Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chapter 17

Things were going so well. We'd re-built some of our information gathering abilities. Our supplies are way up compared to all previous winters. We've even started taking and storing non-food stuff like medical supplies and replacement clothing items. Even with the bad news about the war and X13 and all the changes going on here at Pickering I was really starting to have hope. Now look at this mess we are in.

We're locked in. That's never happened before. They were going to lock us in our sleep rooms but then cursed when they realized the locks hadn't worked in years and there weren't any keys for them even if they did work. They got rough with our soldiers too when they came running because some of us started screaming when we were getting pushed around. It took a lot of work but Roland and I managed to get things settled down before our soldiers Went Too Far. I still remember that is why DW went to Lockdown in the first place so we know it isn't just us kids that get sent there.  I don't want it happening to any of our soldiers.

After lights out the first night I managed to crawl over to Johnson's room and let him know we were all ok only to discover they were locked down too only their rooms did have keys and they were all locked in individually. I checked on some of the other soldiers and then gave Peterson a knock out tea.

He said, "I hate being weak."

"You aren't weak. You just have an issue that slows you down, but only sometimes. You're lots better than you used to be."

"Yeah? Chaplin says the same thing but ..."

"No buts. Now let the tea do what it needs to. This way when you wake up you'll be ready for whatever is next. And Chaplin said to tell you that if you get in trouble just knock on the wall. He'll knock back to let you know he's there. He said you could knock as many times as you needed to, he'd still knock back."

I'm worried about Peterson; he's too sensitive. He is a good soldier for us but he takes his issues way too hard. I think Chaplin sees him as a son type of thing. He has even started to call him Sonny.  Whatever it is, it is good for both of them. I'm a little worried about Tracey as well. She's starting to act the same way as Waverly. Johnson calls it desperate but I call it twitchy and mean. I know the other soldiers have pretty much ostracized her because of some things she said but I think it is hurting more than helping her adjust her attitude. Desperate people do desperate things. And Tracey can hurt us all. She doesn't know much these days but she could tell what she used to know and if the right person listened and believed her ... she's dangerous. I know Johnson has been keeping an eye on her but she isn't cooperating.

Nela is another one that I'm worried about. She seems so focused on passing that career placement test. She is going to be in for a shock when she finds out how bad X13 has gotten. There may not be an aptitude test at this rate. Johnson continues with acting like there will be but even he is beginning to think there won't be. I almost regret putting the idea into Miss Neville's head; I hate for their One Ray Of Hope to get taken away. I can't talk that over with anyone though. That is my secret - one of too many I have - that will have to stay in my head. But it is a lonely consequence for lying, a worry that I can't talk over with anyone.

I'm also worried that they are going to forget to feed us and we'll have to break into our supplies and if they see they'll wonder where the food came from. So far they haven't but the food hasn't been very good. The only thing they are making sure of is that we get the medicine that builds up our blood. All the iron is making some of us constipated ... in one or two cases critically so.  I'm trying to sneak them things that will help with that but it isn't easy.  I may have to ask Mr. Waverly if we can have some intravenous fluids for the worst cases.  I hate to say it can't hurt to ask but I'm honestly not sure that is the case.

Mr. Waverly is making sure the soldiers get fed too though one time when I crawled over it was to find them all grumbling in their common room and being told by the guards that came with the food trays to be grateful they are getting anything at all. That they were just a bunch of defects that didn't deserve to live. And that the only reason they weren't rectifying that immediately is because they were useful babysitting the rest of the defectives ... meaning us.

All of this is just bad, really really bad. When I'm crawling around in the vents I can hear construction going on. Or I think that is what it is. I hear saws and hammers and other things that buzz, clack, and bang and make a lot of noise.  I need to go check it out but Johnson made me promise not to go until he could go with me. That's two hours from now, an hour after lights out. 

I saw a bunch of trucks leave right before the sun went down. Roland who got a better look with a pair of binoculars that I was able to scrounge up for him that lets him go places with his eyes that he can't roll to said that the vehicles were definitely the depot delivery trucks but that he didn't recognize any of the drivers which is strange because there are only a limited number of people allowed onto Pickering grounds. Or it is supposed to be that way. Roland also said that the drivers didn't look well. That really scares me.

It also makes me more determined than ever to convince our soldiers what is necessary. I have all the information I need, I still just don't know how we are going to find the privacy to do it. I finally told Roland my idea and he smacked his head and said he should have thought of that back when we did have more privacy to pull it off. Too late now for regrets, now we just need to act.

Roland wants me to tell Johnson everything and get his take on it; from the delivery truck drivers to my Important Idea. Roland also wants us to check and see what they delivered. It must be very valuable for them to lock us in like this. I hope our Angels are hanging around. I have a feeling we are really going to need them.



"What?" Georgie asked the man beside her to repeat his whisper as she was having trouble with all the noise still going on in the East Wing even though it was lights out in the other wings.

"Barracks ... or maybe apartments. See how small the partitioned off rooms are? They wouldn't put important personages in rooms the size of closets. I'd sure be interested where they are getting all this lumber from. The eco-plomats must have gotten a big pay off to look the other way on a delivery this big. And whoever is running this operation must be big as there aren't many that could pull it off."

Georgie nodded her understanding. "You think they are going to bring in soldiers?"

"That might be the plan. Or they might be bringing in a bunch of serfs."

"A bunch of what?"

"Sorry Kiddo. Had a teacher when I was growing up that was a bit of a dissident and he told me a few things about the history of the world before they caught him at it and carried him off. What I mean is that they're bringing in workers. People that will help them rebuild after X13 has blown through but who won't have a very high station in how things are run during or after. Like pawns on a chess board. They serve a purpose but everyone else is more important."

Having seen their fill Georgie and Johnson backed away and climbed up to the Fifth Floor to check their supplies there. After making sure nothing had been discovered Georgie went back to what they had seen. "They'll need good infection protocol. According to the intel we were finally able to access this pandemic strain has a much longer incubation period - up to forty days - they'll need to be very careful they don't bring in people that are already infected and ruin everything."

"That's your cup of tea but I would have to say that they've already thought all of that through. That might actually be the reason for the lock down rather than anything malicious. They've probably set up an interim holding area where groups are quarantined until they can prove they aren't infected. But it would have to be set up real slick with tight security. They don't want to risk cross contamination."

"How did you think of that?" she asked.

"Happened on the battlefield when they could pull it off. If we had two MASH units they were kept well apart and their patients were sent to different wounded warehouses behind the lines. This was in case one hospital was compromised it didn't affect all patients and staff. Medical staff ... at least well-trained medical staff ... was getting in short supply even during my last battlefield assignment."

"Did you hear what that guy with the different colored vest was saying?"

"Kid I could barely hear myself think. Did you do your lip reading thing?"

"Yeah. He said they would be opening up the South Wing next but that it was going to take more supplies than what they had before they could start. They'd been under budgeted. That the guy in charge kept changing the number of people that was expected to pay for a shot. What could he mean by that?"

Johnson looked worried. "You sure he said shot and not slot?"

"It looked like he said shot ... a shot at what?"

Johnson shook his head. "Not a shot at what ... a literal shot. I think this new guy is worse than the old Director was. I think he is selling vaccine doses. Oh Kiddo ... this ain't good. This ain't good at all. Damn those sociopathic vampires."

"But ... but Johnson ... that's ... that's hundreds of rooms just on this floor.  There's not enough blood ... not for ... not for all those people. They'll kill us."

Johnson put his arm around the horrified girl. "Shhhhh. Gotta let me think. We might be able to hide you kids ... the basement maybe if we can camouflage part of it. Dammit. And damn the greedy son of a ..." Johnson suddenly stopped talking, got a surprised look on his face, and ran over to the window and then jumped back knocking Georgie over and covering her with his body.

An explosion shattered the window. It shattered several windows on the lower floors but only the one on the fifth floor.

Johnson said, "Stay down. I need to get that covered. Then we need to head back downstairs pronto."

Terrified Georgie asked, "What's happening?! What did that?!"

Grimly Johnson explained, "Artillery round. Someone obviously hacked someone else off. Looks like playing king of the hill and moving too fast got someone noticed. God alone knows how this is going to play out. You stick close. I need to get you back to your room and then get closer to the action so I can line up the sides and players on them."

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