Zombies again. For someone not into this particular genre I sure as hell do dream about them a lot. This time there were about fifty of us hiding in an abandoned hospital. The zombies had trapped us in a large room with nothing but graffiti and debris. There were the usual violently colourful tags on the walls and an unusual skull shape painted on the floor. But to be honest, we weren’t being overly judgemental of the décor.
Beyond the skull was a corridor that bent in a way that was impossible to see what was coming. As the somewhat designated leader of this band of survivors I had to check it out. I raised a hand to ensure everyone stayed quiet and didn’t follow me.
The hospital was in a sorry state. The pipes along the walls had cracked over the years and trickled freely. Moss grew in every gloomy corner and the mouldy tiles squelched under my feet.
I sensed movement. Beyond the running water there was another gentle sound. I saw a shadow glide along the pipework to my right, heard the groaning as a great weight slithered along them.
As it grew closer to the light I saw the shimmering green scales of the snake. Its head fanned out in vibrant orange, a warning sign to prey. No, wait a minute. A traffic cone. Stuck with the smaller end around its body and the base framing its head like a last minute lion costume. I backed away. Just because his head couldn’t reach past the plastic to bite me didn’t mean it couldn’t crush me to death.
I crept back to the large room where everyone was talking amicably and discussing what they thought we should do next. They all shut up when they saw how pale I was.
“Guys,” I whispered. “Stay calm… there’s a snake.”
They all looked at me as if I was an idiot. A snake? So what? Zombies were the main threat. Someone giggled and the room returned to a hum of chatter.
Dougie, a good friend of mine, approached me with a pretty good sketch of the skull painting on the floor. “I’ve been studying this,” he said eagerly. “There’s something about it. What do you think it is?” I looked at the painting again. He was right, there was something odd about it. It wasn’t like the other graffiti.
I shrugged. It was important right now. I left Dougie to his musings and wandered around the room. I was surrounded by people from my High School, people from my past. I wondered which ones I would make an effort to save if the worst came to the worst.
I heard a yelp near the corridor and pushed my way back in time to see the snake. He’d followed me into the room, but rather than attack anyone he meandered straight for the skull. His elongated body traced the paint on the floor and somehow sank into the skull, bringing it to life with a jolt of electricity.
For a moment we stood around it, wondering what it meant. We didn’t have to wait long to find out. Suddenly the skull shot white sparks to the ceiling and loud 80s music began to play. Disco lights shone in all corners of the room and everyone automatically started dancing. It was as if they’d forgotten their situation and were being forced to let loose. I’d never known Rick Astley had had that power.
I felt the rhythm try to take me and I fought it. This may have seemed harmless but we were attracting attention to ourselves. I grabbed a few of my closer friends and broke them out of their trances. We ran.
Before we’d even made it to the other end of the building we heard their screams. There was nothing to be done. If I’d brought too many with us we’d all be in danger. I climbed up the nearest flight of stairs, heading for the top floor, and my band of merry men followed.
We found a penthouse office that spanned the size of the hospital. The entirety had floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the sea. If you looked straight down you could see the cliff that the hospital had been erected into. This wouldn’t be an easy escape.
Floating like wisps of black silk on the skyline, the vampires were hovering. I studied them as they created new zombies below. Their cloaks were like rags floating on an invisible breeze, masking their hideously deformed faces. Long crooked fingers reached out towards their new armies, ripping out their souls and twisting the flesh. There was no way humanity was coming back from this.
Dougie joined me in the window. He’d been on one of the computers and had found the scheduled deliveries timetable.”There’s a boat leaving in ten minutes heading for the mainland. If we can figure out a way of getting past the zombies and finding a way to the port, we could make it.”
Before I could even begin to hope that this was a plausible plan of action, the big white cruise liner sailed out of our eyeline. Dougie sighed. “Guess we’ll have to wait til the next one. If there even is a next one…” Dougie leant against the nearest desk with his head in his hands. Everyone else slumped in the desk chairs. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t just sit and wait for either death or an opportunity to find me. I had to make an opportunity.
“I’m going for a walk,” I muttered. Nobody so much as reacted, let alone offered to join me. So I walked. I walked through endless abandoned corridors and dirty white rooms until I lost track of both time and direction. Soon I became aware I was well underground, and hadn’t once encountered a zombie on the way.
Walking down an unfamiliar corridor, I noticed how considerably colder it was getting. In a moment of disbelief I realised it was fresh air. The corridor began to curve upwards towards a trapdoor. Taking a deep breath, I pushed it open.
I was in my garden. My garden, several counties away from the hospital. It was as if I’d stepped into a parallel universe; no vampires, no zombies, nothing wrong at all. Like I’d stepped into a page of my own history.
I walked cautiously through the house. It was all so neat and modern, nothing like the real thing. My parents had evidently been renovating whilst I’d been running for my life. My parents were sat on the sofa, casually watching TV. They didn’t seem particularly surprised at my entrance after being away for several days.
“Are all the doors locked?” I asked, alarmed. My mum looked towards the nearest open door and shrugged. Doing a perimeter check of the whole house, I had to shut and bolt the doors, all of which were made of incredibly protective basic glass. The white curtains blew in the gentle breeze and I shut them too, desperately trying to keep the horror away.
I could sense the vampires swarming outside. They were surrounding the whole house, but they couldn’t come inside. I relaxed a little. If a door wasn’t open, they could not cross the threshold. So we sat and watched TV for a while, almost as if this were a normal night. I felt bad on the people I’d abandoned in the hospital, but if I went back for them I almost certainly wouldn’t be able to find the secret passage again.
That night I dreamt about them. A coach full of people was on their way to rescue them. At least, that’s what it would look like. One black guy with a long jagged cut from forehead to cheek hid amongst their ranks. He had the disease in his eyes; they were milky white with the departing of his soul. He smiled.
I woke up and instantly rang Dougie. Surprisingly, he answered on the third ring. I was surprised he still had battery.
“Yo, where’ve you been? There’s a coach here, we can go home!”
“No, Dougie! Do not go near that coach.”
“What? Don’t be daft, what else are we going to do? It’s our only chance of getting away!”
“One of them has the disease! He’s a black guy, long coat, big cut on his face…”
“Okay, Claire,” he said, but I knew that tone of voice. He wasn’t listening. “I’ll keep my eye out.”
That was the last I ever heard of him.