White Horse - Chapter 18
“That’s a mighty ambitious plan, Max,” Jack said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “But how do we infiltrate them? Especially since I haven’t even seen an alien. I think they’re still up in their spaceship.”
Max groaned as he repositioned his thick glasses. “How the hell do I know?”
“I’ll keep going over Max’s data,” the professor said as he jotted down figures from the monitor onto a notepad, immersed in data collection and deciphering. “I’ve been away from the computer for a few days, so it may take a while. But there has to be a clue in here somewhere.”
Max walked over to the printer and retrieved papers he had printed out earlier. He sat them on the desk next to where the professor was concentrating on calculations. “It’s all going to be just our best guess,” he said, looking at Jack, before sitting back down next to Professor Dillon.
“Is there anything we can do right now?” Sarah asked as she fussed with the chair’s pneumatic seat-height adjustment lever. It was either too high or too low.
Before Max could answer, the professor leaned back in his chair, took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. “I’m so tired I’m having trouble focusing my eyes.”
“Maybe you should take a nap, Dad,” Clare said as she and Tony sat next to each other on storage containers.
“Yeah, I think I’ll lay down in the breakroom,” the professor said, putting his glasses back on and standing.
“Oh, Professor, looks like you’re bleeding through your dressing,” Sarah said, looking at the blood soaked adhesive pad on the top of his left hand. “I think that the zombie at the gas station got you good.”
The professor was startled when he looked down at his hand. Blood was oozing from under the bandage and running down the side of his hand in streaks. It dripped to the white tile floor, leaving a splatter of red polka dots.
Sarah grabbed a stack of tissues from a half empty tissue box and handed them to the professor. If she had hospital gloves, she would have used them to apply pressure to the wound herself, but knowing an infected person caused the injury, she decided against it. “Press these against the wound, Professor, to stop the bleeding.”
The professor placed them on top of his bloody hand and began walking toward the spiral staircase. “There’s a supply room next to the bathroom; there should be dressings in there,” he said.
Clare rose quickly and stood next to the professor as he descended the steps slowly, wobbling slightly forward then backward. “Don’t pass out on me, Dad.”
“I’m coming with you,” Sarah said, walking right behind Clare, who was trying to walk next to the professor to support him, but his bulk stretched almost from rail to rail, keeping her to the rear. Each wobbly step the professor took caused the one-piece spiral staircase to vibrate.
While Clare followed the professor into the bathroom, Sarah found the supply room. “I’ll be right there. Keep firm pressure on the wound so that it stops bleeding,” Sarah shouted. She grabbed the first-aid kit sitting on a shelf next to rolls of toilet paper and window cleaner. She could not help but wonder if the zombie had infected Professor Dillon.
The professor and Clare were standing next to the sink when Sarah entered the washroom. She sat the kit on the counter and opened it, breathing a sigh of relief when she saw a pair of gloves sitting on top of the supplies.
“Put your hand over the sink,” Sarah said as she donned the gloves. “Did it stop bleeding?”
The professor lifted the pile of tissues away from his hand. “I think it stopped,” he said, removing the saturated bandage, dropping it into the sink.
Sarah cleaned the inflamed skin tear, applied antibiotic ointment, and dressed it with a dry gauze. “Good as new,” she said. “Don’t forget to put pressure on it if it starts to bleed again.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll be fine,” the professor said, falling slightly into Clare, standing next to him.
“Okay, Dad, time to lie down,” Clare said, guiding him out of the bathroom to the breakroom across the lobby.
With her gloves still on, Sarah put the bloody pad into the trash and rinsed the sink, looking for any signs of blood she may have missed before throwing away the soiled gloves and washing her hands. She walked across to the breakroom where Clare was covering the professor with a multicolored crocheted blanket. The professor was lying on a lumpy couch, already snoring.
“Max isn’t a very good housekeeper,” Clare said chuckling as she took an empty Honey Bun wrapper off the arm of the couch and brushed away crumbs. Her foot accidentally kicked an empty pop can that was sitting next to the Davenport, it rattled across the floor. “Honey Buns and Coke and Max is still as skinny as a rail.”
Sarah giggled. “This must be where Max has been sleeping.” She looked around the room and noticed one of the vending machines was pushed in front of the breakroom’s window. She was able to reach in back of it and peek behind the drawn curtains, out onto the back lawn of the facility. Even with the pop machine in front of the ground floor window, it did not seem like enough protection to keep the zombies out.
“Smells like it, too,” Clare said, holding her nose as she opened the microwave door where a shriveled, dry and overcooked hot dog sat on a plate. She tossed it in the overflowing trashcan where it settled on top of a coffee filter filled with dry grounds.
“I think you have this under control, Clare. I’m going back upstairs,” Sarah said, leaving the room.
“Dad should be okay,” Clare said, tucking the blanket behind the professor’s shoulders, looking as lumpy as the couch. “I’ll leave the door open a crack so we can hear him.”
They went back to the upper level where Father Mitch and Max had just finished wiping the blood from the floor and from around the keyboard where Professor Dillon was working. From the open entryway, Sarah looked down toward the lobby. “Hey, Jack.”
Jack swiveled his chair toward Sarah. “What?”
“If those things were to break into the observatory, how would we keep them from climbing the stairs and reaching us?”
Jack stood and walked next to Sarah, gently brushing her arm. He held onto the railing and looked down into the open space. “Well, let’s hope they don’t get in.” He smiled at her.
Sarah returned a nervous smile then walked over to Willis and Georgie, still examining the telescope with Dawn, who was showing them how the apparatus operated. “How are you guys doing?”
“This is cool,” Willis said. “Can we look through it tonight? I want to see Mars.”
“I want to see the alien’s spaceship. I bet it has spiders and laser guns,” Georgie said
“That’s stupid,” Willis said. “You watch too many sci-fi movies.”
“No, it’s not,” Georgie protested. “Look at that.” He pointed to the dome’s sky window.
Sarah looked to where Georgie was pointing. There, floating in the sky, were basketball-sized spheres with spiderlike legs attached around the circumference of a metallic looking body. “Oh my God, Jack, look at that!”
Jack turned away from the railing and looked up at the sky window. “What the hell is that?”
Max dropped what he was doing and ran to a side window where he could get a better view. “Looks like there are several of them floating above the trees,” he said, his eyes darted about behind the Coke bottle glasses. “I wonder if they’re drone scouts.”
“Everyone, away from the windows, don’t move and don’t talk,” Jack whispered, motioning for everyone to sit down. “They may be able to pick up sounds.”
Everyone sat down on the cold floor; gazes fixed on the windows.