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Contamination | Invasion Survivor Book One | Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

“That doesn’t make any sense at all,” Dave grumbled once Paige had filled him in on her crazy conversation.

“I know. It’s completely crazy talk,” she replied, nodding. “My sister Brooke disappeared almost ten years ago.”

“What did the police say at the time?”

“They never discovered anything, which in return, pushed our mother over the edge. The anniversary of Brooke’s disappearance is actually coming up, and I don’t know how my mom will handle all of this.” Paige rambled on, and even though she was aware of that fact, she couldn’t stop.

“So, it can’t be Brooke,” she added stubbornly.

“This is so messed up,” Dave replied with a sigh, rubbing the back of his neck.

“I know. That’s why we’ve got to get there,” she told him resolutely.

Even though she didn’t have the faintest idea what was going on, she knew she had to save Willow. “Besides, once I get there, I’ll get all my answers,” she added with a confidence that she didn’t feel.

Paige remembered she needed to call Sophie. She scrolled through her contacts and called quickly. “Hey, it—” Before Paige could finish, Sophie cut her off.

“Have you found him?” she pleaded.

“Yes. He’s at Fort Hamilton with my sister.”

The woman was silent for a moment, then let out the breath she’d been holding. “Thank you… Thank you so much, Paige.  My husband is his way to the city. I will tell him where Eric is. God bless you.” Sophie hung up quickly.

Paige smiled, happy that she’d found Eric for her. Now they had to work out where they were going next. “I have no idea how to get to Fort Hamilton,” she confessed. “You?”

Dave simply shook his head and shrugged.

Still clutching her phone, Paige had a moment of inspiration.

“Maybe we can Google the location,” she explained, praying that the Internet was still working. “Yes,” she exclaimed when the map loaded.

She didn’t know how long they had until things changed and they lost the web, but she hoped it would stay long enough for her to get to Willow. Navigation was her kryptonite.

And that wasn’t a joke. If Paige had been born before Google Maps was invented, she would have been royally screwed.

They studied the map together.

“Done. It’s all up here, so we can go now,” he announced, tapping his head. She was glad Dave could remember it because she certainly couldn’t.

Once she got her phone back, she took screenshots of the location, just in case map Dave failed, along with ones on the route to her mom afterward.

Fort Hamilton was in Brooklyn, which was just before Long Island.

Perfect, Paige thought to herself because that was the first piece of good news ever.

“How are we going to get there?” She thought out loud, wracking her brain over the latest obstacle.

“We don’t have a car,” Dave replied as if she was talking to him. “But I can get us another one.”

Paige frowned.

With all the sick staff there, some cars had to be left in the staff parking lot. But maneuvering a car through the streets in that chaos would be a nightmare, even with Dave’s mad skills.

“Driving might not be the best idea,” she replied.

He pondered that for a few moments and then his face shifted. The look of horror he wore would be comical on any other day.

Still, Paige didn’t have time to get alarmed because he started his protest.

“If you say we should run, I will literally lose my shit. I know I look fit and all, but I hate running—”

He would have continued with his little tantrum if Paige hadn’t stopped him.

“Of course we won’t run. It’s too far away,” she replied, even though that thought had crossed her mind. She kept that little fact to herself.

Dave placed both hands across his heart in fake gratitude and once again, Paige rolled her eyes at him.

“So, then what? A magic carpet ride?”

“We need something accessible that could be easily maneuvered through the city,” she replied heading over toward Bree again.

“So, what I said,” Dave joked again but she ignored him.

Bree still sat in the same spot, staring at the same place where Paige had knelt before, so she simply resumed the same position again.

“Where’s the staff room, and does anyone ride a motorbike to work?” Paige asked her very slowly.

Bree nodded and pointed awkwardly to a wooden map of the museum on the wall.

 God, I hope someone brought their motorbike today, Paige thought as she pushed to her feet.

Dave was already scanning the map when she joined him and took a quick snap of it with her phone.

He obviously found her behavior funny, but she had her reasons.

“What?” she asked, a little offended. “This place is like a maze.”

“I didn’t say anything.” He faked ignorance while his smile continued to grow.

“Let’s go,” she said, annoyed now, and he had the audacity to laugh at her.

She gave him a filthy look and he tried to stop, raising his hands in surrender. “I’m sorry, it’s just... It’s cute how you can be such a badass and yet could be lost in one tiny building.”

Paige wished she could rebut that statement, but it was the truth.

She simply shrugged. “I have no senses when the space around me is concerned.”

“Fear not, that is why you have me.” He winked, and she sighed.

Still, despite herself, Paige had to confess that it was easier to navigate with Dave by her side.

She had been to this museum many times before and had been lost in it just as many, but he was a natural.

She was slightly envious of that, not that she would ever tell him.

Despite his previous protests, they sprinted toward the office and he always knew where to turn without even looking at the map she’d photographed.

Paige could remember math equations without a problem. She could fix and recall how things worked, but getting from point A to point B was always a nightmare. 

They paused only once but not because they got lost.

In the eerie silence of the museum, they could hear footsteps behind them that echoed so loudly, Paige had to suppress a scream.

They turned in unison to see a man staring back at them.

No, not at them. Paige corrected herself. He was staring at her and unfortunately, he showed all the signs of being infected.

The three of them stood there for a few long seconds, looking at each other until suddenly, the man sprang into action and raced toward them.

He wore the same crazed expression on his face as the woman on the road who Paige practically had to run over with her car to stop her.

Right on cue, she and Dave turned and sprinted away from the madman in the opposite direction.

“You’re the Seedling,” he screamed. By the sound of it, it didn’t seem like he would give up chasing them any time soon.

“I neeeeeed you, girl!”

Paige cursed as Dave shot her a confused look—while still running, of course.

He wasn’t the first person to call Paige a Seedling, and something told her she really didn’t want to find out what it meant because it sounded beyond bad.

Pushing open a set of doors, they entered the China exhibit.

Life-size stone warriors lined the room, some with weapons gripped in their stone hands. There were other weapons as well, the original ones that were safely packed away in clear displays.

Dave paused for a moment, trying to jam the door in some way. Noticing the crazy man’s fast approach, they bolted and tried to find a place to hide.

“Seedling …” the man intoned as he entered the exhibit.

Dave grabbed her quickly by the shirt, forcing her to crouch down behind one of the displays which housed some swords from various ages throughout China’s history. They ducked down just in time or the man would have spotted her.

“Come out, come out wherever you are …” He laughed manically. “They will free me when I give you to them …” He spat some nonsense as his voice echoed eerily around the room, making it sound like he was everywhere at once.

Paige scanned the room, willing her racing heart to slow.

“There has to be something in here we can use,” she whispered to Dave and he nodded.

Something they could get to without having to break a display because Paige didn’t want to draw attention to themselves just yet. Not while they were weaponless.

That was when her gaze stopped on a pair of beautiful shiny Samurai swords unboxed and mounted on the wall.

But there was a catch. For them to reach the swords, they would definitely have to reveal their position.

“I will distract him while you go and grab them,” Dave whispered once he realized what she was looking at.

She would have to climb up on the other displays to reach them.

“You can do it,” he urged her, preparing to stand up.

Paige nodded.

I can definitely do it, she told herself with confidence—like she was trying to prepare for a race at a college or something, she thought without humor.

“We go on three,” he commanded, and she crouched, resuming her position.

Should she climb slowly so he didn’t see her and then go fast? Or should she simply go for it? Dave’s life was on the line as well.

“1... 2... 3...” He counted quietly.

Either way, the man would definitely see her under the bright display lights.

“Go!” Dave shouted, and she leaped just as he said, “Hey asshole, looking for me?” He seemingly picked some random object out of his pocket and threw it at the infected man.

Successfully annoying him, it seemed, because he focused his attention away from Paige.

Knowing she didn’t have too much time, she leaped and grabbed onto the top of the glass box, pulling herself up.

Even though she moved swiftly, she felt like she wasn’t fast enough. She could hear some kind of struggle behind her but couldn’t afford to turn and look. All she could do was have faith that Dave would manage until she came to the rescue.

“Paige, look out,” he yelled suddenly. The infected man grabbed hold of her leg just before she managed to pull herself all the way up on top of the box.

He tugged hard and yanked her down onto the floor.

The hit stunned her but she didn’t have time to dwell on the pain. The man smiled down at her with eyes that were blood-red, and he had a crazed, hungry look on his face that made her feel like dinner.

She did the only thing she could. Paige kicked him between the legs and as he started to fold himself over in pain, Dave tackled him like a linebacker, giving her the much-needed reprieve to push herself back and away from them. Wasting no time, she clambered to her feet, gripped the edge of the box once more, and hauled her bruised body up.

“Got them,” she yelled loudly enough to be heard over the ruckus. The man was now snarling and growling like he was some kind of a wild animal and Dave was preventing him from getting to his dinner—A.K.A. Paige.

She plucked the Samurai swords off the wall without much fuss. Thankfully, they weren’t nailed fast—a possibility that occurred to her only when she grabbed hold of one.

Alas, she didn’t have time to relish her success because her friend needed her. She turned in time to see the man knock Dave out of the way before he charged, and with a thud, he landed on the box beside her.

Suffice it to say, she was not confident that the thing could actually hold their combined weights. Nevertheless, she swung the sword without thinking, throwing the other one down to Dave.

The virus must have dulled her attacker’s responses and his clarity because without thinking, he reached out with his hand as the blade approached him to grab the sword, and it sliced right through his fingers.

The image was beyond gross, and Paige had to fight to suppress her gag reflex.

He screamed in pain, but unfortunately, it didn’t slow him down. She swung again, and the tip of the blade sliced his cheek and then across his neck. The blood squirted everywhere and on instinct, she shielded her eyes.

 He wrapped his hands around the gaping wound, trying and failing to stem the bleeding.

Dave charged with an exaggerated battle cry and shoved him hard, making the infected man fall to the floor.

They took their chance and she sprinted over the boxes. She slipped once or twice on the thick red blood, but Dave caught her every time. Finally, they leaped off and ran out of the room.

They didn’t stop running until they were through the staff room door.

Panting and covered with crazy man’s blood, they were both high on adrenaline but fortunately still alive.

***

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