Breaking The Habit – Entry#25

I sat down on my bed, feeling my knees buckle underneath me. “That, I don’t have an answer for.”

Cheryl added, “Not yet. But let’s not cry defeat. It’s just another obstacle.”

Tammy threw herself on her bed, luxuriously stretching her legs. “You two seem smart enough. Since I’m in charge of the guards, I’ll leave you to figure out the medication situation.”

Cheryl’s optimism encouraged me to brainstorm. I said, thinking out loud, “We take our meds once a day. Depending on how long we plan on being away, we’d have to stock up.”

Cheryl smiled, “See? We’re already getting somewhere.” She added, “Maybe the same dosage doesn’t work for all of us. Look what happened to Carrie. What if we could figure out a way to squirrel away some of the pills they’re giving us?”

I thought back to seeing Carrie change back into a Zombie, her eyes devoid of life as she mindlessly attempted to gnaw her way through the two-way glass. On the outside, she appeared to be a monster. On the inside, I still had a memory of the searing pain she was likely experiencing because it was the same pain I experienced myself before beginning my daily regime of medication.

I answered, “That is possible. But it means we’d have to risk one of us changing back into a Zombie. I’m not sure I’m up for that.” Cheryl nodded in understanding.

The two of us fell silent. Tammy, on the other hand, seemed to be completely relaxed, her arms folded under her head with her legs stretched out in front of her. I couldn’t tell if she were indifferent or utterly confident in Cheryl’s and my ability to think ourselves out of this quandary.

I spoke again to Cheryl, “There are 216 of us living here. That’s 216 potential Zombies receiving a daily dose of whatever it is they’re giving us. That’s a lot of pills. Either they’re producing the drugs here in some kind of in-house factory, or getting a regular shipment from the outside. Either way, that means that on any given day, there are at least 216 pills in the facility.”

Cheryl’s eyes widened and she began to speak, “That’s 216 days’ worth of pills. That would last a single Zombie over seven months. But how are we going to find out where they’re keeping the medication?”

Both of us looked at Tammy and I said, “Hey Tammy.”

Tammy blinked and answered me by saying, “What?”

I continued, “Cheryl and I just thought about something else you and Jake can talk about.”

Human Nature – Entry#24

“What else did Jake say?” Cheryl quizzed Tammy, who shrugged her shoulders.

“Nothing, really. I mean, it was a pretty short walk. But he’s definitely into me,” Tammy bragged.

I couldn’t believe it. Undead or not, some elements of human nature apparently just don’t change. Tammy shot me a look, “If you guys want me to seduce him, I’ll do it.”

Cheryl replied, “That’s pretty obvious. Just be careful. You heard what Dr. Williams said about the possibility of getting pregnant.” The three of us shuddered involuntarily in unison.

Cheryl turned to me, “OK. So, what next?”

I took a moment to think. “That’s a good question,” I answered. “Let’s see. The next possible move we could make would have to wait until Jake or someone else comes back.”

Cheryl suggested, “We should be getting our meds pretty soon.”

“Oh yeah,” I added. “How did I forget about that?”

“Speaking of meds,” Tammy interjected. “How are we going to leave here without them?”

The question hit me like a punch in the gut. It wasn’t just the walls trapping us here. It was our dependency on the pills that were preventing us from turning into monsters.

Next Moves – Entry#23

“So what did you guys have in mind?” Cheryl asked.

Tammy and I glanced at one another. What did we have in mind? I started thinking out loud.

“Well, security is obviously tight. Did you notice the one-sided glass in the room where we met?”

Cheryl nodded.

“Who knows what other means of surveillance they have in here,” I continued. Cheryl and Tammy looked around the room, presumably to see if they could find any signs of hidden cameras or microphones.

“That’s why it’s important we arouse as little suspicion as possible,” I said in a low tone of voice. “This place is built like a fortress. What we need to do is find a weak link and exploit it.”

Cheryl thought for a moment, “The technology looks impressive. But there’s always room for user error.”

I had an idea, which I shared with the ladies. “The guards probably have access in and out of here. We could try to get through to them.”

“Like Jake?” Tammy asked. Cheryl turned to Tammy, “Who’s Jake?”

Seemingly indifferent, Tammy replied, “You know, the guy who walked us to our room.”

Incredulously, I asked, “You know his name?”

Tammy flipped her hair coyly, “Oh we chatted a little bit on the walk over here. Got to talking about his motorcycle.”

Cheryl and I looked at each other. I said incredulously, “This might be easier than I thought.”

Hatching a Plan – Entry#22

Cheryl brushed back her blunt bangs from her eyes, which I started to suspect was a habit she employed when she was unsure what else to do with her hands. Tammy’s gaze on her was intense. Tammy asked, “So here’s the deal. Melissa and I, are trying to figure out our next move. But now we’ve got you thrown into the mix.”

Cheryl’s eyes narrowed. She shot back at Tammy, “Is this some kind of tactic? Because it seems to me that if you have any interest on acting on any big scheme, you’re probably going to need my help.” I was impressed. This Cheryl might not be physically imposing, but she clearly wasn’t backing down in the face of Tammy’s bravado. I decided it was best for me to continue the conversation.

I said, “Cheryl, tensions are high and this is a bizarre situation, to say the least. I’m sure Tammy didn’t mean to come off as a bully.” I was actually quite sure that Tammy had intended to be a bully, but I sensed Cheryl appreciated my attempt to diffuse the situation and appeared willing to listen. I continued, “It’s unfair to expect you to commit to formulating a plan that has the potential to expose us to dangers unknown. But the two of us feel we should be the ones deciding our fate and not some army of lab coats.”

Cheryl listened to me and thought for a moment. She replied, “What kind of good fortune is it supposed to be that we were spared only to live like this?” She paused for a second before saying, “I’m in.”

Three’s Company – Entry#21

Tammy gave a flirtatious smile to the guard as he lead her, Cheryl and myself to our new room together. “Why thank you,” she said to him as he opened the door and gestured for us to go inside. I studied him for a reaction.

While he remained professional, I was surprised to notice a subtle flush of color appear on his cheeks and the faint traces of a pleased smile. I looked at Tammy, who gave me a quick wink. We weren’t even in our new room and she was already working an angle for our escape. I could only hope Cheryl would be as willing a partner in crime.

Once the door closed behind us, Tammy promptly flopped herself onto one of the three beds. “So, Cheryl. What’s your story?”

Cheryl shrugged. “Same as everybody else, I guess. The first thing I remember is waking up, strapped to the bed. Can’t remember anything before that.”

Tammy continued, “Since it doesn’t really matter what happened before, what I guess I’m really trying to figure out is how you feel now.”

Cheryl looked at both of us. “I’m happy to have roommates. I wasn’t looking forward to going back to my room by myself.”

“It is nice,” I added. Tentatively, I asked, “Do you ever wonder what’s going on outside Area 216?”

Again, Cheryl shrugged. “I guess I hadn’t really thought about it much,” she answered.

Tammy gave her a piercing look, “We have. And you should too.”

We studied Cheryl’s face for a reaction. It took a moment before what we were suggesting registered with her. Quietly, she asked, “Are you two going to–?”

She was interrupted by Tammy faking a loud sneeze.  I gave Cheryl a tiny nod. Her eyes widened.

Roomies – Entry#20

Just as we finished shaking on our agreement to become roommates, John and I were approached by Dr. Williams. Shaking her head, she said, “No, I’m sorry. We’ll only be doing same sex roommates.” Tammy, overhearing her, spoke up in what I now realized was her trademark sassy tone of voice, “Are you kidding me? Why not? It’s not like we can get pregnant.” Dr. Williams adjusted her glasses on the bridge of her nose with a stern look. “That is something we don’t yet know for sure.”

At this, all of us, even including audacious Tammy, looked at Dr. Williams in horror. What if it were possible for us Zombie women to have babies? What kind of creature would we bring into the world? That unspoken question was enough to scare Tammy enough to promptly release her grip on William and make a beeline for my arm.

Pushing John aside, she said, “Sorry, nothing personal, but I’m here to claim my roommate.”  Momentarily bewildered, John walked over to William and stood next to him. Under her breath, Tammy quietly said to me, “So what was this escape business you were talking about before?”

I whispered back, “Let’s wait until we’re in the room.”

Just then, I noticed Dr. Williams approach the two of us, with the woman with the short, dark hair I’d almost paired up with earlier. “Tammy, Melissa,” Dr. Williams said to us, “This is Cheryl. She’s the odd man out in the group and will be sharing a room with you two, so she isn’t stuck by herself.”

I quickly strategized what just happened in my head. While there was strength in numbers, a possible escape could potentially be slowed down by a third person. Also, every person included in whatever plan I might formulate was one more person who could potentially make a mistake and ruin any hopes of us getting out of Area 216.

It was these thoughts that went through my mind as I engaged in the very human gesture of extending my hand to Cheryl and saying, “Nice to meet you, roommate.”

Two By Two – Entry#19

It’s funny to think how much has changed since the last time I was in my room.

After Dr. Williams informed us we’d be paired up from here on out, I assumed this meant Tammy and I would have a chance to continue our conversation about a plan for escape.

But this assumption was clearly trumped by Tammy’s libido.

Just as I took a step in her direction, Tammy practically leapt 6 feet away to secure her grasp on William’s arm. “Hey,” she cooed at him. “Wanna share a room?”

My escape plan hadn’t factored in the strength of Tammy’s desire to mingle with the opposite sex. It would take more than becoming a Zombie to slow this woman down. William looked shell-shocked but nodded in agreement. So much for my partner in crime.

It was amazing just how quickly people paired up with one another. Just then, I realized there were 25 of us, an odd number of Zombies. I needed to make a friend and fast.

Just before panic set in, I scanned the room quickly and noticed a petite woman with short, dark hair who appeared lost. I prepared to make a quick introduction when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I turned around and saw John. “Want to be roommates?” I suddenly remembered how vocal he’d been during our first group encounter with Dr. Williams.

With conviction, I nodded. “Yes,” I answered as the two of us shook hands.

Sedated – Entry#18

Carrie, too weak to move, was the only one in the room of 25 Z-virus survivors who didn’t turn expectantly at the sound of the door opening. Two large men resembling prison guards preceded Dr. Williams as she entered the room.

“Is everyone OK?” she asked with concern. Eleanor answered, “Carrie has a headache.” I added, “Other than that, we’re physically intact, if that’s what you’re asking.”

John asked, “What happened to Carrie?” To this, Dr. Williams replied, “We’re still working with the dosage amounts. Each individual is different and what just happened here leads me to believe that Carrie’s was too low for her.”

Stone-faced, John pressed Dr. Williams with another question.  “Why did leave us trapped in here with her? You couldn’t be sure she wouldn’t attack us.” Dr. Williams remained poised, “Yes, there was the possibility that Carrie would attack, but past tests indicated that it was unlikely. I had to keep her contained until she could be stabilized. Believe it or not, though, this is good news.”

Tammy snorted, “Really? How?” Dr. Williams responded, “This means it’s safe for each of you to have a roommate.” At this, Tammy and I exchanged involuntary glances at one another.

Our solitary confinement days were over.

After the Storm – Entry#17

Watching Carrie lying still in Eleanor’s arms, I felt a mix of emotions. Guilt at having been the instrument of whatever it was that had just happened to her and relief that she appeared to have found some sort of peace in it. Perhaps her life had been taken away, but at least she was no longer a prisoner to her body’s unnatural urges.

“She’s waking up!” John said with more than a little alarm in his voice. He and William exchanged quick, knowing glances and each took a hold of one of Carrie’s arms. Her eyes slowly blinked open, but rather than a blank stare, they displayed a look of disorientation. “What happened?” she asked

Some ancient maternal instinct seem to kick in as Eleanor cooed to her, “It’s OK, Carrie. You relapsed, but you’re fine now.” Carrie looked at John and William, who slowly released their grip. Her arms free, she lifted a hand to her forehead. “My head is killing me,” Carrie said as she winced.

“Well, you were acting like a real asshole,” Tammy told her. Eleanor shot Tammy a dirty look. “Tammy, be nice! This poor girl has been through enough without you giving her sass.” As usual, Tammy appeared unimpressed. “So is she like your pet now?” Eleanor shook her head sadly, “Have some compassion.”

Tammy opened her mouth to deliver what I’m sure would have ended up being yet another indecipherable metaphor involving an animal when a distinct, metallic thud resonated throughout the room.

The heavy steel door had been unlocked and was slowly creaking open.

Gamble – Entry#16

Wordlessly, John and William grabbed Carrie by the arms. I held my breath. She continued making the motions of pawing at the window, as if the men’s grip on her were nothing more than some inanimate inconvenience.

Holding the syringe in my hand, I guided the needle in the direction of her neck. As quickly as I could, I jabbed the needle into her neck.

Fully expecting a wild roar from Carrie, every muscle in my body strained as I carefully plunged the syringe’s contents into her writhing, grey being.

Nothing. No reaction at all. John, William and I exchanged glances. If it didn’t have a pulse carrying blood to a human brain inside a skull, Carrie couldn’t see it. Nor, it appeared, could she feel it. Or if she could feel anything, she didn’t seem to care.

The men let go of her arms. Carrie continued to try and make her way through the glass. Gradually, though, her motions slowed down until suddenly, her knees buckled. Eleanor rushed to her side as Carrie slumped down to the floor.

Eleanor cradled Carrie’s head in her arms as the rest of us gathered around her. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head as Carrie’s jaws slowly opened and closed one final time.

“Is she dead?” Eleanor asked me. Shaking my head, I answered honestly, “I don’t know.” I hoped she wasn’t. Otherwise, I was a murderer.