Word Count: 1,100
Once we had calmed Mum down enough to have a rational conversation, it was approaching midnight. Were the camps open this late? More importantly, how were we going to get there? There weren't exactly going to be any buses running. It was too far to go on foot and truth be told I wasn't sure how much longer Dad was gonna be okay for. The thought had entered my mind a million times since he had told me the news and it was an awful, inconsolable thought. How was I going to cope without my Dad?
No Joe, my mind scolded me. Don't think like that. He's going to be okay.
Mum was holding herself together fairly well but I knew all she wanted to do was break down.
A flash of pain darted across Dad's features just for a split second. He tried to hide it but it was too late. We had both seen it. I suddenly couldn't hold it together anymore and burst into a set fresh of tears. They both pulled me into a hug, held me close and told me everything was going to be fine. Why do parents lie like that? They soothed me and hushed me until I was fresh out of tears. My body instead decided to make these pathetic little choking noises and I was overcome with a bout of wet hiccups. It may have been a little comical any other time but right now it just felt absolutely awful.
A loud bang from downstairs made us all jump. We froze.
Another bang followed by an angry cry. Someone was shouting downstairs.
Dad went over to the door and opened it slightly. A voice drifted up the stairs. 'Do you all wanna fucking die or something?'
Someone was shooting. Holy shit.
'Someone has a gun!' I couldn't help the fear I felt then. What was to stop them shooting everyone in the hotel?
'Do you think it's the authorities? They did say this thing was now contained.' Mum was hopeful. 'Maybe they're gonna help you David. They'll take you to the refugee camps.'
Dad rubbed his wrist, which was now covered in bandages. 'Hopefully. Although I can't help but think that the authorities don't usually tend to speak like that, do they?'
'What should we do?'
'Normally I'd say wait here but...'
Mum gasped. 'You can't possibly think of going out there? Again? David no.'
'Look, maybe he knows what's going on, okay? He has a gun, obviously. That offers some form of protection.'
'Fine but you're not going alone,' Mum was adamant. 'Joe you can w-'
'No. If you're both going so am I. You think I'm just gonna stay in this dingy room again? You're sadly mistaken.'
'Dingy room? We paid a lot of money for this,' Dad feigned offence. It almost cheered me up a little. 'Okay. But stick together alright?' Dad crept out of the hotel room and we followed.
The light from earlier was still off and it swung uselessly from the ceiling. Nobody else had emerged from their rooms; it felt like a ghost hotel. I wondered why nobody had come to see what the commotion was about but then it occurred to me that they had probably gone home. The car park was relatively empty. Who'd want to spend what could be their final days in a hotel?
We came to the first flight of stairs and braced ourselves. Nobody was there though. Even the shooting had stopped.
'It was coming from the lobby,' Mum whispered, pointing a finger in the direction of the doors.
Descending the stairs seemed to take forever. We didn't come across anyone else, dead or alive. There was a funny smell drifting through the air though, a tangy metallic smell.
Eventually we made it, all in one piece and all so braced for attack that any sound was going to send us ten feet into the air. Every now and then I'd cast a surreptitious glance in Dad's direction and when he thought no one was looking, his features would twist in pain and he'd draw in a sharp breath. I felt so utterly useless, at such a loss for how to help him. What was going to happen to him? Was he really going to die? Was I about to lose my father?
Another pop from a gun, sure enough, did send us into the air. I fell back into the wall, smacking a shoulder blade at an awkward angle. It was much louder up close and I wondered if the person behind it knew how much attention he - or she - was drawing.
I couldn't see anything from where I was stood. The reception looked like an absolute mess though.
The desk had been upturned and there was a bloodied handprint smeared against the wall. I fought off a roll of nausea and forced myself to look away. Not before I saw the foot poking from behind the desk though.
The next few moments were spent trying to muster up the courage to go through the doors. We didn't know what would be on the other side; some crazy gun-toting maniac or a horde of biters, like the woman from earlier? I wasn't sure which one I would prefer to face. I suppose death by bullet would be quicker than being eaten alive.
Dad opened the lobby doors and we all shuffled inside. There was no one in the lobby; the shooting was coming from one of the bedrooms on the ground floor. A terrible moaning sound filled the air and it took every ounce of willpower not to go running back up the stairs back into the safety of the hotel room. This gun-toting maniac may be our ticket out of here, the ticket to dad's cure. I couldn't leave without knowing for sure.
We continued on through the lobby and down the other corridor with all the ground floor rooms lined up on either side. It was the door at the end that was open ajar. There was darkness inside but another bang of gunfire told us the person was definitely inside. How many biters were there?
Dad continued to lead the way, right up to the door and he pressed it open.
A dark figure stood in the middle of the room pointing at a smashed open window with his gun where a handful of things reached through, trying to grab at him. They weren't human though, they were something else entirely.
The stranger seemed to notice us and turned his gun on us all.