Sara huddled in a corner of her dank cell, her breath coming out in shaky rasps as she shivered violently. Her voice had gone nearly hoarse crying out to her captors and barraging the guards, all of whom wore tactical masks, with shrill questions that garnered no responses. Across from her own cell another young woman was likewise being held, and Sara had again and again called to her in an effort to learn anything she could about their situation, but her desperate queries were met only with sobs or chilling silence.
She had spent the past twenty four hours between her cell and a laboratory. She remembered little of her time in the lab except for masked lab technicians scrutinizing her under brilliant white lights, the room flanked by computers, X-ray illuminators and lab cabinets. Sara had been mostly sedated--few were her lucid moments--but during those brief periods of consciousness, she had been acutely aware of bloodcurdling screams reverberating down the halls. Through her drug-induced torpor, Sara could only wonder with dulled horror what atrocities the poor victim was enduring.
Sara studied her arms, dismayed at the bruises and marks left by the onslaught of needles thrust into her flesh to draw blood or fill her with sedatives. She rubbed her wrists, now chafed and raw from pulling at the restraints confining her to the surgical table when the drugs wore off. Enervated, Sara began to doze off, but a low, gurgling moan roused her. She sat stock-still, forgetting her weariness. The sound was reiterated, louder this time. It seemed to be coming from the cell across from hers.
Sara rose slowly, fear and curiosity urging her to peer through the window of her cell door into the dim corridor. The violent rumbling and rattling of metal followed. Sara gasped in alarm as she watched the prisoner lift the iron bed and send it sailing across the room. The woman turned to the door, eyes wild. Seeing Sara looking out at her, she thrust her face up against the bars regarding Sara balefully.
Sara backed away nervously.
The woman’s expression then changed, becoming woeful. She slowly wrapped her fingers around the bars, the torn remnants of wrist restraints dangled from her arms. “Help me,” she wailed. She then doubled over, moaning and whimpering. When she raised her head again her dark-skinned face had contorted into a grotesque, inhuman snarl, eyes glowing a fierce amber. She threw back her head and roared bestially, banging on the door with such force that the steel bulged where she had struck it.
Sara stared in horror as the savage cry was followed by the gut-wrenching sounds of flesh tearing, snarling and growling. She recoiled from the door with a cry of terror.
The lights went down, replaced by red emergency lights as an earsplitting alarm suddenly sounded. “Warning: aberration detected in holding cell 603. Facility lockdown in progress,” blared a female computerized voice.
Following that announcement, Sara heard thundering footsteps flooding the corridors. She heard muffled voices shouting orders to each other, and the sound of weapons being readied. Despite her fear, Sara ducked low under the window and peered out, working to steady her buckling knees.
Five masked soldiers stood in attack formation, but before they could open fire, the cell door burst off its hinges, scattering them. There was a smattering of swearing, and gunfire erupted as the mutated atrocity stormed out of the cell. The creature stood at a massive seven feet, the left side of its face split open. Blood and brown mucus oozed from the vacant eye socket. The monster’s mouth, now a gyrating hole with razor-sharp teeth, was twisted in an enraged snarl. A small pair of flightless wings dangled uselessly from its shoulders, covered with blood and pus. It was almost impossible to believe that this monstrosity had been a normal human woman just minutes before.
“Get the acid rounds! Take the bitch down!” shouted one of the soldiers.
Another volley of shots were fired. The creature howled, its fury wrought to the highest as the bullets pierced its flesh, spraying the stone walls with blood. The creature flailed out a large, deformed arm, sweeping two of the soldiers aside. It snatched up another man in its large hand and crushed him until his bones shattered with a sickening crunch. The monster made a guttural noise that sounded like distorted laughter as it flung aside the broken corpse like a rag doll. Sara’s outcry was lost in the din.
“Get outta the way!” barked a new voice. “Fire in the hole!”
The remaining soldiers hurled themselves out of the way to make room for the newcomer who held a grenade launcher.
“Oh, my God!” Sara screamed. She dove to the floor and rolled clear of the door, clamping her hands over her ears to drown out the noise, but the thunderous blast of the grenade launcher shook her teeth. The launcher was fired again then everything went silent. At length Sara uncovered her ears, retching as the odor of acid and eroding flesh filled the air.
“That’s how you take down a nasty bug,” joked one of the soldiers.
“Are you nuts, man?! Dean’s dead, and you’re making jokes?” another said disgustedly.
“Hey, we all take our chances here. We knew what we were signing up for. Don’t get soft on me now, Jordan. Better let Doc Grey know we had to dispose of T7.”
“Why the hell do I have to do it?” demanded the said Jordan.
“Because I outrank you,” was the reply.
“Grey’s gonna be pissed. That one was a double failure,” another soldier remarked.
“His project, his problem,” grumbled Jordan. “We’re just the hired guns.”
A flurry of activity followed, during which Sara assumed they were clearing the area. “Incinerate that shit,” the commander ordered.
Sara heard the sound of a pin being pulled, the next moment there was a low explosion and the sound of crackling flames.
“Move out,” the commander barked. The retreat of footsteps resounded in the corridor as the unit departed.
Sara waited a few minutes before venturing to glimpse through the door. Her body quivered with sheer terror, knees trembling as she struggled to stand. She looked over at the damaged cell across to see the remains of the monster engulfed in low-burning flames as it slowly disintegrated into ashes.
A low moan of despair escaped Sara’s lips as she slid down to the floor. Panic seized her heart as she replayed the soldiers’ words in her mind. She was certain that it wouldn’t be long before she suffered the same fate. Hugging her knees to her chin, Sara hung her head and wept in anguish. “Oh, God, please help me. I don’t wanna die!”