Word Count: 1372
The next thing any of us heard about this outbreak was that there was a drugs trial being run in just about every major city across the US because so many people had died. Of course that meant risking spreading the disease faster. Talk about smart moves.
Still, with all the bird flu round number two rumours going around, the only steady income we were left with was the drugs. And even that was going downhill. One guy who came back every night complained of a fever in the den, and died a few hours later. I mean, we ignored the hallucinations he was having because y’know, the guy was a fucking junkie; everyone in that room was tripping balls. But someone had shared a needle with him, see, and she died too.
We dragged their bodies out into an alley and left them there. We weren’t to know they were gonna fucking come back to life as zombies. Looking back on it now that was a really fucking stupid thing to do, but we weren’t the only ones. They stayed as corpses for a long time in the beginning. No one knew that they came back. If they knew in Atlanta, they weren’t telling anyone.
Anyway, total blinding rage towards the CDC for destroying life as we knew it aside, these trial clinics were set up everywhere and they were offering a pretty hefty amount of money to get anyone and everyone to sign up and take part. So I went for it. Rayn stayed behind and made what little he could out of the diehard gamblers. I went out to the St Mary's Regional Medical Center and signed myself up. The paperwork was tedious, and humiliating. I had to get someone to read it to me so I could answer the questions and they could fill it in for me. I spent most of that day cursing my parents for never making me go to school when I should've done.
Anyway, they put most of us up in little dorms. They tried to separate the addicts from each other, I think, because after the first day, we were all climbing the walls and screaming for a fucking hit. It was like some kind of fucked up torture. Sure they gave us our hits, but it wasn't what we wanted when we wanted it. A few of them ran away before the trials started, or quit, or got kicked out for fighting.
There was this one girl that just sat there through it all, same way I did. They kept us together for a while, in a dorm with a couple other people our age. We didn't talk much, neither of us was really in any sort of state to hold a conversation.
We sweated and cried and bled and puked and shook together, but the doctors only really had us there to find out what effect the virus and their trial vaccines had on people with various drugs in our systems. This girl, Kat, she was just a straight up heroin addict. I was the one that took whatever I had on me at the time. I think they considered me the most fucked up one there. I had seen worse than me, but they didn't seem to care much. I was just their guinea pig.
See, most companies would test a vaccine extensively on small mammals before humans, but they didn't have time with this one. It was just straight from test tube to human, and nothing they found seemed to be working because there were so many people in the test rooms that died in front of me.
There were so many test subjects that instead of like, individual trials where we were all looked after separately, we were just stuck on wards together during the day and sent back to our dorms at night. Some people would go to the ward in the day and someone else would fill their bed that night.
"How're you feeling today, Mr Morgan?" the nurse on my ward that day asked. It was an empty question, she didn't care if I answered or not.
"Like shit," I answered anyway, "I need a hit." She took my temperature and compared it with something she'd written down on Kat's chart.
"Well, I think that would be an excellent idea. I can't get an accurate reading of your temperature with you like this," she smiled, walking off. She was wearing white scrubs on a white ward. She disappeared the moment she wasn't directly in front of me anymore.
I sat there waiting. All I could hear was my own heartbeat, all I could feel was the sweat beading at my temples. All I was aware of was how my body felt like it was falling apart and I had no idea if I was dying of the virus they'd pumped me with or if it was just withdrawals. Maybe they hadn't even given me anything yet, just a placebo, and this was just what coming off drugs was like. I didn't know, I'd never had to do it before.
It felt like she'd taken hours. I was just lying there, trying to keep down the crappy breakfast they'd given me that morning. Finally, she came back and propped me up with a couple more pillows, tying off my arm.
The new angle afforded me a view of Kat's bed next to mine. She didn't look so good.
"Is Kat okay?" I asked, ignoring the nurse pushing the air bubbles out of the needle.
"Kat. Is she okay? She looks like she's dead, is she dead?" I'd already seen about six people die, five in the wards, one in my goddamn dorm. All the bodies were taken away before we saw what happened to them. I guess they knew it would cause a panic. She looked over at Kat, and in that moment, Kat took in this deep, gasping breath like she'd just woken up from a bad dream. She looked like normal again when she moved and so we both went back to ignoring her, and I was far more interested in the hit I was about to get.
Only Kat wasn't back to fucking normal, was she? She sat up in her bed, sniffed at the air the same way a predator would sniff out its prey in the wild and decided the nurse was the one to go for. The orderlies at the door didn't notice what was going on until this thing that wasn't Kat anymore had a hold of the nurse, who was screaming like nothing I'd ever heard before. Kat took a chunk out of this nurse's neck before the orderlies got to her.
I never saw either of them again, but I was suddenly fucking scared. What had I gotten myself into? I couldn't get out, because I'd already been tested on, and I couldn't have put up a fight even if I'd wanted to because I was high as a kite and tripping out from whatever cocktail of drugs she'd given me.
When I woke up, I was in my dorm room, but I was on my own. I tried to get out, only the door was locked. The orderly outside jerked awake and let me out.
"What's going on?" I asked groggily. Everything was so bright. Too white, y'know?
"You flipped out after what you saw in the ward. You refused to share a dorm with anyone in case their vaccine didn't work and someone died in the night and came back to eat you," he said in an amused voice. He sounded amused anyway, but he had that flat look of reciting a line someone had told him to. I narrowed my eyes. "You were just hallucinating from the drugs, Mr Morgan, nothing happened in that ward today."
"Kat died though, didn't she?" my tone was more than suspicious.
"Yes," he relented, "but what you saw afterwards was just a projection of fears," he told me calmly, with that same bland look. "Nothing happened in that ward but you having some kind of mental break down."
"Let me see that nurse, then," I challenged.