Contamination | Invasion Survivor Book One | Chapter Twenty-Five
They left the house, but Paige couldn’t stop thinking about the girl and the way the man had tried to drag her away.
Dave jumped on the motorbike and flashed her an odd look when she simply continued to stand next to it.
“Did you by any chance see like a golden aura around Tatyana?” she asked, even though she felt silly for having such thoughts, let alone voicing them.
Dave looked dubiously at her. “An aura? Please. That is some BS created by old hippies. There’s no such thing as an aura.”
Paige nodded in agreement, but glancing at her own hands, she noticed the same phenomenon.
Am I going crazy?
She turned her hand this way and that, but the visual remained the same. Her hands looked like a golden glow radiated from within, but it was faint.
Putting her hand next to Dave’s, she saw that he looked completely normal.
“What are you doing?” he asked her, confused.
“Can you see it on me?” she asked instead of answering his question.
His frown deepened, and he took her hand. “Paige, I think you hit your head way too many times today,” he said with concern.
When he mentioned that, the back of her head did ache slightly.
She raised her other hand to feel around, and finding a tender spot, she winced.
When she looked at her hand, it came away a bit bloody.
“Maybe you have a concussion.”
“Maybe you’re right,” she replied. “But I am glowing and so was Tatyana.”
Dave looked worried, now, like he thought Night Girl had gone crazy.
“Don’t look at me like that. Think about why these crazies are calling me their Seedling and wanting to take me to their mothership. They’re calling others Seedlings too. Maybe the virus has affected me and Tatyana in a different way. Maybe it’s made our skin glow and some of the infected can see it.” Paige paused, knowing that it did all sound crazy, but it made sense at the same time.
The pair looked at one another under the street light and thought about what she had said. It did make sense.
“Let’s say you’re right.”
Paige grinned at Dave’s response, then tried to hide it. “Yes.”
“Then we need to work out how to stop you from glowing so they can’t find you. It really would make this whole ending of the world way easier.”
“Totally. We may be able to find out more when we get to Willow.” She paused, then couldn’t believe what she was going to say. “Maybe Brooke was there.”
“Hop on and let’s go find out. Hold on tight,” he advised before swinging away from the Miller’s drive.
This time, they drove directly to their next destination without additional stops. It made for a pleasant change of pace since some kind of shit always went down when they did stop.
Dave slowed down once Fort Hamilton came into view. It was brightly lit with glaring lights, making it stand out against the dark sky.
Heavily armed guards were lined up everywhere, clearly ready to defend the base against anyone who dared to enter without permission.
Not that they would dare, but still. Paige felt a small lump in her throat as they approached. She had dealt with maniacal infected people all day, but even crazy people had nothing on trained professionals.
They also wore protective clothing, obviously in an attempt to keep the virus at bay. That was somewhat reassuring—a good sign, surely, that they took extra precautionary measures to keep everyone in there safe and somewhat healthy.
Leaning so she could speak directly into Dave’s ear, Paige said. “I have to admit I didn’t really think about how we would get into the base.”
Her whole objective thus far had been to simply get there in one piece, nothing more and nothing less. Besides, there had simply been no time to dwell on anything else while all that other shit was happening. What to do after arriving felt like such a distant future that Paige hadn’t bothered with it. But, in retrospect, maybe she should have.
Dave glanced at her in exasperation but continued driving nevertheless.
I guess we are winging it, she thought, settling against him for the remaining stretch of the road.
She was right. They had no other choice but to simply drive up to the gate and see what happened next.
Still, Paige prayed the chances of entering would be in their favor.
Dave slowed to a complete stop once they approached the guards. They looked even more menacing up close, but Paige remained cool, at least on the outside.
She was allowed to fully freak out on the inside, thank you very much.
“Turn off your engine and get slowly off your motorbike,” a guard ordered them. “Lower your backpack to the ground,” he commanded for Paige’s benefit.
They both did as instructed with over-exaggerated slowness.
Better safe than sorry was her motto in those moments.
“What’s your business here?” The guard demanded, using an unfriendly tone. But Paige understood why.
At that point, they were a potential threat, so he was simply doing his job.
“My sister is in there,” she replied.
“And so is my brother,” Dave added.
“Over there.” The guard pointed to someone sitting in a metal box.
Paige backtracked a little so she could pick up her bag because somehow, she felt naked and too exposed without her sword, but was stopped in her tracks.
“Leave it,” the guard yelled at her. Reluctantly, she obeyed.
Damn it, she fumed. I really should have thought this through and stored a weapon on me or something. Even in a place like this, she didn’t feel comfortable without some kind of weapon.
It was too late now, though. There were a lot of things she should have thought about before simply acting. But, as she’d proven so far, that wasn’t really her thing.
“Give me your names, your sibling’s names, and your ID’s too,” the man in the box ordered. His name tag read, “Riley.” Paige couldn’t help but notice how young he looked. He couldn’t be much older than her, yet the stern expression on his face suggested he certainly surpassed her with experiences.
Paige gave him her ID. “My sister's name is Willow Moon.”
“Night Moon.” Dave grinned. “I think I prefer it to Night Girl.” He laughed.
Paige smiled back. She knew she was in for it now. Dave would make jokes about her last name now, for sure. But I get to find out what his last name is.
Office Riley, on the other hand, wasn’t amused. “And your sibling? What’s the name?” Officer Riley asked bluntly.
“Dave Davis.” Paige grinned.
Dave shook his head.
Officer Riley typed all the information rapidly into his computer and Paige could hear the distinctive dings of random pop-ups.
“Do you have the virus?” he asked them abruptly.
No time for small talk while the world is breaking, I suppose, Paige thought to herself.
“No,” they replied in unison.
Paige hoped—prayed even, with all her might—that they were, in fact, telling the truth. There was no telling what the army would do to them if they were infected.
Officer Riley lifted a white scanner and pointed it at Dave. A red beam traveled all over his body as officer Riley looked at the readings on his monitor of the computer.
Once he was done, he typed something.
“Clear,” he barked, and Dave sagged in relief.
He repeated the whole process with Paige and she couldn’t help but feel anxious.
Finishing, Officer Riley lifted his eyes back to Paige then looked at the computer once more, and that was the moment she really started to sweat and worry.
Distracted by her anxiety, Paige nibbled at her fingernails, her nerves grinding hard.
“So?” she prompted, not able to withstand the suspense any longer. “Do I have it?”
“No. No, but if you two proceed onto the base, you will be exposed to it. Probably will even get it,” he explained to Paige’s surprise.
She didn’t know the situation was that dire, but still.
Dave and she looked at each other, communicating silently. Paige raised a brow in query, and once he nodded, she replied to officer Riley.
“We will take our chances if it means we find our sister and brother.”
Officer Riley sighed. “Figured you’d say that. Just like your older sister.”
What? The truth screamed inside her head. Brooke? She was really here?
No, that is impossible! Paige rebelled in the next instance.
“Is my older sister still here?” Paige inquired with much more calm than she felt.
He pressed a couple of keys on his keyboard. “No, she left with the others,” officer Riley informed her.
That only stirred up more questions, but she reined them in.
“What about Willow?” Paige demanded.
Again, he typed on his keyboard. “She’s still here, and so is Peter,” he added, looking at Dave.
The thing with Brook still intrigued her the most.
What is going on? She had to wonder, hope stirring even while it made no sense.
“We are ready to go in,” Dave announced and Paige simply nodded. She couldn’t wait to have her sister safe in her arms and take her out of this place, no matter how crazy that sounded.
The guard nodded and placed blue bracelets on their wrists.
“What is this for?” Dave asked before she could voice the question.
“To know what side of the camp to go on,” the guard said simply.
They already have a color-coded system in place to distinguish healthy from unhealthy. There’s no way they didn’t know this was happening. Paige realized the implications of that with sudden clarity.
“Can you look after the motorbike?” Dave asked.
The guard frowned, clearly taken aback for some reason, but eventually nodded. “Sure.”
A heavy-set and tall guard took them through a door on the left and, walking through the compound, they ended up in the barracks. Once inside, they stopped in front of a vast glass-walled room.
Paige could see it was filled with all the kids. They were literally packed together like sardines.
“Peter?” Dave called out for his brother, and pretty soon, she lost sight of him. She wasn’t too concerned about him, though. He could take care of himself.
* * *
“Peter!” Dave was frantic as he rushed toward his brother’s bed.
“Dave?” His little brother stood on the bed when he spotted him, then jumped right into his arms. Dave hugged him with all his might, too afraid to let go.
After all the shit he’d been through, there was a part of him that didn’t quite believe this was real.
“Thank God,” he breathed against Peter’s hair.
“What took you so long? I was afraid,” Peter demanded, tears threatening.
“Sorry, Peter, I came as soon as I could.”
He released him and placed him back on the bed to examine him. Though he felt dumb doing it, he even went so far as to check his nose thoroughly, leaning in to look all the way inside to see if there were traces of blood anywhere.
“I am not infected with the virus,” Peter informed him, not too pleased with all the attention. “But I have been stuck with these rich kids. They think I’m one of them. As if.”
Dave sagged in relief. “That is good to hear, little man.”
“How about you?” his brother wanted to know, looking up at him with concern.
“So, what now?”
He rubbed the back of his head as he thought hard. He had been so wrapped up in the notion of getting there and finding his brother that he hadn’t actually known what would come next.
“You know, my man, that is an excellent question.” Looking around the room that was filled with infected kids, he knew two things. First, there was no way they were staying in that prison. And second, Dave was certain Paige had a plan.
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