Miles out from Vegas there were pits. Similar to those of Moab, but much larger. There were men in white suits that covered their bodies, wearing gas masks that worked the fire pits. Several had flame throwers and were shooting their sprays into the deep pits. There was a pile of bodies next to the pit with two individuals picking up each body and swinging it into the fire. Men with guns walked around, talking with each other, but never those that were disposing the bodies. Smoke stacks rose around the city, but not from within. There were pits everywhere.
“Why are there so many?” I ask Rowland as we drive by each.
“It seems that these things hit in waves,” he said, glancing at one of the pits out of his window. “Military resistance surrounds the city in several levels. They take care of any zombies and then their bodies are burned out here to prevent any spread of the infection. This seems to be several days of bodies. On average, somewhere outside of the city quarantine we are attacked by ten to fifty zombies.”
“So, the whole city is not under quarantine?”
“No. About half. Maybe a bit more.”
There is a large fifteen foot fence that surrounds the city. There is barbed wire wrapped around the top and it curves around the entire city, still miles out. I wonder to myself how long it would have taken to erect that. We pass through it after someone in the front car flashes credentials.
“There will be an outer quarantine gate we’ll pass through,” Rowland says to each of us, “and then we’ll need to stop and test each of your blood. This will probably take up the rest of the day.”
I can feel my heart beating in my skull when he says this.
“Testing for what?” I hear Dean say from the back.
“There have been two close calls in losing the quarantine over the past two months. Both proved that the disease is spread by aerosols. Meaning it is airborne, but only to an extent. You must be near by or in contact with what we now know are carriers.” I chance a look at Josh, but he looks away. “We have found two. We saw the symptoms quickly with both, but the disease only takes twenty-four hours at most to kill. There was a large population within the old borders that all showed the signs. All but one. That person was tested and found to be a carrier. This person was in constant contact with each of the people infected.
“Now, one thing it seems is that many people who are not carriers do not get sick because it often seems to stay on their body happily. The only way to really catch it quickly is through contact in the eyes, and through close exposure of a persons breath. This first woman was a dental hygienist. And so the connection made sense. This happened within days of the quarantine.
“The second was a man whose family got sick. Each had the symptoms, but again, he did not. This was a week ago. So, for some reason, it took almost two months for them to catch it, but we are still looking into that.
“And so,” he continued, “we have a way of testing for carriers. The bacteria will be in their blood stream. Or so we think. We have actually not run into an others since the two that lived in the city.”
I turn casually and look at Dawn. She is looking panicked but is doing her best to hide it. She understands, as do I, what this means. We are going to be separated. She will be sent into Las Vegas, and I will be sent away, or worse.
“What did you do with those that were carriers?” I ask.
“Just make them leave. Tell them to go somewhere else.”
* * *
There is a large white tent set up one hundred meters from the outer quarantine gate. As the convoy continues on, we fall out and drive towards it, parking the van in a designated area fifty feet away. Rowland leads the way, asking us to leave all of our stuff in the van. We do so. My stomach is hurting as I get nervous for the test. We already know what we are, and so now, I can only hope that their tests are wrong.
As I think this, though, I think about Connor. He is only a kid, and they will not give him admittance. He will still be with me, however, compared to being in a safe city it is a cruel sentencing.
They test each of us and we are put into a large tent to share. They tell us the results will be ready tomorrow morning at the earliest. Rowland stays with us, chatting and talking more of his kids and what has happened since this all happened. As he talks I pull Dawn aside.
“I think this is going to be for the best,” I say, just throwing it out into the open.
“What?!” She says, obviously getting annoyed.
“Think about it. You have been lucky. The boys have been lucky. I am a carrier, and we all know it. There is nothing that we can do about that. But there is something we can do to keep you alive. This city is safe. Safe from zombies and death. You will be able to have normal lives. And then, maybe some day they’ll have a vaccine that you can take. Then I’ll come back.”
“I can’t do this without you,” she says, crying. And I find that I too have tears in my eyes. “I’d rather stay out here with you.”
“But it is only a matter of time before you catch it. Or the boys catch it.”
“Connor won’t.” And she realizes what will happen with our oldest boy. “They’re not going to let him in, are they?”
“I don’t know,” I say, “I am going to talk to Rowland.”
“Talk to him. About what?”
I pause, looking towards Rowland, who is laughing with McKay about something. “I’m going to talk to him about faking Connors blood sample.”