Chapter Nineteen

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The nurse in the biohazard suit tapped on the door, holding a tray of food, just as she had done the day before, and the day before that.

Already used to the routine, I moved to the back of the room and waited as she opened the door, slid the tray inside, and closed the door again. The moment I heard the handle click and the keys slide out of the lock, I grabbed the tray and carried it over to the window, tearing the bread apart and shoving it in my mouth hungrily.

With the M1 at the bottom of the ocean, taking much of the hospital supplies with it, food rationing had tightened, limiting meals to only once per day until another ship came with provisions.

I had been quarantined in the small but comfortable room on the M2 hospital carrier for near seventy-two hours.

Every twelve hours, a doctor would stand at the observation window and scrawl notes on his clipboard, watching for any signs of the virus.

I felt like an animal in a zoo, and I knew I was not infected – I still remembered what it felt like to have the virus coursing through my veins – but I understood why I needed to be there. After the outbreak on the M1, I didn’t blame the authorities for taking extra precautions to ensure nothing like that ever happened again.

But with my time under their watchful eyes almost at an end, I intended to tell them it would never have happened in the first place had they chosen not to keep zombies on the ship. Because of their great underestimation of what the infected were capable of, Joel and many others lost their lives – and an entire ship was taken down.

I had to make it clear that although the virus is minuscule in size, its consequences were not. Surely, the wasteland that was Australia was proof enough of that, and yet they still thought they knew better. Zombies were not something to be toyed with, and I hoped they had learned that lesson.

I finished my bread and moved on to the bowl of brown rice, turning to face the window and watch the Adelaide rescue unfold. The ship was too far out on the coastline to see much, but I could make out the crowd of survivors as they ran to the barges.

They looked like tiny ants swarming on a scrap of food, running in every direction to avoid danger. I couldn’t hear the gun fire, but I could see the blast flashes, erupting every few seconds to take down the infected as they hunted their prey. Even without the sound of their screams, I could see the commotion, sense the danger, and feel their terror.

I wished I could be there to help them, but a part of me also felt grateful to be stuck in that glass box with only the passing of time to set me free. With Adelaide being our last evacuation, after that day I would no longer be anywhere near that dangerous land. After that day, we could all begin the journey to our new home, to our new lives.

A clanging noise diverted my attention to the door, and I saw the nurse sliding a tray of food into Wyatt’s room across the hall. I stood up and went to the window, smiling and waving at him as he stood at his window.

“How are you?” he mouthed. We couldn’t hear each other, but we could see each other, and that was all we needed.
“Fine,” I mouthed back. “You?”
“Fine.” He picked up his tray and moved over to the bed to eat, and I went back to the window to do the same.

I wondered how Jo and Ben were coping, and hoped they were okay. We were separated into rooms immediately after exiting the rescue boat three days earlier, and I hadn’t heard or seen them since. I knew they were quarantined on that floor too, but I didn’t know where.

Seeing Wyatt in the room opposite, knowing he was there, going through exactly what I was going through, gave me comfort. I loved him more and more each day, and I felt immensely grateful that we had made it out of Australia alive. I had lost so much, I would be heartbroken if I had lost him too.

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