Read Designated (Book 2): Designated Quarantined Online

Authors: Ricky Cooper

Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse

Designated (Book 2): Designated Quarantined (7 page)

'Who killed whom?' His self-rumination broken by the heavy thump of Rook's staggering form and the crunch of the stairwell's door as it swung inwards, smashing into the wall with a heavy, reverberating crunch of plastic on wood.
 

Their blood froze in their veins as the echoing crash of their entrance was answered by the guttural screaming cries that rolled their way; the ululating wall of noise roared down the corridors towards them, washing over them like the Red Sea of the Old Testament. The cacophony rose as the pounding of feet swept over them. Kweku's head snapped left as he caught his rifle and brought it to his shoulder just as the first galloping shadowed form broached the end of the corridor.
 

'Rolling fire, advance and engage. Walters, Lucas, Patterson—rear guard. Fucking move.'
 

They moved down the corridor, their bodies hunched and low as they let loose a volley of rounds into the charging Infected. Rook bellowed as he felt a searing pain flare through his shoulder. His right arm fell to his side, numb and useless. 'Fuck it!' he growled as he let his rifle drop.
 

The sling snapped taut as the weight of the weapon crashed against his collarbone. He clenched his teeth to the point of shattering as he twisted his now useless shoulder and pulled the pistol from its holster on his chest.
 

His eyes caught the glinting of polished steel as he moved. Releasing his grasp on his pistol, he left the weapon half in its holster and gritted his teeth once more as he grasped the protruding steel rod, his hand folding round the semi-flat handle of the surgical scalpel; then with a sharp intake of air, he ripped it from the blood-infused rent in his shoulder.

 

The in-rush of air was like ice water in his veins. As he pulled the offending item from his person, it sent squirming lances of lightning-like pain through him, their shivering forms racing through his arm and chest. He gasped, tears stinging his eyes as he let it clatter to the floor and once more drew his pistol.

6
Hospital: Interior: Floor Two

 

The corridors lay heavy upon them, their floors choked with overturned gurneys and beds; their dismembered occupants strewn across the floor like the tantrum-thrown parts of a child's doll.
 

Hawk stared at the battered and torn body in front of him, its baldhead split open like a crushed orange. Scanning the floor, he followed its outstretched arm, tracing its slim, pale length to the diminutive hand clutching the cold steel pole. His eyes locked onto the bag atop the drip stand, the half-empty bag lying like a dead fish against the cold melamine floor; he involuntarily sighed as he saw the printed lettering staring back at him. His lips moved as he softly sounded out the word to himself,
Cyclophosphamide
.

 

His head fell forwards slightly and tears stung his eyes as images of his father danced in his head—his smile as he grinned at the camera, despite the pain lancing through him as the cancer throbbed in the back of his skull; his glittering eyes that sung with the sadness of someone who knew their time was quickly running out, but despite all this, the one thing he would always remember was the slim, clear plastic tube that wound its way up his dad's arm and under his hospital gown, feeding him the clear liquid that was killing and saving him all at once.
 

He felt the tears roll down his cheeks as he remembered his face the day the doctors told him he could never have children again. He felt himself slide slowly into the smothering embrace of his own mind as a hand landed on his arm. Hawk jerked out of his reverie as the last image of his father danced is in his head. His open, vacant eyes and partially opened mouth as he gazed out the window of his hospital room; muttering a wistful goodbye, he turned to Carruthers, the soldier's questioning gaze tracing the pale lines of streaked tears running down his ruddy features.

 

 

'You okay, Hawk?'
 

Stabbler nodded as he turned and set off down the corridor, his shoulders hunched low as he panned his weapon across the corridor.
 

The corridor branched ahead of them; with a wave of his hand, he sent Carruthers and Carlstook down the left hand fork, while he and Hampson took the right. Sooker glanced about him, a tinge of nervous apprehension worming through him as he knelt, exposed and alone at the intersection.
 

****

 

Janet's head swivelled as she heard the hushed rattle of automatic gunfire roll through the silent corridors of the hospital. She shivered as she heard the guttural bellowing of dozens of Infected as they streamed past the door.
 

The children clung to her sides, their heads buried into her slim form as they tried to blot out the unearthly howls beyond their hidden bastion. Kevin shot an agonised look at the door as several Infected bounced off the panel of reinforced glass; he physically winced as stars of glistening red blood shot over the rippled surface of the meshed glass.
 

His gaze travelled to Janet's as she cradled the two children against her. Maria, swaddled in her woollen blankets, lay blissfully unaware in the impromptu cot. A soft burble of incomprehensible words drifted out her as she clutched at the edge of her blanket, small, toothless gums smacking gently together as she shifted in her slumber.
 

Janet stared at her child as she moved, a silent prayer drifting over the slumbering babe, begging her to stay quiet as the march of the damned continued outside their door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broadhead Barracks

Officers' Housing

 

Baker paced, his fists clenching and unclenching as he growled out his fear—fear at his inability to help his wife and child, fear that he was finally starting to lose his edge, fear at the world outside his door and the turmoil writhing through it; and above it all, fear at losing not just his life, but all he ever held dear.
 

He stopped in the centre of the room, his mind a whirling maelstrom of loathing and anger. His hands balled again as he resumed pacing. Turning, he stormed across the room, his fists smacking at the sides of his head as he bellowed in rage. He snatched his rig from the cot in his office, crashed through the door, and sprinted down the corridor, his eyes wild with fury.

 

Susan stepped into the corridor, her arms a mass of neatly typed and stacked papers. She grumbled to herself as she turned, staring into the onrushing path of a man possessed; in a whirl of fluttering paper and indignant squeals, she crashed into the wall as Baker charged through her, the clacking of quick-release buckles echoing in his wake.
 

Dazed and confused, Susan began her arduous task of collating and collecting her fallen paperwork, the pages rasping through her fingers as she plucked them one by one from the floor. Colinson watched with consternation mingled with acceptance and anger as Baker sprinted past his office door. Stepping forwards, Colinson walked briskly to his door and knelt, scooping up scattered sheets of paper. Susan looked round; Colinson's charcoal grey-clad form filled her vision as she reached out, her eyes avoiding his as she lifted the papers from his grip.

David smiled as he watched the worry etch itself through the corners of her eyes. A soft shimmer of hopefulness wormed its way through her as David began to speak. 'He will be fine, Susan; don't worry about a thing.'
 

The air was crisp and bitter as Derek jumped through the open door of his Jeep; his chest rig thumped and bounced against him as he viciously twisted the key and shoved the vehicle into gear. In a hot squeal of burnt rubber and a burst of smoke, he flew from the motor pool and out the gate. He drove as if Satan himself had come to collect, weaving through the backcountry roads as he made his way towards central London.

Central Middlesex Hospital

Exterior: Main Entrance

 

Bodies lay strewn in the carpark as Derek slid to a halt, the wheels of his Jeep squealing as he tried to meld the brake with the vehicle's floor. A heavy clunk rolled up from below him as it rolled over the shredded head of a dead nurse. Her skull collapsed, sending shattered pieces of skull and shredded flesh splashing ahead of him in a glistening halo of shimmering blood and cranial matter.
 

He stepped out of the Jeep, his feet sliding in the mashed paste of the deceased nurse's head as he lifted his rifle from the rear of the vehicle; he grit his teeth, his hand closing over the pistol grip as he lifted the unloaded weapon from the back seat of his vehicle. A dull semi-metallic clunk echoed through the empty carpark as he opened a box of 5.56 mm ammunition. He glared at the G36C in the passenger seat and ground his teeth together as he laboriously loaded the magazines in his ballistics vest. Finally, Derek slid the magazines into the pouches on his vest. After ten agonizing minutes of tedium, he rolled his shoulder and settled the weight of the general-issue Benelli M4 Super 90 between his shoulder blades. Then with the echoing clack of the assault rifle's charging handle rolling across the body-laced carpark, he sprinted for the front doors of the hospital.

 

Baker smashed through them like a runaway locomotive, his eyes shining with an uncontrollable, almost fanatical need to wrest his wife and child from the grip of whatever calamity had befallen them. Raising his booted foot, he kicked in the door to the triage room. It swung back on noiseless hinges, slamming into the wall with a
thunk
that echoed through the waiting area; it rolled over the walls and chairs, swelling over all in its path like waves over sand. His gaze travelled over the shattered skull, halo of pulped brain matter, and the minuscule corpse it accompanied as he stepped into the room.

 

Derek's eyes lingered on the torn and ravaged face of the nurse, her eyes locked in a screaming excitation of pain and horror as the shattered corpse of the child lay dead in the nurse's eviscerated chest cavity.
 

His weapon dangled from the one point sling as he stepped over to the hospital staff rota plastered onto the dry-wipe board. He scanned the board for anything showing any sign of his wife. His heart clenched in on itself as he thought of her and his daughter. His hand dropped to his thigh, brushing over the chequered pattern of his pistol's grip. His fingers brushed the tactile sides of the weapon as he stared at the dead child and her unwitting carrion bed. Shaking himself from the stress-induced stupor, he turned and felt the weight of his shotgun tugging at his back as he stepped into the waiting room. The scent and tang of fresh blood and excrement settled on his tongue as he stopped, finally taking note of the abounding destruction.

 

Chairs lay askew, cast aside as people fled in terror from the crazed and enraged forms of their Infected friends, family, co-workers, and patients. He stepped forwards, looking at the splintered and smashed remnants of the concrete and bolt housings that had been torn from the floor in a crush of fleeing bodies. Kneeling, his gaze travelled towards the doors he had entered through; the pulverised remnants of a human hand lay caught in the gas-powered pneumatic hinges of the door. The soft hissing of the closing door belied a far more sinister note as the brushed aluminium ground against the shattered wrist bones of the severed appendage.

 

The grating of metal on bone flowed to his ears as he watched the door pull the hinge shut. Turning his head to the left, he studied the rest of the room, taking in the splayed arms and pool of congealing blood slowly seeping out from beneath a toppled vending machine to the butchered remains of a staff porter. The man's tear-drenched face dangled from the remains of his torso where it hung swinging against the twisting column of his own spine.
 

Baker shook his head in wonderment, struggling to fathom what had possessed the seasoned hospital worker to try to clamber through the smashed window of the double doors; but as he knew all too well, in the grips of man's primal fight or flight instincts, common sense had little to say when it came to a person's method of escape.                                                                     

 

 

Hospital: Floor Two
 

Rook crashed through the door, his back slamming painfully into the floor, his battle vest lost somewhere in the twisting corridors, torn from his body by the writhing Infected now astride him. He smashed his knees into the small of its back, sending the screaming rage-filled face past his head and into the floor. He rolled backwards, his curled legs slamming into its neck as he sank his weight into the fragile cartilage beneath him. The crunch of smashed bone reverberated through his body as he brought his gun to bear on the door in front of him.
 

Token stumbled through the door a second later, his flailing form besieged by the screaming, bleeding, rage-drenched contents of the upper children's ward. He swatted and punched at anything he could reach as they tore at his clothing, their prepubescent hands torn to shreds as they desperately tried to tear their meal from his flesh. He ensnared the waving locks of one child and, with a vicious wrench of his muscular arm, tore the child from him, its tortured screams filling his ears as he cast it aside. The sound of tearing silk filled the room as its scalp tore free.
 

Token spun, sending himself back-first into the square steel frame of the nearest bed. The crack of snapping bone met his ears; the slim arms encircling his throat went slack as all life left them. Spinning on his feet, he swung the clump of hazel hair up into his hands; the dripping lump of flesh on the end was warm against his gloved hand.

 

Turning to face the charging, scalped form of the Infected child, he sidestepped and wrapped the child's own hair around its throat. The pumping blood oozed down the back of its head as its eyes bulged in their sockets. Rolling his hand, he pulled ever tighter, watching as the skin of the girl's cheeks turned a deep purple. Then with the squeaking of its bare feet ringing in his ears, it went limp. Chest heaving, blood slowly worming its way out of his broken nose, he sank to the floor. The dull crump of dead flesh hit the tiled floor as he let the hair fall from his grip.
 

A look of detached surprise wavered over the men's faces as Token pushed himself into a sitting position against one wall, his breathing heavy and ragged as he listened to the gunfire rattle through the hall. Walters, Patterson, King, and Lucas stormed through the door, bullets smacking into flesh as they tried to push back the tide of Infected bearing down upon them. Slamming the door shut, Walters took aim as the Infected smashed themselves upon its flat, glossed surface.
 

'Well, we're stuck.'
 

Patterson turned and looked at Rook, a look of quiet puzzlement passing over his face.

 

'Rook, where's your rig?'
 

The former division operative smiled, a sharp wince running over his face as the broken remains of his third and fourth ribs ground against each other. A sharp hiss of pain-flushed air left him as he pushed himself into a higher sitting position.
 

'To be honest, Andre, I have no idea. If I were to guess, the rig, my rifle, and all of my spare ammunition and radio are somewhere back in the main corridor.'
 

Andre sighed as he walked over to his section leader. He knelt and poked his extended index finger into Rook's ribs. He watched Rook's face contort, a fresh wave of nauseating pain rolling through him as Andre kept on with his 'inspection'. Lifting his free hand to Rook's shoulder, he pulled the torn flaps of his suit aside and looked at the hole in Rook's skin.
 

Reaching into a pouch on the front of his rig, he pulled out a trauma pad. The length of high-tensile gauze clutched in his hand, he pushed the Celox-infused pad against Rook's shoulder as he wrapped the bandage over the wound. Pulling tight, he threaded it through the pressure bar and pulled. A muffled whimper of pain left Rook as the pressure built, sending shocking waves of pain through his torn muscle. Snorting out through his nose, he nodded at Patterson and closed his eyes as he pulled again, wrapping the bandage back on itself and sending the pressure ever higher.
 

A soft plastic click emanated up from Rook's shoulder as Patterson clipped the end of the bandage into place.

 

'That should see you until we can get exfil; just don't do anything stupid, okay? And pray to god, or whoever the fuck collects your ticket, that it,' he pointed to the freshly covered wound, 'isn't Infected, and I don't mean MRSA.'

 

Rook smiled as he fished in his thigh pocket for a cigar. 'Andre, if it comes down to it, I'll clock myself out rather than turn into one of those fucking things.' He motioned towards the door with his unlit cigar. 'By the way, chuck me your coms; I got to relay into Hawk, let him know what the hell's going on.'

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