Purgatory

Their tents and knickknacks looked like a ghost town from far away. Not a real ghost town, but one set up on cheap cardboard like an elementary school diorama. It was all fake. It was funny the way they grasped at what they could, tried to make the place look like home, and only made it look like a haunted beachhead.

What's the goddamn point? Sawyer trudged through the brush, nearly whacked his head on some damn fern or beach tree, broke so many branches beneath that all he could think of was playing cowboys and Indians with some kids from the neighborhood, before his parents' incident, and how they all tried their damnedest to be still when they were killed but were as noisy as anything, rustling on branches and leaves. That was what the crash survivors were doing here, too, and they were just as loud.

"It looks like a necropolis, doesn't it, James?"

Four-dollar words, and Sawyer's real name. He knew who it was. He also knew damn well what a necropolis was. He humored Locke, though. "Huh?"

Locke's hand ran over his bald head. "A city of the dead. From the Greek. Ancient cultures buried their dead in groups outside the city limits, so the living wouldn't get sick."

"And we're outside of the limits of civilization, in a group – "

"– So we won't get sick."

"And we do anyway," Sawyer replied. "Maybe we're here so we won't make the rest of the world sick. You think?" Locke was silent. Sawyer noted a sudden tenseness, as if the bald man now doubted his own theory. He couldn't resist a smile, although his face felt numb. He walked on, his feet floating, his body feeling weightless.