Tooth and Nail

Tooth and Nail by Craig DiLouie Read Free Book Online

Book: Tooth and Nail by Craig DiLouie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Craig DiLouie
them back to their original mission. The hallway is dark and shrouds their movements. The hum of machinery conceals their footsteps. The whole basement stinks of ammonia and disinfectant. We are ninja, Mooney thinks, totally hidden. The thought makes him smile.
    “What’s on this time of night?” Wyatt wonders as they reach the stairwell and begin climbing the stairs.
    “Who cares? I just want to turn my brain off and forget who I am for an hour.”
    “Better than sleep!”
    “Who can sleep?” Mooney wonders.
    “So where are we going, anyhow?”
    “Let’s go up to the sixth floor and then walk back down, checking out each floor until we find a room that has a working TV in it. Hooah?”
    “Whoop,” says Wyatt.
    By the time they reach the sixth floor, the boys are panting and stop for a rest. They are in good shape but exhausted from months of hard work and lack of sleep and barely enough calories. They sit on the top step and share a cigarette. Mooney is starting to warm up to Wyatt, the tall, skinny red-haired replacement from Michigan with Army glasses who always seems to be looking over your shoulder while he’s talking to you. Most of the boys think he is a little off.
    “Ready for some infomercials, cuzin?” Wyatt says. “Some Girls Gone Wild ?”
    Mooney flicks the cigarette down the stairs, where it bursts in a shower of sparks, and puts his mask back on. “OK. Let’s do this.”
    Wyatt hands him some latex gloves, which Mooney pulls on. “Remember, Mooney, if a nurse or somebody sees us, we just say we were sent to find that cop. Winslow. That’ll be our cover story.”
    They open the door and immediately gag as the stink assails them, the horrible sour body sweat of Lyssa victims lurking under a sickeningly sweet combination of air fresheners and perfume that the Trinity people apparently sprayed everywhere.
    Mooney hears people moaning, and realizes that the walls of the darkened corridor are lined with gurneys, a Lyssa patient in each connected by a tube to an IV bag to keep them hydrated. Some snarl and struggle against restraining belts, while most simply lie moaning, their breath rattling in their chests.
    Other than the Lyssa victims, there’s not a soul in sight.
    Wyatt whistles at the ambiance. “Spooky.”
    Mooney nods.
    “I mean,” Wyatt adds, “wouldn’t it be cool if they all jumped up and attacked us?”
    They turn a corner. There are no patients in this part of the corridor and the lights are on for the night. Mooney and Wyatt blink at the fluorescent light.
    “We shouldn’t be here,” says Mooney. “This whole place is crawling with virus.”
    “Dude, how about that smell? Every time I think I’m used to it, I get the urge to puke. And I even got a scratch-and-sniff perfume sample in my mask from an ad I tore out of a magazine.”
    “Abort mission?”
    “Hell, no! These are patient rooms up here, yo. There’s gotta be a TV in one of them. Wouldn’t it be awesome if they had PlayStation?”
    “I’d love to play Guitar Hero ,” Mooney admits.
    Pinching their noses, they creep up to a doorway. Inside, Lyssa victims lie in the dark in their own sweat and stink. Mooney can hear their ragged breath. One of them, a young woman lying on a cot on the floor, is alternately weeping and apologizing to somebody named Ron in fevered delirium.
    “Bingo,” says Wyatt. “The sound’s turned off, though. Gotta find the remote, unless you like the close captioning they’ve got on. Me, I can’t read that fast.”
    “What’s on?”
    “CNN, I think. Some kind of riot going on in Chicago. No, wait. Now they’re talking about Atlanta.”
    The raspy voice electrifies them, making them jump.
    “You scared the shit out of me, whoever you are,” Wyatt hisses, and starts laughing.
    “Same here,” the voice says. “Are you the cops?”
    “No, sir,” Mooney answers. As his vision slowly adapts to the dark, he can now make out the figure of a man sitting up in bed.

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