Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Part 79


"You said it was some kind of experiment."

"I did.  The infecteds are so dangerous that right now convincing the general public is going to be too hard."

"Too hard for what?"

He looked like he wanted to pinch me.  "Too hard for what we've just been talking about."

"Oh ... the political stuff."

"Yeah," he snapped.  "The political stuff."  Calming down he said, "I keep forgetting how young you are."

"I'm sixteen."

"Whoop-dee-freaking-doo.  You're a whole sixteen ... which means you were fourteen when this whole mess started and you haven't exactly had the advantage of any kind of stability."  There was no need to debate it because we both knew it was true.  "Sweetheart, you are going to have to start thinking bigger.  Personal survival is important but a lone person doesn't stand much of a chance in this world.  You need friends and you want them friends to have the same basic worldview that you do."

"I know all that already.  In the city I was part of a group.  Even when I left there and wound up in town I was alone for only part of the time because there were people that considered me part of their group.  Then I left and I hooked up with ..."  At the interested look on his face I snapped, "Not that kind of hooking up, don't be awful."

"Just wondering.  You seemed kinda ... girly ... when you talked about that Jace fella."

I shook my head.  "No.  I didn't know him well enough and what I did know had some issues.  Anyway, getting away from the nasty stuff, even here I'm not really alone.  Mr. Svenson and Jamie have both taught me stuff.  I've traded with Singing Waters and through them with some of the other camps.  Maybe I'm not part of a camp exactly but I'm not exactly alone either."

"Got a boyfriend?"

"Oh honestly, is that all ..."

"Guys think about?"  He laughed sadly.  "Seems like it doesn't it."

"What about ... uh ... Dr. Riccardo?"

He looked away and I was sorry I asked.  "She was one of the people that were sent off because they were raising the wrong kind of doubts.  They were working in a little outpost, unaware of what was going on, and they were overrun.  They never stood a chance and all had to be sanitized ... the ones that remained intact enough to survive to the infected state."

That was a clinical way of saying some got tore to pieces and some didn't but that they'd all been chewed on.  "You didn't have to ...?"

He shook his head.  "No.  But I had to identify the remains."

"I'm ... I'm sorry.  I shouldn't have asked."

"No.  I'm glad you did.  Hell of a lot easier than figuring out some way to bring it up.  But that is just another example of what these people will do to shut up any resistance to their ideas.  The docs, when they escaped, made it to safety before the majority of the survivors did.  And those who speak first are usually the ones listened to the most.  They spun their actions so that it was hard for those that came in behind them to undo it."

"And ... and Lee is part of this?  Dr. Hanson and her bunch?"

"No, not really.  See Michelle ... she's ..."

"She's knocked up.  I got that part."

"Yeah she is but Lee has lost everything and right now Michelle is ... she's saying all the right things, doing all the right things ... but ..."

"But she's still her mother's daughter?"

He shrugged.  "I think so.  But maybe not.  Hard to tell and Lee and I don't exactly run in the same circles.  Dr. Hanson has friends in high places but not so high that I wasn't able to force her to come on this little safari this time around.  And not so high that she's been able to pull all the strings that she wants to.  Lee and Michelle live in general civilian quarters and Michelle, because she doesn't have any kind of specialized training, has to work in the fields and on salvage runs.  When she starts to show more that might change but for now she's not allowed any special privileges just because of who her mother is.  It is hard to tell how it is affecting her outlook.  I do know that there are some places that she is restricted from going that Lee can go and that really irks her ... and her mother ... because it also restricts their privacy and their ability to correspond with one another without oversight.  There are some that blame the daughter for the mother's action ... she catches it as much as Lee does over in the civilian sector of the base.  Lee is starting to gain a few friends but from what I've seen, Michelle is a fish out of water and is having trouble navigating her new reality."

Putting the Lee/Michelle soap opera aside since it wasn't any of my business I asked, "So what is this big experiment?"

Sarge took the change of subject with good grace and answered, "Like I was saying the infecteds are too dangerous, too uncontrollable.  One of the few things that we know will slow them down besides violence is ..."

He was obviously waiting for me to finish the sentence.  "Cold.  Cold slows them down, kills some of them too."

"Exactly.  The first part of the experiment occurred in December when a survey was done in the far north to make sure that cold slowed them down as much this year as it did last winter."

"I take it that it did."

He nodded.  "More so because it has been a vicious winter for many areas."

"What's the second part of this experiment ... although I'm beginning to think that someone has been playing Pied Piper."

He nodded sardonicly.  "Got it in one Kid.  Those noise boxes?  They've been repurposed."

"So it's just like the city.  The docs didn't give a rip about people in the way of their plan ... they just did it."

Sarge shook his head.  "Not quite.  The eggheads don't run everything.  The plan couldn't be stopped - they had too many interested parties on their side - but controls could be put on it.  The armed forces, national guard, militias, you name it ... word went out and they cleared a path by evacuation, some of it forced evacuation.  Bridges and tunnels and roads were dynamited when necessary to funnel the infecteds down the chosen route.  And it was just fine until a cold front retreated and the Jet Stream got involved."  At my puzzled look he said, "Before this storm did you have a warm spell?"

"Sorta if you want to call it that.  It caused a little thaw but not much of one.  The creek didn't even unfreeze though the center of the lake got a little slushy and made ice fishing a little dangerous."

Sarge nodded.  "Well it was warmer south of here.  Somehow or other just as we were ready to make the final push into Michigan the infecteds got caught up in and followed the warmer path into northern Wisconsin.  Then cold air came in behind and cut off their retreat and a cold front came down and crushed them betwixt and between.  It wasn't cold enough to force them into that hibernating thing they do but it wasn't warm enough that they had much to eat either.  They were going crazy.  There was also a lot more of them than was expected and planned for.  After the first couple of runs the sound boxes weren't even needed, the size of the horde seemed to draw all the local infecteds as they passed through.  The doctors were trying to decide how to proceed when things got out of hand and the horde started acting independently of any of the controls we'd try to ensure.  They did a lot of damage and then the storm system that created the blizzard caused a group of them to break off and run in this direction.  Locals that we'd rescued told us about the folks living up here in the national forest land and ... we got here the same time the blizzard did and got bogged down.  Radio was hit or miss.  Some got the message, some didn't.  The ones in this immediate area didn't.  I'll be reporting this and making a damn big deal out of it with my superiors.  The docs bit off more than they could chew ... again ... and people died because of it."

"But you're saying the docs think this is a success."

"They've been collecting the infecteds and putting them in storage containers to be taken by train to a holding facility."

"Oh ... that's going to end well."

We both made a face.  "One disaster at a time Kid, one disaster at a time."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the chapter Kathy, I hope you are feeling better.
    Wayne

    ReplyDelete