After various attempts to get through, a video message made its way to the island and, from there, elsewhere in the multiverse. It had been sent to many people; students, teachers, townies, and alumni--pretty much anyone Kathy considered a friend.
The video opens on a small bed, practically a cot, surrounded by thin curtains to give it a modicum of privacy. Upon closer look, the curtains are revealed to be shower liners, vinyl sheets that can easily be taken down and hosed off. Still, they're bright and cheerful enough, almost drawing attention away from the heart monitor and IV stand on one side of the thin bed. From the restraints, currently unfastened, attached to the other side.
Maybe even from the girl, sitting in the middle of the bed, looking pale and drawn for a moment before she realizes the camera's on.
"Oh! Oh, are we recording?" Kathy asks, obviously trying to appear upbeat. She mostly just looks exhausted though, with pain lines bracketing her mouth, and dark shadows under her eyes. A hectic flush stains her cheek and there's a fine sheen of sweat covering her face, though she's shivering as well. Most importantly, at least to those watching, is the bandage over her right shoulder. A splotch of dried blood roughly the size of a half-dollar has soaked through the cloth. "A little notice might have been nice, Raven."
A grumble from behind the camera: "We might have had time for a little notice if you hadn't had to stop for every screaming person on the way over here."
She looks up to the phone that's recording her, eyes a bit glassy. They're having trouble focusing, pupils dilating oddly. Still, she gives the phone a bright grin and flashes it a victory-sign. "Uhh, hi guys," she says, ducking her head. "Ignore the grumpy blue girl behind the camera there. It's been a rough night." Her hand creeps up to brush over the bandage. "Well, no reason to hide it, I guess. I got bit. A few hours ago, currently we're in a makeshift clinic set up by the National Guard." She laughs, though the laugh turns into a sharp, barking cough about halfway through. "One of the benefits of wearing rainbows--I get my own room. Trust me, these curtains are more than what most other people have out there."
Her smile fades away, like she's too exhausted to keep holding onto it. "Not going to lie, it's gotten bad out there. Really bad. It's just a matter of time before LA is labeled officially lost; most of the politicians were helicoptered out this afternoon. Half of DC is on fire, the rest is overrun. New York is hanging on by a thread and reports stopped coming out of Boston when Zzzap showed up here to fight full time. There are exes--zombies--in Europe, Mexico, and South America now. Our quarantine failed before we even knew what we were fighting against."
"Kathy," Raven's voice says. "They don't care about the rest of the world."
"They don't?" Kathy sounds confused, then she shakes her head. "Of course you don't. Sorry. I'm just used to delivering status updates. In part, though, this is what this is. We've failed here. There's no coming back from this. My world is done. But we need to make sure this information gets out--have to make sure that the island is prepared, just in case. Portalocity didn't shut down until weeks after this started and the Causeway's a vulnerable point. So we're sending this video so that you all know what to watch out for, what to prepare for. Consider it our last ditch effort to keep this thing from spreading."
"We're sending this video," Raven says quietly, "because we're not coming home."
Kathy lists off everything she knows about the virus, how it works and spreads, the methods of transmission. Most of it is Hollywood standard, but there are some key differences. That the zombies clack their teeth, they don't moan. That the time between bite and death had started out measured in days, but is currently sitting at about twelve hours. That a strong course of antibiotics delivered immediately after a bite has been shown to cure it, but any non-magical healing administered after about three minutes ceases to be effective. It takes about ten minutes for Kathy to recite all of the information she has, including tactics that have proven to be effective and, more importantly, those that had not. Four times, Kathy has to stop to cough, deep wracking coughs that make her whole body shake. Twice, she has to pause, visibly struggling to remember what she is saying and what to say next.
By the end of the recitation, the camera is visibly trembling.
"So that's it, that's what you need to know," Kathy says, before she's interrupted by a cough again. This time, when she finishes, there is blood on her lips. She looks at the palm of her hand and tries to discreetly wipe it on the rough cotton of her pants. There is nothing discreet about crimson on white. "I know this looks bad," she says, offering the camera a smile. "I can tell by Raven's expression. I bet most of you are yelling at me right now. But it's okay! 'Genny's somewhere in here, healing up other victims. I only got bit a few hours ago, I have, like, eight left before I have to worry. And 'Genny will be here way before that. More of that preferential hero treatment, you know?" She wipes the sweat off her forehead, leaving another small smear of blood there, too.
"After I get healed, I'm done," she says, her smile faltering for a few seconds. She's looking at her hand again, that confused expression surfacing once more as she tries to remember how she got blood on her hands. "This is it, this is where I break. As soon as 'Genny heals me up, I'm grabbing my family and we're going. They tried to cut LA off from the rest of the state, but there are ways around it and most of the guardposts have been abandoned or overrun. It'll be slow going, for the most part, but in a few weeks to a month, look for an old, green Volvo making its way across the Causeway. We'll probably be cranky and overtired and hungry as hell, but we'll be home. And that's what matters."
She freezes, body stiffening, back arching. The camera jerks, a blue hand reaching out, and Raven can be heard calling for help. Kathy chokes on air, her whole body seizing up. The convulsion lasts for twenty agonizing seconds before she's doubling over and sucking in big, gasping breaths. Moments later, she's looking back up to the camera again, smile wobbly but affixed. But there's a new emotion in her eyes. It's fear.
"Pretty sure that's not what they mean when they say 'Carpe Diem,' eh?" she says, going for a joke. "C'mon, Raven? Not even a pity smile? Harsh crowd."
Raven's voice is either laughing, crying, or doing a sorry combination of both. "You're a dork, Kathy."
"That's why you love me," she retorts and her eyes are filling with tears, too. "Look, phones aren't meant to record forever and god only knows how we're going to get this out, since the lines have been stupid for a few days now. But there's one more thing I want to say, want to tell each and everyone one of you watching this." She takes a deep breath. "I can't say I don't have any regrets. I do. I regret hurting those of you I hurt, both with this and any time before it. If you think I owe you an apology, then I offer one now, the most heartfelt that I can make. I have loved each and every moment I've spent with you, the good and the bad and the downright terrifying. I'm looking forward to spending more with you in the future and making up all this pain and worry I'm causing now.
"I've always loved Winnie the Pooh--shut up, I can hear all of you laughing. But, for a lonely girl, those stories always resonated with me. And there are a couple of quotes that I think really, umm, really sum up what I'm trying to say here. 'If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.'"
It is a struggle to keep her voice even, to keep her smile on. But she does it. Her voice breaks only on the final word. “'How lucky I am to have people that makes saying goodbye so h-hard.'” She bows her head, takes some time to compose herself. When she looks up again, her smile is gone and she just looks exhausted. Exhausted and sick and painfully, painfully young. "This isn't goodbye. I'll be right as rain soon enough and banging on doors demanding that you feed me because we haven't had a proper meal since Fresno. I'm gonna go and lie down so Raven stops glaring at me and she's gonna send this off while we still have battery and signal. And I'll see you soon, okay? Until then, keep an eye out in Baltimore and be excellent to one another."
Once Kathy's done talking, the camera swings down and away. There are a few muffled words, then the rustling of plastic curtains, and the camera comes back up, focused on Raven in a dingy hallway. She's clearly been crying. "Hey, uh. It's Raven. I just -- Kathy's not going to -- Anders, Dante, Ringo, Mr. Spencer, Ms. Parker, everybody, I wanted to say she loves all you guys. And I'm sorry, I tried to keep an eye out for her, but I wasn't fast enough, and she's so stubborn -- But I'm not done. We're not done, not quite yet. I'll send more information when I can about how she's doing. But -- just in case. She loves all of you and she's doing what she loves doing and -- I hope that's enough. Um. Jalian, Hardison, if you two are watching, too, I'll try to get back, even if -- but if I don't, thank you. I'm going to miss you guys." She manages a small smile, looking off to the side. "So, yeah. That's Banzai and Mystique, signing off. Over and out."
The screen goes dark.
[Preplayed with the AMAZING tigerundercover. If you think you got this, you absolutely did. NFB, though interaction between recipients is encouraged! The video is, however, one-way and any attempts to call will result in this message. Trigger warning for fatal illness.]
- A Video Message, Friday Morning