Pandemic by Scott Sigler

Book: Pandemic by Scott Sigler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Scott Sigler
on land again.
    Clarence hoped she was wrong.
    If she wasn’t, he and Margaret would die right along with her.

    Margaret thought the lower areas of the
Carl Brashear
were much like the top floor — or
, or whatever they called it — a lot of gray paint, a lot of metal, neatly printed warning signs all over the place.
    After the meeting with Captain Yasaka, a twentysomething lieutenant had been waiting for her and Clarence. The lieutenant had led them out of Yasaka’s stateroom, past the wounded packed into every available space, and had taken them amidships to a door guarded by two young men with rifles. The men carefully checked her ID, Clarence’s and even the lieutenant’s, someone they clearly already knew.
    Very meticulous, very disciplined.
    The lieutenant held the door open for them.
    “Doctor Feely will take it from here,” he said. “Just go down the stairs.”
    Clarence thanked the man. Margaret said nothing. Clarence went down first. Even on a secure ship, he wanted to make sure it was safe for her.
    The steep, switchback flights were more ladder than stairs. The same gray walls, but no wounded here because there was nowhere to put them. Margaret found the descent eerily silent.
    The last flight opened up to a small room. Gray walls lined three of its sides. A white airlock door made up the fourth. Through a thick window in the middle of the door, Margaret saw a short man reach out and press an unseen button. She heard his voice through speakers mounted on top of the airlock.
    “Welcome-welcome-welcome,” he said. “Casa de Feely is happy to have you, Doctor Montoya.”
    Feely had thick, blond hair that seemed instantly out of place in a military setting, although judging from the way it stuck up in unkempt bunches he clearly hadn’t washed it in days. Maybe he had a pair of holey sweatpants just like she did. If not, hers would have fit him: they were the same height, although she probably weighed a bit more than he did. His brand of skinnycame from lack of sleep and lack of food rather than exercise. The thing that really caught her attention, though, were his eyes — alert but hollow and bloodshot.
    She’d seen eyes like that many times, when looking in the mirror after a forty-eight-hour on-call stint from her doctor days, or during the marathon sessions she and Amos had put in when they’d tried to cure the infection.
    Clarence rapped his knuckles against the glass.
    “You going to let us in?”
    “Absolutely,” Feely said. “Just as soon as you take my little prick.”
    Clarence scowled. “Excuse me?”
    Tim pointed down. “At your feet,” he said. “Cellulose test. Be a pair of dears, won’t you?”
    At the base of the door were two small, white boxes, each about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Clarence picked one up and opened it. He looked, then showed the contents to Margaret: sealed alcohol swabs and a metal foil envelope.
    She opened the envelope, expecting to see the cheek-swab analysis device she and Amos had invented. Instead, she saw a simple, six-inch plastic tube, white, with three colored LEDs built into it: yellow, green and red.
    Margaret held it up. “You don’t use the swab test anymore?”
    “You’ve been on vacay for a while, I take it,” Tim said. “Yours was susceptible to false-positives if the test subject had recently eaten plant material. Considering the level of concern in this joint, I didn’t want some guy getting shot because he had a piece of spinach stuck in his teeth. The one you’re holding is a blood test. Spring-loaded needle. Just press it against your fingertip.”
    Clarence huffed. “Are you serious? We just got here.”
    Tim nodded. “While I may have the natural good looks of a late-night TV host, I assure you I’m serious. I’m negative and I mean to stay that way.”
    Smart thinking. Margaret thought of a line she’d read in a book once:
perfect paranoia is perfect awareness
. She liked Tim already.

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