INFECtIOUS

INFECtIOUS by Elizabeth Forkey Read Free Book Online

Book: INFECtIOUS by Elizabeth Forkey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Forkey
Five
    The Decaying Monster From Sesame Street

 
 
    Aunty is
glancing back and forth from road to rearview mirror; so I turn in my seat to
stare out the back window. So far no one is following us. It would be easy to
see them on this clear day. I realize Aunty is talking and I have been nodding.
Like my subconscious was listening and responding to her without me realizing
it. All of my senses are on overdrive—each working to take in every detail of
my surroundings without my cognitive intentional effort. It's the clarity of
adrenaline that I've only read about in books and it feels surreal.  

 
    "...they
were working together. One of them made the noise and the other one waited for
us to run to the car. It was all planned."

 
    She is
processing each detail out loud. She always does this with me when we are
discussing something serious. She glances sideways at me while she pushes the
car to top speeds. She wants my opinion, my input. I am lost in my fear and I
can hardly hear her.

 
    "They were
trying to take you," she says with quiet surety.

 
    Her
matter-of-fact statement grips me and I think I might throw up. When I look at
her again, I can tell she is fighting back tears. I know from the look on her
face that she is trying to make a decision. Her lips are clamped tight between
her teeth, and when she glances over at me, I can see it in her watery blue
eyes. She is trying to decide whether or not to tell me something.

 
    I've lived with
her for over 4 years now and I know her face well, her different expressions.
This face usually irritates me because I know she's hiding something from me,
and I always do what I can to pester it out of her. Right now though, that face
with its set jaw and pursed lips just scares the crap out of me. I don't know
if I want to know. I'm tempted to plug my ears and close my eyes like the
defiant little girl who came to live with Aunty at age twelve. Mad at mom and
dad for abandoning her.

 
    They say trauma
at a young age keeps you from maturing. If that's true, I'm probably operating
with the emotions of a fifth grader because I've been through a lot of trauma
in the last six years. I look out the window to avoid looking at that face that
is full of some terrible news. Aunty reaches out and grabs for my hand. She's
preparing me, supporting me for something. She has something in her hand that
rests on top of mine. She's squeezing me so tight that whatever she's holding
starts to dig into my skin. I wince and, as she relaxes her hand and pulls away
from me, the "something" stays stuck on the top of my hand.  

 
    It's a
photograph.  

 
    Of
me.

 
    "What is
this?" I ask, a cloud of fireworks threatening the edges of my vision
again. "Where did you get this?"

 
    "It's an
old Polaroid Camera photo."

 
    "What's a
Polaroid Camera?"

 
    "It's a
camera that prints the photo right out of the bottom of the camera after you
take the picture. It's pretty old-fashioned. I haven't seen one in years."

 
    "It's a
picture of me," I say with meek confusion.  

 
    I look closely
at the picture and another panic attack hits.

 
    Hyperventilating.

 
    Can't breath .

 
    Can't think!

 
    God help me!

 
    In the photo,
I'm standing on the porch of the Inn. Recently. Maybe
this week even. I just wore that shirt a few days ago. This picture is from the
zombie! This is why she didn't get straight into the car!  

 
    "But——but!"
I'm stammering. "You found this picture? Where? The
zombie? Why—how could he——It's not—?"  

 
    "Calm down
Ivy. We have to think. We have to keep our heads."   

 
    But my head is
below water. I'm drowning in panic.  

 
    "And WHY? ", I shriek. "They were actually after me! Why me?
How did they know we would be there? Are they from Toccoa ?
Do they know someone in our community? Did somebody we know do this? Is that
even possible?" I'm at champagne-glass-shattering decibels now.

 
    "Ivy,"
Aunty tries to bring me

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