It was exactly how I envisioned it would feel if I were Sarah Conner in one of the Terminator movies: explosions, shots ringing out, soldiers, police, confusion, explosions… but this wasn't Terminator-this was a zombie epidemic and I was experiencing it firsthand.
So, how did we get here? How did two girls from Brooklyn NY end up in this situation? It started out very simple really, two friends on a road trip to see college friends play hockey. Simple right? We of course were late to the game because Abby forgot to set her alarm clock. In this instance, being late was a good thing. When we pulled up to the arena, we knew something really bad had happened.
“Whoah, must have been an awesome fight or something.”
“No, Abby, look, they’re bussing people away.”
Dozens of buses were lined up outside the area. Ambulances stretched around the parking lot, the red lights creating an eerie sight against the snow.
“Paula, call Jon. He’s already in there. We need to find out what is happening.”
I grab my iPhone and try calling. Nothing. Again. Nothing.
“They must be jamming signals.” I turn off the phone – just to preserve the battery. As we sit and think a BANG BANG startles us. A sheriff bangs again on our jeep with his flashlight. BANG BANG.
“Move along. You can’t come in.” He has no expression whatsoever. He is neither scared, nor angry. Almost trancelike he tells us again, “Move along.”
“Move along? Where are we supposed to go?” Abby waits for me to answer.
“Where everyone else is going,” I say very confidently. Abby gives me the are you freaking kidding me look. “Don’t give me that look. What other options do we have? Jon was in there and now we have to rescue him.” I immediately begin to rustle through my bag.
“What are you doing?” She moves the car into the lane of traffic all headed in the same direction.
I pull out a diet coke and some Swedish fish. “Comfort food.”
“You have an aero bar?” I hand her one and we drive, in a convoy to somewhere.
“A hospital? Why are we going to the hospital?” Abby slows as a bus honks its horn behind us. People are being herded inside. Helicopters buzz overhead.
“Are those soldiers?” I begin to doubt my decision to come here, but we need to find Jon. Jon is Abby’s brother. Think think think. “Okay, this is what we are going to do...you are going to tell them we are someone important – doctors, military, undercover –whatever – just don’t deter from the story."
“Paula, it worked.”
“Proves that if you say something with confidence, it can help get you anywhere,” we park the jeep to the side of the hospital. We decide on taking only two bags – one with food and one with weapons. Abby grabs a gun she carries when she travels; I grab a tire iron, an ice scraper and a knife I never thought I would have to use. I take out the essentials from my orange brigade go bag we need to travel light on this one I fear.
We walk towards the soldiers at the front door who guard it against the screaming people being forced to go inside. “CDC.” That is all I say.
“Head up to ward six, they are waiting for you,” says a soldier who looks like he is twelve.
“Paula, what are we doing?” I have no idea but I can’t tell her that. We walk past people who look afraid, nurses who are whispering...and Jon.
“Jon!!!”Abby rushes towards him, only to be met with a stern block.
“Don’t touch him!” A nurse, wearing a mask gets between us and him. “He’s sick. Meningitis.” Jon is unresponsive and we are shooed away.
“This isn’t meningitis. My mom is a nurse. We need to find answers.”
Answers we would not find. We found rooms to hide in for the first three days. We gathered food from the vending machines. More people came in on busses. This was not meningitis. Suits, soldiers, people in hazardous material suits came and went. When it was really quiet, we would hear scream, then usually gunshots.
Then – the announcement. Complete lockdown. Panic ensued. We really hadn’t ventured outside of our utility closets and bathrooms long enough to get a sense of what was really happening. Now was the time. It seems as if everyone was running around outside, screaming, shouting, banging, crashing.
“What’s our plan?” Abby opens the bag and takes out her gun.
“We try and find your brother. We also grab supplies – as much as we can. And then we try and leave this place...Ready?” We stand, hug and take deep breaths before opening the door to the unknown.
An inhuman sound greats us. Half their face is gone. Abby immediately barfs.
“Man up, Abby.” I hand her a towel. Not even thinking of running away just yet, a doctor run up to the creature in question and bashes it with a fire extinguisher right in the head.
“Get out of here while you can....and you can only kill them by piercing the brain...”and then he runs away leaving me and Abby left alone to decipher the message.
She laughs to herself, “Hey Paula, you ever see Night of the Living Dead?”
“Are you kidding me? You think...you think they’re zombies?” As if on cue, a nurse and a young patient rush past us.
She shrieks “Run, zombies!!!! Call Norman the Brigade Commander!! ” They get into an elevator and escape. Silence envelops us again. Then so does darkness.
“We follow them.” I grab Abby’s sleeve and pull her with me. “Stairs. Did they go up or down?”
“Up I think,” says Abby but she doesn’t move very quickly.
“Abby, I know you’re scared, but we have to find out what is happening and get out to get help....quick get down.” We duck in time before a whole horde of these undead beings move by. Then we hear more screams.
“Let’s go!” We head towards the stairwell and make our way up where we hear the screams coming from. As we open the door, the screaming stops and the elevator dings as the doors close. In front of us is that poor nurse who led the girl down the hallway. He doesn’t look like he’s sick, but he’s bleeding. I open my bag and take out some caramel corn.
“What are you going to do with that? And that’s mine anyway,” Abby grabs for the caramel corn but it spills all over the nurse. “We don’t have time, look!” Abby points to the undead that are coming down the hallway. “Let’s go...let’s get the girl!!”
I hear Motley Crue “Home Sweet Home “ coming from my bag.
“I thought you turned your phone off?”
“I did.” We rush back into the stairwell leaving zombie face alone with some new friends and the rest of Abby’s caramel corn. I read a text from my phone.
Urgent ZSC Warning – Zombie Outbreak
Rescue of Blue Brigade member Moira last
seen St. Vincent’s hospital.
Brigades unite and save our memberI quickly text back to Command
We just saw her – please send back up #OrangeBrigadeJust as I hit send, the explosions began. Abby and I bolt to the first floor past dead, undead, and a trail of aero bar wrappers.
“Looks like Willy Wonka was here.”
SMASH!!! Glass shatters everywhere. And again she runs by us, this time, with an axe.
“Moira!!!!” She doesn’t stop...she keeps running past us....