Title: When Blood Reigns
Author: Barbara Custer
Genre: Horror / Science Fiction
In the gloom, her light cut jagged circles around three skeletal figures weaving through the door. Their bloated, pus-stained faces drooled blood and saliva, two of them bald, and the third with a hollowed-out skull. Two more figures lurched through, followed by others. All of them worked swollen, blistered jaws, their groans sounding like pebbles rattling in their windpipes.
She couldn’t kill them all, not with one hand carrying a flashlight. This was worse than the invasion at Jackson Hospital. Back there, she had daylight and the men with her. Now she only had her Maglite. She could pick them off with her thoughts, one by one, and maybe take out three, but the rest would be on her. Maybe she could sedate them with the blue ray. Then she’d step over them and run.
More walkers crowded the doorway. Alexis backed away from the door, step-by-step, stall after stall, firing the blue ray. The figures kept coming, their cadaverous faces relentless and hungry. Oh, God, the sedative’s not working! She ducked inside a stall and climbed onto the toilet seat, bracing herself against the partition panels. On the panel, her light revealed a double toilet paper holder with a shelf; above, the head rail, and then a thick pipe running along the ceiling. Her right foot went onto the toilet paper shelf. She grabbed the edge of the panel, screaming from the pain flashing through her hands, and then hooked her left elbow around the head rail. The right elbow followed, both feet on the shelf, the figures closing in on her.
Other books by Barbara include Twilight Healer, City of Brotherly Death, Infinite Sight, and Steel Rose; also novellas Close Liaisons and Life Raft: Earth. She enjoys bringing her medical background to the printed page, and then blending it with supernatural horror. She maintains a presence on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and The Writers Coffeehouse forum. Look for the photos with the Mylar balloons, and you’ll find her.
Teodon pointed toward Laurel and held a finger to his lip.
“Do not speak out loud. I will understand the answers you think.”
Okay, Yeron’s badly hurt and so am I. I can’t move him without making his injuries worse.
“All right, then I will levitate him. I know how and I will not see him die. Go ahead of us and lead me to Quyeba’s laboratory. You must forget your injuries and pain. It may seem impossible, but Yeron needs your help. I cannot carry two injured people safely, and if you stay, Laurel will come after you again.”
I understand. Alexis struggled onto her hands and knees.
Harsh chewing and slurping sounds issued from Laurel. Despite the pain wracking her body, Alexis crawled toward the door.
She had to find her way back to the lab. Yeron was moaning, and his cries were growing weaker. Teodon lifted him. He depended on her to lead the way. Any second, Laurel would tire of Woehar and come after her.
Never mind the pain. Find help.
Gritting her teeth, Alexis began her Bataan Death Crawl. Her incisions telegraphed bolts of stabbing pain with each movement. It doesn’t matter; Yeron’s life is on the line. She mind-opened the panel and led Yeron and Teodon through the exit.
Once in the hallway, Teodon hesitated.
“Left or right?”
Woehar had made a sharp right to enter the killing field, Alexis remembered. Left.
She edged along the long stretch of hall. The throbbing from her incision and back brought to mind the pain she’d felt from the rheumatoid arthritis during her job as a respiratory therapist. Her chest tightened at the prospect of navigating that long corridor the way it used to when she faced a heavy shift. No painkillers were forthcoming. She kept going.
It was simple. Woehar had guided right from the laboratory, and then a long stretch of hallway, past two sets of doors, before making her right into the death camp. So Alexis retraced Woehar’s steps and looked for steel doors on her left leading to the lab. Adrenaline would carry her. She’d once read a tale about a mother whose adrenaline rush allowed her to lift a car off her child’s injured body.
Agony bled into her incision with every shift of her knees. The pain was worse in her lower back, where Laurel had kicked her. Sweat rolled down her forehead, dripping on the grid floor. She was leaving bloody handprints and a ribbon of blood. None of that mattered. She strained her ears, listening for familiar voices.
Seconds later, she did hear Quyeba and Zoltar. A few paces further, ungodly spasms tore through her back. The black dots returned. She called for help. She last saw Teodon kneel over Yeron, placing something on his wounded shoulder. Behind them, Laurel emerged from the corridor, growling, her mouth opened wide. The dots swelled and the screams died in Alexis’s throat as the darkness took her.