My eyes blink open instantly. Days could have passed, but it feels like seconds. I’m on a metal table, covered in three or four blankets. I can feel sweat on the small of my back. I reach to pull them off and realize I’ve been dressed in a hospital gown. But this is no hospital. I’m in a small white room, uncompromisingly sterile.
“I’m sorry, Rebecca.” a loud voice from the speakers above speaks to me and I jump, covering my ears. I sit up and can see the origin of the voice, a young man on the other side of a pane of glass, probably around my age, whose intimidating voice doesn’t match his face. He could even be described as endearing. He is turning a switch on his panel.
“Sorry. Again.” When he speaks this time it is clear that the switch controlled his volume, he’s lowered it.
“We saw that you were getting cold so we just kept covering you with blankets. The last thing we’d want is for you to get sick.”
Another man walks in front of the glass, chuckling at the first as if he’s said something funny.
“If you come towards me you can talk to me. The speaker probably won’t pick up anything you say from back there. I mean, that is, if you want to talk to me.”
I don’t know what to say so I say nothing and crawl off the metal table. It’s only then that I realize I have no undergarments on and the gown is backless. When the man sees me covering myself with my arms he motions, “There’s a nice warm robe over there for you.”
Just two feet from me a white fleece robe is hung by a door. I put it on and try the handle.
His friend speaks, “I’m sorry again, Rebecca. You are in decontamination at the moment.”
He’s a bit older and a bit rounder but they could be brothers. Finally I come to sit in front of them.
“What am I contaminated with?” I ask.
“Probably nothing. But we are just being cautious.” the first answers.
“We have some questions for you.” His friend interrupts.
“Really?” The sarcasm in my voice is thinly veiled.
The first holds a hand up to the second, “What he means to say is that I am Dr. Kevin Madsen and he is Nate Keismer. I’m a specialist in infectious disease, I have my PhD in Immunology and Biomechanics, I’ve worked at USAMRIID. Do you know what that is?”
“No.” I answer.
“It’s an acronym for the United States Army Medical Research Institute for infectious disease. Nate here is a specialist in communications, he’s worked for the army and the state but more recently we’ve both worked for a company called BioGraphy, owned by Tyson Technologies. Have you heard of our company?”
“Something to do with pharmaceuticals, right?” I shift in my seat uncomfortably. I miss my bra.
“Not exactly. Tyson Technologies owns some pharmaceutical companies but for the most part they are involved in private intelligence operations and scientific innovation.” Kevin clarifies.
“Sounds a little incompatible.” I say.
Nate smiles and looks at his feet.
“You would think so.” Kevin answers.