Haven: The Beginning, p.1Jeff Ping / Horror
Jeff A Ping
Copyright Jeffery A. Ping 2011
Haven 8,256 words
Zaire virus: a virus that causes the victim to become rabid like and attempting to use a bite or scratch in order to spread the virus. Point of origin is believed to be the Congo River Basin. The virus will cause an infected person to reanimate with a similar urge to spread virus unless the brain or central nervous system is destroyed.
Infected or Carrier: A live individual infected with the virus. Very fast, strong person attacks without regard to their own safety or well being. A Carrier seems intent on biting and spreading the virus, they are not driven by hunger.
Zombie: a slow moving uncoordinated infected person that has died or been killed by any means but brain destruction. Zombies seem to be driven by hunger for flesh they bite or scratch to spread the virus.
Chapter 1:Day 1
My name is Ralph Mason I've been working here at St. Mary's hospital for the last five years. Today I’m nearing the end of my shift at the hospital; I spent most of the day replacing florescent light tubes, the same as I do every third Friday of the month. I walked the hallways in the morning recording lights that were out or flickering. I expected to spend the afternoon replacing them.
I was working in the ER replacing light bulbs when the paramedics brought in a young man that had been bitten in a scuffle with a drunk. Bitten was saying it mildly, he looked as if he had been attacked by wolves. The guy was unconscious and was bleeding from wounds on his face, neck, arms, and hands. Suddenly his eyes snapped open and the guy started struggling violently with the nurse cleaning his wounds. The nurse turned away to signal for an orderly. Suddenly the guy sat up and slid off of the gurney, grabbed the nurse by the hair and yanked her head back. The nurse started screaming, but her screaming stopped abruptly when he buried his face in her neck and ripped out a huge section of her throat.
Then the only sound I could hear was a disgusting slurping and a snarling sound emanating from the attacker. A couple of orderlies ran into the room but they stopped and stared unable to comprehend what was happening. Suddenly the attacker dropped the nurse and turned on them. He ran toward them making a moaning sound, he didn't try to defend himself at all, he was just snapping and trying to bite them. They quickly subdued him; but one orderly had been bitten on the arm. They finally got the patient strapped to a gurney. He lay there trying to break free of the restraints snapping at anyone who came close to him.
Then the nurse that was bitten on the neck jumped onto the back of the orderly who hadn't been bitten and starts biting him on his neck and shoulder. All this time I’m frozen on my ladder. When the nurse lets go of the orderly he collapsed. The nurse turns in my direction, I get my first look at those glassy white eyes of an infected carrier. Suddenly the nurse was at the base of the ladder clawing at my leg and trying to bite through my work boots. Out of reflex, I kick out striking her in the forehead with the heel of my boot and I succeed in shaking her loose. I scramble to the top of the ladder and start pushing ceiling tiles up and out of my way. I can hear screaming but my attention is focused on the nurse attempting to bite my feet.
I knock the ceiling tile to the side and climb up onto the support structure kicking out at the ladder with my foot. The ladder rocks and tips over, the nurse looked up at me an after a few unsuccessful attempts to jump and reach me she glances left then right and suddenly moves off going after the next closest person. Now I see the source of the screaming, one of the orderlies is up and chasing another nurse around the nurse’s workstation. The screaming nurse is cornered between the orderly and the nurse that had been after me. The orderly jumped forward and dragged the screaming nurse to the floor. He and the infected nurse who had tried to attack me quickly tore the life out of her. Within what seemed to be minutes everyone left in the ER is dead or looking for someone to attack. There is screaming from out in the hallway and the infected people on their feet run in that direction.
I slowly made my way over to the maintenance catwalk. I headed back towards the maintenance work room. As I climbed down the scaffold from the catwalk and dropped into the hallway I noticed the door to the security room is ajar. I slowly pushed the door open. What I see on the monitors is unbelievable. There are people fighting or attacking patients and hospital personnel on floors one, two and three. I turn away from the monitors and head for the maintenance room, two doors further down the hallway. As I slam the door shut I look around for something to use as a weapon. I finally decide on a 3 foot long wreaking bar.
I thumb my walky-talky and shout "Bob, Joe, Tony what’s your 10-20, Ralph out". Of the other three maintenance workers only Tony answers, "Ralph I’m on the third floor stairwell making my way to the maintenance room. What's your 20? Tony out." Pressing the send button on my walky-talky I shout "Maintenance room Ralph out."
I walk over and turn on the TV, there is news coverage of Empire Hospital and the newscaster is talking about people showing signs of the Zaire virus. A banner running across the bottom of the screen says "people are being advised to remain inside their homes or places of work and do not allow anyone inside. DO NOT approach anyone with wounds or exhibiting aggressive behavior". The news caster is saying that the first recorded outbreaks appear to have been in the South City area. In or around Empire hospital but in the last half hour outbreaks at St. Mary's hospital and the South City County Jail have been reported. I hear someone trying to open the door, then I hear Tony yelling "Open the door! Ralph, open the damn door!"
I grab the handle and unlock the door. Tony rushed in and turned and shut and locked the door. "Man, it’s crazy out there, people are attacking and biting each other." I tell Tony what I witnessed in the ER. I also told him what I had seen on the security monitors and on the TV news. We walk over to the TV, but the picture appears to be from a camera lying on its side in the pavement.
There is an announcer’s voice saying "We seem to have lost voice contact with our field reporter Carmon Reese, the camera appears to have been dropped but it is still sending live images".
The sideways image displayed on the screen is of several individuals kneeling over a body, they are ravaging it, tearing pieces from the body and eating the pieces.
The announcer continues, "This does indeed appear to be more than rioting. Possibly it is an outbreak of the so called Zaire virus. There are reports of police being attacked and over powered. Reports of violent attacks at both Empire Hospital and St. Mary's hospital have been coming in to the station."
Tony says "I’ve got to get home and check on my wife and kids". Me, I just want to get the hell out of here. I grab my jacket and toss Tony’s to him. Tony grabs a 2 foot long piece of one inch rebar from the scrap metal bin.
"Let’s get to the parking lot" he said. A quick look down the hallway shows it to be empty. We run down the hall to the exit leading to the parking lot at the rear of the building.
Opening the door we peek outside. We can see people running for their cars and others are pulling out of the parking lot. From the door there are three bodies visible lying on the ground. There are at least two people being pursued by carriers. One woman is quickly overtaken and attacked by a couple of carriers. Armed with my wrecking bar I sprint toward my truck. I thumb my clicker unlocking the doors. I jump in and look around to see if Tony has made it to his car. I see Tony unlock his door but before he can get inside a woman runs toward him and reaches for him. Tony swings the piece of rebar and strikes her in the temple. The woman backs up and then charges him again. This time Tony stabs at the woman and strikes her in the eye. Tony continues to press toward her with the metal rod. She finally goes down with the re-bar sticking out of her eye socket. Tony spins around and jumps into his car leaving the weapon still sticking in the woman's skull.
Seeing that Tony is safe I fire up my truck and shifting into reverse I back out of the parking space. Suddenly there’s a guy pounding on the driver side window. The guy’s chest is covered in blood, and then I notice there is a gapping wound on his throat. The guy can’t possibly be up and moving around with that kind of damage. His throat has been ripped open to the point he is unable to make any sounds. I put the car in drive and floor it. As I pull out on to the street I see people running and being taken down by one or more of the "Carriers". Two blocks from the Hospital everything appears to be normal. No one attacking or being attacked, people just walking down the sidewalk or standing around in stores. I continue to drive for a couple of miles. I decide I should stop for some gas and food supplies. At the next corner I turned into a gas station, As I topped off my gas tank three police cars raced past headed in the direction of the hospital sirens blaring. Half a block later I swing into a supermarket parking lot. As I hurriedly push my cart through the market I see some people casually shopping but others giving furtive glances around and are moving at more a purposeful pace. Loading my cart with a several cartons of water and a dozen or so of cans of soup, canned stew, and canned fruit I head for the cashier. Most people still appear to be unconcerned or unaware of the violence and continue to casually shop I charge my groceries on my credit card and head for my truck.
I quickly load my groceries into the back seat and head for my apartment. At my apartment I get my tool box out of the storage locker, transfer it and the water and canned goods to my truck bed. Grabbing my trusty wreaking bar I hurry to my apartment taking two steps at a time. Once inside I turn on the TV. There is a news banner with the same information about staying inside and not to approach wounded or bleeding persons. Changing channels I find another news report, they are now talking about attacks further from the hospitals. It seems that the number of infected are growing geometrically. The virus is growing at a faster and faster rate. The city will be completely overrun in a couple of days. There is film footage of the military setting up camps outside the city. The expressway is moving at a good rate but most of the traffic is moving into the city. I get my old Smith & Wesson and my 12 gauge pump from the closet. I’ve got a box of .38 rounds for the pistol and a couple boxes of bird shot for the shotgun.
I remember the reports of the military shelling and fire bombing Cairo, Jerusalem, and Beirut in the Middle East attempting to contain the virus. At first I just assumed it was the normal everyday problems the Middle East seemed always to have. The same tactics were tried on the German cities of Muchen, Heilbronn, and Bonn as the virus continued to sweep across Europe. When the reports of problems in Europe started being reported I, like most people became more concerned, but the TV news played down any connection to the African disturbances and attributed it to civil unrest. In the last few days there hadn't even been any reference to the violence in Europe. With new reports being made about Europe I started to relax. Now they were claiming that it was spreading here in the US. I don’t know if the military will start leveling US cities or not. Just in case I decide it might be a good time to get the hell out of Dodge. I make a "CYA" call to work leaving a message that due to a family emergency I need to take a couple of days off. I need my job and if this is contained in a couple of days, I would rather feel stupid and be employed than to feel stupid and be out of work. I raid my cupboards for canned goods, pack some clothes and load up the truck. I decide to head North, I have a small house in a rural area just north of Chico.
As I lock my apartment door I see my neighbor Mindy by the pool. Mindy and her husband Jack are neighbors of mine, last month we had a BBQ cook out down by the pool Jack and I made loose plans to go salmon fishing this fall. Jack, Mindy and I are good friends and Jack and I sometimes have a couple beers and watch sports on my satellite TV. Now that my nerves are settling down my conscious is nagging at me. I start to think about the people at the hospital, the people in the parking lot and on the street that I watched being attacked without trying to help them. Hell I didn't even try to help Tony and he's my best friend. Maybe its time for me to Man up and try and help someone.
I ask Mindy "Where’s Jack?", "Oh, he’s still at work, he should be home any time now." she replies. I tell her she needs to go in and check the news reports. "Why? Is something wrong?" she ask.
"Yes, just go check the TV news for yourself, OK?" I tell her. I hang around waiting for Jack to get home. After half an hour I run up to Jack and Mindy’s apartment. Mindy says "Jack just called from his cell phone; he should be here any minute."
Just then Jack opens the door, "Have you been watching the news?" he asks.
Both Mindy and I nod and say yes. "What do you think?" he asks me. "I think its time to split." I tell him. "Where to?" he asks. "I’m going north into a less populated rural area, less people less chance of being bitten and infected." I said.
"OK if we tag along?" he asks.
"Sure, but we need to go now, lets get out of here before they put up road blocks. Do you have any weapons?" I ask. Jack rushes to the bedroom and reappears with a 9mm automatic and a Winchester 30.30. "Grab your weapons, ammo, a suitcase of clothes each, and any canned goods and water you have." I said. Inside of 30 minutes we are on the road. As we make our way north the traffic is much heavier than it was at 2:00 when I left work. We change our route making sure we take secondary roads to avoid getting caught in a traffic jam. There are a couple of toll bridge crossings that normally cause stop and go traffic even in lighter traffic. We choose a route that though longer will only require we cross short non-toll bridges. My truck gas should have about 400 mile range even with 3 passengers, food, luggage, and supplies.
My walky-talky starts to buzz, "Ralph this is Tony, do you read me?" Tony out. I thumb to send button "This is Ralph, I’m just pulling out, is your family OK? Ralph out." "Yeah the schools let out as soon as the news reports mentioned the Zaire virus. Kim, the kids and I are going to go to my sisters house in the valley. I just thought I would check to see if you wanted to come along." Tony out "Thanks Tony but my neighbors and I are going to go up north until this blows over. You know where my place is if staying at your sister's doesn't work out. Good luck." Ralph out I say into the radio ……."You too Ralph." Tony out Tony responds.
It’s close to midnight when I finally pull off the main highway onto the road leading to my place. Pulling into the driveway I jump out and open the gate. I get back in the truck and pull the truck inside the gated area. As we get out of the truck, I toss the keys to Jack and say, "go on inside I'll be there as soon as I shut the gate." I walked back to the gate, close it and lock it. Once inside the house I tell jack and Mindy to take the master bedroom that I’ll take the smaller one. As Mindy unpacks their clothes, Jack and I carry in our supplies.
As we sit around the table, drinking coffee Mindy says, "This is nice, how long have you had it?" So I go into a brief story about myself and my failed marriage. "My wife and I bought this place about 5 years ago. We worked on it most weekends until about a year and a half ago. When she left me for her current husband, a doctor where she worked. I was taken completely off guard when she asks me for a divorce, a guilty conscious and the fact that he had a lot more money than we ever did, prompted her to let me have this place. Since we didn’t have kids and she was working plus she planned to re-marry right away, she didn’t even burn me for alimony. I got off cheap. But if they show up at the gate I’m sure I will mistake them for infected carriers. This won't be a haven for them. Well, enough of that, I guess we should get some sleep if we’re going to get anything done tomorrow."