Chapter Four

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Once I was sure everyone around me was fast asleep, I snuck out of the recovery ward to meet Priya. As I waited in the shadows of the tent, I looked up at the night sky. I’d never seen so many stars before. It looked like the entire universe had come out to play, to dance in the darkness, to bear witness to the tragic play that was unfolding on the dry earth beneath them.
I looked into the darkness to see a figure walking towards me. “Priya?”
“I brought you your shirt, jeans and boots,” she said as she handed them to me. “They had to be cleaned and disinfected. These will serve you better than the paper-thin clothes we gave you in the recovery ward.”
I quickly changed into my old clothes while Priya kept watch.

“Quickly, follow me,” she said once I was ready before turning back the way she came. I did as she asked. “We have to hurry before my bunkmates notice I’m out past curfew.”
She handed me a satchel. “Here, take this. There’s a folder inside with everything we’ve discovered about the Eversio Virus. In it you’ll find all my research notes, photographic samples of the virus and a brief of the properties we’ve discovered within the virus. Do not lose it.”
“I won’t,” I said as I hung the bag over my uninjured shoulder.
“I’ve also included all your blood work and test results in there. It’s proof not only of your health but that the virus can be treated if caught early.”
“They’ll know you helped me leave,” I said quietly, concerned for her safety.
“Yes,” she said.
“Will you be alright?”
“They won’t do anything. They need me too much.”
Whether they did anything or not, I knew her chances of survival were incredibly low if she stayed. I made one last attempt to save her. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?”
“Whether I want to or not is irrelevant,” Priya sighed. “I will not abandon my patients. I have a duty to be here, no matter what happens.”

She handed me a full water bottle. “Speaking of which, you’ll need this. I mixed some rehydration powder in the water. Your body won’t be as strong as usual over the next few days, this will help keep dehydration at bay. It’s vital you take care of yourself, stay hydrated and eat as soon as possible. I’d planned to give you some food from the staff mess hall but I couldn’t take any more than my rations without raising suspicion. I apologize.”
“Don’t apologize, Priya,” I said. “You’ve done so much for me already. You saved my life and now you’re helping me escape. I can’t thank you enough.”
I followed her behind the rows and rows of staff tents, the sounds of snoring and whispered conversations echoing through the thin walls. We stayed silent as we rushed by the makeshift town, too frightened to breathe in case we were caught.
Soon, the tent city was behind us and we were headed straight towards the fenced off perimeter. I noticed a large object against the fence, and assumed by its shape that it was a dumpster.
“Here, help me move this,” Priya asked when we reached it.
Standing on either side of the foul smelling container, we grabbed hold of it and pulled it forward slowly, revealing a gate. A heavy chain and two large padlocks hung off it, keeping it secure. I pulled the dumpster again, cringing at the sound of its squeaky wheels.

“That’s far enough.” Priya stood between the bin and the fence as she searched her pocket for something, pulling out a set of keys. “Only the staff and officers know of this exit. It’s usually protected by a guard, but Bruce asked him to stand at the civilian exit tonight in case you tried to leave. He didn’t think I was brave enough to help you.”
“I’m glad he was wrong about that,” I said.
“He’s wrong about a lot of things,” she said bitterly. “He didn’t think my treatment would work, and even now after all the lives it’s saved he still won’t admit he was wrong.”
The gate clicked open. “Quickly,” she said as she stepped inside. We followed the path in between the two fences, looking back towards the facility every few steps to make sure we weren’t being followed.
“Once you’re out,” she said. “Follow the dirt driveway. It will lead you to the highway. Then turn right and just keep walking. The nearest town is about five hours walk away.”
A ray of light blinked in the distance behind us, a flashlight. “Hurry!” Priya whispered, panic in her tone as we started to run.
Reaching the next gate, Priya moved frantically as she began to unlock it while I kept watch. The light flickered as it passed behind and in between the tents. Whoever it was, I was sure they were looking for something.
“I think they know we’re missing,” I whispered. A man’s voice echoed in the distance. I couldn’t make out who it was or what he was yelling, but it sounded urgent. “Priya, you have to come with me.”
“I’ll be fine, Eva.” The gate clicked open and she pushed me outside before shutting and locking it again. “Run!”

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