The unmarked room
I feel like hell when I wake up. I guess I would considering I have probably killed more than a few brain cells and I can’t afford to lose the ones I have. I put my hand up to my head. I feel dried blood on my forehead. I move onto my knees and force myself to my feet. I think I got up too fast. I am so disorientated. I walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror, squinting.
The side of my face is smothered in blood. I have a massive graze on my head that has begun to clot and solidify. I look like hell. I look like I have been in some kind of confrontation. Yes, a confrontation with a wall. Ugh, I feel like hell. But now, I guess, pain is at the forefront of my mind, quite literally.
I hate this. I just want to pretend like no one of this has happened because ignorance is ultimate bliss from my experience. I just...don’t want to talk about it. What I really need is a distraction. Jason. I run the tap and splash my face with the freezing cold water from the pipes. My head stings and my nose burns but I feel refreshed. How long have I been out?
I walk out of the bathroom and speak of the devil, there is a knock at the door. Companionship. I open the door but first, I make sure that my fringe covers the graze on my forehead. I don’t need the added aggravation of people questioning me.
It’s Jason. What a bloody coincidence.
“I saw you run out of Marcus’ office earlier; I was just wondering if you were alright. You looked pretty shaken up. Are you alright?”
He looks genuinely concerned. I am not dragging him into the shit storm that is my life.
“Yeah, I’m fine. I overreacted but I feel like I know Marcus a lot better. You have no reason to be concerned about me Jason; I’m a big girl, I can look after myself,” I say as I flash him my falsest smile. He seems to be lapping it up like a puppy. My forced smile seems to invoke a genuine smile in Jason.
He takes my hand and looks me in the eye. Oh shit.
“I am a lot of things, Lexi, but I am not stupid. Tell me what happened, please.”
Is he pleading with me to get involved in my life? He can piss right off with that plea. Why are people unable to grasp the concept that I don’t want them involved with every part of my life?
I take his other hand.
“I am fine, Jason. Don’t worry about me; you don’t have to get involved in this. Why are you so interested in me and my story?”
He stares at me. He is bloody intense, I’ll give him that. I am not sure where this is going but the silence is perturbing me. He moves closer to me, forcing our arms to bend in unison. He bends his head down until his lips touch mine. His lips are gentle and he barely places any pressure on my lips. I pull away. I can’t. I just can’t.
“I’m sorry Jason.”
I turn my back; I can’t bear to look at him. He is a genuinely nice man who shouldn’t be forced to become involved with the likes of me. He deserves better than me. In addition to that, he’s only known me two days. He doesn’t know anything about me.
“It’s alright. I was being too forward; I understand if you aren’t interested in me but be honest with me, that’s all I ask of you. Are you interested in me?”
“No...I mean yes...I don’t know okay! I don’t know how I feel about you. I have known you two days, Jason. You hardly know me. I am interested in you as a friend; that’s what I need right now. Why are you even interested in a girl you know nothing about?”
“Because you are not like any other girls I have ever met. You are the first funny, beautiful girl that I have met while at this compound; why would I not be interested in you? I understand if you just want to be friends,” he states with a downtrodden expression. He genuinely thought there was something blossoming between us but I still have to consider how I feel and Roman.
“There’s another reason as well,” I have to be honest with him, it is the least he deserves from me, “in my old group, there was a guy called Roman. He’s still out there and I mean...I don’t really know where I stand with him. I think I was in love with him. But what I feel is irrelevant at the end of the day, Jason. Don’t just hope for the best with me: I am damaged goods and I genuinely believe that you deserve so much better than me.”
He appears dejected but he still is not getting the hint. He doesn’t understand what I am trying to convey or articulate, I swear. Why does every bloody person I meet think that I am something I’m not? Why do they think that I’m a slut who puts out after two days or that I am strong enough to accept the fact that I was violated as a child? It’s sick. All of this is sick.
“You put yourself down too much; I can see that is your issue. I understand; I actually came to fetch you for Linda. She wants you to join us on our next patrol. Are you ready?”
“Alright, let’s do this,” I mutter. I may as well serve a purpose if I am to stay here. Wait, do I even want to stay here? I mean this is the place where my father is and I have the potential for a love interest in Jason. But the real question is do I belong here This is like a military base and bitch, I did not sign up for that.
But technically, I did just sign up for it so I might as well try my hand at it. If Jason can spend eight years here and turn into the perfect little soldier, maybe this is something I can turn my hand to.
“You may want to wear something a little warmer; it is glacial outside. I will be back in five minutes. Take your time.”
He walks away, almost marching. That does make me giggle and I know it shouldn’t. I guess seeing men who are obviously scared shitless of their own shadow acting as blank canvases. Acting as if they know no fear. Also, the way he marches reminds me of...I don’t even know what. He has these long legs that occupy over half of his body and it looks like something from a Monty Python sketch. I saw it in a book at this bookshop I once went on a stakeout to. Ah, I know what it is: ‘The Ministry of Silly Walks’. They were just images but they raised a smile out of me. This tall man walking with his legs far extended and almost galloping. I would give anything to actually see the sketch but I guess that is never going to happen. Ah, Monty Python.
I walk over to the metal wardrobe that looms in the corner of the room. There are a few vest tops, jumpers, jeans, polyester trousers, skirts and my leather jacket. Someone was in here because I certainly did not hang it up. My ironic t-shirt has also gone absent without leave. Aw bless them, washing my clothes and sneaking into this room while I’m asleep. Actually, it is extremely creepy on reflection.
I put on a black jumper over my vest. I am going to stew. I understand it is bound to be warmer due to the fact that we are underground but I am still waiting for this supposed air conditioning. I take my tracksuit bottoms off and put on the black polyester trousers in the wardrobe. I then put on a pair of trainers I find in the wardrobe as well. Size 6, a surprisingly perfect fit. I put on my leather jacket and zip it up. I take a sniff of the sleeves. I adore the smell of leather and there are undertones of smoke that remains from countless cremations.
I may as well make myself look presentable. I have a hair band in my jacket pocket. I walk to the bathroom mirror and I tie my hair back into a high ponytail. I make sure that my fringe hangs down over the graze and I place it behind my ear. It still covers it, kind of. I could say that I had it before; there, I have my excuse. I can lie about it.
I take another two paracetamol tablets and swallow them dry. I walk towards the door, adjusting myself to make sure I don’t have any flesh showing or that my trousers haven’t collected around the top of the trainers. I open the door and walk out into the corridor. Where is Jason? It must have been five minutes at least since I last saw him. I meander down the corridor to the left. I will find him at some point but I have the time, I may as well explore.
There are so many doors. Doorways to who knows what; well they do but that is beyond the point. I hear banging. I can’t decipher where it is coming from but it sounds like it is near. Bang, bang...bang, bang. What the hell? I traipse forward. The banging becomes a lot clearer: it’s down here somewhere. I have to check this out now. I catch sight of Roman walking towards my room; it’s now or never. Maybe I can dig up some dirt on this base? Or...maybe not?
It’s in the room next to me. The sign over the door has been scratched out. I can make out that it used to say ‘storage’. It’s either ‘storage’ or ‘dotigt’; I think storage is the more logical assumption.
Now, groans from within the stomach of the room become apparent. They aren’t just banging on the walls; they sound like they are in some form of pain.
“What are they doing here?” I mutter to myself. The door is not locked. Why isn’t it locked? From what I can deduce, this doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you want people to stumble into. I don’t like this; something smells fishy about this. In reality, it actually smells of meat and almost, bloody.
I unlock the door.
There are six people in this room. They seem to just sit in the corner of the room, groaning. What have they done to you?
“Are you alright?” I inquire. In truth, I am utterly terrified. Is this what they do to people who ask too many questions? Ending up in an unmarked room. Light reflects off of the floor and catches my eye. That’s blood. There are numerous puddles of blood on the floor. Holy crap. What have they done?
I walk into the room, trying to maintain an air of calm about me. There is no light inside this room which contrasts the whitewashed walls outside. I walk towards the nearest person.
“Are you alright mate?”
I place my hand on their shoulder but there is something...odd about it. They are freezing and the smell is coming from their flesh. It feels...dead.
I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all. They should be responding, at least acknowledging me. Suddenly this person begins to cough her guts up, quite literally. Solid masses of blood are flung from her mouth. Damn. She then turns her head to face me but she is growling. She screams at me which causes me to jump back. But that isn’t what really shocks. The light from the corridor illuminates her face. Most of the skin has peeled from her face. She has no bottom lip as it is hanging down. Oh my god.
Her eyes have become bloodshot and appear entirely red in colour. The veins have become prominent on her skin, painting her like some kind oil painting. There is something so inhuman about her. She begins to crawl towards me but her movement is distorted. She moves like a spider, arms bent and her arms move faster than her legs so she is dragging herself along. I slide backwards, keeping my eyes on her. I feel my hand land in one of the puddles of blood; this is nauseating but it helps me along. It’s a good thing I’m wearing black.
She grabs hold of my foot. I kick and kick but her grip tightens. I keep crawling backwards, watching her as she seems to be getting faster. She’s trying to bite me. I feel her hyperborean flesh climb up my leg. She growls and bares her teeth to me. She has a strip of flesh caught between her front teeth. What the hell is she because that is human flesh, I am pretty sure of it.
I don’t think I can move fast enough; I have to carry her weight as well as my own. I am so close to the door: I can feel it. I can feel the heat of the lights outside. Just a little further.
I can’t move.
She won’t let go, no matter how much I kick her. I kick her in the head and a bit of her skull detaches but she keeps coming at me. I have never seen this before, in any of the infected. There is the possibility that a mutation may have developed within the virus. What on Earth are they now? At least the infected used to be people.
Why did I go into this room? Isn’t that the mistake that other people have always made? Trusting their instincts to help people and ending up choking on their own blood within a matter of days. She’s going to eat me if I don’t get away. That’s why she’s trying to bite me. What the hell is she? A flesh eating zombie? Oh shit. Walking dead? Really?
I turn to face away from her; maybe I can push myself away if I am facing the right direction. Why do I not have any weapons on me? Why did I come in here unprotected? Am I really that stupid...or plain naïve?
I scream. Maybe if I scream, someone will find me before I become food. She is bloody strong. Holding my right leg down and pressing her body weight against me. Maybe this is it.
I close my eyes.
A gunshot rings through the halls.
The pressure on my legs fades.
I open one eye. Jason is standing there with a Winchester rifle, looking content with his kill. I kick the bitch off of my leg. Now she doesn’t put up a fight. I stamp on her head to make sure that she is dead because I don’t fancy the confrontation round 2.
Jason extends his hand to me.
“I feel like we may have some explaining to do,” he says, rubbing his neck with his free hand.