EPISODE FOUR: Quarantine
His first regret had been taking that job offer. It’d been a fifty percent increase in salary, and it seemed like an incredible career opportunity. His family would be the first to benefit. They would finally be able to get the house with enough rooms for his little ones to live comfortably. He could get Emmy that new car she had always wanted, and he would be able to get himself a new computer. Everything was supposed to have been better. Eighteen years later, and their house had exploded more times than he could count.
Material things don’t make people happy, yes, I know that, he thought to himself. Everyone always says that, but they don’t tell you how you can be happy. They tell you to focus on your family, and I tried that. For eighteen long years, I focused on my family, and it did nothing.
He sat with Emmy on the couch, holding her as he always had. They’d had their troubles, but they’d made it through in one piece. If nothing else, he had gotten that right.
“Hey, have any of you guys seen Rosemarie?”
Lincoln stood at the base of the stairs, overlooking the rest of the house. His parents sat in the living room, and they didn’t seem to hear him. His sister and Toby were in the dining room, looking at something on her laptop, and they hadn’t hear him either.
“Have you guys seen Rosemarie?”
“She took off a few hours ago,” his mother said, sitting up in her chair. “I haven’t seen her since then.”
“And you guys don’t think there’s anything wrong with that?”
His father stood up and made his way into the dining room.
“She’s got tons of friends in this neighborhood,” his father said. “I’m sure she’s with one of them.”
Lincoln shrugged. His father was probably right. He had had more than enough friends in this neighborhood when he was growing up. He remembered Felix and Mark, two of his closest buddies. They had shared almost everything together, including girlfriends and good times. When he got into the trouble with Karen, however, they didn’t want anything to do with him.
Don’t worry about the past, Link. You don’t live with regrets, remember?
He had seen regrets tear his parents apart. He was watching it tear his sister Lyn apart. She’d done something evil when she was a kid and let it mess with the rest of her life. Lyn was made of anger, and it was disgusting. He had absolutely no sympathy for her.
“Well, it’s getting late. I think I’m going to head to sleep,” Lincoln said, turning back up the stairs.
A loud bang on the front door stopped him in his tracks.
Lyn jumped to her feet. Who could that possibly be? Their neighbors would’ve used the door bell, and it was too late for it to be a UPS or Fed Ex delivery man. It couldn’t have been Rosemarie. Her sister would have just used the key from under the mat. She was sure her parents wouldn’t have moved it in all these years.
“Who do you think it is?”
Her father didn’t answer her question but moved to the door. Her mother followed close behind. He opened the door.
“Good evening, sir.” A man stood in the doorway, dressed in a black suit, black shirt, and black tie. He held a white clipboard in his hand and didn’t look up as he spoke.
“Good evening,” her father said in reply. “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” the man said, finally looking up. “My name is Adam Smith, and I work with the government.” He showed her father a badge and identification card.
“The government?” Lincoln laughed. “What are you guys doing down here?”
“We’re issuing a quarantine in this area,” the man said, glaring at Lincoln.
“A quarantine?” Her father asked quickly. “What’s going on out there?”
“There is sickness going around and we’re trying to keep it contained.” The man handed her father the clipboard. “The quarantine goes into effect in five hours. You can come and go from the neighborhood as many times as you want until then.”
“Thank you, sir,” her father said, handing back the clipboard. The man nodded and walked away.
“What did the paper say?” Lyn asked. She watched as her father closed the door. His hands were shaking.
“The same thing he told us. People are getting sick and they’re trying to keep it contained.”
“So they think we’re sick?”
“No, no,” her father said, shaking his head. “They’re quarantining this area because it’s one of the only places where the sickness hasn’t been reported.”
“But what about Mary Johnson, our neighbor?” Her mother cut in, her voice desperate. “She was sick, wasn’t she? Do you think it was the same thing?”
“It must be something different.”
“So, what are we going to do?” Lyn asked.
“We will stay here,” her father said. “If we stay here, we’ll be safe.”
“Safe from what?” Lincoln asked. “Is there some kind of danger?”
“Something is not right,” Toby said, grabbing her hand. “Why didn’t they mention this on the news?”
“You see the man who came to visit us,” her father replied. “The government is the one doing this quarantine. My guess is that they are involved in this some way.”
“Involved in what?” Lyn asked.
Her father looked away from her and didn’t respond. There was something he wasn’t telling them.
“We need to get supplies if we’re going to stay here, Jamison,” her mother said, heading to the kitchen. “I will take stock of what we’ve got here, but we’ll need to send someone out—”
“No one goes out,” her father said, his voice raising. “We’ll stay here, where I know we’ll be safe.”
“Well, there’s a big problem with that, Dad,” Lincoln said. “We have to go out.”
“Lincoln, this is no time for your—”
“Rosemarie’s still out there, Dad!” Lincoln shouted.
Lyn frowned. It was true, but there was no reason for Lincoln to get riled up about it.
“She’s out there, and we need to find her,” he continued.
“If she’s around here, that man will tell her, and she’ll come back home.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Lincoln said. “You can’t trust that he’ll see her. We have to be sure. And the only way to be sure is to do it ourselves.”
“I can’t let you go, Lincoln,” her father said. “It’s too dangerous for you to go alone!”
“Yeah, well what about Rosemarie? She’s alone out there.”
“It’s too dangerous?” Lyn asked. “What’s going on, Dad? I saw your hands shaking after you read the paper. What’s going on here?”
“This sickness is dangerous. The government doesn’t even know the full extent of it, but it’s pretty bad. People are dying left and right—”
“That’s even more reason for us to find her,” Lincoln said. “We know we’re not sick, but we don’t know about anyone else. If we leave her out there, who knows what will happen.”
“You are not going out there, Lincoln,” her father said. “It’s too dangerous.”
Lincoln stepped up to their father. “You can’t hold me back.”
With that, he ran out of the house, not bothering to close the door behind him.