Man can now fly in the air like a bird,
swim under the ocean like a fish,
he can burrow into the ground like a mole.
Now if only he could walk the earth like a man,
this would be paradise.
Chapter 1 (I would like to thank Anne Redwood for doing an awesome job editing this chapter :))
I rolled over and groaned at the flood of light that was disturbing my alcohol induced stupor. The sun had somehow managed to peak through the ratty curtains of my once-clean hotel room. I wasn't really asleep, just unwilling to get out of bed. I tried to swallow but it wasn't easy, my mouth was as dry as the desert. Cracking an eye open I found the other twin bed empty which, sadly, wasn't unexpected.
Zoe my dumbass and, for a lack of a better word slutty, friend must have stumbled home with some random guy while I managed to drag myself back to the room last night. I couldn't remember the specifics; it was all kind of a blur. The clock read 12:35pm and I knew Zoe would come staggering back soon with yet another story to tell. Looks like I would have to give her the 'this is how you end up dead in a ditch' talk again.
"Let's go to Mardi Gras, she said. It will be fun she said," I mocked aloud and then started coughing profusely. My throat was on fire; the aftermath of a night of drinking, screaming and taking part in the celebration. I got up in search of a water bottle and found a sealed one among the messy dresser. In one gulp I downed half the bottle and finished it in the next. After throwing it into the garbage already overflowing with bottles, I sauntered into the bathroom.
Splashing some water on my face to try to wake up, I sighed. No dice; I needed coffee. The hotel was overrun with fellow Mardi Gras partiers which seemed to be some kind of excuse for the cleaning staff to slack off. Which translated to: no coffee. If I wanted a cup, I would have to venture all the way down to the restaurant. This was not a pleasant prospect. I glared at my reflection, the blue irises standing out even more against my red-rimmed eyes. God, I really look awful, I wonder if I packed eyed drops? I rummaged through my bathroom stuff and lucked out. After a few attempts, I finally managed to get some in my eyes not just all over my face.
I walked over to the night stand, wiping at my cheeks, and tried the front desk to see if they could bring me the coffee packet inserts that they were supposed to supply. Laziness had always been a problem for me and, as always, I was going to see if I could try the easy route first. It rang eight times with no answer before I hung up; the service here was awful. I tried again but still no answer. Looks like I'd have to go down to the restaurant after all. I threw on some clean clothes, not caring if they matched, and tied my blond hair up; no one was expected to look good with a hangover anyways. I shoved the card key into my pocket. With the terrible service here I could only imagine what an ordeal it would be if needed them to unlock my room.
The door latched shut as I stepped out into the hallway. Noises were coming from somewhere in the hotel, but oddly the hallway was empty of people. As I passed one of the off-white doors, a loud banging sound from behind it caused me to jump clear across the hallway. Apparently some people were still partying. The smell was a mix of stale smoke and deep-fried room service food. Various bits of luggage and old room service trays lined the aisle making me regret picking this hotel yet again. I mean how hard is it to clean? The florescent lights burned my tired eyes and I found myself squinting and staring at the worn green carpet as I made my way to the elevator. We were only on the third floor, but I would be damned if I took the stairs.
With the main floor button glowing, I leaned against the elevator wall as the doors slid close. Thankfully there was no one else in the elevator and better yet, no god awful elevator music to listen to. We shouldn't even have come here in the first place, blowing the last of our student loans for a graduation celebration. Instead of partying, we should be out job hunting with our fancy new English degrees, also known as the "would you like fries with that degree?" My Dad's words came back to me, like they always did whenever I thought about it, "You know how many people in our night stocking crew have English degrees? All of them."
The doors opened with a buzzing sound and I stepped out of the elevator. The main lobby was as void of people as upstairs; even the staff behind the main desk were gone. Usually there was at least one person standing there with the phone glued to their ear. Did I sleep through a fire alarm or something? I slowly made my way to the buffet area, looking around for a sign of life. Everything was set up, but looked like it hadn't been touched. Strange considering it was already afternoon. Normally stale cereal would be all that was left by now.
I poured myself some coffee from the giant stainless steel percolator, watching the steam waft up from the foam cup. The smell alone helped invigorate my dulled senses. Sipping the hot liquid, I started to look around to figure out what was going on and maybe see about some maid service. We weren't messy people, but somehow our hotel rooms always managed to look like a disaster zone: overflowing garbage, towels on the ground, running out of the mini-shampoo bottles. Well, actually we just squirrel those away in our overnight bags like everyone else.
All the tables in the dining area were open, no one sitting around enjoying the mediocre hotel-provided food. I felt my hackles rise, usually there was at least one person or group in here at all times. A noise that sounded like someone eating caught my attention and I stepped over to the booths that lined the wall.
"Hello?" I called out as I rounded the tall booths.
The sight that greeted me was not what I had expected. A woman, covered in what looked like blood, was kneeling over masculine shape in one side of the booth. She snarled at me, flecks of whatever she'd been eating spraying from her lips. Her face was stained with the red substance as was her clothing and hands. I unconsciously took a big step back. The man was lying still, only being jostled by the movements of the deranged woman. She started to get up from the booth, all her attention now focused on me. I could see the body she was on before much more clearly now. Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit! There was a huge, gaping hole in the body cavity, organs dangling down the sides. I retched at the sight.
The woman had was now fully out of the booth and making a dash towards me. The coffee fell from my hand. I took off, headed back the way I'd come, my earlier fatigue forgotten as adrenaline pumped through my veins. The crazy woman didn't have any weapons on her that I'd seen but I still didn't want her to catch me, a person can do a lot of damage with just their teeth. The woman was snarling and snapping as she chased me across the lobby, she hadn't said an actual word since I found her, just noises. I had never regretted not working on my cardio as much as I did right at that moment.
I made the mistake of looking back, causing me to slow my stride, and the woman lunged at me. Her hands caught my ankles and I went down with her. As I thrashed wildly, she managed to crawl her way up my body. She smelt the way our garbage can used to in the summer heat and if I wasn't so busy trying to keep her off of me, I might have thrown up. My shirt had ridden up when I fell and I screamed in pain as her nails raked up my bare side. Desperate, I grabbed her hair and yanked her to the side. She toppled over as her balance was thrown off. With my legs free of her weight, I kicked my right foot out as hard as I could. The sole of my shoe connected with her head, rolling her a few feet away from me. Clutching my bleeding side, I got up and started running again not bothering to see if she got back up.
I ran straight past the elevator doors to the stairs entrance. I pushed on the metal bar latch, bursting through the door and bounded up the stairs two at a time. Looks like I'm taking the stairs this time. The lunatic, who didn't even seem fazed by my kick to her head, crashed into the door, her full weight causing the bar latch to open for her. I spared a glance over the railing to see her sprawled out on the bottom of the stairs, the momentum from going through the door must have caused her to trip. Her head whipped up towards me and she snarled, clawing at the air as if that would reach me. What was wrong with this lady?
I didn't waste any more time as I ran up to the door labeled floor three. Once I was through, I booked it down the hallway, dodging the various luggage and trays. Unlike in most horror movies, I didn't have to fumble with the lock as the card slid in and unlocked the door on the first try. A pair of hands grabbed me as soon as I entered and I let out a scream.
"Calm the fuck down Bailey!" Zoe's surprised voice registered in my addled brain.
My shoulders slumped in relief as my energy suddenly drained away. Zoe led me to one of the beds and I dropped like a stone as the old mattress groaned.
"Are you ok?" Zoe asked, concern and confusion evident on her face, "Oh my god, you're bleeding!"
Zoe lifted up my shirt and gasped at the bloody nail marks that adorned my right side. Running to the bathroom, she soon re-emerged with a towel and handed it to me. I placed the white, scratchy towel on the wound and winced as it aggravated the stinging flesh.
"The bleeding has to stop before we can treat that," Zoe said, "I'm going to call the front desk and see if they have someone who is first-aid qualified."
"Don't bother," I said, finally, "There's no one down there. Well, no one helpful."
"What do you mean?" Zoe asked the receiver at her ear. She gave me an odd look and mashed the buttons.
"No one is answering," she muttered.
"Like I said, they aren't going to be much help," I said, applying more pressure to the wound.
The pain was getting worse, so I got up to wet another towel with cold water. I replaced the old, no longer white towel with the new wet one. The scratches still looked like they were still bleeding. The freezing bath towel felt wonderful against my burning side and I sighed in relief as I sat down on the side of the tub.
"So what happened?" Zoe asked appearing in the doorway with her arms crossed.
"I don't even know. Some crazy woman attacked me in the dining area," I replied.
"Where the hell was everyone else when this was happening?"
"Zoe there's no one down there, not even at the front desk," I said, still in shock not believing what just happened.
"Should I call 911?"
"I don't fucking know, Zoe!" I yelled. She glared at me and I felt bad for freaking out on her. "Sorry," I sighed, "Maybe I should go to the hospital; that woman looked like she was sick or something. I might need a shot."
The bleeding had finally stopped and I loaded on some Polysporin. The Band-Aids we had didn't cover the whole length of the scratches so I stuck on as many as it took to cover the three angry marks. Oh god, what if she gave me something? I looked into the mirror. Other than being pale, which was a regular occurrence, I didn't look infected. The pain in my side was the only symptom I could feel. But then again, I wasn't a doctor.
I left the bathroom and sat down on the side of the bed near the side table.
"What are you doing?" Zoe asked.
"I'm going to give my mom a call and see what she suggests." I pulled out my long distance card and started punching in the three hundred numbers required.
I've always hated going to the doctors, let alone hospitals, so I lucked with my mom. She was a doctor and was the one to treat me and prescribe my medicine. Although I wasn't entirely certain it was legal, it wasn't like she was prescribing me pot or anything. The call finally connected and started ringing. With each ring, I held the phone tighter and tighter. New Orleans was only two hours ahead of Vancouver; someone in the house should be up by now.
I hung up and tried again only to get the same result. My heart rate started to pick up as panic set in. I jumped up and grabbed the television remote, turning the flat screen on.
"What are you doing? TV really?" Zoe shook her head, "We should be heading out to the hospital!"
I ignored her as I flipped through the channels until I reached a local news station. A few of the channels had been out, technical difficulties displayed across the screen. The anchor woman looked slightly hysterical as she kept doing her duty and read the news prompt;
"There appears to be an outbreak of a viral epidemic. Some say it is a new strain of the flu. We advise everyone to stay indoors and, if you come in contact with an infected individual, seek immediate medical assistance. Violent behavior has been reported as a symptom of the virus and therefore victims should be avoided at all costs. The local police have been dispatched in all major cities to help contain the violent individuals."
"Holy shit," Zoe said as she absentmindedly sat down on the bed corner.
"If you come in contact with an infected individual, seek immediate medical assistance," was echoing through my head. Am I infected with this viral thing now? What kind of treatment was there for it? I didn't feel like I was going to have some violent outburst like the woman from the lobby. Zoe just stared at me wide eyed as the news continued.
"Due to the unusually high number of cases, all mass transportation has been suspended until further notice to help contain the viral outbreak and to prevent the infection of mass numbers of people. Please arrange for other transportation or other living arrangements if you are away from home as we do not know when the airports and trains will be back to their regular schedule."
"You're fucking kidding me," Zoe sighed, rubbing her temples.
"Do you think it's like the H1N1 scare that happened a few years ago?" I asked, trying to convince myself that everything was going to be ok.
"I dunno," she muttered scrolling on her smart phone. "Looks like the flight we were supposed to be on in two days is cancelled though."
With both of us being twenty-two, renting a car would be out of the question; never mind the insane bill we would have racked up driving all the way back to Vancouver. Shit. This day could not have gotten any worse.
We both jumped at the sudden onslaught of fists banging on our hotel room door.
I take that back.
Just as a heads up, past here I have not done the editing that this story needs. If you want to read the "cleaned up" version, you can check it out on Wattpad under the same story name and author name. Don't say I didn't warn you!