I remained sprawled on the tiles. To see it feeding for the first time, it’s something you’ll never get used to. I attempted to compose myself, again. I rubbed my eyes and clung to my thigh as the familiar agony of my stump, which was now bleeding steadily, hit home. As a result I was caught off guard by the female doctor, head connected only by stray skin and tendons, rising from the ground, scraping her frame up the glass into a standing position, and focusing her white eyes on me, in unison with her doctor buddy.
From my position on the floor I could press myself against the glass and look down the corridor either direction, maybe thirty feet or so. I could see a series of closed doors and strewn medical items, but couldn’t hear anything over the two in front of me who continued to pound and moan with my face so tantalisingly close to them.
Then, from the left, a metal bedpan bounded along the floor and struck the wall and another six Zombies came clambering through a double door after it, scratching at each other as they went. The six staggered down the corridor, it must have taken an age, and I lay there pressed up against the glass, analysing every one of them, checking for something human, some kind of emotion that I could cling to. But they were all Zombies, as fresh as the two before me. The six stopped upon reaching my viewing window and as soon as my presence was confirmed, they too joined in the harmony of moans and glass-pounding.
At that point I must have passed out again because when I came to I was still laid out on the cold tiles. My brain allowed me three seconds of ignorant bliss before reminding me where I was.
I dragged myself up and leaned against the door, then rested my fingers on the handle. I might have been exhausted and crippled but I had the endurance, the dedication and desire that athletes need in order to succeed. To turn up at the track in torrential rain to practice my start, to avoid all of life’s vices, I knew I was able to push myself beyond the pain threshold and emerge at the other side when those who are never required to ask their body to perform such tasks would already have stopped. I had faith that if anyone could escape I could, because when it came time to give up, I would be able to find that something extra, even in this condition.
I looked back over at the six Zombies that had recently joined the party. They had come from the left and the Zombie horde was to the right of the door. If I opened the door I would have to go left, into a building I was completely unfamiliar with, down a corridor where Zombies had just emerged. I removed my fingers from the handle. Hopping around this house of fun was virtually a death sentence.
I stood leaning against the wall with my finger on the light switch, contemplating going into darkness, when I heard a cracking noise. I kept the light on and hopped across to the window, feeling my fingers across an unmistakable rupture bisecting the glass perfectly. The eight Zombies were exerting considerable pressure; one or two of them wouldn’t have had the capacity to smash through, but eight relentlessly pushing with no care for their well-being was totally different.
The crack snaked wider. It would take them time to get in, but how long, I couldn’t even guess. I turned to face the hospital room window on the opposite wall. Even from my spot at the other side of the room I could estimate that we were on at least the eighth floor. I lurched across the room, using the wall, the bed, the chair for support until I reached the other side, but it became clear quickly that this window was not designed to allow people to escape. The first pane was protected by a second beyond it. It was a window for looking out, not getting out, and so I looked, attempting to gain anyone’s attention, hoping for something promising out there. The view was bleak; streetlights off, some fires erratically burning, and no humans or Zombies in sight in a major metropolitan area.
If I couldn’t get out of the window, I decided to search for something near me that I could use to end this before they did it for me. I was completely out of alternatives and anyway, I told myself that I had no trade, no skill, nothing to define me if this was some kind of breakdown of the world as we knew it. I had been a track hurdler. Even if the world wasn’t ending, it already had for me. What use was I to anyone?
I hobbled back over to the light switch, making palm prints with my sweat on the wall as I moved. I flicked the switch, meaning the only source of light came from the ceiling of the corridor behind the Zombies, with the panels dipping on and off at random. I could still see well enough to grab the water jug and I shoved it off the bedside table. It smashed loudly on the ground, sending shards of glass and water across the floor. I then hopped over to the chair, and leaning on its back I swung it around to face the Zombies and sat down. From there I reached down and lifted the biggest whole piece of glass from what was formerly the jug. I clutched it sideways and pressed it against my neck. The jagged edge ribbed against the contours of my windpipe, but even with the eight dark shadows pounding, and moaning, and pounding, and moaning, and my leg devastating me, I couldn’t do it. I kept the glass in my hand. But until I was under duress I knew I didn’t have the fortitude to provide the final push necessary to bring an end to this.
I thought of how long it would take for someone to find me, or at least the Zombie me, wandering through these corridors as one of them, following whatever instincts they have to find food and gorge myself on blood, muscle and skin. If this was the end of all things, would I be one for months, years? Would I still be me?
The crack on the window had become larger and had broken off into smaller sub-cracks, weakening the window further. It was a matter of time. No point in even fighting it. I was resigned to my fate. I clasped the glass ever tighter. The light from the corridor allowed me to see eight heads bobbing and weaving and forcing themselves forwards.
The crack splintered further, but the entire pane didn’t collapse inwards. Instead, Zombie hands were able to get in and peel back the window. It had been built with a layer of plastic in between, holding the two panes together and giving the Zombies some extra work to get to me. But the glass was compromised. There was no layer of protection to their groans, which became exponentially louder, and their smell began to seep into the room, such an unbearable aroma that I came close to vomiting.
I could sense they knew how close they were. I was within their reach, a reward they had worked hard to achieve. All eight had their torsos inside the room, clawing and kicking forward to remove the obstacle. I wondered if anyone I knew was still alive; my family, coaches, ex-girlfriends. I was about to become a Zombie statistic in a cast of millions.