Escape

Posted: April 14, 2015 in 03 Escape
Tags: , , ,

Della watched the mob approach the San Antonio Veterans Clinic. She decided the mass of bodies moved like a single cell organism. The fringes of the crowd ebbed and flowed, swallowing up slow-moving running people unable to escape.

Individuals who tried and failed to outrun the horde were torn apart and lurched over by the mob with them barely breaking stride. The bodies disappeared amid the stumbling feet. Even from a block away, Della could see grievous wounds on each and every one of the people in the horde.

Few cars moved on nearby streets. The afternoon was void of normal office sounds and the usual hum of conversation in the building. The only thing she could hear now was the steady moan of the infected and random screams of the dying.

In the last hour, only a couple vehicles had ventured out. One of those had slammed into a stalled civilian Humvee and the second stopped by the sheer volume of bodies surrounding it. In both cases, screams had ensued then fell silent. The horde moved on and the vehicles remained.

As the crowd got closer to the center, Della could see individuals and their horrible injuries-the flesh of limbs and faces torn and clothes soaked in carnage.

She watched as a man struggled to keep up with the others. He wore a white wife-beater t-shirt and boxer shorts. Raw torn flesh hung in strips from his limbs exposing tendons and bone. Remnants of the t-shirt bared his eviscerate abdomen. Loops of intestines hung from the gaping wound.

The man’s horrendous injuries, even as bad as they were, were not the worst in the crowd. She saw arms torn from bodies, faces shredded to ribbons and throats torn open. As the crowd drew closer each of the horribly battered individuals became a stark reality.

They staggered and stumbled, walking as if their legs had lost the memory of the function. Despite the ungainly and uncoordinated movements, they were able to take down anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path by sheer numbers. From time to time there was gun shots, but from what Della could see, body shots made little impact.

“It’s just like the news reports said. There’s something wrong with those people.” Della whispered. “We have to get out of here, Steve. They’re heading this way.”

She looked over her shoulder at the soldier sitting on the bench. Steve adjusted the new carbon-fiber running prosthetics she had fitted to his healed stumps. He had been a runner before serving in Afghanistan and losing both legs below the knees. Della spent the afternoon making adjustments to the cuffs that held the fiberglass blades to his lower limbs and letting him get comfortable using them. They had spent most of the morning oblivious to the chaos taking place around San Antonio until Steve noticed warnings scrolling across the muted television screen in the therapy room.

They turned up the volume and watched news reports of attacks around the city and even saw a video feed of victims attacked by the infected. The news was horror-filled and graphic. Some of the reporters speculated the attacks were caused by an airborne virus, while others insisted it was a terror attack. Of course, there were those who claimed it was end of days and the wrath of God.

“We’re running out of time.” Della placed her slender ebony hand on Steve’s elbow to help him stand. With a crash and scream from the lower floor, she added. “They’re in the building!”

Steve answered. “I’m ready! I can do this.” He shifted his stance on the blades and looked out the window one last time. “They kept raising their noses as if scenting like a dog? Do you think they can smell live people?”

Della gathered a canvas satchel. “I don’t know and I don’t intend to stick around long enough to ask them.” Her dark face blanched as the whites of her eyes betrayed her terror. “I hear running in the hallway. We’re trapped!”

Steve took a step toward the back of the room. He wobbled then steadied himself and pointed toward the back of the room. “Supply closet. Now!” He ordered.

Steve grabbed Della’s arm and pushed her forward. Together, they hurried across the room to a closed door. Della pulled a key from her I.D. badge and inserted it into the lock. She opened the door and Steve pushed her inside.

He pulled the door closed and pushed the button in the knob. It was a cheap, hollow core door and five dollar door lock that wouldn’t hold for long. Della pulled the string of the overhead light. The room filled with pale yellow light.

Steve glanced around the small room looking from floor to ceiling. He noticed an attic access, but his attention settled on the shelves of cleaning supplies at the back of the room next to a deep mop sink. He stepped closer, turning a number of the plastic bottles around to read the labels until he finally selected one.

“We’re testing my theory.” Steve commented. “If they can smell live people this should cover our scent.”

He grabbed the bottle and twisted off the cap. The air filled with the harsh odor of ammonia based cleaner. He held the bottle close to the floor and poured a trickle of the liquid under the door. After a moment of hesitation, he poured even more across the door frame at the edge where the door met the framing. When he was done he closed the lid, set down the bottle and reached out to cover Della’s hand with his own while he raised the other to turn off the light. The closet went dark, the smell of ammonia hung heavy in the air.

Steve leaned toward Della and whispered. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault you’re still here. If you hadn’t been adjusting the blades, you wouldn’t be here now.”

Della shrugged then answered softly. “I would have been out there. I should be thanking you for keeping me late.” That’s when a scream startled them to silence.

Della whispered in the dark. “I thought we were alone. Everyone should have left by three.”

“Sh-h-h-h. We don’t know who it is.” Steve whispered.

They heard hurried footsteps enter the therapy room. A door slammed and the grating sound of a metal desk and therapy tables being slid across the room could be heard. They heard heavy benches being stacked at the door. Someone whimpered. Angry voices tried to quiet the person crying.

“There went any chances of this room going unnoticed,” Steve whispered.

Della and Steve waited as the voices whispered, frantically. Broken bits of conversation filtered through the closet door.

“. . . in here. Only room open. . . .”

“. . . the door isn’t going to hold long.” A deeper voice whispered.

“Shut the fuck up and cover the window!” An angry voice answered.

Pounding fists on the hall door drowned out the rest of the conversation.

Hurried steps approached the closet door and the doorknob rattled. A voice from outside whispered just loud enough for Steve and Della to hear.

“Oh God! They’re coming!”

“Get the fuckin’ door open!” A distant voice called out. “We have to hide.”

“Smells like ammonia.”

“Get the door open! They know we’re here.”

More footsteps rushed toward the closet. The door handle rattled and turned frantically. A female voice outside the door lamented. “Oh God! Oh God! We’re gonna die!”

Splintering wood and sliding furniture sounded beyond the closet door.

Della took a breath then whispered. “We have to do something.”

Steve turned the doorknob and swung the door outward. It stopped suddenly when it hit something solid. It was someone’s face. Steve looked out and saw a thin young man crumpled to the floor with his cupped hand clutching at his nose. Bright red  blood spilled between his fingers. A large black kid dressed in scrubs pulled the fallen kid to his feet. They both stared wide-eyed at Steve. They noticed his legs and the blades and their mouths fell open.

Della’s breath caught when she saw the two young men and three women standing outside the door, unmoving. She grabbed one of the girls and pulled her into the closet.

“Hurry! Get your butts in here!”

“My fuckin’ nose. You broke my nose!” The skinny kid lamented.

“Get in here and be quiet,” Steve ordered as he pushed the younger two women into the closet.

Della pulled the receptionist and the boys deeper into the closet to allow Steve to step inside as well. He pulled the door closed, depressed the lock and turned the light back on.

“This isn’t going to hold for long,” Steve whispered.

Della examined the five new arrivals huddled together. “What are ya’ll still doing here?”

One of the girls whispered back. “We were in the HR office completing paperwork for the intern program. The director left and didn’t come back.” Tears slid down her face as she stared back at Della. “Why does it smell like ammonia in here?”

“Doesn’t matter, now,” Steve answered. “We need to figure out how to get outta here.”

Without being told, the entire group pushed even further from the door. Steve glanced at the framed opening in the ceiling above the utility sink again.

Outside the closet, the sound of the hall door being pushed open and heavy furniture sliding across the wood floor could be heard. The moans and groans of the infected grew in volume to be heard above the whimpering of one of the girls. She sniffed and her breath catching as a terrified sob escaped her lips.

Della whispered forcefully. “Quiet.”

The room grew silent. Everyone froze.

Shuffling steps grew louder. The sound stopped outside the closet then sniffs and snorts announced the infected’s interest in the closet. Slowly the sound grew louder as more bodies brushed against the door snuffling at the floor and door frame. A sudden crash against the door rattled the door knob.

The group inside the closet held their breath and each face reflected the terror they felt. The first slam of flesh against the door sounded like an explosion. One pounding hand turned to two, then three then more. Then a lot more.

Steve whispered. “Jigs up. We have to move, Della!”

Della nodded. “Where?”

Steve pointed to the ceiling. “The attic access door in the ceiling. We have to get up there.”

Another slam against the door sent the boy with smears of blood on his face to the top of the sink in a single fluid leap. He quickly pushed the access door aside then pulled himself into the dark recesses above the utility closet.

He leaned down and whispered. “There’s plenty of room. Even some decking.”

He reached down and one by one the girls in the group ascended into the darkness overhead. When only three were left, Steve pointed at Della. “You next.”

She picked up a flashlight from the utility shelf then passed it to an outstretched hand from above. She climbed to the sink edge and reached overhead, then hesitated. She turned back to Steve and Zack.

“What about you?”

Steve shrugged. He kicked out a leg with the curved blade attached. “I’ll never make it up on the sink.”

The sound of the hand pummeling the door grew louder. Frustrated at not reaching their prey, several of the infected outside the door slammed their bodies against the wood. The door rattled and the frame creaked with the abuse. Zack jumped.

“You folks can stick around if you want, but I’m outta here.” Zack reached out to pull himself into the sink.

Della stepped out of the sink and pushed against Zack’s chest. “Not so fast, bone head. Okay, Steve, don’t be stupid. Get in the sink. We’ll hold your legs and you can pull yourself up. We’ll be crawling anyway. You can do that.”

“Alright, we gotta hurry. That door’s not going to hold long.” Steve stepped toward the porcelain sink. Bodies slammed against the entrance splintering wood on the outside of the door. Steve reached up to pull himself into the sink.

Zack gasped as he reached out to steady Steve. “Hurry, man!”

Steve raised his right leg and placed a blade to the rounded edge of the sink and Zack glommed on to the curved fiberglass. The foot pad slipped and Zack tightened his grip.

“Get up there,” He ordered. Another slam against the door and more wood splintered leaving an opening for the infected to peer at the trio inside.

Della reached for Steve’s blade when he raised his left leg. “Hurry, Steve. We don’t have much time.”

Steve disappeared into the gaping maw of the attic. Bodies slammed against the door and the frame began to tear away from the wall.

Della slammed her hand against Zack’s back. He jumped into the sink just as the assault crashed against the door again. He reached up and kicked off from the sink. The sink yawned away from the wall with a loud groan. It hung at an angle supported only by the drain and pipes.

The big kid hung from the opening, his massive legs pumping midair struggling to pull his body into the attic.

Della grabbed a leg and pushed up. “Damn it, kid! Get up there!”

Zack disappeared into the gaping maw of the attic access.

Another slam against the door and the top half of the wood panel in the door caved into the closet. Della scrambling into the sink just as a final assault tore the door from the final hinge.

The infected fell into the opening of the shattered door amid a haze of noxious smells that overpowered even the smell of ammonia. The odor of feces, urine and the copper smell of blood filled the small closet. The stumbling attackers struggled to their feet only to be trampled by more of the infected anxious to get to the prey.

Della jumped up to grab at the rafters above the opening. The sink wobbled and shifted away from below her as Della clasped the bare wood. The infected reached out and Della screamed.

Strong hands closed around Della’s wrists and jerked them free of the two-by-eight. She was hauled into the dark. Dead hands clawed at her scrubs as she was spirited into the attic. Her terrified gasp filled the darkened void. When she was released at the edge of the opening she fell to her knees trembling.

“You’re safe, now,” Steve whispered.

A whining voice whispered. “But we’re trapped in an attic.”

Comments
  1. arckrc44 says:

    ” She saw arms torn from bodies, faced shredded into ribbons and throats torn open.” it’s graphic, love it! You got a good thing going here Charlotte, keep up the great work!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joe Tremblay says:

    ” She saw arms torn from bodies, faced shredded into ribbons and throats torn open.” Graphic, love it! Good job Charlotte, you got a good thing going here!

    Liked by 1 person

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