Another few days' running behind us. But this time not from something we did, but something that was done to us.
I'll start at the beginning.
On Thursday night, at around ten, there was a power cut. We were all in Lianne's room, discussing what our next move was. We sincerely thought that, for a moment, we'd have these days in the hospital with nothing bad to show for it. Maybe we'd have a chance too properly regroup, Lianne would have a chance to properly get better. The infection's on its way out, but it's giving her one last vicious fever for good measure, and she was not in a good way.
The lights died suddenly. The summer had ended and it was already dark out. The sounds of chairs being knocked over and the fabric on fabric of rucksacks being wrestled with. The first snap of a Maglite being switched on, then more, as their powerful beams illuminate the room.
Shannon ran to the door and looked out, her torch forming a thin beam of light through the darkness. Nothing. At the same time, Steve and Natalie tried to help Lianne to her feet. She was weak, and her muscles ached with heat and pain. Standing hurt. Running would hurt more.
"We need to go, now." Shannon spat at us. Rachel scrambled through her bag for her knife to my left, and Roland did the same, drawing out the machete he'd taken back off of Natalie. He threw his axe away a few days ago. Disposal of a murder weapon and all. We stacked up besides the doorway, and moved out with as much precision as we could. Natalie and Roland led, their torches lighting up the way ahead. Lianne went in the middle, supported on either side by Rachel and I. Shannon and Steve brought up the rear, illuminating behind us. We moved quickly towards the stairs. We were on the fifth floor.
On the third floor, we were momentarily thrown off. The staircase ended. It appeared that to go any lower, we'd have to find another staircase.
We ventured into the hallway. Aside from the darkness, everything was in its place and as it was meant to be. Everything was silent. Empty. It seemed to us all that we were the only people in here. Without a map or any real sense of direction - we'd always used the lifts before, and had no idea where the stairs were, plus the darkness and the fear was disorientating - we moved slowly, cautiously. The hospital revealed itself to be much larger than we thought.
We turned a corner when we heard a scraping sound. Something dragged along stone. It oscillated slightly, louder and quieter, louder and quieter.
It was moving closer and closer.
We moved quickly, weaving through the corridors, our heavy packs slowing us more than we would have liked. Eventually, Roland's torch illuminated a small "stairs" sign.
The scraping stopped.
No-one moved, no-one spoke. It seemed for a moment as though no-one took in breath.
Heartbeat loud in the ears. Our torchlight couldn't cover enough.
Something fell to the ground with a wet thud behind us. We whirled, our Maglite beams falling upon the same spot, about sixty feet away.
A white coat wrapped around a misshapen mass of flesh. Clothes beneath soaked in deep red blood. Legs below the knees and arms below the elbow missing entirely. The head, where the face would be, had only a black-red cavity, the contents spilt out on the floor already. White-yellow shards of bone danced in the torchlight. The torches lit up just enough to show that the lower arms and legs were stuck to the ceiling with what looked like duct tape. The pool of blood spread out like a sea beneath him.
A snarl came from the corridor to our left. We whirled around quickly to see a figure with what looked like a hessian sack over his head, eye holes torn in it. He held in his hand a bloody sledgehammer, and his clothes were covered in gore. With a guttural, low laugh, he brought the hammer up behind his head. Roland shoved Rachel aside and kicked him hard in the stomach. The proxy doubled over, dropping the hammer behind him.
Shannon screamed "Run!"
A desperate scramble through the door to the stairwell. Down two floors, to the ground. We burst out the other side, just as the high-pitched laughter entered the top of the stairs.
We turned a corner.
Our torches fell ahead of us.
A glimpse of shirt beneath a black suit. Thin. Tall.
But not for long.
Frantic, frenzied running for the entrance. Something not right. A heavy thud behind us.
Turn a corner, then another. Into the main foyer, through reception. Towards the doors. And we're out in the cool night air, the mist still thick in the road ahead of us.
Lianne and Steve are missing. Horrified, we exchanged glances.
Then, a loud thud on the other side of the door, and Lianne fell through. Her clothes were covered in blood, and her breathing came in heavy gulps. She screamed, "HELP HIM!"
Roland didn't need to be told twice. He crashed through the door.
There were tears in Lianne's eyes. "They got him," she murmured, "I collapsed. He got me to my feet, carried me to the door. Damn near pushed me through it."
"There's no-one there," Rachel muttered. Lianne's eyes widened, then sobs racked her body.
We've been walking solidly since then, through that night and then from seven to nine every day since. Back to the car. It's going to take another few days still.
Lianne's fever is still high. The guilt, however, is more destructive. We would never have been there if it weren't for her. He would never have had to help her. He could have just run, like the rest of us. But the rest of us know where to place the blame. We knew that she couldn't keep up. But we saw him and we forgot all that. We ran, terrified out of our minds, trying to save ourselves. And in the end, we cared more about most of us surviving than all of us. We fucked up her rule 8, and now, Steve's dead, if he's lucky.
He tried to save a woman who he thought he hurt before, and now he's dead or worse and no amount of calling him a hero is going to make that better.
I don't know if I can continue this blog, guys. I'm glad people are leaving support, but writing all this out has wiped me out emotionally. I feel sick, reliving it in my head.