Authors: Ricky Cooper
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
Central Middlesex Hospital
Janet watched as the woman pushed herself tighter and tighter into the corner, the screams of the Sco19 officer slipping through the halls rending the last of her tattered psyche to shreds.
Kevin had a hand clamped tightly over the mouths of the two children he held in his lap, their prepubescent arms wrapped about his slim middle. A soft shushing emanated from him as he watched the blurred, shadowed wraith on the other side of the frosted glass. The hushed feral, almost primal sniffing echoed through the now empty corridors as it ferreted out its prey. A small squeak issued forth from Maria as Janet pulled herself away from the slowly encroaching pool of viscous blood creeping its way towards her.
The silence was broken by a soft, almost gentle sound. Janet glanced up at the window, the figure now gone. Her brow furrowed deeply as the sound grew. It coalesced into a soft roar as it slowly inched its way towards the cowering clutch. Setting Maria down as gently as possible, she watched for any sign from the blissfully unaware form that she was about to stir, then once satiated, she leant her head to the floor and peered over the red mire.
The glistening pool of shimmering red reflected a sight that she wished could be purged from her mind the moment she saw it.
Roysten, the forty-three year old senior nurse, was knelt, his staff shirt stained a russet red in the steaming, rapidly congealing pool emanating from the dismembered remains. His tongue slipped over his lips as he sucked the life-giving fluid from the linoleum tiles; he sucked greedily at the still warm fluid as it slid over his chin and fell in a pattering rain only to return again as he ventured forth. Snatches of sinew clung to his balding scalp as he leant down, his head seemingly swallowed by the hollowed remains of another hospital worker.
The corpse's face, too decimated to be recognisable, stared at the ceiling, its jaw locked open in a scream that would forever echo in eternity. A dull glow emanated from its mouth as Roysten dove once again, pushing aside the veil of offal and organ matter.
The former nurse paused momentarily; his head cocked to one side as his eyes shone with confusion. Reaching in, his torn and twisted nails scraped at the inside of his own mouth before returning with the offending object. The small steel slither glimmered in the harsh halogen light as he pulled the pin from the side of his mouth. Staring at it, he momentarily sucked on the steel needle before casting it aside and diving once more into his liquid feast.
Janet slowly pushed herself upright. Her face was an incomprehensible mask as she once more picked up Maria and cradled her child. Kevin stared at her for any sign or inclination as to what she had seen as Janet slowly began to rock back and forth, her knees pulled up tight together as sheltered her sleeping child. The woman in the corner began to groan, her low-pitched mewling whine echoing through the dank quiet of the room.
Kevin looked at her and growled a low, semi-muffled curse.
'Shut the fuck up, you bimbo; want to get us all killed?'
Her head lolled like a cut marionette. The line of speckled saliva hanging from her lips made the children in Kevin's grip squirm and cry in fear. Their hot tears cascaded over his fingers as he hurriedly pushed them behind him and told them to be quiet. Stroking their hair, he looked down into two very frightened faces.
'Hush now, it's going to be fine. I promise.'
The children gazed up at him, their faces full of fear and insecure trust in the man before them.
'Kevin, what are you doing?'
Janet had stood, fishing a heavy-grade cardboard box from a shelf and settling Maria on top of the pile of sterile white blankets within it before pushing the sleeping babe onto a shelf just above her head.
'What I have to.'
The whole conversation had taken place in a whispered instant as he crossed the seven feet to the woman and knelt in front of her. Her moaning grew in frequency and pitch the closer he drew. Stuffing his morals and Hippocratic Oath into a box, he reached forwards, placing a hand on the woman's chin and one behind her head.
He tilted her head back and gazed at her eyes. The glassy, dilated pupils and blood-tinged whites told him all he needed to know. In a sudden and vicious move, he severed her spine. The audible crunch of shattering cartilage was muffled by his body and arms as he all but set her head in reverse.
Relinquishing his hold on her head, he watched her body slide sideways. With a gentle care shown only to those destined to die, he lay her out on the floor, resting her now disconnected head on one folded arm.
Turning to the children in the corner, he smiled. Lifting one extended finger, he pressed it to his pursed lips, and then pointed to the woman on the floor.
Both children nodded and continued to huddle in the corner. Turning to Janet, he flicked his gaze to the door then back to the woman; in a slow and deliberate motion, he tapped the bottoms of his eyelids. The silent signal told her all she needed to know. The woman had somehow contracted the virus. Mouthing a thank you, Janet stood once more and stretched, pulling the box containing her infant daughter from the shelf and setting it gently on the floor.
Kevin reached out, shifting the now dead woman slightly and searched any exposed areas of skin. Lifting the tight ringlets of hair from the back of her neck, his gaze alighted on six viciously deep and angry-looking welts; the oozing and broken dermis was a livid blue-tinged red. Letting them fall back into place, he stood and sat down next to the two children again.
Looking around him, he took stock of the contents of the small utility room and smiled. He turned his gaze to the youngest of the pair. 'Want to play a game?'
The girl nodded, her blonde bob bouncing as she demonstrated her enthusiasm.
'Okay, I want both of you, while sitting here, to look around the room and find as many things beginning with the letter M as you can.'
The children grinned, their slight fidgeting forms diligently scanning the room for anything with the letter M printed on its surface.
Their eyes peered with an innate level of curiosity only known by the young—the ones who thirst for the unknown and the sense of wonder anything new brings. Kirsty sat with her hands curled beneath her buttocks and her legs folded under her. Her bottom lip curled over her lower teeth as she gently chewed at it in intense concentration. Thoughts of their missing parents were pushed aside for the moment as the children gazed about them in search of their wayward letter.
Kevin slipped across the room, hunched over like a demented crab. His trainer-covered feet uttered the slightest of squeaks as he pushed himself into a sitting position next to his fellow physician. Janet leant over, whispering from the corner of her mouth as she watched the shadow image playing across the floor, its flat ghost-like form slipping over her feet as it wormed its way under the door.
'How'd she contract it?'
Kevin's face dropped, his head falling backwards into the stack of plastic containers; liquid sloshed against the sides of the ten-litre jug. It made him shiver slightly as the cold filtered through the semi-transparent surface. His brow furrowed as he turned and looked at the jugs behind him. The industrial cleaner shimmered in the low light as it rocked back and forth, trapped inside its plastic prison.
The printed label pasted across its flat, lifeless surface made him cringe. His eyes roamed its glossed surface as he took in the coloured symbols before him. The small yellow circle made his eyes widen slightly as he looked at the hand inside it, the small test-tube suspended over it, and the droplets falling towards the black silhouette, slowly eating their way through its shadowed form.
The words burned themselves into his eyes as he read them.
. Scooting over, he made Janet frown as he forced her to move. Maria whimpered from within her cardboard cot, her small form squirming against the bundles of plastic-wrapped cotton. Janet's soft voice rolled its way over the small bundle of softly gurgling life as she gently stroked the silken strands of her daughter's hair. Janet smiled as her hand passed over the smooth, warm skin of her daughter's head.
'There were small lacerations to the back of her neck, just below the base of her neck, and running down between her shoulder blades.'
His whispered words sent a small shiver down Janet's spine as she glanced at the children, still diligently searching the room.
'They going to find anything with an M on it?'
Kevin smiled at Janet's question, a sly grin forming on his aquiline features. 'Nope; nothing in here with an M on it.'
Despite the situation and the noises filtering their way through the door, Janet found herself chuckling at the naivety of the two children. Her head cocked to the side in a moment of clarity as she gazed at the slim form of the girl.
The child turned and looked at Janet, her deep brown eyes locking on to her own as the young waif gazed at her with a look of fearful questioning.
Her voice was demure as she stared at Janet, her fingers plucking at the hem of her loose-knit woollen jumper. The bunched curls of coloured yarn were stained with crusted spots of drying blood. Her eyes betrayed her mounting fear as one small finger picked at the scabrous encrustation that clung to the hem of her jumper.
The flakes of dried blood fluttered free as her peach-coloured nail picked at it; lifting her fingers, she moved the encrusted nail towards her lips intent on ferreting out the clotted life's fluid from beneath her nail.
With the reflexes of a steroid-infused cobra, Janet lunged, seizing the girl's wrist. The extended finger was mere millimetres from her mouth. Lucy stared at the woman clutching her wrist with a terrified mix of confusion and pain as Janet slowly pulled her hand away from its former destination.
'Now, sweetie, you know that's not a nice thing to do. You don't know what you have gotten on that jumper; come with me and we will get it all cleaned off, okay?'
The girl began to pull away, uncertain of Janet's intentions as she tried to guide her towards the industrial cleansing wipes stacked neatly on one shelf.
'Kirsty, I promised your mummy I would look after you and I keep my promises.'
Kirsty stared at the twinkling set of emerald green eyes; the look of honesty and assurance that her intentions were pure were all but impossible for the child to miss.
With a gentle tug of her arm and raised finger to her own lips, telling the girl to remain quiet, Janet guided the child to the waiting boxes of industrial clinical wipes.
Central Middlesex Hospital
S.A.U Team Three: Insertion
The wind whipped around them, snatching at their clothing in its vain attempt to ensnare them in its vaporous grasp. Richards watched the roads below snake their way through the city like ribbons of white-darted black silk; a smirk wormed its way across his features as he glanced around the open cabin of the helicopter.
'Walters, Sooker—I want you two on point; Walters you're with me and one section. Sooker, you're with Hawk and two section. Patterson, who's covering who? It's your call.'
Andre Patterson glanced about the cabin; his team was sitting, relaxed and ready as they winged their way towards Middlesex Hospital. His mind was awash with a myriad of thoughts as he weighed up whom to send with whom. Even if he split them directly down the middle, one section was going in a man down. Biting at his bottom lip, he closed his eyes and leant his head back as he began to speak.
'Token, King, Lucas, and I are with Richards. The rest of you are heading in with Hawk. That sound good to you, Rook?'
A curt nod greeted Patterson's query.
'Lincruster, you sit tight with the whirly bird.'
She flashed a quick thumbs up as she slid the helicopter through the north London skyline.
'A-Okay with me, Big Dog; mama bear gotta look after her little cub, after all.'
Rook grinned as he looked at Hawk. 'You okay there, brother?'
Hawk simply nodded as he stared at the bulkhead in front of him, his face a picture of impassive stone as he listened to the chatter around him. Token glanced at the American in front of him, the man's eyes a blur of cold anger and sadness; reaching out, he held out his hand to the man. 'Glad to be working with you.'
Jonathan 'Hawk' Stabbler glanced up and stared at Token, the young black Ghanaian's hand floating in dead space before Stabbler nodded and looked away. He let his hand drop slowly back to the fore-grip of his weapon. He was proud to be where he was, proud of his heritage, but also proud of being a British citizen and the first of his family to reach a level only ever dreamt of by others.
A tap on Token's shoulder drew his attention to the man on his left. Turning, he saw Richards leaning towards him, head cocked against the wind slashing at the open doorway.
'Don't think anything of it, buddy. Hawk's not one to pal up easily with anyone, especially not since Africa. It's not you personally, but we lost a lot of good friends there. For him, it's still a fresh wound and people of your "ethnic" persuasion bring a lot of bad memories out of him. Like I say, it's nothing personal; he just needs to get his shit together, that's all.'
Token nodded; he understood the situation. He didn't like it but he understood it. Turning away from Richards, he glanced at Carlstook. The man's face broke into a grin as he fished out the rabbit's foot he kept on a chain around his neck, Token grinned as Carlstook held it out for him. Taking it, he lifted the small appendage to his lips and kissed it.
'I cannot believe you still have that thing, my friend.'
Frank laughed, his whimsical chuckle making the others smile as he tucked away the disembodied appendage.
'Mate, I wouldn't get rid of this for all the tea in China; not that China's sending anyone any tea at the moment. If it wasn't for you braining that rabbit, we would have been dead out in the Hebrides by now. You can bet your arse I am keeping this close to my heart.'
Token smiled, his brilliantly white teeth glimmering in the sunlight as it snatched its way between the buildings.
'Forty seconds, gentlemen.'
Patterson banged on the bulkhead, letting Lincruster know they had heard her. With a heavy-booted kick, he shoved the rope from the doorway as the helicopter settled into a hover over the roof of the hospital.
'You all have your orders; get it done and get home, ladies.'
He let his hand ensnare the rope, and with a Tarzan-esque swing of his legs, slid down the thickly woven yarn to the floor below. Several soft thumps followed as Token, King, Lucas, and Walters slid down behind him, all five men dropping to a knee with weapons raised and ready as Rook finally made his descent.
The rope slapped to the floor, its sloppy coils falling like limp spaghetti over itself as the clamp snapped open. Lincruster banked the chopper away as the first insertion team made their way to the rooftop stairwell.
Hawk watched intently, his fingers fiddling with the bunched ring of dog tags in his suit's pocket. Each one slid over the length of curled wire, clanking with a soft, muted
against the others as he fed them through his fingers one by one. Carlstook stepped up next to Hawk, his hand clutching the overhead handle as he watched the side of the building flash by in front of him.
'How we playing this?'
Hawk let the bracelet of tags fall to the bottom of his ballistic suit's pocket once more before pushing himself to his feet.
'Same as we always do; go in shooting and don't stop until the Infected are dead, we run out of ammunition, or we go down.'
Carlstook shrugged as he let his hand fall from the ceiling grip and hopped out of the helicopter before its skids fully made contact with the tarmac of the car park.
Running forwards, he lifted his weapon to his shoulder as he dropped to one knee and fired three well-placed bursts, dropping the three Infected charging at them from the hospital foyer. Rising to his feet, he headed forwards in a hunched run, weapon swivelling from target to target, taking the outer foyer as the rest of the section made their way forwards.
He let the polymer magazine fall into his hand, his fingers dancing as he plucked a fresh one from the pouch on his chest and slotted it into place. The switch took all of three seconds as he once more sent rounds down range.
A sharp call went out as he saw Sooker slip past him, his gun spewing brass as the belt-fed weapon chewed its way through the string of glittering death.
The floor was awash with the dead by the time they moved off. A soft cackling echoed through the corridors, leading them to the open doors of the triage centre.
Cautiously, Sooker stepped towards the door, his feet foraging below him for any spot of the white tiled floor not covered in blood, excrement, or torn flesh. The soft splash of liquid rose up from the floor as he stepped through the puddles of bile and blood as he made his way towards the triage nurses' office.
Frank slid in beside him, his shoulder thumping against the hollow panel wall as Sooker gently edged the door open. The hushed silence cracked once again as the cackling laughter oozed its way out of the doorway. A stream of bile and offal-infused blood flowed over their boots as both men edged closer to the threshold of the room.
Carlstook's eyes widened as he beheld the sight before him. The child sat atop the desecrated corpse of the triage nurse, her pre-pubescent hands clutching the woman's entrails like string as she pulled them from the woman's disembowelled corpse. A wet splat echoed about the room as the child heaved one crimson-smeared blue slab from the woman's chest. The lung landed with all the grace of a dead walrus, sending a rippled geyser of blood into the air that coated the child's hair and face.
The spattering red droplets elicited another raucous cackle from the blood-smeared babe as she dived forwards once more and tore free the woman's heart. She lifted the oozing organ to her lips and licked along the rippled surface before sucking greedily at one of the entangled ventricles, biting through its rubbery hide as she drank greedily from the entrapped life-giving fluid.
Sooker turned away, his face green and pallid as he vomited over his boots. Revulsion and disgust poured from him in equal measure as his stomach evacuated its content. Carlstook clamped his teeth together as he fought the need to vomit. He settled the red dot of his rifle's optics on the child's chest, and then with an almost whimsical note, he whistled.
Her red, blood-crazed eyes snapped to his. The rubber-like twang of snapping arteries filled the air as they tore free and sent an arching spray of crimson fluid across the wall as Carlstook fired.
The child's head snapped back, crashing into the wall. Her chest erupted in a halo of blood and flesh as the bullets tore through her. With a soft, gentle thump, she tumbled back onto the table, her eyes forever locked in a feral glare of hunger as she came to rest in the crook of the nurse's arm, her long silken blonde hair lying in clumped matted lumps across her face.
The stairway was dark; the light of the door had long ago given up any pretence of even trying to illuminate their path as they wound their way deeper into the twisting corridors of the hospital. The damp air stank of mould; the clammy moisture-drenched air sucked at their lungs. The cold, rotting taste of stagnant water filled their mouths as they pushed on.
Rook held up a closed fist as he began to ease the door ahead of him open. A soft thump rolled up the stairwell as he connected with the door. Leaning into the thick slab of fireproof wood, he pushed and the door opened another inch; grinding his teeth together, he shoved harder and, to his chagrin, gained naught but another inch.
'Son of a bitch.' Letting his rifle hang, he pushed it onto his back as he grasped the leading edge of the door with both hands and pushed against the doorframe with his foot.
'Token, get a drone in here and see what the hell is blocking this door. I have a feeling I know what it is; just see if you can shift it.'
The miniature helicopter leapt from Token's palm as he sent it through the gap Rook held open, a soft electric whine filling their ears no louder than the buzzing of a gnat as it flitted past Rook's face.
Token stared at the screen as the small bug-like copter relayed all it saw with clarity. Suppressing an acid-filled cough, Token quickly panned the micro camera away from the pile of carrion at the foot of the door and sent the craft zipping down the hall. He glanced up to the top right of the screen, the digital readout displaying twenty-eight minutes and thirty seconds of flight time remaining as he gently guided the craft round a corner.
He quickly sent it zipping towards the ceiling as three dozen Infected fell upon the twisted remnants of one of the porters. The man's hand reflexively opening and closing as one gore-smeared nurse began to gnaw her way deeper into the soft flesh of his forearm, her teeth sending a jittery vibration through the severed limb's fingers as she tore its meat from the bone.
Token gently slipped the Nano UAV forwards a mere inch from the ceiling as the carnival of consumption continued on below. He once more reached the haven of its starting point and Token slipped his hand into the gap, between frame and door, and let the flying camera drop sedately onto his palm before slipping it into the padded case on his thigh, the screen module slipping into the pouch in the small of his back.
Rook cast a glance at Token as the Ghanaian began to speak, his words spiced with the lilt tone of his accent even as he whispered.
'We have, at the very least, a dozen Infected… quite possibly more; and yes, Mr Rook, it is most definitely what you thought it was.'
With a sigh, Rook tossed his head towards the gap, nodding. Ibrahim lifted his weapon's sling from around his torso and handed it off to Lucas as he lowered his limber frame to the floor and began to ease himself through the ever-expanding gap between the door and frame.
With a guttural grunt, he wormed his way through the gap; his muffled curses died on his lips as he came face-to-face with what was blocking the door. The smell of excrement and offal made him wretch as he pushed himself clear of the doorway.
Gingerly, he reached out his gloved hand and grasped the man's lab coat. With a soft squeak of cold flesh over linoleum, he pulled the technician clear of the door. The man's head thunked against the cold floor as he let go of the hem of his lab coat.
Stepping away from the mangled corpse and the streaks of blood and excrement marking the body's passage, he reached out and pulled the other clear of the doorway.
Her head lolled on the smashed remains of her neck. The split and cracked remains of skull left little need to ruminate on how she died. The pair of curved surgical scissors in her hand made Token pause; he glanced from the woman's hands to the deep lacerations in the man's chest and stomach.