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Outbreak.

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       I reached into my pockets and pulled out the last memories I had of my home. The treasures were cool in my hands and I turned them over, examining them as if they could turn to dust and be blown away. It seemed like everything was being blown away. I finally returned them to my pockets before I let a tear slip down my face. I had no time for crying.        

        The day I heard the hard knock at my front door is the day my world stopped. An outbreak of a new disease was forcing everyone in our area to evacuate in a matter of hours. No one even knew what the disease was, and only a few unlucky witnesses knew what damage it could do if you were infected. Some rumors drifted around town that the disease came from the water, and many people had stopped drinking it all together. Store shelves that usually held supplies of water bottles became bare in a week. Soon, people began to blame the local crops, the air, and even the newspapers. Apparently, a chemical in the ink could cause the disease. As ridiculous as it sounds, citizens actually started believing it; the town became dry and thirsty, with it's people sluggishly drifting through the streets, wearing masks and eating fast food to avoid contamination. Truthfully, the disease came from a bacteria. It grew too quickly for doctors to find a cure, and by the time a sample of the experimental bacteria escaped the lab, it was already multiplying itself every half hour.          My family didn't believe in the rumors. Specifically the contamination stories. We had well water anyway, and my grandmother still trusted the farmer's market. For three weeks after the disease began to spread, our family stayed healthy and kept ourselves mostly indoors and away from the people in town who feared, yet challenged the disease. Nothing seemed to be going wrong, and after the initial shock had worn off, my grandfather's factory opened again and he returned to work. The rest of us stayed home; schools shut down completely and my grandmother's office somehow went bankrupt when the company put all their money into a new "contamination-free" water system. Needless to say, the idea was useless.  After her job disappeared, my grandmother had no choice but to stay at home with my brother and I. My younger brother definitely enjoyed the idea of no school for a while, and I liked the freedom of sleeping in. Eventually, we had established a routine between the three of us; held inside our old home like a cage.

        Until that day that I heard a knock at our red front door like someone was kicking it with a heavy boot. Something about the sound of it made me not want to answer, but my grandmother called out for me ad I knew it was best to just open it. A tall man in a dark suit stood with a stack of papers. He looked like some sort of agent from the movies my brother was always watching. He opened his mouth and began speaking in a monotone voice. It was obvious that he had been doing this all day and was becoming tired.

        "There's been an outbreak of a deadly disease. It spreads quickly, especially among family members. If anyone in your house has these symptoms, you must report it to us immediately." He shoved a paper into my hands. "You must evacuate in the next three days. We will be back then to help you." He then turned and walked quickly to a parked SUV. The way he said the last part didn't sound like they would be very helpful. I began to read the paper he gave me. The symptoms included coughing, elevated temperature, redness in the eyes, and vomiting. They didn't seem too serious. My eyes scanned down the page and read that the symptoms increased as infection progressed, leading to insanity and possible loss of limbs from bacterial infection. Part of me wanted to laugh at this, as if it were a joke. The rest wanted to throw the paper away and hope that my worries could go along with it.         We spent the next three days packing, rationing out food and clothes. To make ourselves feel better, my brother and I pretended we were going on vacation. We told each other exactly what we would do as soon as we reached our destination, right down to our meal on the first night. Eventually, I think he started to believe it, and I wondered if I should remind him what was going on. But I couldn't bring myself to jerk him back to reality. On our last day in our home, we all waited at the door with our bags, and as they promised, the agents arrived in their black SUV. The same one who had visited earlier opened the door, accompanied by another agent who could've been his twin. They looked at our bags in disbelief.

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