Monster by Skillet
“I feel like a monster…”
This was not supposed to be happening, not now and not ever, there was no way it was supposed to be happening.
Gabriel Conover stood watching the scene play out in front of him as it happened in fast brutal actions, nothing like he had ever seen, forever staying in his head like an HD movie some wacked out film director spent millions of dollars perfecting. Four people were on the ground tearing apart a man with nothing more than teeth and gripping hands like a pack of wild animals as they simply bit and clawed the poor unfortunate man, sending splatters of blood everywhere as bits of flesh and gristle found their way into the waiting mouths of four…creatures.
The screams from the man were abruptly cut off when one creature reached down and tore out the man’s throat with its teeth, severing the airway and several arties as the sounds of gurgling and tearing flesh reached his ears.
For a moment Gabriel stood wondering how this had happened and why it had to happen here, of all places as he reached into his backpack, fumbling past the water bottles, empty food wrappers and spare socks before he found what he was looking for and dropped the backpack in one smooth motion. The small .38 Smith & Wesson snub nose revolver seemed like a ridiculously small weapon as Gabriel leveled the two-inch barrel to line up perfectly with nearest creature that was still hunched over the dying man as he stood in the Weaver Stance to steady his aim. Once the sights lined up with his target, Gabriel gently squeezed the trigger like he was squeezing a sponge and watched with grim satisfaction that he hit the creature in the back of the head, blasting bits of brains out the frontal lobe as the bullet penetrated and went through, striking the leg of the dying man, who didn’t so much as feel it as it was because he had already gone into shock in a span of several seconds.
The report was loud enough to alert the other three creatures of his presence as he shifted to the left, aiming at the one with fresh blood running down its chin as he stroked the trigger again, feeling the little gun in his hands buck gently. The bullet struck it just above the left eyebrow as it dropped to the floor, causing the creature standing behind it too trip as Gabriel shifted his aim farther to the left before settling his sights on the next one, this one clearly female as he shot it through the center of the forehead before turning to look at the last creature.
It had regained its feet and was moving towards him, less than fifteen feet away as it stretched out its arms at him and it let out a loud wail that sounded like something an animal would make.
Not a human being.
He fired again and caught it in the face directly below the right nostril that caused it to flop backwards in a tangled heap, the round having gone completely through and shattering the Plexiglas window spanning from one wall to the other. The alarm was a shrill wail that was louder than the screaming people scattered around the room huddled in corners to get as far away from the creatures attacking the poor man in the middle of the floor as Gabriel slowly walked forward to look down at the dead man laying in a puddle of crimson blood steadily seeping across the white plastic set down on the floor.
Gabriel put a bullet in the man’s head before looking up to notice that several figures armed with submachine guns dressed in biohazard suits had entered the room through the only door and were aiming at anyone who moved. Six of them were covering the other thirty people scattered around the sterile observation room used to monitor newly arrived people for any signs of infection while two of the figures approached Gabriel slowly, never once taking their guns off him as he slowly flipped the revolver around so he presented it butt first to the nearest man.
Because of the alarm making hearing impossible, one of the men lowered the muzzle of the submachine gun down to point at the ground while the other man took three steps to his right, keeping Gabriel in his sights. Gabriel understood and looked down at the bodies before slowly dipping down and setting the gun on the floor, before slowly taking several steps away from the dead bodies, aware that two guns were leveled at his chest as he sank to his knees several feet away from the bodies and laid down spread eagle.
A boot pressed into the back of his neck as both hands were pulled behind his back, a plastic zip tie was used to secure his hands behind his back before he was given a rough pat down and then pulled to his feet, a strong hand with a grip like a vise on his upper right arm pushing him in the direction of the door while the muzzle of a gun nudged him in the back. Gabriel walked slowly and didn’t bother turning around or even speaking as he was quickly walked from the observation room down the hall and then through another door that seemed like a pretty decent room, if it wasn’t for the fact he was forced to sit down in a chair and then for his hands to be zip tied to chair. In a way it was smart, in case he became one of those things, there would be no way for him to run at anyone with a chair getting tangled up in his legs and he wouldn’t be able to use his hands either.
The two men left the room and locked the door behind them, once Gabriel heard the sound of the dead bolt turning in the lock he actually felt safe compared to being in a room with thirty other people. This room was actually a cell with only one overhead light covered with a metal screen to prevent anyone from making a weapon out of glass from the florescent bulb, so that meant he was in some kind of police station, where he had no idea, but then again he didn’t care a whole lot where he was.
All he knew was that the chances of him making it out of here were slim at best now that several of those things had been in the same room as he had been and he was sure something would come from his action of having shot those four and the dead man. He could hear sounds of people passing him by in the hallway, kind of like Grand Central Station out there, but he didn’t care, nobody opened his door for what felt like half an hour before it did open.
One person entered the room, dressed in a biohazard suit, armed with a short shotgun and carried a clipboard, Gabriel watched as the person pulled a chair over from behind the door, setting it several feet away from him and then sat down.
“Your name?” the voice sounded like the person was attempting to speak through a Styrofoam cup, Gabriel couldn’t see the person’s face either, because underneath the giant suit visor was a black gas mask riot control officers wore.
“Gabriel J. Conover.” He sighed as he slumped into a more comfortable position in his chair as whoever was in the suit began scribbling on the clipboard.
“Date of birth, height and weight?”
“Does it really matter?” Gabriel asked as he noticed the shotgun was still balanced against the side of the chair, ready to rock and roll once the operator needed it, the person in the suit looked up and shrugged once, a gesture that was nearly hidden by the suit as Gabriel tipped his head back.
For several moments neither of them said anything before Gabriel lifted his head to look at the person still sitting there, pen in hand and shotgun leaning against the chair before he let out a deep sigh.
“What’s going to happen to me?” Gabriel waited several seconds before tilting his head back again to keep counting the holes in the ceiling tile.
“First we intend to see if you display symptoms of the virus, if not you will be transported to a holding station to await further instructions, the waiting limit is six hours and if you begin to display symptoms by then,” the person shrugged again, “you will be put down in a humane way and then incinerated, your family will be notified and that’s it.”
“Got no family, lost them all back in…Cascade Falls six days ago.” Gabriel sighed as he looked back at the person wearing the suit, no doubt a government official because they had not said anything, other than a list of questions no doubt committed to memory.
However the person sat up and leaned forward at the mention of the town, “Did you say Cascade Falls? As in the epicenter of this outbreak?”
“Yeah, it all started ten days ago when we started hearing reports of violence breaking out all over town after a train wreck happened sometime in the night, apparently it derailed because it was traveling to fast and went down a ravine not far from town, never did hear how it actually crashed.” Gabriel said as he shifted in his seat, “a couple days after that and a bunch of crazy people started popping up all over the place, like a strike was going on or some mob just decided to get whipped into a frenzy, avoided several areas of town for the first couple days and stayed home from school.”
“You said something about a train?” The person was scribbling furiously now with the pen and looked up at him, only the reflective lens staring back.
“It happened sometime last Thursday night, the local cops said around 11:40 AM it derailed right off the tracks and took a tumble down the ravine, sixteen tanker cars and two engines which is kind of strange once you thought about it, not one single car had markings on it and there was no logo on any of the engines.” Gabriel stopped talking when the person lifted a hand.
“You mean you saw them? You saw the train for yourself”
“Yeah, when it went down the ravine it was actually right next to the road, the tracks were on one side of the ravine and the highway ran along the other side, passed the wreck on my way to school the next morning, but the day after that school was closed for some reason, but at that time I really didn’t care,” Gabriel took a deep breath, “they had K-9 rescue units combing over the area looking for the conductor because there was signs that someone had been driving the damn train, but they never did find the guy.”
The person was clicking something on their belt and speaking softly, not loud enough for Gabriel to hear, but he assumed it was a walkie-talkie as he just sat there, hands cuffed behind his back to a chair before the door to his cell was thrown open.
Five people crowded into the tiny room, each one of them dressed in hazmat suits and armed with submachine guns as Gabriel watched them make a ring around his chair, one of them setting a stool down while the rest set up equipment. One of them set up a video camera mounted on a tripod facing directly at him and turned it on while Gabriel watched another figure open a large briefcase of sorts and pulled out a small box with a bunch of wires sticking out of it.
In a few seconds of complete silence they strung a wire harness around his chest, stuck a bunch of suction cups they had him lick to his head and clipped something onto his finger, during the entire time one of them moved behind his chair and kept the muzzle of the submachine gun rested against the back of his head to remind him not to do anything funny while the rest of them sat down. After testing the camera and setting a microphone on a metal stand within a foot of his face, three of the hazmat suits left, leaving the original questioner, one sitting next to the camera as the operator and the one sitting behind him with a gun to his head.
Gabriel had not made a single sound throughout the entire thing, which was over in less than a minute while the original person who had not moved the entire time balanced the briefcase on a stool, flipped a couple switches, scribbled something on the clipboard and tapped the microphone twice to see that it worked.
“Is your name Gabriel J. Conover?” The tone of voice suggested a straight answer as the speaker faced him again, camera blinking red as Gabriel sat there for a full minute in silence.
“Did you live in Cascade Falls?”
“Is everything you said about the train wreck true?”
“Did you shoot the infected individuals in the observation room?”
“How many were there total?”
“Four of those infected guys and the victim who was dead and about to come back in a couple of minutes.”
A moment of silence followed while the person asking the questions scribbled on the clipboard for a little bit while Gabriel craned his neck slowly to the side to made the crick go away, the gun barrel never moving.
“How did you smuggle a gun past security in the first place?”
“Didn’t really have to sneak it in, nobody frisked me or made me hand over the bag, so I figured that I would keep it to myself until I was given no choice.”
“Where did you get the gun from?”
“Picked it up off a dead body four days ago back in Cascade Falls, right after the community center had been overrun when I was hauling ass out of there, figured that it was better than a tire iron, so I grabbed it and it has saved my life a couple of times since then.”
“How did you know the infected were in the room?”
“What? As in did my spider sense start tingling? Didn’t really know until it was too late when they started eating that other guy, figured that they must’ve had a scratch or the bug from being around other people, a real nasty bite would only take a couple of minutes.”
“Could you explain that please?”
Gabriel sighed, “I’ve seen lots of people just turn because they got too close to one of those things and breathed in something, usually takes an hour or more after some coughing and puking is involved, you learn to see that pretty quickly, sometimes a small scratch or scrap from a fingernail or tooth will take awhile, but a real nasty bite makes anyone turn in only a few minutes.”
“Have you been bitten or scratched?”
That was the one question Gabriel could not answer and had a sinking feeling what would happen if he did answer that question as the person asking the questions slowly looked up, like it had just dawned on them what the answer was from the total silence.
“Please answer the question.”
Gabriel got a soft nudge in the back of the head as he sighed, “Right after getting away from the community center, one of those things jumped through a glass window and tackled me, bit me in the shoulder, not bad, but enough to cause some bleeding.”
Silence reigned for about five seconds before the questioner spoke again, “How did you treat it?”
“After leaving it alone for about two minutes I crawled into the back of an ambulance and patched myself up with some stuff I found, gauze and some sterile pads and then went to the nearest house so I could go to sleep after taking some Tylenol.” Gabriel shrugged back into his seat and waited for the shot to come, one that he knew was coming the moment he confessed, hopefully he wouldn’t feel a thing and wouldn’t hear the shot.
“May I see the bite?”
The question startled him, much more than hearing the gun go off, the pressure at the back of his head went away as he heard a soft click behind him, then something tug at his bonds before they fell away.
Gabriel slowly shrugged out his jacket and removed his shirt to reveal the untidy mess of bandages and dried blood all over his left shoulder as the pressure returned to the back of his head, the questioner nodded at him and Gabriel winced. Slowly he removed the bandages, which was easier than when he patched himself up all alone, feeling the scabs pull away with the gauze that always did when he had changed his bandages every day since he got bitten to avoid any bacteria from getting in there and causing some trouble.
The bite itself was located on the top of his shoulder, just a half circle on the front and another half circle on the back of his shoulder, right there on the shoulder socket. It wasn’t really that bad, just deep enough to break the skin and not tearing out any major arteries or veins, missing the tendons and shoulder muscles completely, because the one that bit him had a lighter jacket to chew through, since then Gabriel had never taken off the leather one he found in the house he hid in for two days. It wasn’t inflamed as bad as it had been a couple days ago, the swelling had gone down a lot and it wasn’t black and blue anymore, just that faded yellow after a bruise started going away after a couple of days.
For a full minute nothing made a sound in the cell as Gabriel gently dabbed at the blood running down his chest to hopefully allow scabs to form up quickly before he heard the same clicking sound as the questioner mumbled softly.
The door opened again, this time with two individuals dressed in white plastic suits instead of the bright orange ones, they also had no weapons either, but Gabriel didn’t get his hopes very high after watching one of them pull out a syringe from a small black bag. It had something in it and Gabriel knew he was about to go under, for a brief second he thought about attempting to overpower the guards, but quickly dashed that thought.
There was the one behind him with the gun still touching the back of his head, if there was some way in God’s creation he would be able to get the gun pointed away from himself, he would still have a shotgun to worry about and not to mention they would probably kill him before he got out of the cell.
“You’ll feel a slight prick.” The one brandishing the needle was advancing slowly, the other one in white had pulled an object off their belt, a stun gun from the looks of it, covering him with it as the one with the syringe stepped closer.
Gabriel turned his head away and forced himself to relax, tricking his mind into thinking that he was eight years old getting a booster shot and he would get a lollipop afterwards.
He felt the sting of the needle as the one removed it from his arm and stepped back, no doubt waiting for the drug to take effect as the room starting getting darker after several seconds, or had it been an hour since the needle had been pulled from his arm?
Looks like he wouldn’t be getting a lollipop after all as he let the darkness welcome him with open arms, at long last reality was no longer his biggest concern anymore.
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