The two officers stood there staring at me, waiting for me to do something. I took out my phone and dialed 9-1-1.

“We’re sorry, all operators are currently busy assisting other callers. Please hold for the next available operator.”

I put my hand over the receiver and whispered to the desperate looking officers, “I’m on hold…” as if that would make anything better. I stood there watching the officers stare at me. Playing in my left ear was some soothing piano music. The second officer was coughing up blood now. I didn’t have time to wait on hold.

“Do you have a police car or truck or something I could drive?” I asked. There was no way I was walking back to the office, I had to get to Dr. Cadore quickly. Whether he’d talk to me at this point was a whole different question.

“It’s around the corner. I’m assuming you can drive stick?” said the first officer as he tossed me the keys.

“I’ll figure it out,” I said, as if our lives depended on it, “our lives depend on it.”

My head was throbbing as I turned the corner of the barricade. I was expecting a standard Crown Vic. Parked conspicuously on the side of the barricade was one of the ZCA armored personnel carriers with it’s steel transport cage on the back. I grabbed the cold metal handles and climbed up into the driver’s seat. There were more controls than I’d ever seen before, but I found the ignition and started the engine.

After three tries, I dropped the clutch and the truck jerked into first gear. The engine roared, and the zombies on the other side of the fence turned towards me. Thank god for fences.

I pulled out onto the street and hit the gas pedal, taking me to a whopping 17 miles per hour. “It’s going to have to do,” I told myself, fearful of what would happen if I tried for second gear.

The front windshield was small, but large enough to see the road ahead. The last time I was in a car there were zombies everywhere (which I promptly ran over). Now the streets were zombie-free and all but deserted. I passed maybe three people on my way back to the office, and they all looked sick like the officers. What the fuck is going on?

I drove the truck right up to the front entrance of my office, popped up on the curb and left it running as I went upstairs to Dr. Cadore’s lab.

OK, Dingle, he’s going to be pissed when he sees you. He told you never to come back, and when you did, he told you to get out of town as quickly as possible, which you didn’t do. So, when he yells at you, you have to be strong and make him realize how dire the situation was. He’s a doctor, he’s sworn to help the sick.

I pushed open the door to the lab. The lights were all on. It was unsettlingly quiet. I called out for Dr. Cadore, but no one answered.

I walked slowly through the lab, my head was spinning. Everything was perfectly neat and in order. Maybe Cadore had left? I needed to sit down for a minute.

I walked to his back office and sat down at his desk. In the middle was one single typed page – a letter addressed to no one, signed by Dr. Cadore. I looked up, half expecting him to be standing in the doorway, ready to chide me.

There was no one there.

So I read.

If you are reading this, you have disregarded all of my requests. You have ignored all logic, reason and science. I told you my research was not complete, but you went ahead with administering the drugs. I told you not to come back, but you did. I told you to leave, but you were stubborn. What good has your ignorance accomplished?

Life is about balance. It is about listening to the world around you. There are always signs. There are no accidents in life. Everything is caused by something else.

I have studied for many years, and have researched for longer than you have lived. I know many things. So here is your final lesson:

When a patient has cancer, the patient’s own cells are the enemy. When a patient has a virus, the virus is the enemy even though it is not alive. When a patient has a bacterial infection, the bacteria are the enemy but they are hiding amongst your friends, while your only weapon is dynamite.

Each disease carries with it challenges, though the idea in treatment is the same – kill the disease without killing the patient.

This principal guided us in our research. But it only took us so far because we do not understand our enemy. The affliction is not a cancer. It is not caused by a virus or bacteria.

We thought that antibiotics were working, but they merely cured infections that were secondary in nature. Antibiotics will never cure the affliction, they will just make for less rotting zombies.

I could not figure out what the affliction was, and that will haunt me forever. I’ve failed.

But I didn’t fail as poorly as you, Robert. I want you to think about something.

You have been administering tons of unnecessary antibiotics in a childish effort to cure the zombies. Sure, they all had serious bacterial infections, but that was not the cause of the affliction, that much we now know. So what happens when you administer broad spectrum antibiotics on such a large scale?

[“Evolution.”]

That’s right, Robert, you’ve now played God. How does it feel?

My guess is that you’ve come to see me because people are getting sick. Is that correct?

[“Yes,” I replied.]

Why do you think they are getting sick? Think about where it started. Think about all the people that flocked to the containment site looking for their loved ones. Think about how you brought tens of thousands of people directly to the source of your newly evolved superbugs. How does this make you feel? Poorly, I hope.

Accept this feeling, Robert. This is who you are. But don’t think you’re special. You are only human.

How do you treat the disease if you are the disease?

Sincerely,

Dr. Arturo Cadore, M.D.

I stood up, trying hard not to throw up on his desk. Am I really to blame for all this sickness?

“Where are you?!?!? I need your help!” I pleaded.

I left his office and went down the hall determined to find him. I needed his help, and I didn’t have time for all this lecturing.

Every door was locked except the one at the end of the hallway.

I opened the door.

“Doctor! Thank God you’re here. Please tell me this isn’t my fault…”

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