“What do you mean, ‘getting better?’ Getting better, as in, becoming human again?” I pleaded.

“Well, Mr. Dingle, getting better means just that, that Emma is getting better. Or, at least, she is not getting worse.” Replied Dr. Cadore, oscillating between annoyance and excitement.

He continued: “We have observed some reduction in decomposition as well as the, eh, smell with Emma, and we believe that she has become more accustomed to us with fewer and fewer urges to attack.”

“This is freaking fantastic!” I yelped. “Do you realize how amazing this is? We have to tell the Mayor, we have to get more drugs and get all the zombies in the holding site on the same ones as Emma!” I was practically bouncing up and down like a schoolgirl who just found out she was going to Six Flags.

“You must realize, Robert, that we have put our other ‘patients’ on the same medicines, and have not yet seen the same results. The Mayor need not be involved in this. We honestly don’t know why she is getting better, but we certainly cannot start medicating ALL of the zombies without further testing. We don’t have the resources.”

It was too late. I had already dialed the Mayor and was speaking to his assistant by the time Dr. Cadore realized I wasn’t paying him any attention. As I relayed the advancement to Mayor Diggs, Dr. Cadore just stood there, looking at me blankly. The Mayor assured me that he’d contact the Feds and get access to the meds as soon as I could relay which ones we needed. First rate work, he told me. Great job, Dingle, he said.

I pleaded with Dr. Cadore for the names and dosages. This could be it. The end to all these poor souls’ misery. We had the duty to try. We must try.

“No.” He said, “we cannot start down this path. A doctor must first do no harm. We do not know yet which drug is helping and which have no use. We must first find out which one to use, then we can treat.”

“Do no harm?” I snapped back. “Do no harm? How many thousands out there are plodding around trying to eat people? These zombies were people just like you and me. Who are we to stand here behind closed doors and refuse to help? There is no other path. We only have the tools we have. We can’t change what happened to them, we can only do our best to help them now! We have the round pegs, they are the square holes. We still have to try to make this work. There is no other way.”

Dr. Cadore motioned to one of his lab assistants, who reluctantly handed over a file with all the names and doses of drugs that they’d administered.

“There, you have what you wanted. I think it’s time that you leave my Lab.”

************************************************

As the white, unmarked door closed behind me I reoriented myself back to my office. The motion detectors turned on all the lights as I walked in. It was empty, Betsy and the interns were long gone. The lone remaining phone was blinking “14” voicemails, but I didn’t check them. I looked down at my watch, it was almost 8:30pm – I hadn’t realized how long we’d been down there.

Regardless of what Dr. Cadore thought, I was feeling pretty damn good about myself. If Mayor Diggs can get an adequate supply, maybe we could cure this thing. We had to try, I kept telling myself. We’ll set up some sort of feeding system at the containment site and get all the “detainees” the antibiotics, antivirals and vitamins listed in Cadore’s notes. We’ll keep them there until they get better, than we’ll be able to let them go!

My mind wandered towards a huge ceremony where the Mayor and I would stand up on stage and give speeches about fighting the good fight. We’d be heroes. White doves would fly overhead. We’d open up the gates and shake everyone’s hand as they gratefully re-entered society. Families would be reunited. Mothers would cry. In the back of the crowd would be Dr. Cadore, scowling, arms folded, ashamed that he’d sat on the cure while others had the courage to act. My mind wandered.

Inevitably, I started comparing my future triumph to Marion Barry’s failed experiment earlier in the day. All those people, dead and zombified. He hadn’t really done anything, he just sedated them and put makeup on the issue. Talk about a cover up. But now there are more infected, more zombies running loose in D.C.

I walked over toward the window by the broken copier in my 7th floor office. As I looked out on my city, I could feel the darkness closing in on the day. Soon it would be nighttime. Soon the zombies that broke free at the Re-Humanization center would cross the river and terrorize downtown. Soon, it would be all over, again.

In one brief moment, Marion Barry set D.C. back months and millions of dollars in federal aid from the ZCA. I could see my reflection in the glass window, staring back at me. Robert Dingle was tired. Robert Dingle wished all the zombies would just go away. Robert Dingle needed to get home.

I went back to my desk and found the putter that I’d brought into work to practice my short game. “This will have to do,” I said to no one in particular. I changed into my happy hour clothes, grabbed my Government issued ID and my putter, and headed out into the newly re-infested darkness.

It was cool and damp, all traces of the heat from the day were gone. It was 9pm, I had 20 blocks to get home and all I have for protection is a goddamn putter. There may be zombies loose out there, or maybe not. Wish me luck…

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