“I’m sorry.” Tentatively, I sat down on the step next to you. “I know that you liked Lazlo-”
“No, I don’t care about you sleeping with him,” she rolled her eyes. “I mean, yeah, I liked him, but I’m over it. I overheard you talking to him.” She looked at me, her eyes sad in the fading light. “You were gonna leave without saying goodbye.”
“I didn’t know how to. I thought it’d be easier on you guys.” I shook my head.
“You thought disappearing would be easier?” Harlow looked at me skeptically. “After all the people I’ve lost who I never got to say goodbye to?”
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking,” I sighed. “I had a lot in my mind, I guess.”
“You’re gonna trade places with your brother?”
“Yeah,” I nodded. “I have to.”
“I don’t want you to,” Harlow said quietly.
“I know,” I said. “But this is a nice place here, for you. You’ve got stuff to do here and friends, and that Bishop lady likes you.” I lowered my voice a little bit, knowing that Lazlo was probably eavesdropping. “And Lazlo needs you. He needs someone to take care of him.”
“Your brother must be some special kid,” Harlow sighed, playing with the hem of her skirt. “If you’re leaving a guy who loves you, and you know, risking your own life.”
“Yeah, he is,” I admitted. “But it’s not just him. It’s because I care about you guys. I’ve tried to protect you since the day I met you. That’s not changing now.”
“Will I ever see you again?” she asked.
“Honestly, I really don’t know.”
Without warning, she threw her arms around me and hugged me to her. I hugged her back, and realized this was so much harder than I thought it would be.
After she calmed down, we went back inside. She took a shower, and I went back to the bedroom. Lazlo didn’t say much, so I lay down with him. He wrapped his arm around me, holding me so close it hurt, but I didn’t complain.
Neither of us slept all night, and I don’t think Harlow did either. When it came time for me to go, Lazlo refused to let go of me at first. Finally, I untangled myself from him, and got ready.
– 22 –
The plan changed. I quickly figured it would work better involving more people, so I enlisted Harlow and Lazlo to help. Well, Lazlo actually insisted that he be part of it.
The quarantine was completely dark, except for the streetlights, and I don’t think anyone else was awake. We met Tatum outside the mess hall, and he and Lazlo eyed each other up for almost a full minute before I made them stop.
Two soldiers were guarding the door to the building, but they didn’t look very alert. The new, revised plan called for a diversion in the form of Harlow. While we snuck off into the shadows, she started yelling for help. The two soldiers immediately rushed over to see what was going on.
As soon as they were gone, Lazlo and I followed Tatum over to the door. He punched in the key code, and we all ran inside. I’m not sure what Harlow told them exactly, but it didn’t matter anymore.
It occurred to me when we went through the doors that this would be the last time that I’d ever be outside. Tatum and Lazlo started hurrying down the hall, but I stood there for a moment, saying goodbye to all the freedom I had once cherished.
“Remy,” Tatum stopped. “Are you coming?”
“Maybe she’s changing her mind,” Lazlo said hopefully.
“No, I’m good.” I shook it off and turned to run after them.
Tatum got us to the first door, and Blue had given me the key codes for the next floor. He was supposed to already be up on the third floor, getting things ready. Tatum had only gone with us in case somebody caught us, he could come up with some kind of excuse.
“Is everything ready?” I asked him when we reached the door to the second floor stairwell.
“I’ve got a truck and weapons for him, and I convinced the guy running the gate that I’m supposed to do a perimeter check as part of my punishment,” Tatum nodded. “All Blue has to do is come out and get in the truck.”
“Did you get Ripley yet?” I asked. I had told Blue to take Ripley with them. She was really good at saving people from zombies, and she didn’t belong in a cage.
“No. I’m not touching that thing until Blue gets out,” Tatum shook his head. “He can handle her.”
“Thank you,” I smiled at him.
“Hey,” Tatum grabbed my wrist, gently to get my attention. Lazlo saw and moved in closer to me, but he didn’t say anything. Tatum kept his eyes locked on me. “Are you sure you wanna do this?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” I lied.
I didn’t want to do this. Being locked in a building, getting medical tests run on me until I died, did not sound like the way I wanted to spend the rest of my life. But I had to do what I had to do.
“If you ever change your mind, I’ll bust you out of there,” Tatum promised me.
“Thanks, but I won’t. And I couldn’t even tell you if I did,” I pointed out.
“I’ll see you again. I’ll find ways to see you. Trust me.” Tatum gave me a cocky grin. “And I’ll take you anywhere you wanna go.”
“We should probably get going,” Lazlo interjected. “Before someone sees us.”
Tatum sighed, then shot a glare at Lazlo before punching in the code. The door clicked open, and I raced up the stairs before Tatum could make any more promises.
Lazlo and I made it through the second floor without any problems. The entire floor was dead silent, and as long as we were quiet, no one would see us.
The third floor was almost pitch black. They had turned all the lights off, probably because nobody stayed up here at night except my brother. The door to his room was propped open with a tennis shoe, and we crept down the hall, I peered in through the crack. Blue was already hurriedly unhooking IVs and getting Max ready to go.
“Remy!” Max smiled when he saw me. He’d been lying on a small cot pressed up against a wall. He lived in this tiny room full of equipment.
“Hey buddy,” I walked over to him and tried to smile. “Did Blue tell you what’s going on?”
“He said that we’re going on a trip,” Max said. “But you’re not coming with.”
“No, I can’t go. But Blue is a really good doctor, and he’s gonna take you to a nice place that we stayed at for a while.” I crouched down in front of him. He had no color in his skin, and when I touched his arm, it felt cool. “How are you feeling?”