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grief behind each face

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"We're going to be gone most of the day," said Bill. "I'm leaving you in charge of the blast doors."

"I'm not going to stay up again," Gary told him. "It's important to get a good night's sleep."

"Gary, we need the building protected."

"I'll make it so anyone can open and close them, not just me. And set it up so others can watch the cameras."

Bill sighed. "Set it up in the conference room, then. Since Rachel's going to be staying behind with Dr. Rosen."

"OK, and I'll keep monitoring what Parish's people do online."

Bill nodded silently.

Nina had wished for more time to spend with Cameron, but this wasn't exactly how she had pictured it. It was difficult to write legibly while walking as quickly as they were, and she didn't dare take her eyes off her surroundings for fear she'd step on one of the decaying bodies on the ground. The stench was terrible, though she was beginning to become accustomed to it. Even if she could talk, what was there to say? So they walked in silence in the hellish landscape their home had become, and Nina's thoughts returned to Rachel and Rosen again.

"This is so totally messed up," said Kat as they walked through the brightly lit corridors, a chorus of beeping equipment everywhere they went. "A hospital is supposed to smell like sick people, not dead ones."

"Tell me about it." Bill shook his head. "You sure you got the right room number?"

"Yeah, this is it," she said, twisting the door handle. The body of Gary's mother met their eyes, and neither spoke for a moment. Finally, Kat stepped forward to take a few photos.

"You're going to show him those?" Bill asked incredulously.

"At least he'll know for sure."

Rachel carefully applied the lip balm to Rosen's dry lips. She felt his slow breaths on her hands; he was still alive. She could hear Gary snoring in his office—that made two people she still had.

Suddenly she realized she heard footsteps outside. One man, one woman, nearly equal strides. It had to be her.

The two entered the building and started up the stairs. A hint of perfume drifted to Rachel's nose, and her anxiety dropped a tiny bit.

Nina came around the corner, and Rachel could breathe fully again.

And then Nina hugged her, and Rachel wept.