As I stepped out, I noticed that Renee was standing next to the SUV looking up into the gray skies with a very perplexed look on her face. I stood there next to here for some time without speaking, trying to get a handle on what was going on, I guess. After a good five minutes or so, Renee moved away from the vehicle to stand in front of me. She asked me why I didn't seem to be upset by Tina's death. I was a bit startled by her question, and was unable to answer her right away, as I got lost in her gentle blue eyes. They were filled with so much emotion. I knew some basic facts about her, but what did I really know about her past? What was she like before all of this? Was she a soft spoken, mild mannered lady, or was she the complete opposite? It was hard for me to picture her as a rude and argumentative person. Then, in mid thought, I realized that I had not answered her question! I explained to her that it had not completely hit me yet; I knew that Tina was gone, but right now I wasn't ready to accept it. I loved my sister dearly, and she would be missed, but right now our journey was the most important thing on my mind and my sister would agree with me if she were still alive. Renee stood there examining my answer. It must have set well with her, judging by the way she looked over at me. I told her that I wished there were something more inside of me, but there wasn't anything;
No sorrow, no nothing. And that scared the hell out of me.
Just as the young woman was getting ready to speak, Michael ran up to me. He tried to talk but he was out of breath. I told him to calm down and breath. Renee had him sit down in order to compose himself. (It seemed that our conversation was over for now.) Finally, Michael said that the Professor had sent him to get me. It was Maria, and she was getting worse. I asked Michael which way they had gone. He pointed to the east. The three of us got back into the SUV and headed out toward the others.
As we pulled up I could see that the Professor and Rose were kneeling next to my daughter who was lying on the ground. I threw the vehicle into park and jumped out and ran over to Maria. The Professor met me half way. He was quick to stop my advance toward Maria. He said that she was very sick and it might not be a good idea for me to go over there. I was unable to grasp what the old man was saying. I pushed him out of my way to get to my little girl.
He was right; I was not ready for what I was about to see. Running up to her, I could see that she was having seizures; her arms and legs were convulsing in all directions. Rose was trying to hold her arms down so she would not hurt herself, even though I could see that there were already lacerations on her hands and forearms. Foamy spittle shot from her mouth as she tried to cough. Her nose started to bleed intensely, with each convulsion of her body. I finally reached her and asked the Professor what I could do for her. I couldn't just stand by helplessly, watching my little girl's body convulse, while her eyes rolled back into her head. The Professor directed Michael to go help with Maria, and then he took me by the arm and walked me back to the SUV. As he rubbed a hand over his eyes, he asked me if Maria had ever had seizures before. "No." I answered. She had always been a healthy girl. I asked him if he knew what was wrong with Maria. The Professor wouldn't meet my eyes. I told him that he had better tell me the truth if he didn't want to be left stranded out here in this desert wasteland. The Professor looked me in the eye and told me that I already knew what was wrong with Maria. He said that I had seen it a thousand times over. It was then that I realized what he was talking about. It was so obvious! But not her! Not Maria! She was still only a baby, with a full life to live! How could this be happening to her? After all of these years that I had protected her, how could she have contracted it now?