Richard Bradley swerved into the parking lot of the Walk-in Clinic in Martin City. The hospital was another five miles on the other side of the burg, but Rabbit had been sobbing for the last two minutes, shirking the responsibly of pumping Jeffery`s chest.
Despite his father’s barking orders, the boy had just given up and Jeffery would not last the remainder of the ride. Even now, it might be too late. The walk-in would have to do. Richard skidded the SUV with a screeching halt and one wheel rode the curb, jumping up on the sidewalk. He got out and raced to the other side of the car to get Jeffery still wrapped loosely in the blanket.
With Rabbit in front of him opening doors Richard carried Jeffery into a waiting room in total disarray. The attending physicians were scrambling from patient to patient trying to comfort everyone. A few locals had been pressed into triage preparation and the room stank of vomit, feces, and a putrid odour Bradley had not smelled before. Rabbit, however, had and backed slowly out of the building. He felt nauseous again and all around him people sat bathed in a blue haze, some brighter than others, but all slowly fading.
“Help! We need help!” Richard yelled.
A woman rushed up, her hands in latex gloves stained with vomit and blood. “Put him down! Slowly. Put him down.”
Richard Bradley lowered the boy cautiously to the floor. She checked his vitals and looked up gravely at him. “I`m sorry,” she said. "There's nothing I can do." Quickly she returned to her feet and on to another patient bleeding from his ears and a small mole on his neck. She turned as she walked away. “You can`t leave the body here. Please take him to the hospital. We`re just not equipped.”
Rabbit’s father was stunned. What the hell is going on here? Slowly he returned to his feet with Jeffery in his arms and using his back to push open the door returned to the car.
“Rabbit get the hatch!”
His son did as he was told and Richard laid the lifeless body of Jeffery Squire down carefully in the back of the SUV like he was made of fine China. He closed the hatch and the two walked as if part of a funeral procession to the front seats.
“Why did you leave like that?”
“Those people were all sick. I...I just couldn’t be around them.”
Richard slowly put the car in drive and pulled out as two more cars pulled in, their passengers rushing into the building. One had a balled up towel to her mouth, the other had bleeding scabs where his nails had ripped open flesh. A light drizzle began to fall and Richard Bradley switched on the wipers. He turned left out of the lot and headed for Martin City General.
“Jeffery`s dead Rabbit.”
Richard Bradley looked at his son sternly. “Rabbit you better come clean with me. There`s something you`re not telling me here and I need to know everything that happened.”
So Rabbit began to tell his father all; the strange yellow dust on Old Man Vilgrain`s Backhoe, the birds falling from the sky, the yellow liquid oozing from the bird when he poked it with a stick and the smelled like the one in the waiting room. How Jeffery became ill and fell and how Rabbit saw a blue aura build and fade around the boy, but left out the fact many in the waiting room at the Walk-in had the same auras.
Richard Bradley said nothing. He listened and looked unblinking at the boy as he parked behind a long line of cars at the emergency entrance of Martin City General. He got out to get Jeffery`s body from the back.
“Wait in the car Rabbit. I`ll be back soon.”
Once inside Richard laid the boy’s body on a gurney as people rushed by him in all directions taking no notice of him. It’s some sort of epidemic. It has to be. Bird Flu or something worse. He covered the boy with the blanket and walked from the building with his shirt sleeve held up to his face in a make-shift respirator. He clicked open his cell and made a call.
“This is number one-one-four,” he said. “You told me to keep you appraised on any new developments with the boy. He said he saw a blue aura. Does that mean anything?” Richard Bradley listened to commands from the voice on the other end before responding. “Look, we need a safe place to go. Everything is coming apart around us. People are sick. They’re dying. I’m worried we could be infected if we stay here much longer.”
The voice, calm and collected, instructed Bradley the next course of action. “Understood.” He said and flipped the phone to the closed position.
He walked quickly back to the car but not too quickly as to arouse suspicion or panic his son further. Others seem less worried about concealing their terror and rushed by him to the emergency entrance. He got into the car and rubbed his sleeve across his face as if to stop a running nose. He sat for a moment with his son by his side.
“Are you mad at me Dad ?”
“We’re just going to leave him here?”
“We have no choice Rabbit. He’s in good hands here. Don’t worry. we'll sort this out when it's all over. Right now we can't be around these people.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Go home?” Rabbit questioned.
“Go home,” his father repeated. “Believe me, it`s the safest place to be right now. I`ve called someone. They`re going to send help for us. They’re good men they`ll take care of the situation.”
Richard Bradley started the car and pulled out. At Peterson Air Force Base the chopper was also being fired up. The call was in. It was game on. Colonel Hayden Grant was about to earn his money.