It was hard to tell if you had been exposed because the symptoms were similar to those of a hysterical populace: fatigue, shadows under the eyes, sweaty skin (sometimes waxy), a certain dazedness. It was the last symptom before the change that was the most telling, and by that time it was usually too late for the people around you: your face and hands and feet would swell and burst; it was this blood that carried the contagion.
I have memories of being in a hallway somewhat like those in modular buildings, but with the knowledge that I was deep underground. There was something in a room somewhere ahead and to the left that I needed desperately, but the newly-transformed zombie behind me knew it too. It was like a race through the maze-like halls to get at it, whatever it was. I can't remember who won, but I must have because I didn't end up changing.
That was a very important thing about these zombies: while their humanity had fled them with the onset of the disease, their human minds, the ability to think and reason and calculate, had remained. Like super-intelligent animals, they were driven by instinct but guided by intellect. And that driving instinct? To spread the contagion, to kill.
Different people from my facebook friends list popped in and out of the dream. People from college like Cara Leidy, or from church like Cassie Lansing, or from my old Borders job. We were all being kept in camps and transported by buses to safe locations. We had been thoroughly screened and seemed free from the contagion, which is what would make it so scary every time someone turned. We were supposed to be safe. But there: a blister on someone's hand quickly spread and grew until it was no longer just a red shining sore but a symptom of something infinitely worse. We'd run to the safety of the bus and drive away, but even among those still unturned inhumanity was common: those who had been standing nearest the person who had changed would be thrown from the bus to the side of the road. Even if they showed no symptoms, no one wanted to risk it. Or if some leader-type put their foot down and insisted they be allowed to stay (as some did when the person in question was a relative or friend), the rest of the people would shun them. It would get so bad sometimes that they might even leave of their own accord.
It started to get old, being constantly on the move, but as long as we had the means to we kept going. We had heard too many reports of stationary colonies being breached. In the grand majority of such instances, a breach meant no survivors. Not a one.
I woke up from the dream at a not-very-scary part, which is odd with a nightmare. I had sat on some girl's necklace on the bus seat by mistake and broken it. Another girl was examining the mini-screens on the seat backs and lamenting that they didn't work. A third (Danielle Lindland, I think) was staring out the window and noticed an old storefront with signs up advertising German chocolate. We were all so used to the bland food we were given just to stay alive that chocolate sounded heavenly.
And that was it. It was then that I woke up. Not being pursued down a subterranean hallway by a murderous zombie. Not watching a good friend's face explode as she transformed mere feet away. Instead, it was in a bus, surrounded by weary girls like me, all missing the comforts (jewelry, TV, chocolate) of a normal life we would never again know.