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Bagels

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Estimated reading time — 3 minutes

I’d only been gone for about fifteen minutes, sneaking in a coffee break in the early morning hours. By the time I returned, panic had spread through the office like wildfire.

“James, what’s going on?” I asked, more confused than worried.

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He didn’t have to answer. Instead, he just pointed at the windows. They had been covered in black, semi-transparent plastic, locking us in from the outside world.

“The CDC, they’ve locked us in. Apparently someone’s infected?” he half asked, half stated.

It had only been an hour since we all enjoyed a company provided, bagel breakfast. Spirits had been high, and we were ready to work. Now suddenly, we were literally prisoners.

Through the plastic, we could see armed guards patrolling the building. All dressed in black uniforms and gas masks.

“They can’t just lock us in here without warning. Did you call the police?” I asked.

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He nodded, “yeah, all calls just get directed to their office. Fuck, man, my wife is sick at home, I can’t get stuck here!”

While we speculated, our supervisor called us into the meeting room.

“Listen, I just talked to their director. They’re going to contain the situation, and let us out. As far as we know, it’s all a huge misunderstanding. I haven’t seen as much as a sniffle here in weeks,” he said, clearly faking optimism.

“But if you’re feeling sick, or see anyone displaying symptoms, please let us know.”

What followed was a barrage of questions and protests. But it was a fruitless effort. Regardless of how much we wanted out, we couldn’t even get through the doors, much less fight an army.

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They started counting heads, and quickly realized that one of us had gone missing.

“Has anyone seen Leonard?” our boss asked.

“He went to take a leak… an hour ago,” James said. “I’ll go… I’ll go check on him.”

I joined him, and the two of us went to check on Leonard. As we opened the bathroom door, we were immediately hit with a metallic stench. I almost puked as I saw him, sitting in pool of his own blood, clutching onto a kitchen knife.

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“I tried to get them out, but there’s too many of them,” Leonard said weakly.

He’d cut off chunks of his own arm, and strewn them across the floor. We dove down to grab the knife away from him, at which point I noticed long, thin bits that looks like worms, covering the floor.

“No, stop it! I need to cut them out! You’re killing me!” he yelled.

“Wha – what are those?” I stuttered.

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“Worms?” James asked.

At a first glance, that’s what they looked like. But, after a minute, it dawned on me that the things Leonard had cut out, were his own veins.

“I have to get them out!” he sobbed.

I tried to wrap my belt around his bleeding arm, creating a make-shift tourniquet. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t stick, and before we got a chance at stopping his profusely bleeding limb, he died.

We didn’t even have time to process anything, before we were interrupted by a horrified scream. We rushed back to the office, only to see one of our coworkers desperately try to smash the glass door. Once she’d made a sufficiently large hole, she started dragging her arms against it, cutting them to shreds.

We couldn’t save her in time…

One by one, the office workers fell to insanity. Each begging to remove the alleged worms inside them. We tied down those we could, but with people constantly falling victim to the same fate, we could do little but hide ourselves away.

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From our office, we witnessed the sick cut their own flesh away. They tore their arteries, tendons and nerves out, quickly dying from blood loss. All the while, we just watched.

By the next morning, more than half the staff had succumbed to self sustained wounds. Not a single one of us dared interrupt, lest we ourselves get infected with the psychosis.

At 10:42 AM, the CDC finally contacted us again.

They’d isolated seven clusters of infections around the city. The disease, which caused severe psychosis by literally destroying the brain, was thought to be caused by rapidly acting prions. All of it stemming from meat, bought from a local pastry shop, that specialized in bagels.

There’s no cure, but the CDC promised to let us out, once the infection had been contained. At least they’re letting us contact our loved ones.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll make it out of here… Just an hour ago, my skin started itching. At first, I just ignored it, but then I felt the things crawling under my skin. It hurts, and I can’t ignore it any longer.

Incessant… pulsating… agonizing… worms… they don’t belong…

…I need to get these things out of me, no matter what it takes.

WRITTEN BY: Richard Saxon

(If you want to narrate this story, click HERE)

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