I have always hated flying. This flight is no exception. My third for the week. My entire life, it seems, is nothing but flying from one place to the next, spending a good half of my life on aeroplanes such as this one. Glancing out over the wing, I saw clouds until a rude hand came from behind to shove my window closed. I opened it again, only to have the person sat behind me try to close it once more. This time, I was ready. I gripped the arm as it passed my face.
The shirt’s sleeve slid back to reveal traces of blood and the person behind me spoke.
“Close it, please. I have such a headache…” The voice was strained, so I let go of the arm and allowed my view of the outside world to be closed.
“Thank you,” the voice spoke again, softly.
A short while later, I heard the telltale shuffling and apologies of someone sat in a window seat moving from directly behind me to go to the bathroom. As the person passed, he turned to glance in my direction; his eyes were bloodshot. It looked as though he’d been drinking already. We weren’t half an hour into the flight and this guy seemed hammered already. A patch of turbulence sent him staggering into the row of seats in front of me. He held on to the nearest to steady himself.
“Rough night, huh?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” He began, “This flight isn’t helping my head any!” He steadied himself and carried on down the aisle to the restroom. As he moved, I noticed that he lifted his shirt-sleeve to examine a wound that had clearly just broken open again as he’d fallen into the seating.
Figuring that I’d have a few minutes to enjoy my view while he was busy attending to his injury, I opened the tiny circular window and looked out again.
“Thank you,” another voice came from behind. Softer, this time, feminine. “You guessed it, it’s been a rough night.” I turned in my seat to look at her. Blonde hair framed a face that seemed as though it had just been through some nightmare that had just recently ended.
“We’ve all been there,” I assured her. True enough, my last hangover had been rougher than his looked. The end result had been a missed flight and, consequently, lost business. An even bigger headache, in a way.
“Not like this you haven’t,” she breathed, then closed her eyes and refused to elaborate further. I turned back to the window, resolving to remember to politely close it when the man returned to his seat.
I must have dozed off for a minute, perhaps two, in the time the man was in the bathroom. He was now accosting one of the plane’s stewards.
“Sorry to be a bother,” the man sounded hoarser than he had before. “But is there any chance of borrowing a first-aid kit?” He then rolled up his sleeve to show a nasty wound. The reactions of several other people nearby were unfavourable, and I could tell myself that it was infected from a glance.
The steward looked at the wound, grimaced.
“If you’ll return to your seat, sir, I am sure we can help with that.” She had her ‘reasonable’ voice on. I’ve seen this one a few times on my travels, and usually gotten along well with her.
“My partner’s a nurse, so if you could just get me the kit, she’ll sort it all out.” The steward agreed to this, and the man went back to his seat. I heard the clicking as he buckled his seatbelt.
Moments later, the steward arrived with a small box marked with a red cross. Handing it to someone, they conversed briefly. The sun was going down now, and on the other side of the plane, so I was able to keep my window open enough to see the clouds over which we soared. I tried to ignore the grunts and winces of pain coming from behind me as the nurse attended to her patient.
I awoke to snarling, gnashing sounds from behind me. For a moment, I wondered whether I was about to be attacked by some kind of rabid dog before realising where I was. The steward was rushing over to help restrain the man behind my seat as he attacked his companion.
The woman was squealing in terror from the onslaught, her cries turning to wails of pain and a profound loss as her companion bit down on her arm. The steward muscled the nurse out of his grasp and the man continued to flail in his seat.
I stood, as did the others in my row. We began backing away slowly from the man as he raved in his seat. His eyes were now completely bloodshot and there appeared to be no recognition in them. The nurse’s blood streamed from his mouth. He lunged for the nurse once again, prevented from reaching his target by the belt wrapped around his waist.
“No, no, no, no, no,” the nurse kept repeating as she cradled her savaged arm. It dripped blood onto the aisle flooring as we all backed away from the lunatic in his seat. The first aid kit still sat on the man’s lap.
The steward led the nurse to the bathroom to clean her injury, and I was left standing with several other passengers, wondering exactly what had happened. The man to my right was shaking; he’d been sitting next to the nurse as she was attacked. The other two from my own row, mother and teenage daughter from appearances, were less shaken, though the younger seemed on the edge of vomiting.
Other passengers were now leaving their seats; nobody wanted to be anywhere near the man as he flailed with his companion’s blood still streaming down his chin.
The steward came out of the bathroom, cramped as it was, with a bloody cloth in her hand and an expression of utter horror on her face. She then rushed to the front of the economy section of the plane, disappearing through the curtains that separated us regular passengers from those with money to burn.
A few moments later, the plane’s internal communication system came alive.
“This is your captain speaking,” the captain spoke. Her voice sounded as though she was trying to remain calm and failing. “It has just been brought to my attention that some passengers on this flight seem to have some kind of communicable disease. It is apparently highly contagious, and the results are… unpleasant, to say the least. Stewards will go from passenger to passenger and inspect each of you to determine whether you are infected with this pathogen and you will be quarantined.”
“How are they planning to enforce this quarantine?” The mother asked of her daughter. “Besides, we know what’s wrong. It’s no illness, just drug fuelled lunacy.” The daughter looked slightly less ill now.
“It isn’t drugs.” The nurse spoke. She was holding onto the bathroom door, her arm still in tatters, bleeding.
“What would you know? Your partner was the one that started this!” the mother shouted at her.
“Mum,” the daughter began.
“It’s nothing to do with me, or with him. It’s this!” She shoved her arm in the woman’s face. “It’s the bite that infects you, then it kills you. Then THAT happens!” She waved her unmolested limb in the direction of the man, now sitting quite calmly in his seat. Every few seconds he strained, as if attempting to stand, not realising that his seatbelt restrained him.
“Mum,” the daughter attempted again to attract her mother’s attention.
“What are you talking about? He’s not dead!” The mother insisted.
“Then go over and have a conversation with him! Ask him how he feels, ask if he’s hungry, why don’t you?” The nurse was getting louder, and the dead man was getting agitated.
“MUM!” the daughter shouted.
“What?” her mother replied.
“I was bit. At the airport. Before we left.” The daughter told her.
“What? Where? Show me!” the mother insisted.
The daughter did as instructed, peeling back the layer of clothing covering her shoulder. The wound was minor, yet quite clearly infected.
“That’s nothing; it’ll be fine in a couple of days, dear.” The mother seemed to be trying to convince herself rather than her child.
The daughter did vomit, then. She rushed into the bathroom to heave the entire contents of her stomach into the bowl, then turned around and shut the door. A moment later, the distinct click of the lock engaging sounded.
The mother began pleading with her daughter to open the door. Other passengers were milling around, wanting to know exactly what was going on. I allowed the nurse to handle the information dumping, instead I strode into the first-class section.
The steward was attempting to calm down an older gentleman who was travelling with a much younger companion. She looked to be about twenty-three at most. As I drew near, I heard the younger woman mention something about a potential heart attack. The steward leaned in to listen to the man’s chest and he moved.
Lazily, as if in a dream, the old man’s hand tangled in the steward’s hair and began to drag her head up by her businesslike bun. She screamed, struggling, and the old man’s companion backed away, bumping into me as she did so. The old man’s teeth sank into the steward’s face, tearing away a good chunk of her cheek.
“I need a doctor in here!” The nurse’s voice came from behind me.
“We need a doctor in here, too!” The old man’s companion hurled back at her.
“Oh God, he’s loose!” from a voice I’d not heard before, followed by cries of pain and fear.
I retreated to the bathroom area to see chaos. The Dead man who had sat behind me was now gnawing on one of the other passengers, a large man who had chosen the worst time imaginable for a nap. He gurgled his final breath as the Dead man feasted. It looked as if the teenage girl had gnawed open her wrists with her own teeth in the bathroom and was now busily bleeding out in her mother’s arms as the nurse attempted to stem the blood-flow.
The night sky was lit up bright as day as a city we flew past exploded in a nuclear fireball. Moments later, the shockwave from the blast hit the plane, sending shudders through the fuselage. The Dead man feasting forgot his meal and moved on, moved closer to us as we stood huddled around the bathroom and a dying teenager.
I bolted for the first-class section once again. The old man had finished with the steward and was now standing unsteadily as the plane rocked from the blast wave. His vacant eyes met mine briefly, passing over them with no recognition. It wasn’t until I moved, made a noise; then he was interested. He moved towards me unsteadily, on limbs that perhaps weren’t fully functional anymore. His jaws snapped, gnashing his teeth together, sending flecks of the steward’s blood flying as he advanced.
His companion chose that moment to rush past me and try to plead with whatever remained in his mindless brain that remembered her existence. She took his changing course to intercept her as a sign that he recognised her, reaching out to him with open arms.
With open arms, she died as he tore out her porcelain throat.
I used the distraction to move past the Dead old man, moving as far as I could, through what passed for a kitchen in one of these monstrous pieces of technological brilliance, and into the narrow corridor leading to the cockpit.
I began hammering on the door. After a few seconds, a man opened it. The expression on his face was one of utter despair.
I asked him what we were supposed to do when this sort of thing happens. He laughed bitterly and dragged me into the cockpit.
“You aren’t bit, are you?” The co-pilot asked me, roughly. I told him that I had not been and asked what he knew about it.
“It’s been on the radio. It’s worldwide, whatever it is.” He grinned. There was no humour in it. “We’re fucked, sonny. Humanity has had its last laugh.”
The pilot said nothing. She simply sat, staring at her instruments.
Screams of agony erupted from behind. I turned and saw as the co-pilot shut and locked the door behind me that the teenage daughter had died and was now on top of her mother, gnawing busily, greedily, on her shoulder. The first Dead man and the older one had moved on once more, the steward beginning to twitch as her corpse started to reanimate.
The pilot leaned forward, pushing her flight controls in. The nose of the plane began to dive.
“It’s the best thing we can do. The only thing. Doing this might save lives, somehow.” She muttered to herself. My stomach lurched as we plummeted.
As the ground came up to meet us, I wondered whether I would feel more pain or less dying this way than being eaten.
About the Creator
Author and Creator of Anno Zombus, but don't let that worry you; I write more than just zombie stories.
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