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WARNING: Stories on this site may contain mature language and situations, and may be inappropriate for readers under the age of 18.

ZOMBIE HOSPITAL by Thomas Lee Joseph Smith
August 21, 2007  Humorous,Short stories   Tags: ,   

I was just beginning to like my job as a resident at the hospital when the stool sample hit the fan. Talk of the Bird Flu stopped just as soon as the first city went up in flames. The news people at Fox tried to blame Al Qeida by throwing turbans on some of the un-dead and filming them as they attacked a military installation. Britt Hume defended the stunt by saying there was no proof the plague of zombies hadn’t been started by insurgents. As far as I was concerned, all the politics were outside my field, I was going to provide quality medical care, even if the patients were dead.

Saint Mercy Regional is an acute care facility located just outside Springfield. We have a fully staffed ER trauma center and beds for two hundred patients. It was about midnight when we got our first walking dead. He came bursting in the doors and started biting people. Nurse Pamela frowned and then called the man over to her desk. She put a clip board on the counter facing the patient and slapped a pen down on it. He looked down at the form, a puzzled look on his face.

“No one gets admitted without filling this out.” she said.

He picked up the pen and aimed the fine point metal end at his face and plunged the instrument in and then dragged it sideways across his pasty good looks. When he was through his upper lip hung down like a curtain hanging by one hook and blood was squirting onto the phones and the magazines piled on the counter.

Pamela wasn’t new to the health care system, “I’ll also need to Xerox your health insurance card.” she said.

* * *

At about this time I was upstairs in operations co-coordinating air evac and ER. This had nothing to do with the plague of zombies. I didn’t even know anything strange had transpired downstairs. I was busy on the cell phone talking to the medic on Mercy Bird One as he was cleaning up a highway accident. The med-evac crew is supposed to be able to turn to the hospital for guidance in unusual situations. The medic wanted advice. I was getting a little angry.

“What is it you don’t understand about our triage policy?” I said, into the phone.

The voice from far away seemed stressed. “Well, normally the dead don’t run off with the gurneys. A whole bunch of dead people have formed two teams and are having a race down the highway with the gurneys. They aren’t going very fast, but they seem to be very competitive, with members of both groups ripping off their own arms and throwing them at the competition…” he paused. I could hear him take a deep breath. “I’m usually very good about the triage; I’m usually very down with the triage policy. I do like my job, I’ve always thought it a good idea, that part about dealing with the dead only after all the injured are taken care of… just… well, this time… it just seems the dead are so much more insistent on getting in the helicopter than the living. You ever see films about the last days in Saigon? It’s like that, the embassy roof all over again. The injured have all run away, one of them running on broken legs. One of the cops had a guy handcuffed, I think he was the driver who caused all this, but the guy just ate through his hands and got the cuffs off.” His voice wavered. He burst into tears. Sobbing he said, “It’s just a little chaotic and I thought you could give me some advice.”

“Look… all I know is if you follow procedures your ass is covered. They can’t fire you if you go by the manual. Triage.” I said. “Triage. Triage. Triage. That’s been the mainstay at Mercy Regional and there’s no other way for you to be fair to your clients.”

“I’ll try.” He said.

“Good.” I said. “We’ll have two men standing by on the roof to help with transport. When you get settled come see me. We can get some food at the cafe’. I’m buying.”

“Think they have the grill running?”

“Till two A.M.” I said.

* * *

I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a steady stream of zombies drifting into the hospital. After ten all the elevators are controlled; if you get in any of the big elevators you can only get to the basement, the main floor which included the ER, or the ninth floor – elective surgery. At night, the main door stays open out front, but only because it is adjacent to the emergency room. The staff is supposed to intercept people drifting in off the street. That system broke down. They came in. Groups of zombies came in. What they did was cluster outside, a whole pack of them looking a bit like a rugby scrum; then when they noticed the nurse was busy, they would quickly shamble to the elevator and get in. Usually they went down. After an hour the basement was full; and I mean packed like a mosh pit. Blood was all over the floor and walls. The slightest whim had the whole group surging down the corridors like a tidal wave looking for Kurt Russell’s new movie. One found a phone and somehow managed to call the director of facilities.

“Light.” he said, after placing the call. The word was said very clearly, even though blood came out of the zombie and poured onto the handset of the phone.

“Station twenty?” It was a maintenance man trying to verify where the call was coming from.

“Light,” the zombie said spilling more blood. Then, “Kill”. Then, because he just heard someone else say twenty he said, “Twenty.”

The lights in the basement went out.

The zombie made an appreciative grunt.

Thinking it was a request for an adjustment, the lights came back on, about half as strong as before.

During the next three hours the lights would quickly wander from incandescent to non-candescent as the maintenance man tried to respond to some repetitive and gagged, imprecise instructions coming from the phone.

The crowd in the basement noticed the changing lights and were motionless for a few moments, silently savoring their improved circumstances. A few zombies started small fires adding a soft red glow and dense smoke to the hellish basement experience. One of the zombies liked the changes so much he tried to applaud, but found he couldn’t manage a complicated task, so to celebrate he ground his own face into the concrete wall until his neck was an empty stump.

* * *

On the ninth floor, where it was otherwise very quiet, a tiny sound made a tiny announcement; a tiny musical note announced the arrival of an elevator. This time it didn’t contain a rugby scrum. This time it was a lone occupant who stepped from the elevator doors. Many of the patients on the ninth floor would have recognized the arriving passenger. He was a surgeon, Dr. Mark Mywards, a handsome young surgeon who specialized in elective surgery. He was stopping in to check on Mrs. Berkling, she was sleeping at the hospital, waiting for her surgery. She was having something done around her eyes. Something un-important. (Hadn’t her doctor already told her she looked marvelous?) Her room was one of the VIP rooms: a room with a huge plasma screen TV and a real bed and a fake fireplace and decorative end tables; the kind of room most people don’t realize can be located in a hospital.

The doctor opened the door to Mrs. Berling’s room; he stood there with the light framing him. She knew by his outline that it was her doctor. He certainly looked care-free standing in the soft light. Myra Berling tried to learn a new word every day. Earlier she’d consulted a dictionary and had found the word, ‘insouciance’. She tried to use her new word. The doctor sure looks care-free, he looks, ‘insouciant’. She told herself. She guessed she hadn’t been mistaken by the silent messages he’d been sending her. He was here to seduce her, of that she had no doubt. Even though she was twice his age she was still vital and passionate. She sat up. She was wearing a very sheer night gown. The doctor walked past and stood by the big window. He was looking down at the city. From where he was he could see the fires, the burning houses and the broken police cars. He placed his head against the window. Even though the air conditioning was on high and the window very cold, he didn’t leave any fog on the glass when he turned to face the woman on the bed, he left a big chunk of his rotting scalp.

She was looking away; being demure. With her right hand she was patting the bed.

She only looked back in his direction when she felt his hard weight join hers on the soft bed.

Her first thought was, “‘Wow… he really doesn’t look that good when his hair isn’t combed.’ And then she screamed.

* * *

“I’ve always said new challenges call for new procedures.” I was talking to the staff; they were gathered in the multi-purpose room. I was up in the front, standing next to the big chalkboard with an overhead projector close-by in case I needed it. “Until further notice we are only admitting people without vital signs,” I said, “…people with no pulse, folks with fixed pupils, no blood pressure, zero brain waves, no reflexes, limbs kind’a jerking around, you’ll spot them after a little practice.”

Some podiatrist tried to question my authority “You can’t withhold medical treatment from the living.” he said.

“Show them the waiting room, they’ll move on.” I said. “And I’ve received a call from the governor designating this as the central medical facility during this crisis. If you find you have to call an HMO for any surgical permission, don’t you dare mention that the patient is dead. If they ask you’ll have to tell them, but it’s not a question they’re used to asking, at least not yet. Also, about the crash carts. I know how much you guys like to use the crash carts; just so you know, they won’t be any use for the next few days. Speaking for myself, I feel it will be nice to get through an entire day without somebody rubbing paddles and yelling ‘clear’. On another point, the president has called out the National Guard; at first the phone just rang and rang but eventually somebody answered. It turns out the man answering is the last available National Guardsman who isn’t busy at the moment doing terrorists, the border, storm clean-up, or the war. So the good news is help is coming. The bad news is, it’s one guy; a guy named Herbert Millstone. As a civilian he used to sell vacation condos. When he gets here don’t let him show you any pamphlets. I’ve also been informed that, congress has announced temporary medical benefits for the walking dead, to help pay for this emergency. When you have dealings with any of the walking dead try to get them to sign up for coverage. There are seventy-five different plans so there should be one well suited to your particular patient. Make sure you and your patient look at every single plan and then choose the right one. If your department has extra manpower or needs extra help don’t be afraid to let me know.”

In the back of the room a nurse held up her hand. “We can send you some staff from the nursery.” She said. “The damn zombies ate all the babies.”

“Okay let’s get back to work.” I said “And remember, just cause we can’t cure them, that doesn’t mean we can’t bill them for treatment.”



Bio: Tom Smith has been published more than 100 times with stories appearing in: “Nightmares” “Lullaby Hearse” and “Scared Naked Magazine”


  1. A lot of thought went in to the situations. This story is clever and fun. I love it!

    Comment by Tom Hamilton on August 25, 2007 @ 11:15 pm

  2. I like your design of this story.
    I could see this as a comedy short film.
    one suggestion would be to keep the zombies close to traditional “stupid” so that they dont show any intelligence whatosever. that would make the small situations where they stumble into things more funny.

    ex. if there was a way to have the phone call work without the zombie ever saying something. that might be funny.
    just a suggest.

    Comment by Andrew Burke on August 30, 2007 @ 12:09 am

  3. Sick, hilarious and wonderful!

    Comment by Stephanie on August 9, 2008 @ 3:09 pm

  4. I liked your “Vote for Deke…”, but this one really cracked me up. As an 18 year member of the Army National Guard, your line about help was coming but it was only one guy had me laughing so hard I about fell out of my chair. I could almost see the guard member running in the door, half in uniform, half in civies with partial riot gear on ready to distribute a mean case of bullhorn diplomacy. Oh geeze, I’m laughing again.

    Comment by RandyB on January 13, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  5. Heh, pretty funny story, mates. I’m liking all the stories people on this site are making about people trying to go on with their daily routines when society is falling apart right in front of them.

    Comment by Liam on July 12, 2009 @ 9:17 am

  6. one of the best if not the best story on this site. loved it i work in a hospital i could see it in my minds eye. thank you.you made my day :>

    Comment by rob on September 8, 2009 @ 12:31 pm

  7. That was FUNNY!!!I love the fact that your National Guard was 1 guy!So good.I like th 75 different plans as well.Too funny!Excellent.

    Comment by fred on September 18, 2009 @ 6:03 pm

  8. Overall I think it was ok,but I can also tell he is a devout democrat,more worried about procedure and government programs than helping people that are ALIVE!Bashing fox news and a doctor who thinks differently than,meanwhile he’s too shortsighted to realize that it’s the apocalypse,and sometimes tough choices have to be made,good or bad.

    Comment by brian on September 20, 2009 @ 11:22 am

  9. The story was very fun to read. 5/5.

    p.s. Tom, the “mindless” zombie has been done since the 60’s. It’s actually refreshing to see some goofy intelligence in these undead bastards.

    Comment by Damnturk on September 21, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  10. usually i would be with tom but i got to admit he made the semi smart zombies pretty funny. lol

    Comment by Rick on January 23, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  11. bravo! very slapstick indeed
    i liked the basement bit, and the old lady thinking she was geting seduced before the unthinkable!

    Comment by james glenn on April 11, 2011 @ 4:17 am

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