17 years and 24 days

“We will have you out of decontamination in 14 days but until then we need to get some information out of you so that we can move forward.”

They’d given me a juicy filet mignon and mashed potatoes slathered with butter and sour cream.  I chew while they question me, washing it down it a label-less cream soda. 

“What is your full name?” Nate asks.

“Rebecca Marie Sawyer.” I answer.

“What is your address?” Nate asks.

“375 Roosevelt in Danton-” I begin.

“You are from Danton?” Kevin interrupts me.

“Yeah.” I chew a particularly peppery bit.

Nate shifts in his seat, “You know you don’t have to lie to us, Rebecca.  I know this situation is unfamiliar to you, but we promise to take care of you.”

I roll my eyes and slice the meat again, “Why would I lie to you about where I’m from?”

I see them collectively sigh, though I can’t hear it through the glass.

Kevin redirects, “Where did you find the journal of Mark Hensley?”

“By the body of Mark Hensley.” I answer.

The two look confused. 

“Why,” I ask, “was he a friend?”

“Where is his body located?” Nate asks.

“In Jay’s in Dover City.” I answer.

“Of course.” Kevin murmurs.

I snort unattractively.  Pushing away the empty plate and wiping my mouth with an expensive looking cloth napkin I put two hands on the counter in front of me.

“I know you both think you are being fair to me,” I begin, “but I’ve been alone for twenty four days and you still haven’t begun to address why-“

“We don’t know why.” Nate interrupts.

“What is Operation Flashbulb?” I ask.

They exchange looks.  Kevin shifts in his seat again, “We’ve never heard of Operation Flashbulb.”

“Yeah,” I smile, “I don’t believe that for a second.  It was flashing on the screens in that bunker behind where you grabbed me.”

A man standing behind them who I hadn’t noticed shuffles some papers and steps out of my vision.

“We didn’t go in there, Rebecca.” Kevin says.

“That’s Ms. Sawyer to you, Kevin.”

“The thing is,” Kevin sighs, ignoring me, “we are being paid by the government to keep people out of that area.  We are on a need-to-know basis.”

“Well, if I’m stuck here, I’m telling you I need to know.”

“I’m afraid that’s not good enough.” Kevin says, “As a matter of fact, the government doesn’t know you are here.  We picked you up before they spotted us.”

“In a helicopter?” I ask, incredulous.

“The helicopter was borrowed from Dover City hospital.  We used a tunnel under Peabody River that was constructed during prohibition to get you out of the quarantine zone.  We control the satellite images in that region.” Kevin says.

My forearms are beginning to itch with the dry, circulated air.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because we want to know where everyone else went.” Nate answers.

Kevin interrupts my thought, “The government has told us that there was some sort of disease or virus circulating in the area and that they quarantined and then evacuated all 110,000 residents who were exposed.  But after almost a month all our company has found are you, and Mark Hensley.”

A disease could have killed Mark.  I could have it now.  This seems so outside the realm of possibility for me after twenty four days, but then I hadn’t come into contact with the pathogen until Mark.  Hypothetically.

“Who do you mean when you say ‘the government’?” I ask.

Nate nods, “Two days after everyone went missing and the road blocks were first noticed the President made an address and explained… their explanation.”

“Why did it take two days for him to address it?” I ask.

“Just stack it on our pile of questions.” Kevin answers.

“What kind of disease is it?” I ask.

“Sources have been extremely vague about the nature of the virus.” Kevin says.

I scratch a patch of dry skin on my forearm, “How long have you, Tyson Technologies, been working for the government then?”

“Officially? About twenty days.” Kevin says, “But more like twenty years.  We haven’t been here that long, but our boss has.  And supposedly the government has been involved in your area specifically for quite a while.”

The unnoticed man enters my vision again, whispers a few sweet nothings into Kevin’s ear, and dashes off.

“I’m sorry, Rebecca,” Kevin says. “A representative has heard of your arrival.  He has the authority to question you.  I guess we don’t.”

“A representative from where?”

The End

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