The two men stand and walk out and another takes their place. This man is tall, wiry, and could easily pose on the cover of GQ. He has short dark hair which is appropriately jelled (not too much, not too little), and cool gray-blue eyes. His suit is black with a spring green tie over a peach-colored button up shirt. His gold wedding band is put to shame by a glistening watch. When he speaks it is like I’ve already done something wrong.
“Hello…” he flips through pages, “…Rebecca. My name is Charles.”
He just stares at me.
“What’s your last name Charles?”
“I’d rather not share that with you right now, Rebecca.”
“Well, I’d like to know. Don’t I have rights?”
“No. You do not.”
“I want to talk about how you survived out there alone, Rebecca.”
“Well. I want to talk about bacon. Do you have any bacon?”
His brow furrows, “Excuse me?”
“Bacon. Do you have some? Don’t I at least have the right to bacon? I mean, that’s a basic human right.”
“You’ve just eaten.” He says.
“Yeah. And I intend to again. Right now.” I say.
To my surprise this elicits a smirk that makes him look extremely ridiculous. The guy was not put on this Earth to smile. He hits a little button on the panel.
“Can we get Rebecca some bacon please?” he turns to me, “Any preference as to kind?”
“Smoky and crispy.”
He relays this to whoever is on the other line and they do not respond. From his face I would gather that he is in charge, not them.
“We know from the documents we found in your vehicle that you are from Danton? Is this correct?”
“Uh yeah, can I get some water?”
He motions behind me. On a metallic tray I hadn’t seen before sits an empty plastic cup with a glass pitcher of water. I take some and sit back down.
“Have you had any contact with other people while you were inside the perimeter?”
“No. Why?” I have no moral qualms about omitting Mark’s body from my discussion with this man. Besides, from his line of questioning it seems that Kevin and Nate either haven’t gotten the chance to tell him about Mark Hensley’s journal, or they have willfully hidden its existence.
He writes my response, “Have you contacted any parties outside the perimeter while you were inside?”
“Umm, I just asked you a question.”
“Which I have neither intention nor authority to answer. Did you contact the outside world?”
My eyes roll uncontrollably at this point, “Many times, wouldn’t you?”
He makes a note, “By what methods did you attempt to contact others?”
“I don’t think so, dude. You are either going to tell me what’s going on or let me go. If you are going to kill me I deserve an explanation for being abandoned and if you are going to let me go what does any of this matter?”
A long silence passes. He just tips his head for a while and stares at me like Cleaver used to do.
“Where are the dogs?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer. He is trying to decide if I’m worth talking to. Or maybe if I’m worth torturing. After another minute he stands and begins to leave.
“I will give you one piece of information for every piece of information you give me.”
He turns, and stares at me again.
“I’ll consider it.”
The metal door opens and in Charles comes.
“My superiors have agreed that if you answer my questions directly I can give you one piece of information of my choosing for every question you answer. Agreed?”
“I get to ask three questions at the end and you have to answer them.” I bargain.
He studies me for a millisecond, and probably decides that it isn’t worth his time to negotiate with me.
I nod, “Go ahead.”
“What happened to you the morning of August 21st?”
“I woke up in my bed in my apartment. I was hungover, and alone. I’d misplaced my phone charger so I went to the store to get another one. I didn’t see anyone that day.”
His ears perk up, “Did you see anyone any other day?”
“Uh uh!” I shake my head, “Your turn.”
He furiously flips through his notes to the back page and reads, “Danton and the surrounding areas were evacuated the night of August 20th due to viral contamination now referred to as the Misoan Plague. Do you know of any other human alive in Danton?”
“No.” I think of telling him about the cough in the hospital, but something stops me. Maybe it’s that I don’t know whether that person was real, or maybe it’s that I’m not sure if they are better off staying in Danton.
“Why were the dogs left behind? Didn’t people want to take them?” I ask.
“Canines are carriers.”
My stomach drops to the floor. Suddenly the back of my throat feels like sandpaper.
“I’ve had a lot of contact with dogs.”
“Yes.” He flips back to the front, “By what means did you attempt to contact the outside world and to your knowledge were you successful?”
“By every means available to me. I set fires, I tried the internet and the phones, I left a video journal in Danton and ventured out of the town when nothing else worked. As to your second question, which gives me and extra question as well, to my knowledge I’m either sitting in front of you because I was successful in some way or I’m sitting here by divine intervention.”
He makes a note.
“How long is the incubation period of the virus?” I ask.
He doesn’t look up, “We don’t know.”
“How can you not know?” I ask.
“No one has survived contamination.” He says, “And some people were confined to quarantine months ago and just started exhibiting symptoms in the last few days.”
“So I could have it?” He starts to open his mouth. “Don’t answer that! I’ve got better ones.”
He nods, “My turn, actually. Do you know any of the following people?”
He pushes a list up to the glass.
I know all of them. Three of them were on the personnel list at Danton’s Military Weapons Storage facility. Karen was my roommate in Danton.
“No. How didn’t the government see me? Don’t you have satellites watching the area? I was outside all day most days.”
He won’t make eye contact with me, he just writes furiously. At first I wonder if he’s even heard me because he doesn’t even open his mouth. He flips through some of his notes and scans them over, then closes the notebook and takes off his glasses, trying to frame exactly how to say it.
“The infection… was not successfully contained.”
My ears start to ring.
“The government has been rather busy with other issues.”