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Artwork by LJFHutch
Chapter II “The Worm Turns”
Saturday, 9.30 PM…
Bullet was due to be working all night as the first case of infection came into to the hospital. It started with old Fred Hunter running into the hospital emergency centre and confronting the horrified nurse. Freddy boy was covered in blood and his flannelette shirt was open, but mostly ripped off. He had two large bite like wounds, one in the upper right arm and another visible through a large ripped hole in the arse of his jeans.
Bullet was sitting in the rec room, where doctors who were on call rested between emergencies. He was playing games on his laptop when the bell rang and the light above the door flashed on and off rapidly.
Most of the rural doctors did not bother to come in when on call, as usually not much happened in town and if it did, they could get there within twenty minutes or so anyway. Bullet thought that was just too slack, as in the case of a stabbing you might only have minutes to save a life, not twenty.
Bullet’s real name was Douglas Furnmont and his sister was Jamie, who had decided to go to the hall LAN because she had a crush on Tag. He got the name Bullet when he was eighteen, when he used to sit for hours on his back porch with his dad’s Winchester rifle fitted with an eight times scope.
He also loved to eat the golden yellow passion fruits from the vine that grew on the back fence of the garden. It was a huge vine, and when it was full of fruit, the rats would come from the bush and take a bite out of each one. One year they destroyed over one hundred of his favourite fruit, right under his nose in a single night, so the young Doug set up a spotlight to illuminate the vine. It’s good to prepare he thought with a chuckle to himself. He also fitted a home made silencer to the barrel of the Winchester which was highly illegal, but people in the country had a different, more relaxed way of interpreting the law when it came to something like a bit of modified pipe, stuck on the barrel of a gun.
Bullet would sit and cap the rats as they came for the fruit. One night he drank a long-neck bottle of Coopers, smoked two joints over the course of six hours and shot over fifty rats… in the head. “They didn’t even suffer, died instantly I reckon,” he thought justifying his murderous rampage. He was always spectacularly good at whatever he decided to do. As an intern he was better than most older doctors twice his age. At sixteen he held the trophy for national archery champion. Some of the girls at school used to think he was such a hick. He was just a saw millers son really, with a love of all things medical from books to TV shows. He would fake an illness when he was younger, just to pick the doctor’s brain. Eventually his local GP saw through his scheme and started to lend him medical books.
He never killed anything, except rats, with his gun, that he did not eat. That’s the way people in the country lived. He used to think it was so funny that some of the other students at med school down in the city would get so upset when he told them about his life growing up in the country, even though they all enjoyed a good steak. Just as long as they did not know how it got on their plate.
“Got a live one doctor” said the nurse on duty.
“Och! Those bites look nasty”, replied Bullet, leaning over fascinated. Any non medical people would see this and think, “gross” just before they turn away. You really had to smell it to get an accurate picture and you never wanna do that.
“And deep”, the nurse said, trying not to wince from the stench of the wound.
“Does it hurt much Freddy?” asked Bullet with a warm smile, opening the plastic seal of a syringe and inserting the tip into the little vial.
“Feels like someone stabbed me with a bloody hot poker, that’s for sure” came the reply as he squirmed about uncomfortably, “not to mention the headache that feels like a jack hammer in me head”. Fred was never one to complain, a tough old coot with a huge tolerance for pain, but this hurt so much it was making him feel sick to the stomach and it scared him.
He did not scare easily but Fred could feel an intense burning sensation and a feeling like someone had cut him, filled the cut with hot broken glass and was now continually punching the wound. That was the throbbing that meant his body was increasing his pulse to send more blood to the wounds, to fight the infection. What was actually happening though, was the extra blood flow, was spreading the infection more quickly throughout his entire body.
“Better give you a tetanus shot,” he continued, as he read the document on the clipboard the nurse had brought in. He found the vein in Fred’s arm and pushed the needle in, squeezing the fluid into his blood stream.
“What bit you Freddy?”
“You mean Who? The bugger bit me doc, I went out the back of the pub and this psycho jumped on my back from the roof of a car and bit two huge chunks out of me before I smashed his head in with a lump of wood that I managed to grab off the ground as I fell. I did not want to kill him doc, he just kept coming at me harder each time I hit him. When his head was like a smashed melon he stopped.
The cops will probably charge me with murder now” Fred said looking back and forth between the nurse and Bullet.
“You mean a human did this?”
“Well yeah, but no human I’ve ever met. This guy was crazy and all covered in blood, looked like he had been in a brawl, his face was all cut up and yellow looking. Might have been the street light though. His eyes doc, I will never forget those eyes, it was like looking into hell itself. Ain’t never seen eyes like that on a human, ever, not even in Nam. Am I gonna be alright doc? I don’t feel so good, I feel really cold now, really cold”
“Strange thing is those bites don’t seem to be bleeding much, and look at this one closer, it looks like something moving there” Bullet said using a magnifying glass to get in close. He could not say what he saw to the patient in case he caused him to panic, but he was fascinated by what looked like thousands of minute worm-like things moving all about the surface of the wound. He speculated that this is what stopped the bleeding.
He gave Fred another injection of pain killer and disinfected and dressed the wound after he swabbed the area to have some tests done, then put him on a gurney in one of the rooms for an overnight observation.
“Get some sleep Fred, I’ll get this this off for tests and if you’re not dead by morning, you can go home, okay”, he said smiling widely while screwing the lid of the specimen jar on and writing on the label.
He was walking back to the doctor’s rec room when the double emergency doors flew open and two paramedics pushing a gurney came in with a teenage girl who was strapped down because she had already made a couple of savage attempts to bite the paramedics, who were clearly terrified.
“We sedated her but it had no effect at all, we were scared to give her too much more”
“You mean she was worse than this?”
“Mate you got no idea, at first we thought this chick was off her face on ice or something, but she was biting huge chunks of flesh out of her friend’s face and neck, in between beating her to death with her bare hands. It took four of us to get her restrained. We got help from two young guys who were filming the whole thing with mobiles. This will all be on bloody YouTube next,” Said the female paramedic. It looked like she was trying to eat the other girl’s flesh, it was hideous stuff really.”
“Did she bite anyone else”, Bullet asked.
“Burt got a scratch from her fingernails as she lashed at his neck”, she replied. Bullet walked over to the other paramedic and shone a torch on his neck wound.
“Hang on a minute will you”, Bullet returned quickly and looked at the wound with the magnifying glass.
“Nothing moving here I don’t think you are infected with anything”, he said applying some alcohol disinfectant with a gauze and thinking about the moving things in Fred’s wounds. The paramedic found his comments about the wrigglers strange but dismissed it as stress talking.
Outside the weather was turning bad. He made a mental note to ring Jamie, the minute all this calmed down, just to check she was okay. Nothing serious, he told himself, just a gut feeling and ringing her would stop the nagging worry. Right now though, his phone was on silent in the rec room buzzing madly away as Jamie tried to call him from the hall.
The mobiles the paramedics were carrying beeped crazily and as they answered Bullet could hear the operator yelling into her mouth piece.
“Jesus the phone has not stopped guys, there’s reports coming from all over town about attacks by crazy, aggressive people. You guys are sure in for a busy night. I’ll have to call in for help from town. “Meanwhile we got a serious attack at the pub, two people badly bitten by some psycho”
“Gotta go doc, you be right with this one”, the female paramedic said gesturing toward the girl lying on the gurney in the next room.
“Yeah I’ll tend to her and get ready for the next load, see you”, the paramedics left and he called out to one of the other nurses at the front nurse station and asked her to call in anyone that could help.
That was the last Bullet ever saw of the paramedics and now he was starting to worry, just too much coincidence to feel comfortable. He was not one to worry, too rational for that, but he was fighting to not see more into this. “Keep an open mind” he told himself, “stay calm”.
“Bloody hell, its Saturday night,its freezing cold and pissing down rain, so it’s gonna be a little hard to convince anyone to come to work”.
“Do your best June, I’ll check out the girl in there meantime”
Bullet walked into the emergency room quietly and cautiously not taking his eye off the girl, as he picked up a syringe and ripped the plastic wrapper off it. He thought she probably looked quite cute under all that blood on her face, about nineteen or twenty, her long black hair obscuring some of her face and sticky with the other girl’s blood. He could see she was about five foot three and slim as she lay apparently asleep now.
At the sound of the ripping plastic, the girl’s eyes and mouth flew open and and she began thrashing on the gurney with such violence she almost toppled it. He checked the restraints were holding, almost sat on her legs while he examined the ripped flesh on her left hand with the magnifying glass. It was full of those wrigglers.
There was a huge crash and screaming from the room Fred was in and he ran quickly toward the recovery ward. As he looked in the room, he saw Fred, his skin had turned grey and sickly, sitting, straddled on top of the old man who was in the ward asleep, but now on the floor. Fred was literally ripping mouthfuls of flesh from the old man’s face, both men screaming sickeningly.
“What the hell is going on in here doctor?”, the nurse said as she stepped into the ward, stopping abruptly at the horrid sight in front of her. Bullet held up a hand and gestured with a finger on his lips to be quiet as he backed slowly from the ward.
As he closed and locked the door, Fred spun around with incredible speed throwing himself at the door with eyes wide and full of hateful intent.
Bullet could hear the girl in emergency violently thrashing with the gurney finally tipping over as she worked her way free.
“I think we got a major problem here, so don’t go near these crazies until we know what the hell we are dealing with. I’m pretty sure they are infected with some type of virus and it seems it is only transmitted via biting. Don’t get bitten, I need you too much. Get onto the cops and see what is happening out there will you June, oh and make an announcement to get any staff on duty here immediately please.”
“No worries doc” she said as she headed for the phones.
There was another nurse madly punching the phone’s key pad attempting to get some of the casual staff come in, given the circumstances.
“Doc something is wrong here, every number I ring is unanswered or engaged”, she said.
“Okay, don’t worry about that for now, just go and get anyone you can find and begin securing the doors and windows and don’t under any circumstances, unlock, or enter the recovery ward, no matter what you hear in there”.
What about the screamer in emergency, she’s going to destroy the place?” she asked looking toward the open door.
“I’ll take care of that one” Bullet replied.
“Too late shouted June” pointing at the girl who was now standing at the emergency ward door looking back and forth toward June, the other nurse and Bullet. She was suddenly on top of the other nurse who had been sitting at the reception desk, violently knocking her off her seat, smashing her to the ground with such force that they both skidded at least three metres along the polished floor, before slamming into the wall, the nurses elbow punching a large hole in the plaster wall as they came to rest.
He would never forget the look in her eyes as she pounced on her prey. Nor could he believe that he had just witnessed a human leap so far. So much so, that to him he thought he saw her actually diving, as if into water, but with her hands and fingers ready to clutch, from a good two metres away from the reception nurse’s seat.
The girl with the black hair bore down on the screaming nurse, one hand on the nurse’s forehead, her knee across her other arm, her now prominent and dripping teeth and whitish grey saliva moving sickeningly quickly toward the nurse’s throat.
June and Bullet seemed to be stuck in some slow-mo cut scene as all this madness ran it’s course.
The phones at the now empty reception desk began to ring all at once and two more ambulances screeched to a halt in the emergency bay out front.