A Long Day And A Longer Night
Over the next few hours, I decided I should not have hid out in a storage shed. I should have kept looking. I just didn’t know how it would really be.
Several times I considered leaving the shed and finding a better place. Every time I decided against it. I needed to rest and heal a little before I could convince anyone to let me in. And who’s to say it’d be possible to find a better empty place to hide out before I ran in to another mob of infected.
The day warmed, and so did my shed. At least my side’s in the shade.
The minutes crawled by. For the most part, my breathing was the only noise I could hear.
Somewhere between the heat and my exhaustion, I drifted off.
When I awoke, I was laying on the floor. I imagine I’d have been sore just from sleeping on a cement floor. But that, coupled with my injuries meant that I was stiff enough for my muscles to almost make an audible creaking noise as I pushed back to sitting.
It was miserable. The many parts of my body that had made contact with the stairs as I had fallen were throbbing. To add insult to injury it finally occurred to me that I was very hungry.
At least I could do something about that.
I fished through my bag until I found a couple of the granola bars I had tossed in. I wolfed them down, and was immediately sorry for my haste.
My stomach churned with the first arrival of food since the partial sandwich back at Linda’s.
I drank some water, hoping to calm things down in there. I suppose it helped a little.
As I sat moved over to the corner next to the door, I found I had to urinate.
Great. Didn’t think of that.
I stood back up and paced as I considered my options.
I could rush out and do my business around the corner, but I might be seen or heard by infected. I could do it in the opposite corner, but I hadn’t had a lot to drink, so it was sure to be fairly pungent.
Was it worth the chance?
Fate answered the question for me.
Someone on the street was yelling.
I knelt by the door and peered out the hole. I could only see a sliver of the street.
The yelling got louder and more understandable.
“Come on you idiots! Just follow me a little further! Pay no attention to what’s happening in the street behind you!”
It sounded like he was trying to get a group of infected to follow him.
I only saw him for a moment. He looked young, just a kid of maybe 18 or 19. He was wearing bright red running shoes and was walking backwards as he continued his taunting. He was gone from view in a few short steps.
I wondered if I should go out and help him, or maybe invite him in here. No, that’s not going to work. There’s too much I don’t know about the situation. The metal door was much stronger than the one in the office had been, but I wasn’t too keen on finding out how long it could hold back one of the infected. Plus, I didn’t know how he would react to me. I probably looked worse than whatever he was leading down the street.
The shouting continued. Soon, the others came into my line of sight.
About five or six infected shuffled by the storage sheds.
I wished the kid in the red shoes luck, and silently thanked him for helping me make a decision.
There was no way I was leaving until I was ready to move on. That meant it had to be in corner.
After an hour or so, I got used to the stench. After another hour or so alternating between sitting and pacing, I fell asleep again.
The rest of the day passed without incident, but painfully slowly. If I hadn’t been so tired and able to take the several naps, the long and lonely heat of the day might have driven me nuts.
The extended silence was unnatural and eerie. I couldn’t shake the growing feeling in my stomach that this was all just the calm before the storm.
As dusk started to fall, I was almost relieved when something broke the silence. Almost.
I crept back to my lookout hole to see what was making the commotion.
A man obviously in pain staggered into the center of the storage units. His arm was clenched across his belly. His breaths were loud, raspy and labored. He fell to his knees and let out a low groan.
Again I felt the desire to help wash over me. I had to clench my teeth and hold it back. I knew what was happening.
It had happened to Carlton, and it had already happened to countless others around the city. It’ll probably happen to everybody soon. I could do nothing to help. The virus would take over his body soon enough.
He struggled back to his feet and went to a unit across the way. He fumbled with some keys using his free hand and unlocked the door. Leaving the keys in the knob, he kicked a box in front of the door to hold it open. Before entering, he took a long look around at the street and other units.
His face was twisted in a grimace of pain, and for a moment I was sure he had seen me watching him.
Apparently he didn’t, because he went in and started moving things around.
Whether he was searching for something, trying to barricade the big roll up door or something else entirely I couldn’t tell. All I knew is that he was making plenty of noise.
Every few minutes he would stop his work and moan in pain.
Within an hour or so, it was dark. The man continued moving things around, but at a continually slower pace.
I decided I didn’t need to squat or kneel by the door just so I could stare at a dark doorway, so I grabbed my bat and sat again in the nearest corner.
Another hour of this, and the man could no longer move things around. The pain must have been debilitating. He remained in the storage unit. His moans turned to anguished screams as the virus did its terrible work.
Occasionally between screams, I could hear him thrashing about.
I sat frozen in place, staring strait ahead of me into the darkness and wondering what exactly was happening to the man.
The screams intensified.
I winced. His anguish bit into my soul.
I have always hated knowing that others were in pain. That’s part of why I became a nurse. Being a nurse meant I could help.
Now, there was nothing I could do.
I have no idea how long it took. It seemed like an eternity.
Eventually the screams died down to sobbing and then whimpering. Somewhere far into the night, the whimpering stopped.
My stomach knotted. It’s over. The virus has him. I crept up to the hole in the door.
It was too dark to really see much.
I didn’t think he had left the shed, but I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t be sure of anything.
In my head I knew there was nothing I could do but wait. I laid down again, clenching my bat and using my hard, lumpy backpack as a pillow.
The rest wasn’t restful and sleep never came. Every time I would almost drift off my mind would create a picture of the newly infected man breaking down my door.
Every tiny sound in the night made my ears burn. My imagination was positive that it always the sound of my impending doom.
It was the longest night of my life. Longer even than the night my mother died.
As a way to ease the passing of time, I began to have conversations in my head with my baseball bat. We tried to talk about the good times, remember something that could take me away from what was happening. When that didn’t work, we talked about self defense. My bat was a little scared to be called into action.
Maybe I did fall asleep after all.
After an eternity of forevers, morning arrived.
For some reason the bluish light of morning was very reassuring to me. Enough that I thought I’d be able to really sleep for a while before leaving. I closed my eyes again and breathed a sigh of relief.
Sleep would have come, but fate had other plans.
Before the sun could finish getting all the way up and before I could drift off, echoing voices caught my attention.
They were getting closer. In fact, the group stopped at the top of the “U”.
There were a couple of male voices and a female voice.
Someone asked if this was the place, and the female voice gave the affirmative.
As I approached the spy hole I caught a glimpse of a familiar bouncy brunette ponytail.
Continue reading on as Corbin opens a whole new can of worms in “Chapter 19: Come Out Swinging“