At Death’s Door Part Four- Jerome

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Chapter 4- Jerome

Generally speaking barracks were an unwelcome, cold, place, and these
were no different. Sheets hung, draped, over clothes line to form small box
shaped cubicles holding a cot with a pillow and a blanket. The Days caused the
few military bases in the United States that hadn’t been affected by the plague
to be overrun with “healthy” soldiers.  Jerome Rudy rolled over to face
one of the white walls and rubbed the sleep from his tired eyes. His arms were
tight and this surprised him because he was probably in the best shape he had
been in years.

What made Jerome stir, at this point, was still a mystery. He couldn’t tell by
the lack of windows and his contact with the outside world if was even light
outside. He thought for a second, his mind, foggy, rewinding through the events
of the last several days, or whatever it had been. The more he tried to piece
the puzzle together the foggier it got. Did the day he saw the overturned bus
with Lindsey happen before or after they lost track of Richard near the Ohio
River. Then there was the day they encountered the D’s outside of Columbus,
when was that?

He began to feel a pain in the top of his head and reached up with his lagging
hand and he felt something strange. What was it? It held a soft yet
scratchy feeling, it was layered on his head and he could feel little tiny
holes. It was gauze, wrapped around his head. Why? He couldn’t remember. Then
it struck him. The Humvee wreck when they almost hit the D’s. Brody had been
driving, yes, and he and Lindsey were in the vehicle with Brody. Jack, Winston
and Anise where in the vehicle behind them. The next flash that came was Anise,
the medic standing over him putting pressure on his head.

Then he woke up here a few days ago, had it actually been days? He wasn’t sure.
In fact all he really remembered was waking up a few times and going back to
sleep. It could have been a matter of hours. He had no idea what day it was and
he sighed as he laid his head on the thin pillow.

“J, how you feeling?”

He raised slightly until his head pounded and he couldn’t anymore.

“You okay?” the voice asked again. It was a voice he had heard before. It was
one he knew well.

“I’m okay, confused.”

“Yeah, you’ve been out for five days. We were worried about you for a minute
there.”

The masculine voice was rough and full of gravel, like a hard nosed mixture of
Clint Eastwood and Sam Elliot. Hell the last time he had saw him had to be five
years ago. But this time he looked different, not in the stocky, Rocky Balboa
look, but in the fact that he wasn’t wearing his fatigues. Instead he bore a
HAZMAT bio-chemical suit.

“The last time I saw you was Afghanistan, right? Hell General I thought you
were dead.”

“Hell, I’m old enough I should be dead.” He paused for a moment. “Its a hell of
a mess we got ourselves into, huh, Major?” General Dimitri Fowler pulled up a chair. It squealed like finger nails on a chalk board as he plopped down in it.

“Yes sir, it is.” Jerome rubbed his aching head again. “Was I infected?”

He scooted his chair and Dimitri places his large callused hand on Jerome’s
shoulder. “We don’t know yet, Son. But I’m going to be honest. It doesn’t look
good.”

He gently squeezed Jerome on the shoulder and he felt a respect for the general
he hadn’t felt for authority in months. Possibly it had to do with their past,
but he wasn’t sure.

“J, if I could ask you one thing,” he hesitated.

“Anything, General. Anything.”

“We need you and your team to do a job.”

“I think I’m done with it all, Sir. I don’t think there is much left to fight
for. There is no country anymore, no home to come home to. No land of the free or
brave.”

“What if i told you we had the answer to everyone’s prayers. And all you have
to do is get it to Atlanta?”

Jerome Rudy didn’t respond he only sat there, staring at his old buddy, who had
a smile that went from ear to ear. Hell what did he have to live for anymore
anyway. Maybe it would be better to have the plague. At least it would be over.

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