Estimated reading time — 5 minutes
If you asked me how long we’ve been down here, I wouldn’t know. We don’t see the sun, and nobody seems to have a watch. It doesn’t matter anyway; we don’t have anywhere to be. For all we know there isn’t anywhere left to be. The surface has surely been overrun with death and decay by now.
There are six of us left. Until just recently there were seven. Her screaming has stopped now and I feel relief. It was hard to sleep with those agonizing screams and the banging on the steel door. Huddled in my blankets, I look around at the other survivors; four men and a woman, all of us unkempt and haggard. At one point we all worked here, but since the accident it’s become our prison. The painfully low amount of food is in a pile in the center of the room, so we can all keep an eye on it to make sure nobody is taking more then we’re allowed per day. There’s enough food for three, maybe four meals. None of us want to think about it. We just stare.
There are no beds, just piles of blankets and paper that make crude sleeping areas. There’s one bathroom at the far end of the complex and it has running water. There are three other rooms, rooms we used to work in, filled with computers and lab equipment that has accumulated a fine layer of dust. We still have power somehow, so all the security cameras and lights still work. Unfortunately none of the computers work because they’ve been shut and locked, as per emergency protocol. Any contact with the outside world is non-existent.
We worked for the military, doing basic chemical research. Somewhere along the line a chemical was leaked, and the results were fatal. People who came into direct contact with the chemical succumbed to vomiting, mild at first, then intense, until they had nothing to excrete except for their own blood. Nobody lasted more then a couple hours once they had touched the chemical. It also spread through saliva, bile and blood, so those with the misfortune of coming into contact with even a single drop are doomed. We had to toss that woman out because we caught her vomiting in the toilet. She said she was pregnant and that it was only morning sickness, but you can’t be sure. Her fiancé, Barry, tried to intervene, calling us animals. We clubbed him over the head, then tied and gagged him to a thick pipe at one end of the room. He strains against the bonds and screams into the gag occasionally, a fierce and wild-eyed look on is face. It’s for his own good and the good of everyone here. He might hurt someone. He needs to be untied and fed eventually, but nobody wants to be the one to do it. So we just sit and stare at the pile of food on the floor that gets lower with each rationed meal. He’s another mouth to feed that we can’t afford.
Everyone is on edge, twitchy and jumpy. Every movement is watched intently, with suspicious and unrelenting eyes. Nobody talks anymore. They just stare. We all know we’re going to die, it’s just a matter of time before hunger or the chemical gets us. It’s all in the backs of our minds, eating away at our sanity.
It’s been awhile now since the incident with the sick woman. Barry died while I was asleep, and our food supplies have run out. I draw the blanket over my head and drift into a fitful sleep, filled with hunger pangs. I’m awakened some time later by the sound of whispers. I can see three members of our group huddled in a circle and identify them as Marcus, Daniel and Eileen. My stirring causes them to look over, piercing me with savage eyes. They start moving towards me with a hungry look on their faces. Their intent hits me with a sudden burst of fear, and I scramble to my feet. Marcus grabs me by the collar, and it tears as I break loose from his grip. Daniel grabs at my blanket and I shove him hard against the third attacker, Eileen. They go sprawling and I spring past them and into the computer room, locking the door as fast as I can. Dragging desks and cabinets, I make a crude and hopefully secure barricade. I see them banging themselves against the door and the windows, glaring at me with feral eyes. Something catches their attention down the hall, and they stop, heads snapping sharply in the direction of the bathroom.
The fifth man, Jackson, must have finished using the facilities, unaware of the intent of the other three. He approaches and peers into the window, a puzzled look on his face. I try to scream a warning, but all that escapes my throat is a hoarse rattle. It’s too late anyway, and his face is smashed against the glass by one of the others. I stare in horror as his face is smashed to a pulp, each thud resounding through the room like a slow heartbeat. Then his body is taken away and there is silence.
They’re gone for now, but they’ll be back. Hunger gnaws at my stomach and I search frantically for any morsel of food. With extreme luck, I manage to find a candy bar in one of the desk drawers and hungrily devour it, thanking whoever it was who had the sweet tooth. My bliss soon passes, and the hunger pains return. I try to sleep, but even the slightest sound jolts me awake. I have no idea how much time has passed but suddenly they were bashing the blood smeared window with a pipe. They’re going to get in, and I will need to defend myself.
There’s an emergency axe in one corner of the room, inside a glass case. I smash the glass and retrieve it, and it makes me fell a little better. My anxiety grows along the spider web cracks on the window with each passing moment. After God knows how many attempts, the window finally shatters and the wild, barely human face of Marcus peers in. I sit in a chair, with the axe out of view, and wait. I’m going to die anyway, so I might as well go out fighting. He climbs in, followed by Eileen and finally Daniel. They approach slowly, in a mini skirmish line. When they get close enough, Marcus raises the pipe for a killing blow. Before he has time to bring it down, I swing the axe and slice him in the chest. The pipe clatters to the floor and as I spring to my feet. Eileen lunges at where I was and crashes into the now empty chair. I swing the axe, catching Daniel off guard and delivering a blow to the temple. His blood showers me and stings my eyes, blinding me. Eileen lunges for me again and tackles me around the ankles, sending me to the ground. I managed to hang on to my axe, and as her hands clasp around my neck I slash her throat. The hands grip tighter for a moment and then loosen, and her lifeless body crumples on top of me.
Pushing her off, I stagger towards Marcus, gagging from the strangling I had just received. He was still alive, dragging himself through his own blood towards the fallen pipe. I stick my foot on his back and swing the axe onto his skull. My heart racing, I stumble backwards and am grabbed by hands from behind. The axe is wrenched from my hand and I feel a sharp prick on my neck. I lose all muscle control and slump to the floor. Through blurred vision I see men in hazmat suits all around me. I hear the sound of their voices, but they seem distorted and far away. Then the man nearest me speaks and the words register into my brain with horror.
“The experiment has gone on long enough,” he says, before I sink into total darkness.
Credited to Kilkenny.