“So let me get this straight, you’re telling me not only did you purposely expose yourself to a sick patient but you’re aware virus’ tend to, what did you call it?” Doctor Randerson said, the look he was giving Jack didn’t surprise Jack one bit, he was more than aware of how crazy he sounded.
“They tend to hang around and mutate in me.”
The doctor shook his head, “And you know this because…”
“I told you, I’ve been doing this for years, I’ve only had one mutate and spread, but it wiped out an entire village.”
“Where your wife died, in Albania?”
“Yes.” Jack took a breath, “Look we were there on a humanitarian mission, it’s what my wife lived for. I got sick within the first two days and then I got better. I didn’t think twice about it until Tessa got sick a week later. Then it spread like wild fire. Everyone in that village died but me, including my wife. I stayed out of contact with people for a year. When I returned and no one got sick, I figured it was gone.”
“So you think this is the same virus…”
“No, I think whatever strain Ms. Hendry had, I got and it mutated, like the virus in Albania did.”
“ah…” The doctor paused for a moment, “It’s not uncommon for people to be naturally immune, what you told me about your birth, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were naturally immune to a lot of virus’…”
“No, you’re not listening. Whatever sickness I caught had been going around the village for months. It didn’t get severe until after I got sick.”
“You know how insane this sounds.”
“Look, I know, but that doesn’t matter, you have three people in your hospital who are all sick and…”
“Let me stop you right there, it’s the flu Jack, it’s flu season. This happens once a year every year, sometimes twice. The point is, this isn’t your fault or your doing.” Jack sighed, he had known this is how it would go down. “Now I can understand with your past how you might…”
“Don’t, just don’t. When it spreads and you can’t figure it out, come find me.” Jack threw his volunteer badge at the doctor and walked. He didn’t stop walking until he got home and threw himself on his bed. The past two weeks had been hard. Greg had gotten worse and was barely clinging to life. Another nurse, Darren was sick as well but the worst part, the part that wrenched at his heart was that Jenny was now sick. Ms. Hendry had made a full recovery and was being released in the morning. Jack wasn’t sure what to think. Perhaps it wasn’t that bad after all. Maybe going to Dr. Randerson hadn’t been the best idea. He had hoped that the doctor might listen to reason and test Ms. Hendry, but then again Jack couldn’t blame him, his reasoning was far more sane than Jack’s. He was sure if the Doctor knew where he lived there would be a knock on the door and he would be carried away to the nearest loony bin. He had purposely exposed himself to simply beat a virus, he hadn’t expected to cause another outbreak. This time it was far worse, it was in the most densely populated city in America.
Jack stared at the screen of his phone, the caller I.D. indicated that none other than Dr. Randerson was calling him. He wondered why, it had been over a month since he had left the hospital and he was sure if there had been a serious outbreak he would have heard about it on the news.
“This is Jack.”
“Jack, Dr. Randerson, from Grand Martine Hos…”
“I know who you are Dr. Randerson, what can I help you with?” Jack didn’t have the patience to waste time on unnecessary introductions.
“Well, I wanted to let you know Ms. Hendry had a simple strand of the flu.”
“Good to know.”
“However what, uh, Greg had and Jenny, Darren and a handful of others now have isn’t the flu virus.”
“So Greg’s better.”
There was a silence on the other end and Jack swallowed knowing silence was never good. “No, uh, unfortunately Greg passed away last week.”
“I see, so what is it that you need Dr. Randerson, why are you calling me?”
“I’d like to talk to you about Albania, see if what we have here is similar, maybe you could give me some insight?”
“Sure, I’m off today so I can be there in about an hour.”
“That’s great, see you then.”
Jack hung up the phone and sat down on the edge of his bed, his mind trying to make reason out of the doctor wanting his help. Isn’t that what all those government agencies were for? He shrugged his shoulders to himself, if he could help he could see no reason not to go even if he was unsure of how he would help.
Just as he stated Jack showed up at the hospital an hour after the call. A large man dressed as a hospital security card stopped him as he stepped off of the elevator.
“The third floor is closed for construction sir.”
“Oh, I’m here to see Dr. Randerson. Do you happen to know where he has his office set up at? It used to be here on this floor.”
“What’s your name?”
“Jack Costway.” Jack glanced over the guards shoulders, the windows of the doors leading to the third floor were blacked out which Jack thought was strange for construction.
The guard stepped farther away from Jack at his name, a look of fear coming to his eyes. “Oh, they’ve been waiting for you.” He pulled a radio off of his belt and turned away from Jack for a moment talking in a hushed tone “Do you have a fever?” He asked as he turned back.
“What? No, what is going on?”
The guard covered his mouth and nose and made a strange sound. Jack guessed the noise was supposed to be a cough, but it was obviously fake. “Go on in, Dr. Randerson should be waiting for you.” The guard said without removing his hand as he kept his distance.
“What, I don’t understand?” Everything told Jack to run, but as the guard stepped out of his way, gesturing to the blacked out doors, curiosity and Jack’s own fear of insanity moved him forward and through the doors.
“Mr. Costway?” A man in a full biohazard suit asked as soon as Jack walked through the doors and a heavy plastic curtain.
“Yes.” Jack glanced around. A makeshift entry way had been enclosed in heavy plastic and a heavy red zipper kept it sealed from the rest of the floor. The words biohazard area where set across the door with the all too familiar symbol below them. When the doors behind swung closed the man in the suit stepped around him and zipped up another set of doors that Jack had unknowingly walked through. Suddenly two other people came through the same doors the doctor had.
“I’m Dr. Massy from the CDC, I need you to suit up and come with me.” The doctor thrust a suit into Jacks arms and then stared expectantly at him as the two others began to help him put the suit on.
Jack felt embarrassed and almost violated as they helped him dress. “Could you tell me what this is about?” He asked right before the square helmet was put over his head. “I don’t think this suit is really necessary for me.”
“The suits not to protect you, it’s to protect everyone else, please follow me.” Jack hesitated, he felt if anything he deserved an explanation. “Dr. Randerson told me you wanted to help, was he wrong?” Dr. Massy asked when he noticed Jack’s hesitation.
“No, I just want an explanation.” Jack followed the man through the first set of doors. One of his entourage lifted his arms for him and then followed suit. A blast of liquid sprayed the four of them from all sides. The doctor then unzipped another set of doors, a thick stream of air blew from all sides drying the liquid.
It wasn’t until they stepped through the third set of doors that Dr. Massy turned to face him, the mini entourage leaving Jack’s side, their job apparently finished. “We would like an explanation as well, let’s talk about Albania.” Two large men stepped on either side of Jack as the doctor gestured to another set of sealed doors and Jack knew he should have run when he had the chance.