I open my eyes. I am lying on my back, arms folded behind my head, looking up at a flawless summer sky. 'Yes?'
Julie stirs on the red blanket, scooting a little closer to me. 'Do you think we'll ever see jets up there again?'
I think for a moment. I watch the little molecules swim in my eye fluids. 'Yes.'
'Maybe not us. But I think the kids will.'
'How far do you think we can take this?'
'Rebuilding everything. Even if we can completely end the plague . . . do you think we'll ever get things back to the way they were?'
A lone starling swoops across the distant sky, and I imagine a white jet trail sketching out behind it, like a florid signature on a love note. 'I hope not,' I say.
We are silent for a while. We are lying in the grass. Behind us, the battered old Mercedes waits patiently, whispering to us in sizzles and pings as its engine cools. Mercey, Julie named it. Who is this woman lying next to me, so overflowing with vitae she can grant life to a car?
'R,' she says.
'Do you remember your name yet?'
On this hillside on the edge of a crumbled freeway, the bugs and birds in the grass perform a tiny simulation of traffic noise. I listen to their nostalgic symphony, and shake my head. 'No.'
'You could give yourself one, you know. Just pick one. Whatever you want.'
I consider this. I thumb through the index of names in my brain. Complex etymologies, languages, ancient meanings passed down through generations of cultural traditions. But I'm a new thing. A fresh canvas. I can choose what history I build my future on, and I choose a new one.
'My name is R,' I say with a little shrug.
She twists her head to look at me. I can feel her sun-yellow eyes on the side of my face, as if trying to tunnel into my ear and explore my brain. 'You don't want to get your old life back?'
'No.' I sit up, folding my arms over my knees and looking down into the valley. 'I want this one.'
Julie smiles. She sits up with me and faces what I'm facing.
The airport spreads out below us like a thrown gauntlet. A challenge. There was no global transformation after the skeletons surrendered. Some of us are on our way back to life, some are still Dead. Some are still lingering here at the airport, or in other cities, countries, continents, wandering and waiting. But to fix a problem that spans the globe, an airport seems like a good place to start.
We have big plans. Oh yes. We're fumbling in the dark, but at least we're in motion. Everyone is working now; Julie and I are just pausing for a moment to enjoy the view, because it's a beautiful day. The sky is blue. The grass is green. The sun is warm on our skin. We smile, because this is how we save the world. We will not let Earth become a tomb, a mass grave spinning through space. We will exhume ourselves. We will fight the curse and break it. We will cry and bleed and lust and love, and we will cure death. We will be the cure. Because we want it.