Lenore looked down the long white hall beyond the glass doors. At the far end there were smears of blood. “The same old, same old.”
Staring down at the two corpses, Ken shuddered. “Truly gross.”
Moving back over to the group gathered in the hospital doorway, Bill said, “Okay, no guns unless absolutely necessary. Do not open any doors that are not in our brief. If you run into trouble, radio it in immediately. We’re here to get the supplies and get out.”
Linda moved closer to the front door and peered past the two dead zombies. She shoved the old man’s body aside and stepped inside. Her large brown eyes looked terrified, but her chin was set with determination.
“We should hurry,” she said. “The sun will go down soon.”
Slowly, they all filed in, walking slowly down the white hallway. From the diagram they had been given, they knew the hallway ended in a large reception area. From the reception area, the hospital divided into four areas. The doors straight across from them led into a long wing with patient rooms. To the left was a cafeteria and gift shop. To the right was the admissions area, the doors to the emergency rooms, and then a stairwell and elevators. Upstairs were the operating rooms, examination rooms, and ICU. The hospital was efficient.
Jenni and Linda paused as they reached the end of the hall. The spacious waiting room was illuminated by the dim emergency lights. The chairs in the waiting room were overturned and dried blood was smeared over the walls. To their right, behind a glass window where people normally would have checked in, an armless woman hissed.
The nurse began to claw at the window with her remaining hand, clearly not remembering how to slide the window open. Behind her, a man stood jawless and eyeless, turning in a circle.
“Okay, no one goes into the receptionist’s office,” Linda muttered.
Jenni looked back and forth between the double doors leading into other areas of the hospital. They looked daunting and she took a breath, reminding herself this was for Juan. Moving toward the stairs on the far side of the room, she stepped over a truly dead body. A security guard, it looked like. He had been shot in the head. She signaled to her group to fall in behind her.
Roger followed her, looking around the room nervously. He spotted a headless corpse shoved under a pile of chairs and shook his head. Too weird to think about now. Behind him, Bill let out a soft curse. Felix took up the rear with his crossbow at the ready.
“Head,”Jenni whispered from ahead of them.
Looking up, Roger saw a decapitated head snarling at him. It was in a potted plant.
“I don’t wanna know how that happened,” Bill decided.
Felix aimed and a crossbow bolt sliced through the zombie’s eye. “Man, now that’s fucked up.”
“Gross,” Ken’s voice said from behind them.
They had to pass the door to the emergency room to reach the stairs and Jenni raised a hand to bring everyone to a halt. The stench of death was strong. Cautiously, she moved closer to the door and realized it had been chained shut.
“Look,” she whispered, pointing to the chains.
Hesitating, she looked around, then pulled a framed picture off the wall behind her. Holding it up, she used the reflective surface as a mirror to see through the windows set in the chained doors. Adjusting it slowly, trying to stay out of sight of the windows, she finally managed to get a look.
She almost dropped the painting.
Immediately, she slid down to the floor and motioned everyone down.
They were already on their way to the ground the second they saw her expression.
“Packed. They’re just standing there,” she continued to mouth, trying to form words in a way that everyone could read her lips.
Bill motioned to everyone to crawl along the floor. Ken and Lenore began to crawl with Dale and Linda right behind them. They were heading to the doors on the opposite side of the room and not the stairway. Hopefully, they could stay out of sight until reaching the doors on the far end.
Jenni tried to hold her breath and crawl past the chained doors without gagging. Roger, Felix, and Bill moved right behind her. The stench was so bad she found it hard not to gag. Keeping close to the waiting room chairs, she crawled up to the stairwell and looked up. It appeared clear.
Across the room, the others were relieved to see the doors to the patient rooms were not chained. After a wordless debate, it was Lenore who finally stood up and took a peek into that hallway, trying to do it fast so as not to rile the zombies across the room behind the doors to the emergency room.
Jenni watched Lenore motion that it was clear, and then the other team slipped out of sight.
Bill moved up beside Jenni and squeezed her arm gently. She smiled back at him and tried to steady her nerves.
“We do this and go,” he said softly.
Ken was relieved that it was relatively easy going once they were in the patient ward. Every room they passed appeared empty. Ken suspected whoever had evacuated the hospital had locked up all the infected in the emergency room. Per orders, they opened no doors that were not marked on Charlotte’s maps.
“Don’t hear them,” Lenore whispered. “It’s all quiet here. I bet they’re all stuffed in the emergency room.”
“And they can stay there,” Ken answered. He made a face as they passed a decomposing corpse surrounded by dried blood and brains. “They were shooting everyone in the head.”
“Smart move,” Dale said in a low voice. “But they must have decided not to waste anymore ammo and just got out.”
Lenore gingerly pushed an empty stretcher out of her way.
“Okay, we get what we need and get back to save Juan.” Linda blew her dark bangs out of her eyes and passed out the lists. “Just what is on the list. No more.”
Collecting items, Linda, Lenore and Ken began to strike off entries on their “grocery” list while Dale knocked out a window at the end of the hall and began to lower equipment onto the lawn. It seemed like a good idea considering the danger in the reception area. There were probably enough zombies to break through the chained doors if they were provoked.
Moving quickly, the team did their job, being careful with every move.
Lenore warily avoided closed doors and grabbed up everything she could in a tote bag. Ken wheeled equipment down the hall to the window to Dale, sashaying as prettily as he could. Dale didn’t notice.
Finally, Linda slid out the window and ran to bring the big moving truck up to the window, her gun in her hand as she moved. Ken thought she was hot for a girl, but his eyes kept straying to Dale. He was a big hunk of a man, just like Ken liked them. He had tried to catch the big man’s eye a few times, but had failed so far. It was getting truly annoying that no one was out of the closet in the fort, aside from him. Ten percent of an average population was supposed to be gay. There had to be at least one more of his kind and he was hoping for a nice hunky man.
Ken waved a hand at her and rolled the heart monitor down to the window. Dale nodded, picked it up, and lowered it outside.
With a sigh, Ken moved down the hallway and checked his map. There was supposed to be a supply room at the end of a short hallway that branched off from the main corridor. Charlotte had provided a list of medications she wanted from the room.
Edging toward the end of the hallway, he looked down the shorter hall and saw two more sets of double doors. The emergency lights made the windows in them glow an eerie red.
Holding his spear firmly in one hand and his map in the other, he moved down the hallway, keeping close to the wall. The door to the supply room was near the very end. Beyond the double doors was another hallway to...
He unfolded the map just as he reached the double doors.
Heart pounding, he looked up into the face of a zombie snarling on the other side of the glass. Ken’s gaze swept down length of the doors. They were unchained.
The door burst open so hard that when it hit him, he was slammed into the wall. Falling sideways, he lost his spear. Ken was trapped, wedged into the tiny area between the door and the wall. He was in a perfect little triangle of hell.
Ken felt tears spring into his eyes as he cowered in the tiny sliver of space.
The zombies were snarling at him through the window as they pushed hard against the door, pressing him into the corner. His body barely fit into the space and the pressure was beginning to cut off his breathing.
He heard Lenore screaming and he cried out in fear. The twisted dead zombie faces pressed hard against the glass, teeth champing hard together. Blood and spittle smeared the slowly cracking glass.