hand once more and placed it gently by her side.
“What will happen to their bodies?” She asked.
“We’ll send someone in to cremate them later.” Duncan said.
He took Daniela’s hand and led her gently away from the three seemingly sleeping women.
“Gary?” He asked.
“Daniela needs to give me access and then I’m ready.”
“Already done.” Daniela said.
Without another word, Daniela saw the white walls of the room that had become so familiar to her, disappear around her and with a deep breath she opened her eyes to see a darker and murkier room instead. A much more human version of Duncan was looking over her, his face a picture of concern. She acknowledged it and then she felt it; an almighty pain unlike anything she had ever before experienced entered into her chest and she let out a massive scream, desperately searching for some form of relief.