I clutched on to the edge of the bed frame and hopped on the spot to test if my standing leg could take the strain. My foot landed softly, my knee shuddering like jelly, but remained standing nonetheless. It was about as scientific a test as I could manage. I turned. I let go of the frame of the bed. I steadied myself without support. And I jumped.
And finally I reached the curtain’s edge in the corner of the room, the material bearing my weight. Four steps and I was exhausted, but the moaning and glass-tapping was now right in front of me, only the thick, blue material and an inch of glass in the way.
I took long, gasping breaths, as if I’d just finished a circuit of the track flat-out. I placed my right palm flat against the wall and gripped the edge of the curtain with my left. I yanked. The curtain slid along the hooks, folding together at the left of the window.
I immediately crashed to the floor. I panted for air that wouldn’t fill my lungs and the connection with the edge of my remaining shin bone onto the tile floor was unbearable. But my eyes couldn’t leave the creature standing before me.
It was so clearly a Zombie, as I knew them. Not an unhinged living person, not a mental patient, not something explainable. I had seen no news broadcast and had been out of it when most of the initial madness went down. But I knew what I was looking at, don’t ask me how. This was a Zombie.
I crawled backwards and, as I clambered towards the sanctuary of the bed, I glanced behind me and spotted the remote control for the TV just next to my hand. I clutched it, hauled myself up and collapsed on the sheets, while the Zombie just kept banging away on the glass. Its moaning never once changed beat, or tone, or pitch; it was relentlessly regular, with a three-second gargle, then a pause, then the same again, then a pause, forever. I’m no scientist but I think it regulates something in them and no-one has ever said otherwise.
This was a former man, a former doctor judging by his coat. I mean, the first time you see one in the rotting flesh… anyway, its coat was drenched in what looked like recent spurts of blood. I looked at its white eyes, overtaken by another force, fixed on me, not blinking once, not ever. Not at me, into me. It was mesmeric. With the moan and the glass-tapping and the blood and the eyes and the mouth and the teeth, I was being hypnotised.
Then the throbbing pain in my stump overcame me. Blood formed at the base of the knee. While it wasn’t flowing at a life-threatening rate, it was an open wound seeping into a bandage that was used, and if it wasn’t dirty before, contact with the floor meant it was dirty now.
Sprawled out on the bed, I could do nothing but clutch at my leg and try not to scream as loudly as possible. Given that this thing was there alone I made an assumption that the corridors of the hospital weren’t filled with humans or, for that matter, Zombies. It would have been distracted in that case, but I was seemingly its only prey, for now. The taps against the glass along with the muffled groans from the mouth of the doctor pressed up against the pane led me to worry that if others were in there, they would find me sooner rather than later. I had to think fast.
The static on the TV screen in the corner caught my eye. I searched for the remote among my sheets, the doctor watching on. The blood had soaked through my bandage now and was forming into droplets, leaving a trail. Eventually I swung around to face the TV, remote in hand. Sweat had formed on my brow and slicked through my hair. Such a basic task had me panting for breath; the realisation that I couldn’t hobble out the door became clear. I simply didn’t have the energy.
I smudged my thumb into ‘channel up’ and held it there. The static changed from white, to grey, to blue, to black, depending on the station, and then I reached a news broadcast.
It was carnage, of course, a scene you’ve either seen for yourself or have been told about by others. No-one’s ever too far from someone who was out in the street on that first night. You don’t need me to describe it to you again. I remained afraid of making noise so I kept the volume on mute, but I could see everything I needed to see. This was city-wide, country-wide, and probably worldwide. The breaking news bar scrolling across spoke of unexplained deaths, of people turning on each other and a crack organisation created in response.
This doctor on the other side of the glass, watching me watching the TV, wanted me and there didn’t seem to be much chance of anyone coming to help. I had two options; either I did something to get out, or did nothing and remained.