We wait for Ollie at the gate, watching the sun inch higher into the sky. It isn't yet midday, but the temperature is rising slowly. Isaac leans against the wall, eyes wide and alert. Unsure of why he is on edge but not wanting to ask, I stand still and kept quiet.
Back at the house, Mandy had thrown another fit, stomping around the room and yelling.
"You seriously aren't going to come see me off?" I asked calmly. Isaac was behind me again; my hands didn't shake, face didn't burn. My heart rate wasn't rising, not yet beating in my ears. I had control of myself again.
"No, I'm not," she spat back at me, "Because I don't support this at all."
"I'm a grown woman. I can do whatever I want. I'm not trying to be defiant."
Dad put a hand on her arm, and the light died in her eyes. She withered back a few steps, taking a long breath.
"You're still my daughter," she whispered, looking at the floor. The comment made my energy fizzle out, leaving me staring blankly at her.
"I'm going," I finally said, taking a step towards the door, "Not because of you or Isaac or anyone else. I'm going for me."
Not that I was being entirely truthful. Isaac was most of the reason I was going. There was a tiny piece of me though, that wanted to be a part of something else, that wanted to be outside the wall again. I never quite stopped craving the mountains around me, being able to see for miles down the road, not having someone tell me what to do and when to do it. Being within the walls was the safest place for me, but it would never feel like enough. I could see that now.
"You're from 5, aren't you?" I ask, making Isaac jump. He looks down at me, nodding.
"Are they building an army?"
Isaac looks away, his lips pursing tight together.
"I'm not sure. I passed my Intelligence Exam when I was 16, but I was sent off, remember?"
I open my mouth to continue questioning him, but a shadow approaching interrupts me.
"The Jaelyn Price."
I glance up, a smile spreading across my face.
"Jane," I whisper, watching the redhead bound over towards me. She spreads her arms out, taking me in a giant hug.
"Thank you for coming," she whispers in my ear. I nod. "It's going to a be a long few months."
She pulls away from me, smiling sadly at Isaac.
"And you," she says, offering him a hand to shake, "I'm glad you pulled a Jesus and rose from the dead. You were always my favorite wall guard in Compound 4." Isaac returns the smile, shaking her hand.
"Alright," Ollie says, as she comes around the corner. "Here's the plan. Jane has the trucks parked outside the gate, waiting and ready. She's going to get you into Compound 3 and introduce you to the people from Compound 2. When the time is right and you've done all you need to do, you can leave and head to 2. Maybe this will happen in a domino sort of fashion."
I take a long breath, watching Isaac pick up our bags.
"Any idea what I should say to get them on our side?" I ask, swallowing.
"Here's the Hartley videos," Ollie says, handing me a small silver disk in clear wrapping. "I don't know what the other compounds are hiding, but you have to find their weak point and exploit it. Just like you did here. Find their figurative second strand and destroy it."
YOU ARE READING
"I live in a place called Compound 4. We are one of ten different compounds placed at strategic locations around the US. It's been thirteen years since the virus overtook humanity, turning about ninety percent of us into zombies. I'm not sure how it...