This is part three of “Epidemic,” the short story I wrote and have been posting for the last two days. If you haven’t read any of them and would like to start from the beginning, go here to read the first part, and here to read part two.
I left the room quickly. “Stay in here, please,” I said in a choked voice. “Rest.”
I called the number that the newscaster had supplied—along with the information that the virus was spreading rapidly. It was in nearly every city all over the world now.
“Hello?” The male voice came from the other end.
“Hi. My parents are infected,” I said tersely.
There was a brief pause. “How old are you?”
“How many people are living in your house right now?”
“Six. My parents, me, and my three younger brothers.”
“We need to come collect your parents, and we have a safe house we’re taking all the healthy to. Could we have your home address, please, and stay as far away from your parents as you can.”
I told him our address and gathered the boys in Aaron’s room, across the house from mom and dad. I took a breath and attempted to explain what was happening to the boys.
I smiled tightly. “Boys, mom and dad are … sick.”
William, being thirteen, had an idea of what I meant. “Is it … ?” He didn’t finish the question, desperately wishing that I could tell him it wasn’t.
I nodded. He hung his head. “There are going to be some doctors coming to help them,” I continued. “They’re also going to take us to a safe house, so we don’t get sick like a lot of other people are.
We’re going to be safe, okay?”
They nodded slowly.
“Evie?” That was Aaron.
“Who’s going to take care of us while mom and dad are sick?”
Tears welled in my eyes. “I’ll take care of you,” I said quietly.
The doorbell rang. “That’ll be the people here to help,” I said, getting up. “Stay here.”
I opened the door and I was met by a distinctly military-looking man.
“Where are your parents?”
“This way.” I led the man and his party of five or six into the house. I stopped in front of my parents’ bedroom. “Here it is.”
The military man nodded to the others, two of whom were pushing stretchers. He turned back to me. “I would suggest you take your brothers and wait in the front yard, miss.”
I swallowed, nodded, and got the boys. We waited, sitting under the apple tree that was the defining feature of our front yard. I held Aaron on my lap.
We watched as they rolled our sedated parents out of the house and into a waiting ambulance. The ambulance sped away. I stood as the military man came back.
“They will be taken to a quarantine site,” He said. He held out a hand. “Lieutenant-Colonel Waylon D. Jones.”
I shook his hand. I put a hand on Aaron’s head. “This is Aaron, that’s Jacob, and this is Will. You already know that I’m Evette.”
He nodded at each person. “My men and I will be taking you to a safe location. We are currently in the process of taking all uninfected to various safe houses; it is only a security measure. We expect to have the virus back under control soon. This way.”
We piled into the back of a jeep, Lieutenant-Colonel Jones driving, another soldier in the passenger seat. I held a bag of necessities on my lap. A second jeep of soldiers drove behind us.
We drove for probably twenty minutes before we came upon a large law firm. There was a line of soldiers lining the perimeter. The jeeps were parked and we were led through the doors.
“Here’s the cafeteria,” Lieutenant-Colonel Jones said, gesturing to a full room with the smell of cooking meat wafting out of it. “And here we have the infirmary, over there’s the weapons storage. Over here are all the barracks. Those who are old enough may be expected to help out around here if they’re able; we have a lot of people to provide for, after all. There’s a creche over here–” he gestured down the hall and to the right—“for smaller children.”
I nodded silently and assimilated all of this new information.
“And here is where you’ll stay.” He showed us into a small room with two sets of bunk beds; all that it could accommodate, really. “I’ll let you settle in.” He left.
“Pick your bunks,” I said, giving the boys a nudge. William nabbed a top bunk as fast as he could, Jake took the one below his, and I set Aaron up in the bunk below mine. We spread out his special blanket and teddy bear—Curly Bear.
“Is this a good bed for you?” I asked him. He was tucking Curly Bear in so he could take a nap.
Aaron nodded. “Curly likes it. He thinks Waydon is nice, too.”
“Good. Want to go get something to eat after we’re done getting set up in here?”
I straightened and began putting toothbrushes on a shelf, and put the two older boys’ special stuffed animals on their bunks. I had grabbed them right before they loaded us into the jeeps.
I put my journal under my mattress, and twisted my ring. It was a nervous tic of mine. I read for a while. When I looked up, Will and Jake were sitting on the floor, playing a game with a die and a game board they had drawn on a stray piece of paper. Aaron was playing some imaginary game in the corner of the room.
I glanced at my watch. Six o’clock. “Let’s go to the mess and get some food, boys.”
I held Aaron’s hand as we walked to the mess hall. The boys walked a little ways behind us.
There were hamburgers in the mess hall. All American tonight, apparently. We went through the line and sat at a table, silently chewing our food. I cut Aaron’s burger into quarters for him.
A boy who looked to be my age—perhaps a year older–plopped down across from me. Tan skin, dark brown hair, and vivid blue eyes made for a striking appearance.
“Do you mind?” He asked, reaching for his hamburger.
“Not at all,” I said easily. “Evette Accardo.” I held out my hand across the table.
He took it and shook it firmly. “Matthias Peterson.”
“It’s all mine,” He said with a smile.
“Evie likes the name Matthias,” Aaron piped up from beside me, ketchup on his chin. “She uses it in the stories she tells me.”
“Does she now?” Matthias said, smiling down at Aaron. “And what’s your name, little dude?”
“Aaron,” said Aaron.
“Eat your food, buddy.” I wiped the ketchup off of his chin. I shot a glance at the staring Will and Jake, who went back to their hamburgers.
I looked back up at Matthias, who was looking at me expectantly. “This is William, Jacob, and Aaron,” I said, gesturing to each in turn.
“Hi,” the three boys said.
“Hey,” smiled Matthias.
There were no more words exchanged for the rest of dinner. We got up and deposited our dishes at the counter and left for our small room.
I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist putting in Matthias. He’s cute and awesome and, what can I say, I’m a girl. 🙂 As always, you know the drill, comment to tell me what you thought, follow the blog for more, and like the post if you liked it.
Thanks for reading!