Neville remembers a morning several years ago—the morning when Virginia’s heart stopped. On this morning, Neville sits beside Virginia in bed, weak and disoriented. For more than an hour, he sits next to his wife’s body, trembling and repeating her name.
In a way, Virginia isn’t strictly dead; she’s just becoming a vampire and entering a coma (since it’s daytime).
On the morning Virginia’s heart stops, Neville thinks about the recent death of his daughter, Kathy. After Kathy’s death, Neville threw her body into the large burning pit—however, Neville refuses to do the same for Virginia.
Neville refuses to treat his beloved wife like a germ-ridden object; he wants to honor Virginia’s memory by burying her in the ground, even if doing so means risking his own safety.
Still in the flashback, Neville steps outside and runs over to his neighbor Ben Cortman’s house, intending to borrow Cortman’s car. He knocks on the door, but there’s no answer. Neville opens the door; inside the house, he finds Ben’s wife, Freda, asleep, with bite marks on her throat. He also sees Ben, asleep, with no bite marks. Disturbed, Neville finds Cortman’s car keys and runs out of the house. This is the last time he’ll see either Ben or Freda alive.
Neville sees his friends and neighbors, Ben and Freda Cortman, asleep on the couch in the middle of the day. From this, we can deduce that Ben has contracted the vampire disease (he’s in his daily coma) and Freda has been bitten by a vampire—quite possibly her own husband.
Neville sews Virginia into a blanket and carries her body to Cortman’s car. As he’s about to leave, a man down the street shouts, “Could you bring my mother too?” Neville explains that he’s not taking his wife’s body to the flaming pit, even though it’s the law to do so. He drives Virginia’s body to a cemetery, and buries her in the ground.
Neville is so determined to bury his wife in a proper cemetery, rather than throwing her in the flaming pit, as the government requires, that he doesn’t even bother lying about it to his neighbor down the street.
Two days after burying Virginia, Neville lies in bed, drunk and unkempt. He hears a knock at the door, opens the door, and sees Virginia, moaning, “Rob … ert.”
Matheson implies that Neville has buried Virginia in the cemetery, and that she’s risen from the grave. Matheson doesn’t reveal what happens next, but he suggests that Neville is forced to kill his beloved wife.