In that moment, I knew two things. I was alive, because I could feel the blades of grass shifting between my toes, like fields of grain waving in the wind, and feel the sun on my back, like fingertips scraping down my skin. I also knew that all of the people in the village behind me were not.
I hadn’t expected the disease to travel so far so fast. I wasn’t sure anyone had.
“Viral infection,” the news reporters told the trembling viewers as ‘patient zero’ disappeared on a list titled ‘deceased’. My beloved parents were on that list, along with my older sister. But not me—no, I seemed to have an aversion to this ‘viral infection’, an immunity if you must, one that left me scavenging for food and water amongst the dead. I wondered, not faintly, if I might be the last to walk the earth one day. If the death kept spreading as rapidly as it had been, a nonstop torrential current of sickness and mortality, that outcome became much more likely.
It’s been seventeen days since I talked to a living person, my mother on her deathbed, and my thoughts were now all-consuming. They kept me company.
It’s been sixteen days since I dreamed of myself on a boat in the middle of the ocean, my knees drawn to my chest and my eyes squinting at the sun. I dreamed calm waters and perfect waves and happiness in my heart. There was someone sitting behind me, someone I loved very much, but I didn’t know who. And when I turned to see, the boat tipped violently, out of the blue, depositing me and my love into the sea.
No mastermind was needed for my dream of going overboard. My world changed swiftly, in a heartbeat of a second, and ripped those I loved away from me. My family. And I was left kicking, gasping for air.
It’s been thirty-three days since the outbreak, and one-third of the United States population has already been wiped out. That village back there included.
And I, a sixteen year old girl who’s managed her way from the coast of North Carolina to the edge of Georgia by abducted bicycle, stolen car, and aching feet, was one of the only reported cases of immunity.