Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 11 - Installment: i

          The day already could not feel longer. 

It had felt like she had only just filed her report on the CDC and laid her head down when the phone rang again.


        “Bev, it’s Alex.” The over-night producer. “I know you haven’t been home long, but I think you’re going to want this one. Something is happening on the CDC ward.”

        That had been over fifteen hours ago.

        She had barely finished journalism school when the towers fell. She was nothing more than a cog in the media cycle at the time; an intern relegated to research – which pretty much amounted to quote-mining. She watched enviously as anchors held distant public vigil over a crumbling New York, vowing that someday she’d be front and centre on something earth-shattering. She had ambition and worked hard to move herself closer and closer to the centre of the news storm.

        Careful what you wish for.

        Now here she was, the news-face for a terrifying incident that had captured the attention of the world. She’d known abstractly that it was going to be exhausting. She had expected that the exhilaration of the feeding-frenzy that was high-pressure, moment-to-moment reporting would compensate, and to a degree it did. But she had totally under-estimated the emotional toll that being so close to the centre of societal trauma would take on her. But she wouldn’t trade it for the world. This was what she’d lived her life thus far for.

        Then there was that other thing... harbouring a fugitive. Fugitives. Ones whose fate was inextricably entangled with the outbreak at VGH. It had been rash taking him in, all she’d been thinking about was the story and what a coup getting Scott’s exclusive would be. She hadn’t been thinking clearly. Looking at it now, the story might be a redeeming factor, but helping Scott and the girl – in spite of his assurances of their health – was a crime, and probably not a small one.

        She wasn’t sure what she was going to do about it. Give him up, almost certainly. But so long as he was hiding she had some time to pick her moment. As it was, she could probably claim that he’d taken refuge in her house and she knew nothing of it. The first call had been from a pay-phone – no one would ever be able to prove it had come from him. The second call... she’d phoned home to get messages. Explaining how and why he’d gone to her wasn’t really up to her – perhaps she could convince him to keep her out of it if she didn’t give him up outright. He’d have to come out of hiding sooner than later. She just had to maintain plausible deniability.

        The trick was that any time now she was going to be sent home whether she liked it or not. The broadcast manager on duty knew damned well she’d been on this story for over a day with a pittance of rest. It didn’t matter that it was ‘her story’, she’d have to turn it over for a half-dozen hours or more so that she could come back and be fresh for the on-going story. This was a viral outbreak, the story wasn’t going to wrap itself up cleanly and be done overnight – from the looks of things she’d still be writing about this one when she retired. No one had ever seen anything like this.


        There was no way the CDC was coming out of this one unscathed. The crazies had already started tweeting about government conspiracies. Military viruses being tested on the public. Government complicity. Big Pharma’s end-game push for dominion over mankind. Bev wasn’t surprised. Reality was brutal and the weak-minded were always looking for some sort of comfort. It was easy to find the illusion of power in actively opposing the imaginary overlords who had humanity in their thrall. She wasn’t surprised to see that she was already implicated. “Bevyrly Williams is a mouthpeace for missinformation.” Announced one commenter on the NewsNet web forum. She couldn’t be bothered to be mad about it. It was inevitable. Besides, how seriously could you take borderline illiteracy? The conspiracy theories weren’t the story.

        Seventeen people had been killed in Shale’s rampage before he had left the building. The ERT bungle with Shale and Bishop brought the toll to nineteen. One more nurse who had been under attack by Shale when Bishop caught up to him had since died from her wounds. Four others had lesser injuries, were presumed infected and were under armed surveillance.

        No one was allowed into the hospital without bio-hazard protection. Bev hoped that she might get to go in with a crew by the morning. She was first in line amongst the media.

        The logistics of how to maintain care for the existing patients while exercising quarantine protocols, diverting incoming emergency care to the other instantly over-taxed hospitals in the region, and cancelling all non-essential internal procedures, surgery and services was just now beginning to come into focus. It had been havoc all day, even without having to deal with the immediate issue of the outbreak.

        CDC officials had not been able to develop a test for the virus in its early stages. At the moment the only way they would know that anyone was infected was if they started exhibiting a spectrum of symptoms. For the more than two thousand patients and staff quarantined this could be nothing but a terrifying extended wait. Reports coming out of the hospital indicated that none of them were happy about this, and at best begrudgingly accepted their circumstance.

        And then there were the missing pair. It was accepted that they were in fact on the run. Their bodies had not been found at the hospital as had been feared – or perhaps in some cynical eyes ‘hoped.’ Lieutenant Edmond’s apartment had been searched and his banking records checked. The police were confident that he was at large. Everyone was praying that there wouldn’t be a sudden report of maniacal violence from somewhere in the city while the man-hunt went on. News stories on the absence of such an incident were constantly accompanied by an implicit ‘yet’ which did nothing to allay anyone’s anxiety.

        Even Bev had to admit quietly to herself that the details were beginning to blur together when Alex came back on shift.

        “You are still here.” He wasn’t asking.

        “Of course.”

        “Look, I haven’t had much sleep myself, but I did have twelve hours off.”

        “Yeah, I know...” She put up a token tonal effort at defence.

        “You have to go home.”

        To where the story is.

        “I know.”

        “I’m not letting you back on the story if you come back before I’m finished my shift.”

        “That’s not ’til morning.”

        “Most people use those hours for sleep. You should give it a try.”

        She chewed her lip for a moment as if trying to concoct a way around going home. When she looked up, she squeezed what energy she could into a fraction of a resigned smile.

        “I guess if I’m too tired to come up with a good argument...”

        “Then you are going home.”

        “I’ll see you soon.”

        “Tomorrow.” Alex firmly called after her as she stepped out of the news-van.

        “Tomorrow.” She confirmed as she walked into the night.


        When she found Scott lying half off the couch beside her empty trophy-bottle of vodka, she could imagine the circumstances that had led up to the scene.

        “Oh for Fuck’s sake.” Her words belied the genuine feeling of sympathy she had for him. She hadn’t even thought about the liquid land-mine she had secreted in her kitchen. She hadn’t known how strong Edmond was as alcoholics go. Some, like her, had never touched a drop after she’d sobered up. Some slip to the point where they never really sober up at all. Edmond’s problem was public and as a result almost certainly exaggerated, but she doubted he had the self-control she’d developed. Few did. 

        She bent down and picked up the empty bottle from beside his snoring form. Clearly she wasn’t getting anything out of him tonight. A medicinal waft from the bottle met her nose. A pang. Not for the lost memento. The familiar call of its contents. She knew that she wouldn’t replace it. Couldn’t. Too dangerous. Just look at Scott. Either one of his last two days would rank up amongst anyone’s worst. Herself, she’d seen things she couldn’t explain. Things she could never un-see. She was a mess and she’d been the fortunate one of the pair of them. If she’d come home to that bottle.... No doubt about it. Edmond had saved her from the same fate. Taken one for the team. Fallen on the grenade.

        “Scott...” She shook him.

        He vocalized incoherently through a gurgled aspiration. He was completely non-functional. She wouldn’t be able to get him back on the couch herself. Half-off as he was he was in danger of rolling onto his back. So she grabbed his belt and pulled him down herself, making sure that he landed face down so that if he should vomit it would....

        ...End up all over the carpet.

        She lifted his head and spread a several day old newspaper under his head.

        She looked in on the small girl in the guest room. As she found her own bed she thought back to Edmond and allowed herself a small moment of poor charity.

        However you feel in the morning, you’ve got it coming.

     Chapter 12

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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.