There is one last free place in Albuquerque.
The city is gone. Everything is gone. I don’t know if we can make it. If anyone can find the Quarantine.
Past Downtown, near the corner of Seventh and Haines, you’ll find it. Whether world order or government or private interest, it doesn’t even matter now. Any semblance of safety will do.
You’ll see the remaining, desperate masses of Albuquerque cling to life, huddling in the cold for the opportunity to find any form of refuge. The security forces have the gall to charge actual money to be allowed entrance. It really doesn’t matter, cash is worthless now anyway. But it makes you wonder who might be behind this. If the atrocity is part of something deeper and more clinical. Why else would they be hoarding currency for a society that no longer exists?
A female voice is piped out to the crowd, promising shelter, and warning against the dangers of the infected. As if we didn’t already know.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably had to do a lot and see more than you ever wanted to. A thinly veiled metaphor about the self-destructive collapse of human society has come in a form no movie ever could have predicted: the dead are animated, aggressive to spread their disease.
And they kill quickly. Seconds ripping away like heartbeats. If you haven’t seen it yet, you will.
I’m greeted by “Quarantine” staff, with smiles fighting denial, smeared with desperate repurposed hope. They take my name and talk about “the farm,” where apparently a waiting train will take me. Whiteboards are scrawled with endless lists of jobs and expertise needed to slowly rebuild civilization from its crumbling remnants.
I didn’t see writer. Or actor. Or artist.
At least I can run fast.
The lab coats lead new arrivals deeper into the facility. They try to keep it light, black humor being a better recourse than depression or disbelief.
Of course, they lied. It’s not safe. It’s never safe. But it’s the last hope we have.
When they whisper hurriedly to one another, listen carefully. You won’t want to. You’ll want to pretend it not happening. That’s it’s not real.
But that’s how you die. And then it doesn’t end there. Then, you come back.
When the prisoner screams to you, begging for her life, listen. Listen well.
There’s a breach, somewhere in the depths of the bunker. I was shuffled madly through offices and labs and security terminals. On computer screens, I see the rooms I just passed seconds before, the dead feasting on collapsed bodies of those left behind. I see the fear in the others in the group. They don’t hold anything back.
Room to room, I dash with the group, a single staff member, who’s a babbling wreck, guiding us, only the last door keeping us safe.
The cramped spaces seem the worst, once you finally see them: the dead gashing at you with guttural shrieking and gnarled, flailing extremities. If you find your way to the Quarantine with loved ones, I envy you. Hold them close, lest they throw you to the horde to cover their escape.
I saw it happen. And it wasn’t a fluke. It’ll happen again.
No, it’s the open spaces that are the worse. The dead are more numerous there. They come in raging packs. Or they sit alone, feeding on broken flesh. You’ll need to stay low. And stay quiet. And move quickly.
Even Lynette, from “Shit Burqueños Say,” is among the fallen, thrashing mindlessly for flesh. Even the mighty can fall.
Suddenly our guide, too, falls. The bite doing its putrid work in the blood stream. Mouth foaming, he screams for me to leave him. A warlike voice on the radio tells us that we will be left behind.
So we run.
A final gauntlet of undead is waiting. Spitting hisses from all sides, they rush from the back, while others block the way.
Be quick, be smart. Don’t trip. Not like I did.
To whoever finds this, make your way to “Quarantine.” I don’t know if there will be the refuge they promise when you get there. But there’s nothing like it in Albuquerque.
It’s far too late for me. Getting down what I can before the last moments of my agony finally end.
I may be there waiting for you. As one of them. If you see me, kill me quickly. If I come for you, I’m sorry.
I run fast.
Protect yourself from the Lazarus Plague
Quarantine: The Experience An Experimental Haunted House
Quelab, 680 Haines Ave. N.W.
6 p.m. until midnight, through Thursday
For information on how to protect yourself from the Lazarus Plague, visit quarantineabq.com