Viral Secrets

“Take it. Would you just freaking take it?!”

 “Jesus!” I slapped her hand away. “What’s your problem? You forget to take your meds or something?”

 “Look; this isn’t funny Jesse. I’m not kidding. They’re after me!”

 “Who?”

 “God!” Don’t you listen?!” Sam shifted in her seat, crazy eyes darting every which way. She paused only long enough to clear her throat, and I knew that sound. She was grasping for control. “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but everybody at work was acting… off. Nobody was talking. Nobody would make eye contact. They just scurried around in complete silence. Some Geneticist I’ve never even seen before was stomping through the halls. He had the Governor, and my boss, trailing behind him like lost little puppy dogs. And behind them? Two freaking giants with guns and combat boots. Right there! In our freaking lab!”

I rolled my eyes, “I’m sure they were just there to guard the Governor.”

“No! These goons had assault rifles pulled out in front of them. Assault rifles! Ok? These weren’t your standard issue, high-profile security guys with concealed weapons. These were soldiers. Plain and simple.”

“So what if they were? God. With everything going on right now, they probably have to take extra precautions.”

But Jesse was shaking her head like a maniac, studying everything that moved outside the long bank of windows beyond our table. “No. This was something else. Please. Would you just take it?”

She plopped a tiny clear vial in the palm of my hand. It dangled from the gold necklace she inherited from our grandmother like some kind of pendant. “They can’t get this. I don’t know why. I don’t know what’s going on, but I trust my gut.”

“You and your gut…”

“Would you just trust me? Something is wrong. We found a cure. A freaking cure! And it works Jesse, really works!! We finally have a way fight this disease, but they wouldn’t let me duplicate it. They wouldn’t let me send out the results or send it for testing. They wouldn’t even talk about publishing our findings or sharing the sequencing. Nothing. The moment we had our first successful batch, they halted the program. They disbanded our whole team, Jesse. All of us. And now? Now I can’t reach any of them! All my calls are going straight to voicemail. I was late this morning, super late. So, they all should have been there before me, but not one of them showed up to work. What does that tell you?”

“That they were out late last night celebrating?”

Jesse heaved her shoulders and looked on the verge of tears. “No. Something isn’t right.”

I studied her for a long time then, but I knew my sister better than anyone. She wasn’t crazy. She might act it sometimes, but she wasn’t one to overreact. “Kay.”

Her eyes fell closed as she breathed a sigh of relief.

“What do you need me to do?”

“Take it and get out of here. Out of town. Out of state. Here.” She pulled an envelope from her purse and slid it across the coffee stained table to me. “It’s all the money I have. They probably assume I’m going on the run. So, I’m going to do what I can. I’ll try to draw them away, but Jesse…. You have to go.”

“What? No! You never said-”

“You have to. Look.” She flipped the envelope over and I saw a number scrawled there. “Use this.” She slid a cell phone across the table next. “It’s a burner.”

“A burner? What the fu-”

“And you have to stay off grid. Keep your phone off. Change the plates on your car. Avoid cameras wherever you can. Don’t talk to anyone. I mean it. Nobody Jesse. No one can know.”

Every fiber of my being longed to call her crazy again. But I didn’t. Couldn’t. “Sam?” Fear caused my voice to break.

“I see them.” Her gaze wasn’t darting around anymore. It was focused on the same two giants I saw stepping out of the black SUV just outside the restaurant, giants with weapons drawn. “I fucking see them.”  

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