“What do you mean by fully?”
“I don’t think he started from scratch. I think he was given something to start with.”
“Why do you say that?”
“They just gave him vials of blood, starting before India happened. Said they needed him to look for a cure to a virus. That’s what he told me. But what if some of those vials were what they had developed as a cure? What if they could only get so far and needed him to step in?”
“What would it matter if he created all of The Shot or only some of it?”
“My Dad was one of the best in the world at this Delilah. Yeah, he didn’t have a lot of time to work on it, but The Shot was a complete failure. That’s not like my Dad.”
“You want to clear his name.”
I don’t point out that there are so few people left that it doesn’t matter. It matters to her so it’s important.
Then something snaps in place in my head. “You led us here, didn’t you? You never wanted to go to Garden of the Gods.”
“I’m sorry, please don’t be mad.”
“Why didn’t you just tell me?”
She looks down at the carpet and starts tugging on it. “What if he really was a failure?”
In my mind I’d already kind of blamed him for it, but not really. I mean how likely was it that anyone could create something that would protect us from the virus that quickly? But thinking about it now, and seeing the hurt on her face, I realize I wouldn’t want to talk about it either. If he was my Dad, I wouldn’t want to do a side trip that risked our lives only to find out that he did really fail.
“He raised a good daughter. He protected you and saved your life. Whatever else he was or did, he was a good guy.”
She hugs me, squeezing my arms against my sides. I gently pat her with my fingers.
“So what’s Sam doing?”
“He’s trying to find out if he can find anything in the system about the project and my Dad’s involvement.”
“Cool,” I say.
We’re there for a while, eventually pulling out a deck of cards and playing gin rummy until Sam slaps his hand on the desk, making me jump.
“Pay dirt,” he says.
“What?” Cassie jumps up and leans over him, peering at the monitor, and Sam frowns and pushes her back away from him.
“We’ll all have laptops in a bit – we’re going to need it. The main set of servers had a buttload of security on them. It took me a while, but I eventually found a development server – a computer to test with if you will – that looks like it has a ton of email archives and documents from a whole group of people in this research area. I can set up a few computers with this information and then we can start digging through – if somebody will make some dinner?” He grins.
“I will,” Cassie jumps up and down.
“We will,” I add, because I want to have more than cereal.
“Great,” Sam turns away and starts madly typing.
By the time we come back in with plates of chicken nuggets, beans and macaroni and cheese, Sam has set up two more desks with computers on them. He takes a few minutes to show us how to look at everything, and then we start digging.
Well after dinner, Cassie says, “Hey, I found something.”
We both rush over to look over her shoulder. It’s a welcoming letter to her dad, similar to the printed letter we found.
“That’s a few months before India,” Sam points out.
“Who wrote it?” I ask.
“Michael Cavendish,” she says.
“Start looking for him as well,” I reply. Sam and I sit back down again and we all get back to work.
I keep thinking about it though. If these people came to Cassie’s dad to help with the Shot, why did they have it in the first place? Did they find the first zombie? How and why did India happen?