EPISODE THREE: Explosion
Lincoln stared at his phone, hoping a message would appear, but none came. No one would help him escape from this prison. Rosemarie hadn’t been back, which was good for her, but left him to deal with everyone else alone.
Why does Lyn have to be so immature? She doesn’t even know how to pick a good fight.
They sat around the television. No one had moved, except for when his father had decided to put on a movie, and they all sat in front of the screen, fuming in silence. At least, he was fuming.
A notification on his phone drew his attention. Someone had tagged him in a post on Facebook. He tapped it and frowned. It was a link to a blog post about a guy eating another guy’s face. They’d gone through this zombie scare years ago. Why were they circulating this story again? Everyone knew that guy was toasted, and there had been rumors that he’d escaped from an insanity ward, or something like that.
Lincoln figured he’d just had a bad run, or a bad trip, and decided to eat his friend’s face. Either way, it was creepy, and he didn’t want to think about it anymore. He’d take zombies over the craziness of his family any day. He would probably feed Lyn to them first, then maybe her husband, and then his mother and father. Rosemarie he would protect. She had had his back growing up, and the only thing he could do was to have her back as well.
“Hey, look at this,” Tobias said, leaning over to hand his phone to Jamison.
Emmy watched as her husband took the phone from the man’s hand and studied the screen.
“I don’t get it.”
“People have been getting really sick,” Tobias said, wringing his hands. “You were talking about some of your neighbors, but it seems like a whole lot of people are getting sick as well.”
Jamison handed back the phone. “Maybe there’s just something going around.”
“Yeah, like the bird flu or something like that.”
Lincoln opened his mouth but closed it immediately. Emmy hoped he wouldn’t think better of it and make a comment about orange juice. They didn’t need this.
“Hey, can we turn to the news?” Lyn asked, shifting in her seat next to her husband. “Maybe there really is something going around.”
“If it’s local, I doubt the news would care,” Jamison said.
“Goulds never makes the news, kids,” Emmy added. She knew it wasn’t true, though. Two years ago, there’d been a brush fire a few blocks away from here, and it’d been all over the news. They had even interviewed some kids she recognized from around the neighborhood. She wasn’t sure why she’d lied. It had come out so naturally.
Jamison switched the channel, searching for a news station. When he found one, he turned up the volume.
“And, in other news, a roller coaster accident in New Jersey has left at least a dozen dead, thousands more terrified.”
“Oh, leave it up to the news to ruin your day,” Lincoln mumbled, staring at his phone again. Emmy resisted the urge to tell him to shut it off. He was a big boy. He should know how to control himself.
“When we get back from the break, we’ll talk about the startling new trend in female fashion, the—”
Jamison changed the channel.
“Can you tell us a little bit about your symptoms?”
He had landed on one of those medical talk shows. Emmy rolled her eyes. She had seen soap operas with less drama than these talk shows. It seemed as if the medical shows decided they needed to compete with the popularity of medical dramas, adding ridiculous stories and conflict where it didn’t exist.
“Well, I’ve been quite feverish and—”
Here the person tapered off. Emmy looked at the woman’s face. She was pale, sweating, and extremely thin. The panel of doctors sat across from her, studying her carefully.
“You can tell us,” the youngest doctor said, touching her arm. He immediately drew it away.
“My goodness,” he exclaimed, “you’re ice cold!”
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” the woman said, covering her face with trembling hands. “I’ve just had this strange desire to—”
She stopped talking again.
“Um, ma’am, I think we need to—”
Suddenly, the woman lunged at the young doctor, grabbing him by the throat. It took all the other doctors to pry her off. They held her against the couch as security guards rushed onto the stage. Emmy rolled her eyes. This was ridiculous.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” the woman sobbed. “I can’t explain it, but when I see him, I want to—”
“What do you want to do?”
The woman stared up at the circle of doctors, her eyes growing wide, her face losing color fast.
“When I see him, I just want to eat his brain.”
Her father quickly changed the channel. A laugh escaped from Lyn’s mouth.
“Was that lady serious?”
“I’ve seen worse ones,” her mother said, standing up and walking into the kitchen, empty cup in hand. “This woman was mild compared to some of the others.”
“Yeah, but wanting to eat someone’s brain?” Toby shook his head. “That’s kind of out there.”
“Almost like that story that came out a few years ago,” Lincoln interjected, “the one with that guy who ate the other dude’s face.”
“Yeah, and set off an eight month zombie scare,” Lyn replied. “I don’t believe any of that nonsense.”
“You’ve seen the video,” Lincoln said.
“Yeah, and I’ve seen the videos of planes crashing into the Twin Towers.”
Lyn didn’t know what to say. For once, she and Lincoln had had an amiable argument. She almost smiled.
“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but it’s just a little too creepy for me.” Her father stood up and joined her mother in the kitchen. Lyn listened as he poured himself something to drink. “What would you do if I just started trying to eat one of your faces off?”
“Those guys were under some serious drugs, Dad,” Lincoln said from his seat. “Unless you’re taking something without telling the rest of us.”
“You’re the only one doing that,” Lyn said under her breath. Lincoln didn’t hear, but Toby did. He poked her in the side. She rolled her eyes.
I know, I know. Stay calm. Don’t let it get to you.
They had had a moment of respite from battle, but Lincoln was making it too hard.
“I’m clean, Lincoln. I have been for some time.”
“Well, do you all want some of these cinnamon buns?” Her mother held a tray of the stuff and brought it into the living room. Lyn turned around to see her father’s face. She knew he had hated eating in the living room, but she wondered why had hadn’t said anything. Maybe he’d grown dull in his old age.
“It’s a shame Rosemarie isn’t around for these,” Lincoln said, grabbing one and taking a bite. “I think, next to me, she loves these the most.”
“You mean she loves you the most, or that she loves the cinnamon buns almost as much as you love them?” Toby laughed as he took one.
“Either one, bro,” Lincoln said, laughing. “Either one.”
Lyn felt bile rising in her throat.
How dare he laugh at my husband?
Her anger toward her brother was so irrational. That’s what Toby, and her mother, and her father would say. You need to calm down. You need to let it go.
But Lyn knew why she was so upset with Lincoln. She knew why she would never forgive him. It was not irrational.
And it didn’t bother her at all.