PART 4, SECTION 15

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I was feeling so numb I just followed Ian inside. Bryce came in too, I think mostly so he wouldn't have to stay outside alone. 

The interior was dark, shot through by points of light coming in through tiny holes rusted into the tin walls. Everything was covered by decades-old grain dust.

"Hey, Chris!" Ian called out. "It's me. I have company." His voice echoed strangely through the massive tin building.

As my eyes adjusted once again to a dark space, this one far more cavernous than the last, I recognized the doctor who was sitting at a makeshift desk in the far corner. The desk was surrounded by medical supplies from boxes of antibiotics to a battery-powered defibrillator to empty I.V. bags hanging on nails. There was even an old heart monitor, though, as it appeared, it was without a power supply. Ian had obviously been busy bringing Doctor Trevino more than just cadavers to study. 

The doctor stood as we walked in. He was even younger than I'd remembered, not much older than I was, small and thin, and he was waving smoke from the air. 

He was holding a joint. And not entirely guiltily.

"Hey," he said.

"This is Doctor Trevino." Ian eyed the joint warily. "Chris," he said disapprovingly. "What is this? Really?"

"Hey man, when you come to a hick town in the middle of nowhere for a one-year residency and end up stuck in a quarantine zone, probably for life, you want to allow yourself a joint every now and then. That's my medical advice." He shook my hand, then Bryce's. "Hi, how are you."

Ian waved away the smoke. He said, "Ashley wanted to know why the Home Guard can shoot the sick at will. I told her you could explain it better than me."

"Because they're not sick." He shrugged. "They're dead."

"Go easy," Ian whispered. "They've been through a lot. Remember? I told you what happened?"

"Oh crap! I'm so sorry!" Chris covered his mouth. "You guys where in the . . . buried . . . coffin . . . thing. Right. Crap. I'm so sorry." He touched each of our shoulders apologetically and stepped back. "Well, you're alive. So congratulations for that. That's better than the TGV-positives can say. Because, like I said, they're not. They're dead." 

"Okay," Bryce said. He'd been in a state of shock for the last hour or so, and now he was losing his patience. "You'll have to explain this. I'm not a doctor, but what do you mean dead? Like zombies or something? Bull crap."



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