It was my fault that Adam became a zombie.
I see it in slow motion when I close my eyes: his hand reaching out to slam against my chest and push me into the wall as he throws himself between me and the oncoming Infected. I still see the sticky spiderweb of drool and blood stretching between its teeth as it comes at us with gaping mouth and hollow eyes and I still hear the crunch of tooth on flesh as it latches onto Adam’s bare shoulder.
By then my brain had restarted from its stunned stupor. I whipped the pistol from my belt and put a round in the zombie’s head. I never was a very good shot, but this time the risk of a stray bullet didn’t matter - for all intents and purposes Adam was already dead. When the zombie crashed to the ground in a heap of bones and skin I shifted aim to my brother’s head. But the adrenaline dwindled fast. It wasn’t until I noticed the gun shaking in my white-knuckled grip that I really felt the tremors. It took another second to acknowledge the combination of tears and snot dripping from my chin and down my neck as I gasped for air through racking sobs.
Adam stared at me with those big green eyes, his expression shifting from resolve to anguish. To pleading. To confusion. And then those eyes turned hollow as the last traces of recognition bled through the cracks in his mind. And that was that.
I spun, bolted through the doorway, and took the set of stairs in one leap. Something cracked in my ankle on the landing. I didn’t care. Busting out of the windmill and into the open field, sunlight invaded my eyes with technicolor blotches, telling me that I wasn’t welcome here either. I skidded to a stop in front of Star, the yearling filly tied to a wispy tree near the entrance.
“Kat?” I heard Adam’s voice inside the mill, getting closer as I fumbled to untie the reins. Some part of him still remembered. “Kat?” The footsteps now. His voice warped as infection built scars and tumors in his throat.
“Fuck.” The reins were stuck. I cut them loose with my pocket knife, swung onto Star’s back, and leaned forward to grab the sides of the bridle. The panicked filly reared against my heels and launched into a stumbling gallop toward the city. I chanced a glance back just as Adam appeared in the doorway, his movements broken like a stop motion animation brought to life. Only instead of life he was careening the other way.
It was my fault that Adam became a zombie and I still see it in slow motion when I close my eyes.