The sound of the gunshot echoed through the small room, bouncing off the walls and ringing in his ears.
Pulling the trigger had taken every last bit of strength in Anthony's aching body. Muscles weak and trembling, he slumped back against the wall and dropped the gun to the floor. It was useless now that the last bullet had been spent.
Knowing what was coming, that had been a bitter pill to swallow. But as his hand landed on Ian's soft, still hand, he knew he'd made the right decision. He squeezed his eyes shut tight, willing away the images that flashed behind them. At least he wouldn't have to live with them long.
Above his raging, pounding heartbeat, he heard a soft, muffled patter somewhere above him. Looking up, he saw a moth trapped inside by the window. Its dusky brown, paper-thin wings were beating against the glass in a vain effort to get to the light outside.
He'd intended to get up and walk out into the sunlight, to face death head-on, on his own terms. But now he knew it was too late, he'd waited too long, and now he didn't have the strength to even get to his knees. But he wasn't staying in that room with Ian. He knew what was coming, what that would mean.
He squeezed his eyes closed against the image of Ian lying there before him. That wasn't him. He didn't want to see him like that. The blue eyed man wasn't there anymore. He'd already gone on ahead.
And so Anthony started crawling, pulling his tired, weak body across the floor with his hands. He whimpered like a kicked dog, gasping for air as he dragged himself along inch by inch. It felt as though the muscles in his arms were tearing away, ripping and snapping from a bone that was crumbling, shattering like glass.
He felt every move pull at his torn shoulder, where a zombie had just barely gotten its teeth in him as he bent over to pick Ian up, after his companion had been bitten. It wasn't much of a wound, not like Ian's, but it was enough. More than enough.
He was almost there. His lungs were burning, his heart pounding as though he'd run ten miles. And now the door stood between him and the outside. Just a simple door but it might as well have been .
He clawed at the door and grabbed for the knob, ignoring the screaming in his head as he pulled himself upright.
He cried out, the sharp sound echoing in the small, silent room as the pain whited out his vision. But then the door was open and he was outside, pulling it shut firmly behind him. Between him and Ian's final resting place.
Anthony could only hope it would help.
He slumped back against the door, the world spinning around him.
The sun was bright overhead but he couldn't feel the warmth of it. His eyelids felt heavy, burning hot against his eyeballs.
He closed them for a moment, just a moment, and when he opened them again, the sun was higher overhead.
The light was brilliant, blinding white in his aching eyes. He tried to lift his hand to shield them but he couldn't even move his arm now.
And so he sat. Waiting.
Blinking, breathing, and waiting.
All the people he'd known and cared for were rushing through his scrambled brain, memories interspersed with fleeting images of gnashing teeth and milky eyes.
There was Ian with his bright smile, standing in front of his computer after they both uploaded their first video to youtube…his parents, but mostly his mom with those brown eyes that always tried to comfort Anthony… his brothers begging him to try out his new videogame… his ex-girlfriend Kalel and the last fight they had had… Joshua and David, always laughing, even if the world didn't show any signs of happiness... Mari and Sohinki sneaking off to the forest together, coming back with flushed faces... he remembered his own panic attacks and how Ian was the only one to know when he was having one... he remembered Smosh, the endless days of filming and the laughter, the fans, the joy.
Fire coursed through his veins and up his spine, licking at his brain until it sloshed in his skull. That'd be the fever, he thought.
At the mercy of the fleeting images, he found himself clinging to only one…a blue eyed man with a perfectly shaped bowl haircut and a childish smile clinging to his face. He held it tight, closing his eyes on it and trapping it there in his mind. That had been something worth fighting for. He wished now that he'd fought a little harder.
But really, what good would it have done? Was there any other ending in this world?
The fever was taking over. He could feel it. Probably wouldn't be long now. It was hot and aching, deep down inside him. Had him shivering, teeth chattering.
He hoped Ian wouldn't be mad at him when he got there first; when Anthony wasn't right behind him like promised. Because the brown eyed was sure now that there was something, somewhere after this. He could nearly feel it. And there was some peace in knowing that Ian was probably already there, waiting for him.
His best friend just – might have a long wait. But he'd be okay. He'd forget quick because everyone else he knew would be there. They'd all be there.
His eyes were heavy. Too heavy to keep open anymore. They slipped closed, plunging him headlong into the darkness.