Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chapter 16


My gawd. Georgie must be part ghost and the other part mouse. I've tried to follow her through the maze of ventilation shafts, electrical shafts, and old maintenance crawl spaces but about half the time I can't even fit much less get through them as fast and as silently as she does.  I don’t even want to think about some of the things I’ve seen along the routes we’ve taken in this old mausoleum. 

I've see rats as big as dogs a few times; they looked about as vicious too when I came near but didn't pay any attention to Georgie. She said they're used to her smell and know that she won't bother their nests or play with their litters. She admitted however that she wouldn't want to be caught injured in a few places like the basement or the blood smell might overcome the rodents' apathy. Had a nightmare of that village in Asia after remembering the rats there. Dammit. Just thinking about it gives me the shakes.

I've gotten used to "acquiring" supplies the way Georgie started doing but over the preceding weeks I've also heard things that have given me the shakes just as bad as the aftermath of a battle. They've moved the bloodletting up to every two weeks. I'm not sure how much more the kids can take. Two liters each time and Roland said he overheard them wondering if they could push it to two and a half liters. A couple of the kids are already anemic, causing a big argument in the Administrative Wing. Hell, it was loud enough that we could hear some of it in our wing.  I don’t think they realize how much sound travels through these old ceramic lined corridors.

Got into it with Tracey who has started to reveal her loyalties.  I expected it, but I’m still pissed off.  She's back to calling the kids defectives and made a few derogatory comments. What surprised me was Peterson. He reached over and backhanded her. Shocked everyone to be honest. He said, "If it wasn't for the kids most of the people in this world would be dead, you included."

Tracey didn’t bust him back but stood way off.  I think maybe he’d scared her.  Besides, she made a habit out of picking men that beat on her.  It’s one of the reasons I’d always kept my distance from her.  Woman that don’t value herself more than that ain’t worth my time.  All she did was wipe her moutht and say, "They'd find some other way to deal with X13."

"Yeah, like letting everyone die and only the elites having the full clade vaccine. Who do you think is getting what they're taking right now? Front line troopers? Nope. Your average urban dweller? Nope. It is going to people with the money to pay for it. And all the crap they are promising ain't nothing but ashes if these kids don't live."

"There are other people that are immune. I'm immune to at least three of the clades."

"But you can't pass on your immunity. You can't share your immunity. X13 don't work that way because of how the virus mutates."

"Tell me something I don’t know.  That's all Biology 101."

"No kidding. So why are you being such an idiot? Even getting out of this place, there is nowhere to hide. X13 is everywhere or soon will be and the only antidote for it is in those kids' blood and in case you haven't noticed yet, they're being treated like crap. Here's another one for you. You want to know why the staff are acting the way they are? They aren't being given the full clade vaccine. Especially since most of them are on medical triage. Apparently they're being bribed with a full clade vaccine shot if they can get us to roll over on each other."

"BS you defective and useless ..."

I broke in when all it started to become was a bunch of name calling. Tracey is finding herself awful lonely. Even Nela has started spending less time with her. Don't know if it means anyone is less likely to fall for a deal from Waverly, but it sure didn't help her calling the rest of our crew defectives. Damned if she isn't one of us too, or does she think she is going to magically get a new eye and high end plastic surgery to repair the scarring? Her vision ain’t too good which is one of the things making it so hard for her to study.  How she’s acting don't make no sense to me.

To be honest, none of this is making good sense. We either pull together or we're all gonna fry. Today, tomorrow, or some time down the road. Eventually we're all gonna fry.  All we’ve got is each other.

**********

"Georgie, you need to get some rest. You ain't looking good."

Georgie irritably snapped at Johnson, "I've got a mirror. I know what I look like. But the supply train is coming in and there's supposed to be a lot of stuff on it. I want some of that stuff for us. And I want to know why they are sending so much. They don't even inventory it anymore.  Just haul it off the bay and shove it where ever they can find a place for it."

Johnson and Roland had developed a theory and he shared it with the girl. "Pickering is being turned into a bunker or something similar."

"A bunker? You mean like a supply hub like the South Wing is a harvest hub?"

"No. And the South Wing is being shut down."

Surprised she asked, "Since when?"

"Since last night. There was a lot of coming and going ... mostly going ... yesterday and Chaplin overheard Russell pitching a fit that he was losing his security detail, at least the few still loyal to him.  They were being transferred someplace.  I crawled through your rat maze and saw them ... everyone but Minke and Kilpatrick are gone. The two women on duty were complaining because they would have to wait for someone else to help them move them."

Concerned at the possibilities Georgie asked, "Where were they moving them to?"

Johnson sighed. He really didn't want to bring this particular subject up. "They said they were being transferred to the medical ward in the Administrative Wing."

"There's no medical wa ... you mean Lockdown? They were going back to Lockdown?!"

"Easy Georgie, that's just one possibility."

Georgie covered her ears and trembled. Johnson was about ready to call the "requisition" off when she lowered her hands and shook herself like a dog. "There's nothing I can do about it right now. Victor and DW are ... are beyond my help. I feel bad for them but I can't change things. And this is more important to the people I can help."

Johnson patted her shoulder, feeling some pride in how far Georgie had come with conquering her fear of Lockdown and what it might represent. "Good girl. Now let's get focused. Here they come."

Here they come was right. Several supply trucks were winding their way from the train station.  Their headlamps lit the meandering road creating weird shadows in the shrubbery and metal fence that encircled the Pickering ground and acreage. The way it works is supplies were brought in by rail. What was assigned to go to Pickering was transferred to the supply trucks which would wind their way along the old highway and then pull up to the security gate. The men manning the gate would then check the back of the trucks and wave them through. The trucks would then drive around to the old supply bays that sat between the South Wing and the wing where the soldier's ward was.  Sometimes a truck would go to the old bays that were closer to the Administrative Wing but not every time.  Mostly what came off those special deliveries was wine and liquor.  The supplies from both kinds of deliveries would be offloaded and the trucks got out of there as quickly as they could.

It was then that things would get interesting. The supplies were basically broken down into three piles. There was the pile that was for the Staff, soldiers, and the children. There was the pile that was set aside for the Administrative Wing. For the last few deliveries there was also a very large pile that was moved to an area in the East Wing's fourth floor and stored there on the pallets they came in on. This moving and stacking of the large pile was completed by the Staff and the new people living in the Administrative Wing. Since the supplies were never labeled, it wasn't until Georgie had broken into some of the lockers and large metal barrels that she discovered it was more food, though different from what was sent to the kitchens.

There's also been things besides food delivered and stored in a similar manner. Medical supplies, books, pieces of artwork, furniture, crates of what looked like people’s personal belongings. The non-food deliveries is what made Roland and Johnson suspect that someone was turning Pickering into a safe haven. The question was did it make the children and the soldiers more expendable or less?

After the guards left the loading dock and the trucks drove away they knew they would have less than an hour before Staff would show up in the bay to start the moving process. They quickly left their hiding spot and got to work. It was Johnson who noticed there was a lot of fresh and frozen items in the supplies heading to the Administrative Wing this time. "Better pick what you want carefully and quickly. They'll have to come down here and get this stuff soon if they don't want it to spoil."

"It's in cold pack boxes. They have some time."

"Best not to take chances."

"Agreed. Oh look, more steaks and a box of roasts."

"Grab that and I'll try and get it cut up to go on the dehydrator."

They'd had no choice. With the weather beginning to get bad - they'd had their first snowfall less than a week ago - and the grounds being watched so closely by the new people they'd had to figure a way to preserve what they'd been acquiring in a secure location. Since the fifth floor was already inaccessible to everyone unless you could climb into the ceiling panels and then through the maze in the old walls, that's where they set up shop. First they "acquired" some pesticides to keep the rats and other vermin out. Then they silently repurposed some empty metal cabinets that remained on that floor. They also built another dehydrator out of parts scavenged from one of the ancient furnaces in the basement. Roland outdid himself by designing a solar powered blower and heater and Johnson ran wide, heat-proof conduit for an exhaust that fed into one of the roof vents that served the administration staff’s kitchen. This way if there was any smell from the dehydrator people would assume that it were it came from.

Because they'd been acquiring real meat they were able to make jerky.  Roland also made what he called a redneck smoker that helped them to cure sausages and hams.  The fresh fruits and vegetables were dehydrated as well and put into old, unused glass apothecary jars found throughout the complex. In fact they had a pretty sweet stash of supplies of their own squirreled away.

By 1 am Johnson said they'd done all they could for the night. "You're trashed Georgie and I'm not far from it."

Georgie shook her head. "I feel ... feel like ... like ..."

"Hey. You sick?"

Georgie shook her head. "No. I mean I am but not beyond what I can bare. No, it's ... it's these important people that keep showing up and then just going away. There's some deep game going on."

Johnson didn't even try to play dumb. "Yeah there is. Peterson was going to try and get a comm link access up and running so we could get more intel but he's out for at least 24, maybe 48. He ain't faking either."

"You think he's stepped back to our side?"

"He never left, he'd just been tempted to. Did you know that he lost his family in the original Terror Blue attack ... well, not the attack but the aftermath?"

"He mentioned it during one of his ... meltdowns. Chaplin was there so he explained."

"I think that's what is keeping him on our side. That he knows, has experienced, what it means that X13 is out of control."

"I wonder if it still is. We haven't had any new news, not even from Mr. Waverly which is strange."

"I'm beginning to think that maybe Waverly is having his own set of second thoughts."

"Not Mr. Russell. If anything he seems to be getting worse."

"Not worse Kiddo, desperate." Johnson stretched and Georgie caught herself realizing that Johnson had gained muscle mass. He'd need to be careful. He was the only one that she gave extra rations to. In fact none of the soldiers except for Johnson knew about their new 5th Floor Facilities.

"Johnson, you need to be careful. You're looking ... healthy."

Johnson snorted. "Noticed that have you? Tracey already said something and I reminded her that if I wanted to make it into Farm Management I had to be able to pass their physical requirements."

"Did it work? Was she suspicious?"

"She might have been but Waverly said that it was wise that I was training. That books were all well and good but that there were other parts of the testing program that books wouldn't help with. Then he acted - oh you know how he can sound - he reminded me that I needed to be careful and not get sick, etc etc etc. He called me on the carpet and that made Tracey grin and go back to what she was doing. But she and Nela have started exercising too. Several of the others have as well."

"They'll eventually notice that you build up and they don't."

"We'll worry about that when it happens, for now it is what it is. We can't tell anyone else about these supplies because we need 100% secrecy. And only you and Roland know about it on your side of things which protects the other kids. I wish I could do this myself," he finished on a troubled frown.

"But you can't so we'll worry about that later too."

Johnson said something rude but it only made Georgie smile and they made their way back down to their respective rooms after accomplishing at least as much as they had set out to do and a little more besides.

3 comments:

  1. I am really enjoying this, but I have a couple of quick questions about the blood.

    You've said that they are taking two liters from each of the kids. Are you sure that it's liters and not units? A unit of blood is usually around 350ml, which is less than half of a litter.

    Also, a person who weighs 80 kg can loose up to 2 1/4 litters of blood before the person starts to go into shock, but 80 kg is ~176 pounds, and I don't see any of the kids being anything approaching that big. Taking 2 liters from someone the size of Johnson would not be good, but taking 2 liters from Georgie without replacing it halfway through (or more often) would probably lead to her death before they could even start transfusing back into her.

    Also, you mentioned blood replacers, but you made it sound like pills?

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    Replies
    1. Meredith it is very possible you are right. I was using research I got online which I never thought about in terms of it being for adult men versus teenagers. I'll do some more research and try to be more deligent. Thanks for helping.

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