Chapter 5: Reunion
The day had finally come. All of the 4400 had finally been released from quarantine. Patrick had hardly slept the night before which mostly happened when he tried to sleep on Christmas Eve but he was more excited to see his mom again than opening Christmas presents.
"Good luck." Said the NTAC agent behind the counter. Patrick collected from him the packet of information and vouchers prepared for him by the NTAC team responsible for processing the 4400s' release. On top of the packet was a laminated blue card and matching lanyard, and on the card in bold white print was his quarantine number: 4125. Families or close friends of individual returnees-thousands of whom were at this moment waiting outside the NTAC building or even inside the reception lobby-had been given a matching card in the hopes of facilitating reunions. Patrick thanked the NTAC agent and stepped out the line and waited for Xavier, Antione, and Samantha to receive their packets before the four of them happily walked out of the quarantine center. When they reached the lobby they noticed where armed NTAC agents in paramilitary uniforms stood near the row of glass doors, controlling access to and from the building. Within the high-ceilinged foyer, dozens of people in groups of varying sizes were greeting returnees.
"Look there they are!" Said Antione pointing. All three of their mothers who were sisters stood several feet away waving at them. (The oldest Gloria Green was Patrick and Samantha's mother. The next was Jacqueline Cornish who was Antione's mother and the youngest was Jenny Green who was Xavier's mother.) The of them rushed through the crowd and immediately were hugged and kissed by their mothers. After a few minutes the group decided leave the lobby making their way through the last door leaving behind the place where they had been trapped for six weeks. Once they finally reached outside a throng of people crowded the front lawn of the NTAC office complex, with returnees as well as family and friends engaging in their own reunions. A row of police officers manned a barricade at the outer edge of the lawn, beyond which stood others-representatives of media outlets from around the country and even the world as well as hundreds of interested onlookers who had just come down to see what all the fuss was about.
"Are we staying at a hotel?" Asked Patrick.
"No we're leaving right now." Gloria said. There's a bus taking us to the airport.
After being interviews by a CNN reporter the family managed to get through the crowd and board a bus filled with other returnees and their families. Patrick looked out the windows as the bus drove away. He was glad to see quarantine moving farther away as they were returning home.