Estimated reading time — 6 minutes
“15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.” Job 34:15
People yell and run around me. Papers fly everywhere from the nurse’s charts and the doctors knock down the patients as they run to the stairwell. What’s going on? Why is everybody in such a hurry? I stumble aimlessly through the halls without a guide. I smell the cleanness of the building.
“Jason.” I hear from Lacey. She stands still amidst all the chaos as I walk towards her. The doctors and security guards are running around me.
“We need to get the hell out of here. They’re coming. Forget the patients. We need to think of ourselves. They’ll only slow us down.” A guard says to Lacey as he tries to jerk her away. I see the fear in his eyes. Damn him.
“We can’t do that.” I say.
“Shut up” The guard pushes me into the wall.
“Maury, don’t do that.” Lacey yells at the guard as she helps me up.
I don’t want her to leave. I want to be around her. Lacey grabs my arm and drags me into one of the cells. I grab her nurse’s dress and tug and shake my head. “Just stay. Stay here with me.” I say. I don’t want her to go.
“Jason, stay here and stay away from the door. You need to stay quiet while I’m away. I need to get out of here. From the open door, I see a pale person hold Maury against the wall and bite into his flesh. Blood spurts cover the walls and spray into the cell. Lacey runs and closes the door. She puts her weight into the door.
The doctors say it is all in my head, because after years of living poorly with the stress and not being accepted in the community I lived in, my mind broke down. Now I’m here, but I’m not crazy. I’m just a broken man.
Some of the dead continue to walk the halls, but they don’t know we’re in here. “Jason, listen to me, how are we getting out of here. I need you to help me.”
“I don’t know. We could just walk out into the hospital. I don’t know.” I run my hands through my hair.
Moonlight pours light into the room through the barred windows. I can’t hear anything from the outside. Silence is like the sound of doom. Nothing survives in the end. Everything dies. It was silent when my brother died.
Lacey and I walk out of the cell door. She looks both ways before stepping out. “It’s okay. You can come out.”
I walk out warily and looks around. There’s dead people everywhere, except I think they’re really dead. They’re not moving.
We walk to the exit. She’s leading me by the hand.
Moaning comes from the side corridor.I look and there is one of those things ripping into someone’s intestines. Steam comes from the dead body. It must be a fresh kill. The thing raises it’s head. It’s the security guard. A large teeth marked gash drips thick blood down his neck. In his teeth a piece of intestine hangs and he chews on it like gum.
“Jason get to the stairs.” Lacey opens the door and pushes me into the emergency lights of the stairwell.
She follows and slams the door shut behind us. I can hear the dead guard hissing behind the door. “Lacey, Are those things still human?” I ask.
“No, I don’t think so. They’re kind of like ice in water. Ice is water, but it floats instead of sinks. So in a way, those things are like us.”
“They only have the appearance of us, but they’re not us?”
“Yea, keep moving.”
She grabs my hand, but I pull away. “I’m fine. I can walk myself. I just had a breakdown. I’m not like the rest of the patients.”
“Okay, it’s fine. I just thought you’d want to hold my hand.” She looks at me.
I break the gaze and put my hand around hers. “You’re right. I do, it’s just…I don’t know.” Her thumbs rub over my knuckles.
I don’t know what exactly should be done, but I should do something. What can I do? There has to be solution here. “Let’s walk to the roof.” We can block that door and see what’s going on at the street level.”
“Good idea.” She says and we walk.
The cool night air rushes past us into the stairwell. We close the door. “I hope nothing decides to stroll up here. There isn’t anything to block the door with.”
“We’ll be fine.” She says. “Let’s go look over the edge.”
We walk over and look down at the destruction. Vehicles on fire, light poles tipped over, are all just indicators of the wasteland. Smoke rises into the air and curls into nothingness. This is the end, or is it. What’s so bad about being one of those things? If we’re the water and they’re the ice, then… I don’t know. Forget it. I can think about it later.
We sit on the edge of the sanatorium and dangle our legs. The night is cold and clouds obscure the moon. We sit next to each other. She puts her arm through mine and rests her head on my shoulders.
“Other than this, how was your day?”
“Still making small talk, huh Jason?” She looks at me.
“Yea, I mean what else is there to talk about? The world’s just ended and as far as we know, we’re the only two left in an anarchist’s garden of Eden.”
“There’ll be someone pop up and try and make some order out of this mess.” She says quietly. “That’s the way things go. Like the guard, he loved being in power and now he’s dead. Someone will come to replace him as it goes.”
This is one of those times when I regret being so reserved. I wish I could tell her that she’s wrong. This destruction has led to the downfall of civilization as we know it. It probably isn’t the time to worry about politics, or society as it is now. “Forget it. How are we supposed to get down from here?”
“I don’t know. We should stay up here and just watch the fires.”
We sit for a while. I’m trying to focus on the feeling of her next to me, but it seems impossible. I don’t know what to do. I want to save her from this, but it seems that there is nothing to do.
The fires crackle and an errant scream emanates from the night from time to time. People who didn’t make it out in time. A car speeds past the sanatorium, the driver hits one of the things in the street. Like a blood stained pinwheel, the thing flips over the hood of the car and collapses in the street. It slowly gets back to its feet and shuffles aimlessly.
“Do you think we’ll make it out of this?” I ask.
She looks up at me. “I don’t think so. Eventually, those things will come up here and we’re stuck here. Maybe we should try to stay in this moment and just enjoy the last bit of each other’s company.”
I stand up. “I don’t like that. We have to try, don’t we? What’s the point of going on if we don’t try? That’s all life is originally. And the ice/zombies and us/water, you know we’re more than that, aren’t we?”
“You’re not making any sense, right now.”
“They’re us and we’re them. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t know what to do and it’s frustrating.”
She stands up and rubs my arm, “Calm down. Calm Down. You don’t need to have the answers to everything.”
Staring into her eyes, I think, This is all that my existence has come to? Four years of college and a nervous breakdown to die on a roof with Lacey. No white picket fence, no dog, no kids, no dreams of anything more than death’s embrace?
Banging comes from the door. Lacey and I run to it and push our bodies up against it. We struggle to keep our footing, my slippers do nothing for traction and Lacey’s slipping too in her nurse’s shoes. I grab her and pull her away from the door.
“What are you doing?” She struggles against me.
“They’re not fast, right? Let them out and then lure them to the edge of the building and push them off.”
“That’s…ahh.” One of the things bites Lacey’s arm.
I can see it ripping the flesh of her arm and tearing the sinew and muscle. It rips a large chunk from her forearm. It chews the muscle and blood pours like a faucet. Lacey falls down and a large crowd of them swarm her. They rip and tear at her flesh.
She reaches towards me. I stand there watching. There’s nothing I can do. She spits blood like a geyser. They tear into her abdomen and her intestines fall out as she struggles. One of the things grabs her hair and rips off a scalp. She screams a rabid scream of pain and then silence.
I back away from the pack slowly. I slip on the rooftop gravel and fall. I scramble up and leap forward my leg gets caught. One of those things has my foot and is trying to take a chunk out of me.
I’m hopping on one foot trying to pull my foot away when my other foot slips and half of me goes off the edge of the sanatorium. The thing is losing it’s grip on my ankle. Dangling on the side of the building you were once committed in, isn’t as glorious as it would seem. I still don’t know what to do. In the end, that’s all of us. We really don’t know what to do, the lucky ones get to follow the crowd. The ones like me get destroyed or watch the ones we love get destroyed. I guess, that’s the only guarantee, that life goes on regardless of everything else.
Credit To: Ben