“Just because we lost the jet…” Tony said.
“I don’t care about the jet. This isn’t about losing the jet. This is about losing everything.” Adam turned his haunted gaze on Nate. “You still don’t get it, do you?”
“Get what? That things are bad? I get that. But it’s not the end of the world.”
“The hell it isn’t!” Adam exploded. Kelly tried to take his arm but he shook her off. “The end of the world is exactly what it is. You still think this is some ordinary virus scare, like the bird flu or ebola. You think a few people will die but that after a few days things will go back to normal and you can go back to your pointless little life.”
“I can’t listen to this guy right now.” Tony turned away and started for the warehouse.
“Turn on the TV,” Adam called after him. “It’s getting worse by the hour. You think I’m upset about the jet? It wouldn’t matter if we had a whole fleet of jets. There’s nowhere to go. The army chick fought those guys off. Yippee for her. But they’re not going to stop. They’re going to keep coming until they kill us. Stop deluding yourself.”
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Kelly gave Adam a little shove. “What’s wrong with you? Why do you have to do that?”
Without warning, Adam slapped her. Hard. Kelly reeled back. Carl grabbed at him, got one of his arms, Adam punched him with his free hand, then Caleb grabbed him and put him in a choke hold.
“Cool off or I’ll put you down, mate.”
Adam struggled briefly, then subsided. When Caleb let him go he pushed away, then turned on them with wild eyes. “Go watch the news. Then you’ll see.” He ran off and disappeared around the end of the warehouse.
“He’s fucking barmy,” Caleb said.
“Are you okay, Kelly?” Jenna asked.
Kelly had a little blood at the corner of her mouth and she wiped it away. “I think I cut my lip, but I’m okay.”
“We better make sure that guy doesn’t get a hold of a gun,” Nate said. “There’s no telling what he might do.”
“Maybe he’ll do us all a favor and fall off a cliff or something,” Tamara said.
“What?” Caleb turned on her, shocked.
Tamara held her hands up. “Take it easy. I was only joking.”
Jenna frowned at her. “That was pretty cold.”
“Oh, come on. Get off your high horse already. Everyone was thinking it. I was just the only one with the guts to say it. If that guy can’t handle it, we’re better off without him. That’s all I’m saying. You hear me, don’t you, Caleb?” She reached for his hand.
Caleb let her take his hand but he looked reluctant about it. “Let’s just go inside, okay? Sorry about your friend, the co-pilot. He seemed like a decent bloke.”
As they walked away Nate could hear Tamara say to Caleb in a sarcastic voice, “Thanks for standing up for me.”
“Jesus, Tamara. Try not to be such a bitch next time, okay?”
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
When Nate walked back into the living quarters Santiago and Caleb were sitting at the dining table, each with a drink. Jordynn and Tamara were sitting with them. Jordynn’s eyes were red. Tamara was smoking a cigarette and looked pissed off.
Tony was sprawled on the couch on his back, a pillow pressed over his face. Nate went and sat on the love seat. He picked up the TV remote but couldn’t quite muster the courage to hit the on button.
Jenna came in shortly after. She saw Tamara’s cigarette and her eyes narrowed. “Don’t smoke those things in here.”
Tamara glared at Jenna, took a long drag on her cigarette and blew the smoke at her.
Abruptly Caleb snatched the cigarette from her and crushed it in one thick hand. “Like I said, Tamara. The bitch thing.” Tamara shifted her glare to him but he ignored her and took another drink of tequila.
“How are you two planning to stand your watch if you’re shitfaced?” Jenna asked the two men.
Santiago scowled at her. “If you want me to stand watch, you tell Akila to give me some ammo. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
Jenna crossed her arms. “Maybe she’d give you more ammo if you started taking this all seriously.”
“Christ, not you too. Why’d I have to get stuck here with two of you?”
Tony sat up on the couch, his face twisted with strong emotions. “Why don’t you all just shut up and quit fighting? Can’t you see we’re all in this together?”
No one said anything for a bit. Then Caleb said, “He’s got a point. It won’t do us any good to turn on each other.”
“I believe I said something like that,” Tamara said archly.
“I’m sorry,” Jenna said, taking a seat at the table. She rubbed at her face. “I guess I got a little freaked out there, with the attack and Dave dying and all. Maybe I did get a little bitchy.”
“You can say that again,” Santiago said.
“Mate, please,” Caleb said.
“Okay, okay,” Santiago replied. “Sorry and all that.”
“You’ll quit drinking then and take your watch?” Jenna asked him.
“I’ll take my watch but I’m not quitting drinking. I can handle it.”
Jenna looked like she was about to say more, but didn’t.
Nate turned the TV on.
“Oh, god, really?” Tony said. “Do we have to watch that now?”
“Leave it on,” Santiago said, getting up and walking over. “I want to know what’s happening.”
The newscast showed a mob throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at a building with a wall around it and an American flag on the roof.”
“That doesn’t prove anything,” Santiago said. “People hating Americans isn’t anything new.”
A minute later the picture switched to another scene, the interior of some kind of large, warehouse-type building. There were probably a hundred bodies laid out in rows and covered in sheets.
“What about that?” Tony asked. “Do you see that every day?”
The picture switched to show a black man with a very serious expression talking rapidly. Then it switched again to show an airport, lines of planes sitting idly at the terminals and on the runways. After a minute it switched to show a line of people standing outside a building. They were clearly sick, some of them coughing. There were soldiers with automatic weapons guarding them.
“Try a different channel,” Santiago said.
The next channel showed a city, people running everywhere. In the background a building burned fiercely. Numerous bodies littered the street. There were screams and the chatter of automatic gunfire. A running woman with a cloth-wrapped bundle in her arms suddenly went down, then started crawling away, blood streaking the ground behind her, the bundle still clutched tightly to her breast. A white sedan careened across the road, striking several people before smashing into the wall of a building.
“Turn if off!” Jordynn yelled suddenly. “Just turn it off, please!”
Nate turned it off.
“I told you, I told you,” Tony was saying, over and over to no one in particular.
“Omisha said she saw pictures of Calcutta and there were dead everywhere. I didn’t want to believe her,” Nate said.
“Well, I still don’t,” Jordynn said. She got up and stood beside Santiago. “Say it again,” she implored him. “It’s just another virus. People are overreacting. This is Africa, for god’s sake, stuff like that happens here all the time!” Her voice rose at the end until she was nearly screaming. “Say it again!” she yelled.
Santiago didn’t even look at her. He swirled the scotch in his glass and appeared to be studying it intently. It was like he didn’t even hear her.
Jordynn started shaking. Tears streaked her mascara and her hair was tangled. She stood there for a moment longer, then she ran from the room sobbing.
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