I gave a prisoner a cup of coffee mixed with antifungal medication; the chief told me to test it on people who were showing signs of infection while quarantined. He also wanted me to write down the dosage and any changes in the prisoners’ behaviors. Over a month has passed since I brought him those ten infected. None of them were completely cured, but he didn’t seem to be too discouraged. He said the results were promising, and even if it wasn’t a complete cure, at least it should stop an infection before it spread.

I helped him a lot over the past few weeks, going to his place every other day or so, mostly to make sure he hadn’t been eaten on accident. We spent a long time binding the infected to that shelving area, but the very next day he had me unbind them to weigh them. Apparently, he needed their weights to create dosages based on parts per kilogram or something along those lines. I’m not sure why he didn’t weigh them before tying them up; it would’ve saved a lot of time and effort. I think he was too excited to test his cure that he forgot.

Even though the chief didn’t create a cure, he made a lot of progress. For one, he confirmed the infection was caused by a fungus. He also found a way to kill the fungus and its spores; however, killing the fungus isn’t enough to cure someone. The infection spreads to all parts of a person’s body. It erodes the brain, replaces the blood and flesh when the host is injured. When the fungus dies, everything it replaced doesn’t come back. The first infected had the dose with the largest ratio of antifungal medication to coffee. It took three weeks for effects to show. The infection was wiped out completely, but the infected was already severely injured and most of its body was covered in cuts that had healed over with the fungus. When the fungus died, the infected basically melted like a popsicle on a wooden stick with its skeleton being the stick.

The other high dosages of antifungal medication yielded the same results. Once the infection was wiped out, the infected died. Too many of their organs were replaced by fungus or held together by them, and that makes a lot of sense. These people died but came back to life thanks to the infection. Dying after losing the infection is a completely reasonable response. As for the infected given lower dosages of antifungal medication, nothing changed. The chief said the fungus was growing back at the same rate it was being killed. Despite that, there was one infected showing signs of getting better. She wasn’t given too much or too little. The chief was even optimistic about curing her if he was given several more weeks of time.

Thanks to that, the chief ordered everyone to raid pharmacies and coffee shops. He even gave permission to use the two motorcycles that rarely see any action thanks to the lack of gas. As for the RV that we drove here, it’s basically another building now since it’s highly fuel-inefficient. Of course, Jen kept the tank topped up anyway in case we needed to drive away on the off chance the garrison falls. The hunters on the motorcycles were supposed to come back yesterday if they stuck to their schedule, but since they haven’t, something might’ve happened to them. One of the hunters in the prison said not to worry though since Evan, one of the motorcycle riders, was a prominent drug user and was prone to getting distracted. Hearing that did nothing to reassure me.

“Does it actually work?” Jen came up behind me, draping her arm over my shoulder. I was writing down the dosage I gave to the three people showing signs of infection. The chief said human memories aren’t very good; everything has to be in writing including the time, date, amount, name, any abnormal behaviors after drinking. Once Jen saw what I was writing, she tilted her head, clanking her helmet against mine. “You’re taking this stuff really seriously, huh? If it weren’t for the zombie apocalypse, you could’ve been a scientist. Or a bird watcher.”

“I was actually studying to be an engineer. It’s not too different.” The reports were similar at least. This is easier by far, less math involved. “But all I’m doing is recording things. The chief’s the one who comes up with the experiments.”

“Well, the chief wouldn’t have chosen you if you weren’t good at it,” Jen said. She took her arm off my shoulder and placed it behind her back, straightening her posture. “And? Is it working?”

“Yeah. Normally, their symptoms should’ve gotten a lot worse by now. You know, red-eyed and shaking. But there isn’t any sign of that. Of course, I could’ve been wrong from the start and picked people who weren’t actually infected.” Asking someone if they’ve been bitten or scratched is a surefire way to get lied to. No one will respond honestly to a question like that. If people did, there wouldn’t be a need for a quarantined section in the first place. I’ve gotten pretty good at determining who’s infected and who isn’t after being a guard for around two months. There’s just certain behaviors that give it away.

“Maybe this apocalypse will finally be over,” Jen said. “I’m not sure how I feel about that. I mean, I’m definitely looking forward to not having to worry about being eaten, but it’s just that … it’s been so long, you know? I’ve done things I’ve never thought I’d do. Not to mention, only the crazies have survived for this long.”

She says it as if she isn’t a little crazy herself. I’ll never forget the first time I saw her hack someone apart with an axe. It was brutal to say the least. But in her defense, it was self-defense. “I know what you mean; I’ve done things I’ve never thought I’d do also.”

“Really? Like what?” Jen asked.

“Like dating an axe murderer.”

Jen hit me. Hard. It was a good thing she didn’t have an axe.


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