As tears streamed down her face, Naomi gently touched the sleeping child’s brow. Her son shivered beneath her fingers and moaned pitifully. A grimace formed on his lips.
It broke her heart. But they were safe, she tried to convince herself. She had kept him safe. She had kept him away from the bullies who tried to hurt him, had found the courage to finally throw out his bastard of a father when she had seen the man attempt to hit her boy.
They were safe.
Outside, the sun slowly slipped off the horizon, bathing the city in blood, like the blood that ran on its abandoned streets. There was no sound except her beating heart and her panting breath. No screams, no shuffling of feet. That was hours and hours ago. Naomi couldn't tell how long ago anymore. It was as if the world decided to disappear beyond the glass doors of the ransacked convenient store she decided to hide in – as if people, as if life, had suddenly vanished.
They were safe, she whispered to herself again, unmindful of the wetness and the stickiness and the distinct copper smell that invaded her nostrils. Instead she bent down to her sleeping son and inhaled the powdery scent that only babies could have despite the heat and the sweat and the running.
He smelled wonderful, her boy. She placed a kiss on his cheeks, his skin warm against her lips, and he shivered again. Despite her fear and exhaustion, she managed to smile. He looked perfect. She decided her son was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
Mahal kita, she told him, aware that in his sleep, he could never hear her, but needing to say it anyway. I promise I will never leave you alone.
Outside, the sky darkened, and very gently, she embraced the sleeping boy closer, his baby scent filling her, relaxing her. They were safe, she assured herself again, feeling her eyelids grow heavy.
She barely registered the tearing pain on her left thigh and the blood that soaked her jeans as she adjusted her legs to be able to hold the child better. Her eyes fluttered close and she slipped into sleep.
It was only when she could not fight the exhaustion that dragged her under that she realized, with mounting horror, that they were alone.
The boy woke up, a few hours later, held so tenderly by his mother.
‘Nay?...Nay, it’s so cold… Nay? Nay! Don’t-!
Outside, in the abandoned town swallowed by the night and a scream, the dead began to rise.