Julia grabbed an empty box from the side of the reception desk as they ran through the deserted A&E department. ‘The storeroom’s this way.’
Pushing the door open she went straight to the racks and grabbed a large bundle of triage packs and dumped them in Emma’s box, followed by a pack of hypodermics and bandages. She filled her own box with bottles of iodine and antiseptic solutions. ‘We need to get to the pharmacy. He’s going to need anti-biotic, blood and fluids.’
‘Is he going to be all right?’
‘I don’t know,’ Julia sighed. ‘But we’ll do what we can. It’s the blood loss and infection that may kill him, we don’t know what those creatures are capable of transmitting.’
Emma began to cry.
‘Come on. We haven’t got time for that,’ snapped Julia. She stopped searching the shelves. Emma was staring down at the floor, her tears running freely. ‘Look at me. Emma, look at me. Let’s get what we need and get out of here.’
‘I’m sorry. I’m just so frightened, those creatures...’
‘I’m frightened too. But I need you to be strong right now if we’re going to help that man.’
‘I’ll try,’ Emma said, stifling back a sob.
‘Let’s go then.’
They ran through the department and along the corridor to outpatient’s.
‘The pharmacy’s over there,’ Julia said, wending her way through rows of chairs.
A big heavy shutter was pulled halfway down the serving hatch in the wall. Julia tried the door at the side of the hatch, it was unlocked.
As she pushed the handle down they heard voices inside the room. She looked at Emma and put her finger to her lips and slowly released the handle.
The face of a young man appeared at the porthole window in the door, frightening Emma. She screamed and dropped the box, spilling its contents across the linoleum floor.
Julia put her box on the floor and pushed the door open, forcing the youth back into the room. As she walked in two other youths appeared from behind the racks that divided the room.
‘Why are you in here? Everyone’s...’ She looked down at the carrier bags they were holding. ‘Look. I don’t care what you’re doing. I have a seriously injured man outside that needs urgent medical treatment. I just need to get some things to help him, then we’ll be gone.’
Dave, a tall spotty youth, wearing a full-length leather coat stepped towards her. ‘Help yourself darling. We got what we came for. Long as you don’t want any of our gear.’
Julia noticed a large handle, the type usually fixed to a machete blade, protruding from his coat. She pushed past the youths and went behind the racks, closely followed by Emma. Grabbing some carrier bags she filled the bag with boxes and bottles from the shelves.
Emma followed her to the back of the room, turning her head to look at the three youths watching them. Julia opened a door with a Biohazard warning symbol and a sign saying ‘Authorised Personnel Only.’
Along the back wall of the room was a bank of fridges. Emma waited at the door whilst Julia filled carrier bags with plasma and blood packs. She shut the fridge and turned to Emma.
‘We’ve got everything we need. Let’s go.’
One of the youths was standing with his back to the door. The other two were sitting at the pharmacists table.
I know you,’ Dave said to Emma. ‘You work in Tesco’s.’
‘Yeah I do. What of it?’
‘Remember her Shaun?’ Dave said to the overweight youth standing at the door. ‘That’s the stuck up bitch that put security on to us.’
‘Yeah, it is her. She nearly got us nicked.’
‘Whatever happened in the past really doesn’t matter now,’ Julia said. She raised her voice. ‘In case you haven’t noticed, the town is overrun by creatures that are killing people. We all need to get out of here before it gets dark.’
Dave got up from the desk and moved towards Emma, his hand resting on the handle under his coat.
Emma backed away, frightened.
Julia put her bags on the table. She stood protectively in front of Emma. ‘Leave her alone. Just let us go.’
‘Maybe she owes me something for nearly getting me nicked,’ Dave said, facing up to Julia, his manner threatening.
‘Please. Let us go,’ pleaded Emma. ‘The man on the bus, he’s dying, we have to help him.’
The young man who hadn’t spoken throughout got up from the table. He was taller than the other two, and quite muscular. ‘Let them go Dave. You’ve got what you came for, and she’s right, we don’t want to be here after dark.’
Dave advanced on Emma.
The youth grabbed him by the coat. Julia saw the long machete blade tucked into an inside pocket.
Dave turned on him.
‘I said, let them go. You’ve got your stuff. Now let’s get out of here.’
Dave spat angrily. ‘We can do what we like now Luke, there ain’t no fucking law no more.’
‘Take your stuff and get out of here,’ Luke said to Julia.
‘Fuck Man. What’s the matter with you?’ He leaned against the rack and crossed his arms.
‘Get your stuff and let’s go,’ Luke said, to both Dave and Shaun.
Dave picked up his bags and walked over to the door. He turned to Luke. ‘That fucking bitch owes me.’
Julia gathered her bags and Emma followed her out into the corridor.
As Emma bent down to pick up the triage packs that had spilled from the box, Dave pushed his boot into her backside, sending her sprawling across the floor. He stood over her grabbing at his crotch suggestively. ‘I ever see you again, bitch.’
Julia faced up to him. ‘You fucking leave her alone,’ she shouted into his face.
‘Or you’ll do what, you slag.’
Luke stepped in between them. ‘You can be such a cunt sometimes Dave. Now leave them alone.’
‘Fuck you Luke.’ He turned and stormed off through the outpatients department.
Luke bent down and picked up the packages.
Shaun gently helped Emma to her feet. ‘Sorry,’ he said, embarrassed by Dave’s behaviour.’
‘Thanks.’ She smiled at him and took the box from Luke.
‘You better go.’
Julia and Emma walked quickly out to the corridor. Dave was standing against the wall opposite the door. He sneered at them as they walked past. As they hurried down the corridor they could hear them arguing.
A creature turned the corner in front of them. It bounded along the corridor, snarling and dripping saliva from its bared teeth, its claws trying to find purchase on the highly waxed floor.
Julia pushed Emma into an open room and slammed the door shut.
The creature saw the youths and rushed at them, launching itself at Dave who was in front. Shaun screamed and backed up against the wall.
Dave dropped his bags and pulled the machete from his coat. He brought it down on the creatures back as it sunk its teeth into his crotch, slicing off a good chunk of his lower abdomen.
He fell backwards with the creature biting its way into him. The machete fell from his hand as he screamed and struggled with the creature. It raised its head, dripping with blood from Dave’s lower parts and launched into a vicious attack on his upper body.
Putting up a futile effort to fight it off it savagely bit into him, ripping off a huge chunk of flesh from his stomach, dragging with it lengths of coiled intestines. Blood and excrement poured out from the gaping wound, filling the corridor with the pungent smells.
Luke grabbed for the machete and slashed at the thing that was intent on devouring his friend. He brought the machete down across the back of the creature’s neck, severing its spine and nearly decapitating it. The creature slumped down on to Dave’s body, its head sinking into the empty abdomen. Luke turned and grabbed Shaun who was standing against the wall, petrified with fear.
‘Come on. We can’t help him, he’s dead. There could be more of them.’
Luke dragged Shaun along the corridor to the room Julia and Emma had sought safety in. He tried to open the door but they were pushing on it from the other side.
‘It’s me. Open the door,’ shouted Luke.
The door opened and Julia and Emma’s frightened faces appeared from within the dark room.
‘It’s dead. I killed it. Come on.’ He grabbed the box from her and grasped the hand still holding the bags and pulled her into the corridor.
Julia shook her hand free and looked back to see Dave’s body lying on the floor. The creature had gone. Dave’s body was glowing, illuminating the corridor all around the corpse.
‘Then where is it?’
Luke looked back to where his friend lay. ‘It was there. I cut its fucking head off.’
‘We better get back to the bus,’ Julia said. She pulled Emma from the room and they all ran for the exit.