Chapter 49: Manmade Monster
“What have you done?”
They all turned to see the first creature, the one Amber had called Sgt. Moore, standing in the doorway. He was watching them with eyes ablaze in anger, fists clenched so hard they were shaking, and mouth set in a thin, even line.
“What have you done?” he demanded again, taking a single step into the room.
Everyone exchanged unsteady glances, unsure of how to respond. No one said anything.
“How could you do something so… so… horrible? Don’t you realize what you’ve done? Don’t you realize what I was doing here? I was trying to create perfection! I was trying to create a new society, a better society! And you have ruined it!”
“What are you talking about?” Eli asked.
The Frankenstein’s monster that was once Sgt. Moore fixed its burning eyes on Eli. “Can it be true? Can you really not understand what is happening here?”
“Why don’t you explain it to us?” Eli prompted.
Sgt. Moore took another step into the room and looked over each of the still fully living humans one at a time.
“How?” he said once his inspection was complete. He paused and fixed his glare back on Eli, who could only stare back, blinking in confusion.
“How can you not understand perfection?” he continued, as though he had never expected an answer in the first place. “And how can I explain it to you, if you do not understand it?”
Eli nudged one of the corpses with the toe of his shoe. “How can you call this perfection? Don’t you realize what you’ve done to these people? How you made them suffer? You’re sick, Mr. Moore. You’re sick and you’re in need of a cure.”
“Sick?” The creature echoed the word as if it was one he had never heard before in his life. As if the very concept of being sick was an utterly impossible and unthinkable thing. “No. I am not sick. I am beyond sickness. I am incapable of getting sick. I am incapable of ever being sick again. I am better than that. I am cured! Forever cured!”
“Cured? You’re not cured. Don’t you understand? Don’t you remember? You were experimented on. You were the test subject for a completely new serum. A serum created from a virus. A virus that your escape and time on the loose has helped to spread. You aren’t cured, you’re the Typhoid Mary of the deadliest disease anyone has ever seen. You’re traveling around bringing death, destruction, and disease wherever you go. You’re like all Four Horsemen of the apocalypse rolled into one body.”
As Eli spoke, the creature began shaking its head, growing more and more frantic with the movement as time passed. “No,” he protested. “No. No! It’s not true. It’s not! I’m the omega… and the alpha. It has to end so that it can began. When God saw how wicked man had become, he regretted having created them. So he brought the flood to wipe out all living creatures. But he chose one. One! To be the carrier of the new generation of man.
“The flood has spread across the earth, and I, I alone can create the new man. The man who shall inherit the earth following the destruction. A new man, who will be free from disease. Free from corruption. Free from evil. We are the new age of man. And only I can create it!”
Eli swallowed and looked to the others. To his surprise, he found himself actually wishing Gabriel was there. Someone who could argue scripture better than he could.
“But the flood already happened,” Eli continued anyway. “It can’t happen again. God sent the rainbow as a promise to Noah that he would not flood the earth again. This cannot be a second flood because God wouldn’t break that promise.”
Sgt. Moore shook his head. “No. That’s just it. He can’t flood the earth again, so he had to come up with a new way to achieve the same ends. He has cleared the way, so that now my race can flourish.”
Eli felt his stomach churning. He wasn’t sure he could take this anymore. “And what if there is no God?” he demanded, slamming his foot down at the end of the sentence as if in punctuation. Sgt. Moore’s eyes went wide. He leaned back and opened his mouth, but said nothing.
“What if this isn’t some big plan?” Eli continued. “What if this is just chaos, destruction, evil? The world is gone. Life has been eradicated from this planet, and you’re only lending a hand to its destruction. How many people have died to create your ‘perfect race?’ Millions? Billions? And what do you have to show for it? What greatness have you achieved?”
“I was nearing perfection. But you! You four have destroyed it!”
“We didn’t destroy anything. All we did was put an end to the suffering of the souls you tortured.”
“No!” Moore stepped forward, his arms curled in towards his chest, his eyes almost pleading. “I didn’t want this! I never asked to be this… this… thing! They made me this. They made me the only one of my kind and I… I only wanted to not be alone.”
Eli was nodding, as if something suddenly made more sense. “But you didn’t start out successful, did you? There were some failures, weren’t there?”
Sgt. Moore stared at him, trying to look confused, but there was surprise in his eyes, and Eli knew he was right.
“The fast zombies,” he said. “The werewolves. The gargoyles. They were all failed experiments, weren’t they? They were all roadblocks to the path of success.”
Something that almost looked like shame clouded the creature’s face. “I… I just didn’t…” he muttered. “They made me this…”
Eli stepped forward, shaking his head, his eyes hard. “No,” he said. “They made you sick. You made yourself into the monster.”
“No.” The creature stood completely still, frozen in place. The word rumbled up from inside of him as if he hadn’t been the one who said it, as if he was just a speaker broadcasting for somebody else. As the echo of it died out he suddenly stirred, as though waking, and roared the word again. “NO!” It exploded out of him like thunder, and suddenly he was moving.
He crossed the room so fast that almost no one even saw him move. He was on Eli in an instant, lifting the smaller man up into the air as if he were nothing more than a paper doll. He wrapped his hands around the young man’s throat and pressed him against the wall, growling like a wild animal.
“Let him go!” Amber shouted, running up to the creature and raising her gun to its head. The creature didn’t respond beyond letting its growling rise in volume. Amber took a deep breath and then pulled the trigger.
The gun clicked quietly, and nothing happened.
Amber pulled the pistol in, staring at it as though it had betrayed her. She must have fired too many shots at the other monsters, and now her clip was empty.
Sgt. Moore let out a roar of rage and did the last thing anyone expected at that moment. He dropped Eli and took a step back.
Mac had been running up with his shotgun, hoping to get close enough to not risk catching Eli in the spray from the blast, but froze suddenly when he saw the creature drop the young man. He cast a quick glance at the others, unsure of whether or not he should take the giant down.
The creature had no such hesitation. Almost the moment he finished stepping back he turned and grabbed at Amber. His large hands clamped down on her shoulders like twin vices. He lifted her high into the air, turned, and threw her into Mac and the others. The group collapsed to the ground in a jumble of flailing limbs. Sgt. Moore immediately turned and grabbed up Eli again, squeezing down on his throat, pressing him into the wall.
“I am not the monster!” he shouted into the young man’s face. “You are the monster! I am the answer! I am the next step! I am the evolution!”
Eli squeaked, trying his best to wheeze out a response. “You… are… death…”
“No! I am a man! I am a…”
Sgt. Moore froze, a curious expression crossing over his face. He seemed surprised by his own words. Once again, he let Eli go and took a step back. As he moved, he stared at his own hands as if they had confused and betrayed him.
“I am not a monster,” he said, slowly and unsteadily, as though no longer sure of his own words. “I am a man.”
He paused and looked up at Eli, and then back down at his hands. “You were right. But there is too much blood on these hands. I am not a monster, I am just a man. Like all men, I am sick, and everywhere I go I spread that sickness. And death. I was wrong. This is not the flood of renewal. This is the end. The time for man is over. We belong dead. All of us.”
He turned and stared at the others, who by this point had all recovered and pushed themselves back to their feet. He looked over each person one by one, until his eyes came to a rest on Mac, and Mac’s shotgun.
“All of us,” he repeated, louder, and the words became a roar as he dashed toward Mac.
Mac’s eyes went wide, but he didn’t hesitate. He raised his shotgun and fired. The blast hit Sgt. Moore square in the chest and sent him spiraling out of control. He crashed to the ground, obliterating some tables with his weight as he went down.
It wasn’t enough to stop him, though. Letting loose another roar, he rose and again barreled down on the group. The creature swung for Mac, but missed as the man threw himself to the side and down, rolling away as he tried desperately to reload.
Aliyah raised her own pistol as Moore turned towards her. She fired off a shot just a little prematurely. The bullet blasted through the creature’s jaw and then out his opposite cheek, but he hardly seemed to even notice. He swung one massive arm out and swiped her across the chest, knocking her away.
Jay also had his gun out, but as the creature turned toward him he felt the sudden urge to lower his weapon. The two men locked eyes. For a brief flicker of time, the rage seemed to die behind his eyes, and Jay could only see sadness reflecting in those dark, black pools.
Mac finished reloading and raised his shotgun, but when he noticed the standoff, he hesitated. The creature noticed him, too. He turned to face Mac, the rage burning in his eyes once again. He roared and took a step forward, and the hesitation vanished.
The force of the blast was enough to lift the creature off his feet and drop him onto his backside. He landed with a groan and this time did not try to push himself back up.
“Wait, no!” Eli had finally recovered enough to speak again, and he scrambled across the room to the fallen man. He knelt down beside him, hands on the creature’s shoulders, and looked into his scarred face.
“The vampire,” Eli demanded. “Where’s the vampire?” He waited, but there was no response. “You made the serum to create your abominations out of vampire blood, right? Where is the vampire?”
Sgt. Moore turned his head in Eli’s direction, but he didn’t seem to be looking at him. His eyes were just blank, empty voids. He opened his mouth, and for a long moment only a wispy, gasping breath came out. When he finally spoke, his voice made a strange whistling sound due to the two holes in his face. “We… belong…”
His eyes went dark, his body went slack, and he said not another word.