Experiment TCA-276 (pt 7)

                Morgan allowed herself to cry over Rita for only a minute. She had to get to work if she didn’t want to end up just like her.

                First, she dug around the room for anything that could be a weapon. She didn’t find much. Only a steak knife and a set of crutches. Not sure why there were crutches in the break room in the first place, she took a few practice swings with one. They’d do a little damage, as long as her assailant wasn’t carrying a gun.

                Second, she found the emergency exit. Large filing boxes were stacked in front of it; it was no wonder she’d never realized it was here. Screams and gunshots sounded from out in the hall, lighting a fire under her to get the door cleared. She would wait as long as she could for Dale, but if she needed to make a run for it, she would.

                There was a thud as something ran into her barricaded door. Morgan jumped, grabbing the crutch. Another thud and the door rattled. A growl and a snarl made her break out in a cold sweat and grip her weapon tighter.

                More gunshots. But they were outside now. Was Dale here? Or had the zombies escaped?

                Louder growls and more nudges set Morgan into panic mode. Which way should she run? Was she safe either way?

                Before she had a chance to make up her mind, there was knock on the emergency exit door.

                “Morgan? You in there?”

                She swung the door open and fell into Dale’s arms.

                “Oh, thank god!”

                “Come on, we need to get away from the building. I started a fire.” Dale pulled on her arm and half dragged her across the parking lot after kicking the door closed behind her.

                “Why a fire?”

                “To kill the monsters. They can’t be let out of there.”

                “What about the men?”

                “They’re better off dead too. I doubt any will make it out of there. I took care of the ones out here. If anything comes out of that building, I’ll shoot it.”

                Dale helped Morgan climb into the bed of his truck and then took up a guard position to watch the morgue. The fire was taking over the whole building now, flames and smoke billowing up into the sky.

                “I started it in the loading bay to block their exit.”

                “I just don’t understand what’s happening…” Morgan was crying again. Now that she wasn’t trapped and alone, she didn’t feel the need to be strong.

                “Well, I managed a few answers out of one of the men I shot… It seems they found out about this, uh, side effect of some drug trials being done at the hospital in the city. They tracked the bodies here. They wanted to set them loose in big cities. He called it population control.”

                “You can’t be serious. Someone knew that was going to happen to the cadavers and they sent them to us anyway?”

                Dale shrugged. “That’s all he told me. Maybe the doctors didn’t know. Maybe only one person knew and leaked it.”

                Two shadows peeled away from the building and took off across the lot. Dale took aim and fired, but he missed. They disappeared into the trees.

                “Damn. The smoke’s making it hard to see.”

                “Were they zombies?”

                “No, they would have come at us after they heard the shots. Plus, they moved too fast. They must have found a way out without getting attacked by the monsters.”

                “Now what?”

                Flashing red lights were coming their way now. Someone must have gotten ahold of the fire department.

                “Now… we get you home. Come on.”

Experiment TCA-276 (pt 6)

                “What’s that noise?” Rita asked as Morgan re-entered the office.

                “They’re, uh, they’re cutting at the loading dock door. Sounds like a power saw.”

                “They’re going to get in?” Rita tried to move but then clutched at her leg again.

                “Probably, yes. But I called for help.”

                “The police? But I thought –“

                “No, my neighbor.”

                “What’s he gonna do?”

                “He’ll get us out of here.”

                Before Rita could ask anything else, there was a loud crash as metal made sudden contact with the ground.

                “They’re in.” Morgan leaned her back against the door.

                “They’re going to kill us!”

                “Maybe. I don’t think they’re here for us.”

                “The cadavers?”

                “Yes. Whatever that drug trial was… Whatever it did to them… That’s what they want. I’d bet my life on it.”

                There was shouting in the hallway now. Morgan put a finger up to her lips and pressed her ear against the door to try and hear what was being said.

                “Help me with this!”

                “Get the ropes ready!”

                “Everyone get set!”

                Thuds echoed down the hall, Morgan assumed from the filing cabinets being pushed out of the way.

                “On the count of three!”

                “They’re about to let them loose,” Morgan whispered.

                “We need to move!”

                “What?”

                “To the breakroom. There’s a fire exit, at the back of the pantry. It’s also around a corner. We can hide there ‘til your friend comes.”

                “You never mentioned the fire exit before –“

                “Help me up.”

                “Three!”

                Morgan swallowed her objections and hoisted Rita out of the chair, taking on most of her weight. They cracked the office door and peaked out. There was an undulating mass of bodies down at the end of the hall in front of the OR. The men were wrestling against the reanimated bodies, attempting to subdue them. The cadavers were proving to be quite strong.

                “Quick, while they’re busy.” Rita nudged Morgan forward.

                They took off in the opposite direction at as fast a pace as Rita’s injury would allow. Rita was gasping and whimpering with each step, but she refused to slow down. They were turning the corner, the breakroom doors in sight, when Rita slipped from Morgan’s arms. Morgan spun around and stifled a shriek.

                A corpse was pawing at Rita, crawling up her body, jaws snapping, drool and blood dripping from his lips. Rita attempted to push him away, but it was no good. He bit her hand, tearing a chunk of skin away as she swiped at his face. Then he clamped down on her arm, pulling skin and muscle away from the bone. Rita screamed, but he didn’t stop there. He continued until his face was even with hers and took a bite out of her cheek.

                Morgan was rooted to the spot, mouth hanging open. Then one of the black-masked men rounded the corner and shot the body on top of Rita. The bullet passed through the zombie’s back and into Rita’s chest. They both quit fighting and lay limp on the floor.

                The noise startled Morgan out of her trance. She took another step back, eyeing the man’s gun as he raised it towards her face. But before he could pull the trigger, another zombie crawled around the corner and took him down at the knees.

                “Fuck!” the man yelled, but Morgan took the opportunity to sprint the rest of the way to the breakroom and didn’t see what happened next. There were two gunshots, but the man was already yelling in pain. She didn’t look back.

                She locked the door behind her and began shoving all the furniture across the room to block the door. Once she’d moved everything she could manage alone, she collapsed against the opposite wall and pulled out her phone.

                “I’m two minutes away,” Dale said when he picked up.

                “Zombies,” Morgan sobbed out the word.

                “What?”

                “There’s zombies. In the morgue. They got Rita.”

                Dale didn’t respond right away. Morgan tried to catch her breath as he decided whether or not to believe her.

                “Are you safe?” He said at last.

                “For now.”

                “Hang tight. Find a weapon.”

Experiment TCA-276 (pt5)

                Morgan paced the office, biting a fingernail. Rita was pale and sweaty, taking shallow breaths, but her eyes followed Morgan back and forth. Morgan had spent a minute crying after she realized the police weren’t going to come to their rescue, but she’d snapped out of it when she heard the pounding on the other side of the stairway door. Now she needed to make a plan, there wasn’t time to be hysterical.

                The pounding stopped and Morgan looked up.

                “What are they going to do now?” Rita asked.

                “Probably going to look for another way in.” Morgan stared at the ceiling. “Is there another door?”

                “Just the loading dock,” Rita said.

                “I’m gonna go check it out. See if it can be reinforced.”

                Rita nodded. Morgan grabbed her hammer and cell phone and went out to the hall. As she passed the operating room, there were several loud crashes. She hesitated next to the door, looking back and forth between the office and the loading area down the hall. Loud groans and snarls started up on the other side of the door. It could only mean one thing.

                Morgan sped-walked back to the office.

                “More of the bodies have escaped the cold lockers.”

                “How is that possible?” Rita’s eyes filled with tears, but Morgan wasn’t sure if it was from the news or from her sudden movement.

                “I don’t know. But I think I should barricade the door. If they can get the lockers open…it’s only a matter of time before they get out here.”

                “Right…” Rita’s eyes scanned the room. “Can you move the filing cabinets? This desk is probably too heavy for one person… Or there’s a couch in the breakroom…”

                “I’ll try.” Morgan grabbed the nearest filing cabinet, tilting it on its side and started to drag it down the hall.

                It was slow progress, but she eventually had the three filing cabinets blocking the door to the OR. She needed to go check the loading dock before she did anything else. She’d go back for the couch later.

                Morgan ran down the hall, already able to hear voices on the other side of the roll down door. Locks were secured on the chains, so it wouldn’t move easily, but it wasn’t going to keep them out forever. Morgan needed help.

                Her eyes fell on a toolbox in the corner and she had an idea. She fished her phone out of her pocket and dialed her neighbor’s number.

                “Hello?” Dale’s voice was thick and scratchy with sleep.

                “Dale? It’s Morgan. I need your help.” Morgan retreated from the loading dock, not wanting the men outside to hear her.

                “What happened? Flat tire?” Dale cleared his throat, becoming more awake.

                “No, worse. Um…I really don’t know how to explain. There are bad men trying to break in to the morgue. They killed four police officers in the parking lot. No one is answering the phones at the police station when I call back…”

                “Where are you now?” He was fully alert now.

                “In the basement. We’ve blocked the doors, but I think they’re trying to break through the loading door now…”

                “I’m on my way.”

                “Be careful.”

Experiment TCA-276 (pt4)

                “I think they’re breaking in,” Morgan said, leaning out of the office door. “I think I heard glass breaking,”

                “Okay…” Rita’s jaw was clenched and she was sweating as she tried to keep her leg still. “There’s a security door that closes over the stairway… The key pad is on the wall… Type…3-4-6-7 and it will activate.”

                “Okay.” Morgan grabbed her hammer. “I’m going to get a cell phone too.”

                Rita didn’t answer as Morgan left the room. She dashed over to the stairs to setup the door first. She typed in the code and heard a click as the light over the door turned red. A metal panel slid out from the wall and covered the regular door. There was another satisfying click as it locked into place.

                Morgan waited. She couldn’t hear as much noise from upstairs now, but they would realize they couldn’t get down here soon enough. And then there would be an uproar. And then they would try something else…

                Morgan went towards the operating room, adjusting her grip on the hammer. Cracking the door open, she peaked inside. Robert Holt’s cadaver was on the other side of the room, head caved in. But he dragged himself across the floor in slow, jerky movements. At the sound of her arrival, his head snapped around so he could look at her with his remaining eye.

                He snarled. The knocking and growling resumed from the cold lockers as he started across the floor towards her.

                Morgan took a step into the room, one eye on her phone on the counter and the other monitoring Holt’s progress across the room. She snatched up the phone, swung at his head before he could get too close, and ran back to the hall. The door slammed behind her and she slid the lock home.

                Someone was pounding on the door from the stairs now. Morgan kept to the other side of the hall and tip-toed, not wanting to be heard. The men’s voices were loud enough to penetrate the metal sheet, but Morgan couldn’t make out the exact words. She was sure they were coming up with another plan.

                “Okay, I got a phone,” Morgan said as she stepped back into the office.

                “And the door?” Rita said through a gasp.

                “Closed it. They’re on the other side. I don’t know what they’ll do next.”

                “Call for help.”

                “Okay.”

                Morgan dialed 9-1-1 again and waited. The phone rang…and rang…and rang. After every fifth ring, an automated message played.

                “Your call is very important. All operators are busy. Please stay on the line for the next available operator to assist you.”

                But no one ever answered.

                “No one is there,” Morgan whispered as tears began to cloud her vision.

                “What?” Rita was pale and shaking, about to pass out.

                “No one is there…. The people from the trees… they must have gotten to them already…”

Experiment TCA-276 (pt 3)

                “Almost there.” Morgan grunted, hoisting Rita up into the office chair. Rita stifled a cry as her leg caught on the corner of the desk. Morgan grabbed a box and propped her foot up and tried to make her more comfortable.

                “Call the police,” Rita said through clenched teeth. “I need an ambulance. We need help.”

                “Right.” Morgan snatched up the desk phone and dialed 9-1-1. “What should I say? They’re going to think I’m crazy,” Morgan asked as it rang.

                “Uh-“ Rita gripped her thigh, her eyes squeezed shut. “A break in. We were attacked. We trapped them in a room for now.”

                “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” an operator came on the line.

                “Uh, yeah, my name is Morgan Andrews. I’m at the city morgue. We’ve had a break in. They attacked us and my coworker needs an ambulance. We locked them in a room-“

                “How many?”

                Morgan glanced at Rita and mouthed the question to her, but Rita shrugged. She couldn’t say twenty-five, that would be too unbelievable.

                “Four men.”

                “Okay, units are on their way and we will send an ambulance. Stay calm and call back if anything else happens.”

                “Okay.” Morgan hung up. “Cops are coming and an ambulance. I’m going to go upstairs to wait for them. Are you alright for now?”

                “I’ll be fine.” Rita’s breath was coming in gasps, but she looked determined, so Morgan nodded and headed for the stairs.

                Morgan paced the lobby, watching out the front window. It wouldn’t be long; a town this size with nothing crazy ever happening, she wouldn’t be surprised if the entire force showed up.

                After only five minutes, two police cars pulled into the lot with their lights flashing. Two officers stepped out of each car and drew their guns. But just as they started to rush for the door, shots rang out and Morgan jumped.

                All four officers crumpled to the ground, blood gushing from head wounds. Morgan screamed, but couldn’t look away. Emerging from the trees at the back side of the lot was a group of people dressed all in black. Their heads were covered with hoods and they each held a lethal looking gun in their hands.

                Morgan locked the door and ran back down the stairs, not waiting to see what they did next. She locked the door to the stairway behind her and rushed back to the office.

                “What is it?” Rita asked, eyes widening as Morgan tried to catch her breath. “What happened now?”

                “The cops,” Morgan gasped. “They’re dead. People from – the trees – shot them all.”

                “People from the trees?”

                “I don’t know. Hooded. All in black. Big guns.”

                “Okay, okay, breath.”

                Morgan tried to slow her breathing and grabbed the phone off the desk again to call for more help.

                “Oh no.” Morgan’s hand fell to her side. “The line is dead. Do you have your cell phone?”

                Rita patted at her pockets, grimacing when her leg shifted on the box. “No. It must be in the OR.”

                “Mine too…”

Experiment TCA-276 (pt 2)

 

              “This is case number 55-8360, Robert Holt. The body is that of a malnourished and diseased seventy-two year old Caucasian male with grey hair and brown eyes. The body is 73 inches long and weighs 145 pounds.” Rita spoke into the microphone clipped to her lab coat as Morgan took notes. “Diagnosed with leukemia in March of 2017. Treatments of chemotherapy and blood transfusions were unsuccessful. Participated in drug trial, TCA-276.”

                Morgan rubbed her eyes as Rita took a breath to examine the case folder. When she looked back towards the body of Robert Holt, the hand twitched against the table. Morgan wondered if she’d finished her cup of coffee as Rita picked up the scalpel.

                Morgan stepped closer to observe the Y-incision being made, knowing Rita was going to have her perform the action on the next body. She’d barely pressed down, however, when a knock startled them both.

                Rita turned towards the stairs with a frown. “That was too close to be the door.”

                The knock came again and Morgan pointed. “It’s coming from in there.” One of the doors on the cold locker rattled as the knock sounded a third time.

                Rita started to walk across the room, but Morgan grabbed her arm.

                “What?”

                “Don’t open that drawer.” Morgan’s eyes were wide and fearful.

                “But what if- “

                “No. We checked in all of the bodies. It’s not possible.”

                Another door rattled, and then another, the knocking becoming more persistent.

                “Wh-what do we do?” Morgan asked.

                A low growl made them turn back to their table. The body of Robert Holt was sitting up, eyes open. As though in slow motion, he turned to look at them and reached out a hand. He overbalanced and fell over the edge, but he kept his eyes fixed on the two of them.

                “Morgan, run!” Rita shoved her forward and they took off for the door.

                Holt crawled after them and got one gnarled hand around Rita’s ankle. She jerked off her feet and landed hard on her knee, a crunch echoing around the room.

                Morgan turned back and scrambled for anything that could be a weapon. She settled for a hammer and laid into Holt’s skull. She didn’t stop until a large crater formed over his eyes and his body dropped back down to the floor.

                Rita was groaning in pain, holding onto her leg. “Oh, Morgan, just leave. Go get help.”

                “I will, but I have to help you first.” She hooked her hands under Rita’s armpits and dragged her out of the room. She closed the door and locked it, then continued to drag Rita down the hall to the office.

The sound of knocking and growling was sill coming from the other side of the door.

Experiment TCA-276 (pt 1)

*New short story I’m putting together for you. This will be another first draft posting like my story When the Rains Came. Hope you enjoy :)*

                Morgan watched the steady drip of coffee fall into her cup. She went cross-eyed for a moment before shaking her head and stretching. The shift in her sleeping schedule was still kicking her ass, but it would all be worth it in a few weeks. Her internship was almost over and then she would be a certified morgue technician.

                At a quarter to seven, Morgan stepped out of her apartment to head into work. Her neighbor, Dale, was climbing the steps from the parking lot. He was covered from head to toe in what looked like paint and mud. He was lugging his toolbox with a sour expression.

                “Hey. Bad day at work?” Morgan asked, trying not to smile at his appearance.

                Dale grunted. “Genius at work turned to talk to me with the spray texture gun still running. Covered me and my tool box. Now I get to spend the night cleaning my tools off for tomorrow.”

                “Yikes. I’m sorry to hear that.”

                Dale shrugged. “Have a fun night at work. Don’t get spooked.”

                Morgan laughed and continued down the stairs to her car. She drove down Main Street and watched the sun set over the old buildings on the square. The town already felt deserted at this hour. All its inhabitants would be at home with their families by now. Their nightlife consisted of a small bingo hall, but that was closed on Wednesdays.

                At seven on the dot, Morgan pulled up to the funeral home and parked next to Rita’s rundown Subaru. She’d be hard at work by this time, getting all the paperwork in line for the night. She’d told Morgan that would be the last part of her internship; it would be the easiest part of her job when she took it on full time.

                Morgan trudged down the stairs to the morgue, taking larger gulps of her coffee to help it kick in faster. She found Rita standing next to her desk, a large file folder in her hands. Her eyebrows were drawn together and she was frowning; both were sure signs that she was anxious about something.

                “We’ve got a busy night ahead of us,” Rita said without looking up. “Twenty-five cadavers will be delivered in about five minutes.”

                “Wow.” Our usual night consisted of three or four. “What happened?”

                Rita turned a page. “A drug trial for cancer patients at a hospital two towns over. Zero percent success rate. The doctors are in a panic, rightly so.”

                “Why are we getting the shipment? There’s gotta be several morgues closer to them that can take the job.”

                “They said they were all full,” Rita said. She shut the folder and rubbed her eyes. “But I’m pretty sure they’re just hoping to sweep this under the rug. If less people around them know what happened, maybe the media won’t get ahold of it. They’d have a field day poking holes in the operation. And I don’t blame them. I would like to know how they got the green light for human trials. Earlier tests must have shown it wouldn’t work…. But what do I know? I’m not a doctor.”

                A bell rang down the stairwell.

                “Come on,” Rita said with a sigh. “That’ll be the truck.”