Welcome to Part 3 of the prequel/serial to Drake and the Fliers. If you missed Parts 1 and 2 and want to start at the beginning, click here.
Before the Flight – Part 3
“Why aren’t we sick?” Drake asked.
Kelsey sighed and leaned against the window of the Denver hospital, focusing on the ceiling. “I don’t know.” Her voice caught, and she cleared her throat. She turned her attention down the hallway, towards their mother’s room – or what was her room until half an hour ago.
“First Dad, then Grandma and Grandpa, and now…” He glanced down the hall himself and swallowed.
“Maybe we’re immune.”
“No one’s immune,” Drake said, not fully believing his own words. He and Kelsey had been exposed just as long as their mother. Now she was dead, but the siblings stood among the infected, completely healthy. They didn’t even wear masks or any kind of protective clothing.
What if they were immune? What would the world be like after everyone else was gone?
Hospital workers decked out in full Hazmat suits rolled a gurney carrying lumpy body bag onto the elevator. Their destination was a large, makeshift morgue outside. Drake saw it out the window. White tents. Blue tarps. Caution tape. And dozens of those body bags. He was getting used to the noxious smell that filled the air.
Kelsey slung her backpack over her shoulder. “Let’s get out of here.”
They walked towards the stairwell, which they preferred to the elevator. No one was transporting bodies down the stairs.
Kelsey pulled the key to her mom’s Explorer from her pocket as they approached the street where she’d parked it. She couldn’t get near the hospital entrance, so she’d left it in front of a drug store a mile away. Drake had carried his dying mother that distance, but it felt longer now as they made the return trip without her.
As they turned the corner, the sound of shattering glass stopped the two on the sidewalk. A group of young men threw rocks, bricks, and fired guns at the drug store’s large windows, then ran inside. They returned to the street carrying armloads of looted merchandise.
The Explorer’s windows had been shattered, and one of the thugs dropped the pilfered items into the back seat before returning to the store. Another thug sat in the driver’s seat, apparently trying to hotwire the vehicle.
Kelsey stepped towards the car, and Drake grabbed her arm. “What are you doing?”
“They don’t want a fight. They just want that stuff. I think I can scare them off if I hit the panic alarm.”
“Don’t be crazy. They’ll come after us.”
“You want to let them have it?” She glared at him and pulled against his arm.
“It’s not worth dying over. Looters have killed people in other cities.”
She seemed to weigh her options before she yanked her arm away from Drake’s grasp. Stomping across the street, she held out the fob. The wail of the panic alarm followed.
The guy hotwiring the car jumped out and quickly focused on Kelsey. He pulled a small pistol from his pocket and pointed it at her. “I’ll take those keys,” he yelled over the siren as he stepped towards her.
Kelsey stood in place.
The thug closed the distance, keeping the weapon locked on her.
“Give it to him, Kelsey!”
What was taking her so long?
Finally, she tossed the key at the gunman’s chest and jogged back to Drake. The thug pocketed the gun and returned to the vehicle, where he turned off the alarm and started the engine.
Kelsey stared up at Drake as the looters moved on to the restaurant and bank on either side of the drug store.
Drake hugged her briefly, then pulled on her arm. “Come on. Let’s figure out where to go.” He led her down the street as a news helicopter flew over them, hovering above the mayhem.
Since arriving in Denver, Drake had watched the demise of other cities on news networks reporting from the safety of a helicopter, but they all stopped covering the west coast weeks ago. There was nothing left there to report. Denver likely had a few weeks left before it became a deserted wasteland and the helicopters moved on.
As they walked towards the city’s center, Kelsey focused on the ground, a practice she’d adopted since the cell networks collapsed and she let her phone die. She glanced up at the skyscrapers. “Did you know Mom worked in one of those towers before we moved to San Francisco?”
Drake shook his head.
She looked back at the ground. “Yeah. She was on a night-shift cleaning crew. She quit before you were born.”
“What if we stayed in one of those? I doubt people are still going to the office.”
She shrugged. “I guess.”
They walked in silence for the next hour, until they reached the base of a tower. The sidewalks were mostly deserted, and the few who remained walked in a daze, seemingly oblivious to anyone else. A jam of abandoned cars filled the street. No one would be able to drive up and conveniently loot these buildings.
Drake and Kelsey entered the tower and walked through the bright, empty lobby. At least the place still had power. They found the elevator and Drake pushed the first button his eyes randomly landed on – 28.
Click here to continue to Part 4.