“You think you can work with this, Doctor Stiles?”
“Well, it’s less of a question of if and more of a question of I have to. If this is something as infectious as you say it is then I’m glad Victor’s here.”
“I’m just sorry we don’t have as many facilities as Caduceus.”
“Well don’t sell yourself short just yet. I barely had time to get used to hospitals like this before I joined Caduceus. And I have to agree, it would have been far riskier to airlift them. Caduceus is a bit squeamish after the Portland incident.”
“Your understanding is refreshing, Sir. At the very least, Professor Gascoigne is here, who managed to glean some basic knowledge about the virus. Though the man came here to study certain kinds of gut bacteria, he didn’t expect he’d be contributing to cutting edge medical science!” The ward head managed an uneasy laugh.
“I’ll be the judge of that. Thankfully there was someone remotely educated here.”
The ward head blanked Victor’s quip. “ Debriefing is at 1730 hours, and we aim to begin at 1800. Though who knows how long the higher ups at the CDC will drag things out.”
“I guess till then, we enjoy some Pennsylvania hospitality.”
“Have ya got a light for an old man, sonny?” came an old voice that still deigned to draw authority.
“Sorry sir, don’t smoke.” Stiles turned to view the man. The man bowed his leg a little – an injury perhaps? More than likely why he was here. Stiles mentally recalled the contents of his pockets. Why the hell would he pick up a lighter, he had no use for one – he recanted his earlier statement. “Actually, yeah. Here you are sir. Though as a doctor I should advise you not to smoke.”
Lighting his cigarette, returning the lighter to Dr. Stiles and gingerly making his way to the wall he called the doctor’s bluff. “But you’re not going to, are you, kid? ”
He let out a wry smile. “Actually no. I’ve got too much going on right now to try play family doctor.”
The man leaned against the wall, speaking through the cigarette. “Too much going on? A kid like yourself?”
Stiles shuffled his feet and sighed. “ At about six o’clock this evening me and my team are going to be dealing with something we’ve been told if we don’t prepare for well, will kill us. If I don’t step up, I leave it to someone else and they could die. And if I leave it alone, we’ll never know what we were dealing with.”
“Chrissake, what the hell’s our country’s healthcare come to. Look kid, when I was barely a lad I was fighting Charlie down in ‘Nam. Now look at you. Just like me, you decided you had to take a stand, cause if you didn’t then who would? You’re scared. And if I was in your shoes, I’d be scared too. But the difference between being brave and being scared is being scared, but still picking up the shotgun and shooting the bastard in the face. Or in your case, scalpel.”
A never more genuine smile had spread across Stiles’s face. “Thanks, mister…?”
“Bill. You can just call me Bill.”
“Bill. Well tomorrow, you either won’t find anything out at all, or you’ll have heard that a gas leak killed an entire quarantine ward of Mercy Hospital.”
“Ha ha, plausible deniability. Every three letter organization’s favourite cocktail.” said Bill, throwing back his head and taking a drag.