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09 November 2011 @ 07:28 pm
as far as the world extends: part iv: vive memor leti  
part iv: vive memor leti (live remembering death)

They hadn't seen a zombie in over a week, not even at night, which they seemed to prefer. One of the younger boys pointed out that it looked like it might be the last warm weekend before the autumn chill seeped in and the leaves fell from the trees. Another suggested venturing outside, just into the schoolyard, maybe for a game of basketball. Met with initial horror and fear the idea quickly gained some momentum, particularly among the more active member of the group, no longer content to play basketball indoors; not when crisp, fresh air was so readily available outdoors.

Kalinda was against it, of course. It was a stupid and unnecessary risk, at least until they were sure that every zombie in town had been cleared out. She couldn't help rolling her eyes when Cary, ever foolhardy, came out in favour. A mini-tournament was planned, with the willing participants placed on teams, divided up to make it as even as possible.

They played for hours, just long enough for everyone to relax their guards when the zombies came en masse.

At the sound of the first screams Kalinda was up the stairs to the roof with her M4A1 Carbine and a box of extra ammo. From there she attempted to pick off as many zombies as possible without killing any of their people. From her vantage point she saw Cary pull a zombie off a young woman but for his trouble get attacked by several more. She suppressed the urge to vomit as she watched one bite Cary's carotid hard enough to slice it open, spraying blood everywhere.

Cursing her slowness, Kalinda took aim and a bullet pierced the brain of that particular zombie.

It didn't take very long for the survivors to pull themselves inside, leaving the remaining zombies to be sniped by Kalinda and the few others who joined her on the roof.

As she descended the stairs, clutching her rifle so tightly her fingers began to turn white, thinking of how her carelessness had cost Cary his life, a teenage girl came up to her, relaying the news that someone had been injured but not killed. Kalinda heard her breathlessly mention the name 'Florrick' and felt her stomach jump into her throat. Without waiting for the girl to finish Kalinda pushed by her, running down to the school's 'quarantine' rooms at top speed.

Unbidden prayers to gods she didn't even believe in came to mind as Kalinda ran, overlapping the repeating mantra please don't be alicia, please don't be alicia.

It wasn't Alicia.

It was Zach.

Kalinda took a few calming breaths, trying to cleanse herself of disgusting feelings of relief and the remnants of terror. When she walked in the room she went straight to Will's side. He was standing there a few feet away from Alicia and Zach, just standing, staring at them. He looked to be in shock.

Peter had pushed himself into the darkened corner of the classroom, muttering to himself. Kalinda thought she heard a few sobs and the words "Not again" repeated over and over. It wasn't until Zach called out for him that Peter moved.

It was a horrifying sight, one that turned Kalinda's stomach and made her chest feel tight; a mother and father, so scared and angry, trying to put aside their fear and hold back their sobs as their son slowly died in front of them. Zach's wounds weren't catastrophic, only a few gouges and bites. Plenty of blood, yes, but if not for the manner of delivery he would be bandaged up and sent on his way with only a few warnings about keeping the lacerations clean and dry. But this was the new world and those bites were from zombies, transmitting the D3 virus through their blood and saliva, effectively condemning death to all.

Zach was going to die within a few hours. They all knew it.

Kalinda reached for Will's hand, pulling him gently from the room, shutting the door. Eli Gold was outside, sitting on one of the chairs placed for those waiting outside this quarantine room, his eyes wide and uncharacteristically sympathetic. Kalinda tilted her head, examining him, trying to decide if he really cared about the Florricks that much before recalling that he too had a daughter not much older than Zach. She'd never heard him mention her and she wondered briefly if that meant that she was dead.

Kalinda sat beside him, saying nothing but deciding to wait. Every so often she peeked through the small window in the door, though she was not really even certain about why; perhaps curiosity or empathy. Or that other emotion that she pushed down and refused to name.

Each time Kalinda glanced inside the scene was the same: Zach, pale and still, propped up against Alicia's chest, one of her arms wrapped around his chest, the other in his dark hair. Peter kneeling beside them, clutching Zach's limp hand, sometimes pressing it against his lips, trying to convey the true measure of affection. Kalinda had seen some pretty horrible things in her time as an investigator and even more since since the damned epidemic but that scene, Alicia and Peter Florrick's vigil over their son shot right to the very top of her list.

She knew Zach was gone when she heard the scream. Alicia's wail of anguish seemed to echo through every hall of the school, many people popping their heads around the corner to check out the commotion before being shooed away by Eli.

The door opened slowly and Peter emerged, his son's blood dried brown and stiff on his once-white shirt. His eyes were hollow and blank as he turned to Kalinda, Will and Eli.

"She wants you," Peter said, his voice low and hoarse. He slumped down into a chair beside Eli. Eli stroked Peter's head and back in an empathetic gesture that seemed entirely foreign to him, made even stranger by the fact that Peter seemed to accept the proffered comfort. The world really was backwards.

Kalinda walked into the room with reticence, unsure of what she could possibly offer to a grieving mother.

Alicia was kneeling in the center of the room, stroking Zach's dark hair. His eyes were mercifully closed and despite his paleness, he looked as though he could be sleeping. It seemed like a trite observation, but it didn't seem right that Zach Florrick, with his wide eyes and too-long hair, was dead. His blood had dried on the floor and on Alicia, the thin film cracking as she moved for the first time in hours.

"Give me your gun." Alicia's voice was strong, with only a hint of a waver.

Kalinda handed it over dutifully, remaining silent.

Alicia gestured towards the door with the butt of the pistol. "Don't let them see," she said, referring to Will or Peter or whomever else was lingering outside. Kalinda nodded, a sense of dread growing in the pit of her belly even as she knew what came next.

Alicia leaned over, brushing the hair off Zach's forehead before pressing a lingering kiss there. "I love you," she whispered.

The sound of the gunshot echoed through the room.


---

Ten people had been killed, including Zach Florrick.

---

Kalinda didn't bother to turn on the lights as she entered the small classroom she used as her room. She rested her M-1 on the short table beside the door, placing the hand-sharpened machete beside it. There was zombie blood on it and she knew she should clean it off to avoid infection but she was so tired, her arms and legs aching from the physical exertion of violence, that she waved the task off for the morning.

She pulled her jacket off. It too was slick with blood. She'd scrub it tomorrow as well.

A small noise, like a stifled sob came from the corner of the room. Kalinda had her handgun up and pointed in that direction before her next breath. When nothing attacked within a few moments she reached blindly for her flashlight with her left hand, keeping the gun and her eyes trained in the direction of the noise.

Kalinda had to suppress a gasp as the light revealed Alicia to be the origin of the sound. Alicia was sitting hunched over, arms clutched around her torso, on one of the blue plastic chairs Kalinda had shoved into the corner, her hair falling down over her face like a curtain. She dropped her arm immediately, placing the gun on the table before going to Alicia.

The flashlight cast only a thin beam of light, so it wasn't until she placed her hand on Alicia's forearm that she realized Alicia too was covered in blood.

"Alicia," a sense of urgency crept into Kalinda's voice. "Alicia, what happened?"

Alicia lifted her head slowly, like she was on a time delay. Kalinda almost gasped when she saw her. Alicia's eyes were dull and lifeless, her mouth pressed into a thin line. Blood, deep crimson in the dim light, was smeared across her face, coating her hair and clothes.

"Peter," Alicia croaked his name, her voice weak. She looked down, drawing Kalinda's attention to a large gash starting on the palm of her hand, extending what looked like several inches up her forearm, likely missing anything vital.

"Alicia..." Kalinda breathed her name, drawing it out against her tongue. There was a sudden pain in her belly, like a kick in the gut, as she realized exactly what this cut meant.

Alicia was going to die, likely horribly, in the same manner as her son had less than two days before.

Kalinda placed her hand against the curve of Alicia's jaw, thumb moving minutely against her bloody cheek. "What happened to Peter? Where's Will?"

Alicia looked at her sharply. "They're dead." She smiled wryly. "So am I."

Kalinda said nothing, not trusting herself to keep her cool. She touched around the wound, taking stock. It was still oozing bright blood, too recent to have clotted yet.

"Will was attacked," Alicia began. "He fell back. The machete he was holding did this." Kalinda found herself wishing that all of this blood was Alicia's or maybe Will's; if it wasn't a bite or scratch from a zombie then maybe, maybe Alicia wasn't infected.

"Did one get you?" Kalinda asked, her attention still on the wound so she didn't have to look Alicia in the eye, afraid that she might cry. It was unexpected and decidedly rare, the feeling sticking in her throat as a painful lump.

"I don't think so," Alicia admitted.

"Okay, I can work with that."

Kalinda led Alicia to the nearest girls' washroom and left her there to go get a few items. She returned with a bucket of water, several towels and a sewing kit, among other things.

The water was lukewarm but clean, having been boiled for purity only a few hours ago. Though they had a stockpile of gas to run some things, they tried to only use it for heating food and boiling their gathered rain water.

Kalinda helped Alicia out of her jacket and shirt silently, letting the gentleness of her fingers say everything for her. Next she dipped a cloth in the bucket and began to methodically clean the blood off Alicia. The tears were streaming down Alicia's face now.

By the time Kalinda had finished Alicia had stopped sobbing, instead sitting quietly, staring at the useless sink across from her, not even blinking when Kalinda got out a suture kit, salvaged from the school's nurses' station.

Kalinda sewed sutures like she did everything else, with meticulous attention to detail. They didn't speak for a long moment while Kalinda worked, one hand firmly gripping Alicia's forearm while the other danced the needle in and out of Alicia's numb skin.

Finally, after what seemed to the both of them like a very long time, she was finished.

"All done," she said, looking up and meeting Alicia's eyes, a friendly smile on her lips.

"Thank you," Alicia whispered, enunciating each word clearly for emphasis. She regarded Kalinda for a moment, eyes narrowed, as if she was meeting the other woman for the first time.

Her lips were against Kalinda's before she had a chance to breathe an objection.

"Just in case," Alicia murmured, still close. Her good hand was on Kalinda's face, warm and soft.

"In case of what?" Kalinda didn't pull away either.

"In case I'm infected."

"So you can infect me too?"

"No," Alicia gave a breathy laugh, a choked chortle that halted before it was fully realized, "you know what I mean."

"Alicia..."

"Not now, Kalinda, I mean, I know, but not now. Can we just go to bed? I'm so tired."

"Yeah," Kalinda agreed. She wrapped her fingers around Alicia's hand, the one that still rested on her shoulder, and stood, leading her back to their quarters. They had glossed over it so easily. If Alicia truly were infected it wouldn't be a chaste kiss for comfort that infected Kalinda; they had been breathing the same air, sharing germs and Kalinda had willingly sewn up a wound for her.

Maybe Alicia Florrick really would be the end of her.



to part v