They handed each of us one at the door. We were expected to pause on the threshold, holding up the line, to don the masks before we proceeded inside. I put my own on upside down in the rush to clear the way for those who would enter behind me.
“You must wear your mask at all times,” instructed a voice over the intercom. The voice, though calm, sounded more intense concentrated in the chute of a hallway they drove us through. Only a minute or two on and the air I was breathing in had become uncomfortably hot. I followed close behind the man in a brown jacket who’d gone in just before me, trying to concentrate on him long enough to make it out of the cramped conditions.
“Once all evacuees have been screened for diseases, you will be permitted to remove your masks. Please wear them until that time.”
I reached up to pinch the mask, to pull it away from my mouth enough to get a deep breath. All I needed was one good breath, and I could make it through. The tide of bodies pressed me onward as I strained for breath.