From the Desk of Dr. Lisa James – October 16
“Should we get going, then?” I followed Jack and Sylvia into the kitchen. I could already tell she was trying to make him more than her friend.
Sylvia waved a hand at me. “That was the only one of those things for miles. Quit worrying.” Turning back to Jack, she put on one of her seductive smiles while batting her eyelashes. “I’m sure our new friend would like some coffee before the world runs out of it. How do you like it?”
He shook his head. “Never mind. Bad joke. However you’re taking it.”
I noticed he seemed a bit preoccupied, but I put it off as we were all preoccupied. Specifically Sylvia, but her preoccupation was with something else. When we got to the kitchen, Alex and Rex were packing a few snacks into a bag. Except Rex had gotten a hold of one of his toy cars and was driving it around the floor. Its wheels scraped the tiles.
“Who are you?” Alex was the first to speak.
“Alex!” Sylvia scolded her daughter.
Jack bent down. “I’m Jack. I hear your name is…Alex? Is that right?”
“Lexi to you.” She still seemed a bit guarded.
“Ah. You know what that name means?”
“Means you’re the defender of all mankind.”
Alex tilted her head to one side. “That’s a lot of pressure.”
A smile spread across Jack’s face. “You know what Alex means?”
Sylvia’s daughter perked a bit more. “What?”
“It means you have to protect all of Greece.”
Alex’s nose crinkled. “That’s not a very good job.”
“Ooh.” Jack took a quick look around. “Don’t tell a Greek person that.”
“And who’s this?” He turned toward Rex, but all my son did was chomp at the air as if he were vicious. “Let me guess… Jaws?”
Alex giggled again. “That’s Rex. Aunt Lisa’s son.”
“Rex.” Jack mused for a moment. “Good name. Nice to meet you, Rex.”
“Rex.” My son repeated his name. Sylvia turned to make coffee.
“Rex suffers from autism.” I moved closer to my son as Jack stood.
“I noticed.” He shrugged. “I just wasn’t sure how sensitive of an issue it was.”
“Yeah.” He looked at me. “I had a cousin who had Asperger’s. Where is he on the spectrum?”
The question put me back for a moment. No one had ever asked except doctors. “Well, he sees patterns in everything, but has trouble learning. We think he’s somewhere in the middle with a mild learning disorder.”
Jack nodded. “Has it been difficult?”
“Oh, hell yeah.” Sylvia handed Jack a cup of coffee but offered none to me. “That kid gives Lisa a run for her money all the time. Sometimes she can handle it, but most of the time it’s a struggle.”
Jack glanced at me. Presumably because he thought I’d want to start a fight, but I was accustomed to Sylvia’s odd need to compete with me. I paid no mind to it any longer.
A thump on the sliding glass door caused Sylvia to yelp. She let go of her coffee mug where it shattered to pieces on the floor. Startled, Rex began to sniffle. I bent forward to pick him up. He struggled with me at first.
“Get the bags.” We all looked at Jack whose focus was on the door. When we all switched our gazes, understanding flooded through everyone.
A woman with a large bite out of her shoulder was shuffling along outside. We knew she’d seen us as she’d turned and banged on the glass again. Rex whimpered. After the second attempt to break the glass, the woman began clawing at it, chomping at the air as Rex had done a few moments earlier. Foam collected at the sides of her mouth.
“Get the bags.” Jack’s voice once again destroyed the haze of stunned silence and booted us into action. I lurched forward with my son still in my arms and grabbed his bag. The woman pounded on the glass, causing me to jump. When Alex went to snatch her duffle, the woman threw her entire body into the door, causing it to shudder in its frame. Alex squealed.
“Let’s go, guys.” Jack’s voice was low and calm. We turned to follow him out the front door. But as soon as we got there, an infected male popped up in the side window, howling at us. Sylvia screamed as a few more victims began rapping on the door.
“You got a fire extinguisher?” Jack asked Sylvia. When she didn’t answer, he shook her shoulder gently. “Hey! You got a fire extinguisher?”
Sylvia shook her head. “Y-yeah. In the garage.”
He squinted at her. “Why in the…? Forget it. Let’s go.”
We followed him down the hall and through the doorway to the garage. Jack began sorting through piles of junk my friend had collected because she was too petrified to remember where the thing was. I set Rex down and joined in.
“Thanks.” Jack tossed some old clothes away. They still had tags.
“We need to get out of here.”
“Yeah, no shit.”
We tossed boxes of crap aside until those things started running into the garage door, causing the metal bangs to reverberate off the dry wall. That only made us search faster. I was the one who found the fire extinguisher beneath a pile of discarded perfume bottles. I tossed it to Jack then ran to grab Rex.
Jack positioned himself by the door opener. “Okay, on my signal, you run across the street to my buddy’s car.”
I nodded. After a deep breath, Jack hit the button and the door to the garage began to slowly open. Before the damn thing was even halfway open, infected people began clawing their way underneath. Jack sprayed each one right in the face with CO2 until they howled, clawing at their faces while running backward.
“Go!” He shouted when the door was open. We all took off running. Occasionally, he’d turn around and fire the extinguisher at them, laying them out as if he had a flamethrower.
Want to find out what happens next? Check out the book here.