This is the 50th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
The Bleeding Heart, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 20th January 2012
Word count: 999
Theme: hero, pariah, zombies, undead, soldiers, last stand, rescue
The doctor dragged the body inside the building, and the orderly slammed shut the door and barricaded it.
The doctor was on the floor checking for signs of life, and with none, he set about trying to return life to the body.
Something hit the door.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
“Come on,” the orderly urged, nervously glancing the door with concern, wondering if the small barricade would be enough to hold the doors.
“We can’t just leave her, we came back for her,” the doctor said pushing the orderly away as he tried to drag the doctor to his feet.
“She’s gone, it’s too late,” the orderly said.
Reluctantly the doctor was forced to agree. He abandoned the body, and followed the orderly down the hospital corridor. Whatever had been banging on the door, had been joined by others, and it was starting to sound like thunder.
“This way,” the orderly pulled the doctor from the long corridor that ran the length of the building into a stairway that lead to the upper floors. The orderly shut the door behind them, and used a fire hose on the wall to try and wedge it shut. He looked at the doctor and put his finger to his lips then pointed up. Quietly as possible they ascended the stairs, even so in their minds every step was a clap of thunder signalling their location. They kept climbing and soon were on the eighth floor. They did their best to barricade the door and then continued across the building to what the few British armed forces had been in the area had established as a safe zone.
“Any joy doctor?” the soldier asked as they returned.
“What’s the situation down there?” the other soldier asked, both carry automatic rifles and standing the guard.
“No joy, they got to her,” the doctor said feeling deflated. “The situation isn’t very good, we were spotted, we did our best to barricade the doors but it won’t take long for them to find an alternative route.”
“The serge has been on the horn,” the first soldier said choosing not to acknowledge the mission the two men had taken themselves, “They reckon evac in the next hour.”
“How and where?” the orderly asked, he identified with the troops easily, he had been one until a few years ago.
“Chopper, on the roof,” the soldier said, “But I’ll let the serge fill you in, I’m going to check the entrance points,” the soldier said, clicking the safety on his rifle a he looked the corridor up and down and headed off.
The doctor and the orderly passed the threshold of the makeshift command. “Report,” the sergeant commanded, without formalities.
“You were right, we couldn’t save her,” the doctor said.
“Please believe me, I find no pleasure in being right on this. So what was the sitrep from down there?”
“They know we’re here and they were trying to get in.” the doctor repeated, expected to be shouted at for putting them all at risk.
“Okay, well it’s not as bad as it could be. Command are sending a chopper out for his to evac on. Should be here in forty minutes,” the sergeant said instead.
“What do we do until then?”
“We hunker down, defend our position, and keep our corridor open so we can get out when the time comes,” the sergeant said.
For a while things were quiet, and then the noises of the floors below being ransacked started to alarm the thirty or so survivors of the attack.
“Shouldn’t we be going to the roof soon?” the orderly asked the serg who had just come off the radio.
“The choppers have been delayed, these things have attacked the air force base,” the sergeant said, “The choppers only just left.”
“We can make a better stand up there, though, surely?” the doctor asked breaking away from tending the wounded.
“There’s only one route on and off of that roof,” the serg said, “If the choppers don’t come we’ll be trapped. Here there’s different ways down.”
Just then from across the floor, gunfire repeated.
“On the other hand, sounds like we’re compromised,” he said reluctantly.
The group made it to the roof, the last of the retreating soldiers the two the doctor had spoken with entered the stairwell firing. The group did everything they could to barricade the door. The sergeant assigned various able bodied people to stand watches on the four corners of the roof, looking for activity in neighboring buildings, and in the streets. No one knew how well these creatures could climb, but then no one expected zombies to be real either.
The creatures were hammering away at the stairwell door, when it suddenly gave with a crack.
“Civilians to the far side,” the sergeant shouted, shouldering his rifle. The doctor picked up a hand gun and joined the sergeant, the orderly grabbed a shot gun from the meager pile. The other soldiers formed up on their commander.
The door was pushed open, displacing the blockage and the bloody and battered undead at the front were crushed by a wave of undead behind all clambering to get to the fresh food first. The soldiers opened fire, spraying mercilessly into the crowd of undead. The sergeant pulled a grenade and lobbed it into the mass.
The soldiers fell back, firing to pen the undead in as the explosion went off.
A burning an mutilated zombie charged from the flames, running at the first thing in its path. It knocked the doctor from the top of the building, sending them both plummeting eight floors to their deaths. The rest of the undead appeared dead, or well cleared out.
Moments later the helicopters arrived, two fairly large ones. Still it was a squash to get everyone aboard. The helicopters fled the roof, just as a new wave of undead broken through the exploded stairwell.
The sergeant took his rifle and shot the doctor as they flew away.
This was a toughie today, I had in mind when I started to draw the implication that it was some kind of zombie attack, without ever saying it, and then reveal it was a terrorist or insurgency attack in a far off place.
Unfortunately, as I was writing, I began to realise that I was being influence by events in Algeria, where many good men and women lost their lives. It wasn’t intentional, and it wasn’t really the same thing, but being clever on the back of what happened didn’t seem right. So I decided to restrain it to a more traditional zombie story instead.
I wish all the survivors of the Algeria kidnapping well, and hope that they come to their respective homes soon, safe and well. To the families of those lost in this senseless act of terrorism, you are in my thoughts.