Moria woke with a start, having that weird dream of her in the morgue again, where she woke up surrounded by bodies, and it took her a minute to calm down. Moria hadn’t had much sound on, other than news reports on very low, for fear of making sounds and alerting zombies, so the sound of her phone vibrating scared her for a minute, ultimately making her feel like an idiot.
Moria got up, and filled her small coffee pot with some water and coffee grounds, some delicious flavored stuff she had found in a gift basket, and turned on the coffee maker. While the coffee brewed, Moria washed her face and brushed her teeth, grateful once more for the number of every day supplies were available for her use while hiding in her office. Chloe had been sending her text messages for a little while now, asking her some questions that Moria may or may not even have answers to, and offering up words of encouragement while Chloe researched, it seemed.
“There is a way to stop the elevator.” Said one text message from Chloe, with some screen shots of information from a website, and the link.
“What is this from?” Moria asked after saying, “Yes, I’m alive, good morning.”
“Well, the internet is full of a million people who all think the zombie apocalypse will go exactly the way they plan, and they all insist they would never be caught in an office building.”
“Wait, people actually read and write about this stuff?”
“Yeah. Zombie Culture is huge.” Chloe replied
Moria considered this before replying, “Yeah, but I never considered people would make articles about surviving in their office.”
“Well, they didn’t. One guy, literally so far, I have found one person willing to accept that if zombies show up, they may not be to even leave where they are, much less take on the hordes of zombies.”
Some people are truly stupid” Moria said with a grimace as she eyed the plaza outside. A few zombies were milling around, one was disturbingly banging on windows down below.
Moria’s stomach growled, and she remembered some leftovers in her fridge that would go bad if she didn’t eat it soon, and decided she would have the leftover pasta noodles for breakfast while reading over the information Chloe had been gathering.
Moria checked her air drying clothes in the bathroom, which were miraculously nearly dry, and changed into another pair of scrubs she had rummaged. Tying the string to hold the dark blue pants onto her small frame, Moria wondered how long she would be stuck in here. With the weather, she would be stuck for a while, and Moria could only guess as to what condition her first floor apartment, with its rows of beautiful glass windows, was in, but she knew it wasn’t safe, not by any means. Chloe had suggested Moria try and get across town, early on, to stay with their group, but Moria knew there was no way she could get across town alive, even if she was immune, when she wasn’t even able to get out of the hospital when everything went crazy.
Moria pulled her container of Alfredo noodles and veggies out of the fridge and sprinkled some water on the noodles to keep them from drying out, letting her thoughts travel back to when it had all went wrong.
Moria, through an odd turn of events that few would realize was suspicious until it was too late to matter, was the only person in the morgue, the Tuesday after the holiday weekend. Many people had taken the weekend off, and gone out of town, but most years, those people would return to the city by Tuesday.
This year, however, people didn’t trickle back into town Sunday through Tuesday, and Moria found herself working a double, as she was the only person in town to work the morgue, even other morgues were on a single worker, with ambulances having to do body transit between emergency calls.
On the other floors of the hospital, similar staffing issues were found. Some nurses could be found, along with techs, anesthesiologists, and even a couple surgeons, but all in all, no department was fully staffed, and every worker was having to double up and work extra.
None were as short staffed as the morgue, however, which only had Moria, who had been the only person in the morgue all weekend, minus a handful of part time assistants, the last had been seen Monday morning, but today, none of them showed up. When even the late night workers didn’t answer their phones, hours after their due time to arrive, Moria settled into the reality that as the ranking, and only, doctor in the morgue, she needed to stay.
As the evening wore on, Moria realized she would need help, as the bodies kept coming down. One tech brought a body down and while Moria signed the paperwork, she asked if there was anyone on who could stomach the morgue, with most of the hospital convinced it was haunted, or just creeped out, it was hard to get extra hands in the morgue, which made moving these bodies hard.
The tech, a clammy boy of maybe twenty years old, mumbled something about being short staffed and here past his shift before shuffling off. His arm was bandaged up, with fresh blood seeping through the bandages, and Moria wondered just how rough it was going upstairs.
Moria wheeled the newest body into an open drawer and locked the door behind her, before turning to her phone to call upstairs.
“Hey, can you guys spare anyone down here, I am totally alone and dead weight is a real thing.” Moria said to the nurse who answered the phone at the station floors above.
“I just sent some people down with a few bodies each, but I need them back up here, stat, have them help you for a few minutes and send ‘em back.”
“More bodies?” Moria asked, incredulously. “I am alone. As in, alone, I can’t even move bodies, I need a set of hands for help, everyone called in.”
“They called in up here too!” Came a frantic voice. “It’s crazy up here, and everything is going to hell, real fast. I’m sorry, Dr. Sanderson.” The phone went dead and Moria stared at the receiver.
Moria grabbed her personal audio recorder and slipped it into her pocket, and switched her in house recording on. The morgue was set up with some state of the art equipment, most of which, Moria would gladly brag about.
This recording equipment, however, she took for granted, all too often. This footage not only would record audio, but video of much of the morgue, with an instant download to not only a server, but to Moria’s work, office, and even home computer, once she had installed all the software to protect the data. The software was elegant, and once turned on would run until turned off or somehow destroyed.
Other advancements that Moria didn’t appreciate as much as she would in the coming days, were the locking deep freezer and the drawers, all of which locked from the outside.
Moria instead focused on the state of the art equipment she had in the morgue, along with her fairly nice inner morgue office, which, while not as nice as her office six floors above in the admin offices, was comfortable enough and well stocked with coffees, snacks, and, a coveted private bathroom. The morgue was also equipped for a number of emergencies, being a training facility hospital as well as having a good working relationship with the research and development facility and labs, which kept the hospital deep in the green, which meant the hospital never wanted for any supplies.
The morgue had a fairly complete pharmacy, just as back up medications should they be needed, and with the equipment down there, people could be given medicine and treated, if and when needed, not just handled after death.
The morgue was large, able to handle large numbers of bodies, although it rarely saw 50% capacity. The Flake City Morgue was also gifted with many endowments and honors for its many times assisting in the solving of crimes, many of which had been assisted by Moria herself, to say nothing of the money that had come in when Moria had joined the staff.
Moria, of course, had been quite a big “get” for the hospital, but that was a combination of luck and other things.
Moria was no average morgue worker, but rather an infectious disease expert, but the road that led her to being the head of the Flake City Morgue, had been an interesting one.
Moria looked up from her work and her musings and greeted two fairly familiar faces, Georgie and Lissa, two nurses from above.
Georgie was a muscular guy, standing tall, around six feet or so, with blondish hair and a smile that forced you to like him. In his spare time, Georgie ran a fairly popular YouTube channel that focused mostly on zombies.
Lissa was a much more serious type of woman, shorter with an athletic build, smart and incredibly quick, on her feet and mentally, and not as extroverted as the YouTube star George, Lissa thought zombies were nonsense, but the two got along very well and were fairly good work friends despite their differences.
George and Lissa had agreed to bring bodies down in hopes of getting Lissa a smoke break, and both of them now desperately seeking a few moments peace.
“Can I use your bathroom window?” Lissa asked, holding up her pack.
Moria rolled her eyes but waved her towards the bathroom. Moria had let Lissa do this a handful of times, so while Lissa made her way to smoke, Moria used George as some free hands to help Moria move the bodies and process them in.
“Damn, tag n bags, already, eh?” George joked as Moria moved swiftly.
“That’ not- ugh- What is going on up there?” Moria asked. “I need help down here and they made it seem like it was a war zone upstairs?”
“Oh its absolutely madness upstairs. I’ve been trying to sneak footage all day…this is going to be zombies, just you wait and see.” George said as they lifted another body onto a drawer shelf.
Moria rolled her eyes. “I am certain that is not the case. What is going on, specifically, and medically, if you can.” Moria was concerned, it had been a fairly calm couple of days around there, but it seemed over the course of a few hours, that had changed.
“People getting sick…and yes a lot of them have had bite marks, but they get really sick, and then…when they die. And then…Iuno. Some haven’t stayed dead. We had a delay, with the shift change? I know it’s wrong but we have a body upstairs that was definitely left dead in the room for a couple hours, before reanimating. They came back crazy, apparently attacked people. I just heard, and I saw them running around in the hallways.” Georgie told Moria. “Some seem to “come back” faster than others, whereas some seem to die, like this dude.”
“And no one thought to call me?” Asked Moria, eyebrows raised as she began mentally going through the protocol she now needed to enact.
“I did. I came down with Lissa to talk to you about it. The few doctors they have up there just keep treating it, and a few got pysch evaluations instead of sedation medications..but that shift change delay….it was a perfect storm, we haven’t gotten to bring many bodies down, that’s why you haven’t be overrun by the same problems down there that we have had up here, delays in getting bodies down to you.”
Moria looked at one body and noticed a dark black necrosis around a deep bite wound, and her stomach fell, before she quickly pulled on her face mask and grabbed some tools. Moving quickly, tossing George a mask, Moria cut open the patient, and saw the insides.
“George, grab another body. NOW.” Moria snapped as she ripped off her gloves and raced to her computer.
“May day, may day.” Moria said to herself, mentally hitting “The red button” in her mind, while quickly typing in codes into her computer that enacted something similar. Moria carefully kept her thoughts as clear as possible, and quickly began sending out reports to the various ListServs.
Moria returned moments later and cut open another body, panic growing. Another body, and then another.
“Fuck.” Moria quickly slammed the first body back in, as Lissa rejoined them in the morgue, smelling of tobacco but looking happier for it.
“What’s going on?” Lissa asked, the happiness from the tobacco vanishing when she saw the usually calm Moria look so worried.
“I don’t know.” Georgie responded as he followed Moria’s orders and closed the bodies into the drawers. Moria quickly locked everything, and then turned to Georgie and Lissa.
“Listen to me very carefully.” Moria said, the usual lighthearted tone to her voice, now long gone. “We have a matter of hours, and if we act quickly, everyone in this city may not die.” Moria quickly crossed to a cabinet and opened it, passing out some gear to the two of them. “If with patients, wear full, modified, PPE.”
“Modified how?” Asked Lissa as she grabbed the face mask and face shield Moria handed her.
“Some sort of weapon.” Moria said grimly, slipping on some tight blue gloves before sliding over larger lab gloves. “I’ll see if we have the right medicines to properly sedate but if this is what I think it is…” Moria pushed those thoughts from her head and led the way to the stairwell.
As they entered the stairwell, George made note of the axes on each floor, wondering if it was really happening, and knowing he had to get his camera, laws be damned.
George and Lissa followed Moria up the stairs to the first patient floor, which was the ER. Madness was everywhere. Lissa quickly moved to the nurses station to convey Moria’s instructions, while George made his way to the security guard in the front. Moria instructed the pharmacy on that floor to gather up a handful of medications for her, as they would likely need large dosages.
The three then made their way further into the hospital, as word spread.
“Moria is on it. It’s real.”
And Moria’s actions, helped by Lissa and George, had been largely what kept the hospital active and working long into the zombie outbreak of Flake City.
While Moria made rounds in the ICU, adjusting medications to sedate the “patients” that were infected with this mysterious virus, George and Lissa ran to their lockers, grabbing their bags and George’s camera.
When George returned to Moria, she instructed him to turn it on and film what she told him to, as they would need to document more than what was happening in the morgue.
With Moria’s permission, who knew they would need to show this to the agencies who responded, George gladly started filming, and followed Moria into a room where a patient had been restrained. Another doctor had already has the patient restrained, and had tried a round of sedatives, but nothing seemed to work.
Moria did not omit her usual pleasantries when she entered the room, introducing herself to the patient, one Samuel Perdoch. “Hello Mr. Perdoch, my name is Dr. Moria Sanderson, but please feel free to call me Moria. I’m here to try and see what’s going, how are we feeling today?
A long growl, filled with howls, erupted from his mouth. Samuel Perdoch was barely 18, according to his medical file, and had come in with high enough spirits, for his bite wounds, sustained as he left his job at local grocery store. He had since fallen ill, been declared dead, before “coming back” and quickly, at that.
Samuel Perdoch had only been dead an hour before he had turned, but because he had been restrained by some forward thinking nurses, he hadn’t been able to rampage through the hospital like other patients had before being restrained, or, in one soon to be problematic case, ushered out of the building by other patients, who also sustained injuries from their interactions. This patient wasn’t the first zombie free in the City, but it didn’t make things any better, either.
The heros who had ushered that patient out, quickly fell ill too, and all around Moria on the floor, in other rooms, various patients were slowly succumbing to a virus, with a few small exceptions of some people who had sustained injuries but thus far had not exhibited problems.
Samuel was not responsive, but was trying to bite, so Moria checked the drugs he had been given and ordered a different cocktail of medications.
Moria quickly informed the head of nursing, as well as the few doctors in the building, the cocktail that would at least sedate the patients that had come back, and then, turned to Lissa and George.
“Your choice. You can join me in the morgue or stay up here.” Moria told Lissa and George, while she finished making notes in a patient file. Moria had pulled both strings and rank to get the two nurses to help her, so she was happy when she closed the file to find they were both following her back down to the lab.
The three took with them, three bodies that had died from the virus. Moria had started timers on each of them, and was going to lock them into the drawers.
“Is that humane?” Lissa asked as Moria informed them of her plan, suddenly aware that she was asking if keeping dead humans in a morgue was humane.
In this situation we must keep ourselves safe, and even if they come back, they aren’t…” Moria said. “We have less than a handful of doctors left in the hospital, we can’t treat anyone if we turn into that.”
George secured the lock on the doors and offered to assist on the autopsies.
“These won’t be traditional autopsies…” Moria checked her phone and squinted at the receiver to be sure. “And why hasn’t anyone called?” Moria wondered and eyed her companions. “Actually, Lissa, can you run camera for me, George, you can help move bodies, we need to move fast.”
Moria pushed thoughts of governmental neglect to the side and got to work. After all three were in protective gear, with George having grabbed an ax from the stairwell fire box, before removing the first body Moria instructed him to grab.
“Okay so, this patient came in and wouldn’t say how they were hurt.” Moria said reading from the file. “We are recording, so we will be omitting names, and doing our best to protect people’s privacy.” Moria informed George and the camera.
George fetched supplies for her while Moria made her observations on the first body, urging Lissa to zoom in and get as close as needed for the shots of the wounds and organs. Inside this corpse, the insides had turned to a horrible rotting black color, orange and green in parts, visibly rotting and seemingly decaying before their eyes.
“I can’t tell if the organs are decaying or just changing color, but the smell is pretty bad already, so one would think is is some sort of decay.” Moria informed the camera. “This is actually very similar, if not identical, to a viral outbreak we have dealt with before…and it took extreme and swift action to save…” Moria trailed off and returned to her computer, checking it once more. With no responses, Moria sighed, and returned to the bodies. “Let’s pull out the next one, George.”
George didn’t understand why Moria seemed so disheartened, but figured this had something to do with the big virus she had sort of solved. There was some massive viral outbreak in a major city, George seemed to recall a city like NYC, D.C. or LA, and it was set to destroy the entire city, and possibly country, but Moria had stepped in and caught something no one else had, and with her efforts, they had been able to stop the virus before it spread. George knew this story from rumors, as apparently it had all been highly classified, but the rumors had spread when the hospital had been trying to get Moria to take a job there, and George, like anyone else, had heard all about it, in vague ways.
Moria, and a few other people in the city knew of the story, in greater detail.
Moria knew, however, that there hadn’t been a miracle cure to solve the problem. Moria also knew that the problem could be catastrophic…and she also knew that it should have stayed buried, not shown up in Flake City, hundreds of miles away from the initial viral site. Worse yet, Moria worried that no one had reached out to her yet, not even people from the CDC or F-Class.
While they worked, more bodies were brought down. Moria went to the drug cabinet they had and began to try and find a cocktail they could inject in any unanimated corpse.
“Moral quandary…” Moria mused as she held some vials of medicine in her hands. For the past three hours Moria had been fighting flashbacks to that viral outbreak, and now her thoughts were spiraling.
Taking a few deep breaths Moria grabbed a few more vials and returned to a body. “This patient has been bitten, is set to reanimate, if we are to trust that that’s what this strain does, which I suspect it does. So, we are going to inject these drugs, in this mixture, which, honestly, should…”
Moria’s words were cut off when that infected patient came back to life, violently. Moria leapt back, pushing Lissa out of her way and trying to shove a table between them.
George, separated from Lissa and Moria, grabbed a scalpel to defend himself, working his way towards the ax.
“You’re gonna kill that dude?” Asked Lissa, mortified.
“Lissa, that isn’t a dude anymore.” Moria sighed. “I’ve seen this…”
George used the back of the ax to knock the guy down, and was able to finally get the guy down. Moria calmly approached and injected the corpse with a mixture she had gathered.
After a few minutes, the corpse settled down, but was still active. “Oh. Well. That’s new.” Moria said, eying the syringe she had used. “This has to be some new…” Moria eyed George and Lissa. “Something new. It has to be. We stopped it last time so this…”
George and Lissa locked wide, shocked, eyes for a brief moment before Moria injected the patient again, which seemed to at very least make them unconscious.
“What do you mean? Before?” George asked.
Moria sighed. “a virus that did similar stuff but this…this seems different.”
“Weird virus, highly contagious and 100% fatal if you caught the virus, it was bad. It was going to spread, but we found a cocktail of drugs, tons of sedatives, that would…Well that we could inject them with to keep them from reanimating, which was the only way it was contagious.”
“I realized it was only contagious after the virus caused the corpse to reanimate, so we found a mix of drugs that would keep the dead from reanimating.” Moria grabbed her phone. “This body required twice that dosage, plus some tweaks… Guys…Nothing we are doing right now is how you should do something, please understand, this is NOT medicine. This is survival. This virus could wipe out humanity in days. We have to be…a bit…” Moria trailed off.
“Cut throat?” Offered George.
“Yeah.” Moria removed another body from the drawers and injected another round into the thick muscle of the arm. “Removing the head sometimes does help.” Moria thought to herself.
“Okay but that’s not how this works, the body is dead so, how are these medicines even doing anything?” Lissa asked.
“Because the virus isn’t dead, not or even alive. The virus has control of the body at this point, that’s what causes the death. We discovered a couple of medicines that you wouldn’t normally use together, but their interactions together make the virus carry it through the body, and then the medicine shuts off the bodies ability to reanimate, allowing the virus to die in the host, it basically kills the virus, before the virus reanimates the dead host.”
“And you guys tested this before?”
“We didn’t have time for testing, but, yes, in the end, this course of action stopped the spread. Our actions that day changed protocol for how certain things are handled…” Moria sighed. “And it changed the training we did for certain viral outbreaks.”
“Then why have we never heard about it?” Asked Lissa from behind the camera.
“We weren’t supposed to tell anyone, it was deemed strictly confidential, above any credential I have even now, and I was the one who solved the problem, so please understand, I shouldn’t even be telling you, much less letting you record it.”
“So why are you?” Asked George as he slid the two bodies into the drawers once more.
“Because if this is back, someone else fucked up a lot more, and you two need the information if we are to survive this.” Moria looked at the cameras that were recording everything. “If they don’t like it, they can come help us fix it, and ask me all the questions they want. I have a few of my own.”
Despite this mystery of how the virus was here, Moria, with George and Lissa who each having their own unique takes on paranoia from the government, each offered unique enough perspectives to make Moria opt to not mention the past virus in any of her reports, past the initial calls she had made to the superiors she had worked with when it happened last time.
Every report simply reported the virus as a new virus, and all the research surrounded that, aside from the initial treatment that the three had ran around the hospital administering to patients in their final moments before death, or first moments after death. Moria had worked out a window where the virus was working hard, which was, as best they could tell, in the time before death, right before, and the time right after they died, before they reanimated and became hard to inject. Once corpses reanimated, it seemed to take three times the usual dosage to achieve anything close to the same results, and no one had any way of knowing if the medicines would last longer than a few hours…There simply hadn’t been time to know.
The morgue drawers filled up, but the treatment plan was working. The infected humans did die, and the loss was notable, but, the hospital staff was able to get to work on the problem, armed with a course of action, and the hospital was even well stocked with the medicines needed. The virus, if they were careful, could stay locked up in the morgue, until CDC and other governmental agencies could come and do the clean up.
Flake City hospital stayed strong all night, until the next morning, when after they had lost control of the hospital a second time…and the staff couldn’t gain control again.
The first time had happened around 3:00 AM, which was always interesting in the hospital, even when not during a viral outbreak. A few people had come in dead on arrival and had reanimated at inopportune times, and in some cases, inopportune places. Several other patients and hospital workers were attacked, most were affected by the virus, and it got tricky.
At one point, people had barricaded themselves into rooms while a few brave souls used weapons…and were able to fight back the dangerous infected people. A few of these infected and reanimated corpses had been killed not with the cocktail Moria had mixed but with blunt objects to the head, but, even the most mortified people agreed it was better than the alternative…which if the elevator was any indication, meant that infected would kill and eat any human they could.
The take back of the hospital took until dawn, but by dawn, the hospital had been able to regain control, securing patients, injecting bodies, and while the morality of the entire evening got suspicious, many people double guessing themselves when clobbering a sick patient with an oxygen tank, the survivors of the hospital were ultimately glad they had taken action.
But the morning turned violent, faster than anyone could anticipate, and the hospital went from a peaceful calm to an all out disaster in a matter of moments.
Lissa, George, and Moria, had been in the hallway on the way to the morgue when everything seemed to break lose. George and Lissa had both been bit, and were separated from Moria in the hallway by a couple of infected who had burst through a door. Moria, who still had her purse from her office, grabbed the door to the stairwell and raced up the stairs, while George barricaded himself and Lissa into the morgue, safely.
Moria and George had shared a single look. Moria knew George would try to save her, he was that kind of kid, and those zombies would then get into the morgue, compromising the safety of the entire lab.
Moria had grabbed the door to the stairwell knowing she needed to remove the question from George. This way, he could keep Lissa safe, without feeling guilty for not helping Moria. This also would, Moria hoped, preserve the integrity of her lab. Moria took the first flight of stairs two at a time, and then broke into an all out sprint up the stairs when a few infected slammed through a doorway into the stairwell.
Moria, someone who regularly took the stairs and worked out often, was grateful for her regiment, as she was able to climb the many stairs to her office on the administration floor, and, while it was chaos up there too, with no small amount of infected now spilling into every floor, Moria had been able to run into her office and barricade the door, and from that place, Moria had been able to continue to send reports to the government who had largely not answered.
Until Mark Wasserman.
The microwave beeped, loudly, bringing Moria back to reality, and scaring her, so Moria jumped, quickly stopping the beeping on the microwave, and silently listened, hoping she hadn’t given away her location to any evil human or hungry zombie.
Satisfied she would be safe to eat the reheated noodles she had momentarily forgotten about while lost in thought, she began to munch on her breakfast and return Chloe’s texts. Moria didn’t need to think about the moment everything had gone bad in the hospital, she would never forget that moment, for the rest of her life.
Moria sat on the ground and looked out on the plaza to watch the zombies move. Moria saw a small decrease in their speed, and was hopeful for when the storm actually hit. There was a local D.J. who was still broadcasting, and her theory was that the zombies would freeze…Moria hoped this theory was correct. Moria’s phone told her it was freezing outside, so with any luck, the freezing would slow the zombies and keep some people safe.
Moria watched, transfixed, as during the morning light, she watched someone, someone who was definitely human, race from the hospital building.
Moria was amazed, and watched close. Quickly, Moria turned on her laptop web cam to record it while she watched.
“Is that…” Moria looked, and was surprised to find the human was George. “Holy crap, he must be immune.” Moria said, remembering back to everything going crazy. Lissa and George were bit, but Lissa had been bit early on and seemed to be immune.
When they had been separated, and Moria, knowing she needed to send more reports, she had her purse, which had all the info and her backup USB, had ran for it, not leaving George and Lisaa for dead, per say, but she hadn’t thought they would survive, either. Moria had assumed that one of the two had died, leaving Lissa, who was immune, alive, but, for the time being, George was also alive, and was running towards the corner store the hospital staff often used for their quick needs, like drinks, snacks, and smokes. Moria spotted a few bags, some of the biohazard bags, and realized George was running for supplies.
“Oh shit!” Moria realized, grabbing her phone, she quickly texted Mark and called Chloe.
“Moria?” Chloe said when she answered.
“I am going to turn my laptop onto stream, you have to watch this.” Moria said, clicking her “go live record” button, and positioning the web-cam to capture the action.
“Is that a survivor?” Asked Chloe.
“Yeah, a nurse that works here, George. I saw him and another person get bit, I thought he turned, I guess he is immune too.” Moria said surprised. “I should try and get a hold of them…They would be in my office…But the ringing phone would be dangerous for them…” Moria thought out loud. Moria was embarrassed for having not reached out to them, shocked at herself for not checking on the people she had left down in the morgue, the very ones who had helped her hold back the infection for nearly two days.
“Do they even have a TV down there? Why hasn’t Mark told us about them?” Chloe asked. Moria put the phone on speaker, hoping it wouldn’t be too loud, and watched out the window.
“There…” Moria thought for a moment. “No, I don’t…I have dual monitors, so I usually play things on my computer. Surely they could use my computer though?”
“Do they have your password?”
“No.” Moria said with a sigh, realizing she had left them with all of the equipment and none of the passcode information to use it.
“So unless they are clever, they probably won’t be able to get in.”
“Yeah, it holds sensitive information so accessing it without a password is tricky. You need a USB we keep locked up in my office, and one in the personnel files.”
“You should give him the password. Write it on the windows or something so he can get it, or call down maybe.”
Moria thought about this, before crossing to her work computer she had put on the ground.
“I have access to some basic files- Availability and contact information of all employees, plus their certifications and such. I didn’t think to try and contact anyone because so many people had been calling in anyways, I figured no one would answer, but…”
“Nurses caught in your morgue, are probably going to answer.”
“Exactly.” Moria said, waiting for her desk top computer to power up. Moria eyed out the window, please to see George had made it to the convenience store and had entered in a broken window, nearly silently. Moria wanted to keep an eye out for George, to keep him safe, as she could definitely use a trained medical professional in the morgue, but also because so few people had lived, Moria wanted desperately for people to live. George and Lissa had been quite endearing to Moria, so she would like it if they lived.
The computer chirped and told Moria it was now powered on, and she quickly entered her password to access her computer desktop. Inside, Moria accessed the administration files, typed in her access password, and began searching for either of the employees. Moria struggled for a minute to remember their last names, before remembering George had joked about Lissa’s last name sounding like a comic book character, and his sounded like a jersey shore reject. “Lissa Lame and George Paulino” Moria smiled, thinking back to the quiet few moments they had enjoyed in the “quiet before the storm” of the zombie disaster.
Before Moria could let herself get lost in thought, however, she saw a few moving zombies, heading straight for the convenience store.
“Fuck.” Moria murmured as she watched the five zombies that were slowly shambling across the way, get joined by another twenty or so, from various buildings. “Shit! Chloe, I gotta go, call you back” Moria yelled, quickly dialing George’s mobile phone once she hung up, praying he had it on vibrate. The phone rang, and rang, and rang, with no answer. “Okay, I will leave a voice-mail and let you know this is important. It’s Moria, answer!” Moria said and hung up the phone. Moria patiently counted to 60, hoping a voice-mail alert at least told George he should answer, and tried calling again. Still no answer, Moria tried Lissa’s phone, while more zombies joined the group outside.
“Lissa, This is Moria. Call me. George isn’t safe. I hope you are both alive when you get this.” Moria hung up her phone, and sent a text message to both Lissa and George.
“George there are 30 zombies, more coming, all coming for you! I am in my upstairs office and I can see everything, you have to run!!!!” Moria typed as fast as she could, watching the crowd of zombies get larger.
Chloe sent a text message to Mark, and then pulled out her map, looking for the store Moria was talking about, and waiting for a call back.
Moria kept calling, and finally, got an answer.
“Holy fuck, no way.” Came the voice that answered.
“George?” Moria asked into the phone.
“I sure as fuck think so. What’s up?” George laughed.
“You need to get out of there! I am in my office, zombies are heading towards you, if you hurry, maybe you can out run them!” Moria said panicked.
“I have to get us supplies, Moria, it isn’t easy down in the morgue.”
“I can imagine, and I can help, I have passwords and stuff, I can help you, but you have to get out of there.”
George looked out a window, mad at himself for not keeping an eye out, and realized, with horror, that Moria was right.
“Fuck.” George sighed. “Moria, I can’t….Fuck!” George moaned into the phone. “I was supposed to be the hero. They shouldn’t be moving that fast…”
“They would still have mobility. It isn’t that cold, and it hasn’t been cold enough long enough and why would you risk it?” Moria said as her brain grasped for ideas.
“We don’t have supplies. And Lissa ran out of smokes. I wanted…I was trying to prove I knew my stuff…” George admitted quietly.
Moria sighed, her heart breaking. George was a good looking kid, smart, funny, and had a good job, but he had never been able to catch Lissa’s attention until recently. The disaster had also made her see him differently, and George had been hoping that it would bloom from there, so of course he had wanted to prove all of his video gaming and zombie talking would pay off. “George, did you barricade everything?”
“A little yeah. I can do more.”
“Do more. Quickly. We are going to keep you alive somehow.” Moria said into the phone, before hanging up and calling Chloe.
“We need noise. Either from you or Mark, but we need noise elsewhere in the city.”
“To lure the zombies away, yeah, we are on our way to the roof now.” Chloe responded. In the background, Moria could hear someone with Chloe talking.
“Wow. You are amazing.” Moria said with a smile.
“Is he okay?” Chloe said as she climbed the stairs in the stairwell. Damien had led the way, Charlie was close behind her. Together they carried weapons and fireworks.
“He is barricading the store as best he can with shelves. I need him alive, Chloe. I lost hope of other people in the hospital- if I have someone in the morgue, more so with any medical background, we can maybe get somewhere with this virus.”
“Okay, we got this. Call Mark, get him going, we don’t have much.” Chloe said, before putting her phone in her pocket. Moria hung up and dialed Mark’s number.
“Moria?” Asked Mark when he answered.
“We need noise, lots of it, now!” Moria said. “Chloe is working on something but we have a survivor we need to save!”
Mark ran to the make shift mission control in the hotel dining area off of the lobby, normally used for the free breakfasts in the morning. Henry had been up for a while, Martin was caught up with some F class phone meeting, so Mark quickly relayed the message to Henry, who was lighter on his feet in the morning, it seemed, and moved quickly towards the outdoors.
Mark followed, wondering what Henry had in mind.
Moria hung up watched the store. Some zombies had arrived at the store, and had begun trying to get in. Moria watched, helpless, as zombies began trying to get in, before finally banging on the one larger rectangular window she had, trying to draw the zombie hoard. Moria did not think about the zombies who may be in the hospital, who may hear her yelling and pounding on the glass, but a moment later, loud whistles and bangs could be heard from the north side of town.
Moria tried to see a source, but it sounded like fireworks, and would be too far away and too bright outside to see. The bangs and whistles continued, with occasional crackles. Moria watched as the zombies began to move away from the store, and began to lumber towards the fireworks. Moria quickly used her webcam to continue the live record and watched the path of the zombies. Against all odds, the zombies seemed to be moving even faster towards these sounds. Moria watched, shocked, as more zombies poured out of the hospital towards the sounds.
Loud bangs and whistles were now going off in quick succession, bang, bang, bang, whistle, whistle, whistle, crackle, fizz, crackle, whistle, bang, bang, whistle, crackle… Then the bangs and whistles began to slow down.
The zombies had mostly forgotten about George, but he would still need to make a return trip to the morgue, so more noise would probably be better. Moria quickly checked her door, to ensure her floor was still secure and was thankful to find the hallway seemingly empty, and turned back to her windows to watch the plaza.
Inside the store, George had barricaded himself in the store and ensured he was alone, before returning to his supply gathering. George grabbed a couple of cartons of Lissa’s cigarettes, not wanting to make this trip again for a while, and fearful for other raiders, and made his way to the dried fruits and nuts section of the snacks. George worked fast, filling his bags, and made his way through each of the sections, grabbing not only food supplies but a myriad of other supplies he hoped would hail him a hero if and when he arrived back to the morgue, where Lissa was holding down the fort.
George was grateful to find a small section with bags in it, backpacks and messenger bags, and grabbed the sturdier looking ones, and began to put the supplies into the bigger backpack he had found, and two sturdy duffle bags. The weather was cold, and he and Lissa knew they needed supplies to survive the blizzard that was coming. The only news they could get was about how bad the weather was, so George was determined to get enough to keep them alive through the storm.
George’s phone buzzed, Moria, and he picked it up, while he zipped up the now quite full backpack.
“You okay?” Moria asked.
“Yeah, I hear less of the zombies, I am gathering up supplies now.” George said, shoving more supplies into one of the duffle bags, a bright blue bag with yellow straps.
“Some survivors on the north side have fireworks going, I don’t know how long they will last. I have Mark, our guy outside, working on noise around the bridge area, to hopefully get the zombies lured away so you can run back.”
“Cool. Thanks. I am nearly done, I don’t want to be weighed down, but we will need supplies for a while if the storm hits.
“Yeah, you will.” Moria said worried about them in the morgue.
“I am scared, Moria.” George said breathlessly and he zipped up the blue duffle bag.
“I know, I know. I am too. Do you have any weapon? A quiet one, like baseball bat or something?”
“No, I kind of hoped to find something here.” George said, sheepishly. “You always see stuff in a building for weapons.”
“Sure, in a video game.” Moria laughed. “Check behind the counter, underneath. Or by the bathroom.”
“Bathroom isn’t a bad idea, I checked behind the counter already.” George explained, making his way to the bathroom. Greg was grateful to find a thick metal baseball bat, having left the ax with Lissa, who had to stand at the door and wait for him. “Cool, I have a bat now. Good call. How’s it look out there?” George asked, feeling more excited about his chances.
“Some zombies are still out there, so that is scary, but a lot less, so maybe you can get there. I am worried because some of them started moving faster when the fireworks started, so I wonder if they aren’t as cold as we think they are.”
George returned to his supply gathering and filled his third bag with supplies. George quickly finished the packing and went over his list he had made on his arm, pleased with the additions he had made when inspired by the stores stock. Much of the store, it seemed, had been restocked before everything went south, and other people hadn’t done much raiding, so George held hope that maybe the supplies left around town would be enough to keep the survivors alive.
George approached the door, and asked Moria how it was outside.
“Just a couple all up front by the door. Is there another exit?” Moria asked.
“Yeah, but it has a loud alarm that would definitely make life interesting.” George said with a groan.
“Oh yeah, don’t do that. Okay, so, that far window, my right, your left, it’s all broken, you could get through that, and if you were quiet, you could get out without them seeing you, and make a run for it.”
“When is this other noise going to happen?” Asked George as he carefully moved the stuff from in front of the broken window so he could slip out.
“I don’t know. I will call him, if you hear music, or you see a window to do it, run, but don’t you dare fucking die.” Moria said to him.
“Yes Ma’am!” George replied with a smile, hanging up his phone and looking out the window hole. The noise of the fireworks had kept his noise covered, so the two zombies he could see were moving away from him, towards the noise.
George texted Lissa, who had been ignoring everything her phone did, waiting for only George, terrified she would miss his message and not get the door for him. “I’m ready.” She replied. George held his breath, and when the zombies were on the other side of the store front, he slid out of the window and around the corner of the building. Lissa was ready, George told himself, taking a deep breath and exhaling.
George began to run as a very unfortunate and very loud blast of music poured over the town, and one of the zombies from the front of the store noticed George and lunged at him. George shoved the zombie and swung with all he had at the head with his bat and then took off running.
George had been a talented athlete, despite not liking sports, and ran regularly. Of all the things George had planned on in the event of zombies, he was the most glad he had always been a runner, remembering rule number one of Zombieland: Cardio. George ran towards the door he had come from, terror gripping every part of his body as zombies began to stream from the buildings around him, drawn mostly to the noise until they saw him. Many zombies became confused, but George knew if his run to the door were much longer, he would not be able to keep himself from being overwhelmed.
George swung his bat at a zombie that got close and continued toward the door, slamming into it and banging on the door in the agreed knock, he rolled himself out of the way of an approaching zombie and tucked into the door the moment Lissa cracked it open, grabbing for the thin bar to pull it close. Lissa still had her small hands on the silver bar and with a small scream, pulled the door closed, securing George, herself, and their newly gained supplies, safely back inside the morgue door.
Moria was beyond disappointed with Mark and how slowly he had responded, his ill timed help nearly killed George, but was grateful for Chloe and her efforts. Moria quickly informed Mark of what a disappointment he had been, explaining the timing, and hung up to call Chloe, who did not answer.
George answered his phone, however, thankful for Moria’s help.
“I made it, thank you, Moria if you hadn’t been watching I don’t know…”
“Hey, be cool, be cool!” Moria urged him over the phone. “You guys haven’t watched any newscasts have you?”
“No, your damn morgue killed our phone signal.” George told her.
“Yeah, I can get you into my computer if you tell me how you got the emergency door to not sound. And I can give you the internet password so you can use the internet to boost your phone signal”
“Just had to cut some wires. I figured it was obvious that the fire department wasn’t coming if a fire broke out anyways.” George said with a light laugh.
“Moria is alive?” Lissa asked, taking the lead back to their spot in the morgue.
“Yeah, she’s up in her office. C’mon let’s get inside!” George said hurriedly, worried of any zombies alerted by the music still playing. George pushed the heavy desk against the door of the inner office in the morgue, and set down his bags, while Lissa put the internet password in and redialed Moria, who they had lost contact with when the signal was lost from entering the morgue. Lissa hugged George, grateful he was back and sank down into a chair while George put the phone on speaker.
“You both lived?” Moria asked, when the phone reconnected. “That means you are both immune too.”
“Yeah” George said, “Immune is great, considering. What about you, you okay?”
“I actually made it upstairs, but yeah, I did get bit, but I think I am immune too.” Moria explained. “I can give you guys the password to my computer, I will be needing medical help too, I’m sure, but you guys need to be watching the news, access stuff. Communication are all down, I am sure you noticed, but we can still use the internet.”
“Told you they would have jammed our communications.” George said.
Lissa rolled her eyes at George, but turned on Moria’s computer.
“Do you have a webcam?” George asked. “My phone is working well, but some extra footage would be great.”
“For his YouTube channel.” Lissa laughed.
“I already said they are jamming the communications, Chloe, one of the other survivors has been testing it, and anything about this stuff happening doesn’t get posted.”
“Eventually, I will get the footage out, and I am not going to miss this gold. These videos will be viral, I promise.” George assured her.
“Speaking of viral, did I hear you say you needed help with the medicine side of things?” Lissa asked, hoping for any discussion that didn’t revolve around George’s YouTube Channel.
“I do. I know we have lots of zom-wait…How are you guys safe down there?” Moria asked, doing a quick mental count of the bodies left in the morgue, all of which would have reanimated if they were infected.
“Yeah, I don’t know who decided to make a secure office inside the morgue, but major hats off to them, our mental sanity is in place because of it.” Lissa joked.
George picked up the phone on speaker and explained, “We didn’t have the… I guess mental strength to start killing every zombie in the drawers, much less open cold storage, so…we kind of just locked it all up, and have been sticking to the office area when at all possible. We haven’t heard much from the drawers, yet, though. Still, we stay in the inner part of the office.”
“Well, at least the bathroom, mini fridge, and microwave are in there.” Moria replied. “And that glass is bullet proof, meant to withstand a lot, on top of the thick walls.”
“Yeah, and we moved things around, so we are barricaded inside, but we can still access the other parts of the morgue.”
“Good, down there you guys have supplies, the ones people won’t find and raid.” Moria explained. “Back stock, as well as emergency medicines, are all stored down there, we have a safe storage room. I can get you in, if we need.”
“Yeah, it is safe to say any help you have, we will take. How are you up there?” George asked.
“I could be in worse shape. I plan on looking for more supplies today, and trying to secure the doors more. The zombies figured out the elevator and I am not wanting to get caught by surprise again.”
“How much food can you possibly have in the offices?” George asked with a laugh.
“Upper management, kiddo. Hospital puts baskets of food for us, our break rooms are stocked. Anyone on each floor will be decently supplied. If the hospital proper floors weren’t crawling with zombies, I would say each floor could be safe, with some precautions, for people to hide out in.”
“Have you heard from anyone else yet?” Lissa asked, having already had dreams of people trying to break in for the few supplies they had.
“No. Currently I know of Chloe, and her group, four total there. Plus us three, separated by floors of zombies. A D.J. on the campus, locked in the broadcasting tower, surrounded by zombies, she knows of some other survivors but that whole radio group is much more secretive than we are.”
“So, in all of Flake City, with well over 100,000 people in the population, and we know of eight, maybe more, for sure survivors?” George asked, jotting some notes on some paper he found.
“So far, but who knows who is scared to come forward, like the radio listeners, or unable, like you guys were.” Moria said encouragingly, before continuing, “the journalist they brought in for us, for example, doesn’t know about the radio station’s D.J., and she refuses to acknowledge him. So, keep that in mind, communications break down all the time.”
“Yeah, don’t tell anyone where we are.” Lissa added. “And we will tell everyone we think you are dead.”
“Cautious, I like it.” Moria said.
“Lissa has been scared of raiders coming to get supplies, or any other bad purposes.”
“Well, it is unlikely anyone would want to go to the hospital, much less the morgue, when the dead start walking and eating us, right?” Moria reasoned. “Still, I have been trying to stay quiet down here, hopefully that is enough, right?”
“Should be. Plus, this office is pretty secure, we could fight people off from in here, if we had to, like I told Lissa.” George explained. George and Lissa had worked hard the first day and night in the morgue, securing the space as well as possible, gathering up spare furniture, rope, pipes wood, literally anything they could use to secure every entrance to their safe spot.
Lissa had been terrified, always the most scared of what people would do if the world started to end, not what the end would be, of the other survivors who may need supplies, and that had been the pushing force behind George getting them supplies: Her concern was contagious, and he knew, well founded. When the snow had started to fall in the light dusting it had originally started as, George began to plan for a supply run, knowing that the first wave of the storm would be his safest option. “If it snows a little, I can go, even if it is still snowing, which will hopefully freeze any zombies, or make them move slow, I can run, get supplies, and run back, before other survivors realize they won’t have supplies to last the storm, and try to brave the storm and zombies for supplies.”
“And if someone has the same logic as you?” Lissa asked.
“If they are like me, either we come get you and go to their safe house, or they come to ours, because I wouldn’t try and kill anyone, so someone like me wouldn’t either.” George had said, his years as a YouTuber paying off, and his voice actually sounded confident, despite him knowing it was largely him just bullshitting.
“I need to call Chloe, see how she did, she’s the one who did the fireworks for you.” Moria informed Lissa and George, “But text me, and pull up the information I sent you. When you are both ready, let me know and we can brainstorm the next step for the science of this.”
“You really want us to work on the science of this infection?” Lissa asked skeptically, eyeing the web cam George had set up.
“Yeah, well, do you think the government is going to free us if they don’t know, understand, and have a cure for, whatever started this?” Moria challenged.
“We’ll call later. Go get supplies, secure everything, we think there could be people in the hospital, we thought we heard some people.” George advised, remembering to the evening previously. “Oh, hey, Moria, do we have a way into the security feeds?”
“I can probably find you passwords, I think my computer is set up to access it. Can you look for an elevator shut off switch down there?” Moria asked in return.
“Sure thing.” George agreed.
Moria sighed and looked at her phone. It had already been a long, but productive morning, but she needed to get a move on her supply gathering, and more importantly, securing the building. George and Lissa being alive was fantastic news, but it meant that other people could have survived, and Moria did not want to risk someone breaking in and hurting her, allowing other infected in, or being infected and turning. “We have one doctor and two nurses, alive, but stuck. We can’t afford for any of us to go down.” Moria told herself as she eyed outside.
The sky looked angry and grey, which made Moria think the snow, and the coming blizzard, was planning on hitting soon. Moria wanted to use what light was available, before the darkness of the storm made searching offices harder. Knowing she didn’t have much of a choice, Moria began to gather up bags and her weaponry, to gather supplies from other offices.
I hope you enjoyed the double feature of today’s Flake City Friday release. Be sure to subscribe/follow the blog so you won’t miss a post- as you can tell- we getting some action going now!
Thanks so much for reading!