Chaos In A Crowd
The controlled evacuation of the hospital broke down as soldiers, patients and nurses burst from every entrance. They yelled and waved for the crowd to move back. The crowd was already responding in panic. The frightened mob began pushing in all directions away from the hospital.
I knew that the insanity of this crowd was likely to end in injury. The idea popped into my head that I could use the bus bench as a protective island until the crowd thinned a little, and then run for it. I crouched down from my perch and held on to the back rest of the bench. I debated for a moment on how long I should wait before diving into the frenzy.
The question was answered for me as some new horror excited the crowd even more. A new cry of fear arose from the people around me. Someone was pushed hard into the bench exactly where I was holding on.
I let out a yelp of pain as I pulled my fingers out from where they were smashed. I abandoned my plan to stay put and stood up to see which way was the best to run. I couldn’t help but glance back for a moment at the hospital. Time seemed to stand still as I saw the catalyst to this heightened excitement.
A chill shot down my spine.
A second group of people were piling out of every exit. Like the man who was shot before, they almost didn’t even look human. They were just too pale, too beat up, and too creepy to be real. A few of the walking corpses appeared to have been shot several times.
I didn’t get time to take a good look, as I was pushed from the bench. I spun toward the street and tried to get my feet in front of me. I collided with two large men as I came down. I stumbled forward off-balance, trying desperately to stay on my feet. I knew that if I hit the ground, this mob would trample me.
One of the large men grabbed me by my backpack and stopped my awkward fall. He took a couple of steps with me to help me steady myself. When he was sure I had my feet back under me, he turned and nodded his head, let go, and disappeared into the crowd.
I attempted to shout a thanks as the wave of people crashed on.
Every member of the frenzied crowd clawed, pushed and pulled at each other hoping to get away. The stampede was loud, undirected and uncontrolled. Within a couple hundred feet or so the crowd finally thinned enough to run without constant collisions.
I tightened up the straps on my backpack, and took off just as fast as I could towards home.
The crowds thinned to almost nothing within two blocks.
I glanced back to see why.
Many were already coughing with exertion and slowing. Many were seeking shelter in the nearby apartment buildings and stores. Many had reached their cars and were speeding away. Only a few had the stamina to keep running.
I wanted to get as far away as possible. I ran a couple more blocks, then slowed to a walk.
I could hear televisions all on the same station broadcasting the chaos at the hospital. Through windows I could see folks scrambling to get things together. Cars filled the streets, all headed for the one highway that lead out of town. Pedestrians were scurrying to get off the street.
As my head began to clear, I became worried about my friends and coworkers at the hospital. I stopped on a corner and fished out my cell phone. On the third number, I got a fellow nurse on the line.
“Angie, are you OK?”
“Not really.” Her voice trembled. “Corbin, you’ve got to get out of the city.”
“It’s a virus. We got a slew of infected patients last night.”
“But that doesn’t explain…”
“Yes it does. It attacks the central nervous system. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Within hours of being infected…”
The call dropped, and a distant boom echoed through the streets.
I looked at the phone and saw it had gone dead completely.
In fact, everything around me seemed to have gone dead. The lighted signs were out. Every car on the street had stopped running. The noise from the televisions of the neighborhood was gone. The stop lights were out. Every electronic device in the city had died.
My brain couldn’t even think a coherent thought, but my gut said one thing: get home now.
next – Chapter 5: Home Sweet Home?