Chapter Three

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“Follow me,” the man in the biohazard suit said as he led me out of my plastic bubble. Two more people went in after I left and began stripping the sheets, disinfecting the area for the next patient.
“How did all this get set up so quickly?” I asked, looking around the giant white tent.
“We were already here,” he said as he led me into a narrow, dim hallway. “This is, or rather, was, a top secret medical training facility for biological attacks and epidemic emergencies.”
“Is the Eversio Virus so contagious that all this is necessary?” I asked.
“As far as we’ve seen, the virus is only spread through bodily fluids, mainly blood. But it’s important we take all precautions to prevent any further cases.”
He stopped at a set of stairs leading up to a large metal door and gestured for me to go up.
“This is the decontamination pod. Once you enter the first room, strip off all your clothes and any other garments or accessories and place them in the trash can provided. Then enter the shower room and clean yourself thoroughly for as long as you need to. Lastly, enter the third room, this is the clean room. There will be a towel and new clothes waiting in there for you. Once you exit the decontamination pod, you’ll join others in the recovery ward where a bed has been made available to you.”
“Okay, thanks,” I said, feeling overwhelmed by the entire process.
“See you on the other side,” he said as I walked up the stairs and pulled on the heavy door.

I entered the small square room, closed the door behind me and began undressing. As I looked down at my naked body, I realised just how battered I was. In addition to the bullet wound and injuries I received at Elliot’s so-called “sanctuary,” I was covered in cuts and bruises from my tumble in the river. I looked at my right arm, inspecting three long, straight scratches that ran from near my elbow all the way down to my hand. The scratches looked deeper at my wrist, as though something had been digging into my skin. I traced a finger over the deepest cut, wincing when it stung. The familiar pain triggered my memory, and I saw Jo holding onto me tight, her fingernails clutching my wrist as she tried to pull me out of the water. I remembered seeing the heartache in her face when I let go. I remembered her, Wyatt and Ben watching helplessly as I went under.
I stepped into the shower, letting my tears disappear under the stream of hot water. The only people I had left in this world thought I was dead. I hoped they were okay. I hoped they made it over that flooding bridge. I hoped they made it to Sydney.
“Sydney!” I gasped, suddenly remembering everything. “The rescue ship!”
I scrubbed myself clean, trying to be thorough even though I knew I needed to get out of the hospital and on my way to Sydney as soon as humanly possible. Once I was finished, I opened the door into the clean room and wrapped myself in a towel, feeling a surge of hope at the thought that I could be reunited with my friends again. All I had to do was find a car.

I quickly put on the crisp, white cotton t-shirt and pants that had been provided for me and flew out the door. I was greeted by another tent full of people, all staring at me. This ward was much less intimidating – there were no plastic walls dividing the patients and not one biohazard suit in sight.
“Hello,” a sweet-looking old lady said as she approached me. “You must be Eva. I’m Edna. Welcome to Recovery.”
“Thank you,” I said, distracted as I scanned the room for Priya. “Is Dr. Desai here? I need to speak to her immediately.”
“Oh,” Edna said. “She and the other doctors are in a meeting in the courtyard.”
Without saying a word, I headed for the nearby exit into the yard. I didn’t want to be rude, but I didn’t have time for polite chit-chat. I walked outside and was struck by the size of the prison-like facility. The two large tents had been built on dry, cracked earth out in the middle of nowhere. Yet, in the centre of the yard stood a decent sized greenhouse, full of lush green plants, vegetables and herbs. Two large water tanks had been built next to it, and it was clear that the hospital was designed to withstand long periods of isolation. Separated from the wards were three long rows of camouflage and navy colored tents that I assumed were the medical staff quarters. It looked like a small village. Two tall barbed-wire fences surrounded the entire area, and I wondered if they were there to keep zombies out or patients in. A few fellow recovery patients were wandering about, and near the camouflaged tents I spotted a huddled group of people sitting around a picnic table, looking at papers. I saw Priya with them, pointing at something in a plastic folder as she spoke to the group.

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