William Daniels is successful author of children’s books, a loving husband and a caring father. His normal, happy life is turned upside down when an infection turns normal people into bloodthirsty animals who want only one thing, human flesh. William learns a lot about himself and his fellow man in this bleak and deadly new world. This is his diary. This is The Final Diary.
Entry Twenty Two
Everyone had turned up to watch the ‘bad people’ get cast out of the hospital sanctuary. They all looked up at us while we slowly made our way down the steps. The mob of survivors lined up on one side of the hall.
The elderly group that had been sat at the café when we first arrived made up most of the front row, all of them eager to get a good view of the drama. Milling around behind them were the teenagers and the remaining adults, most of whom seemed uncomfortable with the whole situation. The younger children were sat in front of the television on the back wall and some even stared up at it, silently willing it to magically turn on.
There were mutterings and grumbles but nobody said anything legible, preferring instead to give their opinions in hushed voices, safe in the anonymity of a crowd. I forced myself to look into the eyes of everyone that I passed. Some just stared back at me with smug grins on their faces but most couldn’t return my gaze and quickly looked away.
Jim had given us strict instructions not to speak to anyone. He didn’t want the already volatile situation to turn into something worse. He didn’t want to see any of us get hurt.
We were halfway to the main door when a voice rang out behind us.
“Yeah, go on!” It was Travis. “Get out, dick heads!”
Gemma reacted before any of us had even turned around. She pushed her way past several people until she was face to face with her ex-boyfriend.
“What did you say?” She asked, barely able to keep herself from screaming at him. “Say it to my face!” She pushed at his chest with both hands, driving him back into the people behind him. “Muppet.”
“Gemma, he’s not worth it.” I headed towards my daughter, hoping to pacify the situation. “Let’s just leave.”
Gemma placed her hand on his arm and spat in his face. “Liar.”
I held my hand out to her and as she walked away, he wiped the glob of spit from his face and decided to claim the last words. “You better walk away.” He paused to grin. “Stupid little schoolgirl.” The last words were unwise, to say the least.
Without a moments hesitation, Gemma whirled around and using all her weight and momentum and punched him square in the face. Blood exploded from his nose and spattered across the people beside him as he fell to the floor like a swatted fly. She kicked her now unconscious ex-boyfriend in the groin. I grabbed her shoulders and quickly frogmarched her back towards our friends.
“You’ve proved your point.” I wasn’t sure if I should feel proud of her or angry at her. I went with pride.
The people standing around him were too stunned to take any action, they looked as surprised as I was to see a young girl throw such a hard hitting punch. Kate and Jim looked just as shocked as the hospital mob, but Dexy and Dodge were laughing and snapping their fingers in celebration.
“Nice.” Dexy patted Gemma on the back as we walked past him.
Jim ushered us in behind him and we all carried on towards the exit. “That was fucking stupid, Gemma.”
Gemma hung her head and stared at her feet as she walked. “Sorry, Mister Croft. He did deserve it though.”
“He did.” Jim agreed.
“You see?” Sean yelled, his arms raised above his head. “They’re animals!”
A few shouted out in agreement but most kept quiet. Maybe they were thinking that if the young girl can do that to someone, what could the rest of us do?
“Don’t bite.” Kate said quietly. “Just ignore him.”
Jim seemed worried, constantly scanning the crowd for any sudden movements. His fingers were firmly wrapped around the butt of the pistol that nestled in his belt.
We reached Sean without any further incident. I seethed at the thought of what these people were doing to us. We had worked hard to turn the hospital into a safer place and Mason had lost his life trying to protect everyone. I just didn’t understand why we were being kicked out, if we hadn’t been locking the gates when the infected attacked, a lot more people would have died.
Jim walked past Sean without even looking at him. I had expected him to make a scene, to fight against the injustice of their decision, but he did exactly what he had told us to do and kept quiet.
“Key.” Kate held her hand out and glared at Sean. She cocked her head to one side and offered a fake smile. “Please.”
Sean held Kate’s gaze for a few seconds before digging into his back pocket and pulling out the minibus key. “Take it.” He dropped the key into her upturned palm. “We’re not going anywhere.”
“You hope.” Dexy whispered as we filed past.
Jim pulled the glass door open and looked at us. “All set?”
We all nodded and headed outside, I was first to exit . Jim grabbed my arm as soon as I had set foot outside, yanked me back into the hospital and slammed the door closed.
“You agreed to leave!” Sean wasted no time getting in Jim’s face. “Get out!”
Jim put his huge hand behind Sean’s head and slammed him face first into the glass door. “You see that?” He ignored Sean’s cry of pain, held him to the glass and pointed at the car park.
“Someone’s coming.” A voice said from behind us. It was Don.
A man sprinted past the cars and heading straight for the hospital. He wore a black leather jacket and dark trousers with a white shirt. He was holding a rifle in one hand and a long brown leather bag in the other.
“Is that…?” Kate peered through the glass, trying to get a better look at the man.
“Sergeant Harry King.” I recognised the bag first. That was our bag.
“The fed that beat you up?” Dodge asked. “You sure it’s him?”
Dexy stood beside me. “Yeah. That’s deffo him.”
“What’s he running from?” Gemma asked.
The question caused a ripple of panic through the hospital survivors. They all moved back slowly.
“I don’t want to know.” Kate looked across to Jim. “What do you want to do?”
King was past the last of the cars and we could see his features clearly, leaving no doubt that it was him. He kept looking over his shoulder and then he noticed all of us. He stopped and lifted the rifle above his head, waving it.
Jim released his grip on Sean. “Is that the fucking bag you left behind?”
“Yes.” I said.
Jim waved back with both arms.
Satisfied that the hospital wasn’t full of infected, King started running again.
“Don’t forget what we agreed.” Jim looked at me.
“What are you going to do?” I asked.
“I’m going to let him in.” He looked back at King. “And you’re going to be okay with it.”
I rested my forehead on the glass and my reflection stared back at me. The bruises weren’t as bad now, but they still caused me some pain. I wasn’t ready to forgive Harry King but I was ready to trust Jim.
“Okay.” When Jim had made us promise to stick together, I knew that had meant standing by any tough decisions he made, even when we didn’t like them.
“Dad?” Gemma put her arm around me. “You alright?”
“I’m fine.” I pulled away from the glass and ran my hands through my hair.
“You should just shoot him.” Dexy said through gritted teeth. “After what he’s done.”
“The enemy of my enemy.” Jim pulled the door open and stepped outside. He pulled his gun out and aimed at the new arrival.
“You think we’re bad people?” I tapped my index finger on the glass and stared at Sean. “Wait till you meet him.”
King stopped a few feet away from the door. “Don’t shoot.” He placed the bag on the ground and held the rifle by its barrel. “I don’t want trouble, just a safe place. I’m a Police officer”
There he was. Harry King with his flat nose and scarred face. The bastard. I hoped that he would do or say something so stupid that Jim had to shoot him.
“Have you been bitten or scratched?” Jim paid no attention to King’s reassurances.
“What?” King looked over his shoulder and then back at Jim. “No. Just let me in, will you?”
“What are you running from?”
The hospital survivors moved forward to get a better view.
“Those psychos.” He pointed back in the direction he had come from. Thankfully there were no infected to be seen. “They got the people I was with but I think I lost them.”
“The only psycho I can see is him.” I said quietly. “At least we don’t have to worry about the other two.”
“Truth.” Dexy nodded his head emphatically.
“Why did you come here?” Jim continued his interrogation.
“We saw the lights last night.” King scratched his head and gave Jim a questioning look. “Do I know you, Sunshine?”
“Don’t fucking ‘sunshine’ me.” Jim moved forward a couple of steps. “Answer my questions or fuck off.”
“Not a problem.” King raised his free hand. “Fire away.” He paused for a moment and grinned at his poor choice of words. “Questions, not bullets.”
“What’s in the bag?” Jim nodded his head toward the leather bag on the ground.
“Weapons.” He gave a sly smile. “I can share.”
“Put the rifle on the bag.”
“How do I know you won’t just shoot me and take them all for yourself?”
“If I was going to shoot you, you’d be dead.” Jim tipped his pistol toward the ground. “Now put the rifle on the fucking bag.”
“Okay.” He held his free hand up in a ‘halt’ gesture. “You’re the boss.” King slowly laid the rifle down on the top of the bag.
“Strip to your underwear.”
I stifled a laugh. King’s view of us was blocked by all the bed frames that we’d stacked up at the windows so he hadn’t yet seen who was watching him. I didn’t want to get his attention by laughing at him.
“You know there’s a chance that those psychos are on their way, right?” King looked back nervously. “Can’t we do this inside?”
“Just fucking strip and show me your lovely uninfected body.” Jim tightened his grip on the pistol.
King sighed and took off his jacket. He folded it and lay it neatly on top of the bag before unbuttoning his shirt. “Whatever floats your boat.”
Each item of clothing was folded and placed on the bag until he stood there in his paisley pattern boxer shorts.
He turned around to show that he had been telling the truth, there were no bite marks or scratches in sight.
“Okay, put them back on before I get jealous.” Jim stepped aside and waited for Harry King to dress himself.
King didn’t waste time getting dressed, he hadn’t bothered to button his shirt before he was shrugging into his leather jacket. “What about…” He looked down at the bag.
“Leave it.” Jim told him.
King walked past Jim and through the door opening, buttoning his shirt as he went. Jim rushed over to the bag. He picked up the rifle, checked the chamber and then slung the strap over his shoulder. Then he looked down at the bag, smiled and picked it up. I remembered how heavy that bag had been, but he carried it effortlessly.
Kate was the first person that King noticed when he came into the hospital.
“Constable Palmer.” He performed a mime of tipping his non existent hat to her. “Fancy seeing you here.”
Kate’s nose wrinkled as though she had just been exposed to a terrible stench. “Piss off, Harry.” Her eyes narrowed.
King looked over at Dexy, then at me. “All the gang’s here, then.” He wagged his index finger in my direction and smiled. “I misjudged you, William.”
“That’s right.” I gritted my teeth so hard that I was worried they might crack and splinter. “You did.”
We were all too busy concentrating on King to see the first of them scramble over the fence. It wasn’t until there were ten of them racing across the car park that someone noticed.
“Oh God! They’re back!” Sean was the first to see them.
My mouth gaped and my eyes widened with shock and fear when I saw them. A swarm of infected effortlessly scaled the fence and hit the ground running, growling and snapping, eager to rend flesh from bone.
“Jim!” I pounded my fists on the glass.
Jim looked at me, then checked over his shoulder and saw the horde quickly navigating their way past the parked cars.
“Fucking hell!” He raced for the door.
King held the door open and when Jim was inside, they both pushed the door closed and leaned with their backs against it.
“Get something heavy!” Jim’s voice was a few tones higher then its normal gruffness. “Quickly!”
The hospital survivors stood there dumbstruck, afraid to move. Kate pushed through them and shooed the children away from the long fake leather couch that faced the television. The emo teenager that had given me the finger realised what she was doing and lifted the opposite end of the couch and the crowd parted to let them through as they carried it to Jim and King.
King took Kate’s end of the couch and wedged it against a stone pillar and the door. “That should do.”
Doctor Webb stepped out from the crowd of frightened people with a bunch of keys clutched in his fist. He separated a long brass key from the bunch and held it out. “This one locks it.”
“Of course it does.” Jim snatched the key and hastily locked the door.
“They’ve stopped.” Sean said. “Look.”
Over a hundred infected filled the car park, but they had stopped running and paced on the spot, snarling at us and biting the air like ferocious dogs on the end of their leashes. There was a space of about fifteen feet between them and us.
“What the fuck?” Dexy gave voice to the question that we were all thinking.
The bloodthirsty horde of monsters parted at their centre to make a pathway. A group of five hooded figures strolled through the newly formed walkway which closed behind them as they got closer to the front. One of the hoodies walked slightly ahead of the other four.
When they had reached the front of the infected army, the hoodies stood side by side, their faces shrouded in shadows. The one that had led them stepped forward.
It was him.
The same one that had led the ambush on the Police cars, the same one from the park, the same one that had sent them to attack the gate.
“Who are you?” my question was barely audible.
“I want everyone upstairs now!” Jim’s voice jolted me from my thoughts. “Sean, get them to the top floor. Everyone stay calm and move carefully. Doctor, I want you to wait here.”
He crouched down by the leather bag while Sean and his wife tried to control the terrified crowd. Most of the younger survivors ignored Jim’s advice and rushed ahead. Some of the men were carrying the elderly people that found it difficult to walk.
Doctor Webb stood awkwardly, looking down at Jim and then back to the people that were now filing up the stairs. I think he wanted to be with them, not stuck downstairs with us.
Jim pulled a single barrel pump action shotgun and a pistol similar to the one in his belt from the bag. He handed the shotgun to Kate and Dexy took the pistol.
Dexy took his arm out of the sling and moved it around, wincing slightly but ultimately deciding that the pain was manageable.
“You two go with them, keep them safe.” He passed them a handful of cartridges and some ammo clips.
“What are you going to do?” Kate took the ammo and started loading the gun.
“Just fucking go!”
“We got this, Bruv.” Dexy said. “Come on, Kate.”
Kate glared at Jim and sighed. “Dick.” She shook her head and then followed Dexy up the stairs.
“You any good with the sniper rifle?” Jim looked up at King.
“Ask the one-armed bandit over there.” He nodded his head towards Dexy and grinned.
Jim stood up and held the rifle out. King grabbed it but Jim held on. “Don’t fuck me.” He narrowed his eyes and scowled at the Sergeant.
“I won’t.” King pulled at the rifle and Jim released his grip on it. “I want to live through this, too.”
Gemma, Dodge and myself were handed pistols and quickly told where the safety was and how to load a clip but I was too busy staring at the king of the infected to take it all in.
“Can we get onto the roof?” Jim picked up the bag and placed his free hand on Doctor Webb’s shoulder.
The Doctor stood motionless, his face drained of colour.
Jim leaned forward and looked in Webb’s eyes. “Doctor.” His voice was louder, almost a shout. “Can we get onto the roof?”
Doctor Webb blinked rapidly and focused on the giant of a man standing before him. “Oh.” He was confused, disoriented. “The roof, yes. I have a key.”
“Good.” Jim spoke in a much calmer voice now he had the doctor’s attention. “Does it have a fire escape?”
Doctor Webb turned his attention to the infected outside and visibly shivered.
“Doctor!” Jim shook Doctor Webb by the shoulder. “Don’t you fucking shut down on me!”
“No. Of course.” Doctor Webb snapped back to life. “Fire escape.” His fingers drummed a nervous beat across his thighs. “It runs down the back wall.”
“Fucking perfect.” Jim smiled, pulled the Doctor forward and kissed him on the cheek. “Let’s go.”
He dragged Doctor Webb to the stairs and we all followed. I held my arm up to stop Gemma and Dodge, making sure that King was in front of us before we moved.
If he was going to try anything, I wanted to be the one that stopped him.
The stampede of feet echoed throughout the whole hospital as we ran up the stairs.
“What floor, Jim?” Kate glanced over her shoulder at us.
“Straight to the top.” Jim pointed up. “We’ll be on the roof.”
When we reached the top floor, the corridor was full of hospital survivors that were either gasping for breath or crying in the arms of their loved ones. Doctor Webb led us through the corridor to a locked blue door at the end. Sean came up to us as the Doctor was unlocking the door.
“Why can’t we all go up there?” He was shaking with either fear or anger. Probably both.
“Because I don’t want a fucking crowd up there when we’re trying to shoot.” Jim almost growled the words. He had little patience for Sean. “Believe it or not, I want to save as many lives as I can. Now back the fuck off and let me get on with it.”
Sean was about to say something, he had his finger poised for a good pointing but decided better of it, shook his head and walked away.
Dexy ran up to us and crouched down to hug Dodge. “You want us down here, Bruv?” He looked up at Jim.
“You and Kate.” Jim pointed to the double doors at the opposite end of the corridor. “Guard those doors.”
“No worries.” He hugged Dodge one last time. “You take care of my little blud here.” Dexy stood up and nodded his head towards Barney, who was snuggled neatly in Dodge’s arms. “Him and his dog.”
Kate came up to me and leaned forward to whisper in my ear. “Watch Harry like a hawk.”
I nodded affirmatively. “I intend to.”
“I’m serious, William. He’s lost his mind, don’t trust him.” She held my hand in hers and squeezed it. “See you soon.”
Doctor Webb pulled the door open and strode up the stairs two at a time.
“Let’s move.” Jim followed the Doctor.
King went next, then Gemma and Dodge. I pulled the door closed behind me. The stairwell leading to the roof was dark and claustrophobic but it was only moments before Doctor Webb had pushed open the roof door and we all ran out into the sunlight.
A three foot high wall surrounded the roof. At the far corner I saw a gap in the wall.
“Is that the fire escape?” I asked, pointing to the gap.
“Yes.” Doctor Webb said. “Yes, that’s it.”
Jim walked to the side of the wall that looked down onto the car park. “Okay.” He said, turning around to address us all. “We’re going to be shooting as many as we can from here.” He looked at Gemma and Dodge. “I want you two standing by that fire exit and making sure it stays clear.”
“I don’t know how to use a gun.” Gemma looked questioningly at the pistol in her hands and then back at Jim.
“I’ll show you.” Dodge put Barney down and grabbed Gemma’s arm, just below the elbow. “Come on.” He moved briskly towards the fire escape, dragging Gemma with him. Barney wagged his tail and trailed behind them.
Jim turned his attention to Doctor Webb. “I need you to lock that door.” He glanced at the door that we had all just come through. “I don’t want everyone running up here and turning this into a fucking circus.”
Doctor Webb walked back to the door and locked it.
“What are we doing?” I peered over the wall and felt the blood drain from my face when I saw how many infected were down there. Hundreds of them, all chomping at the bit to get at us but being held back by some invisible force. More were climbing over the fence, as if answering a call unheard by us, but one that they couldn’t resist.
“We’re going to shoot as many as we can while they’re just standing there.” Jim thumbed across his shoulder. “When they get inside we let everyone else up here, lock the doors and head down the fire escape. When we get back on solid ground we’ll take the minibus and get the fuck out of here.”
“We can’t fit everyone on that bus.” I said, stating the obvious.
“As you say, William.” Jim gave me a look that spoke volumes. He already knew who would be riding the bus with us. “As you say.”
“You seem to know what you’re doing.” King rested his rifle on the wall and faced Jim. “What are you, Army? SAS, something like that?”
Jim smiled and dropped the bag on the floor. He crouched on his haunches, opened up the bag and pulled out a sniper rifle similar to the one King used.
“What am I?” He stood and aimed down the scope, sweeping the rifle left and right so as to get a good look at the situation below. “I’m fucking retired.”
King chuckled to himself and brought his own gun into a firing position.
I closed my eyes and wished that I was back home with Holly and Gemma. Wished that we were all sitting in the garden enjoying cold drinks in the sun. I could almost taste the iced tea that Holly would make for us on hot days. I heard her and Gemma laughing as they shared a joke. A warm shiver traced its way up my spine and a tear rolled down my cheek. I smiled.
When I opened my eyes and stared down into the car park, Hell stared back at me.