Infection / Destruction / Hope

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Bigpappa305

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Hello everyone I was inspired by Z's novels and honestly captivated by his characters. I was moved to give it a try myself. Please let me know what you think. I am posting Chapter 2 of what I have been writing. I've only been working on it a short time but Chapter 2 is where it starts to heat up a bit. The working title right now is "Frenzied". Hope you enjoy.

01/07/11
- Sorry I guess I should have posted this in the "Fiction" section as it has nothing to do with Morningstar. My apologies. If the mods wish I will re-post in that section. Thank you.
Bigpappa305

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Chapter 2: Infection

 

4:47pm PST

           

            Lucia Obragonte was hunched over a countertop, delicately picking through the shredded remains of what was once a chicken enchilada she had gotten for lunch. As her chin rest on her right palm, her elbow and arm supporting her head Lucia yawned exhaustedly. She had pulled a double shift and had seen more than her share of blood for the day. Her light blue scrub pants still showing small spots of blood from earlier patients attested to this. Lucia looked at the clock impatiently. “Thank you Jesus. Only one more hour.” Lucia thought to herself as she breathed a huge sigh of relief. With the addition of all the snowbird tourists added to the population, nurses here rarely get the chance for a break during the winter months.

            Lucia was very happy that things had calmed down enough that she could relax for a few minutes, and was equally thrilled that she had been given enough time to eat as well. Finishing her enchilada she stood upright placing her hands on the back of her hips and bent backward cracking her aching back in several places. “Oh, ay Dios mio. I’m getting to old for this.”  Lucia said to herself, fully aware of the fact that she was only thirty four and would have to endure much, much more pain before the end of her life. As she finished cracking the bones in her neck she scooped up the wrapper the torn remains of her lunch lay on. She clumped it into a ball and shot it into a nearby waste basket as she meandered out of the break room and headed towards the emergency room floor.

            She was taking her time getting back to the ER, swaggering slowly down the hall enjoying the precious little time she had left to herself. She knew someone would be waiting to put her right back to the work she was so absolutely ready to be done with the very moment she got back to the ER. Unfortunately for Lucia, that work was not about to wait for her. As she walked the final stretch towards the ER she began to hear shouting coming from the end of the corridor. Suddenly she saw a gurney surrounded by nurses and doctors fly by the intersection at the end of the hallway, a young man and woman following closely behind. Lucia’s heart sank. She was one of the senior nurses on staff that day and knew that anyone being moved that quickly on a gurney would be needing her help as well.

            Lucia started a flat out run down the corridor, taking a quick right turn at the end of the hall. She looked to a large glass trauma room in the center of the ER and could tell by the heightened amount of activity, that was where she needed to be.  As Lucia was opening the door to the glass enclosed room she felt a hand grab tightly onto her left wrist. She scowled as she looked at the hand keeping her from entering the trauma room, then up to the face of the owner of the five fingered restraint. Lucia found herself looking up into the face of a young man no older than twenty two, it was Robert. “Is he going to be ok?” asked the young man. “I need to know is he going to be ok?” Robert asked again more forcefully. “Look kid I just got here, I don’t even know what’s going on yet. You need to go sit down and let me get in there and help this man.” Lucia said with a firm look. The grip Robert had on Lucia remained just as tight as when he first took hold. She was slightly stunned by this, as the look she had given him had always worked on her two sons who were not much younger than the man standing in front of her now. She didn’t know the young man’s relationship to the man on the trauma room table but she could tell that the patient’s condition was very important to him. “Look I don’t know what’s going on with this man and if you don’t let me go then I can’t do anything to help him.” Lucia said anxiously with a glare. “Look take a seat over there and I will make sure someone notifies you as soon as there’s any news, now please… let me go so I can help your friend.” She said as she motioned with her free hand over to a row of seats along a nearby wall.  “He’s my brother, not my friend, and his fiancé is with me I’d like to keep her updated if that’s not to much trouble.” Robert sneered, returning a glaring look back at the nurse as he released his grip and gently threw her hand back to her side. Lucia watched as the young man walked towards a different row of seats than she had pointed to and sat down next to a young woman that she could tell was trying her best to refrain from sobbing intensely, although not always succeeding. Lucia shook her head in disbelief recalling the incident that had just transpired and quickly started back into the trauma room. As she entered she turned her body from side to side weaving herself in between medical personnel and machinery. “His breathing is slowing we may have to intubate” a female nurse called out. “Heart rate’s slowing get a crash cart in hear!” a louder male voice yelled. “Lucia, patient has some sort of foreign debris in his upper thigh, believed to be poisonous. We need to remove it and run a tox screen asap!” one of the doctors shouted to Lucia, as she snapped a second glove on her hand. “Si, doctor.” She replied as she quickly positioned herself near the man’s upper left thigh, pulling a tray with various medical tools to rest by her side. Lucia worked hurriedly using a pair of scissors to cut away the swim trunks where the doctor had indicated the foreign object to be. As she pulled the material away she felt her stomach wrench as she fought to keep from vomiting. The man’s leg around the protruding barb had gone from an infectious red to a pale pasty white. His veins show through his skin as clear as day, a black and greenish web almost seemed to jut out from under his skin. Lucia turned her attention to the point of entry. A large brown, smooth, hollow object about two inches long stuck out from a gaping wound on the man’s leg. The wound was pulsating and spewing small bits of yellowish white puss from around the sides of the object moving the object slightly as it pulsed. Lucia attempted to grip the barb with a set of forceps but the jaws would not open wide enough. She eyed the other utensils on the tray and scowled. “Damn it none of these are going to work, nothing’s big enough.” Lucia thought annoyed by the lack of practical tools. “Hold him down! I’m going to have to pull this thing out by hand!” She yelled to the other medical personnel. The other nurses and doctors moved in to brace the man as Lucia moved in ready to pull the barb from the man’s leg.

            Duane had been mostly still during the entire event, drifting in and out of consciousness. He had opened his eyes when they had first started tearing his shirt off, and clutched the side of one of the nurses but that had been it. The pain he was already in was unbearable and that was evident. The doctors and nurses weren’t sure how much worse the pain could get or if he would even feel it when they removed the object, but they weren’t taking any chances. Everyone got into position pressing down on a part of Duane’s body. Lucia reached almost into the would seizing the barb as far down of the exposed area as possible. Duane’s face grimaced and a moan escaped his lips. “Ok. Everybody ready? Hold him down, uno…dos…tres!” Lucia shouted as she wrenched backward with all her might, dislodging the object and pulling it free of Duane’s leg. Puss followed quickly behind it in the now open wound, oozing and bubbling out in thick waves of yellowish white with hints of black curdled blood now mingling with the grotesque concoction.

            Lucia was almost entranced as she stared at the object in her hand. The object that could only be described as a stinger was indeed huge. It was around six inches long from the tip to where it had ended outside Duane’s leg, and at least two inches around at its’ widest point.  It was a dark brownish color with evidence of  puss still glistening on the sides. A dark tan liquid formed a droplet at the smallest point, or the tip of the stinger. “Lets get this to tox.” Lucia said to another nurse as she placed the stinger in a clear plastic specimen container and sealed the lid tightly. As she was handing it over to the nurse Lucia could see the dark tan liquid forming a small ring in the bottom of the plastic cup. “What the hell is this shit?” she mused forming a disgusted look on her face. “Well, its tox’s problem now they’ll have to figure it out.” She thought to herself as she completed the transaction with the other nurse. The nurse took the jar and quickly exited the trauma room and headed for the toxicology labs. Lucia looked around the machines to take an assessment of the man’s situation. EKG, slow but steady, his breathing followed suit, blood pressure also low but steady. The only thing above normal was the man’s temperature, he was burning up running a high fever. Lucia waved her hand to a nurse motioning her attention to the open wound “Clean this up I’m going to give his family an update.” She said to the nurse as she started towards the door.

            Lucia walked over to where Robert and Beth were seated, both visibly shaken, Robert’s arm around Beth attempting to comfort her. “Ok.” Lucia said with a large sigh as she came to rest in front of the two. “We removed a large object that looks like a stinger of some sort and we’re sending it to toxicology for analysis. We are fairly certain it’s poisonous, but we’ll have to wait for the results before we can start a proper treatment. His vitals right now aren’t great but as of right now he’s…” A blood curdling scream cut Lucia short. She spun around and looked through the glass of the trauma room. Inside she could see Duane had sat upright and his face was drenched in pain. It had been he who had screamed. Lucia wasted no time and bolted back for the trauma room. She got there just in time to see Duane’s body go limp and fall back onto the table. Simultaneously the readout machines lost the rhythmic noises they had been making replaced now with a single high pitched monotone note. Duane was at that moment dead. 

            Seeing the flurry of activity and hearing the ominous sounds of the machines Robert and Beth quickly made their way over to one of the glass walls that made up the room. The pair were banging and crying on the glass, begging and pleading for Duane to be alright. Lucia who was trying to get a defibrillator set up next to the table finally snapped out “Someone get them under control now!” A much younger nurse obeyed and left the room quickly trying to get the two young onlookers to settle down. “CLEAR!” Lucia cried as she brought the defib paddles down onto Duanes exposed chest. A loud thump echoed off the glass walls, as Duane’s torso jumped off the table his back arching. Lucia watched the heart monitor for a moment, nothing. “CLEAR!” she yelled, again bringing the paddles to his chest. Thump. Duane’s torso jumped once more and Lucia’s eyes locked onto the heart monitor. Still nothing. “Ok 50mg epinephrine stat, I’m recharging.” Lucia said to another nurse as she hung the paddles on a rack next to the defibrillator. A second later the nurse was handing Lucia a large filled needle. After retrieving it from the nurse Lucia hastily drove the needle directly into Duane’s unmoving heart. She pushed the plunger of the needle, quickly emptying the contents into Duane’s heart. She removed the needle, tossed it on a nearby tray and again quickly gripped the handles of the defib paddles. “CLEAR!” THUMP. Lucia looked up at the machines disheartened. A look of sorrow crept onto her face as she look on at the blank machines and then down at the man’s lifeless body, the color already starting to retreat from his skin.

            Lucia turned around slowly to face the patient’s two companions on the other side of the glass. Her eyes had been fixed waist high as she turned, when she saw the young man’s swim trunks on the other side of the glass she raised her head to meet his gaze. With a desolate look on her face she simple frowned and shook her head at the pair. Beth could no longer hold back her emotions after seeing this. She wailed letting loose a torrent of sobs and moans. Robert’s face puckered and his eyes winced as he tried to hold back his own tears from pouring out. The nurse that had been trying to calm them down while the others worked on Duane, quickly made an attempt to comfort the pair. Seeing this Lucia turned back around to the rest of the medical personnel in the room, staring at the doctor on duty. “Let’s call it.” The doctor said in a low fleeting voice. Lucia looked at the clock on the wall, “Time of death five twenty one PM.” She said mournfully.

            Several medical staff had made their way out of the trauma room leaving only Lucia and the doctor behind with the body. Robert and Beth still sobbing seemed to be glued in place, steadily looking back at Duane’s lifeless body then to each other as if getting permission from the other to believe and accept what had just happened. Lucia still stood next to the table her eyes watching the doctor as he prepared a sheet to drape over the body. Suddenly the heart monitor snapped alive beeping so fast it sounded like another flat line. Lucia’s eyebrows raised. Resting her left hand on the table she leaned in to get a better look at the machine’s readout panel. “What the hell?” she thought to herself as she leaned closer. A second later she felt a tight grip on her left arm that almost made her fall onto Duane’s body. She looked down and was mortified to see it was Duane’s hands gripping her wrist. She looked upward and saw Duane’s face moving, his mouth opening and snarling. She was so taken back by all this she never noticed Duane had pulled her hand directly to his mouth. Lucia felt pain shoot through her hand and a warm wet feeling started to wash over her palm as Duane sank his teeth into the center of her hand between her thumb and forefinger. Lucia let out a loud shriek as she wrenched on her hand trying to pull it free. The sound of Lucia’s cry penetrated the glass walls of the trauma room, immediately getting the attention of Robert and Beth who were still standing just on the other side. Beth pressed herself against the glass her eyes wide, her breath forming small bursts of fog as she exhaled excitedly. “He’s Alive!” she cried as she started beating on the glass with her palms. She had been so thrilled by this miracle she had paid no attention to the event unfolding within the room. Robert had also pressed himself against the glass. Although he was equally delighted by the fact that Duane was now kicking his feet and his body quickly moving from side to side, he was baffled at the sight of the struggling nurse inside the room. “Hey! Hey! What’s going on in there?” Robert yelled as he furrowed his brow and lifted his right hand to give the glass several loud bangs.

Lucia was not having much luck dislodging her hand from Duane’s mouth. Finally she stopped tugging on the hand firmly clamped by Duane’s jaws. She lifted her right arm pulled back and slugged Duane as hard as she could in his eye socket. She could feel the cracking of bone as she made contact, and felt Duane’s head slam back onto the table. His grip on her hand released as he let loose a rabid growl, not one of pain but of violent frustration almost feral. Lucia instantly felt his jaw unclench, and she recoiled her hand and quickly took several steps backward. “Hey what the fuck are you doing you bitch?” Beth yelled angrily from the other side of the glass. “I’m gonna kick your ass bitch, you don’t…” Robert cut her off. “Shut up Beth. Something’s not right in there. He bit her. He bit her right on the hand and wasn’t letting go. Didn’t you see, weren’t you watching?” He asked sharply glancing down at her. A confused look washed over Beth’s face as she turned her head from Robert back to the happenings inside the room.

            Lucia was steadily backing away from the table. Duane wasn’t affected by the punch for long. His body shot upright, quickly getting to his feet on top of the table. His body twitched as he stood, his face contorted with fury. His eyes were so bloodshot they were almost red. He snarled as he looked at Lucia who was slowly trying to back up towards the door. He pulled his lips back exposing his blood covered teeth and let out a loud roar. “Lucia get out!” the doctor yelled from behind Duane. He had been standing on the far side of the room as Lucia had fought to get free of Duane’s bite, now he was almost right behind Duane standing only a few feet from the table holding a small scalpel. Lucia’s attention quickly fled from Duane and turned to the doctor as he motioned to her to leave. Duane’s attention also turned from Lucia to the new voice. He quickly spun around, locked eyes on the doctor and lunged off the table.

He tackled the doctor and started clawing at his face and snapping his teeth. Lucia knew this was her chance she quickly turned pulled the door open and fled the room. She yelled to another nurse. “Security! Go get security now! He’s crazy!” Inside the doctor did his best to protect himself his forearm was lodged under Duane’s neck keeping his mouth at bay. Duane’s arms remained free however clawing at the doctor’s face and head lacerating him all over as his nails pulled large strips of flesh away from the doctor’s face. The doctor held his arm outward gripping the scalpel tightly. He thrust the instrument hard into Duane’s neck directly into his Jugular vein. He could feel Duane’s blood running down his hand he knew it had struck home. Duane however did not react normally to this. To much the doctor’s horror, instead of toppling over holding his neck in pain Duane grew a disdained look on his face and a gurgled blood filled roar once again bellowed out. “El Diablo” the doctor whispered to himself in disbelief. The doctor’s arm, now covered in blood, became slick with the crimson liquid pouring from Duane’s neck. This was all Duane needed. He lurched and the doctor’s arm fell from Duane’s neck to his chest. Duane lurched again and engulfed the doctor’s neck with his mouth. He bit down hard, attacking the very same place the doctor had attacked him moments earlier. Duane’s head shook violently from side to side as he bit, looking very much like a vicious dog attacking a tire. He wrenched his back and pulled his head upward, tearing a huge chunk of flesh away from the doctor’s neck and shoulder. The doctor’s body twitched and his feet kicked several times then came to rest. His eyes still open and wide, a look of terror and pain still etched on his face. Duane sat on his haunches chewing on the huge chunk of flesh still dripping blood, at his feet the doctor was dead. 

Beth shrieked at seeing her fiancé tear apart the doctor’s neck and start eating it. It was loud and it caught Duane’s attention inside the room. He turned looked up and snarled. His face was covered in blood but the look of pure anger and hate was clearly visible. Again Duane leapt to his feet and looked in the direction of Beth on the other side of the glass, the blood from his neck wound still flowing freely. “Oh baby. What’s wrong with you?” Beth moaned leaning on the glass as the tears poured down her cheeks. Duane simply snarled showed his teeth and again let out the gurgled roar. He charged the glass where Beth was standing. Beth moved away just in time to keep from feeling the recoil as he slammed head first into the glass. “NO!” she screamed “What are you…” BANG! Again Duane crashed into the glass. “Stop it baby please Sto…” BANG! “STOP IT!” Beth shouted, completely balling now. Inside Duane had backed up as far as he could go. He started into a full out sprint, lowered his head and “ BANG!” crashed into the glass. Duane’s body fell to the floor, lifeless. A large smear of blood on the glass showed his point of impact, and a large gash in his forehead revealed where the blood had come from.

Beth stood weeping, Robert next to her aghast at what had just transpired. “What the fuck was that? Was he on drugs or something?” Lucia asked the pair angrily. “No, I don’t know what just happened either. I…I can’t believe what just happened.” Robert responded. “You better not be lying kid. Your brother just killed a good doctor…One of my friends pendejo!” Lucia snapped back. “Look I don’t know what’s going on he just tried to attack his own fiancé through a glass wall. It was like he wasn’t even human anymore.” Robert replied in a shaky voice, still beside himself.

Lucia walked over to a desk and picked up a phone. “Hola? Si. I need some personnel down here to remove some bodies bring security and two body bags. Oh and call the police.” She hung up the phone. Turned around and walked over to a nurse. “Get these kids out of here but don’t let them leave until the police get here I’m sure they will want to ask them some questions.” She whispered to the nurse. The nurse nodded and quickly approached Robert and Beth. A few moments later Lucia was watching the nurse usher the two young people away. “So much for getting to go home any time soon.” She thought to herself as she fell into a chair at a nearby desk, letting her head fall back and her eyes close as the events of the night still played over and over in her mind.   

Bucsfanp7

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Reply with quote  #3 
Bigpappa305...I started checking out posts other than Morningstar and Lords of Night...all I have to say is.....

DID YOU WRITE ANY MORE???  ...so far I haven't found any other posts for Frenzied and I would REALLY like to read more...

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Bigpappa305

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Hey yeah I actually did finish a few more chapters. I hadn't gotten any feedback until now. I'll post Chapter 3 and 4 for you now, let me know what you think. I kinda got stuck at a certain point in Chapter 5 so I kinda put everything on the back burners. But either way here is what's done. Thank you for reading and again please let me know what you think.
Bigpappa305

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Chapter 3: The Way Home

 

 

6:20 PM PST

 

            Lucia’s head turned slightly. She had heard something. What was it? It was faint, but it almost sounded like marker moving quickly across a plastic eraser board. Once again the shallow squeak filled her ears. She centered her head and opened her eyes. Lucia was instantly filled with terror. Not four feet from her was Duane. He was shuffling towards her slowly. One foot seemed glued to the vinyl floor beneath him but he managed to glide it across the glossy white surface to edge himself closer to her. Small drips of blood spattered the white floor in a trail behind him. As he moved the sound was heard again and Lucia realized where the noise had been coming from. She sank in her chair. Large pools of tears formed in the bottoms of her eyelids. “No…No!” she said to herself. Duane was almost on top of her. He reached out with both arms to grab her. Lucia shot her hands up to take hold of Duane’s arms to fend of the inevitable attack. She grabbed his wrists with all her strength and locked her elbows to try to keep him at bay. Duane was moving very slowly, much slower than in the trauma room and her efforts seemed successful. Lucia was in fact holding the man back from her. She looked at Duane’s face. He was snarling at her. His lips curled back and his bloody teeth were clearly visible in the fluorescent light. “Oh my God. What are you?” she breathed. She felt Duane’s force intensify, then his shoulder’s buckled. Duane’s arms went limp and his torso fell forward between Lucia’s arms. Duane’s body came crashing down onto Lucia. She could feel the weight of the man on her chest. She felt his head raise slightly from her shoulder and she let out a giant sob as Duane’s mouth came down on her neck. She felt his teeth pressed against her neck and the pressure get tighter and tighter.

            “Senora. Senora? Senora Obragonte?” a man’s voice startled Lucia. Her eyes opened and she looked around. In front of her, hunched over, was a young male police officer. Her hand rose to her neck and she felt around it frantically. Lucia found nothing. The police officer fixed her with an inquisitive look. She looked to the floor, and the officer turned his head following her gaze. It was clean, no sign of blood anywhere. The officer turned back to Lucia still with the questioning look plastered on his face. “Wha? What’s going on?” she mumbled to the officer. “Senora you were asleep in the chair. I came to question you about the attack tonight. Are you alright?” the officer replied placing a hand on Lucia’s shoulder. “Si, Si, I must have been having a bad dream.” “Well from what I’ve been told happened here tonight that’s understandable.” The officer said grinning slightly. “Are you able to give me a statement?” he asked. “Yes I can do that.” Lucia replied. “I noticed you have an injury on your hand why don’t we get that cleaned up. Can you give me your statement as the nurse works on it? He said as he pointed to Lucia’s hand. Lucia looked down and saw where Duane had bitten her. Her hand was covered in a thin layer of dried blood and the deep wounds show congealed blood at their tops. “Oh, yes. Yes I can do that. I never felt it after I got out of the room. My heart was beating so fast I must have forgotten all about it.” She said as she looked up at the officer with a credulous look. “It’s ok, it happens.” The officer said with a smile. He pulled himself upright and turned his head towards some of the other bustling staff nearby. “Can I get a nurse over here to help this woman with her hand please?” He barked into the crowd. A nearby nurse heard the policeman and hurried over. “Which hand is inj…” the nurse stopped short as her eyes met Lucia’s hand covered in blood. “Oh I see.” She said raising her eyebrows. “Um…let me just find a room” she muttered as she spun herself around looking for the closest unoccupied room. “Oh right this way.” She said with a smile as she walked toward a nearby room. Lucia got up slowly and followed behind her, the officer behind Lucia.

            The nurse gathered up some items, placing them on a metal tray. Lucia sat down on a bed and waited for the nurse to be ready. The officer pulled a chair out of the corner and sat down facing Lucia. “Now senora can you tell me exactly what happened tonight?” He said as he pulled a small note pad from his shirt pocket with his left hand and clicking the tip out of a pen he held with his right. The nurse had moved the tray over in front of Lucia and placed Lucia’s hand on it. As she started cleaning the wound Lucia proceeded to tell the officer the events of the evening. She told of her encounter with Robert and the actions they had taken to help the man on the table. She relived the events to the officer as the nurse blotted her open wounds with disinfectant. She shivered when she got to the part about the doctor and began feeling a little queasy, but she pushed through it. The nurse finished wrapping her hand in some sterile gauze and laid it back to rest on Lucia’s thigh. Lucia looked exhausted, and the color had started to fade from her face slightly. She had finished her statement to the officer, and he could see she was in some discomfort.

“Gracias senora. This should do fine, we will get to the bottom of this. I think it best you go home and get some rest.” The officer said with a concerned look. “ I think you may be in some shock and your starting to feel it, you don’t look very well.” “Ha, mi es muy guapa.” Lucia chuckled back at the officer, her eye lids were drooping and she was feeling very much the same as she looked. The officer smiled back and nodded his head. “Si tu es muy guapa.” He replied as he stood from his chair. He looked at Lucia and the nurse and thanked them for their help, then turned to leave the room. “Wait.” Asserted Lucia. “What do you think happened? Why would someone do that?” The officer turned back around to face Lucia and he shrugged. His eyes danced around his sockets as if scanning inside his mind for a plausible answer. “These kids get into all kinds of stuff when they are here. My guess is drugs, maybe PCP. That would explain his sudden rage and if it were mixed with the epinephrine…well who knows. We’ll make sense of it all before long.” Lucia looked at him and shrugged and nodded making an uneasy frown. The officer once again looked to both women and gave them a single nod and left the room.

 “Senora the wound was a little red but the disinfectant should prevent any infection. Keep it bandaged for a few days and dress it with antibacterial ointment every day.” The nurse said to Lucia. “I know the drill…if it’s not better in seven days have it looked at, yeah yeah I know.” Lucia responded. The nurse rolled her eyes and smiled. “Sorry force of habit, I know you know the procedure. But the officer’s right you should go home and get some rest.” Lucia groaned as she stood from the bed and stretched her arms high above her head. “Oh trust me that’s exactly where I’m going.” Lucia grunted as she pulled her arms back down to her sides.

            Lucia thanked the nurse for her help and exited the room and headed for the staff room. She collected her belongings and made for the exit. As she walked down the corridor she saw another police officer standing in the doorway to an administrative office. The office had a large window and as she passed it she looked in. Inside she saw Robert and Beth. Robert was seated leaning over a desk. On the other side was another police officer. Beth was sitting in a chair in the corner with a blanket draped over her shoulders, holding a foam cup filled with ice. She was very visibly upset, her eyes glued in place and an expressionless look on her face. Robert was talking to the officer and Lucia could tell by the look on the officer’s face that he was not satisfied with what he was hearing. “I’m telling you we went snorkeling and Duane got separated from us. When I came up they were pulling him onto the boat with some shit in his leg, then we came right here. That’s all I know.” Came Robert’s muffled voice as she walked slowly past the glass. “Come on boy tell me the truth. You kids came to party and have a good time right? Your brother maybe disappeared for a bit with someone and came back with a little powder maybe? Huh? Think that might have happened?” The officer’s voice could be heard more clearly than Robert’s now as Lucia approached the open door where the guard stood. “No! That couldn’t have happened, cause he was with us all day!” Robert’s voice clearly rang out as he shouted back at the officer. “That’s not a good idea kid, they aren’t the police from back home.” Lucia thought to herself as she walked by. Beth had remained silent as Lucia had passed, but Lucia noticed the only thing louder than Robert’s voice as she walked by the open door was the sound of the ice in Beth’s cup rattling profusely. “I’m sorry child, truly sorry.” Lucia said to herself silently as she passed the door and the room.

She exited the building and made her way to her car. Lucia loaded her belongings into the passenger seat and slowly sat down in the drivers seat, a sigh escaped her lips. Sliding her key into the ignition the starter gave several fast whines then the old car sprang to life. The drive was several miles from the hospital but Lucia made good time that night. After finding a spot to park her car, she gathered her things from the passenger seat and exited the vehicle. Sluggishly she walked to the main door of her apartment complex. It was a light tan building with six floors that was in fairly good condition for being a little over three decades old. Lucia pulled back on one of the large rust colored wooden doors leading to the lobby. She entered the lobby and headed to the elevator on the left side of the room. Pressing the call button the lights on the elevator number panel lit up and a low hum could be heard through the elevator door. A few seconds later the door opened and Lucia entered and pressed the button for the fourth floor. Lucia lifted her hand and eyed the gauze. Her wound itched beneath its wrapping and she was finding it very difficult not to tear the gauze off and start scratching it. A moment later she heard a familiar “Ding”. Looking up as the elevator door opened again, Lucia lowered her hand and left the elevator and proceeded down a wide hall to her apartment. When she reached a room numbered four fifteen she stopped and drew up her keys. Suddenly feeling very light headed she had to take hold of the door handle to keep from falling backward. “Woo I guess they were right.” Lucia said to herself as she thought back to the officer and nurse telling her to get some rest. Her hand fumbled with her keys till it found the one for the door. Lining up her key and inserting it into the handle she unlocked the door and opened it. Lucia was finally home. The weary nurse entered her apartment, shutting her door behind her. Placing her belongings on a nearby table she quickly started to remove her scrubs, tossing them on the floor near the entrance to her bathroom. Her eyelids could barely stay open and she felt drained. Without any further hesitation she ambled to her bedroom lifted the sheets on her bed and crawled in. Almost instantly she was asleep.

 

9:17 PM PST

            “Yeah I think we’re going to take the next flight home we can get. We just can’t be here anymore. The police kept us for two and a half hours questioning us, well more telling us what happened…Assholes.” Robert’s voice was hushed slightly as he held the receiver of a phone to his head. “I can’t believe this is happening” wept a woman’s voice on the other end of the line. “I know mom I can’t either. It’s just all been so fast. I…I’m having a really hard time with all this.” Robert’s voice cracked and he sniffled back his running nose as tears welled up in his eyes. “The police are convinced Duane was on drugs. I tried to tell them exactly what happened but they didn’t believe me. I told them over and over what happened, but they just…” Robert shook his head in dismay as he spoke into the phone, tears now flowing freely down his face. “Are they accusing you of anything also honey?” Robert’s mother Cindy asked. “I mean will you be able to come home so soon, they didn’t tell you not to leave town or anything right?” “No they didn’t say anything like that mom. So I’m going to call the airline after I’m done with you and find out when we can get the earliest flight back.” Robert replied.

He glanced over his shoulder to one of the beds in their hotel room and hushed his voice even more. “Beth really isn’t doing to good. She was practically catatonic the entire time we were at the hospital being questioned. The nurses gave me a sleep aid to give her once we got back to the hotel, she’s out like a light now. I feel so bad for her.” Robert let out a sigh as he lifted his head up toward the ceiling. “I know baby it will be ok.” Cindy said still obviously crying on the other end. “Get done what you need to get done. Give me the number to the hospital so I can see what has to happen with…with…” Robert’s mother broke down on her end wailing loudly and bawling. “With Duane’s body.” Robert could hear his mother sniveling. He could hear her weeping softly sounding almost like someone with a bad case of hiccups trying to hide it. “Ok mom, I can do that.” He reached down to a table in the corner of the room and picked several pieces of paper they had given him at the hospital. He found one with the phone number on it and read it off to her, then set the papers back down. “How’s Tom?” Robert’s voice was shaky. “Oh from the sounds of things a lot like Beth. His son died today, he’s trying to be strong but…well sometimes you just can’t be strong enough, it’s going to get to you anyway.” Cindy’s voice seemed a bit harsh but Robert knew given the circumstances that it was a result of everything that was happening. “I know mom, I know. Look I’m going to call the airline now before it gets to be too late ok. Try to get some sleep, hopefully I’ll be home soon.” Robert said to his mother trying to give her a little comfort. “Ok sweetie let me know how you make out.”  “I will mom. I love you.” “I love you too baby.”

Robert said goodbye to his mother, hung up the phone and set it on the table near the stack of papers. He walked over to his open duffle bag and dug his hand into a pocket sewn into the inside of the bag. He retrieved his boarding passes for their return trip home and found a phone number. Robert walked back to the table, picked up the phone and keyed in the numbers. Within moments he was connected with a customer service representative. Calmly and clearly he explained his situation to the person on the other end of the phone. After a few short minutes Robert’s eyebrows jumped up. “Yes absolutely, we’ll take it. Ok 10 AM. Great thank you so much. I’ll try, you too. Bye.”  The customer service rep had answered his prayers and gotten he and Beth on a flight at ten o’clock the next morning. Robert hurriedly started repacking everything of theirs from around the room, including Duane’s things. He took a long time packing Duane’s things back into his suitcase, making sure everything was just as organized as Duane would have had it. When Robert finished packing Duane’s suitcase he zipped it up, then suddenly a tremendous sadness filled him. For the first time that day Robert realized that he would never again see his step brother of the last ten years. Never again would they go bar hopping or tubing on the lake. Never another conversation about which team was going all the way to the Superbowl. As he sat there thinking about this even the thought of never having another argument with Duane made Robert’s heart ache. He couldn’t help it any more, he leaned forward over Duane’s suitcase and bawled. Robert’s nose ran freely and tears streamed down his face spotting the suitcase below. He sat in remorse like this for almost half an hour before he managed to pull himself together. Setting the suitcase on the floor near the door he finished packing everything else of his and Beth’s then placed their bags next to Duane’s. After setting his alarm clock he lifted the covers on his bed, tucked himself in and shut off the lights.    

 

January 27th, 7:10am PST

            Beth awoke to a hand on her shoulder shaking her and Robert’s voice emanating from behind her. “Beth, Beth c’mon girl you gotta get up. We have to get to the airport soon, we take off at ten.”  Beth slowly and groggily opened her eyes while bringing a hand up to protest the shaking. “Wha…What time is it?” She managed to ask past a parched throat. “It’s almost seven fifteen, you need to get up and do whatever you need to do to get ready, I’ve already packed your stuff you just need to get yourself ready.”  Robert answered back. A few seconds later Beth pulled herself up to sit upright with her feet over the side of the bed. She looked back at the other side of the bed where Duane would have been. Her lips pursed and her eyes fell to the floor as her head swiveled back around. Beth was a good fighter. She had fought off her feelings as long as she could the day before until they had finally got the better of her. But she was not about to let those feelings get the better of her any time soon, especially not this early in the day.

            Beth shifted her weight to her feet and stood up, shaking off some light after effects of the sleep aids given to her the night before she stretched her arms above her head the turned her attention to Robert. “Did you say you already packed everything?”  “Yeah I packed it last night after I got our flights changed.” Replied Robert from within the bathroom. “Holy shit check out Mr. Go-Getter.” Beth chuckled to herself as she scratched her head. “Well in that case I’m just going to brush my teeth, I’ll be fine for the plane in my sweat pants.” Beth yelled to Robert who was still finishing up in the bathroom. When he had finished he came out and Beth entered, a few minutes later Beth emerged from the bathroom donning a light gray sweat suit and a blue baseball cap with her hair pulled through the back. “I’m ready, let’s make like a tree and get the fuck out of here.” Beth said managing a smile. If Robert had noticed he didn’t let on. “Right let’s go, I already called the taxi.” He said, grabbing up his duffle and Duane’s suitcase.

            The pair left the room and went down to the front desk to check out. Soon after the Taxi arrived and they departed the hotel they had planned on spending an entire week in, after only two nights. They arrived at the airport and made it through security fine then made for their gate. Their first flight would be a short one, as they would have a lay over just after they made it across the U.S. Border for customs checks and the formalities of re-entering a country. As they sat at their gate Beth’s mind started thinking about these things they would have to do. She looked at Robert  who was fussing with the ear buds from his mp3 player, that wouldn’t stay in his ears. “How is Duane going to get home?” Beth asked Robert but her gaze was on the ground. Robert’s attention left his ear buds and he set a bewildered look on Beth. Beth could almost feel his eyes burning a hole into the top of her head as he stared at her. She looked up to see his  baffled expression. “I know he…He’s dead, douche bad.” Beth tried hard to say it as if it were nothing but still choked up a bit at the thought of what she was actually saying. “I mean how is his body getting back? We still need to have a funeral and a service, right?” Robert relaxed a little at hearing this. “At least she’s not a basket case.” He thought to himself. “I’m not sure, I gave my mom the information for the hospital so she’ll be taking care of all that. I’m sure everything will get worked out and they’ll get him home soon.” Robert said trying as best he could to comfort Beth. Beth just nodded turning her head towards the window becoming entranced at the bustling on the tarmac.

The two were silent for the next twenty minutes as they waited for their flight to begin boarding, Robert toiling with his mp3 player as Beth fidgeted with the knotted tassel draw string to her hooded sweat shirt. A voice echoed over the terminal loud speakers indicating they were about to begin boarding their flight. Minutes later they began boarding coach class seats. “Now boarding passengers seated rows eight through thirteen, rows eight through thirteen now boarding.” A female voice rang out over the PA system. Hearing this Robert and Beth stood up and walked over to the line to the jet way. Following the slow moving line they boarded the Boeing 777 aircraft and waited patiently to make it to their seats. After some maneuvering around other passengers they made it to row nine. “You can have the window if you want.” Robert said looking to Beth. “Aw how nice, thanks little man.” Beth replied with a smirk. “Well I feel like I might have to shit so I want to be able to get to the bathroom as fast as possible if need be.” Said Robert in a low voice. “Chivalry is obviously alive and well I see.” Beth said with a chuckle, as Robert slightly blushed realizing he’d turned what could have been a nice gesture into a completely asinine event. After allowing Beth to enter the row first Robert leaned over and picked up his carry on bag. Standing up he took a step back preparing to hoist his bag into the overhead compartment, then suddenly felt something hard jabbing him in his side right above his hip. Robert swiveled his head back and saw a fairly tall well built African American man with a pencil thin circle beard standing behind him. He also noticed that the man’s side burns were shaved into some sort of design resembling lightning bolts. Robert quickly assessed that this man made the look work and if it had been himself sporting the electrified facial hair he would look like a jackass, not to mention kiss his sex life goodbye. “Oh I’m sorry I didn’t even see you standing behind me, my bad.” Robert apologized. “No trouble at all, I tend to blend into my surroundings.” Came the man’s deep voice with a chuckle. Robert did a double take over his shoulder as he finished loading his bag and flashed the man back a smile. After finishing, he sat down and buckled his safety belt. His hand went to the area above his hip where he had been jabbed and he rubbed the area. “Man’s got some rigid bones.” He thought to himself. After another several minutes everyone, save the flight attendants who were now demonstrating how a seat belt works, were seated. The flight attendants soon took their seats as the jet taxied down the runway preparing for takeoff. As the jet engines roared to life and their thrust pushed everyone back in their seats, both Robert and Beth had only one thing on their minds…soon they would be home.
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Chapter 4: Contagium

January 29th, 11:43am PST

            A thin young man roamed almost silently down a wide hallway, the sound of his footsteps masked by the red floral pattern carpet beneath him. His tan skin appear gold as it was bathed in a yellowish glow from the light fixtures mounted on the walls of the corridor. As he walked his fingers were softly beating on his faded blue jeans while his thumbs anchored themselves to the lips of his pockets. His eyes wandered as he walked past doorways that had been left open, revealing a glimpse of the lives of the occupants inside He reached a door and stopped in front of it. The door was painted maroon and had a peep hole at eye level. Above the hole were small brass numbers that read four one five.

            The young man removed a hand from its resting point on his pocket and brought it up to the door knocking three times in quick succession, then waited. No answer. After a few seconds more he rapped on the door again. Still nothing. Hector was the younger of Lucia’s two sons but he was very astute for his age, probably from always being on guard for an attack from his older brother who never missed an opportunity to play a prank on him. Hector knew he had passed by his mother’s car on the way into the building and that if her car was there as was she. He took hold of the handle and pushed it down. The latch in the door disengaged and Hector pushed the door open slowly. As he opened the door he peered around it slowly ready to retract his head quickly if need be. The last thing he wanted was to catch his mother undressed or in any other compromising situation for that matter. As the door opened more of the interior became visible and Hector stepped threw the threshold.

            It was dark inside. The drapes were shut casting a radiant orange tint over the living room. Hector could see dust particles floating through bright swashes of sunlight that were shooting through the cracks between the drapes. As he walked in he pushed the door back behind him, the latch hit the frame but didn’t catch and stood open an inch from the casing. The apartment was by no means large as most of it was now in plain view of Hector’s eyes. Lucia had opted for the smaller dwelling to save money when both of her sons had went to live with their father who was much better off than she was. As he walked in further a pungent putrid stench hit his nostrils, making him gag and stopping him in his tracks. Hector knew the smell but didn’t want to admit it to himself.  It was the same smell he’d encountered many times while traveling down roads in the summer. The smell of a rotting bloated animal and now it was coming from inside his mother’s home and she was nowhere to be seen. Hector was getting nervous and started to feel his heart beating in his throat. Anxiously he looked around for any signs of his mother or a struggle, then he saw it. A red outline of what looked like three fingers leading into a long smear was present on the hallway wall to the master bedroom. He could tell, even from feet away, it was blood

            Hector seemed frozen in place not knowing what he should do next. Instantly his mind started playing different scenarios of what was on the other side of the door, the one most recurring was that he was about to find the dead remains of his slain mother. Then his mind trained in on a different thought, if his mother had been attacked was her attacker still in the apartment. The young man stood there so still and quiet that it made every heartbeat feel like thunder crackling in a bad storm. After what seemed to feel like forever to him, Hector finally decided to enter the bedroom. Slowly edging his way to the door he noticed that it was still open slightly. He thought this was a good thing because if there was still some one in the apartment he didn’t want to alert them to his presence. Softly resting one hand on the knob and the other on the door at chest level he slowly applied pressure, inching the door open as quietly as possible.

            As the door opened the interior of the bedroom started to reveal itself as bright sunlight blasted Hector in the eyes and its heat washed over his face. The curtains were apparently open in this room and the light was blinding forcing him to lower his eyes to the floor, squinting as he tried to adjust to the intensity of the light. When he was able to open his eyes a bit wider he again saw more blood. This time it was a small trail stained on the light off white carpet starting just a few inches from where the door currently sat. Hector followed the line with his eyes till he saw the source of the blood and of the stench. His mother’s cat was on the floor in front of a large picture window, mangled and dead. Again he almost vomited as he looked at the cat and the odor hit him in the face more pungent than before. He cringed as he looked at the cat disgusted and his hand shot up to his mouth letting go of the door. The cat’s left eye hung out from its socket and its belly had been torn open, its entrails littered the floor dotting the carpet with red stains beneath each piece. A large portion of hair and skin was missing from the neck of the cat along with a rear leg being completely absent. A very bright light was shining down on the cat’s mid section from a crystal ornament hanging from the window, and hector could see a small spot of scorched hair where the light came to rest. “Shit just like ants and a magnifying glass, that’s why it stinks so bad in here.” Hector thought to himself as he stood almost mesmerized at the cat’s lifeless tongue hanging from its mouth.   He was jolted out of his trance as the door’s knob hit the wall after swinging open completely. Hector’s attention turned from the cat to the rest of the room just in time to catch his mother stop moving and fiercely stare at him.

            She had been facing the opposite direction of the door as it had been opening but when the knob collided with the wall she quickly spun around and her eyes locked on Hector. “Madre? Madre, it’s Hector. Are you all right?” Hector knew his mother was not “all right”. Her lips and face were covered in blood and cat fur, in her hand was the cat’s missing rear leg now resembling a mostly devoured chicken wing. Lucia did not respond to Hector’s question, she merely drew back her lips revealing her blood caked teeth and let out a loud hiss. Her arms came up and she charged Hector letting out a high pitch groan. Hector instinctively spun on his heels and darted for the exit of the apartment. He didn’t know what was going on with his mother but if she had done that to the cat he wasn’t sure what she would to him. Just as Hector’s hand slid through the opening in the main door he felt a grip on his shoulder and he was pulled back off of his feet onto his back. The door swung open as he hit the ground. Lucia was on top of him in no time. Hector pleaded with his mother, “No! Madre! No! It’s Hector Madre! Madre!!! As she scratched his face he tried to keep her at bay from him with his arms outstretched. He was helpless. He needed to protect himself but it wasn’t some street thug attacking him it was his own mother, he couldn’t dream of ever raising a fist to her. Through her clawing hands Hector looked up and caught a glimpse of his mother’s face. She looked absolutely enraged as she snapped her jaws, growled, and spit blood coated saliva all over his face. Suddenly Lucia grabbed hold of Hector’s arm crouched over it and bit down sharply. Hector’s young voice let out a shrill high pitch cry as Lucia tore a piece of flesh away from her son’s arm. Hector cried cupping his wound with his other hand and rolled over as Lucia vigorously chewed on the piece of flesh in her mouth, temporarily giving his face a reprieve from her nails. Hector felt as if he could black out he was in so much pain as he lay on the floor in a fetal position rocking back and forth. His eyes were closed and never saw Lucia lean in towards his neck. He felt a small pinch then quickly felt the veins in his neck start to pop and sever as his mother’s teeth sank through his flesh and right into his jugular.

            “What the Fuck?” Came a man’s voice. Lucia never finished tearing the flesh and jugular away from Hector’s throat. Her attention was on the new voice coming from behind her. She sprang up from Hector who was bleeding uncontrollably from the wound in his neck, and spun around to a short over weight middle aged man standing in the hallway right outside her door. “Oh shit!” shouted the man as he saw her blood covered face and momentarily locked eyes with Lucia, then he turned to run down the hall. Lucia was on him in no time, he had barely made it a distance of ten feet before Lucia was on his back again bringing her vice like jaws down on another neck.

            As Hector lay on the floor a small spider web of black veins was forming from where he had been bitten, up the side and around the back of his neck disappearing beneath his hair line. Out in the hall Lucia was still busy ripping flesh from the back of the man’s neck. He was screaming and flailing wildly trying to dismount his assailant. The man tried ramming backward into one of the concrete walls to knock Lucia off, but to no avail. The man was bleeding tremendously out of his neck wound coating the floor in thick blood, he began to stumble. A few seconds later he hit the ground, lifeless. Lucia who  was still mounted on him and snarling at him caught a flash as something blurred by. It was Hector. He was in an all out sprint toward an open door at the far end of the hallway where an occupant stood at a her stove cooking while wearing earphones, she never saw it coming. He latched onto her as he tackled her to the ground, she barely had any time to react let alone defend herself before Hector’s jaws were tightly clamped and ripping the flesh away from her cheek, followed by another bite to her throat ending her.

            After two hours most of the inhabitants of the fourth floor were no more. Bodies lay on the floor and several feral persons roamed the halls, their numbers growing by the minutes. Many of the doors to apartments had been left open as Lucia and Hector had started their rampage attack in the halls. These rooms now showing gruesome snapshots of the terror that had taken place inside. Blood covered the walls and carpets. Furniture turned over and miscellaneous items lay on the floor, thrown about as inhabitants struggled to stave off the blitzkrieg attacks from these rabid people that now roamed the halls aimlessly.

Not all the doors had been open when the attacks had begun. Many occupants not being home at the time while others still inside basking in air conditioned quarters with music playing, oblivious to the goings on right outside their doors. The group seemed to congregate in the main area of the floor’s corridor where the elevator door sat. At times unknowing tenants on their way to the elevator that had been safely hidden behind those closed doors would round a corner to the hallway and come face to face with the horde of ravenous killers. Events like this played out systematically over time and one after another the number of unaffected individuals on the floor was quickly brought to zero. Every so often a body, mangled and partially devoured would stir and eventually rise to join the ranks, a new member of the ferocious posse.

 

6:50pm PST

            “Hola, Bueno.” A man sharply dressed in a black suit holding a briefcase said to a woman with her young daughter as he entered the small elevator. “Quatro por favor.” He said smiling to the young girl who was staring up at him eagerly waiting to press a button on the elevator control panel. The girl grinned and turned and pressed the number four followed by the number six on the panel control. The man smiled at the girls mother at seeing this almost chuckling under his breath, she returned the same as she held up a hand to the back of her daughter’s head and brushed it down her hair. The doors closed and the hum of the winching mechanism filled the interior as the elevator started its ascent.

            “Ding.” The sound resonated through the halls of the fourth floor and the occupants seemingly in unison turned their attention to the origin of the sound. The suited man looking down at the young girl smiling back as if to say “Your floor sir”, raised his head as the door slid open. As he looked up, almost in some sort of slow motion video effect, he saw several people running towards him into the elevator. Just as they reached him time seemed to catch back up three of the beings breaching the elevator with intense speed knocking him against the back wall and onto the floor of the elevator. The woman and her daughter were pressed up against the side of the elevator wall as they watched the man struggle without success against his attackers. A rumble jostled the people inside the elevator as the doors began to shut. Quickly the young girl started pressing any buttons she could find to try to keep the doors from closing. The panel lit up like a Christmas tree, numbers two through six all glowing yellow as the door continued to close. One of the beasts heard the clicking of the numbers and as the door closed he lunged.

            Again the sound filled their feral ears, or at least what was left of them on some. The loud “Ding” rang out as the light on the sixth button retreated. The door opened and curiously two of the beasts stood and walked toward the threshold, the third remained on its knees tearing a piece of flesh from the woman’s forearm. The first creature exited the elevator and quickly caught sight of movement in an open doorway at the end of the hall. He took off running at full tilt. The second stood almost glued in the doorway of the elevator. Again the low rattle came as the door began to close, it hit the creature in the side and pushed it against the doorway. The door stopped retracted slightly and tried to close again, this time pushing the beast back into the elevator completely. The feral female clawed at the shiny metal door as trying to attack it. She was still clawing at the door when it opened again, the light behind the number three now out.

            As the door opened the creature was met face to face with another woman. The woman saw the brutalized beast’s face and the blood from the scene inside, and turned to run down the hall. The female creature snarled and bolted after the woman. The other creature taking notice of the sound made by the other also sprang up engaging in pursuit. The elevator door’s closed, the three bodies still lay massacred on its floor. The elevator continued its rounds as lights continued to turn off behind numbers. Finally it came to rest on the number one and the last light went out. The door opened and a small hand gripped the edge of the elevator threshold. The young girl’s mutilated face poked out into the lobby of the complex. The blood on her face and neck almost invisible as the bright red glow of the setting sun covered the area. Behind her in the elevator the bodies of her mother and the suited man began to twitch. A few minutes later they were ambling around the lobby with the young girl.

            They had been pressed up against the windows of the lobby snarling at the life they could see outside. As the suited creature moved his body stay pressed against the wall. He strafed across until his weight pressed against the door and he fell outward onto his chest. The other creatures saw this and jerked as they walked slowly to the exit. The door shut hard behind them as the three exited the almost completely overrun building. The building that may be a tomb to those left inside. But not to these three, they had managed to escape their would be prison and enter the oblivious world outside, hungry and ready to feed.
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