Chapter Seventeen: In a Word …
Lights fired up on the camera of a local television station, shining on a new reporter who stood with the hospital in the background. The descent of the sun into dimmer evening light had begun.
“Good evening,” the news reporter said, holding a microphone up to her mouth. “This is Kate Gotwals, reporting to you live from outside Harris Regional Hospital, a medical facility that, until earlier today, had been a place where lives were saved and where the preservation of all who came here for treatment was the primary mission. But that mission changed this morning when several dozen college-aged females were admitted here, being transported to this hospital from a retreat location – a joint effort from several medical and emergency response teams to get them here in a caravan that numbered at least 20 ambulances, eyewitnesses say. Details are still sketchy, but it is believed that some of the girls may have been infected with a virus feared to be highly contagious. And a lot has happened here since they arrived.”
The news reporter stepped out of the way to give the cameraman a full shot of the chaos happening all around the hospital.
“Eyewitnesses reported that within an hour of the arrival of that caravan of ambulances, police and local branches of the Center for Diseases Control arrived on the scene. And shortly after their arrival, a full quarantine of the hospital went into effect. A small amount of people were evacuated immediately, women who had given birth and their newborn babies. Then the hospital was locked down and no one has been able to get into the building or leave it ever since,” the news reporter continued as the cameraman continued spanning the chaotic scene. “Since that time, more Center for Disease Control agents have arrived as well as a SWAT team and now most recently within the past few minutes, military troops. A barricade of 50 feet has now been established around the entire hospital building and those military troops stand ready, with loaded weapons, to turn away anyone who tries to cross that blockade. It all is, in a word – frightening.”
The cameraman then panned out to put the news reporter back in the shot as she continued her report, now reading from a paper in her hand. The look on her face showed the fear with which she was gripped.
“But the most troubling of events took place this afternoon as several female patients were seen in the cafeteria, appearing to be fighting off a sizable number of unknown attackers. During this struggle, it appeared the patients were going to break the windows in an attempt to escape the hospital. Then the police and SWAT team raised their weapons to fire – those girls inside now forced to face their attackers,” the news reporter said, pausing to swallow a lump in her throat before finishing her report. “The lack of information being given out by the Center for Disease Control is only adding to the growing panic of this normally peaceful community. It is only speculation, but the presence of the CDC here as well as the willingness to gun down seemingly innocent patients trapped inside is leading a lot of people to believe that an outbreak of something deadly has occurred inside the Harris Regional Hospital on this day.”
She lowered the paper in her hand and exhaled deeply, then inhaling deeply and looking back up at the camera.
“Reporting to you live from outside Harris Regional Hospital, for WLNY … this is Kate Gotwals.”
Georgia, Lorna and Iris moved as quickly as they could down the first-floor hallway, looking for anywhere to hide, for the time being. Their search led to the hospital gift shoppe, darkened from the lack of power in that portion of the building, the only source of light being dim and coming from the windows at the end of that hallway. The girls hid amongst the many displays of glass trinkets, catching their breaths.
They heard no screams anywhere, fearful that this meant Rikki and the other girls were now dead … or undead, in this case. But they also saw no zombies walking past the gift shoppe entrance, that section of the first floor being very quiet.
“I can’t believe they’re not going to come in to save us, especially after having seen us alive and healthy in the cafeteria – fighting for our lives,” Iris whispered, sitting down on the floor and now having a calm moment to get angry about what should have happened in the cafeteria. “How can they decide the value of one life as versus another?”
“It’s not as simple as that,” Georgia whispered, sitting down next to her – Lorna also joining them on the floor. “They’re not comparing one life to another. Outside, they don’t see us as seven innocent victims.”
“Then what do they see us as?” Iris asked, welling with tears before Georgia ever began answering.
“Outside, there is a world of people they are trying to save from this virus,” Georgia answered softly, trying not to sound too harsh – though still needing to be honest. “But in here, we are the seven people they can’t save. That is the dilemma they face, the same dilemma they faced when they saw us in the cafeteria. There’s no easy way out of this for us. And it really doesn’t matter how much cheerleading Britney does. In the end, we have to die in order for this virus to be killed. Britney knows this as well as any of us, but she hasn’t accepted it yet.”
Wow. What a hideous and grounding truth. Georgia was right. Even if they had been saved, any one of them may well be carrying the virus. And the carnage that had taken over the Harris Regional Hospital could take over another facility, if not going widespread in the process.
Iris lifted her eyes to the ceiling, swallowing a lump in her throat and trying not to weep too many tears. Catching her eye was the tiniest sliver of light that trickled into the gift shoppe, passing through and illuminating a glass trinket on the shelf in front of her. Getting up on her knees, she picked up the glass trinket – then sitting back down and studying its intricate and minute details.
“When I was a little girl, my grandma used to take me to the hospital all the time. My grandpa had a weak heart and was constantly hospitalized because of it,” Iris whispered with a voice of remembrance. “We would get dressed up when we went to the hospital to see grandpa. He always said I looked like the prettiest little angel on Earth when I wore a dress. Grandma would help me put my hair in pigtails because grandpa always used to gently pull on my pigtails and pretend they were doorbells. This always made me laugh because he would make this silly doorbell sound when he pulled them.”
Iris held the glass trinket up, showing it to be a unicorn.
“If I was a good girl the whole we visited grandpa, grandma would then take me to the hospital gift shoppe to buy me whatever glass figurine I wanted,” Iris whispered softly, smiling sweetly. “I fell in love with the unicorn ones and always got another unicorn each time.”
“Why unicorns?” Lorna whispered, she and Georgia leaning in to study the details of the glass unicorn in Iris’s hands.
“They have an innocence to them, as if all the problems in the world didn’t change how innocent they were,” Iris whispered. “But grandma told me that unicorns have the divine power, that which nurtures all living things in this world.”
“That’s so sweet,” Georgia whispered.
“Grandma was very sweet,” Iris whispered, getting up on her feet and setting the glass unicorn back down where she found it on the glass shelf in front her.
And when she did, Iris came face-to-face with a zombie who was standing on the other side of that glass shelving. Iris inhaled deeply to scream, but Georgia got to her feet and put her hand over Iris’s mouth just in time before the startled girl made any noise.
The three of them stood there, motionless and silent. Petrified beyond rational thought, they shook like three little leaves in the wind. Then they heard a crash, turning around and seeing a second zombie having stumbled into and knocked over another shelf in that cramped gift shoppe. Suddenly, they found themselves trapped. Both zombies were blind, dried blood from their eye sockets having streaked down and colored their cheeks. But the zombie in front of them was also deaf, dried blood having poured out of her ear drums and colored the sides of her neck.
She was one of the sorority girls who got infected a second time … one of the waddling dead. And she was standing between them and the doorway out of that gift shoppe. The poor zombie girl had a wrinkled forehead, wandering around aimlessly with no direction in movement. She couldn’t see or hear them, but she still knew they were there.
The other zombie had no visual signs of being deaf and was able to move in the direction of the sounds of their heavy breathing. Instinctively, Lorna tried to move to the side. But Georgia stopped her, shaking her head no and silently mouthing the directions to stay absolutely still. But the second zombie kept moving closer and closer to them and Lorna grew more desperate to run. Still, Georgia insisted they stayed right where they were.
The two zombies grew closer and closer and closer. And that was when Georgia did a countdown of five on her right hand, rattling a shelf when she reached one. The second zombie moved in the direction of the noise and knocked over several shelves in the process. One of the falling shelves knocked the blind and deaf zombie girl down.
“Go!” Georgia said, Iris and Lorna running for the door – the second zombie now moving quickly towards the sound of Georgia’s voice.
That second zombie, now advanced forward, shuffled right into the zombie girl who was still laying on the floor. The two zombies began fighting one another, giving the girls an ease of escape.
“Get to the pharmacy, down the hall then to the right!” Georgia said, she and the other two running as fast as they could.
The sounds of snarling and crashing glass could be heard coming from the gift shoppe.
That was too close of a call for the girls to handle and when they got into the pharmacy, they sat down behind a counter and took a few moments to let their emotions out through tears.
But the night was young and was going to get much worse for them.
Chapter Eighteen: The Bargaining Chip
A strange happening began on the second floor, not to say that everything that had taken place prior wasn’t strange. But the zombie doctor had instructed all the zombies on that floor to redirect all the sorority girls gone zombie into the maternity ward, stockpiling them there – in a sense. This was an action unbeknownst to Rikki and the girls. However, the forces outside were able to watch it as they had started to bring power back to the surveillance cameras. This was a process that they began with on the fourth floor, then working down.
The most important lines of sight they needed were on the first floor. So they saved those for last, first making certain that none of the other cameras had alerted the infected souls within.
Slinking along the first-floor hallway, Rikki, Britney Angelina and Brook (piggy-backed on Angelina) made their way over to a pyxis unit. Rikki pushed the unit to the side and tried to access it, knowing that the pyxis units in the hospital had a limited amount of stored power for situations like temporary power outages. Luckily, the unit worked and she began looking up information as Britney stood guard.
“So, some of them die from girl pee and some of them don’t die from girl pee,” Brook whispered, thoroughly confused. “How is that possible? Back at the camp, they all died from girl pee.”
“Now there are two strains of the virus, Sweetheart,” Rikki said, then banging her fist on the pyxis counter. “Dammit! All hospital networking is still down.”
Frustrated, she opened the pyxis case – getting out a diaper and bottle of pain killers for Brook and then signaling the girls to follow.
“Come on. Let’s hold up in the chapel for a little while,” Rikki said, Angelina following with Brook on her back.
But Britney looked in the pyxis case, pausing to think about it for a moment. If at least some of the zombies died from pee, then it made good sense to be prepared for that. Grabbing two more diapers from the case for she and Angelina, Britney followed after them.
The chapel was a tiny little room on the first floor with a few benches facing a unitarian altar. The room was dark but had a battery-powered lamp on the desk by the doorway. Rikki turned the lamp on and walked in, Angelina carrying Brook over to the nearest bench and setting her down. Then she stood up and stretched her back before helping Britney to stack several of the benches in front of the doorway.
The makeshift blockade would at least give them a few seconds head start, should they suddenly be discovered by the zombies.
“So, what is this bargaining chip you were talking about?” Britney asked, Angelina walking over and taking the diaper from Rikki – then walking over to Brook and having her lay on her back.
“Yeah, I’m still unclear about this whole two-strain thing, too,” Angelina said, unfolding the diaper and sliding it underneath Brook’s slightly-raised bottom.
“Well, that’s a good place to start,” Rikki said, going over to the small fridge at the side of the room and getting out bottles of water – then walking over to Brook and handing her the bottle of pain killers as well as the water. “The original strain of this virus is the one you fought over the weekend at that campground. It is also the virus that was brought to this hospital when you all arrived. But the second strain is the one that mutated out of the original while here at the hospital.”
“How is that possible?” Britney asked, sitting on the bench next to Brook and Angelina – setting the two diapers down and picking up a bottle of water to drink from it.
“When a virus enters the body, it attaches its proteins to the outside of healthy cells, then penetrates them and spreads,” Rikki explained, sitting at the desk by the doorway and opening the laptop on it. “When a virus enters the same body for a second time, that body’s immune system is more prepared to fight it off. It’s sort of like been there, done that. So, to infect that body a second time, the virus has to change its genetics a bit … sort of like putting on a costume at Halloween.
“But the people at this hospital who weren’t at the campground have become super-humanly strong – now that they are zombies,” Brook asked, trying to stay still as Angelina folded the front of her diaper up and into place – fastening the tapes snuggly at the girl’s hips. “How did they get infected only once, yet are stronger than the sorority girls who have been infected twice?”
“Because the emergency area was a wonderful breeding ground,” Rikki asked, looking something up on the laptop and doing so quickly as the battery power was getting low. “With more people in a tighter area, the mutations happened rapidly and numerously. It was nature’s selection to make the new strain stronger. That’s why some zombies die from pee and other do not.”
Britney and Angelina looked at the two diapers sitting on the bench, then grabbing them and unfolding them to put them on.
Girl pee would still be killer pee some of the time and it was worth it to be prepared.
“So, what do we do about this?” Britney asked – she, Angelina and Brook beginning to chug the bottles of water while getting into the diapers. “How do we get the upper hand?”
“It’s all about the antibodies,” Rikki explained, finding what she was looking for on the laptop. “Antibodies are protein in the blood that are produced by plasma cells. Antibodies are then used by the immune system to fight pathogens in the body like microorganisms or viruses that can cause disease. Maybe a cure can be made from the antibodies in blood that has gone viral.”
“Zombie blood,” Brook said.
“Exactly,” Rikki replied, shutting the laptop and standing up. “And that is the only place where we will find a possible cure.”
“Don’t you mean a vaccine?” Angelina asked.
“No. It’s too late for vaccines. The infected are already infected. They can’t be vaccinated against something they already have. And a vaccine can be produced later on, then used if needed. But the primary goal here is to cure the infected,” Rikki said, then heading to a side entrance out of the chapel. “Come on, girls. Let’s get moving.”
“Where are we going?” Brook asked while climbing up onto Angelina’s back.
“We have to find pure blood with the virus still inside it, but dormant,” Rikki explained leading them back out into the hallway. “And where will we find such inactive blood?”
“In the morgue,” Britney answered, her eyes lighting up.
“Exactly,” Rikki said, carefully leading them back to the emergency room area.
“That’s the bargaining chip!” Britney whispered with revelation.
Chapter Nineteen: The Westcott Vial
“Presenting the CDC with the option of not having to enter the hospital while still getting a pure sample of the viral blood might be enough to convince them to rescue the seven of us,” Rikki said, moving fast to the ER – the girls crinkling behind her just a swiftly.
Making their way down the center hallway of the emergency room area, they saw the sea of overturned stretchers that used to hold the sorority girls upon arrival. The hallway was a maze of past mayhem – everything left in disarray, abandoned and deserted. They made the long trek down that hallway, all the way to the end on the other side of the building … the morgue.
Britney, Angelina and Brook looked in through the doorway, drop-jawed and with gaping-eyed stares at the carnage of blood and death in front of them. Rikki slipped on a pair of latex gloves and a face mask.
“Stay back,” Rikki warned them. “Do not come in.”
Britney and Angelina took two enormous steps backward, Brook even leaning back a bit further than that.
“If any infected creatures show up, don’t wait for me. Just run,” Rikki said with sharpness in her voice, all three girls nodding. “Tell me again … what was the name of the first girl who got infected?”
“Ursula,” all three of them answered in unison, still horrified by what they were looking at.
Carefully walking into the morgue, Rikki stepped over top of broken glass – then checking the bodies to find most of them already drained of blood. Turning around, she saw the little lab – the front window of which being shattered … the source of the broken glass all over the place. Walking into the lab, she saw the blood on the floor and on the walls. But all of it was dry and she had no way of telling if it was zombie blood or other.
Opening the fridge in the little lab, Rikki smiled.
“There you are,” she said, reaching in and picking up a vial of blood with the donor’s name written on the side of it. “Ursula Westcott.”
Turning around, she looked back over at the stretchers, seeing some of them without bodies on them.
“Where are you, Ursula?” Rikki asked herself, raising an eyebrow.
From the door way, the girls could see Hillary’s decapitated body. For Brook, it was a very shocking sight. For Britney and Angelina, it brought back the horrid memory of how Hillary had been decapitated.
“Got it,” Rikki said, holding up the vial of blood – then seeing the looks on the girls’ faces. “Come on. Let’s go. We need to get to the roof.”
Rikki turned the girls away from looking at the bodies in the morgue, redirecting them over to the stairwell.
“What about the others?” Brook asked, Angelina and Britney following Rikki into the stairwell – all of them looking upward.
“We’ll hopefully find them on the way up,” Rikki whispered, heading up the first flight of stairs.
“What if we don’t find them on the way up?” Brook asked, Rikki coming to a screeching halt and exhaling deeply.
“Then it becomes part of the negotiations with the CDC,” Britney whispered, walking past Rikki. “I’m starting to get the hang of this.”
“Yes, you are,” Rikki whispered, smiling as Angelina walked past her with Brook still on her back. “The others will be found, Brook.”
Britney now led the way, followed by Angelina and Brook with Rikki bringing up the rear. They moved slowly but consistently as they stayed to the walls of the stairwell, keeping their eyes pointed upward.
“Wait!” Brook whispered excitedly. “Brit Brit?”
“Yes, Sweetie?” Britney asked, stopping on the first landing and turning to Brook.
“Can we somehow get the bodies of Rebecca, Yara and Chloe?” Brook whispered with tears in her eyes.
“Sweetie, we’ll get all of them,” Angelina whispered, continuing up the stairs and quietly passing by the second-floor door way. “But there’s a little more to getting those bodies than just asking for them.”
“What?” Brook asked. “They’re dead already. They’ve been through enough. What more do we have to do to get them back?”
“Rebecca was most likely infected when she was attacked and killed,” Britney whispered, following closely behind Angelina – Rikki still bringing up the rear. “And we know for sure that Yara and Chloe are not only dead but also infected.”
“Well, maybe they’re dormant like Rikki said some of them are,” Brook whispered with a pout, Angelina stopping to let Britney take the lead again as they had gotten to the third-floor door way.
Britney crinkled up to the door way and peered out into the floor.
“We’re good. Come on,” Britney said, continuing up the next flights of stairs.
“Britney,” Angelina said, walking up to the third-floor landing and looking up at Britney on the next flight.
Hearing the monotone quality in Angelina’s voice, Britney stopped and turned around to face her.
“Where are Yara and Chloe right now?” Angelina asked.
“In the morgue,” Britney answered without hesitation.
That was the moment when she made the same revelation Angelina had already made. The bodies of Yara and Chloe were not in the morgue. And there were several stretchers, at least two, that were empty in the morgue.
Just then, Chloe walked in through the third-floor door way. She was decrepit, diseased, a bit decomposed and her eyes were missing. But she could sense the four of them in that stairwell.
Nobody moved, hoping Chloe would pass them by. But when she turned to face Angelina, Chloe sensed two living souls right in front of her. And she smiled, then shoving Angelina backward. Angelina fell down the flight of stairs as did Brook who was on Angelina’s back, both of them tumbling and coming to rest at Rikki’s feet on the first landing down. Brook grabbed her broken ankle and cried in pain.
“Run back down the stairs!” Britney screamed, getting up on the center railing and jumping at Chloe. “Ruuuuuun!”
Continue on to Episodes 20-22
………………….. The ABDL Twisted Books
If you like these books, you may want to check out: The Dark Age Play Series