Tikka pushed him in his wheel-chair and showed him the neighborhood around Howell Road and Doan Creek. One leg support held his leg in an elevated position. Tikka had wrapped it with a fresh compression bandage before they set out on their walk. Wyatt felt funny, like a slacker with Tikka pushing him. Except for his one leg, he was in great shape.
“Why aren’t you back in Capiche?” Wyatt asked. “I mean, I am glad you are here but I am curious what is holding you.”
Tikka said “I signed a contract saying that I would be the care-taker for Keagan’s property and yours and I have every intention of fulfilling it to the best of my ability.”
“You are doing a great job with the gardens” Wyatt admitted. “It is not like you have a lot of time to weed them and stuff.”
Indeed, Tikka darted in during the short intervals during cease-fires and when there were lulls in the fighting. She had been able to almost get the gardens to her satisfaction during the week-long cease-fire but weeds grow at the speed of light in mid-summer when the soil is moist.
Tikka asked, “Can you tell me about when Keagan died? Nobody has been able to tell me anything.”
“Are you sure you want to hear? It is not a pretty story” Wyatt said.
“I want to hear. Don’t pay any attention if I start crying. It is just what girls do...what this girl does. I will tell you if I want you to stop” Tikka said.
So Wyatt related the entire story to her. He started with how Pep assigned the individual, two-man teams to specific fox-holes. He told of how the enemy came out of nowhere and came in overwhelming numbers. He told her of Keagan’s ferocious fighting and how he got in the way of a random, stray bullet.
Wyatt told her about the rescue by their squad mates. He told her how the medics had tried for hours to save Keagan as he slowly bled-out internally. They had blood-volume extenders. What they did not have were red-blood cells which are critical for moving oxygen.
After struggling for hours, Keagan slipped away.
Tikka cried for more than half the story but she wanted to hear the whole thing.
Then Tikka asked Wyatt about his family in Livingston County. This time, it was Wyatt’s eyes that became moist while he told the story.
The rest of that walk was done in silence, each adult lost in their own thoughts.
Having sanitized a four-mile-wide path from the marshaling yard in Howell to four miles east of Williamston, Sayed re-deployed Thibodeaux’s troops.
Two-thirds of them he deployed along the route to guard the future convoy.
The other third, the third that included Thibodeaux and his squad, Sayed directed to infiltrate the defender’s territory east of the Buffer-Zone.
It had occurred to Sayed that he didn’t need to defeat the Buffer-Zone. He could bypass them and leave them to die-on-the-vine. But to make that happen, he needed assets in place to prevent the forces in the Buffer-Zone from traveling west and attacking his rear. While Thibodeaux would not have the resources to stop a redeployment of the Buffer-Zone defenders, he could slow them down and alert the convoys so they could defend themselves.
The choice of Thibodeaux and his squad was not an accident. He had been an embarrassment to Sayed and, in particular, to Kristen Shomsky who was Sayed’s Political Officer. Kristen Shomsky had to revise multiple reports. The computer never forgets. She had to invent many “exacerbating” factors to account for the fact that Thibodeaux’s teams consistently outperformed the teams that should have been “elite”.
Putting Thibodeaux and his squad in the middle of harm’s way would be a great way to “disappear” that particular embarrassment.
Trudi went back to Fuller Park to perform her daily check on Ricky Adams. She did not expect him to have survived the night. Based on how quickly he was crashing, she would have been surprised if he had lasted more than four hours.
She was not surprised to find Ricky was no longer at the campsite.
However, she was distressed to learn that none of the Ricky Adam’s party were at the campsite. The had pulled up stakes and moves to address-unknown.
Looking around, she saw many vacancies where there had been tents and families the day before.
As she made her rounds it struck her as an odd coincidence that all of the families of her patients who had been highly resistant to solar therapy had also de-camped during the night. Too much of a coincidence, really.
She had eight patients (including the Adams family) who sported fevers who refused to sun-bathe. The typical camp held five people. The math was straightforward. There was a very high probability that at least forty potential carriers of Ebola were walking around Ann Arbor.
And those were just the patients and families that Trudi knew about.
Doing a little bit of quick, mental math Trudi estimated that between 2% and 5% of the residents of Fuller Park had inexplicably disappeared overnight.
Using the low number, 2% of the 15,000 people in Fuller Park implied that there were at least 300 carriers walking around Ann Arbor and spreading Ebola RIGHT NOW.