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“Oh hell,” I said through gritted teeth, and the pain got worse. I balled up my fists and pulled at the straps as much as I could. Blinding agony ran through me, and I didn’t even know what I was saying, but I knew I was screaming.

A blaring siren rang out through the room, and for a moment, I just thought it was a side effect from the pain. But when I opened my eyes, gasping for breath in attempt to fight the pain, I saw that the room had been bathed in flashing red lights.

“What’s happening?” I yelled.

I strained to lift my head, but all I could see were the doctors hovering over me, their hands bloodied from cutting me open. They exchanged looks and mumbled to each other, but they didn’t appear to know what was going on any more than I did.

“Hey, what’s going on?” I asked them again, louder this time. “Did the zombies get in?”

The surgeon who had cut me open pulled his bloodied gloves off, and tossed them on me. I felt them, cold and latex, on my bare skin. Then he turned and walked away. He’d discarded his trash on top of me, and he and the rest of the doctors were leaving.

“Hey!” I shouted after them. “You can’t just leave me here! Unhook my straps! Hey!”

But they didn’t come back, not that I’d really expected them to. There was an emergency, and they didn’t have time to waste on me. I was nothing more than a science experiment to them.

If zombies had broken in – as I strongly suspected – I would be a buffet for them. I was tied down, unable to move, and my stomach had already been cut open, giving them easier access to their favorite foods. If they got in here, they would literally tear me apart.

As much as I wanted to die, or at least I preferred death to all these surgeries, I did not want to get ripped to shreds. I wanted a nice quiet fall-asleep-and-never-wake-up kind of death. And if I couldn’t get that, then I had to get out of here.

I pulled at the straps, but they didn’t budge. After surgeries, I always had welts on my skin from fighting against them. The leather was ridiculously strong.

But since I had no other options, I kept straining at them. I tried to arch my back, even though it killed my abdomen, and I rocked the table.

All my struggling didn’t succeed in getting myself my free, but it did tip the table over. When it crashed to the concrete floor, my stomach screamed in pain. The metal holding my strap in place was crushed between the table and floor. It wasn’t broken, not yet, but if I could keep rocking the table on it, I might be able to get one hand free.

In order to do that, I had to smash my left hand painfully against the floor, but it was the only way I knew to get out. So I rocked backward, almost tipping the table forward on me, but it steadied itself on its side.

Finally, the metal hook bent far enough that I could slide the wrist strap out. The leather was still around my wrist, like a bracelet, but I didn’t care as long as my hand was free.

With my free hand, I reached up to undo the strap on my right wrist. That sounded simpler than it actually was. I had to twist my freshly sliced-open abdomen and stretch and strain. I cried out as I undid my other hand.

The other straps were quicker and easier, and once I finally had them all off, I got to my feet. I got a look at my incision. It was only about three inches across, so it wasn’t the worst they’d done, but blood was seeping out of it and running down my stomach and pants.

I couldn’t walk around like that, not with zombies attracted to the scent of blood. There were a needle and thread on the smaller table with all the surgical tools. The butchers always sewed me up when they were done, so that was something, I guess.

My hands were shaking, and my left hand was sore and scraped up from hitting the floor. Plus, I’d never been that good of a seamstress. But I couldn’t just walk around like this, and I was certain the doctors weren’t coming back.

I threaded the needle and braced myself on the tray. Fortunately, all the surgeries had raised my pain tolerance quite a bit. Unfortunately, it still hurt like hell when I shoved a needle through my own skin.

I didn’t scream, though. I didn’t want to attract unwanted attention from a zombie. I just clenched my teeth and powered through it. I nearly threw up halfway through, but I kept it down.

With slick bloody hands, I staggered around the room. I found a towel and wiped myself as best I could, then I put on the shirt I’d come in with. I grabbed a scalpel from the tray, since it was the closest thing I had to a weapon, and I left the operating room to find out what was waiting for me.

It was rather anticlimactic, because at first, there was nothing. The third floor – the floor I lived on – was completely deserted. The red flashing lights and warning sirens had scared everyone, as was their job.

The next floor was exactly the same, but I finally found something when I staggered out of the stairwell onto the first floor.

That main level was the soldiers’ quarters. It was like a dormitory, where they lived. It was dark and appeared to be empty, but as I walked down the hall, one hand running along the wall for support, I heard something coming from a room.

I didn’t think I could fight, not in this condition with a tiny scalpel, so my best bet to escape a zombie was to take off running. And that’s exactly what I did.

I’d only made it a few steps, my bare feet slapping against the cool tiles, when I heard someone calling my name.


“Remy?” Pvt. Tatum shouted, sounding confused.

I stopped and turned around to face him. “Tatum?”