Rida was infected. There was no point in pretending she was fine; she could feel the fire of the infection raging in her body; slowly killing her. But it wasn't the infection that hurt the most; it was the betrayal. She'd loved him; and thought he loved her back. But when it came down to it, he threw her at the plague rats and escaped himself. Love was a special thing, and Rida would never really find it; she'd loved, but never been loved back. It made everything seem . . . pointless. Even more so motivated by her infection soon to steal her life.

Rida sighed as she conversed with a child-no, not a child. A young woman. Scarred, but beautiful. This would be the last person she ever talked too. Touching her own face, Rida pushed her sweaty, scraggly hair out of her eyes. The makeup she wore was smeared from crying; the clumped up soggy powder stained her fingers. Her eyes were dry now; the tears ended along with the denial.

Makeup had always been a comfort, and reminded Rida of life before the Return; Rida had only been a child, but her mother had run a salon and Rida began to wear makeup at a young age. She was done with the crying. She was infected and going to die; that was just how it went; for everybody. You survived as long as you could, but no matter how hard you tried, everybody would get infected. Rida wasn't an exception.

But this young lady seemed a little different. She seemed like a true survivalist. You could tell by the way her eyes scanned her surroundings, and the way she held a knife that she was always ready. She'll probably last a while; even in the dangers of the Dark City. At least it was safer than . . . out there. Rida shuddered. But wasn't safe enough to save Rida. She clutched her battered pipe a little tighter; the end glowing red and casting small discombobulated (ALWAYS WANTED TO USE THAT WORD) shadows onto the chimneys on either side of Rida.

The infection on Rida's wrist began to sting in a boisterous sort of agony and she closed eyes in silent pain. Before this Rida hoped she'd be different; maybe she'd survive; everybody had hope. Well hey, at least she made it this far. Taking a breath, my heart felt weary and tired as the infection began to seize it.

Yet my dying heart still felt a pang of sympathy for this young woman; three years her brother had been with the Recruiters; the chances of him being alive weren't likely; both her and Rida knew that. But anyone could tell in her eyes . . . she still held on to her hope that he was alive and would return soon. Somehow Rida doubted he was really her brother; the care that flashed in her eyes when she mentioned him was unique; Rida herself used to get that look.

I (Yeah, I switched to first person. A lot of times I do that by accident . . . sorry) smiled at the woman's wisdom; 'we'll all die eventually' she says. I see the battle in her eyes; she's trying not to care about me, trying to not get attached to me; trying not to feel. I began to shake as the infection spreads further and fear consumes my soul.. The woman comes towards me with her knife, ready to end it; I wave her away.

I smooth my hair down as I tell this lovely, beautiful young lady my last words. And I let myself fall. I don't scream, I don't blink. I just smile.