Max climbed up into the attic, not knowing what to expect, when he was fully up into the gloomy interior Amelia pointed at the makeshift bed onto which she had brought Sarah. Jessica, Max's daughter, was near her mother's head, telling her everything would be okay. Max stepped over to them and took his wife in his arms.
“Oh Sarah! Sarah! Thank God!” he sobbed with relief, “I was so worried, when we got here and the door was open, with a body in the yard, I thought, I thought it was you!”
“Max?” Sarah mumbled, “Is it really you? You're bleeding?”
Behind Max his son came up and put his arms around his father’s waist, not saying anything. Amelia stood awkwardly near the access door, then finally cleared her throat and said she better go stop Cory, whose plaintive cries for 'Amelia' could be heard through the venting, from yelling his head off in the front yard.
“Thank God you're alright! He stayed there for a moment hugging his wife and children, before he felt Sarah stiffen. “What?”
“I think one of them bit me Max.” she said softly.
“What? No, no that can't be! Where did they bite you? You were in the attic, did they get up here?”
Sarah pushed Max back and pulled aside the blankets her children had lain down upon her. Max didn't want to believe what he saw, she had a small t-shirt folded neatly pressed against her leg, the wound underneath had bled through and Sarah gently lifted it out to reveal a wound, that was still bleeding furiously. In the darkness Max couldn't be sure it was a bite wound. “Flashlight” he said, his son let him go long enough to hand him a small LED flashlight which Max turned on and used to examine the wound. It was a bite mark, Max could see where the top row of teeth had pierced her skin.
“This is bad?” Sarah asked.
“Did you disinfect it?”
“Shit.” Max stood up abruptly, toppling Nick into some boxes, where Max caught him with a quick grab, “Sorry bud, stay here, I'll be right back!” moving quickly Max went down the ladder into the bathroom linen closet and grabbed a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and some clean washrags and towels. He scrambled back up the stairs and back to Sarah's side, where he unscrewed the bottle cap and poured it onto her wound, she tensed up momentarily. “Does it hurt?” Max asked.
“No it is just cold. What's wrong Max? What's wrong?”
“I...human bites are very bad for you...there are not going to be any more doctor visits or co-pays or anything for a long time, if ever again. We have to take care of ourselves better now and fast, we can't wait around to treat stuff like this.”
“Is that it?” Sarah asked.
“I'll tell ya later.” Max answered, which was parent code for 'when the kids were not around'.
Sarah nodded and lay back as Max finished cleansing the wound and then pressed a wash rag over it. Finally he tore a towel into strips and used one to bind the makeshift bandage into place.
“Can you move?” he asked.
“I think so, it is deep but not like through the bone or anything.”
Together they made their way downstairs where Amelia, Tom, Cory and Stewart were waiting. The front door had been shut and the couch moved over behind it. Stewart was on the couch looking back towards the kitchen, her pistol on her lap.
“Stewart.” Max said, “You okay?”
She raised her head to look at him and answer, “Fuck no. I think I have broken ribs.”
Wincing at her language around the kids Max said, “So you will live?”
“Steve didn’t make it.”
A look of alarm and disbelief came over her face, then she clamped down and made her face into a neutral mask once more. “What happened?”
“Steve chased Veronica into the backyard, I don’t know what happened, but…”
“I do!” said Cory softly, “He..they, the zombies caught me when I came over the fence one…one had each of my hands, that guy with the shotgun came out and shot one of them, the other one tried to keep him from shooting her and when he was getting close that Veronica zombie hit him with a chair. Then she jumped on him and they were rolling around, only she was all messed up and couldn’t fight very well, so she called on the lady holding me for help. That lady threw me over the fence. He kinda saved me.”
“Yeah, I bet he did. When I came out, he was getting up off the ground, she had shot at him a couple of times and missed, but I missed her head when I got my shot off. She shot him with the shotgun, his own shotgun. Well your's really. Gut shot him, at point blank. He just stood there for a second, then tried to take a breath, but couldn’t, then he spun around and collapsed. I can’t believe it happened. If I would hit her in the head I could have saved him.” Max said bitterly.
“He came along knowing what could happen Max, he died trying to save a kid, not many people can say that and it is better than being eaten or becoming one of them. This is Sarah?”
“Yes, this is Sarah. Sarah this is Officer Jane Stewart, we all call her 'Stewart'. I think Sarah is okay...but one of them, I think, might have bit her.”
Stewart stiffened visibly at this news, which Sarah noticed, “What? It isn't anything fatal, I mean it hurts, but it is not that bad.”
“I poured a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on it.” Max began only to be interrupted by Amelia.
Addressing Max's children she said, “You must be Max's kids, what are your names?”
“Well Nick and Jessica this is Cory, his about your age, huh Nick? Do you think you might have some extra cloths he could use? His are all dirty and both of you should get dressed, we might be leaving today. Why don't we all go upstairs and you can show me your rooms while your mom and dad talk with Stewart and Tom.”
The children were reluctant, but Sarah pushed them off, telling them to brush their teeth and comb their hair too. Amelia herded them upstairs and soon the other adults were able to hear the sounds of quiet laughter and running water as the kids cleaned up.
“Now what? It is the bite isn't it. It's like infected or something, isn't it?”
Max stood stoically, for a moment, then hugged her close and said, “It is how they kill us and make more zombies. The bite infects you, then you die. Then you come back as one of them.”
Sarah's eyes puffed up and a tear welled out of one of them. “Are you sure? Have you seen it happen? Who told you this?”
“Blake, on the radio and a lot of people called him to say so too. And it happened at work, but when we were there the zombies actually killed the people, so I don't know anything for certain. Maybe you will be okay.”
“How much time do I have?” Sarah asked.
“I don't know, how do you feel? Maybe the hydrogen peroxide disinfected it?” Stewart wouldn't meet his eyes, Tom shook his head slowly.
“Max we don't know, we won't maybe we can call the dj and see if anyone knows?” said Tom, “We should try and secure this place a little better, Stewart says the back door is all busted out. Let’s take care of safety first, then make some calls.”
Stewart and Max were the most wounded of the four of them, Sarah's bite hurt, but Max had torn open his wound again and was bleeding pretty badly. They took a moment to pull Stewart's Kevlar vest off and then bind up Max's ribs again. The bruise under Stewart's vest was terrible; it a was deep blue circle as big around as an orange with a small dot of red in the middle of it that was weeping blood. Pressing her hands against the wound Stewart said, “They might not be broke.” To which the others just shook their heads. Tom and Sarah pulled some lumber out of Max's garage, most of it would not work, but Max did have some plywood and old table tops that he had taken from his father in law with the intention of refinishing a long time ago. The two more able bodied adults, who were soon assisted by Amelia, propped the various bits against the opening where the glass patio doors had been, making a sizable barricade. At the very least they would hear anything trying to get through it.
Sarah, with the help of Amelia, then made them all a halfway decent breakfast and they sat down to try and call Blake at the radio station and make plans for what they were going to do next.
After breakfast Tom went into the backyard from the garage, which had a regular door to pass through and pulled Steve's body to the side of the house. He also pulled the other corpses to the side and covered them with sheets from the house. When he came in he called out, “Stewart? Hey yeah I checked out the yard trying to find the shotgun, but no go, it is gone. But I found this.” Tom walked into view carrying a plastic Target bag. The rest of the adults were sitting in the living room. Max's kids were upstairs, trying to decide what to pack. Cory had fallen asleep on the couch head resting against Max.
“What is in the bag Tom?” asked Stewart.
“Check it out.” He handed the bag to Stewart, she opened it and gave him a puzzled look.
“What the fuck is this shit? This yours Max?” Stewart asked, thinking maybe it was a gift for his kids that somehow ended up outside.
Max looked at Cory sleeping beside him, then at and into the bag and shook his head, “You’re gonna have to change the way you speak, no swearing around little kids. And no I don’t know anything about that stuff. Is there a receipt in the bag? Receipts have dates on them.” He said to Tom’s puzzled look. Max also knew that Sarah kept the receipts in every bag, especially with gifts, if there was not a receipt the bag was not from their house.
“Nope, nothing. Look at this stuff, hand held games, one, no, two different systems, the new PSP and the DS, expensive stuff too. Where’d this come from?”
They sat and stared at each other for awhile before Max said, “Maybe Cory picked it up?”
Amelia shook her head, “Not when he was with me, we passed a Target, but we didn't go inside and we didn't get anything like this stuff.”
“Yeah and Cory tried to show me his game in the back yard, it got busted or something. I don't think he would have cared if he had a bag of the stuff.” said Max.