Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.
“Mrs. Dob is going to kill us,” Jill said.
Jack looked away from the ruins of the coffee container at the driver of the SUV, who stumbled toward them.
“Fuck Mrs. Dob’s coffee,” he muttered. All this hassle had made his head hurt.
“Are you okay?” the driver asked.
Jill’s hiss this time seemed more than annoyance. Jack glanced at her. She sat on the sidewalk, in the snow, rubbing her booted ankle.
She looked up at the driver, opened her mouth and paused, focusing on Jack.
“Jack, you’re bleeding. Are you…” Her voice took on a hollow quality as the edges of his vision went dark. His world tilted sideways.
An alarm woke him with a start. He had a moment of disorientation he usually associated with waking up in a stranger’s bed, although he couldn’t feel the associated warm body nor smell the usually pleasant scent of her perfume and sex. Instead, he smelled disinfectant. He opened his eyes and saw acoustical ceiling titles. He tried to turn his head, but couldn’t. A cacophony of beeps and buzzers went off when he tried to sit up. Hospital, his sore head and the IV in his hand told him.
A nurse poked his head around the corner, flashed a smile at Jack, and ducked back out of sight. Jack tried to call after him, but his words died in his parched throat. The beeps of the machine monitoring him started to take on a ticking time bomb quality. The sudden sound of the overhead paging system calling some “Doctor Horton” to the nurses station made him jump. Who was Doctor Horton and was he Jack’s doctor? He tried to sit up again and the buzzers complained. No one came to check on him.
He frantically assessed his body. From what he could tell, only his head seemed injured. The beeping of the monitor next to him mirrored his increasing heartbeat and paranoia. They’d left him. The zombies from the morgue had risen up and were right that moment overtaking poor Doctor Horton and the nurses. They’d be on him next.
A slight sound at the door caused him to wrench his neck when he jumped. The room spun and his stomach spun the other way.
Things got fuzzy after that for a few moments.
When he opened his eyes again, he found the nurse, the doctor – Horton even – and Jill hovering over his bed. Jill had crutches under her armpits, and her black rat eyes looked more like lost puppy eyes when she looked at him.
“Hey,” he croaked. He swallowed and tried again. She smiled – not a snarky smile, but a genuine smile. It made her look like a different, more attractive, person.
“Hey,” she said back softly.
The nurse handed him a cup with a bendy straw, and he sucked on it. He gestured with his hand toward her crutches.
“Oh,” she looked down self-consciously, “My ankle broke when you saved me.”
Jack made a concerned noise.
“It’s okay,” she said, patting his leg. “I’d rather be alive. Thank you.”
She squeezed his knee and said it again: “Thank you.”
He spit the straw out to say something, but the nurse expertly stuck it back in his mouth. He gestured with his hand and eyebrows that he didn’t do anything big. The nurse told him to stop moving.
The doctor said something and Jill stepped back before he could catch her hand.