Another four days have gone by without seeing the chief’s face. Jen and I have gotten accustomed to the place. Even the smell coming from the gates and prison aren’t really noticeable anymore. Occasionally, I’ll get a whiff of something horrid, but that comes from the painters’ area. I usually hear metal clanking beforehand, so I can only assume Sarah or Michael are opening one of the barrels they store the infected in.
None of the people in the prison have shown any signs of turning, and Jen and I have been told to take it easy by someone close to the chief. Instead of actively seeking for signs, we’re supposed to wait outside. If someone does turn, someone inside will scream and we’ll know. They said that it’s to prevent abuse that comes from being given a position of power. Apparently, if you give regular people a position of authority over others—warden and prisoners—a messed-up mentality appears. There was supposedly a famous experiment about it that I’ve never heard of, but since someone close to the chief said so, there’s no point in arguing.
Our job’s been reduced to waiting for someone to shout to use the bathroom, delivering food to each cell, and occasionally passing smokes to the people inside. It’s a pretty cushy lifestyle, so I’ve been working out, doing some calisthenics while on duty. I’d like to do some cardio, but the sound of running freaks people out. Even lightly jogging around the prison is enough to cause a commotion. People don’t take too well to something that sounds extremely similar to fleeing. Sarah and Michael bolted out of their building when I first started running, thinking people were escaping away and hadn’t told them.
In the end, I can only do basic training: push-ups, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups with the help of the prison. There’s a few weights in a small gym, but why would I use my free time to workout when I could do it on the job? I’d much rather spend time with Jen when I’m off. Our life has pretty much fallen into a steady routine: wake up at dawn, swap with the night wardens, deliver breakfast to everyone and ourselves, workout, chill, wait for lunch, deliver lunch to everyone and ourselves, workout some more, talk with the prisoners, wave at Sarah and Michael when they finally decide to show their faces, wait for dinner, deliver dinner to everyone and ourselves, swap with the night wardens, head to our room, fool around for a couple of hours, sleep and repeat.
Today’s a bit different though. While doing some pull-ups, I saw something strange. Sarah and Michael were carrying an infected. Now, normally, that’s no cause for alarm, but they were carrying the infected from the inner region of the garrison, from the direction of the bonfire. The only prison within the garrison is right here in my hands; literally, I’m holding onto it to do pull-ups. That means the infected must’ve come from somewhere else. If it came from the far side of the camp, I’m sure Sarah and Michael would have enough sense to walk along the edge of the garrison to avoid alerting as many people as possible. The only reason they’d cut through the camp is if the body came from near the center where the bonfire, kitchen, and chief’s building are located. And there’s no way in hell the infected came out of the kitchen without a huge stink being made. An infected was that close to the food we ate? No way they’d be able to keep that hidden. Then the only explanation is simple: the body came out of the chief’s building.
Sarah raised her head, and I dropped down to the ground. “Oh,” she said and continued to walk forwards, pushing Michael back with the body. “Hey, Chris. Good morning. Or is it afternoon?”
“It’s still morning; we haven’t eaten lunch yet.”
“Oh, I see.” Sarah nodded, the hood of her hazmat suit bobbing up and down.
“Where’d this infected come from?”
“Chief’s place,” Sarah said. “Sorry, we don’t have much time to talk. There’s still a dozen or more bodies we have to carry out of there.”
“What?” A dozen bodies? What the hell happened? “Why are there so many infected in the chief’s building?”
“No one’s told you?” Sarah asked. “The chief’s trying to find a cure. How’s he going to do that without infected to vivisect and experiment on? Hey, Michael.”
“Is it vivisection or dissection if you’re cutting open an infected?”
“Does it matter?”
Sarah snorted. “This is why no one likes talking to you, blockhead.”
The chief’s trying to find a cure? “Wait, like a cure to the infection?”
“No,” Sarah said. “A cure for the common cold. Of course for the infection, you dingus. Normally you’re so smart. It’s Jen’s fault, isn’t it?”
“Excuse me, what the fuck?” Jen asked.
“Speak of the devil.”
“I’ve been standing here the whole time!”
“Yes, well, Michael and I have some work to do,” Sarah said, turning her back on us, guiding Michael around a corner.
“She’s such a bitch, isn’t she?” Jen nudged me and asked in a voice definitely loud enough for Sarah to hear. Sarah and Jen don’t get along. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure it involves the fact that Sarah sleeps in the room next to ours, and the walls are very thin. But she hasn’t said anything about it, so I can’t be completely sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.
“The chief is trying to find a cure.” That’s extremely ambitious of him. Does he really think he can do it when no one else has? I’m sure the government, if it’s still around, has scientists working on it twenty-four-seven. They’re probably better equipped too with a wider range of chemicals to work with. I know that sometimes the hunters go out to scrounge around pharmacies, but if the cure could be found from medicines made in a pharmacy, the infection would’ve been eradicated a long time ago.
“Hey, don’t ignore my question.”
Maybe I’ll finally get to meet the chief now that a batch of infected are being taken out of his building.