Contagion

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contagion
kənˈteɪdʒ(ə)n/
noun
the communication of disease from one person or organism to another by close contact.
figurative
the spreading of a harmful idea or theory.

Felt like a long walk back through the corridors towards the meeting room. Where others had ignored or looked intrigued by our presence on our arrival they now looked angry, or fearful. The people we'd taken out weren't around, which I was glad for, although I did wince at the splintered door we'd bashed through. Despite Furey's words of assurance I felt like we were walking back into a cage.

Wynton Simons was already standing when we entered the room. Actually, everyone was standing, looking nervous. There was a palpable sense of tension, such that you could almost draw it out of the air and start kneading it.

There were others in the room and one of them, an unusually tall man, started to introduce himself. "I'm Joe," he began, but I held up a finger and shot him a stern look.

"No," I said, before moving my hand to point at Simons. "I want to hear his story."

Simons took a step closer but stopped when he saw my reaction. "My name is Wynton Simons," he said.

"I know who you are," I snapped back. "How are you here?"

"I'm sorry for what's happened," Simons said. He turned to Marv. "I'm sorry about your arm. We can do something about that."

"Talk."

Simons paused, then nodded, and took a breath. "After what happened, I requested reassignment. Stress-related. I also reached out to some old acquaintances, and asked if they knew anybody in the Resistance."

"The Resistance?" I glanced at Furey and the others in the room. "So everybody just knows about you guys?"

"It's known that we exist," Furey said, "but nobody knows who we are, where we are or how many. They don't take us seriously. Which is good for us."

"That's probably going to change," Simons said, "now that you've played your little disappearing trick with Ms Rodata and Mr Thermivore."

"OK, so you got yourself moved here, and sent these guys a postcard. Why? Did you forget that we destroyed your house?"

He took a tentative step closer. "You also saved my boy. That said more about who you are, and mattered more to me."

"Bullshit," Marv said, speaking for the first time since we'd left the balcony. "Nobody just switches sides like that."

Simons held up his hands. "It's a long story," he said, "and it was a long time coming. Let's say you woke me up."

Marv let out a short laugh. "You were sleeping?"

"Something like that."

"Uh-huh," I said, "well before we get too poetic, first up: I still don't buy it. Second: you still don't just forgive what we did to your house and family in a month. Third: I could really do with a drink. Running around here is hot."

The guy called Joe apologised and busied himself fetching water - much to the amusement of Furey, I noted - while we continued to press Simons.

"Even if you're this open-minded, progressive-thinking humanist dude," Marv was saying, "that doesn't make you join an underground rebel outfit and throw away your whole life. Not for a bunch of other dudes who tore up your shit."

"You're right," Simons said, nodding. "And if Patient Zero - Cal, I mean, was still here, I'd probably be as far from this place as possible. But he's been gone for a long time and I get the sense that you're not altogether like him. Am I right?"

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