I hate hospitals. I really hate abandoned hospitals. I really, really hate idoitic scientists who steal government funded serums and hide in abandoned hospitals.
“Anything over there, Brina?” Mark radioed.
“Unless rat infested debris as ‘something’, then no.” I panned my flashlight over the floor.
Mark chuckled into the radio before changing channels.
Honestly, why do these places always look so filthy? Paperwork and medical supplies huddled along the edges of the hallway like beggars in alleyways. You would think a place scrubbed and sanitized to the point of perfection would be left like that.
Whatever the reason for the mess, it didn’t matter. We needed to find Dr. Nutcase and bring him back for interrogation.
Something disturbed the refuse behind me. Gun raised, I spun around. A rat scurried out of the beam of my light. The sooner we found the idiot scientist, the better. These places always creeped me out.
Dr. Nutcase—real name Dr. Declan Iverson—had disappeared with a case of unstable serums almost a full month ago. It wasn’t until yesterday the FBI got word that he had been sighted near an abandoned hospital in North Dakota.
If it were up to me, I’d make the scientist go through as rigorous a background and psych check as us agents do. Just because we handle a gun doesn’t mean we’re a greater risk to society.
I searched the sixth room in my hallway. Nothing but a turned over gerny and tattered drapes. Sighing, I continued onward. Already, we’d spent three hours picking through rooms trying to locate the doctor.
“Dryaden’s got something in autopsy,” Mark said.
“Copy, I’m on my way.” I started back down the hall to the main foyer where I started.
I got lost twice while trying to navigate to the basement—another reason I hate hospitals.
The autopsy room was surprisingly large. I always assumed that the deceased’s family would have claimed the body, but I guess there were enough John Does out there to warrant six tables. Lennox clacked away on a beat up laptop at one of the tables.
Dryaden, Thayer, Rhett, and Mark stood near the back left corner. My hand tightened into a fist. I wanted to be ready to punch Dr. Nutcase in the face the second he gave me a legal reason to.
Mark glanced at me. His expression seemed unnerved. I unclenched my fist. Something was wrong. I’ve known Mark for ten years, he doesn’t get unnerved.
As I approached I understood why. A corpse slumped in the corner of the wall. Its skin was shriveled and tanned. My jaw nearly dropped as I looked closer. I could see muscles under the skin. It was like the body had a thin layer of dried brown glue over it, thin enough that I could see through it. The badge on the dead man’s lab coat read Dr. Declan Iverson. There goes any chance at interrogation.
“What happened?” I asked, turning to Dryaden.
“Don’t know.” He shrugged.
I raised an eyebrow and glanced at Mark. He was our commander; if anyone had any ideas, he would.
“Lennox is gaining access to his laptop. If he used the serum, his notes would be there,” Mark said.
“The serum wasn’t with the body?” I asked.
“We found the empty case under one of the tables. We haven’t found any of the vials yet.” Rhett nodded to the middle tables.
I turned back to the body. He was seen yesterday, so why was his body so disfigured?
“I got it,” Lennox said, turning the laptop to Mark.
There appeared to be at least twenty video recordings. Had he really been able to experiment so much?
Lennox started the first video.
“...October 20th 2031 Dr. Iverson conducting psychi-regeneration experiment on first human subject. Subject is calcasion male, 6ft tall 210lbs, 31 years old at the time of expiration, which was six months ago. Has been kept on ice for experimentation during incubation period..."
Dr. Iverson held a vial of clear liquid in front of the camera.
“...Serum Kelvin is prepped. Injecting into the ventral forearm vein…”
Dr. Iverson waited for a few moments after injecting the serum. He checked for a pulse at the corpse’s wrist, then again at the neck.
“...subject shows no signs of regained life. Need more evidence to form hypothesis. End of experiment one.”
The video’s played one after another, each one seemed to fail. The doctor theorized that the serum was failing because the subjects had been dead too long, and in some cases, had to be transported over large distances to this facility. Facility? That was what he had called it. He was truly insane to call this a facility.
“...Conclusion, serum Kelvin requires a fresher host to function…”
Dr Iverson looked straight into the camera. Madness lurked behind his glasses.
The feed ended.
The next video started and another corpse was laid out on the table. A woman, maybe in her twenties.
“...October 29th 2031. Dr. Iverson conducting psychi-regeneration experiment on twelfth human subject. Subject is calcausion female, 5ft 5in tall, 130lbs, appx 20 years old at the time of expiration which was within the hour…”
There was blood on Dr. Iverson’s cheek. I clenched my jaw. Pervy murderer. I glanced at his corpse in the corner. He got what he deserved.
“...Serum Kelvin is prepped. Injecting into the ventral forearm vein…come on...come on..."
Dr. Iverson checked for a pulse at the corpse’s wrist, then again at the neck. Defeated, he hung his head.
“...experiment 12 has failed. Hypothesis: serum Kelvin requires a live host to function…”
Dr. Iverson rolled up his sleeve.
“...The serum will work…”
He injected himself. The skin on his arm shrived and browned. He screamed and flailed, knocking the laptop to the ground.
The transmission ended.
“At least we know how he died,” Thayer said.
“Where’s the girl?” Mark asked, his voice somber.
We all stared at each other realizing Dr. Iverson died before he moved her body.
“Owens! Do you copy?” Heldrin radioed.
“I’m here what’s wrong?” Mark replied.
“Mayday, mayday! Respond!” Gun fire sounded in the background.
“What’s happening? Where are you?!” Mark demanded.
The radio cut out.
“Heldrin?” Mark barked. “Heldrin, respond!”
“Lennox, get a copy of that footage. Thayer, Rhett, and Brina, rifles ready. We’re going up there.” Mark lead the way to the door.
Heldrin and his team were searching the top levels of the hospital when he’d radioed for help. Heldrin’s transponder showed he was still at the top floor. I groaned internally as I looked up the seven flights of stairs we would be climbing.
As expected, I hated every step of those stairs. At least they were solid concrete.
I followed in position behind Mark as we entered the top floor.
I wasn’t surprised to see ripped tarps and broken windows in the lobby. What I hadn’t expected were the bodies. Six of them.
“What the hell...” Mark said as we approached.
My blood ran cold. The body armor and weapons definitely belonged to Heldrin and his team, but their bodies…they were disfigured beyond recognition. It would’ve been one thing if they were ripped apart and bloody, but this—this was worse. All of their features were missing, it was like looking at a mannequin with pale human skin stretched over it.
“What happened to them?” Rhett‘s voice was quieter than usual.
“Like I’d know,” Mark trailed off examining one of the bodies.
A crash sounded in another room.
In an instant, we had our weapons ready and we surrounded the doorway. My heart pounded in my ears. Mark nodded then kicked the door in and rushed in. Rhett and I swooped in at his sides. A small dust cloud rose from were a piece of the ceiling had shattered on the ground.
Rhett cursed quietly.
“I don’t like this. Let’s gather the evidence and head back down to Lennox,” Mark ordered.
After taking some photos and skin samples, as well as Heldrin’s team’s IDs, we started back down the stairs.
Mark tugged open the rusty door at the bottom of the stair rail. Suddenly I realized it didn’t screech the way it had before.
“Hu,” I mumbled, but I couldn’t hear my own voice.
Mark and Rhett didn’t respond to me.
“Hey, wait a second,” I said. Again I heard nothing.
Neither of them stopped.
Had I gone deaf? I grabbed Mark’s arm. He jumped as I touched him.
“Something’s wrong.” I panicked.
Mark said something, but I couldn’t hear him. I couldn’t hear anything for that matter. Mark blinked and felt at his throat. Rhett seemed equally confused. None of us could hear.
Then a soft sound started in the distance. Footsteps? A sound like a dozen bare feet on the cool hospital tile started toward us. Mark and Rhett seemed to notice them as well.
I glimpsed movement at the end of the hall behind Mark. My heart threatened to stop when a pale figure rounded the corner at the end of the long hallway. Its movements were jerky, further startling me as an empty void opened up in my chest. Away. We had to get away! Instinctively, I grabbed Mark and Rhett and hauled them back into the stairway and slammed the door.
What was that thing? Nothing normal, that I was certain of.
Something poked my shoulder. I peered up at Mark. His mouth moved, but not a sound was made, so I held up my hand, stopping him.
I peeked through the narrow window in the door. Six human- shaped figures shuffled down the hall. Just like Heldrin, they had no faces or distinct features. I shivered. Was this the result of Dr. Nutcase’s experiments? It seemed like the only explanation. The creatures shambled on unsteady feet down the hall.
The creatures stopped moving.
I ducked back behind the door. Had they seen us? After a few moments, I dared to look again.
The creatures were gone.
My confusion only lasted a moment. The flash of gunfire from autopsy lit the hallway.
Mark and Rhett ran out into the hall and I...I froze. These things had killed an entire squad of highly trained agents already, so what were we supposed to do that they didn’t? I’d spent years with those men; we’d saved each other's lives dozens of times over. They wouldn’t’ve gone down easily.
I watched as Mark and Rhett fired into the autopsy room. Two pale figures leapt out and tackled them both. I covered my mouth trying not to scream, not that I would’ve known if I did.
Horror filled me as I watched my friend’s faces be sucked from their bodies and transferred onto the pale humanoids. Eventually Rhett and Mark stopped struggling. Eventually they lay as still as everything sounded.
And as if nothing had happened, the creatures stood up and resumed their shuffle down the hall. The two that had stolen Mark and Rhett’s face were soon joined by one that had Lennox’s face, and the other two that were still faceless.
I slumped against the wall, silently crying. Those men were my best friends. They taught me everything I knew and I watched them die. I hid and watched them die. A part of me knew that if I’d gone out I would’ve died too, but that part of me was a small whisper compared to the screaming guilt I felt.
I sat in the stairway waiting to die, too, for what felt like hours.
Suddenly the silence broke. My own breaths sounded like thunder compared to the utter silence from before. Why can I hear again? I peeked out again and noticed the hallway was empty save the bodies on the floor. I have to get out of here.
Tentatively, I cracked the door open. It squealed so loudly I thought everything in the entire hospital had heard it. Heart pounding, I ran to Mark and Rhett.
Both of their faces were gone. Stifling a scream, I collected their IDs and crept into autopsy. Lennox’s body was there. He still had the flashdrive in his hand. I grabbed it and threw a hateful glance to where Dr. Pyscho was. He wasn’t there anymore. Where had he gone? It didn’t matter.
I snuck back through the hospital, constantly listening for the moment when all sound would stop. It never came.
I escaped into the cold North Dakota air and ran to our cars, then drove away with no destination in mind. I didn’t stop until I was out of gas. I slumped against the steering wheel and sobbed.
I really, really hate hospitals.