We got a visit from the Herber Settlement Police Department the other day. At the time, it wasn’t something I was entirely sure that we should be concerned about but soon it became apparent that the whole event could have had some very dire consequences.
We had been assigned 3 houses in one of the outlying suburbs close to downtown once we had been properly cleared for entry. I was living in the larger house with Ben, Julie, the twins and Jane while everyone else in our group had split themselves up between the 2 other houses.
It was early in the morning, maybe about 7:30, when they knocked on the front door. Only Julie and I were up; Julie because she was getting ready for her shift at one of the Food Kitchens (restaurants turned into cafeterias of sorts that feed all of the people at the settlement) and I was just unwinding after another harrowing night assigned to a gap. When I answered the door, the two officers demanded immediate entry into the house. Unsure of what was going on and considering the potential for a city-wide breach, I let them in.
Their gruff and militant demeanor made me wonder what had happened. Before closing the door, I scanned the neighbourhood around the house for signs of the Undead. The only thing out of the ordinary was the squad car in the driveway and the second one across the street. The second squad car was parked directly in front of the house and was inhabited by two other officers, both intently watching it
Feeling slightly puzzled at the strangeness of the situation, I closed the front door and walked into the living room. Julie was already engaged in a conversation, if you could call their frantic and intimidating line of questioning a conversation, as I entered the room. Once I joined the group, the officers turned their attention to me, fixing me with their hardened and suspicious eyes.
From the line of their questioning, it became evident they had received a tip that we were harbouring a member of the Undead. Hearing such a preposterous claim, I welcomed their demand to search the house.
We had absolutely nothing to hide. In fact, we had even taken on the responsibility of ending the lives of our friends and family that had succumbed to the infection. There was absolutely no way that we would have harboured anyone that was infected or worse. Our pasts had shown us firsthand how dangerous those actions could turn out to be.
The officers searched the house, starting in the basement, with their guns drawn; expecting at any moment to be face to decomposing face with one of the Undead. When they reached the upstairs bedrooms, their tense anxiety was palpable. Not wanting them to wake Jane and the twins, we quietly told them to keep it down. Our polite request only seemed to fuel them more.
They burst into the room they twins shared with Jane, their guns held out before them; the safety’s off. The noise and commotion of their entry jarred the twins awake and made Jane scream in terror. The twins started to cry and tried to become as small as they could in their shared bed. Jane backed up so far in her own bed that it looked like she was being crucified on the wall behind her headboard.
Seeing that the room was in fact only inhabited by children, the officers lowered their weapons and adopted a somewhat sheepish look. They did not apologize however. They just backed out of the room and milled in the hallway. From the looks on their faces, I could tell they realized they had been made to look like fools.
I escorted the officers down the stairs and out of the house without allowing them access to the rest of the house; not that they even asked. In fact, during the short trip down the stairs, they didn’t say a word to me. There were no apologies, not even a justification as to why they had to search the house. I’m not sure if the silence was worse than the potential false platitudes and excuses.
Once the door was shut and the outside world was locked away once again, we met as a group to discuss what had just happened. Thankfully the twins and Jane were so used to startles and scares that it was relatively easy to calm them down. That was the reality that we faced; kids became even more adaptive in tense situations.
It didn’t help that none of us could figure out why someone had accused us of something so heinous. As one of the only doctors in the settlement, Ben had gained a level of something akin to prestige once he started working at the hospital. Medicine is one of those things that people tend to hold in high regard and as it’s unlikely that there would be anymore doctors graduating from Medical Schools anytime soon, the doctors that were still around were precious commodities. And as a Perimeter Guard, I have a level of respect that is bestowed upon me as well. It just didn’t make any sense for someone within the settlement to be working against us…
We’ve been keeping our eyes and ears open on the off-chance that we can gather a little intel. Finding out who was behind the accusation is important but it has since taken a back seat to the events that occurred later that evening.
In order to keep a huge group of survivors like this fed and well, happy, it takes quite a lot. As a result, the council had organized a group of men and women that had special skills; orienteering, Parkour, observation, and weaponry. It was their job to leave the settlement at regular times in order to forage for supplies. Everything that was already behind the walls had been stockpiled and it would last for a while but it never hurt to be even better prepared than what you already were. Now they had to go farther and farther afield for supplies in our dwindling world. Sometimes they would get a lucky break and find a transport truck full of non-perishables on their way to a supermarket when the Apocalypse hit. They had everything that you could ever imagine at their fingertips to obtain supplies; weapons, vehicles, battery chargers. Everything.
The Supply Team came back a few nights ago with two trucks that had been on their way to a grocery store in Vancouver. Two trucks full of groceries and something else. Something a little more insidious. It appears that one of the group had come into contact with some infected blood. No one really knows how it happened since the man swears that he hadn’t been bitten and there were no bite marks on his body. Upon their return, each of them was checked for bites; the full-body check was part of the price for entry. Everyone had to submit to it or risk being left on the outside of the walls.
The man whose name was Dean, had come back with a long but shallow cut on his leg that he said he had gotten while navigating a tricky spot between two buildings. At first no one really paid much attention to it, after all it was just a routine laceration; something that the Supply Team was used to dealing with in the line of duty.
The problem was that after a few days, Dean started to get sick. It turns out that the wound got dangerously infected even though it had been properly cleaned and bandaged. The doctors hadn’t seen anything like that. What would have been useful information for everyone at the settlement was the fact that the sharp edge that Dean had come into contact with had been covered in dried blood. Infected blood.
While the doctors valiantly tried to save Dean’s life, they were puzzled that they couldn’t stop what they assumed was just a simple infection of the tissues surrounding the gash. Within 2 days, Dean was dead. Precautions were taken to ensure that he didn’t come back but under careful study in the lab, it was determined that he had been infected.
It was a sobering lesson for the council. An infected person had gotten past their safeguards. Until further notice, the Council had placed the entire settlement on lock down. No one comes in, no one goes out. I’m not sure how this is going to pan out for us…