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EPISODE FIFTEEN: The Truth

Toby pounded on the door, causing Lincoln to jump. He looked out the window at his slightly frustrated brother-in-law. He opened the door slowly.

“Hey, Toby, I was—”

“Lincoln, I need you back inside. Who knows what other crazies are going to show up.”

“I’m not going back in there, Toby,” he said, looking at the steering wheel. “I’m going to use this car, and I’m going to find Rosemarie on my own.”

“What are you talking about?” Toby put his hand on his arm. “Lincoln, I said I was going to help you find your sister. Don’t you trust that I’ll do whatever I can to find her?”

“No, Toby, I don’t!” It felt good to shout, but he knew that Toby didn’t really deserve it. He lowered his voice. “You were content with staying the night here, putting more time and distance between us and Rosemarie.” He gave Toby a fierce look. “But I need to find my sister now. I cannot wait until morning.”

Toby sighed and looked away. Lincoln almost imagined him taking on the same posture and tone when dealing with Lyn. It bothered him to think that, in this moment, he was acting about as stubborn as his oldest sister.

“Lincoln, I want to find Rosemarie, too. She’s the glue that’s holding this family together, even if it doesn’t seem like it.” He paused and exhaled loudly. “Let’s get back inside, clear this thing up with Brian —”

“But, Toby —”

“And then, we’ll use this car to drive down to Homestead and find your sister.”

The smile that Toby gave him was genuine, and did not contain even an ounce of the fear and uncertainty he felt in his own heart.

***

They had been driving for almost half an hour before she woke up. A digital clock on the dashboard shined brightly, the only real light on the bus. Rosemarie could not explain her sudden blackout, but she’d awoken feeling refreshed.

As refreshed as you can feel after almost getting strangled to death by a zombie.

The thought was about as disturbing as the actual event had been.

“You’re awake.” Jace glanced at her from his seat. Rosemarie forced a smile and stood next to him.

“Thank you,” she said. “For saving me.” It was the most she could give. Rosemarie didn’t even know who this guy was, and, yet, he’d saved her life twice, not just here on the bus, but also by getting her out of that church when those creatures first appeared.

He nodded. “All in a days work.

Rosemarie looked at the road in front of them, illuminated by the bus’s powerful headlights. Abandoned cars lined the shoulders, and some people were running around, stealing random cars they thought were better than their own. Other people were sitting on the side of the road, talking on their phones, trying to make sense of what was going on.

“This is a mess.”

“Tell me about it.” Jace sighed, keeping his eyes on the road. “They wouldn’t tell us what was going on, back there. They just told us that there was a sickness, and certain places in the city were contaminated, and we were.” In his eyes, Rosemarie could see him recalling the creature on the bus. He didn’t look frightened, though. More confused, than anything else. “They didn’t tell us it was anything like this.”

“And this wasn’t the first time I’d seen them, either.” Rosemarie looked down at herself. Her clothing was dirty from her kidnapping, but there was also some of the dark liquid she’d seen on Jace. It appeared that he’d cleaned it off since then, and had ditched the lab coat. “How did you kill it?” She ventured, not sure if this was something he wanted to talk about.

“I didn’t kill it,” he said, after a moment of silence.

Rosemarie waited for an explanation. When it didn’t come, she prodded.

“You didn’t kill it?”

Jace swallowed. “I was hitting it on the head, over and over, and it was getting hurt.” He beat his palm against the steering wheel as he spoke. Rosemarie could feel some of those palms slipping and hitting her in the face. She winced as she recalled the pain.

“But it wouldn’t die,” said Jace, shaking his head. “After a few hits, and once I started drawing some kind of blood, it ran away.”

“It ran away?” Rosemarie was confused. “You mean, it didn’t just want to kill us? It cared about not dying?”

“That’s one way to put it,” said Jace, exhaling softly. “Whatever that thing was, it had enough sense in its mind to know that if it kept choking you, it was going to die.”

Rosemarie turned back to her seat and was about to sit down when she noticed a dark red stain on the seat next to her, where she’d collapsed. She knew it wasn’t from the creature — whatever had come out of it had been black and was much thicker. It had to have come from either herself or Jace. She began to check herself for wounds — and found one. The back of her head had been cut, and had started to congeal into a thick mass of sticky, red blood. That was why she had passed out earlier.

She was losing blood.

***

This is insane. A man slams his car into the side of the church, nearly killing all of us, and we just let him sit with us like he did nothing wrong? What is wrong with these people?

Lyn watched as the bearded man, covered in blood, sat in the rocking chair Brian had dominated all evening, eating a granola bar. They all sat around him, waiting for him to talk. She leaned against her husband.

“Why do we care about this man? He nearly killed us five minutes ago.”

Her husband smiled and shook his head. “It was at least a half an hour ago. And we need to know why he would do something like this. If he’s a danger to himself or others —”

“Oh, I’m pretty sure we know the answer to that one.”

Their conversation grew quiet.

The man swallowed the last piece of granola bar and pocketed the package. “Thank you for the food.”

“You are most welcome,” Brian said, patting the man on the shoulder. “Are you up to telling us why you crashed your car into the side of this building?”

The man frowned and wiped his eyes, spreading streaks of red over his face. “This is Lighthouse Church, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“Well, then, that’s why I had to do it!” He pounded the armrest of the wooden chair. “The Lighthouse people are nothing but trouble. They don’t care about anything other than appearance. They put on a good show every week, but inside, they are rotten.” He pointed to the door leading into the rest of the church. “They don’t care about doing God’s work. They only care about building themselves up, fattening their pockets.”

“Sir, I used to be an Elder with this church, and I can understand your anger toward the church.” Brian leaned closer to the man. “But what would prompt you to drive a car into the side of the building? Isn’t that a bit extreme?”

The man laughed. “What are you talking about, extreme? This entire church needs to be destroyed, then rebuilt from the bottom to the top. Only then will anything change.”

Lyn looked at Brian. “Sounds a lot like you.” When he shook his head at her, she laughed. “What, you weren’t saying the exact same thing earlier this evening? This guy sounds so much like you, he could be your long lost son.”

That got everyone’s attention. She felt guilty for a moment, but that was quickly covered by curiosity. “Whatever happened to your son, Brian?”

The Elder grew very quiet and wouldn’t hold her eye. “I don’t want to discuss that right now.”

“Well, then, I guess we’re done here.” Lyn stormed out of the building. Toby had informed her of their plan of escape earlier, and she was ready to go. They didn’t need to hear any more stories of church politics and drama. She stayed away from church for a reason.

She grabbed some things from her husband’s car and transferred them into the truck. For a split second, she thought she saw the little girl from the school again, and she nearly lost her mind.

Why is she following me? Why doesn’t she leave me alone?

The voice was followed by another one she’d become all too familiar with.

What, like the way you left her? You knew she was dying, and you just left her!

Lyn did not pay much attention to her husband and brother coming out of the building and entering the car. She did not notice the Millers and Katie join them, carrying large backpacks and a few bottles of water.

The only thing she could think of was the fact that of all the things anyone could say about her, that she was stubborn, inconsiderate, ill-tempered and rude, the only thing that mattered — the fact that she was a murderer — no one would ever know.

End of Season One

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