It had to be the weekend that I was impounded in the hospital that the whole darn place goes into a lockdown to contain the spread of a killer virus. Only special patients were being allowed one visitor at a time, and no one ever considers me special – so I was pretty much left to my own devices in what could only be considered a hospital on the eve of the end of the world. Most patients, considering they were sick enough to be hospitalised, remained in their beds, and staff kept to their own areas; leaving the entire building to the walking wounded like me.

As was predictable, the virus was spreading inside the hospital, and the nurses were engaged in a constant battle to keep patients, themselves, and the rest of the world safe from the germs of doom. The transition ward that I was in on the ground floor was closed down, and all we inmates were moved – in a hurry – up to Victor Synge ward on the second floor. So rushed was the move that the ward for the virus refugees was being assembled as we arrived, and the news from the outside world was not good either.

News like this was bound to stir up something of a panic among the villagers, and before long groups of people were gathering at the front door of the hospital hoping to see their relatives. Security kept the doors sealed; admitting only those who were on the ‘guest list.’ Naturally people wanted to see their relatives, and – in fairness to the hospital – every accommodation was made to get clean clothes and supplies up to patients in the wards. Austin’s son, a man as calm as the Buddha himself, was even captured by Pedestrian View at the storming of the gates.

Being in a locked-down hospital had some weird and wonderful effects on the staff and patients. Outside – due to the increased strain on security – the smoking ban was unenforceable and therefore de facto relaxed, and up in the ward Austin was concerned enough to ask how long we thought the food would hold out. We reassured him that army helicopters would make sure that we had enough mixed grill and porridge to last for the duration. This news worried others. I think that with the prospect of endless mixed grill and porridge they would rather starve.

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