Chapter 10 : The Way of Our World
A month had passed since Jenny, Beau and Jack had moved to the elementary school on the edge of the city. They had no contact with anyone as far as Jack knew and now he stood on the roof of the bank adjusting the focus on the telescope he was looking through.
Nothing, not one damn soul. He huffed and took a long drink out of the gallon of water he had brought with him. He could barely handle being around the two humans he was spending the rest of his life with, however long that would be. Beau was crass and too focused on his work. Jack was sure the man sometimes forgot that himself and Jenny were humans not lab rats. And Jenny, Jack sighed at the thought of her. Her entire persona had changed. She often fell into fits of crying and moped around listlessly the rest of the time. Jack tried to be understanding. Her entire world had been shattered and he knew how devastating it could be, but there were days like today when she had burst out in hysterics at the sight of a book. Jack figured it reminded her of her childhood, it was an elementary school after all. He hadn’t the energy to comfort her again and had left her to mourn, unable to bare the sound of her weeping. Several times over the last week he had passed by the liquor store, just one beer, he often thought as he peered through the windows. Not once did he even walk to the door. He didn’t want the temptation of burying his sadness to be as easy as a door handle. He knew it was a road he didn’t want to go down. Alcohol was a depressant and the death surrounding him was depressing enough.
Beau’s voice interrupted his thoughts “Jack!” the voice crackled through the radio at Jack’s feet startling him.
Jack reached down and picked it up, “Yeah?” He sighed.
“I’ve got good news and bad news. How long are you going to be out?”
“I can come back now or you can just tell me.” Jack struggled with the annoyance he felt at the disruption of his peaceful morning.
“No, I’d prefer to tell you face to face. Can you grab me some Megabomb on your way back?”
Jack sighed, he swore the man lived off of the energy drinks. Jack was also sure he’d cleared the immediate area of any, but he’d look anyway. It would be a way for him to stay out longer. “If I can find any.” He answered.
“Okay, see you when you get here.”
Jack stood and tightened the lid on the gallon jug. He placed it in his bag along with the radio and then placed his bag on his back. Strapping the medical mask over his face he sighed at how sad it was that he would prefer to stay out with the dead than be back with the only other living souls in town.
An hour later Jack walked through the door leading into the cafeteria. As always his footfalls echoed in the silence. For a moment he wondered how long the stillness would bother him, then he realized the instant it stopped bothering him there would be a problem.
He found Beau in the library chatting with Jenny, he was of course in full gear, but the chatting was an entirely new personality trait.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh Jack it’s wonderful!” Jenny exclaimed rising from the couch she was sitting on.
Jenny’s smile seemed to make the entire room shine. “We aren’t contagious anymore.” She exclaimed.
Jack raised an eyebrow and looked at Beau for confirmation.
Beau nodded his head eagerly in agreement, something about the man’s demeanor was off but Jack couldn’t quite figure it out.
“So what’s the bad news?” Jack asked studying the man carefully.
Beau’s disposition changed at the question. “I have no idea how big the contamination zone is.”
“What do you mean you have no idea how big it is?” Jack asked slightly confused. As far as he’d been informed, by Beau, the virus had been contained.
“I lost contact with the CDC.”
“What? When the hell did you have contact with them?” Jack nearly yelled. His mind raced. Why had he even believed this man in the first place?
“Uh, about a week ago and, and then I lost it a few days ago.” Beau answered.
“Has the virus spread?”
Jack took a step towards Beau, the man’s evading answers were getting on his last nerve. “Give me a straight answer.”
“They thought there was a chance the virus had affected a small town not too far from Atlanta, that’s the last thing I heard from them.”
Although what Beau was telling Jack was alarming, it was the way he said it that concerned Jack more. It sounded rehearsed and Beau was no longer looking him in the eye. “What about the guards at the border of the county?” Jack inquired.
“We won’t be able to get past them.” This time Beau’s voice came quick and his pointer finger started tapping on his thumb. Something Jack had learned was a nervous tick.
Why was he nervous? Jack narrowed his eyes before he spoke, watching Beau’s reaction as he did. “Well we can’t stay here forever.”
Beau’s eyes widened, “We just need to wait a little while longer.”.
“Why?” Jack asked, he no longer needed convincing that Beau was hiding something, he was sure of it now.
“Just… I need to run more tests.” Beau stammered.
“What tests?” Jack took another step towards the man, his fury growing with each lie rolling off the man’s tongue.
“They’re complicated and I can’t explain them.” Beau’s voice rose an octave as he looked everywhere but at Jack.
Jack raised his finger and pointed it at the stuttering man. “You better come clean, now.” The warning in Jack’s voice was clear.
“Jack!” Jenny exclaimed trying to step between the men.
“No, he’s lying about something.” Jack lightly pushed Jenny out of the way. “You better tell me or I’ll smash that mask.”
Beau’s eyes widened even further at the threat.
“Why would he lie?” Jenny asked.
Jack ignored her, continuing to stare Beau down. When the man pressed his lips together as if defying Jacks request Jack violently reached out and pushed Beau down on the couch, raising a fist in the air.
Beau threw his hands in the air, shielding his face. “Okay, okay.”
Jack dropped his fist but continued to hold the man down on the couch with his other hand. “Tell us.” He demanded pushing on the man.
“They are sending a unit here.”
“What do you mean they are sending a unit here?”
“Well, to get rid of the bodies. They’re still contagious.” Beau mumbled, once again avoiding eye contact with Jack.
Jack knew it was a lie. “Just the bodies? “
Beau nodded his head weakly.
“Are they coming here for Jenny and I?”
Beau’s eyes fluttered but he said nothing more. Jack pushed him into the couch one more time and turned away infuriated.
Beau jumped off the back of the couch and ran out the door so quickly that it took Jack a moment to comprehend what had happened.
Jack had no idea the man could move so fast. He ran after him, Jenny on his heels.
Beau reached the gym, went through the plastic curtains and a clear liquid began to spray down over the entry way.
Jack grabbed Jenny before she could get too close.
“That’s pure bleach. Get a bag with one change of clothes and a few cans of food to last you. We have to go.”
“Are you sure Jack?” Jenny asked, her eyes glistening with tears, her lips quivering.
“Yes Jenny, we don’t have time for your tears. Pluck up or die. Sorry sweetheart but that‘s the way of our world now.”