I wake up feeling like crap. I try to suck in a breath of air but something is crushing my chest. Heaving the weight off of me I try to open my eyes; they're stuck closed. I keep trying and feel something crumble.
Struggling to my feet I start moving around with my arms stretched out as I continue trying to unglue my eyelids. Panic washes through me, I rush forward in an attempt to escape this place... and end up flying face first to the floor.
Yep, great idea. I think. Run when you're blind, arsehole.
I reach out to find out what I hit. Feels like... a hospital bed.
Why can't I remember?
Lifting myself up, I stumble slightly, realising I'm starving does nothing for my mood; I can hardly think of anything else.
I walk forward - straight into a wall. Feeling my way along it I find a doorway.
That's a start.
I run along the hall in a state of alarm.
More corridors - oh no.
This hospital has never seemed larger. Stopping; I take a deep breath. He said to make for the roof. The soldiers are coming for me.
His last words. I sob.
I look at my hands; in one I hold a pistol - it looks so large in my small hands; in the other I hold a bag full of phials. The phials contain the cure, the answer to the disease ravaging my city.
Doctor Campbell gave his life to protect this; and me. I have to make it out.
That thought calms me and focuses my mind. I know where to go now.
Running, east along the corridor. Then left, heading North. Then right and back to heading East. Twenty metres to go.
A loud communal groan and shuffling of feet announces the presence of the infected; between me and the stairs.
"Oh god," I whimper.
I wander through the doorway and some more of whatever is holding my eyelids shut crumbles away. I can see. Very little but better than nothing.
The hallway is complete carnage.
What the hell happened here?
I pick my way along the corridor, tripping over discarded equipment and... bodyparts.
What the fu...
Confused, I look only for a way out. I find some stairs. My instinct says up; so that's where I go.
I bounce off the banisters and white-washed walls like some kind of fucked up game of pinball. I am so hungry - all I can think of is eating. My skin burns and itches at the same time.
The door to the next floor up is blocked off. I keep going.
Up. Up. Up.
I crash through the door to what I guess is the fifth floor. More gunk falls away from my eyes. I blink steadily as the light blinds me. Stepping further in to the corridor I freeze.
A large group of people swaying and groaning and shuffling aimlessly is now between myself and the place my instinct is telling me to go. I tentatively walk forward, very slowly. Shuffling like they do. A groan near at hand, a groan rips from me in auto-response. They look rotten. They're nearly all covered in blood.
They're buying it; they think I'm one of them. Another groan nearby, seemingly answered by one slightly further away.
Echo-location? My treachorous mind tries to make me chuckle at the thought.
I make it by them and keep heading onward along the hall passing a few doors; only one of them is closed.
I stop running and can think only of hiding. Spotting a door still on its hinges I make my way - quickly - towards it. I close it behind me and barricade it with a nearby cupboard.
Finding a dark corner I slip to the floor and hold my breath - my heart slows - I exhale calmly. I begin thinking; wondering how this all went to hell so quickly.
One minute; the doctor is excited that the cure is working; the next - a hospital porter is chewing on his neck.
"Run, Sarah, run. Make for the roof... soldiers coming... take the cure."
For the first time since it happened, I cry at the memory. Clenching my hand, I remember the pistol. I pull back the chamber to check there's a round loaded - there is. I check the magazine and then make sure the spares are easily-accessable.
Something shuffles by, just outside the door of my hiding place.
I wait five minutes to be sure it's gone, then pull the cupboard away from the door.
Gripping the gun I thumb the safety switch off.
Thank you, Daddy. I think as I look skyward. Never thought I'd be grateful for all the trips to the firing range.
He always said:
"I know you hate this, gorgeous, but you'll thank me when one o' them zombie apocsolypsis' happens."
"Well, you were right, dad; I thought you were bat-shit crazy but you were right."
I shake my head to clear the memory and raising the pistol, I open the door and step quickly in to the hall.
Along the corridor I go. Around the corner - heading South this time - I know the stairs are close. The corridor widens and the stairway is in sight.
So are the infected.
Clamping down my panic I take aim and fire. The bullet rips its way into my target's brain.
One down; Seven to go.
I continue rapidly aiming and firing. Soon, all the infected between me and the stairway are dead - again.
Hearing lumbering footsteps from behind me I turn and aim.
Recognition dawns; I hesitate.
I turn to the right, following the hallway which seems to be squint because I keep hitting the walls. There's blood and offal everywhere.
A gunshot rings out behind me. Then another. I follow my instincts which lead me back the way I came.
Moving as fast as I can, I hear another shot ring out. I'm getting closer. Relief floods my mind; I'm not the only one alive. I push myself harder and turn another corner.
More shots echo round me. Then I see her.
She swings round - aiming at me. There is something very familiar about her.
Sarah. My subconscious screams at me. Yes, that's it.
I run towards her; so relieved.
Sarah, it's me. I try to say but my voice won't work. I just grunt.
She seems to hesitate.
Sarah, it's me; please don't shoot. It's me. I try to send this message with my eyes. I say it over and over and over in my mind; trying to make her see I am not one of them.
I continue to say it in my mind as I collide with her. I continue to say it as my teeth sink into her neck. I continue to say it as her warm, soft, juicy flesh momentarily quenches my raging hunger.
"Sir, we need to leave."
"... but the cure?" I reply.
The Sergeant tilts his head and I picture the compassionate expression behind his respirator - he knows I was born and raised here.
"The Brass have already activated the Isolation Protocol. You know what comes next, Sir."
"Annihilation." I mumble.
Realising he is right, I give the order to fall-back to the chopper.
"What about survivors?" I ask him as we climb aboard the helicopter.
"There won't be any." Came the whispered reply.
© Copyright 2016 M K Brown. All rights reserved.