Mike's Journal Day 3

I woke up to bright sunshine. There were trees above me as I looked up.

It was a cold day. Cold, and blue. They often went together. I shook myself awake. My head hurt like hell. I was in the passenger seat, fully reclined. Slowly I came to, and saw Sarah sleeping in the driver's seat. I rolled onto my side and was greeted by Denali's wet nose, followed by some sloppy kisses. We were ok. I knew we were ok from that. Just that. It was going to be ok. I reached across and hugged Sarah, and she started to wake up, leaning into my hug.

"Where are we baby?" I asked her. All I could see were trees around us, no road, just a dirt track behind us.

She woke up to the question. "Oh baby I'm so glad you're ok. I was so worried about you last night. You kept falling asleep on me. I tried to keep you awake as we drove, but I didn't know what to do." I told her it was ok, she had done the right thing, we had to get away from Boston. She followed up: "I think we are somewhere North, maybe New Hampshire? I'm not really sure. I was so panicked last night I was just looking for a park or somewhere safe I could take care of you. I love you so much."

"I love you too Sarah."

We hugged across the front seat of the car, Denali joining in with big wet kisses.

I looked around the car. The rear glass was gone, Sarah had shoved a box into the gap so Denali wouldn't jump out in the night. Or anything get in.. There was safety glass all over the back and all off our stuff.

"What happened?" I asked.
"'You hit your head really hard. I was so worried about you. I pulled over and made sure you were ok. You came in and out talking to me, do you remember that?"
"No, nothing" I responded, shaking my head.
"Well, checked your head and you seemed to be ok, but you have a nasty lump on your right temple."
I reached up.. yeah I did.  "Ouch."
"After that, I just kept driving, kept talking to you to keep you awake, or kind of a awake anyway. Eventually we made it here, some kind of reservoir."
"Thanks baby. I love you.  I'm going to try and figure out where we are."

I opened the car door and stepped out. I had to go to the bathroom, bad. I had been out for hours. Still cold, but I could feel the sun warming my skin.

I could see a slowly flowing river through the trees. I let Denli out of the car as Sarah got out her side. I took a few steps towards the river, and started stripping off my clothes. I ran down the bank and jumped into the cold water as Denali chased after me. I came back up, brushing my hair back and scrubbing my face. Awake. Alive.

Sarah called from the bank "Feel better darling?" She was smiling a laughing a little.

"Definitely"

I could see a small ramp up the bank a bit and a sign "Petapawag Canoe Launch. Nashua River." I hadn't been here before but knew Sarah could track us down. I went jogging back up to the Suburban and used an old t-shirt to dry off. As Sarah looked through the old road map, I put on a pair of jeans and then my old Carhartt painting pants over those. I put on two layers of poly-pro up top and then my mountain biking armor over it. I was concerned I looked ridiculous, which is funny now thinking back.

"Here babe - we are next to these oxbows in the river, we're at a little park near Pepperell Mass." Sarah had the map against the hood of the car and was pointing to an area north west of Boston, near the NH border.

I stood next to her to study the map, she gently pushed against me. Looking at where we were you could see we made it out of Boston, but we had a long way to go today to get to the farm, especially if we were going to stick to local roads.

"How much gas do we have?" I asked, not sure how much we had used yesterday.

"Still mostly full, we should be fine." Thank god.

We were heading for Williamstown. The farm was in a mountain valley, and was literally on the border between New York and Massachusetts: if you hiked up the hill behind the house you crossed the state line. It was a 2 1/2hr drive from Boston on a good day. Maybe.. 150 miles? With local roads and how long it took us to get 50 miles the night before, it could take us all day.

As we were planning out the route, I heard Denali start to bark. Instantly alert, I grabbed my hatchet from inside the truck and went after him. He was running towards a house a little ways down the street, where the front door was open. He was miles ahead of me and moving faster than I ever could. As I finally made it to the door I could hear snarling, barking coming from upstairs. I rushed up the carpeted stairs, hatchet at my side.

I burst into the room with Denali attacking middle aged man.. not a man. One of them. They were rolling back and forth on the ground, Denali was snapping at his neck and he was trying to bite through Denali's thick fur. The thing gained the upper hand just as I got into the room, biting down into Denali's side. I rushed forward and swung the hatchet, there was a sickening crack as it broke his skull and embedded itself in his head. I saw Denali was bleeding. Shit. Shit. Jesus. Fuck.

Denali was  back on his feet. He could be infected. It was all I could think about. He went to kiss my face and for the first time ever, I backed away. He kept coming towards me, limping, lifting his front left paw. There was blood on him. I ripped the hatchet out of the thing's brain cavity and held it by my side. Denali cocked his head sideways. I held the hatchet over him, shaking. I grabbed his collar and sat next to him, shaking, crying. He went to lick my face and I had to jerk back, I held the hatchet over him, ready to strike any second.

"Mike, are you in here?" Sarah called from downstairs.

"Stay there. Denali's been bit" I yelled back down, my voice unsteady.

"Oh shit. Are you ok? Baby I'm coming up." She was already going up the stairs. When he heard her, Denali pulled to run to her, I had to hold his collar to keep him where he was. My hatched was raised over him when Sarah came into the room.

"Mike! Don't!" Sarah cried out as she saw what was going on.
"I'm not going to. I can't let him turn into one of them though." Denali was sitting still while I shook. He simply looked at me, concerned, not for himself, but for me. I cried, and held on.

"Here, I have an idea." Sarah look right at me. "We can't leave him, and the radio said it could be hours before anything could happen."

"Yes, but how can we bring him with us?" I asked. Denali was 85lbs of Husky. People thought he was part wolf, he was a classic white and grey with the mismatching eyes. Blue and green. Him turning into one of them in the car with us was not an option.

"Look - we think they transfer the disease by biting, right? Lets make sure he can't bite. Otherwise, we can stay here tonight, and keep an eye on him, keep him locked up."

I thought it over, they were much better ideas than what I was doing. Staying here might be safest, but we were still pretty close to Boston, and clearly within the range of where the infection had already spread. I wanted to get back on the road, but there was no way on god's earth I was going to leave behind Denali if he might be healthy.

"Remember - it probably doesn't jump from one species to another" Sarah said.
"Sarah, we have no idea what this is. They said a virus, but where did it come from? It might have come from dogs like rabies or something like that. Here, grab some clothes out of that closet."

Sarah tossed me a couple of long-sleeve shirts. I used the arms of one to tie it as tight as I could around Denali's snout. It wouldn't do anything much, but it was a start.

"Let's get him back to the Suburban. I have some rope in there."

We got him back to the car, and I tied his snout shut. He wasn't happy about it. I used the t-shirt to try and give him some padding, but there wasn't much to do. I didn't want to stay in the area longer than I had to. I had seen a couple of people off in the distance, just walking around. I knew they weren't.. human. I tied a rope to his collar and then to the handle at the back of the car. If he did turn, he wouldn't be able to get to us. Before I closed up the back, I grabbed him and held him close, rubbing behind his ears, telling him it would be ok.

"Ok, let's get going" I said to Sarah. I had seen one of the things at the end of the street, and it seemed to have noticed us. We got the car going and backed it out. The noise definitely attracted the thing, and it started running towards us with it's disjointed, broken stride. I gunned it, swerving around it at the last second, I was nervous any more hits and the Suburban would burst a radiator hose or something similar. Sarah gasped as we swerved but held on. We were back on the street.

"It's two quick rights" Sarah said - taking us back onto a pretty large road, Rt. 119. Going West.

Denali was groaning and growling in the back. After a while he whimpered and laid down on his side. I knew we were losing him.

"Sarah - what do you think we can do?"

The news reports said it was a "virus." The only thing which cured a virus, or protects against it anyway, was a vaccine. I knew there were "anti-virals" but I had no idea where I would get them, if they would work, how much a dog would need. Nothing. Pharmacies would have been raided, and given the outbreak I bet the anti-virals were the first to go.

Shit.

Denali occasionally whimpered or whined in the back.

"What about anything over the counter? Is there anything we can give him?"

Sarah reached back to rub Denali's head.

"Mike - he's burning up. The heat coming off of his head is crazy"

"Jesus, Sarah what can we do?" I had to focus on the road - there were abandoned cars everywhere. Every once in a while one of those things was wandering along the street as well.

She was already climbing into the back.

"Sarah - he's infected - if he turns."
"I know - I need to take care of him"

I looked back at my wife holding our dog in her arms, the road speeding past in through the broken rear window, everything we had thrown around the back of the Suburban, Denali's head in her lap.

"We probably want to keep the fever down - fever can be a good thing but too much and it could really hurt him. Also - make sure those ropes are tight."

We were coming into "Townsend" according to the name on the fire station. Up ahead, I saw a big red and white CVS sign at the intersection.

"Tamiflu. Sarah. Tamiflu." I suddenly shouted back to Sarah. The sign had triggered a memory.

"A couple of years ago your Mom got the Flu when she was in the hospital. They gave her Tamiflu. It's an anti-viral. I, I don't know if it will work, it might."

I didn't see anyone around so I pulled over in the CVS parking lot.

"Sarah - stay here. I'm going in to see what I can find. Take this." I handed her the hatchet. I had on my bike body armor and grabbed a folding knife.

There were shopping carts littered all around, boxes and plastic bags strewn across the ground. Most of the windows of the store were broken and clearly I was not the first, not close, to try and raid it for medicine.

The front doors were shattered, I tried to step quietly across the broken glass.












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