After another few rounds of question-dodging he leaves. I can’t decide whether to believe what he’s told me, especially since he seems less informed than I am. A chocolate cake appears via a hole in one wall which I received both dinner and bacon from. I didn’t ask for cake. When I approach the plate I see a blue piece of scrap paper underneath the tray.
We won’t keep you in there longer than two weeks. We don’t think there is a virus. ttyl, Nate and Kevin
Still, at least I know someone’s looking out for me.
The next ten days are agonizingly boring. Someone sends me some novels but sitting in a small white room reading every day all day was devastatingly tedious. And no shower. Finally, the door opened.
A blue space suit man welcomes me at the entrance. I can’t see his face through the tinted glass in his mask. When he speaks the speaker to the left of his helmet buzzes with electric static.
“We would like you to shower in the next room and then enter the cafeteria. Do not speak to anyone until Kevin and Nate come to sit with you.”
I simply nod. With a gloved hand he helps me into the next room where a dingy shower head pokes out of a wall. A neighboring wall is covered with a mirror, presumably transparent on the other side. I keep waiting for the space man to leave but instead he just turns away. I shower quickly but the water is cold and I’m shivering uncontrollably at the end. When I turn the water off the space man hands me scrubs and then quickly turns away again. When I’ve dressed he points through the next door in the room and I go through. Suddenly, I’m among a throng of people, most of whom are chattering amongst themselves or on cell phones in a very narrow white hall. I force my arm back to my side. It made an unauthorized attempt to grab a brunette woman’s cell phone out of her hand. I’ve had ten days to think alone, and most thoughts were of my mother, with a few of Luke as well. But I have no idea where I am, and I’m conspicuously dressed in scrubs. If I were to run away, I wouldn’t get far. Besides, she probably thinks I’m dead.
Across the hall and down another I can see the only door that stands open. Inside are several other people in scrubs, as well as others in regular clothing, and I see trays for food not unlike the white one that has been visiting me. I slowly cross, trying not to touch anyone as I pass. I enter the cafeteria and immediately I see Kevin and Nate. They are not standing next to each other, in fact they are socializing with others in a very pointed way. I fall into the line for food and grab whatever’s hot. Something is brown, something is stuffed between two pieces of bread, I grab an apple and water. I break into a cold sweat when I realize that two men stand between me and the cashier and I have nothing on but scrubs. Abruptly, Nate comes from behind me and shoves me so hard I almost drop my tray.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Miss!” he shouts.
“That’s fine…” I start, but I’m afraid to say anything. He’s drawn attention with his volume.
“No it’s not!” he practically screams, “Let me buy that for you. It’s the least I can do.”
His volume is getting more appropriate now. The cashier smiles at us in that please-just-don’t-hold-up-the-line way.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” Nate smiles at me, really trying to hold me attention. This is difficult, this is the first time I’ve been in contact with people for a month and now I’m supposed to act natural. I just nod.
“Well, why don’t you sit with me today? I mean, I won’t lock you into a contract or anything. Just until you get to know some people?”
I nod again, “That’s nice of you.”
He laughs, “You might eat those words!”
With four or five people staring at the loudmouthed guy and the girl he terrified, we make our way to a table where Kevin is already eating tapioca. Our good fortune is at hand, as no one is sitting near to him. Still, we keep our conversation at a barely inconspicuous low volume.