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He stood in the doorway of one of the rooms, so he must’ve been the noise I’d heard. His blond hair was cropped short, and he had his gun drawn, pointed at the ground.

“What are you doing in here?” Tatum asked, walking toward me.

“Oh, you know.” I shrugged. “Just hanging out.” He smirked, and I shook my head.  “What’s going on? What’s with the sirens?”

“The damn zombies got in.” He lowered his eyes, and I noticed his army fatigues were splattered with greenish blood – zombie blood.

“Are we overrun?” I motioned to the front door. “Are they out there right now?”

“No, not exactly.” He shook his head. “Come on. Let’s go outside where the sirens are quieter, and I’ll explain everything.”

We walked down to the front door together, and he pushed open the door. A draft of cool air blew in, I practically ran past him to get outside.

It was night, and the stars twinkled above me like diamonds. I hadn’t seen them in so long, and I swore that I’d never smelled anything as clean or fresh or wonderful as that air smelled just then.

The grass was cold beneath my bare feet, and the air had a bitter chill to it. But I didn’t mind. It all felt wonderful to me. I stood there for a minute, breathing it in.

“What are you doing?” Tatum asked, arching an eyebrow.

“I never thought I’d see this again. I thought I was going to die in that room.”

“I told you I wouldn’t let that happen.” He smiled warmly at me.

“You did.” I smiled back, then realized we were in an abandoned quarantine in the middle of the night with zombies roaming about. “So what happened? Where are the zombies? Where’s everybody?”

“The past few months, the zombies have been systematically attacking our walls,” Tatum said. “Or at least that’s what I said, but nobody believed me. They said the zombies couldn’t think enough to form an attack.”

“They were getting smarter,” I remembered. “Even when I was back out there. They were working together somehow.”

“Exactly!” Tatum said. “A few nights ago, they finally got in.”

I looked around the camp, the trailers dark and empty, and turned back to Tatum. “But the zombies aren’t here now?”

He shook his head. “No. Only about thirty or so of them got in. We went out to search for survivors, and they were waiting for us when we came back. They snuck in with the caravan.”

The quarantine was surrounded by a giant brick wall. There was only one entrance to the facility, and that was through two metal gates. The first set of doors led into a smaller holding area, and the second set of doors actually led into the quarantine. The double doors helped keep the infected from getting in.

“Did they get in through both doors?” I asked.

“Yeah.” He grimaced. “The idiots on the other side opened the door when they heard shooting, and some of the zombies raced right in.”

“Were people hurt?” I asked. “Are Lazlo and Harlow okay?”

“Yeah, they’re both fine,” he said. “There were some causalities, and it was a lot worse than it needed to be. That’s when they realized how much we’d been underestimating the zombies.”

“So they evacuated the quarantine? That doesn’t make sense. This is the safest place I’ve been to, even if it’s not perfect.”

“They wouldn’t stop until they got in.” He paused. “We had too large of a population, and they’re drawn to people somehow. They were clustering around us, building an army, growing stronger, and we’re running out of ammo. We had to split up and scatter. The next time the zombies got in, it would’ve been much, much worse.”

“So how come you’re still here?” I asked. “Why didn’t you leave with everyone?

“I was just doing the last sweep to make sure we had everybody before meeting up with the other evacuees,” Tatum said.

“Where are they?”

“All over.” He shrugged. “We disbanded into small groups over the past few days. Most of the zombies have cleared out, dispersing to follow some of us. They’re much easier to handle in smaller numbers.”

“So Lazlo and Harlow are gone?” I asked.

“They left in one of the first groups, which was probably one of the safest ones. The zombies weren’t smart enough to track people when they started leaving, but they’ve figured it out now.”

“And we’re in one of the last groups?” I asked.

He nodded. “Pretty much.”

“What was with the sirens?” I asked. “Why all the theatrics?”

“Some people didn’t want to leave, especially the people living inside the building,” Tatum explained. “But the general had given them an order. He ran the alarm to scare the rest of them out.”

“I see, I guess.” I turned to him, trying not to get hopeful. “What about my brother? Do you know if he made it out safe?”

“Your brother?” Tatum sounded confused at first, then nodded. “Yeah, yeah him and Blue made it okay. I haven’t heard from them since they left six months ago, but that’s probably good news.”

“Six months?” My jaw dropped. “I’ve been trapped in that room for six months?”

“Yeah.” He pursed his lips. “I tried to get in to see you, but they made it impossible. After your brother escaped, they really cracked down.”