“How are you doing?” Kevin asks me.
“Awful, I’ve been thrust into a situation I don’t understand without any answers! I’m ready to prison shank you guys.” I force a fork into the brown stuff but give up and go for the apple instead.
“Who was the creepy yet good-looking guy I last spoke with? Has there been any update on the virus? Can I talk to my mom?” Ten days have made me yet more impatient.
“That man was a liaison between the government and this company. He left right after he talked to you and we haven’t heard from him. The virus has spread to a northern county in Texas, but no one at Tyson has been allowed to go down and collect samples. We just see pictures of pox-covered children on the news. There’s been a mass exodus from the region. No, you can’t talk to your mom yet. We have to get you out of the building first.” Kevin says.
“Where am I?” I finally ask.
“Brazil. We are nestled in the jungle outside of Rio.” Nate says.
“Why?” I ask.
“Why is grass green?” Nate retorts.
“Chlorophyll.” Kevin answers.
“I meant we don’t know.” Nate says.
“Then say ‘we don’t know, this is where the facility was built and we just work here.’” Kevin hasn’t looked up at Nate the entire time.
“I don’t need the attitude.” Nate murmurs.
“Neither do I.” Kevin says.
“Hey!” I snap in a loud whisper, “Still in need of answers at this side of the table!”
“It’s probably best if we address your questions once we leave. This room is under surveillance and although the men watching the cameras don’t have any reason to notice you, they may replay this footage once we’ve gotten you out.” Kevin whispers.
“Just come with us.” Nate says as he grabs my arm and we all empty our trays and leave through yet another door.
On the other side is a huge lab; stereotypical is its lack of decoration. We walk through quickly, though Nate releases my arm. The two of them move in front of me, swiping keycards and scanning eyeballs as they go. I'm amazed that no one stops us, conspicuous as we are. As we speed walk through the complex I remember that none of my personal belongings have been returned to me and that I still don't know where the dogs are. In an act of blind faith, I continue with them anyway. Hopefully, they care enough to get me out; they will look out for my furry friends too.
We continue through the lab and then into an open space that looks not unlike a holodeck in a Star Trek franchise.
Continuing through this, and hoping to stop at any moment and put on a coat -the hallways are irrepressibly cold, I push on with them. Finally, we are stopped in another hallway by a man with a hilarious mustache. I find that these folks take themselves too seriously for my tastes. Whereas Kevin's ponytail has started to grow on me.
"Papers?" the mustache man says.
"We don't have hers, she's a patient." Kevin explains.
"That's exactly why you should have hers." mustache says.
"Well," Nate says, "we don't because she urinated on them."
"What?" mustache says.
"That's right." Kevin barely squeaks out.
Mustache flashes a light in my eye, "Miss, can you tell me your full name?"
"Well, I can tell you that!" Kevin laughs, "She's Ethel Burgelberger.”
Mustache did not fall for Burgelberger. I wouldn't have either. Smith might have been more passable.
As mustache reaches for a bright red button on his belt, the uh-oh button, Nate slams into him and mustache knocks his head against a wall. When mustache goes down the two men continue to the next door but this time at a dead sprint. I follow in suit.
"Will you guys be able to come back here?" I ask.
They only react with laughter. I stop dead, "What about the dogs?"
Nate and Kevin stop too and look back at me.
"Rebecca," Kevin says, "I thought you knew. The dogs are dead."
Tears staining the pink on my cheeks we finally make it to a parking garage. A bizarre sight, the jungle is taking back the concrete. Vines rope around pillars and the caws of tropical birds dominate the air. Probably fortuitous, it means no one is noticing our escape.
"The dogs were incinerated as they were believed to be carriers of the disease. I'm sorry." Kevin says again. It barely comforts me.
"When?" I whisper.
"Before you woke on the first day. I'm sorry." He can't stop saying it. They feel terrible, but I don't care. There must have been something they could have done.