The cold metal door of Dr. Cadore’s secret lab shut behind us.

“That was creepy as hell man,” said Pete, “I’m still not exactly sure what’s going on, but when a strangle little bearded scientist tells you to get out of town before it’s too late, I think it’s pretty clear what we’re going to do.”

“But where do we go?” I questioned, “what if everywhere else is like this too? We’ll just be leaving everything we know to end up in some other zombie festering shit hole.”

“I don’t know where we go. Not here. That’s good enough for me man.”

As we walked down the hall back towards the elevator, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number.

“Hello?”

“Dingle? You there? It’s Mayor Diggs, where the hell are you, I’ve been calling your office all morning.” He was yelling into the phone and there was wind clogging the mic.

Pete lipped a “who is it?” and I mouthed back, “it’s the Mayor.” I put the phone on speaker to prove it to Pete, who was giving me a ‘you’re full of shit’ look.

“Yessir, well, I’ve been out of the office for a bit. Um, where are you?” I asked.

“Dingle, I don’t have all day! I’m on the back nine at Augusta. Listen. I need you to go to the Containment Site for me and check up on the progress there. Agent Strauss from the ZCA and I have been working on administering the antibiotics, and I want to know how it’s going.”

“Mr. Mayor, um, I was actually down there this morning…um…checking up on things,” I said, rewriting history [Pete gave me a solid two thumbs up for the acting job]. “It looks like they are almost done rounding up all the remaining Z’s and are in full force administering the medication.”

“Ahhh! Great news, Dingle! Ahead of schedule. I love it. If the budget wasn’t gone to shit, I’d give you a raise! Ok. At this rate we’ll be able to lift the quarantine and allow people to return home in less than a week.”

“Quarantine?” I blurted.

“Of course, we evacuated the city days ago. Get your head out of your ass!”

“Um, Mr. Mayor, this is the first I’m hearing of it.” I looked at Pete, who just shrugged.

“Well of course, Dingle. You are an essential government employee. It’s in your contract…” he said, incredulously. You could hear him place his hand over the receiver, and I could just make out him saying, “kids today, I tell you what! No work ethic,” to whoever was there.

“Dingle, I’ve emailed you a contact list, I need you to start making calls and getting the word out that it’s safe to come back to D.C. Call the web guys too and get the website updated, looks like they’ve been slacking. I’ll be back in a few days,” and he hung up.

“Fuck,” I sighed, “back to work, I guess.”

“What do you mean, ‘back to work?’ We have to get the crap out of here! You heard the Dr.!”

I shook my head. “You heard the Mayor. The ZCA has everything under control and ahead of schedule. He said it’s safe to come back, and it’s my job to tell people that.”

“Give me the keys,” said Pete.

“No.”

“Give me the freaking keys man. I don’t give a shit what the mayor said, a legit, bona fide Scientist – who hates you and probably doesn’t really give a shit about you by the way – just told us to get the fuck out of D.C. while we still can. You’re going to ignore that?”

“Look,” I leveled, “Dr. Cadore is a crazy old man. You’ve seen with your own eyes that the ZCA is almost done rounding up all the zombies – and they’re treating them. I’ve seen with my own eyes that zombies can be cured. I can’t just keep running away from this. This is my home. Yeah, it’s got its issues, but D.C. is my home. This is not the end of things. When all these Z’s are cured, and life is back to normal, I can’t be the one who ran away. I’m not turning my back on this man.”

I could tell that Pete didn’t share my sentiments. I pulled out the keys and held them out. He took them.

“I’ll leave you the screwdriver by the door so you can get a ride home.” And he left.

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