Define "mistake"...

I have been here for two months now. The thing about having time on your hands and no real way to spend it is you get ideas. I got one about a month ago to use my current job pulling weeds as a doorway to my true calling-researching the monster that destroyed my world: PTA. So, I've been collecting pieces and trading extra food at the market for special requests. I traded my green beans for a child's science kit from Mr. Toren, which was only missing a petri dish and a couple slides (which I easily replaced with screens from old cell phones I've been collecting.)

I found an unused file cabinet and some plexiglass windshields from a dump a few miles away. Along with other various supplies. I've been going down there once a week. It's quite an experience. I got the directions from Gramma, and I take the jeep. It's just a huge lumber yard, full of stuff. Trash, furniture, tools... Some things are whole, most things are broken or damaged. I walk through with a large tote and the second time I came out here, I actually found a dolly that works pretty well. So I use that for big stuff. It's strange walking around that place. Just random stuff piled around. Out of use. Probably most of the original owners are dead.

Yesterday when I went, I got to the center and as I lifted a beam to inspect an electric cooler underneath, a dead body rolled out at my feet. It was a young woman, her hair was gone and she was wearing nothing but torn white underpants and bra. Her skin was so thin that in some places it was translucent. I could see her rib-bones peeking out of her skinny chest. Her eyes were stuck open. Green. Dead.

I didn't really know what to do at first. It didn't really look like PTA, at least not the way I'd ever seen it. It's possible that she had contracted a slight version, different from what happens in large cities, and had simply starved before PTA could take her. Either way, I didn't want to touch her with my bear hands. So I got in the jeep and pulled on my respirator and gloves, and wandered til I found a tarp that had only a couple small holes, and was large enough to wrap around her several times.

I know, bringing her into town was stupid. Bringing her this close to my grandmother and myself was idiotic. Keeping her in the makeshift lab I've constructed is insane. But I don't know what came over me. And now she's here, and I don't want to get rid of her. I did a biopsy, and according to the patterns of erosion on her brain, she seems to have been infected, but I think the parasite was in a severe state of lethargy, because there are big patches where it dug in instead of around. Like it got stuck, or tired, and just sat there and ate until it got energy enough to move again. I've never seen or heard of anything like this before. This could be my chance to make myself safe from the government! If I can decode this new strain before it becomes another pandemic, it would make me infamous. They wouldn't dare to touch me if I were that kind of hero. And there's the chance that this strain can be cannibalized into something that actually destroys the parasite. What if this is the answer? I could pretend like I never knew about the whole brain thing at all! That I left the base to study this strain, to find a cure, like I never even knew about any of this at all! I could say I wanted a change of scenery.

So I can't return her body. I can't dispose of it. Of course, if Gramma knew what I was doing.... She would be mortified. Kick me out and burn the lab. I know it. And she probably should. I probably should. But I can't. If this could be the answer to the question I've been asking for so long... If there's even a chance that this could help...

I'll be careful. And I'll pretend like nothing's going on. But I can't just abandon this. It's my responsibility, my duty, my calling, to do anything and everything I am capable of to kill this bug, once and for all, without harming healthy people. And besides, she's dead. Really really undead. The bugs in her head are dead. So there's no threat. As long as nothing unforseen happens, the bugs will stay dead in her head, and everything will be fine.

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