groups. The combination of the two symbols seemed to suggest that these were modern, American Schutzstaffel. The muscles on his back bunched with tension.
Whether they were still in the area, surviving from air tank to air tank like him, or holed up in a bunker, had yet to be seen, but they were prepared. And they had already named their post-genocidal world, SecondWorld.
This isn’t over, Miller thought. If they haven’t attacked the rest of the world yet, they will soon.
When he tore his eyes from the wall, he realized he’d been gripping the handgun in his pocket. A part of him hoped that whoever painted this symbol would show up. Give him an outlet for his anger. But nothing moved, other than the endless red flakes. Whoever painted this was long gone.
After returning to his bike, Miller cut through a large golf course free of bodies. Apparently, no one wanted to golf during the apocalypse. The open space increased his speed, but he felt exposed—watched. Leaving the golf course behind, he took to the sidewalks, preferring to stay in the buildings’ shadows. He could be easily spotted in the stillness of the city, but he didn’t like the idea of making himself an open target, just in case someone out there felt like taking a potshot.
He reached Mount Sinai Medical Center ten minutes later. The hospital was large and nicer than most he’d visited. In fact, with its light brown exterior and surrounding palm trees, the place looked more like a hotel than a hospital. As he approached the building, the doors to the emergency room slid silently open.
Emergency power must still be working, he thought, but forgot all about the door when he looked beyond it.
Miller jumped back. Bodies filled the emergency room—piles of them. Vomit covered several, as well as a dusting of rust. Strangely, almost all of the victims were covered in blood. Something awful—something terribly violent—had happened here. Did the people turn on one another, desperate enough for medical attention to kill off any competitors?
A little girl’s face caught his eye. She was buried beneath three adults, her eyes closed. Peaceful. As though she had simply fallen asleep there. But Miller knew she hadn’t. The death she had experienced would likely have been anything but peaceful.
Swallowing hard, he stepped back, out of the building.
The doors closed behind him.
He found the main entrance on the other side of the hospital and entered the lobby, steeling himself for a repeat of the emergency room scene. But there were only a few bodies here. He forced himself not to look as he moved past them, focusing instead on a wall-mounted map and directory off to his right. Reaching it, he ran his finger over each department as he read the list. He made a note of every place he thought might have oxygen tanks, then paused. His finger lay on the BURN WARD label. Fourth floor.
He knew that people with severe burns were sometimes put in oxygen tents. Could he spend the night in one? Breathing freely? He hadn’t really slept since leaving Aquarius. As he assessed his need for sleep, he felt his legs grow shaky. His vision blurred. It was almost as though his body, knowing that sleep was near, began shutting down in preparation.
He knew he could sleep in the rebreather without issue. It was good for another twelve hours and he had two spare oxygen tanks strapped to his belt, not to mention a hospital filled with them. But to sleep freely, on a bed … well, that sounded like heaven. He headed for the elevators and pushed the button. The doors opened immediately.
Emergency power is definitely still running.
The elevator rose quickly. With a ding, the doors opened to a stark white hallway. A dead nurse lay on the floor, crumpled up into the fetal position. He stepped out and the doors shut behind him. In the silence that followed, Miller thought he heard the wind. He held his breath and listened.
It wasn’t the wind.
It was a