I didn’t sleep much at all. Naturally the day’s events filled my head with questions, but there was also the simple fact that I had probably been asleep for days previous, so my body didn’t quite feel the need yet.
After going to my room I hadn’t heard a word from Marks, so I assumed I would have little to no warning for when he decided to show up.
Sure enough, at 6 a.m. on the dot I hear a knock at my door. I groan. “Just a second…” I roll out of bed and quickly change back into the clothes I had from the previous day. When I open the door, Marks is standing there, looking no different than the way he did yesterday. I notice Floritelle and Rau aren’t with him, so they’re probably in for a rude awakening next.
“How did you sleep?” Marks asks, more as a courtesy than genuine interest, I suspect.
“Fine,” I lie. Nothing left to say, I follow Marks to Floritelle’s room, then Rau’s room to wake them up. Floritelle looks like he’s raring to go as soon as he emerges from his room. I still can’t believe anybody, much less a scientist, could be so unnaturally peppy. Rau responds more or less the same as me—he seems really tired as well. I wonder how he sleeps.
We all head into Floritelle’s van, which is probably the roomiest van I have ever been in in my life. I take another moment to be in awe over the power of private money. There really isn’t any greater force on Earth, apparently. Out of habit I check the backseat and notice that Floritelle, too, has a few weapons stashed back there.
We get onto the road fairly quickly, cruising along fairly empty streets as plague panic sets in more and more each day. We encounter a few vehicles, of course, and a few scattered people wandering around as if in a daze.
I notice that while Marks played absolutely zero music or talk radio, Floritelle immediately plugs in his smartphone and puts on a 60s soul playlist. The music is great but extremely, extremely out of place considering the circumstances.
Before too long we arrived at a checkpoint. There are a bunch of police officers and barricades, with two lines allowed for vehicles to enter. There’s a bit of a line to get in, so we sit idly for about fifteen minutes (with the exception of Floritelle who sways and snaps along with the Supremes and Booker T).
Finally an officer comes comes up to our car. He motions for Floritelle to roll down the window. As if wanting to do it his whole life, Marks turns down the volume. What does that guy do for fun, seriously?
The officer is clutching his forehead as if he has a massive headache. “What’s your business here?” he demands. He sounds pretty agitated; I can’t tell if it’s because the officer is just naturally grumpy or if it’s something to do with the headache.
Floritelle produces his ID, as does Marks. “We’re with Cornelius Laboratories, here on official government business. We’re transporting two patients from quarantine to testing.”
The officer stares blankly for a minute. Floritelle and Marks are both holding their IDs out.
“So… tell me again, you’re going to…”
“The Cornelius Laboratories location near Parliament Hill,” Marks says quickly.
“Right, right, sorry…” the officer puts a hand to his head again.
“Listen, could we speak to your supervisor, if he or she is here?” Floritelle asks. The officer stares blankly.
“I guess so,” the man says, and lumbers off. He returns two minutes later with a female officer and then wanders off to the other line.
“Something I can help you folks with?” the supervisor asks.
“Your subordinate there is infected with touch plague. You need get him out and sterilize the area immediately,” Marks says calmly. Floritelle nods. They both knew all along. It suddenly makes sense to me how they knew. Floritelle’s vehicle also had that high-frequency sound thing that was messing with the virus in the officer’s system, hence the headaches and confusion.
The supervisor’s eyes widened, but she didn’t have a meltdown. She must have dealt with a lot of plague cases already, even if this one was really close to home. She immediately got out her walkie-talkie and said things in rapid succession. She motioned for us to get on with our business. Needing no prompt, Floritelle motored on.
Just as with every other place we passed by, the place was pretty empty. There was a march going through a side street. Being the governmental headquarters, Ottawa is a prime place for political protest. But in a time like this I can’t help but wonder how effective a protest is during a time when going out for five minutes could have you dead two days later. My thoughts are getting a little too morbid for my liking.
As we get close to Parliament Hill and the very-likely-also-underground Cornelius Laboratories facility, I immediately notice a bunch of debris on the road ahead. So do Floritelle and Marks. Rau hasn’t said much of anything, much like myself, but I know he’s probably observing as much as he can as well.
“What is that?” I finally ask. “It’s hard to see from back here.”
Floritelle slams on the breaks. “Fuck,” he mutters. I know scientists are people too, but hearing the guy swear just felt weird to hear. He was obviously swearing for good reason. He took out a pair of binoculars. “Lady and gentlemen, we have a would-be hero on our hands.” He passes the binoculars to each of us to get a better look.
When I look through, I see that the debris isn’t really debris at all. It’s a pile of bodies. And there’s one guy standing near them, looking in the direction away from us. He’s still, as if meditating. I see a person several feet away from him, then I hear a strange clicking sound and the person falls over. I immediately get the picture.
The man turns around. He sees our car. He begins to walk toward our vehicle. Floritelle immediately starts to back up and turns left onto the nearest street. He’s trying to get us an alternate route to the Hill. As we move along, I breathe a sigh of relief until I hear a roar. A motorcycle is gunning it right toward us. Sure enough, it’s the would-be hero.