Hell Found Us Thirty Stories High
Loud, motor-like snoring echoed through a cell phone. Belonging to a sleeping patient as her head lay beside it. Its screen still on, showing the source of the snoring. A partial view of a sleeping boy’s face.
“Should we wake them?” A nurse, already fitted in her protective equipment, hesitates to open the door to the patient’s room.
Behind the nurse, stood a shorter doctor also suited in her protective layers. “Either open the door Nurse Rue, or I push you through it.”
Rue bit her lip, “And a good morning to you, Doctor Isla”. Rue exhales out, then enters the patient’s room. Bright lights activate above and fill the room with harsh light. Apart from the tangled mess of cedar-colored hair that spills over the white bed sheet. The entire room was like a plain canvas. If it weren’t for the crowd of tech around the hospital bed beeping away, the room would be completely silent.
A tranquil melody played over the device. No doubt the reason both fell asleep on a call. The closer they got, Rue could see the patient was holding on tight to a small sock that once belonged to an infant.
“Can’t we come back?” Nurse Rue hesitates when they approach the bed. “The patient deserves rest, especially after yesterday’s events”. Rue looked to Doctor Isla who delivered a venomous glare.
“I decide what my patient needs, Ms. Rue”. Isla says in a hard tone. “What Cole needs is thorough and consistent treatment. She is one of six surviving patients, and this is the last hospital standing between Liberty Island and Malibu... Cole is one of thousands suffering. Most of the medical staff we knew have contracted the disease and are useless now or dead”.
Nurse Rue turned her gaze to the floor when Isla mentioned the others. Then she lifted her gaze again, finding a pair of cloudy gray eyes staring up at her and Isla.
“This contagion will be the end of mankind if we stop what we are doing”. Isla turns and starts to prep, unaware that Cole was awake, shaking fearfully in her spot.
“Cole?” A voice interrupts just when the snoring ceased. “What’s going on? Why are there people in your room?”
Cole was about to speak when the doctor spoke for her. “My patient is undergoing treatment. Talk to her later”. Isla hits the End Call button before the boy could say anything more. “Now, Cole…” she exhales and turns to find her tools. “Let’s start this”.
Cole’s gray eyes met Rue’s soft brown ones, just as the treatment began. It was a look that weakened her every time. The same look the other five patients gave before the process…
“There...” Nurse Rue carefully sets Cole in the bed after helping her to the bathroom. She may not be particularly tall or strong, but she could lift Cole. “We got through another day, baby dove”. She whispers, moving the wild hair away from the patient’s face.
Cole remained silent as Rue tucked her under the clean sheets. Rue could understand the drained look she wore and didn’t try to press her to talk. “You’re leading the battle now... so don’t go fading on us yet. You’re almost through it”. Rue whispered before leaving.
Cole was already drifting off into a sleep when the door was shut. Sounds of rushing water and crinkles of plastic were faintly heard. A normal thing to hear while the nurse cleaned up. At the same time, a ringing tune played from Cole’s phone. She knew it was him calling again, but Cole couldn’t bring herself to answer it.
“Oh my god…”
A loud metallic clash rang through the hospital, stirring awake every patient on the 37th floor. Cole sat up, eyes darting around as she tries to see through bleary vision. “Nurse Rue?” She called out, but heard no answer. Only the sound of metallic clutter as it falls to the floor. Seconds later it was followed by screams and several bright red flashes.
“Oh my god…” She hears a gasp that turns into a scream. “No! Oh god!”
“R-Rue?” Cole shivers as she slips out of bed. The lights were no longer white, instead, Cole’s vision was a blur of red and black.
A shot rang through the air.
“STOP! Don’t shoot!” Someone screams. The sound makes Cole freeze, inches away from the glass door. From this distance, Cole could spot several shadows moving. Heavy footfalls rumble in the hall as screams erupt from the nurses.
“Where’s everyone going?” Cole says out loud, her heart beginning to panic as Rue’s voice echoes over the other noises of commotion. “Hey asshole! There’s infected patients on this floor-”
“AH! STOP! THAT’S OUR SUPPLY! I WON’T LET YOU TAKE I-”
“N-No”. Cole shivered as glass shattered and a burst of gunfire erupted. She could see the shadows of people falling, others fighting back… Chaos in the halls.
Then something hit the door of Cole’s room. She scattered away, but could not find her bed. Cole crawled around on the floor until she felt the wall and pressed her back against it. Keeping herself as small as possible, she tucks her knees under the hospital gown; close to her chest. Through the noise of gunfire, she hears the chime of her phone as the same ringing tune plays again. Cole was too scared to go to it and stayed curled up until the hospital went silent.
The lights were still flickering red against the darkness. A distant buzz repeated over and over. Cole knew the alarm would not stop until the danger was gone.
Moments pass as silence settles, only to be broken again as a parade of footfalls tread over the shattered glass.
Cole stayed frozen in her spot and listened to the footfalls as they came closer.
“There’s more on the 41st floor”. A male voice echoes. “Get it, and find Doctor Isla. Don’t let her get away this time”.
“Doctor Isla?” Cole whispers to herself when the footfalls pass. She lifted her gaze, willing herself to move away from the wall. If only little by little. Cole felt around as she crawled, desperately trying to figure out the room under the red flickers of light. She observed the echoes from her left and remembered the door was there. Which meant the bed was to her right. She crawls toward the right, feeling the floor with her hands until the tips of her fingers find another wall.
“Ah”, Cole covers her mouth to muffle the sound that threatened to escape. A gunshot echoed near her room, followed by startled screams of other patients.
Tears welled in her eyes as she thought the worst. She took a shaky breath and willed herself to move again. Cole kept going until she was close enough to see the silhouette of the bed. She crawls next to it and reaches up to grab her phone. Cole held it with shaky fingers as she dialed one of her contacts.
“Cole?” The call was answered after the first ring and a familiar face appeared on the screen.
A man, slightly older than Cole appeared with a look of concern on his face as he sat up. He was shirtless and quickly got out of bed. Pacing the room as he questioned her. “Cole? Where are you? Why are the lights red? What is going on?”
“Oliver”, Cole’s gray eyes watered when she opened her mouth to speak.
Another gunshot echoed.
Oliver froze from his pacing and looked at Cole. Panic was clear on his face. He watched as she trembled, her back against the bed while more shots echoed. One after the other.
“Oliver, s-something’s wrong. The hospital… T-There’s…” Cole took a shaky breath and continued to speak. “There’s people taking supplies… I- I don’t know who they are”.
“Where’s the staff? Why are you alone?” Oliver wondered.
“I don’t know… Oliver”, Cole took another breath and then told him. “Oliver, I can’t see very well… a-and these lights are not helping”.
“Okay”. Oliver nodded. “I understand. Rue told me about your eyes… Just…” It was Oliver’s turn to take a few breaths while he tried to keep his thoughts together. “Just don’t hang up. Okay?”
“Oliver, I need you to be my eyes. Please”. She whispers her plea, and immediately Oliver nodded and told her to hold up the phone.
With trembling arms, Cole held it up as she got to her feet again. She moved the phone around so Oliver could see the whole room. “Stop, right there... Move closer”. Oliver instructed, “the door is too far away”.
“Okay”, Cole moved closer until Oliver told her to stop. “You’re in front of the door, the window is to your right”.
Cole took a few steps to the right and held up the phone to the glass.
“Christ...” was his first reaction to the sight of the bloody hall floor. “C-Cole there’s so many nurses. They’re not moving”. His voice got shaky the more details he gave. “I... I see... I see a doctor among them... he- he’s holding a weapon”.
“What else?” Cole whispered eagerly, moving the phone so that more of the hall could be viewed.
“It l-looks like movement to your right. Hold it steady”.
Cole waited, holding the phone more to the right so Oliver could see.
“That one”. A male voice echoed. “That door, get it open, he’s got the medical equipment we need”.
Noises of metal striking metal reached Cole’s ears as Oliver explained what was happening.
“Cole? They’re... They’re breaking into room... 209... Room 209... and... there’s nine of them wearing masks”.
“Room 209?” Cole repeated. “Leon is in there... h-he’s infected... I don’t understand”.
“I don’t think they care about that, Cole”. Oliver pressed his hand to the side of his face in disbelief as the group hauled out loads of equipment.
“Stop!” A shout came from inside the room. The patient, a young boy, ran out of the room and swiped a crutch from one of the deceased. He lifted it and swung, landing a strike to a man’s shoulder.
A shot rang out, Oliver watched as the boy collapsed on the floor.
Cole shivered hearing it, while Oliver’s eyes went wide. “Cole?” Panic grew in his voice as a shadow moved in front of the window. “Cole! Cole get away from the-”
The window shatters, glass rained down like glitter as time seemed to slow. The blast filled her ears, after there was silence and the hard beats of her own pulse. They were in sync with the red lights, flickering on and off again. A fire-like feeling burned through her chest while the force of the blast sent her body flying backward.
The phone slipped from her fingers. A current of cedar hair pours over her face. Just before her back slams against the hard floor. Cedar hair falling around her small face.
Fiery hot pain spread through her left shoulder. Cole’s gray eyes stare at the ceiling, terror frozen in them as shadows enter the room.
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