The last day on earth

Before I jump in to the events that led up to the final events of this story I should explain a couple things.

The first is that we really should have seen these events coming. We had all heard about the strange stories on the news, higher numbers of physical attacks, hospital overcrowding, and communications breaking down. I’m sure people suspected the truth, but nobody took it very seriously. Everyone wanted to believe that these were just coincidences and that there was some logical explanation. As time moved on though you could see people starting to get nervous, visiting the ammunition store, canned goods selling out, the mad dash to buy Twinkies. A few people left town to visit relatives, or boarded them selves up in cabins on the outskirts of town.

The second was noticing the increased number of what appeared to be animal attacks. There was a large influx of people coming in with strange bites, and scratches but all of the people that were brought in were unresponsive or so distraught by what had happened that they couldn’t explain anything to us. We patched up everyone we saw and had them taken home, this was a small hospital so we didn’t have the means to keep everyone for observation. Besides, they just looked like animal attacks so a shot and a bandage and we figured everyone would be better in a couple of days.

Even with all these things happening I never could have expected what was coming.

You could tell right from the beginning of the day that something was wrong. There was terrible traffic in the morning, more than the usual anyways. By ten in the morning though you could tell something was going on. People were abandoning their vehicles and just running out of town. It wasn’t long after that that we started to hear the gunshots coming from the distance. Police were everywhere trying to gather people up.

Things in the hospital weren’t going any better either. There had been some kind of incident in the morgue the night before. I had heard a couple of staff members were killed and some bodies had gone missing. The police had come by to investigate, but with all the craziness around town they didn’t stick around for very long.

At some point in the afternoon things started getting really bad. I was sitting in my office doing paperwork and listening to the radio when the sheriff cut in and told everyone that there had been some kind of viral outbreak and that people were not acting like themselves. He didn’t know how the infection was spreading but assumed it was either airborne or caused by infections through physical wounds. The last thing he said before the radio died was that everyone should find some way to arm themselves and prepare for the worst.

Then things went from bad to worse.

From my office I could hear screaming coming from around the hospital, it sounded like absolute chaos had broken out. From my window I could see patients and staff running out in to the streets. To my shame I hid in my office for most of the day. I didn’t want to look outside, hearing the screams was bad enough, I couldn’t bring myself to take a look. All I could think about was how everything I had done was meaningless. All the hours wasted alone for nothing. I couldn’t help but think about my family for the first time in ages. I wasn’t sure I even knew what they had been up to recently. The only family member I had kept up with my my sister Felicia, who I knew was vacationing on the beach the last time we had talked. I hoped her and the rest of my family were able to make it out of this alive.

Later in the evening I finally decided to take a look out the window, the screaming had died down so I thought everything might be over. This was probably the worst decision I had ever made. The minute I looked out of the window I saw Anna being ripped apart trying to get to an oddly placed truck parked in the center of town. That was when I started to feel like I was losing myself. I wasn’t feeling like myself, like I was no longer in control. I snuck out of my office to try and find a way out of the hospital, but couldn’t. It seemed that in the confusion one of the security guards had put the building in to lock down and locked all of the exits down.

Not knowing what else to do I pulled the gun off of a body that was laying on the floor. I was never very comfortable around guns, but I knew how to use one. I had gone to the range a few times since I had moved to town, but didn’t think I was much of a good shot. I decided to check the hospital for other survivors, or any supplies that I could get my hands on since I wasn’t sure how long I would be trapped in this building. By then I probably should have realized what was going on and not gone down to the morgue.

However, as I approached the morgue I could hear what sounded like feet shuffling and moaning. What I saw would stick with me until the day that I died. When I looked inside I saw one of the staff members who had been killed that morning hunched over another body and he appeared to be eating some leftovers. I tried to slip away but I guess I had made an audible gagging noise and the next thing I knew he was on top of me. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t push him off of me and it was taking everything I had to keep him from biting my throat out. All I remember is the bang of the gun going off and the body falling off of me.

Instinctively I went in to the morgue and jumped inside on of the empty containers. Some part of me knew that the sound would draw unwanted attention to my location, and all I could think about was survival. I’m not sure how long I was in there, but it felt like an eternity. After however long it was I decided that since I hadn’t heard anything that it was safe to get out of the morgue and try to get back to my office. I can’t really much about what happened from that point to when finally got back to my office. When I finally got back I felt a little tired, like I had been running around longer than I had realized.

At that point I figured if I was going to die I wanted to put my final thoughts down for other people to read. I wanted people to know who I was, that Dr. Hannah had existed.

As I sat thinking about what to write I noticed a handful of people crowding around that oddly parked vehicle in the town square. It looked like they were trying to fight their way out of town. I saw one of them, it looked like a high school girl, get swarmed and killed by her attackers. I could see one of the hospital nurses in the truck, and a couple others in the truck drive off.

I realized that I was pounding on the glass screaming for them to stop, that they weren’t the only survivors.

I was still alive.

I mean, it was just a scratch.


Dr. Hannah M.D.

After graduation I had a couple months before starting up medical school. Most of that time was spent working so that I could save up for my expenses. Unfortunately the cost of medical school was quite a bit more than I was making working at my regular job so I was forced to take up student loans. I figured that in the end as long as I wound up with a decent residency that I could pay them off within a couple years.

Once medical school started up I noticed that there were only a couple of faces that I recognized. While only a handful of people had made it through the program, few of them decided to either continue on or to do their medical school at SJU. I probably could have gotten in to something a bit more prestigious but I didn’t want to have to go through the admissions process, and also tuition costs.  At the time I felt that medical school was medical school so it wouldn’t matter in the end. Maybe things would have turned out a bit differently if I had made a different decision.

Unlike my undergrad years I don’t have much to discuss about my time in medical school, so I will be condensing it quite a bit.

For the most part my time there went by without much thought. I didn’t spend a lot of time with other people since I felt it was better to be a bit detached when it came to other people. I felt that if I didn’t care as much about anyone that it would make being a doctor easier on me. I had heard stories of successful doctors who had turned to alcohol or drugs to ease their consciousness’ after losing patients.  You see a lot of things during this time when, and having seen the effects on the body from substance abuse I didn’t want to meet a similar fate.  Distancing myself seemed like the best choice I could make, and I didn’t regret that for some time.

The four years I spent at medical school seemed to fly by. I guess you don’t notice as much when you have your face in a book all the time and when you aren’t studying you’re working. After a while people stopped trying to invite me to parties or any other social event. I overheard several people refer to me as a zombie though I never really understood why. The only things I could think of was I spent a lot of time with the cadavers, and I shuffled my feet a lot when I walked.

After I finished up with school I took a two year residency in a small town called Woodenvale. I didn’t realize it for some time but my old college sweetheart Anna was the local school nurse. I knew that when she left SJU she had gone back to her hometown, but I didn’t realize it was the same place I was doing my residency. We eventually crossed paths walking down the street one day, and commented on the strange coincidence that we would wind up in the same town, almost as if being controlled by some unseen force. At the time I wasn’t sure I would be sticking around after my residency so we decided to just remain friends and would grab a bite from time to time.

Over time though, I grew to like the small town life. Considering all the goals I had set for myself I was slow coming to that realization. I really didn’t realize it until I was offered a staff position at the local hospital, while at the same time being offered a job across the country in Atlanta. After thinking about it for a couple weeks I decided I enjoyed working in a small town. Everyone was friendly and while it wasn’t small enough that you knew everyone, you ran in to a lot of the same people out on the street.

Before I realized it I had been living there for five years, and was one of the more respected doctors at the hospital. I had a lot of regular patients come in, usually minor injuries but I kept busy. I had formed a good working relationship with most of the staff, as well as the local sheriff and a few others. I wasn’t really the same person I was when I came to town.

For the first time in a long time I felt alive.

Senior Year

If Junior year was my second favorite year, Senior year would be my favorite. All of the hard classes were out of the way so all I had to do was take the MCAT exams and the rest would be smooth sailing. Thankfully due to great planning on my part I had a relaxed schedule. I only had to be in class a couple hours a day, but had Fridays off giving me three days every week to get all of my coursework and studying taken care of. I continued to work the hotel job I had picked up the previous year since it was working out pretty well.

While all of my classes were going well, I was increasingly ready to get out of that school. Since I lived off campus I had to drive in to school every day and parking on campus was abysmal. When I had first started there parking was not an issue, but every school year the school would remove parking areas to put up new buildings. What was worse was they then used that construction as an excuse to increase our already expensive tuition. There were even rumors of the administration requiring freshman students to live on campus, even if they already lived locally. While that didn’t personally affect me, I still didn’t agree with it.

I had decided to take the MCAT exam near the end of the fall semester so that I would have my results in time to start medical school the following year. In the off chance that I failed the test it would also give me a bit of a buffer to retake it and hopefully still be able to start medical school when I wanted to.

The last several months of the previous year, and well in to the fall semester of senior year was spent preparing for this exam so I felt fairly  confident in my ability to pass. I was only nervous because I had seen several people succumb to test anxiety. My personal tactic had always been to make sure to get a good night sleep, eat a good breakfast and take deep breaths if I ever started to stress out on an exam. No sense being so stressed out that I’d feel like a zombie after finishing.

The day of the exam was pretty typical. I decided that I would blow off my other classes to get some last minute review time in. The campus had a small testing center near the library so before I headed that way I went to the library to study. In retrospect that was probably the worst thing I could have done because of what happened there that day. Personally I think if you are in a library you need to sit down, shut up, and study. This idea was apparently lost on several people there as they chatted away on their cell phones, and used the private study rooms to play online games or watch Youtube videos. All that ended up doing was aggravating me, which I didn’t really need before taking such an important exam. Thankfully by the time I actually started the exam I had calmed down a bit and was just ready to get through it and go home for the day.

When I started the exam the one thing I had tried to avoid ended up happening. My mind went blank. I probably spent the first twenty minutes staring at the exam before I even marked down my first answer. I initially wanted to rush through the test just to get through it but had to make myself slow down and read through each question carefully before putting down an answer. The first step was realizing that I had plenty of time to take the exam and rushing through it would only cause me to misread something important. There were only a couple of people in the testing room with me, and I could tell that the other people hadn’t come to the same realization I had. It was obvious that they were panicking a little bit by constant sweat wiping and blank stares. After a while time was called and everyone turned in this portion of the exam. We had a small break and then moved on to the next.

After that initial moment of being brain dead the rest of the exam went smoothly. I was able to finish every question well within the time limits giving me plenty of time to go back through and review my answers. I don’t think some of the other students were as lucky though as when time was called you could see them frantically marking down answers before the test proctor had them put down their pencils. By the end of the testing process I felt confident that I would make the necessary score to pass the exam so I packed up my stuff and left.

It did wind up taking a bit longer to get my results than I had wanted, well in to the spring semester. By the time I received my results I had already applied for graduation and it was almost the deadline for medical school admissions. Thankfully when the test results reached me I had passed like I was expecting to. I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, but still was a good score. I applied for medical school right away, which meant that I would be stuck at SJU a little bit longer.

Graduation day came and went, my family was not able to make it but that was fine with me. At the time I was still a bit self absorbed so I didn’t miss them. Unfortunately that would come back to bite me.

Junior Year at SJU

Junior year was probably my second favorite year at SJU. This was the year that I moved off campus and started to find myself. Living off campus allowed me a bit more freedom in the hours I kept, which was good because that year I had started working part time off campus to make money. I found early in the fall semester that I didn’t have the time, or the desire, to continue tutoring but I still needed a way to earn tuition and still live off campus.

Unlike the two previous years where I had classes scheduled throughout the day, that year I decided to have all of my classes in the morning each day which would allow me to work a few hours each evening and still keep up with all of my coursework. I managed to find a job as a hotel concierge in the evenings, which allowed me to study while working and also allowed me to work on my people skills. I’m not going to say I enjoyed the work, but it was better than some of the other options I had looked in to.

The money wasn’t that great, but at the time you could still find a place to stay for not a lot of money. It was close to campus, and the neighborhood was nice. The apartment was sparsely furnished, a bed, couch and space to study is all I really needed. My routine was simple, wake up, go to class, then head home to grab something to eat and study. After all that I would head off to work for a few hours. The hardest part was trying to stay in shape. With such a hectic schedule it was easy to just grab something quick and tell myself I’d go to the gym later to make up for it. Probably should have gained more than I did, but most days I would forget to eat at least once, so I wasn’t consuming more than I was burning which helped keep some of the weight off.

Classes were not as challenging that year as I was expecting. Most of the hard ones had already been taken the previous years so all I had left were a handful of major classes and the general education courses that were required by every student to take. Having classes that didn’t require much time allowed me to start getting ready to take the medical school entrance exams (MCAT’s).

I knew that the MCAT test consisted of four parts, Physical Science, Verbal Reasoning, Writing, and Biological Sciences. When I started going over the material I could tell that the most challenging parts would be the one part of the physical sciences section of the exam. In the years I had been at SJU I had covered Biology, Chemistry and Organic Chemistry, but had not yet tried to take a Physics course which would be covered in that section of the exam. The Spring semester of junior year I signed up for the Physics class that was offered in the morning, which included lab, and started studying before the semester started to get a head start.

The spring semester went by uneventfully. I had my physics courses and general education courses, and continued to work at the hotel. Sadly by the end of that semester you could notice a drop-off in the number of people continuing on in the program. Most switched out to other programs, but a few left the university entirely to go to another school. There was maybe 20 of us that had stuck it out to the end of the semester, and even then some of those who stayed probably shouldn’t have. All that was left for me was one more year and then I’d be off to medical school.

I also found out at the end of the year that my old girlfriend Anna had decided to move back to her home town to take a position as a school nurse, which was probably good for her. She had some training with internal medicine and had been working part time at the local hospital helping out the nurses. At the time I wasn’t sure I would see her again, but funny how things turn out in the end.

Sophmore Year at SJU

My sophomore year at SJU went by pretty quick. Sophomore year was more about Organic Chemistry rather than the general chemistry I had during my Freshman year. I continued to earn money on the side with tutoring, not as much as the previous year, but enough to get by.

I find that there isn’t much to talk about when discussing your college years. Everything, for the most part,  is fairly routine. You meet some interesting people, and you have fun when you can, but when you have lofty goals you have to put a lot of that aside.  However, there were a couple of interesting things that happened during that semester. At least interesting enough that they still stick out after all these years.

During the fall semester of my Sophomore year I was living on the third floor of the dorms. The rooms were fairly sparse, two desks, two beds, two closets and a sink. The beds, for whatever reason, were made out of polyester. These were connected to the closets and folded up in to the wall. On the wall part of the bed was a small shelf so that you could set a lamp, or books above your bed when it was folded down.

One guy on the floor had a brilliant plan to light a candle and stick it up there and leave the room for awhile. Needless to say that didn’t turn out so well.Around midnight that night the smoke alarms in the building went off and we all had to evacuate the building while the fire department came out to put this geniuses room out. Thankfully nobody got hurt. The next day when I left to go to my classes you could see the mattress laying in the bushes with a nice char mark where the candle had fallen on it.

The other really interesting thing that I remember happening was getting my roommate arrested. Not that I got him arrested on purpose or anything *cough*. I just didn’t lie to the cops for him, which resulted in him getting hauled out of the room. I was sitting up late one night NOT playing Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast when my roommate came running in, killing the lights and jumping behind his bed.

The story he told me was that him and a few of his friends had been running around campus with super-soakers spraying girls’ shirts for fun. Which led to them being chased back to the dorms by campus police.  The building we stayed in at the time was shaped like the letter ‘H’ so the police just stood outside and watched for the guys to get off the elevators and then which rooms had lights that came on or went off. A few minutes after my roommate had come back in the police came knocking at our door. When the asked if someone had just come in I pointed over to the other side of the room and said “He’s behind the bed.”

Funny enough, I found out that this same roommate became a cop. Thankfully he didn’t have any hard feelings about getting busted, or at least never said anything about it.

Those were the only events I can remember from that semester. My grades slipped a little bit, but I was able to recover and keep a good GPA
heading in to my Junior year.

Freshman Year at Stupid Jerkface University

Life after high school was pretty great. I was no longer the shy, reclusive kid I was when I first left home, but a outgoing, popular young man. People didn’t really know about my love of General Hospital, but nobody was surprised by my decision to become a doctor after all, my favorite subject was anatomy.  Though that was as much a literal thing as it was figurative  Since I knew for a couple years that I wanted to go in to medical school I had read every book the school could offer on the subject, as well as biology and chemistry.

People often wonder why I decided to go to Stupid Jerkface University to get my medical degree when I had several better offers. The reason I told everyone was because it was close to home, and I didn’t want to be to far away from my family. The real reason was because my high school sweetheart Anna was going to go to school there to also study medicine. However, unlike myself, her goals were simple. All she wanted was to go back to her hometown and be the school nurse. I had loftier goals, wanting to be the best brain surgeon there ever was.

With my test scores it was no problem gaining admittance to SJU. They even offered me a full scholarship to come study there. I enrolled for my freshman year and got right to work. I left my past behind me and left that school with no regrets. My sisters having graduated a couple years before me had already left town and moved on with their lives. Felicia had gotten in to a well respected acting school and was doing well there. Kate and Ricki had moved to California to work on their music career. At that time they were still doing small gigs, and working on getting representation. This was before most social media was around, so it was a bit tougher to do then.

The first year at SJU was uneventful, I spent my days going to class and nights working on coursework. I tried to keep Anna in the mix, but that fell apart fairly quickly. Sadly I was to caught up in my own life to notice though, and when I did I found that it didn’t really matter to me. I wanted to be the best there was, and commitments only dragged you down. After the break-up I was more focused on my work, quickly rising to the top of my class. I knew people talked about me behind my back, but that didn’t bother me.

I did do some tutoring on the side to make spending money. Mostly it was Chemistry, as that was one of my favorite subjects. My most profitable sessions came from one of my fellow classmates named Paul, who always seemed to struggle with the class. He had told me that was his 6th time taking the course and just couldn’t stand to get a bad grade again. He was a likable guy, even if he was a bit chemistry stupid. Probably could have done better with himself if he got away from the computer games, and collecting comic books. His sessions alone practically paid for my second semester.

That was pretty much my first year at SJU, studying, tutoring and dealing with people talking about me behind my back. I stayed at the top of my class that first year. Sure there were times that I missed my family, but in the end I couldn’t concern myself with that. Looking back that was is one of my greatest regrets, but that is part of a later story.

The early years

Growing up I never thought I would become a respected doctor in a small rural town, I guess it’s funny how things turn out.

When I was a kid my family lived on a small farm in Montana around 20 miles out of town. Life was simple back then,all you had to worry about were animals getting loose and making sure that the crops were harvested. The main crop we grew was corn, and before it was time to harvest we’d like to go and play hide and seek in the corn fields. No adults allowed of course.

There were nine people in the house when I was growing up. Mom (Anne) and Dad (Wil), my sisters Felicia, Kate and Ricki and my older brothers Neil, Patrick and Nathan. Then there was me, the youngest of the bunch. By the time I was born my parents had run out of good names so I was named Luke.

My Dad was the local vet if anyone ever needed one. People were always asking why he only had one ‘L’ in his name, and we liked to tell everyone he lost it in a bet to his friend Johnathon. My brothers were all fully grown by the time I came around and were content to just work on the farm, go in to town and get drunk and post rude comments on the internet. They were not the best looking guys, so the word troll was a fairly accurate description of them.

Since my brothers had the farm buisness well in hand my parents wanted better for the rest of us. The three girls and myself were sent to a boarding school when they felt we were old enough to be away from home. The girls all found their niche once they were allowed to explore their interests. Felicia got in to the drama club and enjoyed writing, while Kate and Ricki both found an interest in music. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do yet so I read a lot of books, and magazines.

Unlike my siblings I didn’t care for my time at the school, most of the other kids came from well off families and dressed in the latest fashions where I was wearing my brothers old hand me downs, which were always a bit too large. The older kids were especially cruel calling me little Hannah Montana which made me want to get out of there that much sooner.

It was near the beginning of my sophmore year in high school that I started developing an interest in becoming a doctor. Since I didn’t leave my room much, other than to go to class, I started watching re-runs of General Hospital. Initially what drew me to the show was the notion that doctors got all the women, but as I watched it more I realized that I could also help people. From then on I focused on studying biology, anatomy and developing people skills. By the time I graduated and left for college I had gone from being called little Hannah Montana to a nickname that would stick with me for the rest of my life, McDreamy.