Chapter Seven Part Four - Rats!

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It was a little over an hour later and the hotel was a veritable hive of activity. Despite the amount of people present though, they were well organised; the Corporal ensured that was the case.

Having ordered all military personnel to check the security of the east wings – not that he didn't trust Annalise but those civilians were his responsibility and it was up to him to make sure that they were as safe and secure as possible – he and his staff assigned rooms to the civilian folk. There were not many couples amongst them – and no families at all – but those that there were he gave double rooms. Everyone else was assigned a twin room with a bunk mate as the Corporal was unwilling to leave anyone alone, regardless of the hotel's security.

The assigned rooms were the closest, wherever possible, to the bulk of the hotel. That was more for ease than anything, for whilst people did not have a great many belongings, the less distance they had to carry what they did have, the better.

“I can't believe how quickly you managed to get that organised,” said Annalise as she and Simon stood between the two doors that led to the east wings.

“Well it's pretty much a key skill in the military, logistics. Besides, we were lucky you had so much room here.”

“There were a lot more of us,” she replied, quietly.

“Yeah, well... I guess that's a sign of the times.”

“True enough,” she said, shaking herself slightly. “Right, do you want to see if the outbuilding we have set aside is suitable?”

“Definitely,” he said. “I've got men and women need a slightly more comfortable environment than the back of an articulated lorry!”

He turned and beckoned another member of the military over, a female.

“I'll leave it to you to sort out bunks for us, Smith,” he said. “I'm going to check out the potential infirmary.”

“Yes Sir,” she replied, snapping a salute.

“I trust you not to take any shit, Jen. We're all tired and hungry. Once we're settled in, I think it's only fair that we arrange dinner for our gracious hosts.”

He turned back to Annalise and winked, grinning cheekily.

“Yes Sir!” Private Jen Smith replied, and turned on her heel.

“She's a good girl, is Jen. We were on tour in Afghanistan together... All this zombie shit kicked off as we were on our flight back.”

“All of you?”

“No, a few of us. We're made up of plenty of different regiments though and Fat Barry, wherever he is, was one of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Keeps telling how he saw the Duchess of Cambridge chowing down on a Corgi, if you believe that.” He paused, chuckling to himself. “Right then, let's go have a look see what we got.”

The two new friends made their way outside. It was a warm evening for early April but there were some dark, evil looking clouds gathering on the horizon.

“I gotta' be honest, we've not really had a chance to check all of these outbuildings,” said Annalise, conversationally as they strode towards the far end of the east wing. “I might've lied when I said we'd got enough people here. There are four of us and three kids.”

“I've only seen you and Joan,” he replied. “Speaking of, is she any good with that crossbow?”

“Pretty good,” replied Annalise with a chuckle, thinking back to when she'd first met Joan. “Yeah, pretty good. As for the other two, they're out on a run searching for livestock for our wee farm, here. We intend to be as self-sufficient as we can.”

“It's a good thing we came along when we did then,” said Simon. “I know for a fact that everyone's more than willing to pull their weight.”

“Good to know,” said Annalise, pausing at the door of one of the larger outbuildings. “What do you think?”

“Looks to be fine from the outside,” he replied. “You say you've not checked this particular building?”

“Nope,” she replied, unsheathing her sword as the Corporal drew his side arm. She reached out and tried the handle. It was locked.

“I'm not sure whether that bodes well or not.”

“Only one way to find out,” she replied grimly, seconds before the Corporal kicked the door in.

They stood there for a moment in silence, waiting to hear heavy, laboured breathing or the shuffling of feet.

When neither sound occurred Annalise released a deep breath. She had not even realised she had been holding it in.

“Wait... what was that?”

“I'm not sure, I heard it too. All I know is that it ain't Zeds.”

Rats!”

Simon quickly slammed the door and stood with his foot against the base.

“Don't let them out! The last thing we need is a bloody plague of rats getting into the hotel.”

“I agree, and I reckon that puts this outbuilding off limits as far as being the infirmary.”

“There's plenty of others, I just thought this would be the most suitable.”

“It would've been perfect,” he replied. “Shame we've gotta' burn it down, really.”

Ever since the outbreak there had been countless rumours and many theories as to what actually caused it, not via any media of course, because there was no such thing.

Eight out of ten times, those theories and rumours said that rats were one of the primary causes of the outbreak. No one really knew whether it was true but that wasn't the point. Just because they did not know whether or not it was true did not mean they should not take every possible precaution, just in case.

Whilst Simon remained with his foot against the base of the busted door, Annalise scampered off to seek help burning down the building. Quite surprisingly there were several volunteers, most of whom were civilian. She suspected the reason for that was that Jen Smith was running the military side of things within the confines of the hotel. Annalise got the distinct impression there was a little dictator about her.

Soon, several small fires had been built around the exterior of the wooden building, and a hammer and nail had fixed the door meaning that Simon was no longer required to stand with his foot against it.

“Light 'em up!” he cried out with boyish glee. “Any of the little bastards escape, shoot 'em or squash 'em!”

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