Johnny Kitt Episode 7: Home is Where the People Are.

Johnny stirred on the soft surface, he was so comfortable…

He heard voices, they all seemed to blend into each other. He stirred again and a groan escaped his lips. Suddenly he felt a familiar softness on his forehead. His eyes fluttered open, and he found himself staring into Madge’s brown eyes. She gave him a small smile, and whispered, “hey.”

Johnny smiled in spite of himself. “Hey, Coco Puff.”

He hoisted himself up and found himself on a small powder pink settee. He was surrounded by a lot of pillows. He tried to take in his surroundings, it appeared they were in the doctors’ lounge. Some of the doctors bustled around, carrying clipboards and throwing words around like ‘jugular vitals’ and ‘brain mass activity.’  He looked down and found that his wound had been resealed and his left arm was in a sling. “What happened?”

“You fainted Johnny,” Madge whispered softly. “You’d lost so much blood. I was so scared I was going to lose you…”

“Lose me huh,” Johnny whispered back. He wasn’t sure why they were whispering, but it felt right and comfortable, like the world belonged to them alone.

She smiled sweetly, the first genuine smile Johnny had ever seen. “Yes. I was afraid of losing you, Johnny.” She began to gently caress his face. Johnny shifted so that she could climb up onto the settee with him. She snuggled closer to Johnny. “I’m just glad we are safe.”

Johnny echoed her sentiments. “How did the zombies even get that way?”

Madge stiffened momentarily, but relaxed.  “Do you know how zombies become what they are?”

Johnny shook his head and allowed Madge to continue. “A long time ago, there was a pharmaceutical company called Clininax at a certain point they were trying to create a wonder treatment for weight loss. It was groundbreaking. Promising.” Madge licked her lips slowly.

“The center of their research was fungal spores. Because the spores alter appetite receptors in the brain. The problem is that they decided to use gene therapy. The gene that they had segmented is what is known as a super gene. Under the correct conditions, it may multiply at incredible rates, and at the same time also mutate. The mutated fungal spores escaped without anyone’s knowledge. And settled in the air. The company realized this, and quickly did damage control, giving everybody a vaccine.”

Johnny gasped. “But that was years ago. How could it…”

“I know, Johnny.” She sighed. “The super gene you see had the ability to lay dormant. After a few years, it seems that it mutated in some people’s bodies, and ate them from the inside out. It messes with the release and buildup of hormones, that’s why the zombies are so fast, there’s a buildup adrenaline. It does indeed alter appetite perception, that’s why they are so hungry.”

Johnny pulled her closer to him.

“That’s where we, me and Matthias I mean, came in. We had the antidote, but the world had the zombies.” Madge trailed off slowly, her voice suddenly became thick and heavy, and to Johnny’s surprise Madge begun to cry. Instinctively, Johnny drew his arms around her, rocked her gently back and forth. He nestled his face in her hair; she smelt like chocolate and strawberries. All too soon, Madge stirred, and sat up. Johnny looked away sheepishly, but she put her hand on his cheek. Johnny savored the warmth of her palms, the softness of her touch. He looked into her eyes, tear drops still clung to her eyelashes, refracting light and making them look even brighter, even more beautiful.

“I care a whole lot about you, Johnny,” Madge whispered suddenly. “Did you know that?”

Johnny didn’t say a thing, but leaned forward. She was so close to him. Before he knew it, he placed his lips on hers, and ever so gently kissed her. Madge shifted, put her arms around his neck and kissed him back fervently. The saltiness of her tears mingled with the pure passion of the moment and created a feeling Johnny didn’t know he would ever feel again. He was kissing someone and she kissed him back.  And in that moment, even though their whole world was falling apart and crumbling into pieces, all that mattered was that the world had the zombies but they had each other.

▪֍▪

M. Nanchengwa

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