Jim looked at me, and then checked over his shoulder to see the horde of infected navigating their way through the parked cars.
“Fucking hell!” He raced for the door.
King held the door open and when Jim was inside, they both pushed the door closed and leaned with their backs against it.
“Get something heavy against the door,” Jim'’s voice was a few tones higher than its normal gruffness. “Quickly!”
The hospital survivors were rooted to the spot, afraid to move. Kate pushed through them and shooed the children from the long fake leather couch that faced the television. The emo teenager that had given me the finger saw what Kate was doing and moved closer to lift the opposite end of the couch and help carry it over to Jim and King.
King took Kate'’s end of the couch and wedged it against a stone pillar and the door. “That should do it.”
Doctor Webb clutched a bunch of keys in his fist so tightly that his knuckles were whiter than cheap bread. He separated a long brass key from the bunch and held it out. “This one locks it.”
“Thank fuck for that,” Jim snatched the keys and hastily locked the door.
“They'’ve stopped,” Sean said. “Look.”
There wasn’t one pair of eyes in that hospital that didn’t look through the windows at that moment. We were transfixed on the sight before us.
Well over a hundred infected had filled the car park. They had stopped running and were pacing on the spot, snarling and biting the air, each looking like a ferocious dog that strained at its leash. There was a space of about fifteen feet between them and us.
“What the fuck?” We were all thinking it, Dexy said it.
The bloodthirsty horde parted at their centre to make a narrow pathway. Five hooded figures strolled through the newly formed walkway which closed behind them. One of the hoodies walked slightly ahead of the other four.
When they had reached the front of the infected army, the hoodies stood side by side, their faces shrouded in shadows. The one that had led them stepped forward.
It was him.
The one that had led the ambush on the Police cars, the one from the park, the one that had commanded the attack on the gate. Mason was dead because of this hoodie infected cannibal.
He stared right at me, white eyes full of malice and a devilish grin across his lips.
“Who are you?” my question was barely audible.
“I want everyone upstairs now!” Jim'’s voice jolted me from my thoughts. “Sean, get them to the top floor. Everyone stay calm and move carefully. You wait here, Doctor.”
He crouched down beside the leather bag while Sean and his wife tried to control the terrified crowd. Most of the younger survivors ignored Jim'’s advice and rushed ahead. Some of the men carried the elderly people that had problems walking.
Doctor Webb stood awkwardly, looking down at Jim and then back to the people that were now filing up the stairs. I think he wanted to be with them, not stuck downstairs with us.
Jim pulled a single barrel pump action shotgun and a pistol similar to the one in his belt from the bag. He handed the shotgun to Kate and Dexy took the pistol.
Dexy took his arm out of the sling and moved it around, wincing slightly but ultimately deciding that the pain was manageable.
“You two go with them, keep them safe,” he passed them a handful of cartridges and some ammo clips.
“What are you going to do?” Kate took the ammo and started loading the shotgun.
“Just fucking go, Kate!”
“We got this, Bruv,” Dexy said. “Come on, Kate.”
Kate glared at Jim and sighed. “Dick,” she said, following Dexy up the stairs.
“You any good with the sniper rifle?” Jim looked up at King.
“Ask the one-armed bandit over there,” he nodded his head towards Dexy and smirked.
Jim stood up and held the rifle out. King grabbed it but Jim held on. “Don'’t fuck me,” he narrowed his eyes and scowled at the psychotic Sergeant.
“You’re not my type,” King pulled at the rifle and Jim released his grip on it. “I want to live through this just as much as you.”
Jim shoved pistols into the hands of Gemma, Dodge and myself and then he hastily told us where the safety was and how to load a clip, but I was too busy staring at the king of the infected to take any of it in.
“Can we get onto the roof?” Jim picked up the bag and placed his free hand on Doctor Webb'’s shoulder.
The Doctor stood motionless like a statue performer in the park, his face was drained of colour and he chewed his bottom lip.
Jim leaned forward and looked in Webb'’s eyes. “Doctor,” his voice was louder, almost a shout. “Can we get onto the roof?”
Doctor Webb blinked the horror from his eyes and focused on the giant of a man standing before him.
“Oh,” he was confused, disoriented. “The roof, yes. I have a key.”
I had always assumed that a Doctor would be able to deal with high stress situations. Not this one.
“Good,” Jim spoke in a much calmer voice knowing that he had the doctor'’s attention. “Does it have a fire escape?”
Doctor Webb turned his attention to the infected outside and shuddered.
“Doctor!” Jim shook him by the shoulder. “Don'’t you fucking shut down on me!”
“No. Of course,” He snapped back to life. “Fire escape,” his fingers drummed a nervous beat across his thighs. “Runs down the back wall.”
“Fucking perfect,” Jim smiled, pulled the Doctor forward and kissed him on the cheek. “Let'’s go.”
He dragged Doctor Webb to the stairs and the rest of us followed. I held my arm up to stop Gemma and Dodge, making sure that King was in front of us before we continued.
If he was going to try anything, I wanted to be the one that stopped him.
The stampede of feet echoed throughout the whole hospital as we ran up the stairs.
“What floor?” Kate asked.
“Straight to the roof.”
When we reached the top floor, the corridor was full of hospital survivors that were either gasping for breath or crying in the arms of their loved ones. Doctor Webb led us through the corridor to a locked blue door at the end.
“You can find the right one faster than me,” Jim handed him the bunch of keys.
Sean came up to us as the Doctor was unlocking the door.
“Can’t' we go with you?” He was shaking with either fear or anger. Probably both.
“No. I don'’t want a fucking crowd up there when we'’re trying to shoot,” Jim almost growled the words. He had little patience for Sean. “Believe it or not, I want to save as many lives as I can. Now back the fuck off and let me get on with it.”
Sean was about to say something, his finger was poised for a good pointing, but he decided against it and walked away.
Dexy ran up to us and crouched down to hug Dodge. “Jim, you want us down here, Bruv?”
“You and Kate,” Jim pointed at the double doors on the opposite end of the corridor. “Guard those doors.”
“No worries,” he hugged Dodge one last time. “You take care of my little blud here,” he stood up and nodded his head towards Barney, who was snuggled neatly in Dodge'’s arms. “Him and his dog.”
Kate came up to me and leaned forward to whisper in my ear. “Watch Harry King like a hawk.”
“I intend to.”
“I'’m serious. He'’s lost his mind, don'’t trust him,” she held my hand in hers and gave a gentle squeeze. “See you soon.”
Doctor Webb pulled the door open and strode up the stairs two at a time.
“Let'’s move,” Jim followed the Doctor.
King went next, then Gemma and Dodge. I pulled the door closed behind me. The stairwell leading to the roof was dark and claustrophobic but it was only moments before Doctor Webb had unlocked and pushed open the roof door. We all ran through the doorway and into the sunlight.
A three foot high wall surrounded the roof. At the far corner, there was a gap big enough for two well built men to stand side-by-side.
“Is that the fire escape?” I asked, pointing to the gap.
“Yes,” Doctor Webb said. “Yes, that'’s it.”
Jim walked to the side of the hospital that looked down onto the car park.
“Okay,” he said, turning around to address us all. “We'’re going to be shooting as many as we can from here,” he looked at Gemma and Dodge. “I want you two to make sure those fire stairs stay clear.”
“I don'’t know how to use a gun,” Gemma looked at the pistol in her hands and then back at Jim.
“I'’ll show you,” Dodge put Barney down and grabbed Gemma'’s arm, just below the elbow. “Come on,” he moved briskly towards the fire escape, dragging Gemma with him. Barney wagged his tail and trailed behind them.
Jim turned his attention to Doctor Webb. “I need you to lock that door. I don'’t want everyone running up here and turning this into Billy Smart’s fucking circus.”
Doctor Webb walked back to the door and locked it.
“What are we doing?” I peered over the wall and felt the blood drain from my face when I saw how many infected were down there. Hundreds of them, all chomping at the bit to get at us but being held back by some invisible force. More were climbing over the fence, as if answering a call unheard by us, but one that they couldn'’t resist.
“We'’re going to shoot as many as we can while they'’re just standing there,” Jim thumbed across his shoulder. “When they get inside we let everyone else up here, lock the doors and head down the fire escape. Then we' take the minibus and get the fuck out of here.”
“We can'’t fit everyone on that bus,” I said, almost embarrassed to be stating the obvious.
“As you say, William,” Jim gave me a look that spoke volumes. He had already decided who would be riding the bus with us. “As you say.”
“Looks like you know what you'’re doing,” King rested his rifle on the wall. “What are you, Army? SAS, something like that?”
Jim smiled and dropped the bag on the floor. He crouched on his haunches, opened up the bag and pulled out a rifle similar to the one that King had. He stood and aimed down the scope, sweeping the rifle left and right to get a good look at the situation below.
“I'’m fucking retired.” He said.
King chuckled at Jim’s response and brought his own gun into a firing position.
I closed my eyes and imagined that I was back home with Holly and Gemma. We were sitting in the garden, enjoying cold drinks in the sun. I could almost taste the sweet iced tea that Holly always prepared for us on hot days. She was laughing with Gemma as they shared a joke. A warm shiver traced its way up my spine and a tear rolled down my cheek.
When I opened my eyes and stared down into the car park, Hell stared back at me.