Welcome back to the prequel/serial of Drake’s story before and during the virus. Click here if you missed Part 1 and want to start at the beginning.
Before the Flight – Part 2
Drake’s mother set the parking brake and shut off the car, eyeing the dark and empty house. Her eyes glistened.
Drake stared at her from the passenger seat. “Do you want to find somewhere else to go?”
She shook her head. “It’s just…different. I grew up here, you know?”
“Grandma and Grandpa told us to stay,” Kelsey said from the back seat. “If we leave, the looters will show up before long.”
“Yeah.” Their mother opened the door and stepped out of the car, staring at the house again before shutting the door behind her.
They climbed the stairs to the front porch, something Drake’s grandparents would never do again. In the month since they arrived in Denver, at least half of the city’s population had been infected. The virus finally claimed his grandmother that morning. They’d left his grandfather sleeping in his bed at the overcrowded hospital, incoherent and fevered. His bed was one of five in a room meant for two, yet doctors and nurses rarely stopped in to check on the patients. There was nothing anyone could do to save them.
Drake had stood in the middle of that room, wearing a thin mask and following orders to wash his hands every half hour. The illness prevention measures were all show at this point. Drake and his family were likely all infected, their fate already sealed.
His mother coughed twice into her elbow as she unlocked the front door.
“Are we still pretending that’s allergies?” Kelsey asked.
Her mother glared, then entered the house and turned on the front room light. “It is allergies. I don’t have a fever.”
“You had to sit down all day today. You’re exhausted.”
Her mother snapped around, stopping Kelsey in her tracks. Drake stopped too, keeping his eyes on his mother. She started to speak, but instead, she cried.
Drake hugged her. When she pulled back, she framed his face with her hands, then kissed him on the forehead. She did the same to Kelsey before walking up the stairs to the master bedroom, where she closed the door behind her.
Drake tapped on the door with one hand and held the tray of food with the other, which had become his twice daily routine over the past two weeks. “Mom, I have your lunch.”
He knocked again.
Kelsey left her room and met him next to their mother’s door. “Just go in.”
“She said not to. She wants to put on a mask first.”
“Like that’ll make any difference.” Kelsey took the tray and grabbed the knob. “It’s locked.”
Drake bent over and analyzed the knob. “It’s one of those cheap ones. Maybe there’s a key somewhere. Or a screwdriver. I could -”
The knob jiggled and the door opened, revealing their mother. A mask hung off one ear, covering half of her mouth. She coughed without an attempt to block it.
She swayed as she held the door, then stumbled to the side. Drake ran in and held her up. Her full weight fell onto his shoulders, and the heat of her fever covered him.
He dragged her back to the bed, where she flopped onto her side.
“We should call the hospital,” Kelsey said from behind him.
“They can’t do anything.”
“That’s what people are supposed to do. You know…when it’s close. So they can put the bodies -”
“We’re not calling them. She isn’t going to die around all those other sick people, like Grandpa did. It’s not right.”
Kelsey grabbed his arm and turned him. She glared at him. “We can’t do this by ourselves. What are we gonna do? Bury her in the yard?” Tears welled in her eyes. “And we can’t leave her here in the room. We can’t. Okay?”
Drake swallowed the lump in his throat, nodded, and focused on his mother as she slept on her arm, the mask still hanging off her ear. “Yeah. Call them.”
Kelsey pulled her phone from her pocket and pressed a few icons. “It’s not working. It says no service.”
Drake took the mask off his mother’s ear. “I guess we’ll have to drive her there.”
Click here to go to Part 3.