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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #2308792
A man told that his friend had died, then saw him being wheeled down a hospital corridor
Lionel Bramston, a tall, thin dark-blonde office worker, and Spike Marsden tall and as fat as his mate was thin, were on the way home from the office Christmas party, actually held in late November, because the company shut down for five weeks from early December to early January. Both men were more than a little tipsy and were hurrying to beat a thunderstorm that was already sending down the occasion crash of thunder and boom of lightning.

Which was probably why they missed the curve at Easterling Drive in the North Eastern suburbs. Lionel, or Leo as he preferred to be called, had wound down his window in the hope of the cold air sobering him up a little, so that his wife wouldn't kill him when he got home. He was enjoying the sweet smell of pine trees and the ozone smell of the sonic booms of the lightning, when they burst through the railing at the end of Easterling Drive, and were suddenly flying through the air.

At the jolt with the guard rail, both airbags activated, saving Lionel the passenger, but not helping Spike, whose incredible girth meant that airbag or no airbag he was impaled upon the steering wheel when the car crashed back to earth at the bottom of a fifteen-metre drop. Even if the car had not then spun over half a dozen or more times, knocking Leo unconscious, and ripping the guts out of Spike. Literally.

It finally came to rest upside down. Fortunately, they had just filled the petrol tank up so that it did not burst into flames. Since only petrol fumes are explosive not petrol. And a full tank has no petrol fumes.

Thank God we filled the... was Leo's last thought before passing out.

He woke up twelve hours later with two broken legs and most of the rest of him swathed in bandages.

"Hello there, Mr. Lucky to Be Alive," said a beautiful blonde nurse in a blue trouser suit. Her name tag identified her as Topaz Moseley. She would have been no more than one hundred and fifty centimetres tall.

"Who are you?" asked Leo.

"I'm your nurse for this shift."

"My nurse?"

"Yes, you're in a hospital. The Darnwell Community Hospital," she explained. Then when he made no answer: "You and Mr. Marden were in a high-speed crash not far from Dayton."

"Dayton?" he asked.

"Where you and Spike Marsden both worked ...work," she hurriedly corrected herself. The hospital administrator, Jessie (Jessica) Cristello had instructed them not to tell him that his friend was dead until Leo was well on the way to recovery.

His lunch was brought in, boiled haddock, plus potato wedges, peas, and carrots, with chocolate mousse for dessert.

"Would you like me to help you?" asked Topaz. Taking the bed controls she raised it till he was in a sitting position.

"Yes, please," he said. More because he liked to have the beautiful nurse around than because he really needed assistance to eat.

Later he sat looking out the small window at the rosebush in bloom outside his room. A small bird, too large to be a hummingbird, too small to be a blackbird, darted from flower to flower seemingly smelling them. Probably drinking nectar or eating pollen. Do birds eat pollen? Leo wondered.

Outside past the rose bush, which Leo could only see by raising his bed, was a small garden with half a dozen ancient-looking trees growing, not gum trees, there was no sweet eucalyptus smell, but he didn't know what they were. From time to time a blackbird, sparrow, or other birds would shoot across from one tree to another.

On one occasion a sparrow tried to land on a tree, only to accidentally land on top of another sparrow, hidden upon the grey-brown bark. A hellish fight broke out until both birds decided that the other bird was tougher and both birds took off as fast as their little wings would carry them in opposite directions.

Six weeks later the plaster casts had been removed from Leo's legs, but he still needed crutches to get around and had leatherette splints on his legs. He was just starting on very basic strength training for his legs.

After barely eight minutes the physiotherapist, Jeannie announced: "I think that's enough for today, Mr. Bramston."

"Thank God," said Leo: "It feels like I've been exercising for hours."

Looking at her watch, she said: "Actually it was less than nine minutes."

Between panting, Leo said: "Well, it was the longest less than nine minutes of my life so far."

At that moment, Topaz Moseley entered the physiotherapy room pushing a wheelchair.

"Ready to go?" she asked.

"Aha," said Leo, virtually collapsing onto the wheelchair.

As the blonde nurse wheeled him into the pale-yellow walled corridor, they almost collided with another wheelchair.

"Sorry," said Topaz.

"Spike?" said Leo, recognising the man in the other chair.

The other man turned to stare at him blankly, bud definitely looked like Spike Marsden.

"That's Spike," said Leo.

"Correction," said the other nurse. 'Nurse-in-Charge Carly Simpson, a tall thin, beak-nosed woman with grey-streaked black hair: "This is Mr. Jones."

"Mr. Jones," repeated the man in a dull monotone, like a bad actor in an Australian soap opera.

"But he looks just like...?" began Leo. Then he noticed that the man's stomach, which was heavily bandaged, was less than a third the size of Spike Marsden's enormous midriff.

"Mr. Bramston," said the Nurse-in-Charge pointedly: "Your friend, Spike Marsden, died in the car crash six weeks ago."

"He died...?" asked Leo, looking as though he was about to pass out.

"Yes," said the Nurse-in-Charge.

"But he looks just like ... Spike."

"We all have our doubles, Mr. Bramston," said Topaz, "I've certainly seen three or four women who are the spitting image of me."

"Lucky them," said Leo, making her both blush and smile: "I pity any poor bastard who is the spitting image of me."

Topaz laughed at this, though her supervisor looked unamused.

"Good day, nurse," said Carly brusquely.

"Good day, Miss Simpson," said Topaz. She turned the wheelchair around so abruptly, that Leo, almost fell out. Stopping she pulled him back into the chair, surprisingly him by how strong she was.

"That looked just like Spike," said Leo, clearly still puzzled.

Without looking at him, Topaz whispered perplexingly: "That was then ... this is now."

Then she stood up and went around to push his wheelchair again, conscious that Carly Simpson was standing still, watching her.

Over the next couple of weeks, Leo continued his strength training, becoming more adept at walking with crutches. Then for short periods of time walking without crutches. But he never saw Spike Marsden-Mr. Jones again.

When he asked, Topaz hummed and harred around the question. Finally, she said: "He was moved to another hospital for specialist treatment."

"What specialist treatment?" asked Leo.

"I'm not really certain. His problems were gastric, and related to chronic acid reflux. Something which I have little expertise at."

"Oh, I see." He thought for a moment, then asked: "What did you mean, 'That was then, this is now'?"

"I... I...?" began The blonde nurse. She stopped as she noticed Carly Simpson standing in the open doorway to the room. "Never mind, into bed with you, Mr. Bramston."

"I thought you were taking me to the physiotherapy room?"

"Oh, yes," said Topaz, flustered. Helping him into the wheelchair, she pushed him out into the hallway, as Carly Simpson reluctantly stood aside to let them out of the room.

The next morning at breakfast time, Leo awakened to see Carly Simpson standing over his bed, shaking him.

"What the...?" he asked, still half asleep.

"I am now the nurse in charge of you for this shift," said Carly.

"What happened to Topaz?"

"Nurse Moseley is currently on medical leave, she is suffering from stress. That happens to nurses a lot."

"She seemed all right to me, yesterday."

"Yes, well maybe that's why I'm the nurse, and you're the patient," said the Nurse-in-Charge. Bending right over Leo, as though she intended to peck him to death with her beak-like nose.

"Maybe so," he reluctantly agreed.

A few days later, when Carly Simpson was off duty, Leo was watching the bird outside his window, when he saw movement to his left. Looking around, he saw on the first storey a pretty petite blonde woman looking out the gap between the floral curtains.

Topaz? he thought, convinced that it was her. But before he could be certain, she suddenly jerked backward as though she had been pulled back by someone out of sight. Then the curtains were pulled together forcefully by someone unseen. Except for a small patch of blue uniform.

Looking around to see that no one was watching him, Leo picked up his walking stick and headed out into the corridor. He looked both ways a couple of times, to see if anyone was watching him, then walked over to the stairwell and went inside.

He started up the stairwell, holding onto the rail with his right hand, having to stop three or four times before reaching the first storey.

"Here goes everything," he said. Putting his right hand on the doorknob, he twisted and almost broke his wrist.

"What the...?" he said, hanging his cane from the railing to rub his right wrist with his left hand.

He tried again, more carefully with his left hand this time, then saw the grey sign, which said: "Security area! Off limits!"

"Why would you need a security area in a hospital," he said aloud.

Turning, he started back down the stairs to the ground floor. And only had to stop once to catch his breath this time.

Looking out through the viewing window in the door first, he then tentatively opened the door to the first floor and stepped out of the stairwell, as quickly as he could manage without falling.

"Mr. Bramston," called the hospital administrator Jessica Cristello, a tall, very attractive fifty-something brunette with a more than generous chest. "What were you doing in the stairwell?

"Trying to get some exercise."

"I don't think you're ready to try walking up and down steps yet," she said. Going across to take him by the left arm, she led him back into his bedroom.

"Yes, I found that out," he agreed. He allowed her to take his cane away from him, and then sit him on the bed, before swinging his legs up.

She lowered his bed, which was up in a sitting position, saying: "Why don't you have a little rest until lunch."

"Good idea," he said. Partly to placate her, partly because he did feel a little worn out after the climbing that he had done.

It wasn't until the next day, that Leo had the chance soon after breakfast to try reaching the first storey by elevator.

He started out into the corridor with his cane, trying to look casual, as though just going for a walk.

"Take it easy this time, Mr. Bramston," warned Jessica Cristello as he walked past her.

"Yes, I will," he said, continuing to walk very slowly. Until he got around a corner, out of her sight, then virtually running across to the elevator bay.

He pushed the up button and almost immediately one of the elevators chinged open."

Trying not to act suspiciously, he stepped into the elevator and tried to press button one. Only to find that it would not push in.

When he kept pushing button one, a mechanical voice over the speakers near the doors said: "Floor One is a restricted area. Please place your key card into the slot near the speakers for authorisation to go to this storey."

When he kept pressing button one, the mechanical voice repeated the message.

Sighing with frustration he stepped out of the elevator, thinking: Why would you need a restricted area in a hospital?

When he reached the reception desk on the ground floor, he said: "Why is the first storey restricted?"

Looking startled, the nurse said: "Storey one is our psych ward. We keep dangerous patients up there. The floor is locked off for your protection as well as for theirs."

"Oh, I see," said Leo, unable to keep the scepticism out of his voice.

"Is there a problem, Mr. Bramston?" asked Jessica Cristello, returning to the reception desk.

"No, just returning to my room. I've worn myself out a little."

"I did warn you not to overdo it," said the attractive brunette, taking his left arm to help him back to his bedroom.

Again she lay him down on the bed to rest.

"Relax," she said: "You'll be in here for at least another six weeks. That's plenty of time to recuperate gradually. You don't need to rush it."

"No, ma'am," he said, lying down. However, as soon as she was gone, he needed to get up again to use the toilet, then decided to have a quick shower. He was supposed to ring for a nurse to help with showering but found that embarrassing, so preferred to shower himself when no nurse was around.

The next day, Leo waited until after lunch, having found that that was when the nurses were the busiest and easiest to slip past. Taking his cane, he walked along the corridor, turning right, to reach the room directly under the room he had seen Topaz(?) in. He entered the room, only to stop as he saw two nurses helping an ancient-looking old lady into her bed.

"Yes, Mr. Bramston," asked Carly, the Nurse-in-Charge.

"Sorry, wrong room," he said, trying not to hurry as he turned and walked back out into the corridor.

After making certain that neither of the two nurses had followed him out into the hallway, Leo walked around to the elevator bay again. This time he pressed storey two, and the elevator started up without an argument from the AI voice.

Getting out of the elevator, he walked around to the room directly over Topaz's room. This time his luck held, the room was empty.

He shut and locked the door, then walked across to the window to look out.

Thirty centimetres to his right was a thin, not overly safe-looking drainpipe.

His plaster casts were taken off a week ago, he now had long black leatherette splints on his legs. So, after a moment's hesitation he climbed out of the window, screaming as he almost fell straight away.

Hanging onto the sill for dear life, he recovered his breath before reaching out tentatively and just managed to reach the drainpipe with his left hand. He swung across, then held on for dear life for a moment before working up the courage to start easing millimetre by millimetre down the pipe, until after seemingly hours - probably about seven minutes --, he found himself level with the window to Topaz's room.

He eased across to hold onto the pipe with one hand and the window sill with the other, to look inside and saw Topaz and a tall brunette nurse whom he had never seen before. His heart pounding like a tom-tom, he held on for nine minutes, until the nurse finished up and left the room. He heard the door to the corridor close and lock behind her.

Again he almost fell, as he tried to open the window. It was up only a centimetre or so, so he pushed the fingertips on his left hand under the window and tried pushing the window up. Instantly his fingertips were in agony as he struggled to raise the window without any success.

While nearly falling twice more, he managed to slowly, painfully, eke the window up millimetre by millimetre, until he had it up nearly forty centimetres.

"I should be able to get through that," he said. Then realising that he was not strong enough at the moment to pull himself up from the ledge, he climbed back to the drain pipes and edged his way back up a few centimetres. Then tried swinging his feet across to the open window.

He was almost exhausted when on the seventh attempt he finally got both feet in through the window. Then had to try to wriggle his way in through the window, without falling two storeys to his death or even greater mangulation.

He had to stop twice, hanging precariously out of the window, to get his breath back, before inching forward again, until enough of him was inside the room so that the danger of falling to his death was minimal.

He made the mistake of stopping for a few minutes to get his breath back, despite the agony in his spine from lying across the window frame. Then as he started forward again, the widow suddenly crashed down again, hitting him just below the belly button, and seriously winding him.

"Aaaaaaah!" he cried out from shock and pain.

At first, he was unable to get the window to move upwards again, but finally, he moved it up just enough to keep edging into the room, until the window was dangerously close to his head.

Then he dropped the rest of the way into the room, releasing the window, which slammed down missing the top of his head by three or four centimetres at most.

He ended up sitting on the floor of the bedroom, having knocked over the sliding lunch trolley. Which fortunately did not have lunch on it. But did have a two-litre jug of water, which ended up spilling across Leo and the bedroom floor.

Ignoring the water that he was sitting in, Leo crawled across to the bed that Topaz was lying in.

"Don't be alarmed," he said, slowly pulling himself to his feet.

Seeing her glazed, almost hypnotised look, Leo thought at first that she was dead. Then she blinked her eyes, and he said:

"Topaz, it's Leo. Leo Bramston."

"Smith. Miss Smith," she said in a wooden monotone.

"Topaz, it's me. Leo Bramston."

"Smith. Miss Smith," she repeated.

"What is your first name, Miss Smith?"

"Toe... Toe... Toe..." she struggled before shouting: "Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!"

"Topaz ...shoosh," he whispered.

Hearing a key turning in the lock of the door, Leo spun toward the window, and fell over into the water that he had spilt onto the floor."

The door opened as Leo fell face forward onto the floor.

"Mr. Bramston? What are you doing in here?" asked a tall green-haired Goth nurse, Debra Lowery.

"I came to see Topaz," he insisted.

"This isn't Topaz, she is on leave for stress. This is Miss Smith."

"Miss Smith," repeated the blonde, less hysterically than before.

"She looks just like Topaz Moseley."

"We all have our doubles."

"Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!" shrieked Topaz.

"Calm down, Miss Smith," said Debra. She took a large syringe from her breast pocket and went to inject the blonde with some silvery, metallic-looking substance.

"What's in that thing?" demanded Leo, grabbing the nurse's wrist.

"Just some medicine to calm down Miss Smith."

"Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!" shrieked Topaz again.

"That doesn't look like medicine," Leo insisted, managing to hold Debra's wrist despite her attempts to wrestle free. "That looks like some kind of metal. You can't inject metal into her bloodstream."

The Goth nurse pulled away from him as the blonde shrieked: "Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!... Miss Smith!" again.

Leo backed away, thinking that she was going to stab him with the syringe.

As two burly orderlies raced in from the corridor, Debra Lowery said, "Restrain Mr. Bramston!"

The two orderlies grabbed Leo by the arms, as the Goth nurse walked around the bed to inject the shiny metallic substance into Topaz from the other side of the room.

"Miss Smith," said Debra, stroking her face almost lovingly with one hand.

"Miss Smith," she said calmly, before closing her blue eyes and falling asleep.

Looking across at Leo, Debra asked, "Now what are we going to do with you, Mr. Trouble?"

"Kill me, I guess."

Looking genuinely shocked, the Goth nurse said: "This is a hospital, Mr. Trouble. We save people here. We don't kill them."

"Well, not on purpose, anyway," said one of the orderlies and they both brayed with laughter. Until Debra glared daggers at them, silencing the two men.

Pointing to a wheelchair near the bed, the Goth nurse said, "Put him into that, and we'll take him back down to his floor."

They did as instructed and Debra tied his hands and feet to the chair with Velcro ties.

Back in Leo's room on the ground floor, the Goth nurse undid the Velcro ties, and the orderlies carried him across to his bed.

"Remove his leg braces and take the wheelchair instructed Debra, he can't move around without them."

The orderlies did as instructed and they walked out into the corridor.

"That is Topaz Moseley," insisted Leo.

"No, it is someone who looks a lot like her."

"Carly said that about Spike Marsden too!"

"No, she said it about Mr. Jones."

"Same thing, isn't it?"

Sighing, she said: "Mr. Trouble, what are we going to do with you?" She walked across to his hospital whiteboard and crossed out the name Lionel Bramston, and in red Texta wrote "Mr. Trouble."

Downstairs in the basement of the hospital, six people were strapped into wheelchairs by Velcro ties. A white macro van pulled up and out got two burly men. They opened the back doors of the van, pulled down a steel ramp, and started to wheel the six patients up the ramp and into the van.

One of the patients was Mr. Jones a.k.a. Spike Marsden.

As they were pushed up the ramp, their aliases were ticked off a list held by one of the men, then their wheelchairs were locked into place so that they wouldn't be bashed about when the van took off.

After they were finished loading the patients, the man with the list slid up the ramp, shut then locked the van doors, and then headed around to the passenger side of the cabin.

"A short life but a merry one," said Carly Simpson, who was overseeing the removals, despite supposedly having a day off.

As the truck took off, the elevator door ching-chinged, making Carly look around as Debra Lowery stepped out.

"We've got trouble," said the green-haired Goth nurse: "He's seen Topaz."

"Shit," said Carly following Debra into the elevator.

Down at Port of Melbourne, a crane with a cargo tanker was waiting. The crane driver impatiently looked at his watch every thirty seconds or so.

Finally, the macro van pulled up and the two men got out and went around to the rear. They pulled down the steel ramp, then unlocked and opened the doors. Then led the patients in the wheelchairs down the ramp one at a time.

The doors to the cargo tanker were opened wide to show a dozen or so other people in wheelchairs strapped into place. All of them stared forward like zombies, all of them on drip feeders.

The six new patients were wheeled into the tanker. Their chairs were locked into place, and they had drip feeders inserted into their left arms.

Finally, a nozzle was turned on a large oxygen canister, which started feeding into the tanker. The doors were closed and padlocked. Then the crane lifted it aboard a slime-coated ship with Arabic lettering across the nameplate.

Carly Simpson and Debra Lowery strode into Leo Bramston's room. They shut and locked the door, then walked over to where he was lying on the bed. Watching the nurses's channel on the overhead TV. The only free station.

"Mr. Trouble," said Carly.

"I thought you were off duty today?"

"Never mind that ... How did you get into Toe ... Into "Miss Smith's room? It is on the security floor. There should be no way in there."

"Like the little birdies outside, I flapped my wings," he said, flapping his arms like wings: "And flew my way up there."

Carly slapped him across the face, hard enough to make his ears ring.

"How did you get up there?"

"Don't remember," he said, getting slapped even harder than the first time.


"All right, I'll tell you. But first, tell me are Topaz and Spike still in this hospital?"

"Miss Smith is still upstairs. The man whom you insist upon calling Spike Marsden has been taken away."

"Well, don't give Topaz any more of those weird injections!"

"It's too late, she's already had the last..." began the Goth nurse, being shooshed by Carly.

"She won't have any more implants ... injections," said Carly. Now talk."

So reluctantly, Leo told them how he had got into Topaz's room."

"You could have fallen," said Debra, sounding genuinely shocked.

"It's a pity that he didn't," said Carly: "It would have solved all of our problems." To the Goth nurse, she said: "We may have to do him next."

"What do you mean, do me?" asked Leo.

"You may well find out tomorrow," said Carly, smirking a real shit-eater grin.

The Goth nurse looked less happy about the whole thing.

A fact not wasted on Leo.

At breakfast the next morning, Leo asked Debra: "What did you mean about Topaz having had her last injection?"

The green-haired Goth nurse looked around to check that the door to the corridor was closed, then said: "There's no going back to what she used to be after the fourth injection. The injections cannot be reversed you see."

"The injections? What are they?" asked Leo.

Debra looked like she was going to tell him, then turned and raced across to the bedroom door. She dropped her keys in her hurry to get out, then managed to unlock the door, raced out into the hallway, and then locked the door behind her again.

Leo went on to eat his breakfast. His leg sprints had been returned to him, but not his cane or wheelchair. So he staggered across to the en suite to use the toilet, then have a quick shower and shampoo.

When he returned to the bedroom, hr found Carly Simpson and two muscle-bound orderlies waiting for him.

"Grab him," ordered Carly, and the men grabbed Leo and took him over to the bed. They slammed him onto the bed and held him face up on the bed.

Carly was carrying a kidney dish from which she took a syringe filled with the silvery metallic-looking substance.

"You're not injecting that into me!" insisted Leo, struggling futilely against the two orderlies.

"Oh, but I am," said Carly, putting on her best shit-eater grin, as she walked across toward him.

As she lifted the syringe toward him, Leo asked: "Don't you have to flick any stray air bubbles out of that thing, so that it doesn't kill me?"

"No, no," said Carly: "Firstly, that's a myth. Blood's whole purpose is to carry oxygen around your body. So a single air bubble can't possibly hurt you. You could inject almost any amount of oxygen into the bloodstream without hurting someone. And almost three hundred millilitres of air before there would be any danger.

"Secondly, the important thing is that we don't miss injecting any of our little friends into you."

"Little friends?" asked Leo as the orderlies snickered. This time Carly did not tell them off.

"That's what I like to call them. Very useful little blokes, they quickly convert you into something more useful."

Again the guards snickered as Carly did her most shit-eater grin yet, her hook nose making her look like a vulture hovering over dying food.

The next morning Carly, Debra, and two orderlies came soon after breakfast to give Leo his second injection, having to hold him down again.

"Only two injections to go," teased Carly gloating, while the green-haired Goth nurse looked guilty, clearly not enjoying her part in whatever was going on.

Leo was lying in bed, not quite asleep, a little before midnight when his bedroom door unlocked and opened and a small shape crept in pushing something along. As the figure bent across his bed, Leo grabbed her with one hand pulling her down until they were face to face.

"Debra?" he asked, puzzled: "What are you doing here?"

"I've come to get you out of here before tomorrow. Tomorrow you're due to have the third injection, then there's no going back."

"Going back?" he asked as she helped him out of bed and into a wheelchair that she had brought with her.

"To being human, the injections turn you into a mindless zombie, so that you can be sold as slave labour."

"How?" asked Leo as she helped him into the wheelchair.

"The injections are of nanobots, tiny single-cell robots. Individually they are too small to do any harm. But they are programmed so that they form a matrix. They build into a large artificial brain, taking over the real brain. Each nanobot is numbered, and the numbers are linked. They're all rectangular, then bot AAA10001, will only join up with AAA10002, AAA10003, AAA10004, and AAA10005, on the correct sides. Until they have formed into a complex working machine. But by taking over your brain they delete all of your memories, loves, hates, phobias, and philias until you are a mindless zombie.

"They sell the zombies to countries like China, Korea, and Mexico, which have traditionally relied upon child slave labour to keep their manufacturing costs down. But now with the U.N., U.S., U.K., and various human rights organisations putting pressure on those countries, the governments have no choice but to start cracking down upon child slave labour."

"So zombie slave labour will take over from them?" asked Leo.

"That's the idea. Nearly a thousand hospitals around the world are engaged in injecting the nanobots to create an unpaid zombie workforce."

Checking that there was no one about in the reception area, Debra wheeled him out and then started toward the elevator bays.

"But wouldn't people notice so many people vanishing?"

"The hospitals pass them off as fatalities. Plus a couple of million people go missing worldwide every year, and never are found," said the Goth nurse: "Most of them are thought to be the victims of never-caught serial killers. But for the last few years, at least half of them have been sold as zombie slaves."

The elevator doors ching-chinged and they stepped inside. Debra pushed the basement button and they started down.

When the elevator stopped, they stepped out into the basement garage and Debra ching-chinged her car and said: "Over there," pointing toward a red and black Honda Civic."

"Going somewhere?" asked a voice behind them.

Turning, they saw Carly and three burly orderlies, all wearing shit-eater grins.

A week later the crane operator was waiting at the Port of Melbourne docks again. Again, impatiently looking at his watch every thirty seconds or so.

Finally, the hospital macro van pulled up. They got out, pulled down the steel ramp, unlocked, and opened the doors to reveal six more zombies. One of them, Miss Smith, looked remarkably like Topaz Moseley. Another, Mr. Curry, looked remarkably like Lionel "Leo" Bramston. A third, a green-haired Goth woman, Miss Hayes, looked remarkably like Debra Lowery.

"Come on, get 'em on board," said the crane operator impatiently.

They were soon loaded aboard the container, their wheelchairs locked into place and food drips inserted into their arms.

The container door was shut and locked, then Carly Simpson said to the crane operator: "Right take it away!"

© Copyright 2023 Philip Roberts
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
© Copyright 2023 Mayron57 (philroberts at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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