A preview of Infected: Throwaways

This is the brief bit I read at Read With Pride. So if you couldn’t be there, this is what you missed from me.

Burn was one of those people Holden liked to think of as liminal: everybody knew him, and at the same time, nobody knew him. He was a ghost of a man who hadn’t yet died.
And that was the way he liked it. Hard to catch a ghost. It seemed like someone finally had, though.
As far as Holden knew, Burn had no family, here or anywhere. He was a man without a country, a home, a basic understanding of dental hygiene. All that was generally known about him was that his appetite for drugs was bottomless, and if you needed something questionable fast—untraceable gun, pharmaceuticals, car of dubious provenance—he was the guy to see. He’d been around since Holden had started his life on the streets. Burn could be found at the dirtiest bar in town, swilling cut-rate hooch at a back booth, dealing drugs in the filthy men’s room. He was the man your parents warned you about, no matter who your parents were. He was a tragedy and a warning at the same time.
That was about all Holden really knew about him. He knew Burn’d done time, but he didn’t know what for. He knew he’d taken to meth recently, but only because of the chemical smell he gave off and the sad state of his teeth. Holden knew he went missing for days, sometimes weeks or even months, but he always popped back up, and nothing was ever said about it. Except for this time. This time, his disappearance was a prelude to his death.
Kevin told him where to find the morgue, and Holden didn’t have the heart to tell him that he already knew where it was. He was quite familiar with it. It wouldn’t be his first time visiting the place, and given the circles he ran in, not the last either. Holden was now glad he’d quoted Dahlia such a late time, as this probably wouldn’t be a quick jaunt.
The morgue was an unobtrusive building downtown, so desperately anonymous you knew it was trying to hide something. Some wag had spray-painted on a neighboring building Don’t Open, Dead Inside. They deserved points for general humor, but some had to be deducted for the obvious cultural reference.
Inside, it was air conditioned to death—no pun intended—sterile, and smelled mostly of toner and coffee, like any other office. The hallways were long and bland, purely industrial, clinging to normalcy as a counterbalance to its grim reality. A receptionist along the way pointed him in the right direction, and Holden knew he was in the right place when he saw Kevin Robinson.
Kevin was a chunky cop in his dress blues, with the same hangdog expression he always seemed to wear. Holden was reasonably certain he was born with that expression on his face. He also had the bone-deep weariness that suggested he was halfway done with the world and all its shittiness, which was a state Holden had reached roughly fifteen years ago. You didn’t become the gay Punisher because you thought people and the world were ever going to get better.
Kevin nodded upon seeing him and gave a high sign to a medical technician, who apparently unlocked a door for them before Holden followed Kevin into a room full of body drawers. Holden wondered briefly at the security for an area devoted to corpses, but what was that about people being shitty? Hell, they stole some of Roan’s and Paris’s blood samples from a lab, all to infect new people. For the millionth year in a row, humans proved themselves to be the absolute worst.

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