It wasn’t just about the loss of vision. It was the loss of the eyes completely. When the Face Gem locks on, it eats the eyeballs and inserts its means of nervous system control through the eye socket. Apparently you lose control of your body but maintain point of perspective. This is what I’ve heard about them at least. Everyone’s story was different.
Not many people have the willpower and perseverance to overcome these monstrosities. My sister did, but she died from other wasteland problems: poor drinking water.
I sometimes wonder if I’ll be next.
“Jordie, can you help me move the body?” asked Rella.
“Sure,” I said.
The corpse was eyeless and had empty sockets. A recent victim that fell off the bridge without sight.
“You think he was dead before they dropped him?” asked Rella.
I doubted it. “Nah, the flesh is too supple.”
“I suppose,” she said flatly.
Tossing the body into the fast moving water, they watched it drift downstream.
Rella washed her hands in the sink of some stale water in the rocks. I did the same.
“Well!” I said, “Camp here for now or head upstream?”
Rella was looking in the water and went in head first.
I saw this happen and ran over to her, pulling her out. On her face was a Face Gem, a small one.
The sheen of the rounded gem protruding from a spineless, starfish-like biology. It was clinging to her head. I pulled out my pistol, aimed at the round gem and fired.
Hitting the crystal, it broke the gem with a fissure and a blast mark. It fell from her face. Rella was unconscious, but unscathed. She breathed peacefully.
“Fuck!” I shouted.
Laying her gently on the ground, I rummaged through my backpack looking for some adrenaline to inject her with. None was found. We had used it on the twins last week.
I watched her closely from a distance and made camp. A simple camping tent with two sleeping bags. I finished up and carried her into the camping tent.
Zipping up the tent with particular attention to the string tied at the ends to keep it shut, I lay on my sleeping bag, thinking.
“Uh…Jordie?” asked Rella.
I was half asleep on the uncomfortable ground beneath the floor tarp and my sleeping bag. I replied softly, “You had another one.”
She was silent.
The orange fabric of the tent made a warm hue on her skin and I propped myself up to see her. “You know what this means, right?”
Rella nodded while laying on her purple sleeping bag.
“Well, at least you don’t have to get wet.”
Rella replied, “It is a piss off. These fucking face gems… water. Ah! I wish they’d just go away.”
I looked at her and then lay down. I wished the same, but thinking that wouldn’t make anything better.
“Did you enjoy your practice?” asked Rella.
“Yeah. Helping people and saving lives was always my aim.”
“Doctors were heroes. Now they’re superheroes. I wish I had the mad skills to be a doctor.” Rella rolled away from me.
I scratched my beard. “Deaths in the beginning were very troubling. You do all you can to stop it…”
Rella said, “Nurses had to scramble when the infestation began.”
“Ya. I heard.” I felt like putting a hand on her shoulder, but couldn’t muster the motion.
A rustle outside of the tent caught my attention. I watched a figure’s shadow cast by the late sunshine blocking out light in front of the tent. I reached for my pistol in my trousers.
“Who’s there!” I shouted.
Rella was alert, looking at the shadow.
“Come out! Let me see your face!” said the woman outside.
I wasn’t so sure, “Who are you?”
The woman said, “I am a traveller. Mississippi. Thirty five. WHo are you?”
“Doctor. Forty. With a nurse of twenty six.”
There was silence.
“I’m going to open the door if you put your weapon down,” I said.
“I don’t have a weapon…” said the outdoor woman.
I tentatively opened the tent and looked out. A black woman, with long beaded braids, peered at me through the tent flap. I inspected her, and then opened it entirely.
“Thank God, you’re not one of those!” she exclaimed.
I stepped out in my scrubs and scavenged jacket. “Name?”
“I’m Monessa,” she yelled.
“Very enthusiastic….” I said, trying to lighten the mood.
Moniessa asked, “What about the nurse?”
…To Be Continued.