Waiting Room. Short Story.

Sorry about the double post thing on Monday. I made a mistake, I blame tiredness. I thought that one of the posts hadn’t gone up as it was stuck in my drafts folder, however I was incorrect and while screwing around with it, I accidentally posted it.

Obviously I am amazing with technology.

I’ve been too tired to read lately, which is annoying, though I have ordered some books off Amazon. I’m looking forward to them and hoping that they’re good. I saw the recommended somewhere. I planned to get them on my kindle for going away, but they were only available in paper. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I wanted to read something new while I was away. At least I’ll get to read them soon enough!

On with the show!

Alice took a deep breath, inhaling the scents of chemicals and cleaning fluids. Surprisingly, it helped her calm down. She had always found such smells comforting. She had spent a lot of time in hospitals when she was a child and they always reminded her of her parents. A nurse strode by, her body covered with a biohazard suit, Alice’s breathing quickened. Those damn suits weren’t helping anyone stay calm. She looked at the line of patients, all but one looked worried. He was typing away at something, a scowl of concentration across his face. Most likely some businessman, corralled in here against his will, too important to spend his time here doing something as useless as worrying. Alice sat back into the chair and closed her eyes. If she didn’t have to see the nurses, they couldn’t make her panic, could they. It was sound logic, but she was interrupted all too soon by a short tap on her shoulder. She looked up to see a biohazard suit looking down at her. “I said please follow me.”

Alice stood and slung her bag across her shoulder, she wouldn’t be here too much longer at least. The nurse led her through a twisting maze of corridors. She knew it had been designed this way specifically, but she was always astonished that the nurses never seemed to get lost. They passed a few corridors that were dead ends. There was a brief bolt of panic, but she quickly suppressed it. She didn’t want to have a panic attack here. They might take it as a sign of infection.

The nurse gestured for Alice to go into the room, she stepped inside and immediately the door closed behind her. In front of her was a wooden desk, long and wide, behind it sat a young man in a white coat. “Ah, welcome. Alice, correct?”
Alice nodded.

“And your date of birth?”
She listed it off, then followed it up with her address.
“I see you’ve been through this before.”

“Not really, I used to be sick a lot as a kid. It should be in my file.”

The doctor smiled, “it is. I was just double checking. Please, sit and tell me what you saw.”

As she sat, she glanced around the room, trying to spot the cameras as subtly as possible. There was one in the book shelf, she had no doubt about that, probably one on the doctor too. Of course there would also the be the assortment of recording devices squirreled away around the room.

“Well, I got up for work, had breakfast as usual and left my apartment.”

“Do you live alone?”
“Yes. My boyfriend and I broke up recently. He moved out.”
The doctor smiled, “smart woman. Good apartments are hard to find.”

She was about to ask him how he knew what her apartment was like, when she remembered he had her address.
“Ok, so tell me what happened on the way to work.”

“I got on the train at Southend, and rode it for six stops, where I got off.”

“Did you notice anything or anyone unusual on the train.”

“There were some beggars, I thought that was odd. Well, more annoying that odd really. They were playing music really loudly. It was distracting. I didn’t notice anyone else behaving strangely.” She paused for a moment, thinking. “There was one man, he was sweating a lot. I thought it was kind of gross. He didn’t bother wiping it away with a tissue or anything. He had big dark patches under his suit jacket. He didn’t smell though. I would have noticed the smell.”
“Ok, good. Now what happened in the station?”
“I got off, and there was a rush of people behind me, I moved in closer to the wall to let them all past. I don’t like being smushed in big crowds like that. I was standing by the wall when it happened. There was some shouting, I’m not sure what, the beggars had gotten off the train and were still playing their accordions. I think they were winding down at that point. I stepped towards the tunnel when there was a scream. I moved back and a second later there was the explosion.”

“And you weren’t injured, correct?”
“Right. I was worried I might have gotten some blood on me, but I stepped back in time. I was scared, panicked. My ears were ringing a bit, I couldn’t really hear.”
“You were probably in shock.”
“Then there were more screams, people were yelling, getting sick. I moved back towards the train, it hadn’t moved on yet. There were people on the platform with me, we moved together into the carriage. I pressed the emergency button and the doors closed. They attacked the train a moment later. There was blood on the glass so we couldn’t really see. They kept banging against it, trying to get in. Someone realised the locks hadn’t been engaged, but they were too stupid to press the button at that point. Still, we locked it in case one got lucky. We thought we’d be fine, just wait it out until the police came and cleared everyone out. Then one of the people on the train turned. They must have cut themselves or gotten blood on them. I don’t know. She was about forty. She attacked a teenager that was nearby. I didn’t wait to see what happened, myself and another woman ran. She was pregnant. Was she ok?”
The doctor said nothing.

“I see. We got into the small space between the carriages. It’s blocked in so we were safe from the outside. The doors locked, so they couldn’t get in. The carriage in front of us was full of them already. We  ducked down from the windows. They weren’t reinforced, but they didn’t notice us. We sat until we were gotten out. I don’t know how long it took. There was a lot of screaming. I think everyone else was dead.”

“Well, the good news is you aren’t infected. We thought perhaps it was waiting until you got to a large space or group of people before conversion.”
Alice’s shoulders relaxed.

“You’ve already been through de-con and your clothes have been cleaned so you can pick those up. Has your bag been sterilised?”
“Yes. I wouldn’t let them take it, so they did it and returned it.”
“Good. Thank you for speaking to me, if there are any follow up questions, the police will contact you, though I don’t think that will be necessary.”

The doctor stood and shook her hand, then gestured to the door behind him.

On the other side, a nurse dressed in the typical uniform guided her through the rest of the hospital, though it was straight forward. They stopped once for her to change and continued on. At the exit, the nurse handed her a styrofoam cup of tea and a chocolate bar. Alice stepped outside into the cool air and smiled. She was safe.

She started to walk, she had the day off work, that was mandatory and she could take another if she wished. Right now she wanted to head home and watch the news. She’d know all about what happened then. She wasn’t looking forward to being hounded about what she had seen by the reporters, but she could deal with that.

Alice had heard of outbreaks, watched them on the news, but she had never been present for one before, and she hoped she never would be near one again. It was terrifying. Infection meant death, there was no cure. It drove the victim mad within a short period, they would rampage and kill or convert anyone nearby. The virus burned through the body with in hours and became inert after the host has been dead for six. Usually it would turn a person quickly, though occasionally it waited until there was a large group of people. There were tons of rumours as to how and why it was created, as there was no evidence of it ever found in nature. Most thought it was created in some government lab. A way to clear out cities or villages quickly any with little damage to allied personnel. Drop a canister, wait for maybe a week for it to burn through the populace and go through, killing off any survivors. All the outbreaks so far had been contained. Most buildings had lock down mechanisms, making it impossible to break in, or out, if the infection is detected in the vicinity.

As she walked, Alice  drank some of her tea and took a bite of the chocolate bar. She was tired now, it had been a long day. Once home, she’d probably just order some take away, watch the news for a bit, then go to bed.  She finished the rest of the chocolate bar and washed it down with the remains of her tea.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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1 Response to Waiting Room. Short Story.

  1. Pingback: A215 – TMA02 – Rounds | Themself

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