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.The Academy: Book 1Chad Leito1Asa’s Dad’s Friend’s DogAsa was listening to the radio before he was pulled over by the cop and it all began.An unusual amount of crows sat in the trees surrounding White Bridge Road, watching Asa’s car cruise by.The steering wheel of the old Volvo vibrated beneath his hands, the suspension unable to keep up with the rocky terrain beneath the tires.He leaned forward and squinted into the summer night; the weak, yellow beams of the rusty car didn’t penetrate far into the country road.Every once in a while he saw a pair of eyes staring out at him from the thick woods that surrounded as he passed on the unmarked stretch of land.Asa was fourteen years old and did not have a driver’s license.The Volvo had been his mother’s.It still smells like her, Asa thought.The cracked red leather on the seats, the chipped mahogany dash and the matless floorboards all reminded him of her.Through the speakers in the car that she had bought, a late-night radio program was playing.It bothered him to hear about the pandemic going on, but he found that he was not able to reach up and turn it off.The voice was vibrant, cheerful and seemed almost mocking when juxtaposed with such serious subject matter.“You’re listening to Dritt PM, the only place to get news, weather and more live in the early hours of the morning beneath the Dritt Texas sky.I’m Chuck Morgan, your host, and joining me today will be biologist Dr.Jaime Harrett from the Dritt Institute of Technology.Dr.Harrett, how are you doing this evening?”“Wonderful.”Asa glanced in his rearviews and saw nothing.Dritt PM had been a nightly news station his whole life.It was completely absurd and unnecessary.The town of 10,000 didn’t need a live radio station that played from midnight to six in the morning, but it had one; just like it didn’t need a theme park, a zoo or the biggest man-made reservoir in the world, but they were there too.When you live in a town with Robert King’s son, you have access to a lot of things that you don’t need.Asa had heard that Cobb King suffered from insomnia, so he bought a whole radio station just so that he could listen to it if he went for a nighttime drive.Chuck Morgan’s voice was articulate and showed no sign of tiring.“As we said before commercial break, Dr.Jaime Harrett is on air with us tonight to talk about the sickness that’s on everyone’s mind — the Wolf Flu.Dr.Harrett, thanks for being here so late.I would imagine that you’d usually be in bed by two in the morning, and I appreciate you being here.”“My pleasure.”Asa shifted in his seat at the sound and furrowed his eyebrows.The Volvo’s sound system wasn’t the best, but he could hear that Dr.Harrett’s voice was going hoarse.A sore throat was usually an early sign, and even though Asa had seen countless people fall to the virus, it still made him uncomfortable to know that this woman could be sick.Chuck went on—“If you would, please give our listeners a little intro regarding the Wolf Flu.I understand that most people, if not everyone, is familiar with the virus by now, but just in case, would you say a few words explaining what it is, talk about the symptoms and why it’s relevant?”“Sure,” she croaked out, and then cleared her throat.Asa turned up the radio.“The Wolf Flu is, as you’ve said, a virus.It’s not actually a strand of the flu, as the name leads people to think.An immunologist at Harvard University named it whenever people still thought that the virus was a newer, stronger version of the flu.Now, we know better.We know that we don’t know what this thing is…” she began to laugh without humor, which turned into a rasping, horrible cough.“So, we don’t know exactly what the Wolf Flu is, but we do know a few things about it.It causes immune suppression, abdominal tenderness, reddening of the eyes, rash, fever, severely increased mucus production, hacking cough, weight loss, vomiting in some cases and death in all cases.”It was quiet for a second and only static came through the radio.The words echoed through Asa’s mind again — and death in all cases.He knew it was true, but hearing it still gave him chills.Dr.Harrett continued — “It spreads at an incredible rate.The death toll of this thing is unmatched by anything that we’ve seen before, and we don’t know if anyone is immune or how to stop it.” She began to hack and cough into the microphone.There was silence on the radio and then Asa heard papers ruffling.He was still leaning forward, staring at the road ahead.Even at 30 miles per hour, White Bridge Road could be dangerous at night.It was seldom traveled, which is why Asa chose to drive on it.Highway 44 ran parallel to White Bridge, but the highway was six lanes, and White Bridge was only two.The old, country road was mostly abandoned, except for cows, the occasional tractor and Asa, who sometimes liked to drive at night when he couldn’t sleep.He was only 14 years old and he didn’t want to risk being pulled over on 44, so he took White Bridge.Most of the officers in town would understand his situation; there were millions of kids like him — both parents dead with no one to look after them.The Wolf Flu had swept through the states so fast that the public social services didn’t have a chance to sort all the kids out into foster homes [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]