A Burning Desire For Solitude
Fire engulfed what appeared to be a truck stop a couple of blocks down the road. The flames leapt at least a high as the building I was in. Thick black smoke poured into the air. The occasional clearing through the smoke showed a gaping hole in the parking lot.
My first instinct was to run out there and see if there were any survivors in need of help, but I knew deep down that I couldn’t do any good. There’s just no way anyone survived that blast and the current burning. The underground gas tank must have exploded.
Dusk was deepening, and the inferno made stark contrast to dusty desert sky.
Then I saw them.
Several people were coming down the street.
But not really people.
They rambled in the direction of the fire. Many of them were covered in bloodstained clothing. A few limped. I couldn’t see clearly in the dim light, but I knew their faces were expressionless, and their eyes vacant.
Infected. But what were they doing?
It looked like they were heading toward the fire.
Within an hour the sky was dark. Between the light of the moon and the light of the now dying flames, I could make out a mob twenty or thirty infected in the street. Each just stood perfectly still around what had been the gas station. It had burnt hot and fast, and now there wasn’t much left to burn.
My head was again filled with a million questions. Why were they drawn to the fire? What was I going to do in the morning when I had to leave? What had that doctor done? Why was he certain he’d be safer alone?
I couldn’t come up with any good answers, so I just stared out into the dark. I was so wrapped up in my thoughts that I didn’t hear the door open behind me.
I felt the impact before I even heard the shot. In fact, I can’t even remember hearing the shot at all.
I spun and faced my attacker.
Sure enough, the doctor from upstairs stood there looking all satisfied with himself. He was holding an odd looking rifle, which he lowered so that he could smirk at me.
“I’m sorry, nurse. I need solitude.”
I tried to process what was going on. I reached around my back to feel the wound. My fingers wrapped around a thick dart. I ripped it out.
A tranquilizer? How does that get him solitude? I looked up at the doctor.
He was already gone and the door was closing behind him.
A rush of anger swept over me. I tossed the dart and bolted for the door, which was a mistake, because I tripped over a garbage can and a chair on the way out.
It didn’t matter. I was already set on hurting the doc before I passed out.
The hallway was even darker than th office. It was only lit by the faint light coming through the open doors.
He could have hidden anywhere. It didn’t matter. When I found him, I was going pound his face.
The stairwell door clanged shut.
I stumbled and groped down the hall until I found it.
The heat in the stairwell was still unbearable.
I raced and tripped up the stairs. I slammed into the door.
It didn’t move. He had already barricaded it, or he was holding it.
I started pounding on the door. I screamed at the top of my lungs for that coward to get out there where I could teach him a new meaning of the word pain.
I yelled, cursed, threatened and pounded until the heat swallowed my anger and the tranquilizer sapped my strength.
It was then I realized my serious mistake. He hits me with a tranq and the first thing I do is run around and get my heart pounding. Just like the stupid… lion on the… the Discovery Channel…
My heart pounded and pumped the tranquilizer all the faster.
My limbs became jelly and my thoughts were muddied.
I knew I needed to get somewhere safer. Maybe my floor. Maybe I could block the door before I blacked out.
It was too late, though. I collapsed before I even got to the first stair. The last thing I remember was wondering why a viral research doctor would have a tranquilizer gun anyway.
Keep Reading!ï¿½ Go on to Chapter 16: Undead Eviction