Tuesday, 14 July 2009 - 9:18 pm

Rising Tide

There were a few developments overnight, none of which were good for any of us.

The first one was Jersey’s trouble in getting up this morning. He was hurt far worse than he told anyone yesterday – I bandaged a bite on his arm, but he’s bleeding under his shirt. He wouldn’t let anyone help him, but disappeared off to deal with it himself. Masterson tried to look at it and got a fist in the face for his trouble. I’m worried about the Wolverine and now our doctor is too grumpy to look at anyone.

Ben told me a couple of days ago that Jersey was hiding something. Now I’m not the only one that suspects there’s something going on with him.

And then there’s Ben. By this morning, he had another red stripe on his neck, extending up over his jawline this time. He wouldn’t let me look at him but it certainly looks like sunburn to me. It can’t be – we couldn’t have been outside more than an hour. He seems to be in some pain with it and it’s making him snappish. I tried to talk to him, so he got up and went on patrol around the building. I wanted to chase him but I can take a hint.


About the time that Ben made his abrupt departure, I caught the drift of an intense conversation in the rest of the group. A clump of about ten of them were facing off and the volume of the discussion was escalating. I went over to see what was going on and had to shout to get them to shut up long enough for someone to tell me.

“They want to throw out everyone who got bitten yesterday,” Matt said. He was so tense that his hands were curled into fists, even his bandaged one. He had fallen on it badly on the ice; he wasn’t bitten.

When I asked why they wanted to get rid of the bitten, Tom, one of the runners, spoke up. “They’re afraid we’ll turn into those beasts outside.”

I can’t say that I blame them. We’ve faced that threat from within, we’ve seen our own rise up in mindless hunger, lunging for people once called friends. It’s terrifying; no-one was denying that.

“Do we know that’s how it works?” I asked. “Those we’ve seen with the Sickness weren’t bitten.”

“We’ve seen some who were.” I can’t remember who spoke – another of the runners, I think.

“What about the priest?”

“Plenty of us have been bitten and haven’t got Sick!” That was Matt again, I think.

He had a point, but it spiralled the argument up until I had to shout for silence again. I felt so small, standing in the middle of the group – I think everyone was gathered by then, except for Ben, and Bree’s little troupe. It was a few long seconds before the voices died down and then I was pinned by every pair of eyes in the room.

“We’re not going to throw anyone out for being bitten. If people start getting Sick, then we’ll talk about it. But we’re not acting on paranoia, and we’re not going to kill people.”

Jersey started to say that they weren’t talking about killing anyone, and I had to point out that yes, that’s exactly what they were talking about. Throwing them out, injured and without supplies, to fend for themselves on streets infested with shamblers – they’ll die. We all know it.

“We’re stronger together. Let’s stay that way as long as possible,” I told them.

No-one spoke up to argue with me that time. The resistance was there, riding under the atmosphere in the room, but it didn’t form into words. I waited a few nervous heartbeats, then I walked out of the circle. My hands were trembling and I went to repack my gear to have something to do.

Janice and a couple of the others thanked me. That helped. Then Matt came to see if I was all right and I was grateful for the support. I started to feel like I’d done something more than just push back the tide. I’m too scared to feel comfortable, though.

That tide is going to come in again. As soon as someone gets sick, it’s going to blow up worse than it did today. I’m dreading it. I don’t know how long I can keep hold of control here, or even if I should. If it comes down to a real debate, will anyone listen to me?

I don’t feel qualified; I just feel strongly. And very, very small.