Jack stared at his phone, he couldn’t believe his eyes as his face appeared on the small screen in front of him.
“My question Haylee is how a volunteer was able to get a hold of this drug that he used to kill these patients.”
“That’s just one of the many questions that the hospital will have to answer. They are hoping that the only survivor Jennifer Balla can give them insight.”
“If she wakes up from her coma.”
“Yes, our thoughts and prayers go out to her and the rest of the victims’ families as they pick up the pieces from this tragedy, over to you Grant.”
Wait Jenny is alive? Jack shook his head, shock encircling his mind as he held the power button to turn the phone off. They had twisted this entire story around and made him look like a monster. He needed to get out of the city without being seen or recognized but he couldn’t leave Jenny in the clutches of the beasts. He walked to the bathroom and stared at himself in the mirror. One thing he was happy about was that no one knew where he lived. He lived in the abandoned building in the nearly abandoned part of the city and this would make it hard for the government to track him down. His phone was the one way they could find him. Even though he had deleted any and every app on the phone that had a tracking system, he knew he was putting himself at risk just watching the news on it. He needed to ride to the other side of town and discard it, but first he needed to change his looks. Walking into the bathroom he took the clippers out of their case. Jack sighed as he turned them on and began to shave his long black dreadlocks off. He took a quick shower when he was finished and looked in the mirror again. The jagged scar on the side of his head that the locks had been concealing seemed to stick out like a beacon. He ran his finger over it, his mind wondering back to when the injury occurred.
“What is your name boy.” Jack’s eyes tried to open but the pounding in his head made his eye squeeze tight.
“Ayub.” He whispered, his voice raspy from the days of walking down the dusty paths to the closest village to his home, his home that was now void of human life.
“Ayub, my name is Doctor Gwendle. You’ve taken a nasty fall so I need you to hold as still as possible. Do you know how long you were in the well?”
Jack shook his head against the memory, now was not the time for this. The pain in his head and the cold that had sunk into his bones that day were remembered by his body and a visible shiver coursed through it. Pulling himself back to the present, he examined the week long scruff that had grown on his chin and cheeks over the week he had been in quarantine. Picking up his trimmer he carefully etched out two tribal designs in the short hair. Thanks be to God that he had a natural artistic talent. Sighing again he walked into his bedroom and grabbed his pocket knife, a lighter and the eraser out of his drawing kit. He rummaged through another box and came out with what he was looking for. To anyone else it simply looked like two small pieces of white wood with reddish brown lines encircling them. To Jack it was his heritage, one of the few things he had from his life in Africa. His ears still bared the scars of the piercings he was given shortly after birth. The best thing about it was that it was trendy to have such large piercings these days. He washed both ears with soap and hot water. Heating the knife he took a few deep breaths before grabbing his ear lobe, carefully pressing the knife into the scar tissue that had long ago closed. The pain brought back the memory his mind had attempted to play out earlier. This time Jack gladly let his mind run to those thoughts, a distraction from the act of self-mutilation he was performing.
“Ayub, I know it hurts, but I have to close this gash on your head. Hold him tighter.” The doctor ordered the nurse that was holding his arms. The doctor was sewing the gash in his head closed, the gash he had received falling down the well of the village he had managed to walk to. He had simply been reaching for the rope to pull the bucket up and lost his balance. He had hit his head on the side of the well and part of him had wished it had killed him instantly, as he realized he was probably going to drown. The fact that he had found a small ledge to cling to at the bottom of the well only made this wish deepen. He would simply suffer and more than likely starve to death. Now as the doctor who had saved his life began to stitch up the wound, the pain made him wish he had died instantly all over again. There was no anesthesia, they didn’t even have a topical numbing agent to use, the wound was deep and for five year old Ayub it was the most horrible physical pain he could remember.
Jack finished wiping the blood off of his ears and continued to apply pressure. They didn’t bleed as bad as they would have had they never been pierced but he couldn’t very well ride his bike around town bleeding.
It took a half hour for the bleeding to subside enough for Jack to be comfortable to leave. He grabbed the garbage bag that held the cut off hair and tied it tightly. Then shoving his wallet and phone into his back pack along with a bottle of water, he headed towards the other side of town. He ensured he took a wide berth around the hospital and any route he took on a normal basis. To say he felt paranoid was an understatement but he knew he looked nothing like the pictures they were showing on the news. He stopped next to the trash in front of the large mall and threw his cell phone in it. He had discarded his hair half way through the trip, he was smart enough not to discard them in the same area. If the police were tracking his phone they didn’t need to find his hair along with it. That would just allow them to update his photo. The thought of his photo brought with it the realization that there were security cameras everywhere. He put his head down and looked at the building with just his eyes. Just as he expected there was a camera pointing in his direction. He reached into the trash thankful it was nearly full and retrieved his phone and pedaled off. Two miles farther he stopped on a bridge above the freeway. Waiting for a break in traffic he released his phone and watched it fall and splinter into a dozen pieces as it hit the pavement below. Jack couldn’t help but smile, problem solved. He turned his bike around and headed home.
Five miles from home Jack realized that something was wrong. He had seen four cars on the road, too many for this part of the city. Taking a sharp right, he stood to get more leverage as he pedaled up the road that led up and out of the city. Ten minutes later, a huffing Jack laid his bike against a tree and walked down the narrow dirt path that led to a small hidden overlook. He had discovered the outlook accidentally one day while riding around. He had only been here a few times but had never run into other people. The best part of the overlook was that he could see the factory that he had made his home in. As he came to end of the path his heart sunk, the building was surrounded by police cars, vans and a lot of unmarked vehicles. He was sure that the CDC was there. Even with their twist in the story about what happened at the hospital, they wouldn’t risk him infecting more people. He glanced around and could see various other police cars patrolling the surrounding neighborhood, no doubt looking for him. Jack clenched his fist in frustration, what was he going to do now? He couldn’t turn himself in, no one would believe him. They would send him to prison and if he wasn’t killed there they would surely execute him. Of course that’s if he even survived long enough to go to trial. The word fugitive came to mind and Jack cringed as he had to accept this is what he had become. No, it’s what they, the government, had made him.
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