Chapter Eighteen

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“Get this thing off me!” Ben called, his voice guiding us to him. 


“Dr Thomas?” I held my hands out in front of me, trying to navigate through the dark room. “We need your light!” He appeared from the hallway, holding his lamp out for me to take. “Stay by my side.”


I shone the light forward to see Joel and Ben in the water, each wrestling a zombie. Ben had taken hold of his zombie by its neck, keeping it at arm’s length as it struggled against him.


Joel was taking a more aggressive approach, crushing his attacker’s skull with one hand while he searched his pocket for a knife. He pulled the hunting knife free and stabbed it into the side of the zombie’s head before throwing it off of him.


“Ben!” Jo called as she ran to him, shouldering the zombie and slamming it into the wall. The water had risen over his head, drowning him.


Joel and Wyatt ran to him and took hold of the file cabinet, lifting it off of him. I moved closer with the lamp, giving them as much light as possible. Jo had the zombie pinned against the wall, pressing her arm against its neck with all her strength. But without a weapon, she couldn’t hold it off for very long.


“Here,” I said, handing the lamp back to Dr Thomas. “Shine it at Jo.” I ran over to her, picking up a microscope from a nearby laboratory table on the way. “Hold it still,” I said to Jo before slamming the bottom of the microscope against the zombie’s head repeatedly until it was nothing but a pile of mush. Jo let go of it, letting it slide down into the water, leaving a mess of blood and brain matter spread across the wall.


“You okay, man?” Wyatt asked as he and Joel helped Ben out of the water and to his feet. He tried to stand, but his right leg buckled under his weight, making him groan in pain. Dr Thomas held his lamp up to Ben’s leg, revealing a deep cut and mangled knee.


“I think your knee is fractured,” Dr Thomas said. He looked at Wyatt, “We’ll need to carry him. He can’t walk on it.”


I took the lamp from him and he and Wyatt stood on either side of Ben, who was in so much pain he couldn’t even touch his right foot to the floor.


Joel searched the water for his torch, finding it under one of the dead zombies and shaking it dry before shining it at the door and leading the way out. Jo and I followed behind with the lamp while Wyatt and Dr Thomas assisted Ben along behind us. We trudged down the hall, the water level now up to my knees, slowing us down.


By the time we reached the stairs, it had risen to my hips. We started climbing, picking up speed the moment we were out of the water and running up the first two flights with ease. On the third landing, we were met by a horde of fifteen zombies wandering around the foyer.


“Run for it,” Joel said before racing up the next flight of stairs, with us right behind him.
“They’re coming!” Wyatt called. I glanced over my shoulder to see they were lagging, he and Dr Thomas struggling to climb the stairs while carrying Ben. Joel stopped and ran down to meet them, getting between them and the zombies coming up the stairs.


“You keep going,” he said before he started firing at the monsters, holding them back so we could flee. We ran ahead, taking the stairs two at a time to reach the landing.
“This way,” I said as we turned down a hall and entered the main floor. A group of medical staff and patients were waiting at the platform.
“Dr Thomas!” a nurse said, when she saw us. “You made it!”
“Where’s the boat?” I asked.


“It’s here!” someone called from the front of the group. I pushed through the group to see a rescue boat speeding up to the ship, with Paige driving it. I let out a groan when I saw Max standing next to her, his finger already pressing down on the shutter button rapidly.


“We need to hurry!” I called out to Paige. “They’re coming up the stairs!”
People started jumping onto the boat before it had even aligned itself with the platform, desperate to escape. I ran back to the stairs just as Joel was running up them.


“Is the boat here?” he asked breathlessly. “I’ve only got a few rounds left.”
“It just pulled up. There’s still people here.”
“Shit!” he said before turning back to fight the closest zombies. He moved quickly, pushing some back into the horde, knocking them down like bowling pins, while slicing and jabbing at others with his knife.


I joined the battle, ramming any that got by him with the butt of my gun, crushing their rotting heads in. I didn’t have the speed to kill them all, but I could at least destroy their faces to prevent them from biting us.


“Eva!” Jo called from the platform. “C’mon!”
Joel wanted to keep fighting, but I knew we had to go. I pulled him by the arm, encouraging him to come with me. “We gotta go.”
“I’m right behind you,” he said as he pulled his knife out of a zombie’s cheekbone.


I turned and ran to the platform, relieved to see the last few people climbing on board. Wyatt reached out and took my hand, helping me jump onto the boat.


“Where’s Joel?” Paige asked, waiting at the helm.
I turned back to the ship, expecting to see him on the platform, but it was empty. “He was right behind me!”
A pained expression spread across Paige’s face. “We have to go,” she called as she started edging the boat away.
“Wait,” Wyatt said. “He’s coming!”


I looked back to see Joel running towards us, with zombies directly behind him. The horde was significantly smaller, he had killed more than half of them, but they could still overpower him in an instant if they had the chance.


“Go!” Joel yelled, waving us away.


Wyatt and I held our hands out, ready to help him onto the boat, but just as he reached the platform, a zombie leapt forward, grabbing Joel around the legs and pulling him to the floor with a loud thud.


“No!” I screamed. I climbed onto the edge of the boat, reaching my hand out for him.


He reached his hand out for me, too, but the sadness in his eyes told me he knew it was too late.


But still, I stayed there, stretched out over the water, reaching for him even as the boat started pulling away. “No!”


I slammed my fist against the boat, watching as the zombies started digging their wretched nails into Joel’s back, eating him alive.


I let out a scream before breaking down, my tears falling into the ocean below.


“Mate, what the hell are you doing?” Wyatt said angrily. I turned to see him pushing Max away, his camera planted firmly on me in my moment of despair. “Get out of here!” Wyatt yelled, forcing Max to the front of the boat.


“Forget him,” I said, too upset to care about Max or his camera.


I sunk to the floor of the boat, and Wyatt came and sat next to me, holding me in his arms as I wept. Jo joined me, taking hold of my hand.


I looked up to see Ben stretched out on a seat, his leg being looked at by a nurse.


No-one said a word as the boat sped towards the M2, the only hospital carrier left in our fleet.

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