Part 3, Chapters 27 Summary
Gladney goes for his second medical checkup since the airborne toxic event and for the second time is pronounced healthy; evidently the “death is too deep to be glimpsed.” On his drive home, he is stopped because the street is closed for a disaster simulation; one of the workers explains that since Gladney is in the exposure path, he is now dead. Nearly two dozen volunteer victims are in various poses of distress, and Gladney is shocked to see Steffie among them. Steffie is a model victim—too good, in Gladney’s mind, for he can hardly bear to look at her. She wants Gladney to leave before she gets in trouble for talking to him. Steffie has always been devout in her victimhood.
A man’s voice is booming from inside the supermarket, welcoming everyone to this advanced disaster drill; he compares unplanned disasters to carrying an umbrella every day for weeks but leaving it home on the day it pours. This drill should help disaster workers stay prepared for the next inevitability.
The voice explains that today’s simulation is not for any particular leak or spillage; he reminds them that if a real incident occurs there will be no help. This is only a simulation. The more they practice something, “the less likely it is to actually happen.”
The first blasts of the sirens begin just as Gladney reaches his house. Heinrich and an older boy are on the porch; Heinrich has a clipboard and says he is a street captain. After Heinrich introduces his friend as Orest Mercator, Gladney asks Mercator why he is so willing to risk his life for a few lines in a book, Mercator says the deadly snakes are the best at what they do and he wants to be the best at what he does. He will have to sit for sixty-eight days to break the record and does not believe he will get bitten. Gladney is just as certain he will be...
(The entire section is 504 words.)