The End: Story Three
Welcome to Haven
By: David K. Montoya
For a moment, I could not register who I saw before me. It felt as if I was staring at a ghost. For fifteen years, I had believed that Helen was dead. But now I knew for a fact my wife was alive, and not only was she still among the living, but she was the Administrator of Haven.
She welcomed me to Haven and offered me a seat placed in front of her large wooden desk. Once I was seated, she turned to the three soldiers and ordered them to leave the room. The oldest of the men began to say something, but Helen cut him short with a soft reminder that she was one not to argue with. The man said a few choice words under his breath and ordered the others to follow him out of the office.
Once the men were out of the room, Helen walked back around her desk and took a seat directly in front of me. There was a short awkward silence before she said that I looked different from the last time she saw me. I quickly explained that was what happened as time went by; people aged.
Helen sat back in her leather executive chair and crossed her arms. I could tell that she was not accustomed to that sort of answer. Before she could speak, I asked where the others were and if they were all right? She looked at me for a moment; she said that everyone on the bus had survived and were living in the lower part of Haven.
She told me that it was a stupid move on my part, what I had done at the border, and that I and everyone with me could have had been killed. But I told her that it was a chance I had to take.
Helen sat there for a few more moments before she sat up and reached for something in a desk drawer. As soon as I saw it, I recognized it as the vile that the Professor gave me back in Corpseland.
She placed it down on the desk and then folded her arms and leaned back into an oversized chair. We both stared at it for a short time before Helen eventually asked what was in the tube. I told her that I was not certain; the vile was given to me in the spur of the moment. She leaned in and picked up the glass cylinder off of the desktop.
Helen held it up into the light in an attempt to examine what was inside. After a few moments of that, she pulled the top off then held it out in front of her while staring me down. Then, with the turn of her wrist, the vile was tipped upside&$45;down, and a small roll of paper slid out of the tube. She looked down at the contents then back up at me, perhaps waiting to see what my reaction would be.
I tried to make sense of what was going on, but it was all too confusing. Finally, I asked Helen what this was about? I figured that she already knew what was on the small roll of paper. What kind of games was she playing because I was in no mood to be a part of it. My answer from her was a sinister smile and a statement that she could have me in front of a firing squad before I knew what had happened.
She picked up the small roll of paper and began to roll it back and forth between her fingers. The woman I once knew as my wife let out a heavy sigh then placed the content back into the tube to only put it back on her desk.
Eventually, Helen explained that the paper in the vial was a step&$45;by&$45;step process of how to create a cure for the Sickness. It was found on me when the guards pulled my unconscious body from the bus. Once the scientists there at Haven figured precisely what it was, they created a serum. Then, they used it on their two available human subjects, which she explained, was a woman captured for the experiment and me.
I asked how she knew that I was infected. Helen explained that when my body was pulled from the bus, I had transformed into an Unlucky, which, coincidentally, was how I could survive the attack at the border.
She pulled a folder from her desk and looked through it as she continued to explain that almost instantly, to acquiring the vaccination, both of us changed back into human form. Helen paused for a moment, then tossed the folder down on the desk for me to see what was inside.
Once I picked up the folder, Helen continued her story. They realized that the cure was possibly only a temporary fix. The woman that received the antidote remained virus&$45;free for only two days. But the interesting thing was that I continued to remain what appeared to be cured.
It was only after a few more tests that the scientists realized that I was, in fact, no longer infected. They believed it was because I was a hybrid. Naturally, everyone wanted to confirm this by a transformation that was chemically induced. That was when they injected me with the virus that caused me to reconvert into an Unlucky. Once they re&$45;injected me with the serum, I quickly reverted into human form.
Helen paused for a moment and then slowly got up from her desk. She said that I had become an essential person in the Haven community and quite possibly the world.
She and the scientists believed that the cure to the Sickness could be found inside my veins.
Helen came around the desk and sat at the edge and stared at me for a long moment. I wished I could read her mind, Was it a look of disdain, or did she miss me?
Eventually, Helen said that she had a deal for me. A business arrangement. She would arrange living quarters free of charge and give me what she called a No&$45;Labor pass. But, most importantly, all would be forgiven if I agreed to allow the scientists to continue to study my blood.
I thought about it for a very short time.
I knew that Helen would put me up in a decent place and not on the streets or in some ghetto area of Haven. As far as the No&$45;Labor, I knew that no labor meant no work. I would be required to spend all day with those researchers while they used me as a guinea pig.
I told her that I would accept her offer if she would do two other things for me. Helen looked at me in almost a squint before she asked me what my other requests were. I told her that first, I would like the same housing agreement to be applied to our son Michael, and second, to tell me exactly what in the hell happened to her all those years ago?
Helen asked me if I was sure that I wanted to hear the truth; it was something that she knew I wasn't going to like. I told her that I didn't care about the emotions of it at this point, but I had a right to know what really went down after the last time I saw her.
Helen stood back up and walked back to her seat with a sour look on her face. I knew I was not going to like what I was about to hear. She said it had all started about a year before the Sickness hit. Shortly after she took the job with the Senator as his assistant, the two's professional relationship blossomed, and they had become lovers.
They would spend every waking hour together; at that point, I interrupted her and asked about the long hours she'd used to work. Helen explained openly that they were lies, so she could be with the Senator without raising any questions. It came to an end shortly after she got pregnant with our daughter Maria. He wanted her to abort the baby because he knew it wasn't his. I stopped her again and asked how did the Senator know Maria wasn't his?
Helen elucidated that the Senator was sterile after an injury he had when he was a child. She said that the two had separated for almost a year. Our daughter was eight months when the two resumed their love affair.
A secret meeting was held about three months before the President would go public with the Sickness pandemic. Among the top heads of our government. They knew that there was no way of stopping the Sickness. Eventually, the world would be overtaken, and the pandemic became an epidemic.
So, they created the Safe Haven Project. The government picked three locations; Haven Field, Montana, Alliance, Nebraska, and Prescott, Arkansas. The residents were forced from their homes so that the building of the future could begin.
The day came when the top heads of the nation were to leave their own homes and relocate to one of the Safe Havens locations. So, the Senator arranged for a few of his men to pick Helen up from our home.
It was set up so it would appear that the military abducted her because she was infected with Sickness, but in fact, it was all prearranged with no detail overlooked even to the point where Helen acted slightly ill.
The two came to Montana and started a new life together. Eventually, they married, and her new husband was named the Administrator (which was equivalent to the President). He remained the top official of Haven until his passing not too long ago. Then, the people decided to name Helen his successor, and she had held the title of the Administrator ever since.
Helen took a deep breath, let out a heavy sigh, and told me that now I knew the truth.
I sat there for a moment. I didn't know how to react to what I had just been told. Everything I believed about my wife for the last fifteen years was a lie, but oddly enough, I wasn't angry. The only thing I could do was thank her for telling me the truth.
Helen nodded in response.
She pulled the file folder from the center of the desk to where she sat and opened it to the last page.
There inside was some sort of badge. I leaned in and saw that my name was on it with the words: Level Three underneath. The face of the badge was yellow with white trim. Helen explained that this was my key. It would give me access to my new home, vehicle, and identification. She flipped it over, showed me the black strip, and told me never to lose or misplace it.
After we covered all the rules about the badge (like how to use it as an ATM), Helen took me to the processing center. She placed the badge in a little black machine while I stood in front of a camera to have my picture taken. After this, I was led back to a small black device. The top was open to reveal what looked like a barcode scanner. I was told to wave my hands through the red laser lights.
Eventually, we finished, and Helen pulled the badge from the device. I saw that it digitally burned my picture onto the surface along with my fingerprints. She handed it over to me and officially welcomed me to Haven.