The ferocious primal scream leapt on the back of a billowing gust of wind and rode it through the hallway like a tidal wave. Gerald cowered as it struck him like a wall of noise, almost knocking him off his feet. As he tried to stand, still clutching his notebook, the wild racket was followed by an almighty thud from within one of the locked rooms at the far end of the hall.
Then another. And another. Each time more forcefull. Something was inside, and it wanted out.
Gerald wanted out too, and he wasn’t prepared to witness what caged beast was about to burst out from that cell. He frantically scrambled through the hospital maze, arms flailing in the oversized doctor’s coat, keys tangling wildly. As he turned a corner he spotted a door he’d not paid much attention to previously, and darted across, shoving it wide open. A weary set of concrete steps were there to greet him, leading back up to the surface.
As he placed his foot on the first step, a second feral roar echoed through the ward’s corridors, followed by another incredible thud and a crashing of steel against floor.
Oh God.. Gerald gasped as his heart threatened to leap out of his chest. It’s broken free.
He raced up the flight of steps, refusing to look behind as to what might follow. In the background, he could just make out (above the noise of those stupid keys in his pocket) the thing scurrying in his direction, snarling and growling as it picked up speed. He finally reached the ground level after what felt like ten floors, and burst open the stairwell door, panting wildly out of breath. Seriously, they must have taken him to the very depths of the facility, the hospital’s own Mariana Trench. He’d made it back into A+E, outpatients. He could sense he was close to getting out of this hell-hole. He span round, exhausted, looking for something to block the door & prevent the nightmare from reaching him. Yet quickly searching nearby rooms and wards could only find a few chairs. This floor was barren, almost devoid of any kind of tangible objects.
As he came back to wedge one of them under the handle and pile the rest on top, he looked up to see a monstrous, chilling face with fiery red eyes stare upon him through the door’s glass panel. Heavy misted breath fogged up the lower half of the glass, leaving the piercing crimson gaze to bore deep into his soul. Gerald let out a small welp and slowly backed away, his legs refusing to move any faster through fear. As his stride finally broke free and his legs fell back under his command, the creature leaned its disfigured head back to reveal a sinister grin, before it let out another terrifying scream.
Gerald spun on his heels and ran through the hospital towards the A+E entrance, which was just in sight. If he could make it out before whatever-it-was could break down his makeshift barricade, he could find help, steal a car, anything other than be stuck in here with it. He got to the front of the building and heaved himself against the fully glazed doors.
Locked. Of course. F*#<
Cursing aloud, he quickly remembered he had the keys. Thrusting his hand into the coat pocket, Gerald grabbed them and began trying each one in the door. But as he fumbled with the lock a bone-chilling shriek and cacophony of sound made him drop them to the floor.
He turned back to see his barricade in splinters across the floor, as the nightmare burst through into the space.
Gerald’s back was pressed up against the glass, incapable of moving any muscles. The creature scuttled over towards him, snarling, drooling, growling. Sometimes on all fours, sometimes it would rock up on his rear limbs as it ungracefully approached him. As it closer, Gerald had the sudden horrifying realisation.
This wasn’t an it. It was a who. This is a freakin person!
At least they had been at some point. Gerald hadn’t exactly hung around to get a good look before, but this was no animal, no creature. The hunched pustulating body arched forward, the torrid leather-like skin and tissue peeling from its disfigured skull, and those crazed, blood red eyes, but this living horror show had once been just like him. There was still a glimpse of human proportion and structure. But the behaviour was all but gone. Replaced by that of a wild, relentless beast. One which was now upon him.
The beast slammed its claw-like hands against the glazing just either side of Gerald’s head and roared once more, sending hot, damp vapor into his face. Gerald wanted to scream but only the sound of silence could retaliate. As he winced and looked away from the drooling teeth, skin & bone, he spotted something in its left hand, crumpled between the fingers.
It was the picture. The tattered photo Gerald had found in the locker.
Holy shit, the sudden realisation smacking Gerald full force. This is one of the test subjects! How did they survive this pain and suffering? How could this “Project Pure” result in something so traumatic, and clearly anything but “Pure”?! What the hell did they do to them?!
He also realised at that moment, he was wearing the beast’s footwear. The test-subject had clearly spotted this, and was fixated on Gerald’s feet. Then his gaze slowly rose up Gerald’s body until they were once again eye to blood-red eye.
Gerald gulped hard, and closed his, seemingly accepting this fate and preparing for the inevitable. Tears began to fall from them. His captor snarled once more, leaned back to open its fettid mouth and struck…
An ear-splitting crack rang out across the air like a plane breaking the sound barrier, as a single bullet pierced the glass and forced its way through the test-subject’s cranium, just above where it’s decaying nose used to be. It let out a painful groan, the red eyes rolled back into their sockets and he slumped over dead onto the floor beside Gerald.
Gerald, realising that he was still in fact miraculously alive, gingerly opened his. His foe was in a heap, and as he spun round to look out the doors, the perfectly formed bullet hole looked back at him.
Gerald’s body was crashing. He could barely keep himself together and this world he had been thrown into was falling apart all around him. He felt like he was going to pass out again. As he struggled to focus beyond the hole, he saw a lone figure in a long navy blue coat across the other side of the Hospital’s car park stand and throw a long barreled gun over their shoulder, before walking towards the entrance.
Gerald turned to look for the keys he had dropped, and found them poking out from under the test-subject’s fallen corpse. Shuddering, he gathered just enough courage to heave up a rotting arm and grab the bunch before hurriedly dropping it back down again. He tried them all again in the lock, finally succeeding and pushing open the doors to the outside world. He fell to his knees in relief, breathing in huge, deep breaths. As he did so, the footsteps of the lone figure who saved him drew closer, until his boots were within Gerald’s lowered field of view.
“Th.. than.. Thank you!” Gerald gasped.
“Don’t mention it.. I wasn’t sure if I’d get here in time to be honest with ya” came the reply in a somewhat familiar male tone. “You look a wreck, Sir!”
“Wait, wha.. who are you?” Gerald was as confused as ever. He strained to look up, and saw to his amazement colleague and (so-called) friend, Eric.
Something in the recess of Gerald’s mind shut down. This was enough. Time to pass out, reboot. Turn him off and on again, cos he’s clearly broken. As the message reached his motor functions, Gerald managed to blurt out the following.
“Eric? Ish that you?? What the sssshh’is goin’ on?! What ish all thi…?”
“Sergeant Eric Winters, that is Sir. We’ve been trying to locate you for days! But we couldn’t pinpoint your Transdimensional Port-Gate until now. Something major came up, and you fell off the gri… oh for God’s sake..Sir, SIR!!”
Winters sighed in frustration as Gerald fainted and keeled over in front of him. How this guy made Lieutenant he would never know. But at that point, a white-noise suddenly emanated from the doctor’s coat pocket. Winter’s gasped, and dropped down to grab whatever was inside, but it was too late. Gerald fizzled in and out of reality, as if his visible presence experienced digital interference, and at once he was gone.
“No! NO! God Damnit I was so close!”
Winters fumed, angry at himself for not reaching his superior sooner. Still, guess he’d better go after him. Wherever he’d Drifted to this time.
He reached into the inside pocket of his navy blue full-length coat, and pulled out a notebook.
A green leather notebook.
The Sergeant opened the book, flicked to the rear few pages and tapped his fingers in a specific sequence along the inside back cover. The pages shifted, just has Gerald had done so before disappearing, and at once were filled with printed code. Now, where are you, Sir? Winters tapped several lines of code, and another began to glow in return.
“Oh no..” Winters mumbled to himself.. “Not Alpha 316.. I hate Alpha 316.”