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.
The sun had somehow managed to peak through the ratty curtains of my once-clean hotel room. I rolled over and groaned at the flood of light that was disturbing my alcohol induced stupor. 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 open an eye, 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 somehow managed to drag myself back to the room last night. I still don'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 to cough profusely. My throat was on fire; the aftermath of a night of drinking, screaming and taking part in the Mardi Gras celebration. I got up in search of a water bottle. In one gulp I had downed half the bottle and finished it in the next. After throwing it into the garbage that was already overflowing with bottles, I sauntered into the bathroom.
I splashed some water on my face to try to wake myself up but no dice, I needed coffee. This hotel was overrun with fellow partiers for Mardi Gras which seemed to be some kind of excuse for the cleaning staff to slack off. Which translated to: no coffee. I would have to venture all the way down to the restaurant if I wanted a cup. 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 looked awful, I wondered if I packed eye drops. I rummaged through my bathroom stuff and lucked out it would seem. 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 take the easier route first. It rang eight times before I hung the receiver back up with no answer, the service here was awful. I tried again but still no answer. Looks like I would have to go down to the restaurant after all. I threw on some clean clothes 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 and with the terrible service here I could only imagine what an ordeal it would be to need them to unlock my room for me.
The door latched shut behind me as I stepped out into the hallway. There were noises coming from somewhere in the hotel but oddly the hallway was empty of people. As I passed one of the off-white doors, something behind it made a loud banging sound causing me to jump to the other side of the hallway. Looks like some people were still partying. Various bits of luggage and old room service trays lined the isle making me yet again regret picking this hotel. I mean how hard was that to remedy? 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. Admittedly we shouldn't even have come here in the first place, blowing the last of our student loans for a graduation celebration. Instead we should be out job hunting with our fancy new English degrees, also known as '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 also void of any people; even the staff behind the main desk was 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 another person as I walked. Everything was set up but looked like it hadn't even been touched yet which was strange since it was already the afternoon. By now normally all that would be left was the stale cereal.
I poured myself some coffee from the giant stainless steel percolator, watching the steam waft up from the foam cup. The smell alone helped to invigorate my dulled senses. Sipping the hot liquid, I started to look around to see if I could find out what was going on and maybe see about some maid service. We weren't messy people but somehow hotel rooms always managed to look like a disaster zone; overflowing garbage, towels on the ground, ran out of the mini-shampoo bottles that no one actually uses, just squirrels away in their overnight bag.
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. Some sort of noise that sounded a bit like someone eating caught my attention and I stepped over to the booths that lined the wall.
"Hello?" I prompted 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 another person that I assumed was a man in one side of the booth. She snarled at me, flecks of whatever she had been eating sprayed 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, at least I think he was a man, was lying still only being jostled by the movements of the deranged woman. She started to get up from the booth with 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, some of his organs dangled down the sides causing me to retch at the sight.
The woman had managed to stumble out of the booth fully and was now making a dash towards me. The coffee fell from my hand as I dropped it in shock. I took off back the way I came, my earlier fatigue forgotten as adrenaline pumped through my veins. The woman was snarling and snapping her teeth as she chased me full across the lobby, she hadn't said an actual word since I found her. I had never regretted not working on my cardio as much as I did right in this moment. The crazy woman didn't have any weapons on her that I had seen but I still didn't want her to catch me, a person can do a lot of damage with just teeth.
I made the mistake of looking back causing me to slow my stride and the woman lunged at me, her hands catching around my ankles taking me down with her. I thrashed wildly but she managed to crawl up and start to claw at me. My shirt had ridden up when I fell and I screamed in pain as her nails raked up my bare side. I grabbed her hair and yanked her to the side; she toppled over as her balance was thrown off and with my legs free from her weight I kicked my right foot out as hard as I could. The sole of my shoe connected with her head and she was sent rolling a few feet away from me. Clutching my now 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 and busted through the door and bounded up the stairs two at a time. Looks like I would be taking the stairs this time. The lunatic, who didn't even seem fazed by my kick to her head, crashed into the door with 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 clawed at the air in front of her snarling 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 third floor. Once I opened the door labeled floor three, 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 and suddenly I felt energy drain right out of me. Zoe lead 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 now adorned my right side. She ran to the bathroom and 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 who will be helpful."
"What do you mean?" Zoe said 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 starting to get worse so I got up to go wet another towel with cold water. I lifted the old, no longer white towel to replace it with the new wet one and the scratches still looked like they were 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 downstairs," I relayed.
"Where the hell was everyone else when this was happening?" She asked confused.
"Zoe there's no one down there, not even at the front desk," I said, still in shock unbelieving of what just happened.
"Should I call 911?" Zoe asked.
"I don't fucking know Zoe!" I yelled. She glared at me and I felt kind of 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 like I was infected. The pain in my side was the only thing I was feeling at the moment; I didn't feel any other symptoms. 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 said, pulling out my long distance card and punching in the three hundred numbers required.
My mom was a doctor and would be able to tell me what kind of treatment I should get. I always hated going to the doctors or the hospital so I lucked out that my mom was a doctor and was the one to treat me and give me the prescriptions. Although I wasn't sure if that was legal. It's not like she was prescribing me pot or anything. The call finally connected and started to ring. I held the phone tighter and tighter the longer it kept ringing. 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 started to 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, reading technical difficulties 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 all people to stay indoors and if you come in contact will an infected individual please seek immediate medical assistance. Violent behavior has been reported as a symptom of the infected individuals and therefore should be avoided at all costs. The local police have been dispatched all over 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 will an infected individual please 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.
"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, looks like 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 on slot of fists banging on our hotel room door.
I take that back.
Comments, criticism (mind you helpful criticism), initial thoughts? And yes I know the world is rampant with zombie stories, but I figured one more couldn't hurt.