We would carry the bodies together.

Joe would take them at the head, because he knew I didn’t like to see their eyes. He was kind that way. I didn’t like the feeling of them looking at me as we slid them into the fire, judging me, as though I was some kind of monster. Joe didn’t mind their eyes. Joe took very good care of me.

“We won’t be doing this forever,” Joe would say as we sat by the door, waiting for the next body. “Whatever’s going on out there is gonna dry up eventually. Or they’ll kill it off. One way or the other. Then we won’t have to be here anymore.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

I’d believe him, because I trusted him. Because in the hours between bodies, things would be quiet and still enough for me to forget what was going on out there. Because Joe would say it like even he believed it.

I believed him, because I loved him.

So when the body we had to carry was still breathing and talking, and it told us to run, I did what Joe told me to do.

We ran.

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