From above I can see that the compound is really a small town surrounded by a metal fence. Even with a nice green lawn around it, it’s tiny, maybe a thirty minute walk from one side to the other if you walk slowly. There’s a portion near the northeast section where they’re building a cement wall, but it’s definitely a work in progress. Good idea though. Get the temporary measure put in and then create the permanent structure.
I kind of expected a lot of zombies around the place, but I don’t see any in sight. I spot the entrance to the northwest and we head down.
When we get close the entrance – about a football field away – we hear a gunshot. Cassie and I stop still and hold up our hands.
“Stop there!” A voice shouts out over a megaphone. I glance at Cassie and she shrugs.
“If you’re still human, follow the path between the stones to the front gate. DO NOT stray outside of the path.”
“Very fairy book,” Cassie says.
We carefully down a nice, white graveled path borderd on both sides by grey rocks. In some spots I notice blood and torn grass.
“I think they might have set up a minefield around the town,” I say.
“Makes sense,” Cassie says.
“Just be very careful if you ever have to leave in a hurry.”
“Yes Mooommm,” Cassie rolls her eyes. I grin back at her and push her shoulder a bit. She shoves herself into me and I stumble, and we both giggle a bit.
We reach the front gate and our smiles fade. It was good to have one more bit of fun, but this is it. This is goodbye. Tears form in my eyes.
We’re standing in front of a metal gate. Behind that is a small, fenced area consisting of just grass, and behind that is another fenced gate followed by a door.
A short balding man wrenches open the door. He’s wearing khakis and a striped shirt, and looks a bit harassed. He takes one look at us and calls over his shoulder –
“Ferals?! What the – “
I put up a hand and stop Cassie in mid-speech. “What’re you talking about mister?”
Just then a big round woman pushes him out of the way. “Shut up Larry. The kids are okay.”
“You haven’t even seen them yet Glenda.”
And then I realize what he’s talking about. He’s calling us feral. What - just because we’re kids?
“He doesn’t mean any harm. Not all the kids that have come here are okay in the head. But you are, aren’t you honey?”
The woman swoons over Cassie like she’s a dog. She opens the gate and pulls Cassie straight into a bear hug. Sunshine follows with a half-hearted wag of her tail and a whine.
“Glenda you can’t do that, they have to go into quarantine. They could be infected.”
“She’s not infected,” I point at Cassie. “I am. I’m not coming inside.” I put my hands up and try to look harmless.
The woman gasps and pulls Cassie back with her. I roll my eyes. Then I notice that Cassie’s backpack is still on this side. I hold it up.
“She needs her backpack.”
Glenda looks at me like I’ve lost my mind.
“Please?” I look at Larry. “And could I just say goodbye?”
Larry nods and takes the backpack.
“Alright, just don’t bite her.” The big woman says.
Cassie runs into my arms and hugs me.
“Please don’t make me stay with her.” She whispers.
“I’m sorry.” I whisper back. “Try to get Larry to help you get free.”
She squeezes me tighter then.
“I love you, Delilah.”
“I love you too, Cassie.” I hug her tighter, one last time. “Watch out for yourself.”
And then the big fat lady grabs her out of my grip and slams the door.