The silence supplied her answer: Ecstatic.
The sound of beeping intruded on my contemplation of the bloody ceiling some ten minutes later. The fight outside was winding down. Bemused, I looked toward my shattered phone. Still broken. There were countless things in the van that could be beeping like that, about half of them on Georges side. Hoping whatever it was happened to be voice activated, I said, Answer.
One of the wall-mounted monitors rolled, the body of a dead security guard and the two infected feasting on his torso being replaced by the worried face of Mahir, my sisters longtime second and our secret weapon against government shut-down. Guess that cat didnt need to stay in the bag any longer. His eyes were wide and terrified, the whites showing all the way around, and his hair was disheveled, like hed just gotten out of bed.
Huh, I said, distantly pleased. Guess it was voice activated after all. Hey, Mahir.
His focus shifted down, settling on where I sat against the wall. It wasnt possible for his eyes to get any wider, but they tried when he saw the gun in my hand. Still, his voice struggled to stay level as he said, with great and anxious seriousness, Tell me this is a joke, Shaun. Please, tell me this is the most tasteless joke in a long history of tasteless jokes, and I will forgive you, happily, for having pulled it on me.
Sorry, no can do, I said, closing my eyes rather than continuing to look at his worry-stricken face. Was this how it felt to be George? To have people looking at you, expecting you to have the answers about things that didnt involve shooting the thing that was about to chew your face off? Jesus, no wonder she was tired all the time. The exact time and cause of death for Georgia Carolyn Mason has been registered with the Centers for Disease Control. You can access it in the public database. I understand theres been a statement confirming it. Im gonna have to get that framed.
Oh, dear God
Pretty sure Gods not here just now. Leave a message. Maybe Hell get back to you. It was nice, looking at the inside of my eyelids. Dark. Comfortable. Like all those hotel rooms I fixed up for her, because her eyes got hurt so easy
Shaun, where are you? Horror was overwhelming the anxiety in his tone. Hed seen the van wall. Hed seen the gun. Mahir wasnt an idiothe could never have worked for George if hed been stupidand he knew what my surroundings meant.
Im in the van. I nodded, still letting myself take comfort in the dark. I couldnt see his face. I couldnt see the blood drying on the walls. The dark was my friend. George is here, too, but you cant really say hi just now. Shes indisposed. Also, I blew her brains out all over the wall. The giggle escaped before I could bite it back, high and shrill in the confined air.
Oh, my God. Now there was nothing but horror in his tone, wiping everything else away. Have you activated your emergency beacon? Have you tested yourself? Shaun
Not yet. I found myself beginning to get interested against my better judgment. Do you think I should?
Dont you want to live, man?!
Thats an interesting question. I opened my eyes and stood, testing my legs and finding them good. There was a moment of dizziness, but it passed. Mahir was watching me from the screen, his dark complexion gone pale with panic. Do you think I should? I wasnt supposed to. George was supposed to. Theres been a clerical error.
Turn on your beacon, Shaun. His voice was firm now. She wouldnt want it this way.
Pretty sure she wouldnt want any of this. Especially not the part where shes dead. That would be the part she liked the least. My head was starting to clear as the shock faded, replaced by something cleaner and a lot more familiar: anger. I was furiously angry because it wasnt supposed to be this way; it was never supposed to be this way. Georgia would attend my funeral, give my eulogy, and I would never live in a world she wasnt a part of. We agreed on that when we were kids, and this this was just plain wrong.
Regardless, now that shes gone and youre not? Shed want you to make at least a small effort to stay that way.
You Newsies. Always bringing the facts into things. I crossed the van, keeping my eyes away from the mess at my sisters terminal and the surrounding walls. The beacona button that would trigger a broadcast loop to let any local CDC or law enforcement agents know that someone in the van had been infected, and that someone else was alivewas a switch on the wall next to what had been Buffys primary terminal, before she went and died on us.
First Buffy, now George. Two down, one to go, and the more I forced myself out of the comfort of my shock, the more I realized that the story wasnt over. It didnt have an ending. George would have hated that.
It is, as you might say, our job, Mahir said.
Yeah, about that. I flipped the switch. A distant, steady beeping began, the beacons signal being picked up and relayed by the illegal police scanner in the sealed-off front seat. Who are you working for right now?
Ah no one. I suppose Im a free agent.
Good, cause I want to hire you.
Mahirs surprise was entirely unfeigned as he demanded, What?
This day cant be good for your blood pressure, I said, crossing to the weapons locker. The revolver wasnt going to cut it. For one thing, it was probably contaminated, and theyd take it away when they let me out of the van. For another, it lacked class. You cant go hunting United States governors with a generic revolver. It simply isnt done. After the End Times has found itself with a sudden opening for a new Head of our Factual Reporting Department. I mean, I could hire Rick, but I dont think hes gonna have the guts for the job. Hes one of natures seconds. Besides, Georgia wouldve wanted me to give it to you. Wed never discussed itthe topic of her dying was so ludicrous that it never came upbut I was sure of what I was saying. She wouldve hired him if she had any say in the matter. She wouldve hired him, and she wouldve trusted him to take over the site if my death followed hers. So that was all right.