I dreamed of zombies, and escaped some of their clichés, but not their teeth.
There was a hotel, a great tower of a hotel. From the lobby, you could look up 20 stories, all the way to the skylight at the top. The floors and rooms ringed around this central empty space. We were trapped on one of the middle floors, not yet forced up to the top. There were maybe thirty of us, standing in the hallway finishing our barricade. Beds and chairs and luggage carts had all been nailed and propped and shoved together. We could still see out in places between the legs and bits that hadn’t quite fit together right. There were gaps above the barricade too – the ceilings were impossibly high. There were 20 floors, but the building from the outside looked like there were 40. We hadn’t managed to make any of the barricades stretch to the ceilings, and that’s why we had been pushed back to the tenth floor.
The zombies could jump.
Something in the blood-borne pathogens caused it. Not quite the opposite of rigor mortis, the dead and newly infected had something in their veins that caused them to twitch and leap about uncontrollably. If you were bitten, you could not even hide it, in the vain hopes that you would be immune, that you would not turn. Your blood would start to jolt, jumping so hard in your veins that you would too.
There was someone with us, who swore they had not been bit, but some of us were doubting. It was the way they were rocking back and forth, the rhythm broken every so often as they arched suddenly and violently up onto their toes. Their body was trying to vault skywards, and they were trying to stop it, fighting the infection in their body. They kept telling us we were fine.
The barricade was more important at the moment, so we ignored them. It was almost finished, but below us we could hear the zombies surging upwards, running clockwise up and around the floors.
Screeching and howling, they crashed against the barricade. A few people moved to brace the wall with their own bodies. I stepped back, having seen people in similar attempts pulled through gaps in a hastily built barricade, or bite after a piece of plywood just above their shoulder was broken through. Luckily, we’d learned from the previous nine or so barricades, and this one held. No gaps appeared through which the zombies could pull the braver people. The barricade held.
And we had managed to build it just high enough. The hyperactive blood animating dead veins couldn’t give the zombies quite enough height. Their heads popped up over the assortment of chairs and table legs just at the top of the barricade, as they leapt to try and clear it.
It would have been almost comical if their mouths weren’t streaked with blood.
The person who swore they weren’t infected was getting worse. They were rocking up and down, groaning from the strain of trying to keep their feet on the ground. It was only a matter of time.
There were a few in the crowd of non-infected who wanted to give them a chance, to see if they could fight off the infection. The idea gave them hope that maybe they too could fight off the infection, if worst came to worst. Most people thought we should just kill the infected before the jumping really started, and that’s when the person started shrieking. They didn’t want to die. None of us did.
The group with weapons started to advance on the infected person, who had started to hop up and down and spit up blood. The zombies’ heads were still visible, popping up over the top of the barricade. It seemed like they were jumping higher. Maybe they’d clear the barrier this time as well.
The infected person was cornered and sobbing. No one seemed to be paying attention to the barricade any more. I left the group, and made my way into one of the abandoned hotel rooms. I shut the door, bolted it, and piled the few pieces of furniture remaining inside in front of the door.
It meant I would be trapped, once the barricade fell, and likely die to the inevitable, but it seemed better to me to be alone when I died.