Read Designated (Book 2): Designated Quarantined Online

Authors: Ricky Cooper

Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse

Designated (Book 2): Designated Quarantined (8 page)

7
 

Hawk's radio buzzed, his ear itching from the burst of white static; lifting his hand, he rubbed at the inside of his ear, trying to scrape away the maddening tickle that was pushing at the roots of his ear.
 

As he strained to listen, a familiar voice filtered through the wall of hissing electrical buzzing. Flicking away the flakes of congealed soap clinging to the tip of his gloved finger, Hawk pressed against his throat microphone, opening up the channel. His eyes widened as Rook relayed the situation of his team.
 

'Fuck it all to hell. Okay, brother, sit tight; if you can push to the evac, Kingfisher should be there.

 

'Hold position there, we are closing in on the source here. Collared a live ward manager. I will radio through if I come up with anything concrete. Keep it on a swivel, okay? See you on the other side.'
 

Stepping through the heavy double doors in front of him, Hawk swept the torch beam across the rows of beds; blood stained the loose-woven blankets and heavy cotton sheets. He stepped forwards, a soft wet tapping emanating up from his foot. Glancing down at his boot-covered feet, he watched as the ever-expanding ripples rolled through the slowly congealing pool of blood. A frown crossed his features as he lifted his foot and stepped over it, dropping to one knee besides the nurse's station. The flickering glow of the computer monitor reflected off the one-way glass set into the wall. The light bounced across Hawk's crouched form, casting a dancing hunched shadow across the floor.
 

'Sooker, on me. Hampson, Carruthers split left. Carlstook, dig in and cover the doors; we haven't got long here and need to find the heart of this bitch and rip it the fuck out.'
 

They split off, heading deeper into the ward. A soft mewling drew Sooker's attention as he slowly advanced into the second section of the ward. Beds lay strewn across the floor, their mattresses and blankets tossed aside like fallen trees in a forest; stepping over the claret-stained bedding, his footsteps as silent as falling snow, Sooker peered into the gloom. Motioning with one hand, he beckoned Hawk forwards. As silently as a stalking shadow, he appeared at Sooker's side. Tapping his ear gently with his index and middle finger, Sooker shifted and motioned towards the far corner of the ward. Hawk nodded, lifting his rifle to a tighter position as he stepped to the side and watched Sooker continue forwards.
 

Slowly and with infinitesimal care so he didn't disturb the steel sliders of the privacy curtain, Sooker pulled. As the curtains parted, both men felt their gorge rise. Hunched in the decimated remains sat a woman, her withered form sleeved in the bile and blood of those she had been feasting upon. Her soft, toothless gums sucked at the flayed strands of skin and flesh as she tried to prise it from the bone. Empty bowls, canisters, and packets lay strewn over the floor, their contents long since consumed in the burning need for sustenance. A dark viscous brown sludge flowed from the woman's hunched form, staining the back of her hospital robes.
 

The stench was overwhelming, filling their olfactory sense to the point of bursting. Pulling his battered and weatherworn Shemag scarf from around his neck, Hawk wrapped the patterned band of cloth around his face in a strident attempt to block out the vile odour.
 

Her sallow skin slipped and flapped against her age-withered frame as she pulled at the pallid dead flesh of the patient in her grip; the man's vacant, dead form lolled limp and lifeless as it jolted and bounced against the floor with each tug the woman made. She pulled as her lips and gums closed on the string of cabled muscle and skin; a soft, slick
pop
issued up from her wanton face as the lump of dead meat finally pulled free. Flicking her head back, the tousled curls of her blue-rinsed hair bounced against her age-lined face as she swallowed. The bulbous pustules covering her lips and face made her flesh shiver and move as she pushed the lump of meat around her saliva-drenched mouth.
 

Strings of the glistening, clear fluid ran from the corners of her mouth, coalescing in thick ribbons as it dropped from her chin to land with a wet plop on the front of her hospital gown.
 

****
 

Janet's head snapped up as the blood flashed over the window; the glistening spray cast a red-hazed shimmer over the walls. The children burrowed against Kevin and Janet, their shifting forms warm against them as they hid from the muted gloss of incandescent red smears sliding down the walls. A face crashed into the window, blood bubbling from its lips as it was crushed further and further against the glass. A small childlike groan rose from it as it began to slide, a weak and pitiful sound that made Janet want to weep. A sudden and almost violent squeal of flesh on glass made them all flinch; a soft whimper of fear boiled up from the girl in Janet's lap. Glancing to her left, Janet watched the softly moving figure of Maria as she shifted in her sleep, her infantile lips clapping together softly as she dreamt. Reaching out, Janet smoothed Maria's downy hair over her scalp as she gently shushed both children, praying they both stayed quiet.
 

Kevin edged the boy from his lap, setting him gently on the floor. The boy whimpered as he met the cold concrete of the floor, his hands clutching at Kevin's stained and torn lab coat; the fear and need for physical comfort was oozing from the child like water from a slowly dripping tap. Pushing the boy's clutching hands gently away from him, he stood and crept to the door, his hunched form looking like an amorphous crab as he slowly slunk towards the door.
 

Janet's sharply hissed and panic-edged call gave him pause as he reached out towards the door. His hand hung in the air mere centimetres away from the brushed steel handle of the storage room's door. His fingers brushed against the cold, lifeless steel bar. The cold crept through his fingertips and seeped deep into his knuckles, sending a wave of pain through his fingers as he curled his extended digits around the handle. He slowly pushed down on the handle; the bolt slid back millimetre by millimetre as he edged the handle down ever further. Clutching the steel bar in a death grip, he pulled the door towards him, his eyes pushed shut so tightly they began to ache from the self-imposed pressure. Kevin stepped to the side and peered through the ever-widening gap in the doorway.
 

The hand shot forwards, its long, slim digits closing around Kevin's neck; his eyes bulged as he felt the warm grasp of the Infected tighten on his throat. Kevin threw himself forwards, the Infected growling as he kicked the door shut behind him. Kevin cast his gaze backwards just as the door swung closed. His eyes begged her to remain silent as she held her hands fast over the children's mouths. She watched her friend and colleague disappear, the door slamming shut on him and their friendship like the lid on a coffin.
 

The warmth of its skin unsettled Kevin the most; he had expected the cold touch of death around his throat, not the warm supple grasp of another human. He thrashed violently as the distorted, pustule-covered face of his fellow human snapped down at him. Clumps of flesh and offal hung from its teeth; the squirming tendrils slithered over Kevin's skin and his gorge rose, bursting from his mouth in a fountain of bile and stomach acid. The Infected woman recoiled as the caustic mix of his lunch and bodily fluids scorched her already battered airways.
 

Her face twisted as she clawed at her throat, the stale flaking dregs of the hospital's re-heated shepherd's pie encrusting her lips. Thin red lines trailed down her constricting neck, the misted bile and stomach acid scouring the inside of her oesophagus, sealing the walls of her throat together like paste over paper. His mind boiled in his skull as he ran through the entirety of his self-defence training. Curling his fists, he let his thumbs jut outwards as he drove them forwards, smashing them into its eyes. Her ocular balls burst as he pushed forwards with as much strength as he could manage. He felt the lenses crumple as his thumbs carved their way forwards; the aqueous humours oozed over his thumbs as he continued to push.
 

A sharp jet of warm clear gel shot over his hand as he clasped the sides of her head and threw his weight sideways. Her screams echoed down the hall as his thumbs dug deeper inside her skull. He jerked his head from side to side as her hand clawed at his shoulders and chest. Her pain-drenched flails doubled as he forced his thumbs past the soft, porous sheath of bone in the back of her eye sockets.
 

His nails grated against the sides of her eye sockets as he pushed, shards of bone snatching and pulling at his already torn nails as he rolled his body over; with an almost primal growl, Kevin drove her head into the floor. The dull crack of her skull echoed like a popping eggshell as he crushed it against the melamine-covered concrete.

 

Kevin flopped back, his heels digging painfully into his backside as he tried to pull his legs from under him. His hands sank down, the grit and broken glass from the wall displays scraping at his skin. He snatched them up, fear coursing through him as he looked at his hands covered in the bloody remnants of the dead Infected's eyes. He tentatively reached forwards, peeling the smeared remains of the Infected woman's eye lens from the end of his thumb, the thin membrane sheet slid from his finger like a piece of plastic, cold and slippery to the touch. Reaching into the remains of his coat, he pulled out a bottle of disinfectant gel and squeezed; the cold, viscous fluid dribbled into his palm as he emptied the entire bottle. The cooling tingle settled into his hands as he smeared it over them, desperate to get the layers of filth off his body.

 

His eyes strayed from their task, his panicked, fear-laden stare travelling over the prostrate form mere feet away; the soft twitching of its feet sent a rhythmic squeak down the hall. Bile danced in Kevin's throat as he gazed at what he had done; the leaking mire of cranial fluid and pulped brain matter slowly inched its way towards him. It was as though the fluid was calling out, screaming at him for an explanation as to why he had, for the second time that day, desecrated his Hippocratic oath and taken another life.
 

Janet slowly eased the door open; the soft hush of the draught excluder seemed to tear at her ears as it invaded the soft silence that now fell over their sanctuary. She let her eyes drift, her mind soaking in all that lay before her. Turning, she ushered the children into a corner, desperate to keep them from seeing the tableau that awaited the unwary.

 

 

Pulling the door closed behind her, she reached out, setting her hand on Kevin's shoulder. His hands were still pawing and turning as he smeared the gum-like paste of blood, tissue, and disinfectant gel across his rapidly reddening skin.

 

'Kevin?' Her feather-light, encroaching whisper drew his eyes to hers. The shock-filled orbs of fear filled her vision as she took a soft but firm hold of his shoulder and elbow. With a gentle guiding tug, she ushered him to his feet, pulling him back into their small cocoon of chemical-filled safety.
 

****
 

Hawk lifted his rifle, settling the glowing red dot of his rifle's sight on the side of the woman's head, then with a smooth curl of his index finger, fired. The side of her head opened up like a piñata, sending waves of glistening bone and brain spattering against the curtains surrounding her bed. Her withered body sunk like a string-less puppet, the off-white curls of her age-frayed hair soaking in the swamp of blood and filth that surrounded her.
 

'Mark location so we can dispose of this crone.'
 

Sooker nodded as he pulled a waterproofed map of the hospital from his thigh pocket. Grease pencil in hand, he flicked it over the surface before setting the folded map back in his pocket.
 

Hawk turned and walked back to the front of the ward, his weapon held low and ready as he made his way towards the remaining members of his fire team.
 

'Right, boys, let's get out of here; I've had enough of this place.'
 

The television in the corner of the ward fizzed as the static burped at him. Turning, Hawk pushed and prodded several of the buttons before the frothing ball of white noise finally ceased. He turned, his feet sliding over the detritus covering the floor as a calm, cultured voice filled the room, stopping him in his tracks.
 

His skin stung as a wave of fear rolled through him, the words burrowing into his skull as he listened to words he had longed to forget.

 

Turning to the wall-mounted television, he saw the fear-licked face of the Prime Minister as he read from the auto-cue in front of him.
 

'Again, I repeat, The United Kingdom is now under quarantine; all flights inbound and out bound are cancelled indefinitely. Use o
f
deadly force has been authorised and will be used as necessary to prevent
anyone gaining entry into or to prevent those trying to leave the country. We will not accept the risk of spreading the Virus that has so afflicted our nation any further and as such, emergency protocols have been implemented.

A curfew is in full effect as of seven o'clock tonight. Anyone on the streets after 7:04 who is not required to be there will be detained without question.

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