Word Count: 1,540
I had decapitated and slaughtered maybe half a dozen zombies before their groaning multiplied. I looked round to see more shambling figures pouring in through the parking lot, becoming attracted to the scent of human flesh maybe and increasingly animated at the sight of their meal in front of them. By this point, blood was covering me head to toe and my limbs were beginning to tire. I wasn’t sure how much ammo I had left and knew it was time to call it a night.
I darted in the opposite direction of where I had come out and sprinted to another hospital entrance. Hopefully it wouldn’t be obstructed in any way. A quick glance over my shoulder told me they weren’t exactly in hot pursuit but they weren’t lagging behind either. I had been meaning to go through the double glass doors but didn’t realize until I got there that they were locked. Shit!
I didn’t waste any time in trying to find another way in. If I smashed the doors down not only would the sound attract them, it’d also leave one large entrance for them to walk right into. We’d be sitting ducks, holed up in the room waiting for them to sniff us out. Instead, I carried on running right round the side of the building until I reached a small estate full of houses for where I assumed the emergency doctors and nurses could live in. The horde followed me, thankfully there were no ‘sprinters’ among the crowd, but I was seriously beginning to tire.
Making a sudden dash to the left, I found myself in an abandoned section of the hospital. There were some planks of wood covering a large-ish gap that I could squeeze into. Crouching low, I tried to slip between the planks. A stray nail snagged on my shirt, tearing a hole straight through it. Once inside though, I hid in the darkness, waiting for them to either pass or hunt me out.
My shoulder blade was digging into something sharp and my lungs gasped for air. I tried to remain quiet and still, but the blood thumping in my ears felt like it was a neon sign directing all the undead to my exact location. For a few minutes I couldn’t hear or see anything and I wondered if they had lost me altogether.
Risking a peek through the narrow slit between the planks, I looked both left and right. The latter provided no clues, but when I checked the other way I saw the first zombie shuffling along. Ducking back in, I sunk to the floor and tried to make myself invisible. It felt like an absolute lifetime before the groans reached my ears and the horde was right outside. I was certain they could smell my fear, or hear my pounding heart or see my shaking body hunched tight. I watched their feet, tattered shoes and sliced skin lug past the small cavity in which I was hiding.
I was going to die; these were going to be my final moments: trapped like a demented animal. I began saying a quick prayer and goodbye to my parents, so lost and wrapped up in what I assumed were going to be my last ever thoughts, that I didn’t even notice they had all passed. It was only when the groaning ceased altogether that I allowed myself to believe I had survived.
I poked my head out and was greeted with desolation. The relief was crippling.
It felt good to stretch out back in the open but I wasn’t foolish enough to hang around. Keeping pressed to the side, I jogged lightly back the way I had come, knife at the ready until I found myself beside the upturned van again. The journey back was uneventful, thankfully and soon enough I was inside the hospital.
My body sagged and my arm relaxed.
The figure came out of nowhere. I don’t even really know what happened: one minute I was allowing myself to feel hope that I’d be okay and the next I was wrestling a creature on the ground. His body pinned me to the floor and his teeth were snapping dangerously close to my jugular. The knife had fallen out of my grip during the struggle and no matter how far I tried to reach; my outstretched fingers couldn’t find it. My only other option was the gun and I prayed with all my might that there’d be at least one bullet left in there.
My arm was the only thing that was keeping its lethal bite at bay. If I got ambushed by anymore zombie’s right then I knew for certain I’d die.
I shoved the creature backwards, using the opportunity to reach for my gun. By the time its face came back down I had the nozzle pointed in its mouth. It snarled at me one last time before I pulled the trigger. The bang was deafening and I was greeted with a shower of zombie brains and blood.
Stupid, I couldn’t let myself relax like that again. I had slipped up, carelessly allowed myself to feel relief. I was beginning to learn that relief wasn’t something we could afford anymore.
Shoving the re-dead corpse off me, I stood up and speculated how dirty I was. I absolutely stunk as well. I definitely needed another shower and a fresh change of clothes.
Despite the fact that I had killed a handful of zombies, my spirits were low. I had nearly been killed twice in the space of fifteen minutes. Maybe that wasn’t unusual anymore though.
When I got back to the staff room Cancer and I were camping in, I found him lying down, and staring at the third mattress he had brought through. It was obviously for Rayn.
‘How are you feeling?’ I asked, already knowing what his answer would be. I began collecting up some spare clothes.
‘Good,’ he mumbled. ‘You?’
‘I just killed a handful of zombies that were roaming in the car park.’ I knew he wasn’t listening but I just wanted to say the words out loud, to acknowledge that I had done well. ‘I only managed about half a dozen before some more came along. I managed to give them the slip.’
I couldn’t help the frustrated sigh I let out as I wandered off to have another hot shower. The hospital had a couple of generators that we were using for emergencies only, but I figured this counted as an emergency. It was nice to spend a few moments to myself that didn’t involve looking after Cancer or fighting dead things. For a blissfully long time I let the water run over the body, washing away the blood and stress. I felt the heat seep through me, right through to my bones.
The new clothes felt delightful against my skin, one of the small things I used to take for granted.
I stopped off at the gift shop to pick up a couple of books and some snacks. It was, thankfully, zombie free. I was careful to choose food that wouldn’t waste. The book selection however I didn’t really care. I just needed to divulge in some literature.
Cancer was still asleep when I got back and I settled down on the mattress, not wanting to shut my eyes.
I was reading, but I wasn’t really taking in any of the words. My mind instead insisted on giving me an entire rundown of the day. I didn’t want it to, but I didn’t really seem to have a say in the matter.
Cancer stirred sometime later and rolled off his mattress. I heard him say Rayn’s name and something about finding morphine. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at how pathetic he was.
Eventually he decided to look for some morphine himself, but I noticed he didn’t take his gun with him. He might have had a knife but the guy probably had a death wish anyway. He didn’t seem to be paying too much attention right now, he was out of it.
I forced myself to read five more pages before I sunk my head in my hands. ‘This is gonna be hard work.’
‘What’s hard work?’ Cancer’s voice came from the door, holding a box of something.
I jumped slightly. ‘Just this whole situation.’
‘You could’ve just stayed at the camp, y’know.’ He shook a couple of pills out the box and swallowed them.
I frowned. ‘The camp wouldn’t have made it any better. We’d still be in the middle of an apocalypse.’
‘You’d be with “normal people”,’ he replied, collapsing back onto the mattress.
‘People who don’t go on shooting sprees?’ I said it lightly, trying to make a poor joke out of a terrible situation.
He glanced over at me. ‘Something like that.’
I put the book down and turned to face him. ‘It’s the drugs, you know.’
‘The hallucinations and the way you’re feeling now.’
‘I’m not hallucinating I’m fine.’
He was so far from fine the word itself was probably a foreign concept to him. How the hell was I going to go about telling him this though?