It had been a while since the boys met George and dropped him off in Ladyworld, but they had kept their promise to visit often. The last they had heard from George, he was rambling on about this girl who he met and started crushing on during the few most recent visits. The conversations would always go the same way.
“George! You’re looking great, buddy!” Sung said, pulling him into a hug. “How do you feel?”
“I feel great, thanks to you guys,” George said, hugging Sung right back. He pulled away with a smile to the four of them. “Is the virus gone yet?”
Havve’s eyes scanned George. “GEORGE WATSKY. THIRTY-TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE. INFECTED WITH DESPERATIO APPROXIMATELY THREE MONTHS AGO. LEVEL OF INFECTION IS AT ONE PERCENT.”
“Damn, that one percent is really holding on. I thought it’d be gone by now.”
“Just keep hoping,” Sung said. “As long as you do that and keep yourself surrounded by people you care about, then you’ll be fine.”
George nodded a little. He looked unsure, but maybe some reassurance would help. “Promise?”
“I promise.” Sung’s answer was almost immediate. “I promise I’ll look out for you, too. I’m good at that, I’m a doctor.”
“Debatably,” Meouch mumbled, which earned a gentle nudge from Phobos. “What was that for? I’m not doubtin’ his doctor abilities, just, y’know, where he got his PhD.”
While Meouch and Phobos had a conversation of their own, Sung continued the one he was having with George. “Oh, hey, are you still talking to that girl, uh… Sophia? Ashley? ...L... Lasagna?” he asked.
George blinked with that last one. “You mean Mia?” he corrected with a chuckle. “Yeah, we’re still friends.”
Sung furrowed his brows. “Friends? I thought you two were in love.”
“I mean, I don’t know what her feelings are towards me,” George said with a hushed voice, as if other people were listening in.
“You should ask her!” Sung said, not bothering to lower his voice. “Or Havve could be your wingman! He’s really good with that stuff.”
“I KNOW NOTHING OF LOVE OR ROMANCE.”
“I still think you should ask her,” Sung said before Havve could say any more.
George waved a dismissive hand. “Nah, it’s fine. Plus, it’s not like I’m hella in love with her and wanna spend the rest of my life with her or anything. My feelings are casual. Chill. All, like… whatever.”
Sung looked confused. This wasn’t matching up with what George had told him. “Wait, but-”
“Like, yeah, maybe I think about her sometimes,” George continued. “Maybe I think she’s pretty alright. Maybe it’d be decent if we linked up. Fuck, am I crazy just for dreaming of her all night??”
“George. Don’t you remember when you first told us about her? You scrolled through every picture that she took.”
“You… You pictured how your kids would look.”
“You drew a picture of you guys together in your notebook.”
“So what? I wrote a song about her, too.” George crossed his arms and huffed. “Let’s not go nuts.”
That was enough to shut Sung up. Even Meouch and Phobos stopped talking. George couldn’t look at any of them.
“I MAY NOT KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE IN LOVE, BUT I HYPOTHESIZE IT IS WHAT YOU ARE DESCRIBING. IT IS SIMILAR TO THE RELATIONSHIP THAT THE DOCTOR HAS WITH HIS KEYTAR.”
“Hogan’s right,” Meouch said. “You’re definitely crushin’ on this chick. What’s with all the denial?”
George huffed again, and slowly brought himself to look at the boys. “I don’t wanna seem so… obsessed. Or creepy,” he admitted. “What if I scare her off?”
“Well, you won’t know how she feels if ya don’t tell ‘er, right? Tellin’ someone ya got a crush on ‘em ain’t gonna scare ‘em off.” Meouch rested a hand on George’s shoulder. “Just… don’t wait ‘til it’s too late.”
The boys were all chilling in the van - Havve in the driver seat, Sung as passenger, and Meouch and Phobos in the back - after being two months on tour. They hadn’t seen George since their last visit before that, and were planning on making a trip back to space. But for the time being, they were focused on getting home. It was a quiet ride, save for the radio broadcasting a station all the way from Ladyworld.
“Hey! I’m coming to you live from L.A.D.Y. Radio. Things seem to be looking up here in Ladyworld after the virus was found a little bit ago..”
Havve slammed his foot on the brake (luckily, no one else was on the road at this time), and an ‘oof!’ could be heard from the back.
“Everyone, shut the fuck up, I need to listen to this,” Sung said.
“Doc, no one was-”
“Worry not, folks! Medical professionals are taking care of it. If you are not completely human, then you can still come over to enjoy the cool summer breeze and welcoming vibes without a care in the universe!”
“We gotta get to space,” Sung said. He had a frantic expression on his face. “Havve, floor it.”
“I said floor it!”
The two boys in the back held onto their seats as Havve hit the gas and sped down the road. By sheer luck, no cops had stopped them and no crashes took place. The second they got home, they rushed into their ship and lifted off into space. Destination set to Ladyworld.
It was a long while before anyone said anything. They were too busy panicking. Sung was the only one standing, and he was pacing back and forth while his bandmates just watched him. Meouch soon broke the silence.
“Whaddaya think happened?” he asked.
“I really, really hope it isn’t what I think it is,” Sung replied. Though his voice was quiet, the worry in it was clear. “George still had that tiny bit of the virus. I’m not sure if that much is contagious, but there’s a chance it could be. I thought it wouldn’t get to anyone else as long as it was below 15 percent.”
“WERE ANY OF THE OTHER INHABITANTS HUMAN?”
“I… I don’t think so, so maybe we can still fix this.”
“Doc. That girl, Mia. I thought she was human,” Meouch said.
Sung’s eyes went wide behind his visor, and what was visible of his face went pale. They might be too late. “Havve, how long until we’re landing?”
“APPROXIMATELY TWO MINUTES.”
“Alright. Okay. Here’s the plan. As soon as the ship lands, we’re going straight to the hospital and asking for George and Mia,” Sung said, while the others were nodding as he spoke. “Then we… fuck, I don’t know. Havve should probably scan them both. We can take it from there.”
“We gotta do what we did with George all over again?” Meouch asked.
“Maybe? I just hope they’re not at a point where we can’t reverse it.”
The ship landed, and the boys took action. They followed their plan: head to the hospital to find the only two humans on Ladyworld. The worker didn’t have George’s name on the list, but they had Mia’s. She was in room 151, so that’s where the boys went.
On the hospital bed was an unconscious, pale Mia. Next to the bed was George. He only turned around when he heard Sung’s voice.
“George, what’s going on?”
George looked a bit pale himself, but not nearly as bad as Mia. “I… I think she got infected with that virus,” he said. “I’ve been trying to keep my hope up, so I don’t think mine’s gotten worse. But she didn’t know.”
Red beams scanned George first before Havve spoke. “LEVEL OF INFECTION IS AT SEVENTEEN PERCENT.”
“Oh,” George said. “I guess it did go up.”
Havve scanned Mia as well. “LEVEL OF INFECTION IS AT…” His eyes flickered.
“At what, Havve?” Sung asked softly.
“LEVEL OF INFECTION IS AT…” Havve looked at Sung. “ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.”
“A hundred percent?!” George squeaked out.
“THE INFECTION STARTED…” Havve continued the scan. “APPROXIMATELY A MONTH AGO.”
“No. No, no, no, no, no!” Sung said, rushing to Mia’s side.
The beeps coming from the heart monitor were slow, and soon flatlined. They were definitely too late. The room fell silent.
“...I didn’t get to tell her how I felt about her,” George eventually said, his voice weak. “Instead, I… I fucking got her killed.”
“Okay, no one panic,” said Sung, who was the most visibly panicked in the room. “I can fix this.”
Meouch raised his eyebrows. “Fix what, Doc? She’s dead.”
“Well, I can’t guarantee it’ll work because I’ve never actually done it before, but… I might be able to bring her back to life.”
“You… No fuckin’ way. All those jokes about legalizin’ necromancy?”
“Those weren’t jokes,” Sung said with a nervous chuckle. “I’ve actually been reading up on it.”
“Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on?” George chimed in.
“Long story short, I can probably bring Mia back. It’s… I don’t know if it’s ethical, but I made a promise to you,” Sung said. “If you want me to do that, I will. It’s just gonna take some… nature bending. An ancient rite...”
Havve stepped in front of Sung. “DOCTOR, I WOULD HIGHLY ADVISE AGAINST PERFORMING ANYTHING OF THE SORT.”
“What exactly will happen to her?” George asked. “Is she gonna be, like… a zombie?”
“Well, if all goes as planned-”
“Oh, this sounds real promisin’,” Meouch interrupted, but Sung continued.
“If all goes as planned, she won’t be a zombie. It’ll be as if she hadn’t died at all, just simply slept.”
Phobos shook his head as he walked over to Mia. He gestured to her body and the various medical equipment that she was hooked up to. She wasn’t in good shape.
“LORD PHOBOS IS CORRECT. IF YOU BRING MIA BACK TO CONSCIOUSNESS, SHE WILL BE ILL AND DIE AGAIN.” Havve joined Phobos, and picked up one of Mia’s limp hands to let it fall back down.
Sung frowned. “Well… Well, what if we try to treat her like we did with George?”
“NEGATIVE. SHE IS AT ONE HUNDRED PERCENT LEVEL OF INFECTION. IT WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL.”
“Ya can’t cure everyone, Doc.” Meouch put a hand on Sung’s shoulder. “And ‘specially not with yer creepy voodoo magic.”
Sung glanced up at Meouch, then over to Havve and Phobos, and finally at George. It was difficult to see from behind his helmet, but his eyes had paled in color. “...But I made a promise.” His voice was barely above a whisper, and cracked with the last word. He sounded defeated.
“Doctor Sung, you really don’t have to do anything,” George said. “You’ve already done enough for me. Honest.”
“But I made a promise,” Sung repeated, this time his voice was whiny. “I need to do my job as a doctor, and I will find a way to fix this.”