Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tales of the Dead Tropics -chapter 3

Instinctively I hit the security alarm beside the door before racing into the ward.  The hallway was completely deserted.  Images flashed across my eyes like snapshots.  A  mop in a pool of water.  A chair overturned.  Records spilled on the floor.  Coffee cup smashed. Bedding spilling off a trolley. What had happened here?

My ears were assaulted by the sounds of people's panicked cries ahead of me.  My heart began to thump.  I reached over and picked up the mop.  Quickly I unscrewed the head, leaving me with a solid piece of wood to wield, if I needed to.  And I had the feeling I would need to.

I sent up a quick prayer that security would respond soon and started to move down the hall.  The screams had stopped to be replaced by even more disturbing sounds.   Thumps, bangs, whimpers and growls merged with cries of pain and terror.  Swallowing convulsively, I clutched my pole tightly and peered around the corner.

A sight beyond imagining lay before me.  It was a few seconds before my brain could even make sense of the images it was seeing.  But when it did register, I couldn't breathe.  Bodies lay scattered along the length of the hallway.  Five, six? Hunched over the closest ones were three blood-covered men.  For a moment I thought they were trying to help the fallen individuals and then the truth dawned on me with horrifying clarity.  They were eating them.  I blinked rapidly to clear my eyes but still they continued to tear chunks out of the fallen bodies and chew the meat with such relish, that bile rose in my throat.  Their pale skin was splattered with the blood of my colleagues! The blood was in their hair, their clothes, their nails.

A groan drew my eyes to the victim closest to me.  It was a man laying on his back.  The man - no, not a man, no human being could do that -  the maniac  had his head buried in his victim's chest, ripping pieces of flesh off with his teeth.  Oh my God, he was still alive.  His eyes fluttered as he moaned again.

Slowly I pulled back.  For a long moment, I stood pressed against the wall paralysed.  I was terrified of moving, for fear the maniacs would hear me.  Then a new sound.  A door slammed and footsteps ran up the hallway towards us. A feminine cry of despair as whoever it was realised what she had run into.  I took a deep breath and forced myself to peer around the corner again.

Emma, dear bubbly Emma, stood a few feet from the scene of the carnage.  Beside her stood a young man whose face was vaguely familiar(Ken?).  Slowly he reached over and grasped her hand and started to edge backwards and the maniacs stopped their dining to stare at them.

Behind them, a young woman came through the doors, and then another.  With a sinking feeling in my gut, I saw the now familiar pale shiny skin. 

Emma glanced behind her and cried out again.  They were trapped and they knew it.  Without thinking, I flung myself around the corner.
"Hey!  Come and get me!"  I waved my pole and jeered in a foolhardy attempt to distract the maniacs long enough to allow Emma and Ken to escape.  "What are you waiting for, you ugly bastards?"

As the maniacs rose clumsily to their feet, I felt a thrill of satisfaction that my plan had actually worked and they were coming after me.  Then - sheer terror. They were coming after meShit, shit, shit. 
"Catch!"  I hollered and flung my pole like a javelin towards Ken.  Without waiting to see if he caught it, I turned and ran for my life.  The doors loomed ahead, 50 meters, 40...If I could get through, I could bolt it and get help.

A raspy growl echoed through the hall just behind me.  Oh God.  30 meters.  Please God.  A door suddenly opened at the side and a bloody figure stepped through.  I cried out and veered away from it.  I caught a glimpse of ashen skin and a half chewed face.  I banged against the far wall and fell over an overturned chair. The woman lurched at me, hands clenched into claws.  From the corner of my eyes, I saw the other maniacs moving towards me.    I grabbed the chair and heaved it at the woman in desperation. It didn't even slow her down; she reached down and grabbed my ankle.  Screaming, I kicked violently at her face with my other foot until she released me.  Scrambling to my feet, I pelted desperately towards the doorway.

20 meters.  Suddenly the doors flung open and the wonderful sight of our security men greeted me.  I pushed past them as they spread out across the hallway.  "There are people down there that need your help!" I gasped.  "Please hurry." 
"Don't worry, miss" An older man smiled at me.  "We'll have this under control soon."  
I clutched his arm. "They're completely insane!  Cannibals."  He nodded and patted my hand reassuringly before moving off.

I drew back and tried to control my trembling limbs.  I took in the scene.  The woman missing half her face was reaching for a young security guard who pointed his weapon and shouted at her to stop. Two other maniacs were being circled by two armed officers while another two continued down the hall.  I prayed that they were in time to save Ken and Emma.

Suddenly a shot rang out.  My head snapped around to see the young security guard had fired a warning shot above the woman's head.
"What the hell, Jack!" The security officer standing next to me, yelled out.  "These are patients! Use your taser!"
I watched on as the guards fired their tasers - with absolutely no effect.  And in those precious wasted seconds, the maniacs reached out and grabbed the officers.  The woman sunk her teeth eagerly into the young guard's arm and tore a chunk out.  He screamed in disbelief and tried to fend her off.  Further down the hall, the two guards were grappling with the two maniacs that I suddenly recognised as the miners I'd seen brought in.

Cries rang out as the struggles became increasingly desperate.  The maniacs ripped into any part of the body they could reach- hands, ears, neck. 
"Do something!"  I shouted despairingly at the officer beside me.  A quick check identified him as as the officer in charge.  "Biggs!"

Biggs shook himself and pulled his gun out.  "Shoot, shoot! Defend yourself if you have to!"  He strode forward and and tried to find a clear shot.  The woman with a jagged hole where her lips once were, pulled the young officer close and sunk her teeth into the his cheek.  He screamed again but seemed helpless to fight her off.  Biggs pulled her away and aimed his gun at her.  "Don't make me do this, lady."
She bared bloody teeth at him and lunged forward.  He shot her in the chest.  She stumbled back a few steps then moved towards him again.  In incredulity, he shot her again.  Again she reached for him.  Desperate, he pointed his gun at her head and pulled the trigger.  The woman collapsed instantly like a marionnette, a bloody mess where her head had been.

The senior officer stared at her fallen body in disbelief.  Around him, panic took hold as shots rang out without effect.  "They aren't stopping!"
Horrified, I watched the older officer who had comforted me, drop his gun and stagger towards us.  His yells became garbled and blood poured from a ragged wound in his throat.  

Do something!  Stepping forward, I yelled at the top of my voice.  "Shoot them in the head!  It stops them!"
Another guard took up the cry.  "Go for the head!" A cacophony of gunshots followed as the three standing men desperately targeted the maniacs' heads.

As the noise died away, the officers stood surrounded by the corpses of the maniacs.  They gazed at each other, stunned into sombre silence. Suddenly, the sound of a woman's scream brought my head up sharply.  Emma! She ran towards me from the far end of the corridor, waving her arms frantically. "Run!  Run!" Behind her, I heard shots being fired and then Ken and the security guards came bolting around the corner.  They were looking over their shoulders and yelling, "Move! Move!"

In the moment of frozen inaction that gripped me and the others, I saw them -  a throng of blood-splattered creatures staggering around the corner.  It is an image that will forever be burned in my memory.  A doctor with arms that ended in bloody stumps; a security guard with intestines dragging on the floor; a young dark-haired woman (Oh God, was it Jackie?) with a gaping hole where her abdomen once was. One of the guards turned and fired wildly at them.  A bullet slammed into the chest of a middle-aged woman in a nurses's uniform.  She fell back into the crowd.  And then she stood up.

"Help the wounded!"  Biggs yelled, snapping everyone out of their paralysis.  "Get going!"  He grabbed the young man's arm and pulled him up.  We followed the other guards carrying the older injured man through.  I rushed back to hold a door open.  I waved at Emma and the others.  "Come on!" 

She was so close, I could see the flush on her cheeks and the terror in her wide eyes.  Not far behind her were the men and oh, so close, too close, were the monsters.  Their missing limbs slowed them down, thank god, but they kept coming...

"Hurry, Emma." I murmured and held my hand out to her.  Her eyes met mine and she  reached for me.  I closed my fingers around hers and swept her into a tight one-armed hug as I continued to hold the door open.

"Am I safe?" She whispered pleadingly. 
"For now." I answered truthfully as I watched the boys drawing closer over her shoulder.  And then they were through, and the guards were bolting the doors shut. 

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