“Welcome aboard, Mr. Hammond.” Dr. Walker said to him. “I've heard the stories but it will be quite the treat seeing you in action. Now that everyone is here, I'll explain the mission objectives. We will approach the hospital by truck. According to scouts sent ahead the front entrance is swarming with undead. Their number is estimated to be about a hundred but that's just the number we're aware of. It's not known if there are undead just inside the entrance and we likely won't know until we arrive. What we do know is the ambulance bay is there are less undead at the ambulance bay and that is where the group I will be leading is going.”
“Our group will split in two once we are within 300 feet of the entrance.”The bulk of our forces will attack the undead at the main entrance to draw their attention while the smaller force will enter the hospital via the ambulance bay. From here, our respective groups will have separate sets of objectives that must be completed.”
“At least I won't feel as bad playing the decoy.” One of the men remarked with a chuckle.
“The main force will shoot their way to the entrance and enter the hospital.” Walker continued. “Once inside, they''ll procure medical supplies throughout the ground floor and the second floor and get them to the moving truck. Again, we have no idea how many undead are inside so you will likely have to sweep the place room by room as you go along. My group will go to the fourth floor of the hospital at which point I will explain the second half of our mission objectives. The first half will be explained en route to County General That aside, does anyone have any questions?”
“If you're going further inside than the rest of us, what if one of us gets bitten?” A soldier asked.
“Inject the serum being passed out to you by Ms. Hill into your neck with a needle.” he replied as Ellen gave every member of the team a box containing the drug. It will increase the level of adrenaline in your bloodstream, delaying the process by twelve hours. I anticipate we will be done before those twelve hours end but each person has four doses. With luck, we will be able to engineer the vaccine within that 2-day window. Any other questions?”
“Has anyone ever stayed sane after they....well, you know.” Raine asked.
“I've heard it may be possible to retain some of your free will in undeath but there are no reported cases demonstrating such.” Walker said as he looked at Raine with interest. “I don't suppose you'd like to find out, Mr. Raine?”
“Only if I had to.” he replied, shrugging.
“If that will be all, we'll be on our way.” said Walker. “The sooner we get going, the sooner we can work on that vaccine. I know most of you fought in the war so it goes without saying failure is not an option.” Everyone armed themselves and boarded both vehicles. Ellen, Mark and Scott rode in the pickup with Doc Walker. Two men sat perched on the roof of the truck behind them scanning for undead. Ellen couldn't help but notice what looked like a cage in the bed of the pickup.
“I see you noticed the cage, Ms. Hill.” Walker noted. “That is where the live sample we're going to collect will go.”
“Live sample?” Mark asked in surprise. “Wait, you mean we're bringing one 'em back with us?”
“Yes, and not just any one.” he replied as his face grew serious. “Tell me, Ms. Hill. Do you believe life and death can coexist?”
“I'm not sure I understand what you're asking.” she answered.
“I see.” the doctor remarked thoughtfully “Let's just say there was a bit of information the scouts brought back that was of great interest to Dr. Tyler: According to the report, one of the undead sighted inside the hospital is believed to be with child.” Mark, Ellen and Scott looked at the doctor in stunned silence. No doubt the driver would have if he could as well as the two soldiers in the back of the truck.
“Let me make sure I understand this...are you saying one of those zombies is pregnant?” Scott asked. “How is that even possible?”
“Your guess is as good as mine but they brought back a picture to prove it.” Walker replied as he removed an envelope from his lab coat. Inside of it was a photograph. Judging by her looks the woman had been in her early twenties when she died. Her hair was matted, likely after she died and rose in undeath, hiding most of her face. Her pale skin and exposed flesh were enough for all to know she was one of damned. Her large, protruding belly glistened, seeming to herald the impending birth of a new species.
“Oh my god.” Mark said as the reality of what he was looking at sunk in. “Oh my god!” Scott stuck his head out of the window and emptied the contents of his stomach along the side of the road.
“Judging by the picture she looks close to term.” said Ellen, never taking her eyes off the picture. “Did she get pregnant before or after she died?”
“It's likely she became pregnant after clinical death.” Walker replied. “We don't know everything about how a zombie's organs work compared to a living person's to be honest. Dr. Tyler is hoping to learn the answer to that once it's been brought in. This subject may be the missing piece of the puzzle we've been looking for.”
“If the undead are able to breed, this could be a serious problem.” Mark noted as the hospital came into view. “Until now, the only way we knew they could increase their numbers was if they infected the living. This changes things. If they can breed...things are going to get a whole lot worse.”
If anyone wants to take on the monumental task of doing a sketch of the pregnant zombie, you have my blessing =O