Monday, September 27, 2010

Tales of the Dead Tropics - chapter 7


"Shit, shit shit!"  B1 glowered malevolently at me and unceremoniously shook the unconscious boy off him.  Ken carefully laid the lad down on the floor.  "Maybe the doors will be strong enough to withstand them."
Biggs shrugged.  "Not much choice at this point."  B1 turned to glare at me pointedly.
"We have to hide." The little girl suddenly spoke up, her voice shaky.  "If they can't see us, they can't find us."

We turned to look at her for a long moment and then we all moved quickly.  Jim quietly shut and locked the doors while Ken dragged the young man out of sight.  Although I knew that the bathroom would make a better hiding spot, I baulked at not being able to see what was going on.  Instead, I pressed myself and the young girl against the wall beside the door, as did the others

I held my breath as the moans and shuffling neared us.  A little hand slipped into mine.  I glanced down to see the little girl's eyes were shut tightly as she gripped my hand.  Squeezing back lightly, I tried to calm my breathing. 
Go by, go by, go by.  I begged silently.  A body banged against the door.  Emma gasped audibly.  From the corner of my eye, I saw Biggs' hand instinctively reach up and cover her mouth.  I held my breath, waiting to see if she had been heard.  Endless seconds passed.  There was no change in the intensity of the noises in the hall.  Slowly, I released my breath, daring to hope that we might make it.

Then, unbelievably, a yell erupted from within the room.  Frantically, my eyes sought the source.  It was B1!  He was struggling to kick Jack away from him.  Blood poured from his calf and I realised, with dread, that the young man was gone.  In his place knelt a vacant eyed, slack jawed monster with blood dripping down his chin.  B1 shot us a desperate look, half apology and half horror.  "Get him off me before I off him!"  As everyone froze, I strode over and, placing a foot in the young man's chest, pushed him over.  As he reared up, teeth bared like an animal, I pulled out my stake and drove it through his eye with deliberation.  I flinched as gunk shot up and splattered across my cheek.

"What the hell?!"  B1 exclaimed.  I shot him a miserable, defiant look as I stood up and tried to wipe the mess off my face. 
"He'd turned.  He was one of them.  Couldn't you see that?"

Before he could reply, a flurry of bangs commenced against the doors.  They bulged open and through the gap between the doors, we could hear the undulating moans and eager growls of the zombies as they gathered around our room.
"Guess that means our cover's blown."  Jim commented drily, popping a gum in his mouth.

"What are we going to do?" Emma said, her face ashen as her eyes darted to the slowly widening gap between the doors.
"I'm thinking."  Biggs snapped, his grey eyes searching the room. 
"Maybe we can lock ourselves in the bathroom." The little girl whispered as she made her way to my side again.  I knelt down so I could meet her brown eyes.  "It's a good idea,... what's your name?"
"Jessie."  She said it so quietly, I could barely hear her. 
"Jessie,  we would probably be safe in there but we'd also be trapped with no way out. We won't be able to get food or help."  She nodded but I don't think she really understood.

As I looked around for inspiration, my eyes fell on a cursing B1 as he tried to stem the flow of blood from his leg with the corner of a sheet.
 "We can make a sheet rope and climb down the side of the building!"  I offered excitedly.
The others looked at me and then at each other.  Biggs permitted himself a grim smile.  "Unless anyone else has a better idea...?"

Swiftly, we gathered all the sheets in the room, bloody or not.  As we knotted the sheets together,  we kept an anxious eye of the doors which already seemed to be at bursting point.
"Hurry."  Biggs muttered through gritted teeth.  No one responded to the self-evident statement.  Within minutes,  we tied on the last of the sheets.
"I think it should be long enough."  Emma declared.  "We're only three floors up."
"Only." grumbled B1 as he limped over to the window and pushed it open.  We gathered the thick rope of sheets and carried it to the window.

For the first time since this disaster began, I had the chance to see what was happening in the outside world and it devastated me in a way nothing else had today.

Up to now, I had managed to convince myself that this ...plague...was isolated to this hospital, that we would get out and be able to establish a quarantine.  Above all, I had managed to persuade myself that my family was still safe.  That belief shattered with a single glimpse through the window.

Across the road, I could see people running.  Not the usual joggers and young people playing ball which were a normal sight on the esplanade, but desperate people running for their lives as a hundred, two hundred of the zombie creatures poured into the picturesque park.  Mothers ran with toddlers in their arms.  Backpackers batted at arms that grabbed at them.  Children, chubby faced babes, stood in the middle of the beautiful lawn and cried miserably as pitiless figures encircled them.  I sobbed in despair and fell back from the window.  Those poor people. Michele. My babies. 

B1 glanced at me cursorily as he threw the rope through the window.  Biggs tied the other end off to a bed post and then nodded at Jim.  "You'd better go first.  Try and keep the area clear."  Jim nodded and swung his leg over the sill. 

Emma touched my arm and brought me back to the present.  "Are you okay?"  She rolled her eyes, acknowledging the stupidity of the question in our present situation.  I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, nodding.  I had to stay focused if I wanted to get out of here and find my children.  Nothing else mattered.  The press of a small body against mine reminded me of another responsibility I had taken on, and I resolved fiercely to keep Jessie safe, too.

The sound of a nail hitting the floor brought our eyes jerking back to the doors.  "Shit, shit, shit!"  B1 yelled.  "I'm getting out of here!  He grabbed the rope and clambered out.  As another nail flew out, Biggs grimaced.  "He's an idiot but I think he has the right idea, folks." He waved his hand.  "Women and children first, of course." 

Another place, another time, I might have argued with him but not today.  After Emma tentatively swung herself over the windowsill, I grabbed Jessie and sat her on the ledge.  She squealed and clung to me.  "No, Jessie." I said firmly.  "This is no different than climbing the rope at the playground.  Just climb down as if you were showing off to your friends at the gym or something."  She swallowed and nodded, and turning around, started clambering down the rope as if it were a beanstalk.  I stifled an involuntary laugh and followed her, although with a lot less agility.  My arms immediately started screaming in complaint as my legs scrabbled to get a grip on the rope. 

Glancing below, I saw Jim had reached the pavement safely.  His descent did not seem to have attracted any unwanted attention, thankfully., allowing him to pull out his weapon and stand guard in the alley.  Above me, Ken paused on the windowsill; I guess he was worried that the rope wouldn't bear the weight of more than 3 people at a time. 

Thump!  My eyes met Ken's aghast eyes as the doors finally burst open under the pressure of the horde.  From within the room, I heard Biggs curse loudly and start firing wildly.  Pulling out his gun, Ken began shooting shakily into the crowd.
"Get the hell out, boy!"  Biggs yelled.  Ken hesitated, then swung his other leg over the ledge and started clambering down the rope.  I shook myself out of my momentary paralysis and kept moving downwards as the sounds of battle flowed over me like boiling oil.  Biggs' furious yells and curses floated over the moans of the zombies as he fired shot after futile shot. Then the shooting stopped and the screaming started.