Chapter 1 - Entry 2
April 15th cont
The first tremor wasn’t as bad as I expected. A few seconds of shaking and it was over. The second and third were much worse, causing things to fall and glass to break amid cries of fear and alarm.
The hospital’s power came back an hour before the first quake, then cut off after the second one hit. It didn’t return as the morning dragged by, making the air grow stuffy and humid inside my ventilation-less room.
Smaller tremors hit from time to time while ambulances came and went with increasing frequency. I assumed they carried people injured or killed as structures collapsed. Connecticut didn’t normally suffer from earthquakes so the state’s building codes didn’t require them to be quake-proof.
A cold lunch was brought in around noon and the three of us ate in silence. Power flickered on for about ten minutes but only a few local channels were broadcasting. Reports of riots, looting and widespread devastation were being received from major cities across the country as quake damage, power outages and a lack of reliable communications plagued government relief efforts. Major highways had become parking lots as people tried to find somewhere else to go and several structures normally used for shelters had collapsed or been damaged.
The President declared a national state of emergency and FEMA warned people to shelter in place. National Guard and Active Reserves were ordered to report to their duty stations. It was a mess.
I slurped my orange juice loudly when the power went off again and the TV flicked off, grinning around my straw as Conner’s face turned red with anger.
I napped on and off as the afternoon crawled by while a strong wind began blowing hard outside, whipping mournfully against the room’s cracked window where Gomez stood tensely looking out. Power came back just after sunset but the TV was all static.
“Fuck,” he growled and I sat up to see what had riled him.
Outside, with the parking lot lights on, it looked like snow was falling.
Conner and Gomez stepped out of the room for a hushed conversation between the guards. Their body language, visible through the open door, showed anger despite the softly spoken words. Gomez walked back inside and closed the door quietly behind him.
“Where’s he going?” I asked while trying to work the knots out of my arm.
“Oh. Getting stir crazy?”
“Try sitting in an eight by five cell twenty hours a day,” I snarked.
“We didn’t murder nine people.” Gomez replied wearily.
He sounded tired and it didn’t look like I was going to get a rise out of him so I let the conversation drop, content to watch the ash fall. The power died again thirty minutes later.
“Wonder why the power’s all jacked up?” He thought aloud.
I surprised him by answering.
“The US electric grid is sixty years old in some places. All it takes is for one section to crash and the rest comes down like dominos. Remember that big blackout in New York awhile back? Same thing, just on a national scale.”
I grinned and shrugged at his questioning stare. “I read a lot in my ample free time.”
Gomez was getting nervous an hour later when Conner hadn’t returned, pacing back and forth in the hallway just beyond my room’s open door.
“I bet he went home to check on his old lady. Left you here to babysit me all by your lonesome.” I taunted, grinning when he flicked me off and paced back and forth more briskly. He stopped when a gunshot rang out, giving me a curious look before pulling his gun free from its holster and stepping into the room.
“What? I didn’t do it.”
“This time.” He answered coldly, shutting the door behind him.
Screams and shouts erupted from down the hall. More gunshots followed. The building shook slightly as another tremor rippled through, causing dust to drift down and stick to the sweat on Gomez’s forehead.
“Why don’t you uncuff me? I got no beef with you.”
Gomez shook his head and kept his gaze focused on the door.
“C’mon. Give ya a blow job?”
The screams of pain and terror outside grew louder and the muzzle flash of a gunshot lit up the frosty glass window set into door. Five minutes passed before the cacophony outside slowly died down until it sounded less like a demented chorus and more like sporadic solo singers.
“Go take a peek?” I suggested cheerfully.
“Bitch, shut the fuck up!”
Ah, finally we were getting somewhere. Grinning, I started to softly hum the theme to Sesame Street with my eyes closed, tapping my feet together in time to the tune.
Gomez whispered a few heartfelt curses at something other than his annoying prisoner, causing me to crack an eye open.
A black silhouette slowly passed by the frosted glass.
Gomez had his gun pointed at the shape, hands shaking badly. It shuffled by slowly, seeming a bit off. Almost drunken.
“Any chance I can get some more orange juice?” I called loudly, startling Gomez badly.
The silhouette stopped its forward motion and a hand lifted to bang against the glass.
“Move along! I am an armed officer of the law!” Gomez shouted, voice shrill with fear.
The figure remained, banging against the glass until cracks spiderwebed along its surface. My guard clicked off the gun’s safety just as a bloody hand punched through the window. I could see the sleeve of a doctor’s once-white jacket in the hallway’s emergency lighting. It was shredded and nearly black with blood.
Gomez gasped as a face came into view and shouted his warning once again. “Get back or I’ll shoot!”
It was Doctor Mai.
The arm reached towards Gomez, breaking more glass and apparently heedless of self injury while little rivers of thick black blood slowly slid down jagged shards of broken glass. Her skin was pale, as if from severe blood loss, with blue-black veins beneath the surface. A bit of scalp hung against the side of her head like a bad toupee, partially covering cracked eyeglasses perched haphazardly above a broken nose. I could see the off-yellow of bone above the strip of scalp that flopped back and forth from right eye to ear as she tried to reach Gomez.
“That’s pretty fucked up right there.” I announced.
Gomez fired off three shots, shattering the remaining glass and striking the doctor’s torso at least twice. The impacts spun her body away and out of sight. Only a soft moan and Gomez’s frantic breathing broke the thunderous post-gunshot silence.
“I prefer forty-five over nine millimeter. Much better stopping power.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” He shouted, spinning to point the gun in my direction. The whites of his eyes were showing as fear and shock took hold.
“Com-pa-ny.” I whispered in a sing-song voice just as Doctor Mai rose awkwardly to her feet.
Her arm reached through the door’s broken window and grabbed ahold of Gomez’s shirt. He screamed and nearly fell as the doctor leaned forward through the glass while pulling him towards her. Blood erupted when teeth sank into exposed throat and Gomez dropped to his knees, nearly pulling the doctor through the door’s window frame with him. With a shaking hand, he managed to lift his pistol to her chin and fire off two shots. Both bodies hit the ground a heartbeat later.
“Well that's full of suck.” I sighed while looking down at Gomez’s twitching form, leaving me alone and still handcuffed to the bed.