“Exactly!” Tatum said. “A few nights ago, they finally got in.”
I looked around the camp, the trailers dark and empty, and turned back to Tatum. “But the zombies aren’t here now?”
He shook his head. “No. Only about thirty or so of them got in. We went out to search for survivors, and they were waiting for us when we came back. They snuck in with the caravan.”
The quarantine was surrounded by a giant brick wall. There was only one entrance to the facility, and that was through two metal gates. The first set of doors led into a smaller holding area, and the second set of doors actually led into the quarantine. The double doors helped keep the infected from getting in.
“Did they get in through both doors?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He grimaced. “The idiots on the other side opened the door when they heard shooting, and some of the zombies raced right in.”
“Were people hurt?” I asked. “Are Lazlo and Harlow okay?”
“Yeah, they’re both fine,” he said. “There were some causalities, and it was a lot worse than it needed to be. That’s when they realized how much we’d been underestimating the zombies.”
“So they evacuated the quarantine? That doesn’t make sense. This is the safest place I’ve been to, even if it’s not perfect.”
“They wouldn’t stop until they got in.” He paused. “We had too large of a population, and they’re drawn to people somehow. They were clustering around us, building an army, growing stronger, and we’re running out of ammo. We had to split up and scatter. The next time the zombies got in, it would’ve been much, much worse.”
“So how come you’re still here?” I asked. “Why didn’t you leave with everyone?
“I was just doing the last sweep to make sure we had everybody before meeting up with the other evacuees,” Tatum said.
“Where are they?”
“All over.” He shrugged. “We disbanded into small groups over the past few days. Most of the zombies have cleared out, dispersing to follow some of us. They’re much easier to handle in smaller numbers.”
“So Lazlo and Harlow are gone?” I asked.
“They left in one of the first groups, which was probably one of the safest ones. The zombies weren’t smart enough to track people when they started leaving, but they’ve figured it out now.”
“And we’re in one of the last groups?” I asked.
He nodded. “Pretty much.”
“What was with the sirens?” I asked. “Why all the theatrics?”
“Some people didn’t want to leave, especially the people living inside the building,” Tatum explained. “But the general had given them an order. He ran the alarm to scare the rest of them out.”
“I see, I guess.” I turned to him, trying not to get hopeful. “What about my brother? Do you know if he made it out safe?”
“Your brother?” Tatum sounded confused at first, then nodded. “Yeah, yeah him and Blue made it okay. I haven’t heard from them since they left six months ago, but that’s probably good news.”
“Six months?” My jaw dropped. “I’ve been trapped in that room for six months?”
“Yeah.” He pursed his lips. “I tried to get in to see you, but they made it impossible. After your brother escaped, they really cracked down.”
“It doesn’t matter.” I shook my head and started walking away. “I’m out now.”
“Where are you going?” Tatum asked, following me.
“My old trailer. I can’t wander around in old scrubs without shoes. Some of my clothes have to be left behind. I can’t imagine that Harlow or Lazlo would take them.”
The quarantine was still a maze to me, and I ended up getting lost. Fortunately, Tatum had been keeping tabs on Lazlo and Harlow, and he knew where our trailer was. As we walked to it, he filled me in on how they’d been doing, and they’d mostly being doing well. Or at least as well as anyone can do in this world.
Their things were tossed all over the place – Harlow’s clothes scattered on everything, dirty dishes in the sink, and an old acoustic guitar on the couch.
When I went into the trailer, I felt a lump in my throat. I remembered the last night I’d spent here, in Lazlo’s arms. I shook my head, clearing it of any sentimentality, and went to the back bedroom to get changed and grab clothes. Harlow had clearly taken it over, but some of my clothes were still shoved in the back of the closet.
Tatum waited in the kitchen area for me, and I left the door open a crack so I could to talk to him.
“I don’t get it,” I said as I changed out of my scrubs. “I thought the zombies were all supposed to be dead by now. They told us the infection should die out in a few months, and it’s been almost two years since the outbreak started.”
“They were wrong,” Tatum said simply.
I put on a tank top with the hope that would absorb some of the blood from my incision, and then pulled on a sweater and pair of jeans. My old jeans were too big for me now, so I’d had to put on a pair of Harlow’s that fit just fine.
“How do we know that anything we’ve heard is true?” I asked. “Everything they’ve ever told us about the zombies could be wrong.”
“We don’t. But your buddy seems to know the most on them.”
“My buddy?” I was fully clothed so I opened the door wider.
“Yeah, the doctor. Daniels.” Tatum leaned against the kitchen counter. “He’s the only one that agreed the zombies were plotting against us, and it was his idea that we leave and split up.”
“Was it his idea to leave me behind?” I muttered.
“You can ask him that.”
“He’s in our group.” Tatum motioned toward the walls. “He’s waiting with a little band of evacuees that we’re going to travel with.”
“Great.” I went back to the closet and pulled out a faded green messenger bag. I started filling it with clothes. When I was done, I planned to raid the kitchen for a few supplies. “Who else is in our little band of merry men?”
“I don’t know for sure. Boden was doing a sweep too, so it depends on who he finds.”
“Who?” I asked.
“Boden. He’s my sergeant,” Tatum replied. “But when I left, there were six of us. Some of the last six to leave.”