12.10.12

Dreams and Journeys

We never did find anyone at the base, but we did find a small reservoir of fuel so we could fuel up the Jeep. We spent the night on base and called in the next morning. We told Natalie about the locked up clinic we found in the center of the base.
"When we broke through the doors, it looked like there'd been some kind of fight. The room is scorched and there are bodies in cages. It's the only human signs we've found. I think there was a breakout of PTA here, Natalie," I told her.
"That's impossible, Dahlia. The virus is so strained now, you know as well as I do that the government has every resource to kill the virus even if an infected does overpower someone. How many bodies were there?"
"At least ten. The clinic is small, about the size of my lab, so you can imagine the mess..."
"We'll never be able to figure out what happened without pulling record, and we can't do that without access to someone who worked there. What about the antibiotics? Did you find any medicine?"
"There were a few vials left in a freezer. Enough to get everyone through til the next truck. And there was some insulin, too. I don't know if there's enough for everyone, but we can be careful and ration it. I've got everything on ice in the Jeep, we're ready to move."
"Try to hurry, Dahlia. We're treating everyone as best we can, but you know this is risky. Nobody's allowed in the research building til you guys get back with the medicine. We don't want to risk anything with weakened immune systems. I estimate at least half the subjects will be past the turning point by the time we can get back in there, so every minute counts."
"Yes, ma'am. Understood. We'll be there as soon as we can."

As we drove back, the conversation was awkward to say the least.
"Do you... have nightmares a lot?" John asks.
"No, not really. Just when I'm very stressed." I answer.
"Are you stressed right now?"
"Well, a little."
"...Why?"
"Belle's sick."
"Is that it?"
"...Yeah."
"Is there any way I can help?"
"No, not really. Thanks though."

After waking up in the middle of the night, John had drilled me about the dream. Mostly all he got out of me was that my mother was sick and my brother died of PTA. I didn't let on to my mother's secrets. I didn't give him any dates or names. I still felt a bit invaded by all the questions, and the ride home I was still feeling on edge. But he wouldn't let up, every ten or fifteen minutes he would come up with a new question.

"Did your mom die from her illness?"
"Yeah."
"What happened to your brother?"
"He's gone."
"And your aunt?"
"With my brother."
"So they... abandoned you?"
"No! Of course not! God, what's with all these questions, John?"
"Sorry! Sorry, I guess I misunderstood. I didn't mean to offend you, or say anything about your family, I'm sorry."
"Yeah, it's ok. Sorry for yelling..."
"I get it, it's a touchy subject."

It was the longest two days of my life. And as far as I could tell, John didn't get any closer to learning my family's secrets than the moment I woke up screaming.

Devils in the church

I'm in the church my mother once took us to on Sundays when I was a child. I'm in a small children's room and we are about to join our parents in the sanctuary for the sermon. We are walking across the familiar carpeted room where we play tag and dodgeball before classes, and we line up single file at the door on the far end. There are ten of us counting my brother and myself. The teacher, a friendly fat old lady with short red curls on her head and pale whitish blue eyes that, even of they were not squinted in an eternal smile, she probably couldn't see out of anyway, puts one knobby finger with a pink manicured nail up to her lips and we all know we are supposed to follow suit. Finally we file into the sanctuary. The room is small, with about thirty pew benches in total. There are probably half as many families in the building, some familiar and some new. Then I see my mother standing in the middle of the aisle way and realize what's going on. This is a memory, and I know exactly what's about to happen.
The church we are standing in is a very moderate group. Most of the people are middle class, day to day people with moderate, day to day beliefs, and the speakers at this church generally reflect that. In short, they are not prepared for my mother.
"There are devils in this church!" is what I remember hearing her shriek. I remember fear, her terror and my own, as a grasp my brother's hand tightly. I remember being confused and embarrassed, because, even though I was young enough to believe my mother really saw these things, I was old enough to know that it was a secret, and strangers shamed her for it.
What I don't remember, however, is what happened next. Those familiar faces, which I remember showing faces of fear and anger, are instead melting away, corroding, lengthening into the jaundice profiles of my subjects at the lab. There is moaning and screeching and my mother's incessant declaration, and it all jumbles together in my view and ears and I can't understand what's going on til I see my brother looking at me and calling me. His face starts to morph and I scream, waking myself up to stare into John's concerned face.