Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 2 - Installment: i

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        Scott Edmond was accustomed to heavy sleep. When he was drinking he slept heavy but poorly – more unconscious than asleep, and sober he found his long work hours made the short time he slept too precious to allow for light sleep.
        None the less, he wasn’t surprised that he couldn’t sleep with the vision of Tanya Meyer’s feeding on her youngest child fresh in his mind.
        He rolled over for what must have been the thousandth time since night fell. It would probably be dawn soon. Had to be dawn soon. It had been a long long day since he and Shale had begun their search of Jeremy Meyer’s likely haunts, but still Scott had only managed to get what he would guess were mere minutes of sleep.
        He had poured over the autopsy of Tanya Meyers for hours trying to make some sense of it. It was hauntingly familiar, and in so being confirmed to his satisfaction that not only was Moira Chan’s assailant Jeremy Meyers, but that Meyers had passed on whatever disease he had to his wife, and that that in turn didn’t look good for himself, Carly or Shale.
        The ME was clearly as disturbed and confused as anyone else. Tanya Meyers’ corpse had entered an ‘unusually advanced and accelerated stage of decomp’ by the time the coroner had begun his examination. Furthermore, in the course of the examination, her body had practically melted before his eyes, faster and faster as he hurried to try to glean any facts he could about the cause of her death. The immediate cause was obvious. Edmond had turned in his 9mm for ballistic examination. There would be no doubt that the four slugs that brought down Tanya Meyers had come from it. He was hiding nothing. But what was it – what in the disease – caused such rapid and unusual decomposition in the deceased?
        I’m no virologist. Yet…
        It struck Scott that he had been witness to nearly as much as the CDC knew about the disease. In a sense he was as close to a world authority as there was. For the moment, at least. If he was infected he’d learn a lot more, first hand, soon. The thought helped keep him awake.
        Carly and Shale too. Who knew how this thing was passed from carrier to carrier. If Tanya Meyers had contracted it from her husband, it was likely that her daughter could have done so as well. Edmond was concerned for the young girl. Shale had open wounds from Meyers’ attack. By Scott’s figuring it wasn’t promising for Shale, no matter what the method of transmission was.
        The seal on the door slid open, and a nurse came in.
        “You should be sleeping.” She suggested.
        “Not like I’m not trying.”
        A nurse checked on him every few hours. It hadn’t helped his intermittent light sleep.
        “I feel fine.” He told her as she made a quick check of the machines that were monitoring his vital statistics – pulse, temperature, blood pressure – on an ongoing basis.
        “That doesn’t mean you’re well.”
        “All the others couldn’t keep warm, and they were hungry all the time.”
        “ALL the others?”
        Tanya was cold and hungry when we visited her. She had said her husband was the same. And they were sensitive to light.”
        “It’s still dark out. Are you ready for breakfast?” she asked.
        “Getting there.”
        “I see.”
        Scott breathed a heavy sigh of defeat.
        “Well, you seem fine.” She made a brief note on her metal clip-board of papers and walked out of the room.
        How long did it take for Tanya to show signs? He wondered. No matter which way this goes, I hope it goes fast. I wonder if Bev will know anything new in the morning.

        Scott was disturbed from his thoughts by a noise on the other side of the sealed door. A loud noise. The noise of distress. A cry of fear.
        He pulled the sticky patches from his arms and went to the door.
        Unmistakable. A scream.
        I’m quarantined.
        A crash.
        Fuck it.
        He pulled the door aside and entered the small cubicle that acted as a sterile lock. There was a brief whoosh of automated cycling as clean air replaced the suspect air from within his room. He pulled the outer door open, and stepped out into a larger room that served as a quad for the eight sealed patient rooms.
        No one was in sight. The floor was scattered with papers, and the nurses’ metal clip-board. The door of one of the other sealed rooms sat wide open.
        Scott had a sinking feeling in his gut that he knew what had happened.
        How did the disease advance so quickly in Francis?
        Next his thoughts went to the small girl. Which room was hers? Was she okay?
        One door sat between the doors to Scott’s and Shale’s rooms. It seemed as logical a place as any to start, and his logic paid off. Carly laid asleep in her bed.
        I can’t leave her alone with Francis on the rampage.
        He began pulling wired pads from her.
        “Carly, wake up.”
        The young girl stirred.
        “Come on, Carly. Hold on to me.”
        He pulled her up out of the bed as she sleepily put her arms around his neck.
        “Where are we going?” She mumbled.
        “We’re not safe, here Honey. Hold tight.”
        Back through the sterile lock to Carly’s room and back into the quad.
        Where’d they all go? Edmond wondered. Even on the graveyard shift there must have been just the one nurse in the ward.
        He looked around the room, only finding one exit. A long hall. The light from the quad illuminated just the first several yards of the hall, several pot lamps provided dull pools of light along the way, but the hall was otherwise dark, but for the red glow of an exit sign at the end.
        Only one way out. That’s where they went. Where they were pursued.
        Unless they were to remain trapped, it was where they had to go too.
        Keeping one eye on the hallway, Scott glanced over the counter of the nurses’ station. A metal ruler was the first thing that caught his eye. A lousy weapon, but a far cry better than bare hands – especially when one was supporting a seven year-old with one arm.
        “Hide your eyes, Carly.”
        “What’s happening?”
        “I don’t really know. But we may be in danger.”
        “Like from Mommy?”
        “Something like that.”
        “I’ve seen it before then.”
        “Just keep them closed for safety.”
        She was technically right. She’d witnessed the worst of things a person could imagine, she probably couldn’t be much more scarred than she already had been. But she could be scared. He was carrying her, and if she were to be startled it could throw his own reactions and cost them both dearly where otherwise it might not have.
        Slowly, keeping an eye on the shadows as he inched along, Scott made his way down the hall. He kept the ruler in front of him, poised to swing as necessary should Shale be hiding around a corner or behind a door.
        “Why are people getting bad?” whispered Carly in his ear.
        “They aren’t really bad. Sometimes, like your Mom, they can’t help it. They just get sick.”
        “How do they get sick?”
        “That’s why we’re here. The doctors are trying to find out.”
        He stepped to the side and went wide around the corner to the open janitor’s closet. It was too shallow to have enough shadow to hide in.
        “Are we getting sick?”
        “No. You and I are fine. You don’t feel sick do you?” He knew he was talking out of his ass, but he figured confidence was more important to the little girl than honesty at the moment. Besides, if he was wrong it wouldn’t matter for long.
        “Is the other police sick?”
        “Is he bad?”
        “I’m sorry, Carly, yes he is. But I’m going to protect you.”
        “Okay.” She tightened her arms around his shoulders and buried her face dutifully into his neck.
        They were almost to the exit. It occurred to Scott that there must be a thousand possible places to hide behind them. He glanced over his shoulder. Nothing moving between them and the light of the CDC ward. He felt a wave of confidence wash over him.
        The victims don’t seem to have a habit of laying in wait. His evidence was scant, but it all conformed. He needed something to act on, or he’d be paralyzed.
        The exit door posed another problem. He had no one to cover him as he went through. He pushed down on the handle and unlatched the door. Then raising his weapon, he toed the door open. Light poured out of the stairwell into the hall. The shift in light hurt his eyes.
        He’ll be sensitive to light. We’re home free.
        He stepped through the door.
        As he carried Carly down the stairs he heard a strange sound from below. Getting to the first landing he turned and saw a trail of blood down the last few stairs, culminating at a sprawled figure.
        It was the nurse who had checked in on him only minutes earlier. Her throat was torn open and blood pumped from the wound in the weakest of pulses imaginable. She sucked for air through her shattered wind-pipe. Jaw quivered as if she were trying to speak.
        Scott looked over her, placing himself in her line of vision. She blinked, but her horrified stare seemed passive. She was in shock and was barely aware of him, if at all.
        “I’m going to find someone.”  He told her firmly.
        Carly raised her head from his shoulder, but he firmly pushed it back down as he stepped over the body of the dying woman.
        For all practical purposes it had been a lie. Shale had caught up to her here. He had ventured into the stairwell, despite the light sensitivity – and as his eyes adjusted, Scott recognized that the lights in the stairwell were quite dim, some sort of power-conscious late-night mode for the less traveled portions of the hospital. Shale could be anywhere nearby. That would force Scott to be cautious, and that would slow him down. He would never find someone in time to save the nurse, even if it had been realistic in the first place.
        The stairwell was more confined than he cared for, and if possible he’d be happier with something better to defend with than a ruler. The next floor down was better lit than the CDC ward had been, but still no-one in sight. An explanation was forthcoming practically immediately. Cries of distress from the hall to his left gave away Shale’s location.
        You can’t help them. Scott told himself. Protect Carly.
        It was true. There was no way he could do both. Carly was too much of a burden, even if overpowering an enraged Shale was likely or safe.
        The screaming was from his left. Scott went right. He ran down the hall in his bare feet and hospital issue pajamas. Running around a corner he was met face to face with an orderly coming the opposite direction. The orderly was a big man, nearly six and a half feet tall and barrel-chested, might have as easily been a wrestler, despite his size he was light on his feet and approached the corner with curious apprehension as he advanced on his toes. The ID tag clipped to his scrubs identified him as Dan Bishop.
        “What’s going on?” the big man queried Scott.
        “CDC ward patient has gone nuts. He’s killed at least one person already.”
        “Shit.” The orderly muttered as he started off towards the fracas.
        “Hey wait!” Scott hollered after him. The orderly stopped and turned.
        “He’s infectious. Protect yourself.”
        “I will.” The big man assured Scott and disappeared around the corner where Scott had come from.

     Installment ii

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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.