Chapter Nine.

Robert stepped away from the helicopter, Samantha in his arms, and waved to his wife and daughter as the machine lifted off into the air and the pilot did the final checks for flight.

A sonic boom resonated through the sky and two jets zoomed by overhead. Their missiles were not far behind, and they collided with the bridges. They burned bright orange and people screamed in surprise and fear and many ducked. The helicopter hovered as it waited for the bridges to collapse so no debris would crash into it.

It took only a few seconds for the beams and wires to fall into the water, leaving no room for people to escape. Robert glanced at the bridges, then looked back up at the helicopter taking Zoe and Marley away. Samantha continued to lick at his face, and then the sound of failing machinery caught his attention.

A swarm of Infected were attacking a helicopter one dock over. They grabbed on to it's landing gear and overwhelmed it with weight. The flying machine tried to take off quickly and escape the swarm, but it spun out of control, dropping Infected into the water and leaving others attached to the landing gear, trying to frantically climb into the cockpit.

Robert watched on as the helicopter spiraled out of control and headed straight for the copter hosting his family.

"No!" he shouted seconds before the tail of the other helicopter collided with his family's.

Robert woke up in his living room and glanced around. He was on his couch and it was daylight out. He tried to remember why he was on his couch, then remembered that he'd attempted to kill himself in a kamikaze mission to kill the Infected.

Looking at the TV, he noticed that someone had put Shrek on. It was almost over, and he was distracted when he heard sounds coming from the kitchen. He started to swing his legs over the edge of the couch and winced in pain, reaching out to his leg.

His knife wound was stitched up. He was in the same clothes that he'd been wearing the day Samantha was killed, and there was a hole in his cargo pants from it.

Alexis definitely hadn't done that.

Standing up off the couch, he limped over to a desk and silently pulled a pistol from a drawer. Cautiously, he made his way toward the kitchen to see who was rummaging around.

For a split second, he saw his wife with a skillet of eggs and his daughter coloring in a coloring book at the table. He shook his head and blinked, and when he looked again, the vision was replaced by an woman unknown to him and small boy setting the table.

Both stopped what they were doing and stared warily at Robert. He examined them, then stepped forward and set the pistol down on the counter, then showed the two of them him hands to indicate that he was no longer armed.

Relaxing, Ethan sat down in his seat and Anna made her way around the island. "I made some eggs. I'm afraid they're powdered. . . but you already knew that," she chuckled. "They're yours."

Robert just stared at her, dumbfounded.

"And I found some bacon. Which is just about the most wonderful thing in the world. I set out some meds for you. . . because your leg is ok but it won't be for long if you don't start a course soon," Anna continued, scraping some scrambled eggs onto the plate she made for Robert.

It was on the wrong side of the table.

"My name is Anna. . . and that is Ethan. Sit."

Slowly, Robert sat down at the table where Anna had motioned. She was in his seat. Robert didn't like that.

He was at a complete loss for words, as he'd been practically alone for three years. Samantha hadn't ever talked back, the mannequins were never good for conversation, and Alexis and him only saw each other as they passed one another in the halls.

Alexis and him had had short conversations, and he was always grateful for her company, but there were days where she would go out early or stay in late and he hadn't been able to talk to her.

He wasn't much good at conversations anymore.

Sitting, he began to eat. "What're you doing here?" He'd found his words.

"We were up in Maryland. We heard your radio broadcast. We were at the docks at noon, all day. We're making our way to Vermont where there's a survivor's colony," Anna replied between bites of egg.

Robert looked up at her and shifted in his seat, agitated. "Survivors' colony? There's no survivor's colony."

Anna smiled and leaned forward. "Yes. Up north. There's a whole colony of people living up there."

"No, no one survived. Nothing happened the way it was supposed to."

"Up north! The virus couldn't survive the cold—"

"No!" Robert shouted, grabbing his plate and violently tossing it behind him. It smashed into the wall behind him and the two jumped away from the table, and Anna pulled her gun.

"Everyone's dead. Everyone," Robert insisted.

The three stared at each other and Robert shook his head, stumbling for words. "I'm sorry. I—I just don't—see," he stammered, trying to find a right way to apologize. He hit his fist against the table twice. "God, just—I was saving that bacon. I was saving it!"

It was a sad excuse and he could see it in Anna and Ethan's eyes.

Starting to get up from his seat, he lifted his hands into a defensive position and pointed toward the stairs. "I'm just going to go upstairs. Okay? Just going upstairs," he said, getting up and heading toward the stairs.

Ethan and Anna watched him go, and Anna indicated toward the table. "Ethan, put the knife down." The boy walked over to the table and set down the butter knife he'd pick up when Robert had his outburst.

Halfway up the stairs, Robert met with Alexis. She looked concerned and stopped in front of him. "Robert? What was that crash?"

"My plate. I need to be alone," he said brusquely, pushing past Alexis.

She turned to face him. "We've been alone for ages. I'm not much for company. You should go down there and socialize."

Robert ignored her and headed into the bathroom, sitting on his normal seat with his feet in the tub, looking at the empty space where Samantha used to be. He looked over as Alexis came to stand in the doorway.

"What are you going to tell them when they ask about me?" she asked.

Robert shook his head. "The truth? I shouldn't keep you a secret."

Nodding, Alexis leaned against the doorstop. "I agree. They asked me when I got home, but I did not want to be alone when they saw me without my hood on. I didn't want. . . to be alone when they got scared of me. . . ."

"Alexis. . . ," Robert cooed, climbing out of the bath tub to walk over and embrace the girl. "I promise we'll get you fixed. I'm not going to go back on that."

Nodding, Alexis pulled away. "I know. But take your time. As long I'm like this. . . I can help with the Infected."

"The longer you're like this, the more likely that you'll become one of them. I don't know which way the virus is going to go in you. Your immune system is strange, and I don't know if you're going to get better or worse."

Alexis lowered her head. "If I get worse?"

Robert looked at her and sighed, wrapping an arm around her back to pull her close. "I won't kill you unless I have to. If you start getting worse, I'll sedate you and keep you down like the one in my lab."

Closing her eyes, Alexis let Robert hold her for a second, then she pulled away again. "I'm getting a headache. Can you introduce me now so I can get to sleep?"

Robert nodded and put her hood over her head before leading her down the stairs. He could see that her face was getting rosy from the indirect sunlight, and he kept her at the top of the stairs. "I'll call you when it's time."

Alexis lied against the wall and curled into a ball, trying to keep the sunlight off her, and Robert made his way down the stairs.

Ethan was watching Shrek, and it looked as if he had restarted it a while ago.

Suddenly, Robert started to recite the lines from the movie. Ethan looked back at him, and Anna came to stand in the doorway. He recited the scene, stopped as he realized it was getting awkward, then looked away from the two of them.

"I like Shrek."

Why was it so much harder for him to interact with these people than it was for him to interact with Alexis?

Anna gave Robert a glare, then walked into the kitchen. Robert followed her, and both took seats at the table. "You're not so good with people anymore, are you?"

"Thank you for my leg," Robert said, sounding like he had rehearsed the line a few times.

"Okay," Anna replied.

"Where have you been?"

"I was on a Red Cross ship from Sao Palo when the virus jumped."

Robert shook his head. "Those ships weren't meant to be permanent."

"No, they weren't." Anna paused a second, then went on to tell Robert how she and the others had made their way up to Maryland. They were all immune, but had all been taken down by the Infected, which she referred to as the "Dark Seekers."

Anna fidgeted with a piece of paper. "And now we're on our way to Vermont. You're the Robert Neville, aren't you? What are you still doing here?"

"I can still fix this."

Anna looked at him, then nodded slowly. "What happened to your leg?"

"I got caught in a trap. I'll show you, but first you need to meet Alexis."

Anna leaned back in her chair. "I already met her."

Robert got to his feet and walked over to the entrance to the living room, where he went to each window and closed the shutters. "No, you know her name. You haven't met her. Alexis?"

Ethan walked over to Anna and they stood in front of the couch as Alexis made her way down the stairs. Robert stood between everyone, but had his sides turned to each of them. "Now. . . . You have no reason to be afraid of her. She's just like the three of us."

"Don't lie to them, Robert," Alexis sighed, taking her hands under her hood and pulling it back. Anna stepped protectively in front of Ethan, who clung to her leg. "I am far from the same thing as the three of you."

She looked like quite a sight; pale, nearly-translucent skin, short, scraggly brown hair, and sunken eyes. Alexis was panting like a dog and looked exactly like an Infected, the only difference being that she had hair. Anna and Ethan looked on in fear at the strange girl, and it was soon that Alexis could no longer handle their stares and she pulled her cowl back over her head.

"Robert! She's infected! What is she doing here?" Anna demanded, pushing Ethan behind herself.

Alexis hung her head and hunched her shoulders, clasping her hands in front of her and wringing her hands. Robert stepped up next to her and held her around the shoulders.

"She's infected, yes. But as you can see she is very human. She's immune, but only in the sense of canines where she can't be infected by the airborne strain. However, her immune system is still fighting off the virus. It's kept her from being completely converted," he explained, holding Alexis tightly.

The girl looked up at him, then turned to walk up the stairs. "I'm going to sleep now," she murmured.

Robert watched her go, then turned back to Anna. "She's a good girl. She wouldn't hurt a fly. Unless it was an infected fly," he said with a light chuckle. When Anna just stared at him dumbfounded, Robert set her down and explained everything to her. He told her all about Alexis and how he found her, and even bits of her own story. Slowly, Anna began to understand a little better.

"You were going to show me that trap?"

It took only ten minutes to drive to the site, and Robert took Anna and Ethan to the underpass, where the taxi that had been attached to the twitch had fallen. He showed them the wire and told them everything that had happened. Anna suggested that they had planned it, but for some reason, Robert refused to believe it.

With nothing left to do and daytime to spare, he brought them to the place where he fished. Ethan had fun swimming in the little pool, darting after the fish that avoided him so feverishly. Anna and Robert talked, Robert telling her about the Infected he had captured, and then turned to Ethan.

"Watch this," he called, grabbing a handful of seed and tossing it over to Ethan. The result was instantaneous as the fish realized it was lunch time. They surrounded Ethan, writhing under the water and engendering several loud giggles to escape the boy.

Arms above the water as the fish roiled around him, he gave a shiver and looked up to Anna. "It's cold."

Robert's brow furrowed and realization swept across his features. "Ice," he muttered, standing to his feet.

"What?" Anna asked.

"I need ice!"

That's it for now. I realize that I might have skipped some lines and some scenes in the movie in these last few chapters. Like I said, I was kinda rushing through it. . . . But I also skipped some of them because I deemed them unnecessary! Hope you joined it!