“Come on!” I shouted.
“What?” She looked toward me, eyes wide and terrified. “George—”
“Is dead! Now, let’s get out of here before he decides to wake up and make us dead, too! I’ve been dead; you wouldn’t enjoy it!” I dragged her toward the door on the opposite side of the room, somehow managing to babble and shout at the same time.
The second shot was as quiet as the first. Kathleen suddenly collapsed, the dead weight of her body pulling her hand out of mine. I turned, looking back at her, and at the hole in the middle of her forehead like a third, unseeing eye. Unlike George, she wouldn’t be rising. A shot to the head kills humans and zombies the same way: stone dead.
Suddenly aware of how exposed I was—and how alone I was—I drew my own gun and ran out of the room as fast as my legs would carry me. Gregory was in the hall outside, running toward the room that I was running away from.
“They’re both dead!” I shouted. “What’s going on?”
“We’re blown!” He put on a burst of speed, closing the distance between us. He grabbed my wrist, turned, and ran back the way he’d come, hauling me the way I’d been hauling Kathleen right before she was shot.
Sick terror lanced through me as I struggled to keep up. “Is it my fault?”
“Not unless you called down a full security team while you were trying to get through to the outside world.” Gregory didn’t slow down. “Save your breath. I don’t know how long we’re going to need to run.”
I didn’t answer. I just ran. Terror had my body flooded with enough adrenaline that I wasn’t in danger of falling down from a cramp in the immediate future. That was the good part. The bad part—aside from the unidentified shooter or shooters—was that I wasn’t out of shape so much as I had never been in shape. My mind remembered hours of exercise, both in the gym and in the field. My body had less than two months of experience. Not the sort of thing that builds endurance. My lungs were already starting to burn, signaling worse things to come.
A door slammed open ahead of us, and Dr. Kimberley appeared, signaling frantically with one hand. The other hand was out of sight. “This way!” she hissed. Her normally perfect hair was in disarray, and there were spots of blood on the sleeve of her lab coat. Whether it was hers or someone else’s, I couldn’t tell.
Gregory changed angles, still hauling me along. She stepped to the side, letting us run past her into the narrow hall on the other side of the door. As soon as we were through, she stepped back and pulled her hand away from the sensor to the left of the doorframe. The door promptly slammed, the light above it switching from green to red.
“Report,” she said briskly, turning toward the wall. She pried open what looked like a section of paneling to reveal a control panel. Not looking at us, she started typing.
“At least two shooters, at least three technicians down.”
“Kathleen and George,” I panted. I slumped against the wall, bracing my hands on my knees. There was blood on my slippers; Kathleen’s blood. I kicked them off, shuddering. “They’re both down.”
“Dammit.” Dr. Kimberley kept typing. “They’ve been with me for years—how many people do we still have in there?”
“Seven,” said Gregory. I didn’t like the resignation in his voice. “At this point, they’re locked in with two armed hostiles and at least one risen infected. Sorry, Danika, but I think we have to call this mission compromised.”
“And it was going so well,” she said, with a note of mock peevishness. She stopped typing and pressed her palm against the control panel’s testing pad. “Do we know how they made us?”
“James didn’t report for his shift. Given the timing, we have to assume he was a mole, and had been waiting for the opportunity to report back. We’ve been too busy for the last several days for anyone to sneak away unnoticed.”
“Remind me to punch myself in the mouth for agreeing to take anyone who didn’t come with me from the Maryland lab,” said Dr. Kimberley. She pulled her hand away from the test pad. “They haven’t changed the biometrics yet. I’d move back if I were you.”
Not being a fool, I straightened and took a step backward. Gregory and Dr. Kimberley did the same. A metal shield dropped from the ceiling between us and the door, slamming down with enough force that it was easy to picture anything caught between it and the floor getting smashed flat. “Decontamination procedures initiated,” announced a calm, robotic voice. “Decontamination commencing in ten… nine…”
“Run!” shouted Gregory. He grabbed my hand and we were off again, racing down the hall. Dr. Kimberley pulled up next to us, her high-heeled shoes swinging from her left hand. That was smart of her. She would never have been able to keep up with them on.
An alarm blared, drowning out the calmly counting voice of the security system. I barely heard Gregory swearing. My heart skipped a beat as I saw the red lights clicking on all along the hall in front of us.
“Dammit, Danika! You triggered a full lab decon!”
“I did no such thing! Someone’s playing silly buggers with the security protocols!” She sounded frantic. I didn’t blame her. I wasn’t sure what a full lab decon entailed, but I knew enough about CDC procedures to know it wouldn’t be anything good.
Gregory snarled something I couldn’t quite make out. It sounded profane, whatever it was. He let go of my hand, apparently trusting me to run on my own, and began removing his lab coat. He didn’t slow down. I stumbled a little, but kept running, aided by Dr. Kimberley’s hand on my back.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com