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Phobos the Moon of Fear (chapter 1-8) *new chapter between 1&2*

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I would love to hear some reviews, comments, and critiques. Thanks so much!


Posted chapters 9-12


Before Phobos received help from Mars and a nameless marine it was overtaken by Hellish creatures from an unknown origin. This is one story of survival before help that help arrived.

Marine John Harris must leave the safety of a sanctuary in order to save nearly two dozen survivors and the woman he loves before they run out of oxygen or get killed by invading forces from Hell.



Beneath the surface of a tiny dust covered moon is a vast network of chambers and caverns. While there were no visible openings to the surface at the time, technology had been able to find these networks. Technology had found the tunnels, but never did it find what dwells within them.

Being subterranean, there was thought to be no light, but from one of the larger caverns, light shines on the walls. Light trapped tightly between the walls and the bodies that create shadows that crawl upward.

These creatures are humanoid, and while they have adapted to subterranean life, they did not originate there. In fact no one knows quite where they originated from.

The shadows scurry away from something toward the top of the chamber as a giant left hand peels one of them from the wall. If any human ears were present, they would hear a haunting screech of terror from the creature as it tries to cling to the rest of its brethren for safety.

A light shines from inside of the large hand illuminating the dark hollow cavern. The face of the taken creature glowed from the light that naturally comes from its chest. There are sharp teeth within its mouth, claws at the end of its fingers, but it still cannot get away from the grasp of the giant hand.

In the darkness a giant maw slowly opens to reveal a pit of fire large enough for a man to fit in. Soon after the maw fully opens, the creature is chomped and split in two with its legs kicking in a panic.

The screeches were made silent when the creature was split in two. The top half was eaten alive by the maw and burned in the mouth of fire to be used as fuel. The lower half of the creature’s body was dropped to the floor of the giant cavern.

The bright glow at the center of the creature’s body grew faint. The vibrant reddish yellow light that emanated from the creature’s heart turned into a dead gray.

There were however, four more lights shining from the center of the cavern. On four giant pedestals were more creatures that had their limbs soldered to the top.

Each of their hearts shined a reddish yellow and illuminated their bodies to draw the attention of the massive beast that they were being sacrificed to.

As for the other creatures that crawled on the walls, they clung to the ceiling of the chamber out of the reach of the massive beast. There was such a mass of bodies at the ceiling that no light shined at all. Everything was still as the creatures watched in both terror and delight.

That was until the massive beast tore one of the sacrifices from the pedestal. The limbs of the humanoid sacrifice tore off as they had been soldered to the top of the pedestal with melted rock.

A load rumbling roar came from the fiery maw of the massive beast. It shook the chamber, but the hundreds of creatures remained hidden at the top as they continued to watch.

The sacrifice was moved by the giant left hand of the massive beast from the pedestal to the large maw. The reddish yellow heart began to grow dim from inside the creature’s chest. Even then when the creature was brought to the maw of fire, the light from the heart revealed two large horns arched forward and curved to a point next to the maw.

The creature was eaten just the same way and stoked the fire within the mouth of the massive beast. The sacrifices were used as fuel to power this mighty demon.

With another roar from its giant mouth, it shook the chamber with such force that one of the creatures on the ceiling fell. The creature plummeted from above the massive beast. The light from its luminescent heart lit up the beast’s body.

First the beast’s face which was covered with a metal plate over its forehead. Lower than the plate were two tiny red eyes that reflected the light of the creature’s heart. The enormous head of the beast moved to watch the creature plummet.

As the creature continued to fall, the light revealed a portion of the beast’s mutated body. Twists of fleshless muscle could be seen. That was until the creature was caught by the beast’s giant left hand.

That was only beneath of the surface of the moon named Phobos. On the surface, there was a series of different problems. These were problems that man had brought upon themselves in one way or another. Every other problem could be solved, but the current problem was survival.


It all started with the best of intensions; within a room made of steel and titanium walls there was a single large pad at the center of the floor. The floor was made of a steel grate that allowed everyone on the sub level to see through. Next to the pad were two giant white buffers that faced one another and created a mysterious glowing red light show between them.

The beams of light stretched across the entire room that had the word “Pad B,” marked on the wall. In an instant, a man of Russian descent was thrown out of the light and he had to stop himself before he fell over from his momentum.

He regained his composure and stood tall in a panic, looking behind him to the glowing red light. The Russian man then saw the glowing red light fade and he threw his body around to look at all of the eyes upon him. There were dozens of men and women in white lab coats watching him.

One by one they began to clap, cheer and whistle. A man in a white lab coat stepped out of the crowd. His hair was grey and he had a security clearance card in his breast pocket with his photo and name, “Dr. Voskowalski.”

“Congratulations,” said the doctor as his light clapping came to a stop. The Russian looked wide eyed at the doctor in front of him. The man asked, “Is this real?” “Yes, of course Vladimir,” replied the doctor, who then added, “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“Then I am first,” said Vladimir with his thick accent, only to hear Dr. Vosko comment, “Well you are not the first.”

The Russian was still wide eyed, and he did not believe the doctor. He backed away and screamed out, “Is this real?” The doctor reiterated, “Yes, you are not going to wake up. You are the first to have successfully been transported from pad A to pad B without being turned inside out.”

Behind the Russian, the machine slowly came to a stop. The red light dissipated and revealed a control panel next to the pad that the user had to activate before being teleported. Vladimir quickly turned to the machine and quietly spoke the words, “This machine needs to be stopped.”

“Stopped?” asked Dr. Vosko with almost laughter in his voice, “Vladimir, your successful teleportation just means that testing and development will occur more rapidly! It will be easier to find volunteers knowing that they will live through it, and finally we may even begin to transport things from this moon to the next. Maybe even from Mars and back to Earth.”

Vladimir clenched his stomach and said, “No, it needs to stop.” He hunched over and dropped to his knees before he threw up through the steel grated floor beneath of him. There were groans coming from his mouth and Dr. Vosko called out, “Tendrick!”

There was no response, so Dr. Vosko looked to the crowd of curious scientists, researchers and lab technicians. He asked again, “Where is my lab assistant?” From atop of a metal stairway appeared James Tendrick who said, “Here Sir!”

Tendrick ran down the stairs two at a time and boldly said, “Right here Dr. Vosko.” “Tendrick,” said Vosko, “Please escort Mr. Prudius to the medical ward and the bio research lab. I want them to a full test on both his physical and mental well being.” “Yes Sir,” said Tendrick as he and a lab technician helped Vladimir onto his feet.

As Vladimir was helped away, he kept talking about, “The demons.” Dr. Vosko paid no attention though as he said, “Somebody pop open a bottle of Champaign and get the UAC on the line! I think that we have a reason to celebrate!”

That was followed by a room full of clapping hands as the grey haired Dr. Vosko raised his hands and took a bow next to the teleportation pad. When he came up from his bow he told those clapping, “It hasn’t been an easy four years. You all know we have left our families at home, but once this is perfected, we can bring our families, our children, our wives, and even our mistresses here from Earth. Here in an instant. No one will ever have to stay on a ship for 2 years to go back and forth between the red planet and the blue planet.”

He began to politely clap his own hands and gesture to the crowd as he told them, “I owe it all to you! Every one of you who have been here those four years, and to the new people who have only been here a few months. I especially owe thanks to the UAC for funding this project, building this complex here on Phobos!”

No where in his speech did he ever mention the dozen volunteers that had lost their lives from unsuccessful tests. One of the lab technicians spoke up to ask Dr. Vosko, “What do you suppose Mr. Prudius meant when he said the demons?”

Dr. Vosko of course took the question lightly. This was his nature, and he answered, “I hope that doctors in the medical lab will ask him that question! I have a feeling that our dear volunteer; number thirteen; lucky number thirteen means that only the devil can do what we just did and we just made magic happen!”

A woman crowd with boyishly short blonde hair asked him, “Then why would he have volunteered?” “Good question Grace,” said Dr. Vosko, before he answered, “The UAC has very handsome compensation and benefits for volunteers and unsuccessful tests. I am sure Mr. Prudius was thinking of his wife and two kids back home in Russia. Of course he may have just wanted extra helpings of food in the cafeteria. Who am I to know why anyone does anything?”

The next to ask a question was from a member of security that monitored the room. He first got Vosko’s attention, “Excuse me Sir.” Dr. Vosko was a bit taken back, being asked something from a member of security. He boldly said, “Yes? You have a question?” “I do Sir,” said the member of security. “I do not recognize you,” said Dr. Vosko, “What is your name son?”

“William Jessiah,” he said, before Dr. Vosko asked him, “Well Jessiah, what is your question?” Jessiah asked, “Why teleportation? Why not cold fusion or plasma weapons technology?”

Dr. Vosko happily answered the question, “First and foremost, I am a man of peace. I am not making weapons. Nor do I have the power to make some limitless energy source. Secondly, and personally most important to me; almost ten years ago my wife had a heart attack at home on a very ordinary evening. It was ordinary for us, but for the world outside, it was a chaotic blizzard outside on the streets of Chicago. When I called the rescue squad, the dispatcher warned me that due to the snow it would take the ambulance a good amount of time. I had to watch my wife Julianne, die in my arms because the ambulance couldn’t make it in time. If teleportation existed, she would be alive. I would have had her instantly teleported to the hospital. She would have lived, no matter what the weather was like outside.”

To break the tension, he laughed and said, “That is my reason, but the UAC wants to see cars replaced by teleporters in people’s garages. They want to see airports replaced with teleportation to other planets, and you know what? I want to help them to do that, especially if it will save a life here and there.”

That answer stuck in Jessiah’s mind, but more so, it was a reoccurring nightmare every night for Dr. Vosko. His attempt to alleviate his own nightmares would unleash a Hellish nightmare into the waking reality of everyone in the research complex.

There were many stories of survival, but there was only one of harrowing rescue. There were nearly two dozen survivors trapped in the medical ward and only one man was willing to save them all.


“But you can’t go out there,” said a woman who’s face was pale from fear. Her hair was long and greasy from a week of not being washed. She looked at the man before her. Her gaze was focused on his broad back that was covered in a dark green armor standard issue for a member of the USSMC.

The man before her looked at himself in the mirror of a small washroom. Above him was a single light that focused straight down, and left the rest of the room dark. He was hunched over the sink as he lowered his brow and asked her, “Do you want to get out of here and back to your patients?” The woman almost touched his shoulder, as she shook her head no.

Her arm recoiled slowly as she told him, “Two weeks ago you were my only patient in his forsaken ward.” The man at the sink turned on the faucet in front of him as he continued to look into the mirror. He spoke again, “I remember, and that’s why I’m still alive right now.”

“That’s why we’re all alive,” she added, before a brief pause, “You’re our defender.” He began to wet his hands in the water and wiped the sweat off of his face. The washroom had the scent of recycled air being so small with two people in it.

The woman turned her head to let out a heavy cough next to her shoulder, before she tried to cover it with her fist.

Next to the small wash basin was a pistol. The man glanced down to the other side of the wash basin to see the clip.

After a moment, he lowered his head as he wiped his brow with the warm water and then remarked, “I’ve defended you all so well we’re pinned down. No longer am I going to defend us, instead I am going to save us; all of us.”

He then asked her, “How many days has it been now?”

The woman continued to stand behind him. Her body was covered in green scrubs with a long white lab coat draped around her shoulders. She looked at his rough face in the mirror and answered him with a question, “It’s been at least as long as your last shave.”

“I,” he hesitated, “I lost track of the days. I’ve never been away from my squad this; you know; I’ve been cut off from command. There has been no reason for me to shave.” He then looked at her in the mirror, with his body still hunched over the sink. “You’ve done a good job,” said the woman from behind him, “A great job,” she added, “Considering it is just you here defending us.”

“I’ve got to change that,” said the man in green armor. The woman’s eyes focused on the back of his neck as she said, “A marine to the death.” “Was that a statement or a question?” he asked. She slightly tilted her head to look into his eyes in the mirror again.

She told him, “I’m just reading the tattoo on the back of your neck.” With her index finger, she traced it over his neck and pointed as she read, “Marine.”

“That’s how I’ve been tagged and that’s how I’ll be remembered,” said the marine in green armor. He turned off the faucet and told her, “You want to leave the room? It’s getting stuffy and sweaty with two people in it.” The woman’s breaths were heavy next to him, until she let out another cough with her head turned.

She then turned her head to his body again and asked, “Are you going to leave us?” He turned his broad body around to look at her pale face and said, “I’m going to save you and to do that I need to leave.” “You can’t leave,” she retorted, before she added, “We’ll be defenseless if you go.”

The marine looked from her neck up to her eyes before he uttered, “You’ll still have a lot of guns. You’ll be able to defend yourself.” He gave half a smile on his tan face and told her, “I’ve seen you handle yourself in a fire fight.”

“I did what I had to,” she stated, “I defended my patients when you had your hands and gun barrels busy in blood.” He took her arms in his grasp and told her, “Your duty is to save lives and that’s exactly what you did. My duty is to let command know that there are survivors here.”

She started to tell him, “If command were still... Phobos was hit pretty hard.” “We took all they had and we’re still alive,” said the marine, only to hear her retort, “Barely. There are people out that door that I can’t treat. They’re dying.”

His grasp on her arms loosened when he gave a half hearted smile and told her, “There could still be more survivors out there and I’m sure that they’re all headed for command.” She cynically told him, “Even if there were more survivors; the ward is full John; it was when we sealed ourselves off from the rest of the complex.”

She continued on her rant, “Those stories that people tell when they come in are horrible. Nothing like we’ve seen yet!” “And now we have,” said the marine only to hear her retort, “I meant things that you and I haven’t seen in here. The creatures that they talk about, those things are out there John and you want to go out there?”

“I can handle them,” said the marine, only to see the woman shake her head, “No. No you really can’t. You’re just one man.” John tried to interject a word, but she stopped him as she said, “The last time we heard from command, they said that there were thousands of them. If you leave, those things are going to get you and then come in here and get us if we’re not dead already.”

She took a small white bottle out of the pocket of her white lab coat and poured two pills into her hand. With a quick slap she popped the pills into her mouth and asked him, “Give me some water there please.” The marine quickly filled a small glass and gave it to her so she could down that just as quickly as the pills.

“You need to stop taking those pills,” he told her, but she quickly snapped, “You’re not a doctor.” “Relax,” he said slowly with his calming deep voice, “Why would you think they’re coming here? We haven’t been attacked in three days and like you said the doors to the ward have been sealed shut.” He then calmly added, “Welded shut and barricaded.”

“I can’t relax without you or the pills,” said the dark haired woman folded her arms as her face began to pout. She then asked him, “Why are you really leaving?” The only response was when the marine turned his head away from her gaze. She spoke words, “Give it up, I know why you’re leaving.” “Don’t make this harder than it is,” retorted the marine.

The woman in the white lab coat gave him a sharp comment, “You made that choice last night John.” His body turned to face the mirror and as he picked up his empty pistol, he looked into his own eyes and then said, “Call me Harris.”

There was a voice, “Sergeant Harris it says here.” John was no longer in the tiny bathroom. Instead he was in a clean white bed with his eyes slowly starting to open. His right arm was bandaged up with stains of blood beneath of it. There was a cold wet rag on his forehead and he was covered by a thin white sheet.

Behind his bed was a long window that spanned across the ward. It was a window that overlooked the grey surface of the Martian moon that they were on. The window had giant black shutters to protect the thick glass from the grey dust that would periodically stream across the moon’s surface.

High in the sky was the giant and unavoidable red surface of Mars. The tiny planet appeared massive simply from how close proximity the moon was to Mars. Outside the window was a place with no atmosphere, nor any breathable air.

However, in the room, the air was fresh and breathable.

The voice spoke again to ask, “How are you feeling today Sergeant?” His eyes swirled as he looked over the clean white ward. All of the beds were empty beside him. He was the only person in the ward, aside from the woman that had just asked him the question.

The blue eyes of Sergeant Harris looked to the woman. Her arm cradled a clip board and in her left hand was a pen to write down his answers. He asked her, “Where am I?” There were white walls, a white ceiling and a flickering light over him. He spoke a quip, “Is this heaven?”

“Hardly,” she said, “You are in the medical ward on Phobos.” “How did I get here?” asked Sergeant Harris. “You were there, you tell me,” said the woman as she slowly clicked her pen to calm her nerves.

She inquired again, “How are you feeling today?” “Didn’t you just ask me that?” wondered the sergeant, only to hear her reply, “But you never answered me Sergeant Harris. How do you feel?”

“First of all, call me Harris,” he told her, before he asked her, “Do you feel good?” She stopped clicking her pen briefly to wonder, “Why do you ask?” “Because you sure look good,” he told her.

Her only response was, “That is the best line I’ve heard since I started working on this grey rock.” “Why is that?” he asked, before he followed up with, “What else have you heard?” She shifted her brown eyes to the left and pondered, “Oh I don’t know.”

The arm holding her pen fell to her side as she stood for a minute and tried to remember. In that brief time, Harris looked over her slender body from her thin green scrubs covered by a white lab coat to her long black hair tied in a bun. “I have it now,” she said. Harris quickly said, “Let’s hear it.” “How would you like to give me a sponge bath?” she stated as her eyes shifted back to her only patient.

“Please doctor,” uttered Harris, “We’re not even dating yet.” “Yet?” she asked, before her eyes squinted and she postured her head differently, “Trying to be sly isn’t going to get you any special treatment here Harris. I am no angel of mercy and I’ll treat you just as badly as all the other boys in green.”

“I already feel special,” said Harris, only to hear her retort, “And why is that? Is that because a marine like you just put one over on me?” “No. It’s because I am taking up all of the doctor’s time,” said Harris. There was of course no one else in the long room full of white beds.

She gazed down to the clip board as she scribbled something on his form. Harris had to wonder, “What are you writing?” She continued to write as she slowly told him word for word, “Seems in good spirits, reluctant to answer questions.”

She then added, “Oh and I’m not the doctor; Just a nurse.” Harris could only ask, “Where is the doctor then?” “Don’t know,” she said, “Dr. Stein didn’t show up today.” There was an intermitted pause, until she added, “Or the day before.”

“That’s been happening a lot,” stated Harris as he watched his nurse continue to fill out the form with her left hand. “What’s happening a lot?” she wondered.

“Oh nothing,” he replied before he continued with a deeper vindictive voice, “People haven’t been showing up to duty lately either.” With the form almost filled out, the nurse told him, “We have duty here too Harris. It’s just not as glamorous as patrolling the surface of the moon like you.”

With that said, the nurse’s eyes looked to the long window in the ward. The ward was atop a ridge of grey carbonate rock and overlooked the rest of the complex on Phobos. The research complex on the face of Phobos was in the pattern of a T and had a stretch of monorail from one building to the next. Above it all was a lone control tower at the center of the T.

Harris told her, “We’re keeping this grey rock safe.” After a mere moment, the nurse continued and completed the form. She then folded her arms around the clip board and then wondered, “Safe from what Harris?” She let out a small chuckle, and added, “There is nothing on the surface. No water; nothing to even support life.”

“Just because there’s nothing on the surface,” he said, “Doesn’t mean that it is safe.” The nurse tucked her pen into the pocket of her white lab coat and told him, “I know it’s not. If it was, you would not be here now would you?”

“So,” Harris uttered, “When can I go?” “You Sergeant,” she started to reply, “You are mine for at least three more days.” “I told you before,” he started to say, but the nurse then cut him off, “Call you Harris?”

She then put the clip board at the foot of his bed and told him, “And you can call me Phoebe.” Harris gave her a smirk as he said, “You must be the only Phoebe on Phobos.”

“Funny,” she said, “My kid brother said that to me when I told my family that I was assigned to this place.” Harris continued the conversation, “My dad said something similar, only he said that I’d be the only one on Phobos.”

With a slight smile Phoebe told him, “For that to happen, three hundred members of personnel would have to abandon this base.” After that was said, she began to walk away quickly with the bottom of her lab coat whipping behind her.

Harris called out, “Are you abandoning me?” “No!” She called back to him, “I’m giving you your bed rest!” Once she was at the door to the white medical ward, she turned to look at him one last time. Her delicate hand pressed a button to open the door to the ward as she called out to him, “In the meantime, maybe you can remember why you’re here. I’d really like to know why your arm was almost burnt off and you almost killed yourself!”

In an instant, Harris was back standing in front of the mirror looking into his own blue eyes. He took the clip from beside the sink and quickly slapped it into the base of his pistol. He then pulled the barrel of the pistol back with the sound of a metal clink to turn off the safety.

The sergeant turned around with his pistol at his side and told her, “I need to get to command.” The nurse pleaded with him, “Don’t go Harris.” “And don’t fall for a marine,” he told her, as he looked into her brown eyes.

With a quick motion he slapped his hand against a button next to the door of the washroom as he told her, “You’ll only get yourself dog tags in the end.” The door of the tiny washroom slid to the side and Harris pushed his way around the pale nurse Phoebe.

Once he was past her, Phoebe turned and used her forearm to wipe the sweat off of her forehead as she watched him. She muttered to herself, “He’s right Phoebe.” After that was said, she let out a heavy cough and curled her fist up to her mouth to cover it.

After exiting the tiny wash room, the marine Harris found himself in the no longer clean medical ward of the base. There were eighteen beds in three rows that lead to the front of the ward where the only exit was. Each bed was full of the injured, bleeding and dying.

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The medical ward that was once crisp and white was now dark and barely lit. The walls were dingy with scuffs, lined with claw marks and damaged from shotgun blasts. The shutters outside of the long window were closed to defend the ward from anything outside.

Harris boldly walked through the dingy medical ward from one end to the other. He passed by beds being used by the badly injured and the dying. Passed by areas covered with blood that needed to be mopped up and went right passed a man in black that had watched him the whole length of the ward.

The man was relatively uninjured, except for some scratches on his face and neck. He wore a black uniform with light armor over it. The uniform was that of UAC security at the research complex. The name stated on the shoulder of his left arm said Santura.

Harris had a determined look on his face as he moved a yellow storage bin from its place of rest against the wall. He slid it to the center of the room just in front of the double doors that lead out of the ward into Section 3 of the Phobos Labs.

Blocking the two doors that lead to the outside was furniture, and beyond that there were stacks of heavy containers. That was the traditional way out of the medical ward, but Harris knew of another way. It was a way that hadn’t been thought of before by the attackers.

It was the ventilation duct that supplied oxygen to the room. The heating ducts were small and added heat through vents on the floor. Above each vent in the ceiling was a slow moving fan that blew the air down through the vent and into the room.

A tall black skinned man stepped up to Harris atop of the heavy yellow container. This man also wore a uniform that he was part of security as well; only his right sleeve had been torn off. It was torn off by Phoebe, when he first came to the ward injured. His right bicep and forearm were both wrapped heavily in white bandages.

That was not his only injury, and it may have been the least severe of his injuries. Over his right eye was a thick piece of gauze and keeping it in place was a bandage wrapped around his head. A head that would normally be shaved bald, but given the circumstances, it had not been shaved in a week.

He asked Harris, “Do you need anything?” Harries looked down and pointed to the floor near one of the beds as he said, “Yeah, that shotgun.”

Harris glanced down at the man’s left shoulder and when he was given the shotgun, Harris told him, “Thanks Jessiah.” There was no nod or comment in response; instead the tall Jessiah looked up to the vent above Harris.

Santura finally spoke up from a distance, “Where in the Hell are you going?”

Before Harris bothered to answer, he used the muzzle of the shotgun to batter through the vent in the ceiling. The vent dropped down to the floor with a loud clang.

Harris answered, “I’m going to command central.” Santura quickly replied, “Screw that man; we’re all safe right here.” Harris elaborated, “You’ll all still be safe here, and I am not asking anyone to come with me.”

“Listen up!” commanded Harris to the medical ward. Each of the two dozen survivors slowly turned their gaze to the marine that walked to the center of the ward; at least those that could open their eyes. Each of the eighteen beds was full and there were other survivors propped up against the walls and in chairs.

There was no discrimination amongst the injured. There were men and women of every age group, job position and ethnicity; the only thing that there wasn’t children, because they are not aloud in any of the UAC buildings.

Harris pressed a button on the left forearm of his green armor. With the button pressed, there was a static that could be heard by everyone in the ward.

One of the men able to stand spoke up to ask, “What’s that sergeant?” The patient arched his body to push himself off of the wall. Harris turned his head and upper torso to the man and said, “That is the sound of static.”

The man took a few steps closer to Harris and spoke up when he snidely asked, “Yeah and what does that mean?”

He was a man with grey hair and round eye glasses over his set of darkened blue eyes. He wore a pair of tan slacks with a buttoned down shirt and a tie. Over his clothes was a white lab coat.

Harris faced the man as he told not only him, but the entire ward in a deep voice, “It’s been a week since I’ve heard anything from command central; our marine HQ on Phobos.”

The nurse watched from the door of the tiny washroom as Harris interacted with the nervous and worried survivors. Harris was their protector and a man that had kept them alive for the time being. No one wanted to see him leave; most of them feared that he would not come back.

Harris continued as he looked around to the faces of the patients that were in dismay, “We’ve been cut off and there’s been no com traffic for days.” The man in the white lab coat let out a brief cough into his shoulder before he asked, “So you’re telling us that we’re going to die?”

“Hell no,” said Nurse Phoebe in offense as she decided to stroll the room. Harris shut off his radio speaker and looked to the nurse.

Harris looked to Phoebe for a moment and almost smiled, before he looked back at the man in the white lab coat. He said, “Look Mister.” “Its doctor,” the man almost screamed, before he elaborated, “I didn’t go to school for eight more years just to be called Mister.”

“So what’s your first name?” wondered Harris only to hear, first a cough in disgust followed by, “Doctors do not use their first name and read the nametag sergeant, I would have thought that even leathernecks can read.”

“Not from this distance, No,” retorted the marine after he dropped down to the floor.

Instead of giving the marine his name, the man in the white lab coat merely looked to his assistant and said, “Tendrick; would tell this leather neck what my name is.”

“It’s Dr. Vosko,” said the man, but Dr. Vosko reminded him with a simple statement, “Chain of command.” The assistant Tendrick added, “Sir this is Dr. Samuel Voskowalski or Dr. Vosko for short.”

Dr. Vosko commented the obvious, “That’s me and we’ve been here a week, I would expect you to have learned it by now!” Harris merely retorted, “Somebody shut up Dr. Vosko.”

The jaw of Dr. Vosko clamped shut and his eyes grew wide in the disbelief that he was treated in such a way. His head turned to his assistant and he took a quick breath in through his nose before slowly exhaling the air.

Harris then glanced at Phoebe for a bit of strength and told the ward, “I’m going to get help from command central and bring back a rescue party.”

With that Dr. Vosko uttered, “Ah so just Harris is going to die. I heard he was suicidal to end up at this ward before the rest of us.”

He then gave a smug smile before he began to cough into his chest uncontrollably for a moment. In the background Harris gave the shotgun to Jessiah and quietly said, “Hold this.”

Phoebe had a concerned look as she rushed to the coughing man in the white lab coat the patient controlled himself and then in a rush said, “I’m okay. It’s okay.”

After that was said, Harris asked, “You’re okay right?” The man in the white lab coat said, “Yes I’m fine no thanks to all of this stress.” “Good,” said Harris, before he reached back and punched him with his right hand. The blow sent the man’s body spinning to the left as he hit the floor.

Phoebe asked Harris, “What was that for?” The man clutched his jaw and painfully asked, “Yeah what the heck was that for?”

Harris held his fist and said, “Sorry Sam. It’s just that you were annoying me and all of this stress is getting me; that and my pet rabbit.”

Santura jumped in to ask, “Rabbit? What fucking rabbit?” However, Harris was completely oblivious to the statement, as he quickly faded into a memory that he had with Phoebe two weeks ago.

Harris had not been paying attention then either when she asked him, “How’s my favorite patient doing?”

He opened his eyes to discover the white medical ward again, and he was indeed the only patient in the ward.

“I was trying to sleep,” he said to her, and a bit flustered, she told him, “I should come back then.” “No, stay,” he said as he reached out his good arm.

He then elaborated, “The other nurses,” there was a pause as his arm dropped to his bed and he said, “I don’t like them.” Phoebe told him, “Well they aren’t fond of you either Harris,” After which she gave a smile and she asked him, “So have you thought about why you’re here?”

“Is it for the service?” wondered Harris without a smile, but Phoebe’s only response was a long, “No” that trailed off at the end. She pulled up a chair and moved it to face his bed.

Phoebe sat down in the chair with her clip board and told Harris, “We need to talk about your condition.”

The right arm of Harris was still wrapped in bandages, and he asked, “I’ll live right?” She said, “Of course, but we need to talk about if you do want to live.”

Harris tried to dismiss her idea, and gestured with his left arm before he looked away a moment and laughed. Phoebe uttered, “I’m serious John. There are a lot of people here wondering why you tried to kill yourself.”

“No it wasn’t like that,” said Harris as he began to lose his cool, before he added, “And call me Harris. Not Sarge, not sergeant, and especially not John.”

Phoebe tried to calm him and put her hands up a bit as she crouched down in the chair. She told him, “Harris, look this is a serious issue. Everyone down at the testing range said that you jumped into a plasma discharge.”

She continued, “You would be dead if there wasn’t a proximity sensor that turns off the stream when something is about to cross the stream.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he reiterated, only to hear her plead, “You can tell me Harris.” She then even went so far as to turn around and put the clip board on the bed behind her.

When she turned back around to Harris, she told him, “This is off the record; this is just you and me sitting here.” She then got closer to him and briefly touched his arm.

He put his head back further and looked to the ceiling as he let out a heavy breath of air. After a moment he put his left arm across his forehead and told her, “I can’t talk about it, because I don’t remember.”

“Fine,” she said, and added “I won’t push you, but one of these days you’re going to tell me.” “Yeah,” said Harris, “How are you going to do that?”

Phoebe then stood up and said with a smile, “I have my ways.” She turned around and grabbed her clip board once again as Harris looked up at her and wondered, “Does it involve that sponge bath you offered? Because you know the USSMC has trained us to resist tortures like that.”

She curled her arms with the clip board against her chest and told him, “That wasn’t funny. That wasn’t even in the same ballpark as funny.” With a sweet smile, she listened to Harris as he said, “Funny is on Earth and we’re on Phobos right?”

With her index finger, she pointed briefly as she said; “Now you’re getting it Harris.” “And now you’re getting it too. Call me Harris.”

“Well Harris,” uttered Phoebe, “Is there anyone that I can tell that you’re down here, maybe get you some visitors?” “Yeah,” he replied, “There is one visitor that you can bring down here who is dying to see me.”

“Who is he?” she asked quickly with a slight pause, “Or she?” “You can bring Lucky down here,” he replied, with Phoebe quick to ask, “So ah how do I get this Lucky?”

Harris replied, “You head up to my room at the military base.” “Be serious about this,” she told him, and of course, Harris retorted, “I am serious.”

He then added, “Lucky is my rabbit.” “Your rabbit?” she wondered. “Yes my three legged rabbit,” elaborated Harris.

The memory was soon shaken off from the mind of Harris as he looked into Phoebe’s brown eyes.

She asked him, “Are you okay Harris?” Santura laughed and said in slow distain, “Look at this! He’s not going to last out there!”

Santura then began to pace through an isle of the beds and pointed out, “Look, we are severely and utterly screwed if we leave the safety of this ward.”

Phoebe then let out a brief cough as she tried to agree, “He’s right Harris. Don’t leave.”

The deep voice of Jessiah rang out, “Harris is right. We’ve gotta get out of here.”

Jessiah spoke his mind, “The air in here is poisoned,” and Harris corrected him, “It’s not poisoned, we’re just running out.” He then looked to the floor before looking at Phoebe to tell her, “If we don’t get out of here, there isn’t going to be enough air to breathe.”

“Not to mention food,” said Jessiah, before he said, “We have enough guns and ammo to survive, but this ward ran out of rations a long time ago and I don’t like the alternative to what we’re gonna have to do to survive.”

Harris then looked to Santura as he said, “And we’re running out of time. If we wait much longer, the UAC might think that we are dead and lift all of the drop ships off of this dead rock.”

As Dr. Vosko stood up, he commented, “They would never leave without me. I am their lead scientist for the teleportation technology.” Harris bluntly asked, “Look doc, have you seen any rescue parties in the past week looking for your ass?” Harris added, “Or any of us for that matter.”

Santura questioned, “Why don’t we just all make our way to the hanger and take off?” Harris shot that idea when he mentioned, “Because it’s not procedure and there’s no way we could get all of the injured there.” Santura made a broad gesture with both of his arms and loudly said, “Oh that’s right. We have procedure. UAC procedure, but guess what Harris; there is no procedure for the complex being overrun by deadly creatures that kill on sight!”

“No,” said Harris, before he elaborated, “But there is procedure for whenever a marine gets cut off from command. Procedure says that unless the marine is already on a mission, the marine returns to command for orders.”

Santura yelled and looked to the ceiling a brief moment, “Jesus, would you listen to yourself? You are a boy scout looking for orders. Well what if you get there and your scout leader is dead?” Harris uttered, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but for now I am leaving and no one is following me.”

Phoebe told Harris to, “Wait.” Harris lowered his head and looked back to her and said, “Yeah?” There was nothing that was said, just something that Phoebe wanted to say. Instead her head shied away and her body slumped down a tad bit.

Harris climbed back onto the heavy yellow container and reached his arms into the ventilation duct above him with both arms. He gave Phoebe one last look and said, “I’ll be back.”

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With one mighty leap, Harris went into the ceiling via the ventilation duct. Once he was in there, his arm reached back into the medical ward one last time for Jessiah to give him the shotgun.

After taking the shotgun, Harris was gone leaving a ward of two dozen survivors more hopeless and pessimistic than ever. Phoebe sat down on a bed next to her and slouched over as she ran her hand through her hair and looked at the hole in the ceiling waiting for Harris to come back.

Santura brashly wondered, “Man what do we do while we wait for this guy to come back?” Dr. Vosko commented, “We play cards and wait for death.” He said that with a chuckle until he began to cough from the bad air in the ward.

“No,” said Phoebe, as her arms came down from her hair, “He will come back for us.” She nodded her head as she said it as if trying to convince herself.

The bed that Phoebe sat on was occupied already and it was at this time he decided to speak. He was a much older man with grey hair and unshaved grey whiskers. His body was tucked firmly beneath of the blankets on the bed with his arms untucked.

He opened his blue eyes and slowly began to speak, “I know what we do.” Santura quickly asked him, “Yeah what’s that old man?”

“We shut up and wait,” he boldly said, before he continued with a harsh tone, “If anything comes in this ward, we blow it away.”

With that said, Santura came strolling over from the isle, “Who the hell are you to be telling me orders? When you can’t even get out of bed and stand yourself.”

The old man in his bed replied without a smile, “I’ve got two hands and two trigger fingers. Both are ready willing and able.” He then bent his right elbow and made a motion to squeeze his right trigger finger around a gun and shoot at the ceiling.

He then commented, “I’m someone from a generation full of men like Harris. We didn’t need technology to teleport, we just drove and flew damn it!” There was a cold stare to Dr. Vosko the teleportation specialist, before the man continued, “And when we needed to stand up and fight, every man that was able and uninjured grabbed a gun and went into battle.”

The man’s words sank into the mind of Tendrick, the assistant of Dr. Vosko. Santura however had thicker skin, and he found the words offensive. His face grew bitter from the taste of the words in his mind.

Phoebe told the man, “You need your rest, don’t let them get you worked up like this.” She then curled her left fist and coughed away from the bed toward the floor. With the push of his left hand, the man tried to shove the nurse out of his bed, “Then leave me be until you can find me a doctor of medicine.”

When the nurse stood up, the old man continued, “You know what; when we all grabbed guns and marched into battle, we all won too.” Santura commented, “Sure doesn’t look like you won with those two stumps of yours.” Beneath the covers of the bed it was virtually flat after the lower half of the old man’s torso.

The old man quipped from his bed, “At least fighting on my feet, lost me my legs instead of sitting on my ass and losing my head like some of you.” Tendrick agreed with him, and so did the badly injured Jessiah. Tendrick was not trained to fight, he was just trained to get coffee and deliver papers to other departments.

Jessiah was badly injured and only had one working eye. The right eye was wounded, bloodied and trapped beneath of thick gauze. Someone with one eye cannot aim to shoot.

The man asked, “Isn’t there someone standing there that will follow Harris?” No one stepped forward, although Jessiah wanted to see some action. However, Jessiah had already seen too much action that caused his injuries.

No one stepped forward or raised their hands, so the old man muttered, “Pussies; All Pussies.” After a moment of being worked up his breaths were uneasy until he let out a cough into his chest.

Jessiah stood at the open ventilation duct and uttered, “Harris I wish you luck man. Hope you have some angel of mercy watch over you.”

Everyone’s focus turned to the open duct, as Jessiah grabbed a shotgun from the wall and readied it incase someone other than Harris returned.

Meanwhile, in the cramped ventilation duct, Harris continued at a steady pace. In his left hand was a small black flashlight that was a standard issue to all USSMC. In his right hand was a tech pistol that was also standard issue as a sidearm. The shotgun had a shoulder strap so that Harris could easily take it with him.

With his body sprawled out, he crawled on his elbows to make his way through the tight duct. There was light in the form of lines that came from each vent that he passed. From each vent that he passed, he could hear ghastly moans and the sound fires. Every so often he could see the flicker of a fire through the vents that he would pass.

In front of him he could see a flickering red light at the junction of the air duct. Along with a mild roar and a dull hum that also came from the path that he was on.

When he made the turn, he discovered the roar of a fire that was blazing through the vents of the room below. Over each vent was a slow moving fan to circulate the air, but not even the fan was effective against the fire.

This fire is the reason that everyone was coughing back at the medical ward. The air would circulate through and over the fire to end up in all of the rooms that used the ventilation duct.

Harris then commented to himself, “Looks like a barbecue.” He noticed that there was another poor soul that had been trying the same thing that Harris was. Only this person was dead and facing Harris.

In the fire was a torched skeleton barely visible at first. It was face down at the other side of the fire, charred black.

Harris uttered, “Hope my ticket doesn’t get punched like that.” After a pause he then commented, “Or was stupid enough to go through the flames.”

From the last vent that Harris had passed, he could hear the sound of creatures. Long screeching howls that echoed in the ducts.

If Harris had been facing the other direction, he would have probably seen the shadows that the creatures made blocking the light passing through the vent.

It was so tight that it became impossible for him to change directions or even look behind him, but it did not matter, because his flashlight went out. The flashlight itself works on kinetic energy and needs to be shaken to have the power to light. The only comment from Harris was, “Ah shit.”

The ducts then shook with a tremendous force as an explosion from behind him rumbled through the complex. The explosion caused the ducts to cave in behind him, and the duct that he was in collapsed.

When the duct collapsed, it was like a cup pouring dice out of it. Harris tumbled face first into the fire and rolled through the fire and to safety. His flashlight was lost in the fall.

Fortunately for Harris his green USSMC uniform is flame retardant, even if his head wasn’t. He was uninjured, but shaken and he quickly stood to his feet with his back to the raging fire.

The entire room was on fire. There was one major fire that created a wall with minor fires that were burning on desks and the walls themselves.

Beyond the room was a dark hallway that had a bend in it to some other room. Except for the bright red fire, there was no other light coming in the room.

That is when he heard the ghastly sounds of human moans. Not the moans of the living in pain or even the sounds of pleasure for that matter. These were sounds of the tortured.

Harris grabbed his pistol and pointed it toward the dark hallway in front of him. However, the ghastly moans were coming from all around him. Unfortunately the moans could have been coming from the dark hallway, the room itself or being transmitted from the duct itself.

A voice came over the intercom system. It was the computerized voice of the Phobos complex. An automated warning that told everyone in the area, “Attention: Oxygen to Phobos Labs Sector 3 has been blocked.” Sector 3 was where the medical ward was located, and the automated voice announced again, “At current capacity oxygen will expire from Sector 3 in approximately eighty minutes.”

Harris continued to listen to the automated warning as he muttered, “I wonder if that is with or without the fires.”

There was no other audio warning, but instead there were just the ghastly moans from all around him.

Harris lowered his head and took a step forward toward the dark hallway. He could see his shadow cast by the large fire behind him.

Before he could get too far, something came from behind him screaming through the fire. A man with a name tag, and lab coat had come through the fire with his arms raised. The man was on fire and screaming as he grabbed Harris around his broad armored shoulders and Harris was forced to throw him off.

Once the man was thrown off of Harris the man tried to stand up, but consumed with fire, he just fell back down. The man’s hands and head tried to move, but did not get far with the agony of being consumed in flames. The screams of pain soon stopped and the man’s life had expired.

That is when Harris heard something from the dark hallway. It was the sound of movement. However, Harris did not call out a word for the movement to identify itself. This was hostile territory. It could be the enemy in front of him. Instead Harris just raised his pistol and waited.

The sounds continued to move forward toward Harris and soon came the body of a survivor. Harris could see a man’s figure in the darkness and he called out, “Identify yourself!”

There was no answer, just the sound of movement of the man getting closer and closer. Soon enough the man’s legs came into the light of the fire. His right leg was badly wounded and the man walked with an intense limp. A limp so bad that the man’s right shoulder was propped up against the wall for the man to walk.

Harris called out, “Start talking to me!” The man walked into the red light of the fire. He was a badly injured soul that had a severe head wound on his right side and a gruesome missing arm.

When he saw this, Harris holstered his sidearm and told the man, “We need to get you to the medical ward!” The man continued to shuffle forward until he exited the hallway.

He was barely able to stand and made no motion forward instead he gave a breathy wince forward followed by a moan in pain. Harris looked to the walls to find a medical kit fixture one of them. The kits could be found in most every room in the research complex due to the UAC not wanting a high mortality rate.

This particular medical kit had fire crawling up the side of it, but Harris risked the flames to yank it from the wall. He set the kit on a desk that wasn’t burning and opened up the kit.

Within a second he grabbed the bandages, but behind him he was oblivious to the staggering man that had stepped up behind him. With the man’s only arm he grabbed the collar of the green armor Harris wore.

Harris jumped up with a fright to see the man’s mouth open and blood pouring out. He said, “I’m gonna help you, but you need to just relax. I’ve done this before.” Then Harris muttered, “Well only on a rabbit that was caught in a trap.”

The man continued to crowd Harris and breath heavy next to him, so Harris pulled out his sidearm and yelled, “You’re in my personal space, so step back before I make this a mercy killing!”

The pistol was pointed directly into the eye of the man and Harris warned him again, “Step back.”

After that was said, something grabbed at the left knee of Harris and clung to him. It was the original man that was on fire. Harris looked down to the man then to the one armed man to hear that man hiss with his mouth open wide.

Harris pulled the trigger of his gun and put a bullet into the eye of the one armed man. Then he pointed his pistol down at the man on fire and put a bullet in him. There was chunky brain matter all of the walls and floor from the two men.

After briefly observing the carnage, Harris turned to the desk and closed the medical kit. He sat down in the chair next to the desk and commented, “Sorry fellas, there ain’t nothing that can cure a bullet to the head.”

From the dark hallway, there continued to be the sounds of moans and ghoulish howls. Harris picked himself up off the chair and readied his shotgun. He then headed into the dark hallway guided by the fires.

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Soon after entering the dark hallway Harris found himself to an office full of cubicles. The area was dimly lit and used only emergency lighting at the floors.

Each cubicle had a dark desk with a few working monitors that lit up the darkness with their screens. Each area was relatively unharmed, and Harris took a seat at one of the work stations.

A work station that had a lit monitor with blood spattered across it. There was even a downed body next to the desk with a bullet in his head.

Harris leaned over to the work station and touched one of the monitors with his hand. He kept an eye out for anything moving as he used the touch screen to search for answers.

He pressed a button on the screen labeled, “Voice activation.” The prompt on the computer screen read, “Use the microphone for verbal activation.”

“Computer, why aren’t these fires extinguished?” he asked into the thin black microphone. The computer prompt read, “Insufficient manpower.”

Harris grabbed the microphone and yanked it away from the desk when he asked, “Computer, are there any automated systems to put out the fires?” With a glance, Harris read the prompt that replied, “Systems turned offline.” “Computer, who turned the system offline?” he barked, only to see the response, “Voice reorganization of John Harris has insufficient clearance for that answer.”

“Computer, can I ask what caused these fires?” he asked. “There were many causes. The major causes are from trauma to the structure resulting with interior explosions,” responded the computer prompt.

“One last question;” stated Harris, before he asked, “Computer, are there any survivors in command central?” The computer prompt quickly answered, “That cannot be determined at this time.”

The computer screen then displayed a blueprint of the building and zoomed in to show that communication to command central has been severed.

That was all Harris needed to ask the computer, and his time was interrupted anyway by the sound of shuffling feet. The sounds were followed by breathy moans of pain and want. Not just from one source, but from multiple sources; from many voices.

As Harris pointed his shogun into the darkness, Nurse Phoebe continued to run through his head. In his mind, he could remember when the ward was clean and white.

He was standing at the long window looking out to the grey surface of Phobos. His body was a single figure in front of a view of a massive red planet looming overhead.

Harris could hear Phoebe’s voice, “What are you doing up?” Harris could hear his own answer, “I didn’t like staring at the walls.” “Yeah, I heard that you didn’t,” uttered Phoebe in a quick tone of voice.

Phoebe ordered him, “Turn around sergeant.” The head of Harris began to turn, but still not face her as he said, “I told you.” She quickly interrupted, “You’re lucky that I’m not calling you prisoner right now.”

That got Harris to turn around instead of just a glance. He wondered, “Where did you hear that?” “Looking through your file,” she said, before she held out a clip board with his profile on it.

She quickly told him what she discovered, “It mentions words on there like, Earth, murder and three. Here, let me put them in order for you; Three murdered on Earth. The most interesting word on there is slaughter; Like that one?”

Harris took the clip board and flung it to a neighboring bed as he grimly said, “They gave me a second chance.” “To do what?” she wondered, “Come up here and never be seen again?” He told her, “Why did you ask that question when you already know the answer?”

She quietly yelled, “Because I need to hear it from you!” Harris retorted in a bold voice, “What do you want me to say?” He hushed his voice as he looked into her eyes and told her, “Do you want me to tell you that I was a cop, they were criminals and they had to die?”

Phoebe boldly stated, “I need the truth Harris.” “Why is that?” he wondered, before he stated, “As a nurse you have to help the wounded.” “I am now the highest ranking medical staff that showed up today,” she said, “And as the acting CMO I am the one responsible for your discharge. I am now the one that has to sign the papers to get you sent back to Earth.”

He asked, “Yeah, and what’s wrong with that?” “Duh marine!” She screamed, before she pointed out, “If you murdered three people and bargained to go into the marines, then you injure yourself bad enough to get discharged, you are back on Earth!”

She continued to rant, “And if you are the one that purposely injured yourself!” Her stomach felt weak and she had to sit down on the bed used by Harris.

Phoebe struggled to find the words to tell him, “It is just that I now have a ton of responsibility. None of the doctors have called in. I’m all alone here, and I’m a follower, not a leader.”

Harris gave a broad gesture with his good arm as he commented, “Look across this ward Phoebe, I am the only one here!” She took a deep breath and let it out trying to ease how tense she was.

She then pointed out, “You are the only overnight, but I have an office that is getting crowded with people. Bites, scratches, and scars; they are all pouring in today.”

“So why are you here?” asked Harris only to hear the dark haired nurse reply, “Because this is my lunch break.” She let out a sigh and then stood up, before Harris told her, “Sit back down. Please. Let’s have lunch together.”

She said, “I can’t.” “Why not?” asked Harris in a calm tone. “Because med ward food sucks,” she replied.

The lips of Harris almost formed a smile just before he said, “The food served here is the same food as everyone else on Phobos.” “Yeah,” she said, “And all the food here sucks.”

Phoebe told him, “I really can’t stay Harris. I mean I would like to, but I can’t.” “So you came to yell at me?” he wondered and she replied, “Well it did help yelling at you than yelling at the patients?” “So what am I?” he wondered.

“You, Harris,” she started to say, “You are something different.” He told her, “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

After a moment of silence for Phoebe to catch her breath, Harris told her, “Come up to the window. Take a look outside. It’s just like looking at a fish tank. It’ll help calm your nerves.”

“Look Harris; I need to pass on that one,” said Phoebe, before she went to the foot of his bed and stated, “But you can watch it with your friend.” Phoebe reached down beyond the foot of the bed and pulled a cage with a brown rabbit inside.

He looked and said with a smile, “You got Lucky.” Phoebe told him, “No I brought Lucky.” She came closer to Harris and put the rabbit cage on the bed next to his. In fact, she put the cage on top of the clip board that had the profile of Harris on it.

Harris reached for her hand and said, “Come on, just take a look out the window for half a minute with me. It will do you a world of good.” She took his hand and went a step forward to join Harris at the window.

As she looked out the window with Harris, she asked, “Is Mars that world of good?” Harris told her, “The view of Mars, but the world of good is the size of Jupiter.”

Phoebe had to ask, “So how were you able to smuggle a rabbit past a bio scanner?” “It was easy,” he replied, “Just pulled her out of my helmet when they were done scanning me; didn’t even have anything up my sleeve when I did that trick.”

She asked him, “Do you have any other tricks? Like escaping prison by taking a quick trip up to Phobos and getting a medical discharge?” He told her, “I’m not that crafty.”

She then asked, “So why are we looking out there when there is nothing to see but a giant view of a tiny red planet?” He replied, “There are patrols out there.”

Pointing with his finger, he found a patrol. Sure enough on the outside hundreds of meters away and dozens of feet down was a lone marine dressed in green space suit covered with plates of thick armor. The helmet worn by the marine had a giant black visor to protect him from the brightness of the sun. The boots worn by the marine had a very wide base to them.

Phoebe wondered, “Is that one of those shit jobs they give the bad boys?” Harris told her, “Every job on here is a shit job. If it wasn’t we’d be back on Earth.”

Harris then commented, “I am surprised that shit is in your vocabulary working in such a clean place.” She retorted, “It has been a really bad day. Besides that, this place isn’t as clean as Dr. Stein wants people to believe. It is sterile, but not clean.”

“So have you ever walked out there?” She asked and after a moment, Harris replied, “Yeah a few times.”

The two of them continued to watch the very slow journey of the lone marine outside as he trekked from the far side of the complex to the near side. Harris and Phoebe remained silent for a brief moment as they watched.

That was until Phoebe screamed “Holy Shit! What is that?” After that comment the body of Harris flew forward as the nurse continued to scream, “Do you see that?”

A creature rose out of the powdery surface of Phobos behind the marine. The creature was a shade of grey that matched the surface of the moon’s surface. In the distance they could only see that it was humanoid. It had a head, two arms, and two legs. In the center of the creature’s body glowed a red light.

At their distance it was more shocking than terrifying. The two of them watched side by side in astonishment with faces close to the thick pane of glass.

Once the creature had risen fully out of the surface of Phobos, it lurched forward. The marine was totally unaware of the creature behind him. Within the blink of an eye, the gray creature pounced on the marine’s back knocking him down.

The body of the marine started to sink in the fine powder of the surface and became partially covered. His arms were up as he tried to defend himself against the strange attacker.

The creature knew just where to attack; right at the marine’s domed helmet. There were big swings from the arms of the creature as it attacked the man in green.

After only a few swings, the creature had cracked the glass of the marine’s facemask. That was just before the glass of the face mask shattered and the marine’s body splattered into blood.

As for the creature, it opened its mouth in victory and looked around to the research complex. It then leapt away and back into the dust of Phobos.

Phoebe stood horrified, as Harris grew angry, but then another grey creature crawled across the glass of the medical ward window. Its body was the size of an adult male. It had cracks of black across its skin, and claws that clung to the black shutters outside of the window.

As the creature climbed upward, they could see that in the center of its body was a glowing reddish yellow heart. That was their terrifying close glimpse as both Harris and Phoebe jumped backward away from the window.

Phoebe was seen shuddering away from the windows as she took two more pills from the small white bottle. Meanwhile, Harris had walked over and slammed on the button to close the shutters.

He was instantly snapped back into the reality of a dark office with cubicles. Moans came from all around him as he held out his shotgun with one arm and searched for a light switch with the other.

Harris had three things focused to the large office of cubicles; His eyes and the barrel of his shotgun. However, the left arm of Harris that felt the wall was grabbed firmly.

The barrel of his shotgun swung to whatever had just grabbed him and Harris could hear a haunting wail of sorrow. His forearm was easily yanked away from the mysterious stranger in the darkness; a stranger that wailed next to Harris.

The figure of the stranger was completely dark and outlined by red flickering light from the fires. Harris ordered the figure, “What’s going on here!”

Instead the figure grew closer to the dim light of the computer monitors. Harris could see the mysterious stranger that much clearer in even the dimmest of light.

The monitors lit up the side of the man’s face with a blue hue. The entire left side of the stranger was torn apart with blood pouring out of the wounds.

Harris took a step back, deeper into the office of cubicles. He then barked a query, “Were you in an accident?” The questions flowed from the mouth of Harris as he wanted an answer. Any answer at all, other than a moan. Harris asked, “Are there any more survivors? What is your name?”

Then he decided to appeal to the stranger’s common sense with a warning, “If you come any closer, you’re getting shot.” But still, the stranger lurched forward with his arms out reaching for the head of Harris!

“Fine,” said Harris, who raised his shotgun to the head of the stranger and pulled the trigger. However, there was just the sound of a click. The shotgun wasn’t loaded.

When Harris tried to pull out his pistol again, he was attacked from behind by three people that grabbed his legs. He let out a loud yell as he was tackled by a mass of bodies and pulled to the ground.

Meanwhile, in the medical ward, Dr. Vosko was arranging red shotgun shells on one of the storage containers. He then counted them with his finger, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.”

Jessiah spoke up and asked the doctor, “Why do you have those out? Put them back in the box where you got them.” Dr. Vosko had a wicked smirk as he said in a droll tone of voice, “Right away.”

The assistant to Dr. Vosko asked him, “Where did you get those?” Tendrick got the answer, “From someone who won’t need them anymore.”

That was a believable answer considering they were in the middle of a situation where the dead were piling up. Somehow Tendrick knew who his boss had taken them from.

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Bodies swarmed over Harris as he took out his pistol. He shot blindly into the three bodies that covered him. There were terrifying screams as Harris put bullet after bullet into whatever he could shoot.

An entire clip was emptied from his pistol and one by one the bodies dropped next to him. As he stood up, he reached for a clip from his small pack.

In the darkness there were unseen bodies all around him at his feet.

The stranger stared at Harris with a face that was shadowed. The only thing that could be seen of the stranger was in the faint blue light that emanated from the computer monitor.

Harris warned the stranger, “When I load this gun, I’m shooting for the head. So why don’t you and all of your friends just run away now.”

With the slap of his hand into the butt of his pistol the gun was reloaded. That is when Harris saw the light switch to the entire office.

He pointed his gun forward and flipped the switch with his free hand. One by one, the lights flickered on. The first light to turn on was at the far side, and slowly the lights worked their way toward Harris and the stranger.

The lights shined brightly overhead. A few of the lights shot sparks out before they burnt out permanently.

In front of Harris was the stranger that tormented him. The stranger looked up to the light and gasped in horror from the brightness.

That is when Harris noticed the eyes of the stranger were a polluted dingy yellow. There were no pupils in the eye. The skin of the stranger was pale and nearly transparent showing almost all of the veins in his body.

After the horrific gasp at the light above him, the stranger slowly lowered his gaze to Harris. Then his chin lowered to face Harris as well.

Harris didn’t like what he was going to have to do and asked the former human, “Why didn’t you run?” He then gripped the pistol with both hands and put a bullet into the stranger’s head.

The former human staggered backward, but still stood. Harris then muttered, “Never seen that before. Shot the head, you should be dead.”

Harris then took a step closer to the strange former human and looked at it. The stranger had already been badly wounded before the bullet to the skull. Glass was sticking out of the left side of the man’s face. There was both fresh blood pouring out of its head and dried blood on the side of its face.

The former human continued to gasp as it fell to one knee and had difficulty standing. Harris uttered, “I’m not medic. I can’t save you.” As the stranger looked up to Harris with its yellow eyes he put a second hole through its forehead.

The body of the former human slumped backward and fell onto a work station.

Harris turned around to survey the office in the light. He quickly discovered a sea of cubicles. Almost every cubicle had a mutilated body in it.

Each body was awoken by the light and slowly rose at the scent of Harris. The only person living in the room had waked the dead. As heads and yellow eyes began to appear over the tops of cubicles, they were all going to make him pay for that.

Some of the former humans began to crawl over the walls of their cubicles. Others slowly walked around the walls and formed lines that went toward Harris.

“Its gonna be a rough night at the office,” said the marine in green as he stared at the mob that leered at him.

Harris quickly aimed his pistol to the nearest aggressor and pulled the trigger twice. Two bullets to the head made the monster dead; again. There was not going to be enough bullets or clips to finish off everyone in a sea of cubicles.

The marine in green armor had another idea. He looked up above him and spotted another vent in the ceiling. He holstered his weapon and jumped onto the desk of a nearby workstation. While on top of the desk, he ripped the vent from the ceiling.

Harris then hit the light, which made the entire office dark again. He had the belief that the aggressors would not be able to see him. However, what he did not think about is if they could smell him.

As his legs dangled out of the air duct, the dozens of former humans grabbed him. The head of Harris was still in the duct and could be seen in the light above him emanating from the duct.

The living corpses pulled him down from the duct and Harris was forced to pull out his pistol again.

With the squeeze of a trigger the area was briefly lit with red light to show the ghastly faces of the damned around him. He could see their terrifyingly vacant faces with their mouths stretched open.

Everything could be seen in the faint blue light that came from the computer monitors with their UAC logo screensavers.

There was no where for Harris to run; he was pinned down in a cubicle. He was moving back further and further from the opening in the ceiling that was his only means of escape.

Bullet after bullet was shot into a swarm of two dozen people that were former humans. He was forced to reload, before they finally grabbed a hold of him.

With the former humans hanging off of him, he was unable to be effective with his shots. The pistol was either fired into their bodies or accidentally shot at the ceiling. Either way, Harris knew his ticket was about to be punched.

From elsewhere in the office, there was gun fire. It was heavy gun fire; gun fire that Harris could see brightening not only the room, but his chances of survival.

He was rejuvenated to fight and punched with his left hand and shot with his right. Even if he could use this method to put the dead back to rest, he did not have enough bullets.

The gun fire continued from beyond the sea of two dozen former humans and Harris proclaimed, “I’m just holding out, to thank whoever it is.”

He did not have to wait long though. The bodies of the former humans were literally ripped away from the swarm and shot in the head. Shotgun blasts ripped through the meat of once innocent people.

Harris heard a friendly voice bark out, “Hang in there buddy! Keep fighting!”

Just as that was said, Harris had run out of bullets and needed another clip. However, the former humans had him overwhelmed.

They had Harris bent over backward across the work station.

In order to survive, Harris ripped a flat screen monitor off of its pedestal and used it to keep the former human from biting off his nose. Instead of smashing the former human in the head, he used the flat screen as a shield. The luminescent blue light showed the face of the former human in clear view.

Harris could see the hideous face of one former human that loomed over him. The man was missing an eye for whatever reason, and he was missing his lower lip as well. Probably bit it off. The drool from the former human drizzled onto the screen of the monitor.

There were many hands around the neck of Harris, either trying to choke the life out of him or merely to hold him down so they could get a bite.

Soon enough the former humans on top of him were pulled off and promptly shot in the head. The lipless man was the last to get yanked away from Harris.

Harris could hear a growl from the man that had just been pulled off of him. That growl was followed by the sound of a shotgun blast.

A gloved hand reached down for Harris and waited for him to take it.

The eyes of Harris first looked at the hand as it waited for him. Then his eyes looked up to the man that had saved him.

The man that had saved him wore a black helmet that read, “UAC” on it with the word, “security” beneath of it. The helmet was held on by a chin strap. Under the helmet was a pair of red goggles that made his saviors eyes glow with a red light.

Harris tossed the monitor aside and Harris grabbed the hand of his savior.

The savior shined his flashlight at the chest of Harris and asked, “You’re not one of them are you?”

Harris stood on his own two feet, but was reluctant to say anything. He had just been saved by a squad of five members of UAC security. Three of them had their flashlights on Harris while the two others watched their flanks.

His savior asked, “Did we just save a living dead?” The man laughed with a fake smile as the rest of his team looked to Harris. He told Harris, “Better say something quick or else you’re going down like the rest of them.”

“Thanks,” said Harris as he reached into his pack to grab another clip. “He does talk!” exclaimed the savior.

Harris hesitantly told them, “I was hoping that you’d be someone else.” His savior was a bit insulted, but said, “I was hoping to find someone more grateful.” To diffuse the tension, Harris said, “Anyone with a gun and ammo I am happy to see.”

The shortest member stepped toward him. Harris was then blinded by the flashlight as he heard a feminine voice speak, “Hey Davis, show some respect. We saved a sergeant.”

Harris could only say, “You wanna get that light out of my eyes?” “Oh and tough too!” said the sly feminine voice.

His savior gripped a machine gun and had the strap around his shoulder. He then announced himself as, “My name is Davis. Private Cutter Davis.”

Harris had to ask, “Is that your real name?” Cutter wondered, “Why wouldn’t it be?” Harris was anti social as possible as he asked, “Were your parents knife salesmen?”

“No,” Cutter replied, “I was a twin and my brother got the name Carter.” After a pause, he added, “I think that I’m the lucky one.”

Cutter ordered the shortest officer, “Check him.” Harris stopped her for a moment and asked, “For what?” One of the members behind Cutter yelled, “For bites! Don’t you know?”

“It’s the rule,” said Cutter, before the short one commented, “Anyone bit gets shot on the spot.” Harris gripped his pistol and asked, “What if the one you are supposed to be shooting is packing heat of his own?”

Cutter commented, “Five on one sergeant.” After an uncomfortable pause, Cutter asked, “So what do we call you?” Without a smile, he replied, “Call me Harris.”

“The mousy thing that is about to check you is Smith,” said Cutter, before she interjected, “Staci actually with an i.” Cutter then stated, “Smith is going to check you for bite marks. Oh and don’t get any ideas with her, she’s already taken.” “I’m taken too,” commented Harris.

“To your duty I bet,” interrupted Staci with a smile that was unseen in the darkness.

A voice came from another of the UAC security that said, “If you refuse you get shot on the spot too.” Cutter commented, “And that’s Duwalt with the shotgun.” Duwalt then warned Harris, “I’ve had to shoot a superior officer before.”

Staci commented into the ear of Harris and said, “Yeah and that’s how he got this lovely job here at Phobos. Instead of throwing him in the brig, they sent him here. So now he’s our problem.”

Harris could see her eyes from within her glowing red goggles. She used her flashlight to look over the head and neck of Harris. Smith commented, “He’s wearing armor, he shouldn’t be bit.” Harris commented, “I’m not bit.”

Cutter commented, “I will wait for our medic to tell me that.” Staci commented again as she looked at Harris, “I’m not really a medic, I am just the one carrying the first aide kit.” There was mild amusement on the face of the rugged marine.

Cutter continued the introductions, “Next to Duwalt is Golden Shane Goldstein, our blonde bomber that is here because he flunked out of USIT.” Shane didn’t offer his hand or a salute, but instead he just turned his head to face Harris and said, “I should be in a white lab coat, not black armor. This is what they say I’m good at though.”

Duwalt spoke up to tell him, “Well you’d be dead right now if it wasn’t for the gun in your hand.”

As Staci checked Harris with a flashlight, Duwault asked Harris with a shaky voice, “What is a straggler like you doing out alone?” “Just trying to get to command central,” answered Harris.

Cutter wondered, “Why would you be headed there and not to the hanger to evac this rock?” “To meet up with master chief,” replied Harris as he secretly wondered something to himself. Harris asked Cutter, “Are you feeling alright?”

With the gesture from his gun toward Staci, Cutter asked, “Why wouldn’t we be? We have a medic.” Harris glanced to Staci and bellowed, “What about you Smith? Are you okay?” “Tip top,” she said.

Harris told them, “Thanks for the checkup, but I should get going.” Cutter had a smile for a reason that was only apparent to him when Duwalt chimed in, “We will go with you!” “I don’t want anyone slowing me down,” said Harris as he lifted himself away from Staci.

Smith then commented, “He’s clean, no bite marks.” She was not very thorough, but considering that he was wearing armor over a marine issued body suit, it was safe to assume nothing would get through it.

Harris asked, “What about him?” With a gesture, he pointed to the fifth member of the squadron and asked, “What is his name?”

The officer was watching one of their flanks when Duwalt said, “Come on Thompson; don’t be shy introduce yourself to Harris.” Thompson first glanced over his shoulder to Harris, before he finally lowered his weapon and put up his hand to salute him.

When Thompson lowered his weapon to salute Harris, the only thing that could be seen on Harris were his red glowing goggles. Above the goggles was the glow of his gloved hand in a salute.

Harris told Thompson, “Put down your hand and put up your gun. We’re in hostile territory.” Thompson started to say, “Yes Sir,” but unknown to Thompson there was a former human in the darkness that lurked next to him.

A former human with its jaw stretched wide open. The cold living dead body snarled into the ear of Thompson.

The snarl could be heard by everyone and suddenly there were three flashlights focused on Thompson. Next to him was a pale skinned former human that had blood and flesh that oozed from its mouth!

The former human clamped down onto the unprotected neck of Thompson just beneath his helmet. There was a spray of blood that flew into the air as Cutter readied his machine gun in an instant.

Cutter squeezed the trigger of his machine gun and for a few seconds the chatter of gun fire filled the otherwise silent air of the office.

The former human fell backward and took Thompson with him.

There was Thompson, on his back on top of the former human that had its arms spread out and its head in a few bloody pieces soaking in a pool of red on the floor. Thompson was soon holding his neck and screaming in a gargled yell of pain.

Blood was everywhere as Cutter uttered one word, “Gun.” Without hesitation Duwalt stepped up to Thompson’s downed body and pointed his shotgun down at the head of Thompson.

Smith looked away, because she knew what was going to happen. She had seen it happen before. She whispered to Harris, “Shot on the spot.”

As Harris watched, he tuned everything else out. He did not hear the loud blast of the shotgun, but instead he heard the words from Duwalt’s mouth, “His name is dead.”

Harris stood in shock as he stared at the hollow helmet of the security officer that had a new interior of red paint.

Eventually Harris snapped out of it when Cutter touched his shoulder and said, “It had to be done.” The brow of Harris was gleaming with sweat from discomfort. His face was almost turning red from anger and his breathing was deep.

Harris asked, “Why did it have to be done?” Golden crouched down as he looked to the gory mess that used to be the face of Thomas. Golden even put two of his gloved fingers into the bloody helmet and looked to Harris before he said, “Because he’s not one of us.”

Duwalt put his shotgun on his shoulder as a sign of arrogance and asked, “Are you one of us?” Harris tried to calm himself and said, “If that’s the alternative. Hell yeah I’m with ya.”

Cutter then ordered his squadron, “That was enough of a show. Now let’s get the Hell out of here.” He then asked, “How are you for ammo Harris?” After opening up his pack to check, Harris replied, “Not good.” “Better take Thompson’s shells,” said Cutter, before Duwalt laughed to himself, “He ain’t gonna need them.”

Golden grabbed a box of shells off of Thompson and threw it to Harris. The iron reflexes of the marine acted well even with his distress. He snatched the box out of the air with ease without even looking.

Cutter and Duwalt went ahead with their flashlights and weapons. Harris however needed a tug on the elbow from Smith, who softly said, “Come on; Command central is on the way to the hanger. Come with us.”

Harris still stared at the gore in the room before he quietly wondered, “Why do the dead come back to life?” She retorted with a stern whisper, “They come back to life, because there is no heaven here. That was back on Earth.” After a pause, she added, “God is back there too and he can’t help us.” Staci went off into the darkness and Harris soon followed her.

Golden watched everyone go away, before he licked the red off of his fingers. He had a vacant expression on his face as his tongue had a long red streak on it from the blood.

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Well, whatever it is the fanfiction.net clique didn't like about your stuff, I don't think the imagery was the problem. The scene in Chapter 1 is bitchin' (peeling the creature off the wall was the coolest part), and if you take more time to polish it I think it could be pretty stunning.

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Thanks so much for reading it Impie! I received a cryptic review on this story recently. Another review that I had to delete blatantly insulted me.

I will polish it once it is done. Can't spend too much time going back each chapter. Doing it chapter by chapter would be like a start / stop / start / stop situation.

Again, thanks so much for reading :-)

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I'll admit I've only read chapter 1 so far. Senior year, English major, and all that. Maybe I'll get to the rest at a later date.

It's probably a good idea to complete it before doing major edits because at least you'll have a finished product. I'm sure the others will throw in their two cents when they get around to it.

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Harris followed the security officers as they lead him down darkened corridors. There were fires spread through the offices that they passed and damaged view screens with static on them.

After minutes of following them, Harris stopped when he noticed something. The others continued on their path and had not noticed that Harris was left behind.

Harris stood in front of a working communication panel. The screens were turned on and showed cameras and a blueprint of the entire complex. Eventually Harris figured out what to do. He had to press the room of the blueprint that he wanted to talk with.

At first he found command central, but there was only static on the screen and static that came through the speakers. He even took the long thin microphone and said, “Come in command central; Sergeant Harris reporting.” He tried pressing other buttons on the panel, but there was nothing, “Can anyone hear me?” Still there was nothing but white static on the screen and no voices responding to him.

He was disheartened, but then thought to check the medical ward in Sector 3 of the Phobos Labs. The view screen then displayed the camera view of an empty office. There was a black leather seat that sat on the screen along with the word “Storage,” written on the wall behind it.

Harris spoke into the slim microphone again, “Paging Phoebe. Nurse Phoebe, please answer.” He was intent on watching every little detail of the screen to see if there was any indication.

There was nothing, so he restated, “Can anyone in the medical ward hear me? Pick up damn it!” He then wondered out loud, “And women complain when men don’t call them the night after.”

Harris hunched over the control panel in dismay. His mind began to wander back to the memory of when Phoebe had paged him.

In his mind he was back in a happier place. Back in the crisp white medical ward. However, this time there were red lights on the control panels that covered the metal walls of the ward.

His rabbit sat in a cage on the bed next to him. The rabbit was perfectly calm and oblivious to the chaos that the research complex had been thrown into. The medical ward was about to start filling up.

That is when the voice of Phoebe came over the intercom in the ward. “Harris,” he looked for his nurse. “Paging sergeant Harris,” said the Phoebe over the speaker, before her voice elaborated, “Come to the intercom and push the button Harris.”

He did so quickly, because it was for Phoebe. With a slap on the wall, he held down the button and said, “Yeah?” She said, “I need you Harris get down to the OR.” Then she annunciated, “Immediately Harris.” “Sure thing,” he replied, before she told him, “Stop by the storage locker and bring heat. The combination is 3-2-1.” “Be right there,” he said, before he released the button and said, “Now where the Hell is the OR; where is the storage locker even?”

After a moment of searching, he found the storage locker outside of the ward in a darkened corner. He quickly entered the three digit combination and rolled the door up to the top revealing a cache of small arms. Four hand pistols, and plenty of clips to go with them. Harris snatched a pistol and said, “These doctors can make patients.”

Harris burst open the double doors to the operating room where he found Phoebe. The OR was mostly metal. Metal shelves, metal cabinets and a metal table in the center underneath of a single bright light. Aside from the grey steel, there was blue trim that lined the cabinets and table.

Phoebe wasn’t alone; there were two nurses with her. They were all in green scrubs with caps on containing their hair. They each had clear plastic glasses and masks on. Phoebe was wearing a black scrub cap that had a pattern of a tiny face of a mean looking man.

“Why did you call me?” he wondered, and the rest of them looked to Harris, before Phoebe told him, “We have a job to do and so do you Harris.” Phoebe was seen with a needle injecting it into something. The nurse next to Phoebe exclaimed, “We called security, but they wouldn’t answer.” Phoebe jumped in and told him, “So we called you.”

Harris stepped up to the table that the nurses stood over and he glanced down to find the patient. “That’s Winters, our chaplain,” said one of the two other nurses. Harris looked down and saw an old man with his legs covered in horrid burns. He then asked, “Yeah? I’m not going to put this man out of his misery.” Phoebe was injecting both of his legs with something that would make him lose all feeling.

Phoebe began to tell Harris, “There is a man.” Wham! The sound of a blunt object could be heard that slammed against the door of a second exit. She continued, “There is a guy out there that won’t leave us alone. We had to shove him out and lock the door. He’s trying to get in and if he gets in you shoot him okay?”

Harris didn’t know how to react, he said “Uh,” and stepped to the second door. Phoebe then looked down to Winters and said, “This guy has to lose both of them or the virus is gonna contaminate him too.” Winters was greatly against it. He flailed his arms and said, “Marine! Shoot me now! Shoot me now marine! It is your duty to protect this place!”

“Let’s put this guy out,” said one of the other nurses. Wham! The sound of an object hitting the second door could be heard again. Harris peaked through the shatter proof glass and yelled, “I can’t see anything out there!” Outside the door was sheer darkness and Harris could only see a reflection of himself in the glass that was made of diamond shaped tiles.

Harris could hear the turn of a knob of anesthesia from next to him. One of the nurses had cranked it on to put Winters out. He kept screaming, “I don’t want surgery. I don’t want to become one of those things!”

With a glance back to the operating table, he looked and asked Phoebe, “I thought you were a nurse.” She retorted, “Yeah and I thought I told you to shoot anything that comes through that door. We both deviate from our jobs from time to time don’t we?”

The other nurse put the mask over the face of Winters and told him in a calm voice, “Just relax chaplain. Count backward from one hundred.” The door made a brutal thud again that caught the attention of Harris.

Phoebe explained, “The surgeon can’t be found. Dr. Stein and Dr. Foster are MIA too.” She then saved a book in the air with her finger in a page and exclaimed, “So that makes me CMO, and now I need to read this book to do what no one here is qualified to do.”

It was chaotic, and Harris found it difficult to keep his focus. After a moment of Winters breathing into the mask he was at 80. That is when Phoebe realized, “Is the gas even on?” She took the mask off and smelled it herself. “The gas is on,” said the nurse in a calm voice as she checked the valve. Phoebe uttered, “Yeah, but it must be empty.”

The sound of steel hitting steal could be heard on the door of the storage room. The nurse asked Phoebe, “Is there more?” Phoebe answered, “Not in this room, but there is more in…” Wham! Another sound of a body hitting a metal door could be heard. It was obvious where the tape was.

Harris offered the idea to help, “Want me to get it?” Winters started to ramble quietly, “They just bust through the glass of the chapel.” Harris stepped close to them and asked, “What did? What broke the glass?”

Phoebe and the two nurses continued to discuss the anesthesia situation, as Harris continued to listen to Winters. “Demons,” whispered Winters, “Demons did this to me. Smashed through the glass at a sermon they did.”

Harris tried to tune out the nurses as Winters continued to speak, “Almost didn’t make it out alive. Doors started sealing to keep the whole complex from depressurizing. That’s when it got me.” In the background there were loud bangs and a human scream from the storage room that prevented Harris from hearing the rest.

Instead Winters gave a speech that fell silent until he was out. Harris said, “Phoebe.” She was caught in a heated discussion and Harris cried her name again, “Phoebe!” With that she finally looked down and saw Winters.

Harris asked, “Is he gone?” Phoebe looked to a life monitor that told her, “No he’s still with us, but his legs are what has to go.” She then told the nurses, as she looked at her watch, “Look girls; this has got to be done now or we’re going to lose him. He’s out, won’t feel a thing until tomorrow if he wakes up.” The smash of glass was heard in the room and tiny tiles of glass sprayed into the OR.

A creepy pale arm reached through the opening in the glass. Harris then took his heavy foot and slammed his heel into the back of the hand that reached through the door. If there was a moan of pain, that was mute compared to the sound of the bone saw in the hands of Phoebe.

Harris was busy with someone that he could only see the hand of while Phoebe was busy removing both legs of the chaplain. One of those two things went better than the other. Harris staved off the strange attacker stuck in the closet while one of the nurses screamed out, “He just had a massive coronary.”

The sound of a flat lining life monitor could be heard with the screech of the bone saw. Phoebe told her nurses, “Get me the pads and warm them up.” They all looked to Harris that wondered, “What?” Then they looked to the handle of the storage closet.

Soon after, Harris flung open the door to the closet. The man inside came running out in a security uniform. Harris was ready and he shoved the man to the floor where he kept him there.

One of the nurses asked Phoebe, “Is a defibrillator going to work?” In an extreme haste, Phoebe ripped the cart from the room and swung it into place, as she pumped down on Winters trying to give him a heart beat again.

The room filled with the sound of the defibrillator charging once it was started. Phoebe kept thrusting her together hands down onto the body of Winters. Meanwhile, one of the other nurses warmed up the pads and applied the gel between them.

Once one of the nurses said, “Clear,” two security officers burst through the double doors of the OR. They both had on black body armor and carried machine guns with them.

Harris continued to press his left knee down on the neck of the man from the storage closet. Phoebe yelled, “Get that man on the floor out of here!” The security happily took the man away. There was something strange about the man though, he kept curling his neck back and hissing at the two officers.

After they had been out of the room for a moment, the sound of machine gun fire could be heard. Harris looked in wonder from the floor. First out the door, then to Winters and finally to Phoebe that wiped tears out of her eyes with her right arm.

Harris snapped out of his memory when he saw a shadow on the view screen. The shadow was of a door opening. He waited in hushed silence for something to appear on screen.

It was the meek assistant of Dr. Vosko that appeared on screen and tried to answer the call. Harris picked up the microphone and told him, “Can you hear me?” The assistant leaned in to the screen and spoke something.

“I can’t hear you,” said Harris into the microphone. He bellowed, “Speak up!” The assistant tried to explain to Harris what the problem was, but Harris was still unable to hear.

Harris was unable to hear until the man on the screen reached into a desk and scribbled something on a piece of paper. The assistant then grabbed the top of the paper in his hand and slapped it near the camera. The sheet of paper read “Turn up volume.”

On the control panel in front of Harris there was indeed a knob marked volume. He cranked it up as far as it could go and he heard the voice of the assistant, “Am I coming through clear?”

“Yes,” said Harris, before he asked, “Who are you?” He replied, “I’m Tendrick Sir. How is the mission going?” “Tendrick?” wondered Harris, “Aren’t you the assistant of that doctor?” “Yes Sir I am,” replied Tendrick only to hear Harris order, “Get Phoebe and put her on the horn.”

“Right away,” said Tendrick, before he took off from the desk and just about fell out of the leather chair. The door slid shut behind him and left Harris in the darkness of the communication station.

Lights blinked from all around and there were metal plates around that made up the walls of the complex. He looked over his shoulder, but there was nothing around him but dim emergency lights that lined the floor.

After a moment, Phoebe returned, with Tendrick behind her. She quickly slid her behind into the chair and swiveled it into place. “Harris,” she said, “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you again!” She almost had a smile, but it was clear in her voice.

The sliding door shut beside Tendrick as Phoebe explained, “Things have been getting worse here.” Tendrick leered over the shoulder of Phoebe to better hear the speakers with the voice of Harris. Phoebe explained, “We are having a tough time breathing. The temperature is rising in here. What’s going on out there Harris?”

Harris spoke into the microphone when he told her, “I know why that is.” Tendrick moved his head down to the microphone and asked, “Why is that?” Phoebe looked mildly aggravated at the invasion of her space from Tendrick.

“There is a fire that I figure is causing the coughing,” said Harris as he looked intently at the gleaming neck of Phoebe. Harris told Tendrick, “Back up from the screen Tendrick.” He was awkwardly put in his place and backed up with an apology, “Sorry Sir.”

Phoebe notified Harris that, “We’ve already lost someone to the coughing.” Harris continued to tell the two of them, “Things are only gonna get worse in there before they get better.” Phoebe asked, “What are you trying to tell us?”

“According to the computer, an explosion caused a blockage in the duct that is preventing any air flow to your sector,” he said with a discouraged tone. He then added, “You can probably ask the computer yourself. There is about an hour’s worth of air left in there.” Tendrick didn’t fare too well with that, he exited the small storage room and let out a sigh.

Harris told her, “Get him back. He can’t tell anyone else about that.” The nurse was not going to obey, instead she said in distain, “I knew you shouldn’t have left.” She ran her fingers through her long dark hair and exclaimed, “What the Hell are you doing out there Harris? You leave just before things get worse!”

She continued to rant in an explosion of words, “When you left there was an explosion and now we aren’t going to have any air to breathe in an hour.” Harris tried to explain, “There is something out there that caused that explosion. The people out here are dead, but not dead.”

“Fuck you marine!” She shouted in a scream as she leaned into the camera, before she told him, “You left us here to die and you’re saving yourself!”

Just then Phoebe’s screen went dark for some unknown reason. She was shocked that the communication just abruptly ended like that. Meanwhile, Harris knew what was going on.

He looked down to the control panel and saw the gloved hand of one of the security officers. The hand had flipped the off switch to shut down the entire communication station.

Cutter boldly asked with his southern accent, “Wha you doing?” After taking off his hand from the control panel, Cutter informed Harris, “Talking on the channel is going to tip off the enemy!”

Harris looked into the pale face of Cutter, before Cutter continued to explain, “They listen; they hear everything Harris!” With the slow turn of his head, Cutter said, “And now they know we’re here.”

From the darkness came a hiss. Both Harris and Cutter looked to the darkness. Harris could only see red lights that flashed on switch boards at the work stations, but Cutter had infrared goggles that could see everything.

Cutter showed his hand to Harris in a gesture that he should stay there. As for what Cutter did, he lifted his machine gun and pointed it to the bleak darkness past what Harris could see.

The silent room suddenly shouted with the chatter from Cutter’s machine gun. Then it went back to a calm silence again that was followed by the thud of a body.

In a hush tone, Cutter said, “We didn’t get him first.” Then after he took his flashlight, he added, “Somebody else did.”

Cutter turned on his flashlight and shined into the darkness to show a very large man that had lurked in the darkness. The man had a shirt that was torn open with a white tank top beneath of it that was stained red from fresh blood. His eyes were yellow and still open as he was slumped in a corner. The man hadn’t just been shot, but he had died another way. There was gore hanging out of his belly revealing the obese man had been dead due to a blast from the stomach.

The silence was disrupted by a radio transmission that came over the arm panel of Harris. Just as he had tried to call command central before with his radio, someone was trying to call him.

A woman’s voice came over the com and pleaded, “Help us somebody!” There were sounds in the background of screeching metal and horrifying screeches of something that didn’t sound human. She pleaded again, “We’re trapped in a maintenance closet with some creature trying to get in!”

From the darkness appeared Duwalt and Smith to listen in on the transmission. The woman’s voice could barely be heard over the pounding of metal and the chaos that was on her side of the transmission. She said, “We’re in the lab in Sector 4. Help us please somebody!”

Screeches overtook the transmission before Harris spoke, “She’s on her own.” Smith argumentatively said, “Hell no, we’re not leaving her in there!” “This is just gonna slow me down,” said Harris.

Cutter agreed, “I’m with Smith.” Harris continued to disagree, “This is just going to slow me down.” “Well then,” said Cutter, “You’re free to go. You outrank any of us anyway.”

Smith spoke up from next to Harris and said, “If you weren’t a higher ranking officer, I’d slap you.” With a smug tone, Harris informed the rest of them, “Rank is negated right now.”

She slapped him with her left hand and yelled, “Who are you to deny saving someone when you were saved less than ten minutes ago?” Harris had a very non reaction to her slap and said, “I have a bigger objective to complete.”

He hesitated as he looked down to her, before he added, “But I’ll help rescue her.” Cutter said with a sly tone, “Welcome to the fold Harris. You’re becoming one of us now.” He even almost put his arm on the shoulder of Harris, before he backed off.

Duwalt smugly said, “Hey I am just interested in seeing the woman behind that phone sex operator voice.” The radio on the forearm of Harris pleaded again, “Please hurry someone!” Duwalt said with a chipper tone, “You heard the woman!”

Smith and Harris lead the way, leaving Duwalt and Cutter behind next to the working communication station. Cutter glanced at Harris and watched him leave. Duwalt asked, “Orders?” Cutter told him, “Destroy this station and make sure Harris can’t use it again.”

After that was said, Cutter shined his flashlight to the two other members of their party and caught up to them. Cutter also yelled out, “And find Golden! Tell him to hurry his ass up!”

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“Come lie down with me,” said Harris as he lied in his bed at the center of the medical ward. The ward now had a few people in the beds and not just Harris. There were red lights that flashed at some of the control panels. The lights were no longer bright; instead they were dim due to the fact that it was night.

Phoebe told him, “I can’t stay long. I just came here to lie down without going back to my quarters.” They were two shadows talking to one another in the dim light.

Harris asked her, “Why did you come?” “Because,” started Phoebe with a hesitation, “Because I needed to thank you.” “Twernt nothing ma’am,” he said in the darkness. She sat at the foot of his bed and looked over her shoulder at him and elaborated, “It is not that you came to help with that psycho earlier today.”

He sat up and approached her, “Then what is it?” “I want to say,” she told him before looking to the other beds in the room, “But I don’t want to say.” “No sweat off my brow,” he said, but then carefully asked her, “But when you want to tell me you can. I’ll be here until I get discharged.”

“I’m not discharging you,” she said with a hush tone. Harris didn’t know what to say, so he remained silent, but she continued, “I think that you are good for me.” “What do you mean?” wondered the marine.

“I think,” she sighed, “That I wouldn’t be able to do some of the things that I did today if it wasn’t for you.” He tried to encourage her in the way anyone would, “Sure you would.” Naturally she shied away from his simple statement, “No. I crack under pressure. I heavily crack under the slightest pressure and I usually take pills to control the anxiety attacks.”

Harris wondered, “How long have you taken them?” “Since high school,” she replied before asking, “You haven’t seen them have you?”

“The real question is have you needed them?” he asked in his sly way. She bobbed her head in the darkness and said, “Not today. I couldn’t find my pills and I was stressing out more than usual, but when you got to the OR, I could breathe again.” “Just cause of me?” He asked with a boyish smile in the dark.

She went on a rant, “I might be a nurse, but until a few days ago I was a glorified orderly for a place in a vacuum sealed environment where there was no cold or disease. The air is filtered, purified and comes through a vent above us. There are at least ten safety procedures to prevent any accidents from ever happening.” “Except mine,” he interrupted, and with a smile she laughed, “Yeah; that’s why I still can’t discharge you yet.”

He asked, “You can’t let me go, cause I’m clumsy oaf?” “No,” she said, “I can’t let you out of here for two reasons.” “What’s reason number one?” he inquired, only to hear her rattle off a long answer, “The first reason is you need to tell me what happened. I need to know if you’ll be a danger to yourself or someone else.”

“And?” wondered Harris. “And if you get a medical discharge from the USSMC, go back to Earth and get hurt,” she started to say, “It would be my fault.” “No,” said Harris, “I meant and the second reason is?”

“It’s like I have to stand up,” she told him, “Whenever you’re around I want to be better than I really am.” After a moment of reflecting, she revealed, “I really like that feeling a lot. Knowing I can be better.”

Her guard was quickly starting to fall and she found herself slouched to the side with her body propped up on her left elbow. He told her, “Well maybe I want to be better because of you too.” She took on a silly accent and asked, “Aw just cuz of lil’ ole me?”

He elaborated, “Just because you put a uniform on a boy doesn’t make him a man.” “And what does make him a man?” she had to ask and Harris was quick to say, “A man is made when he finds something worth growing up for; something worth fighting for. Generations ago boys became men when they fought for their country, but now we’re on moons and Mars. That’s not worth dying for in my opinion.”

On her left elbow she whispered, “So what’s worth dying for?” “Love,” he boldly told her. She lied down on her back and uttered, “Love doesn’t exist. It is a movie that gets made and sold in the form of tickets.” Harris wondered, “Bad experience?” “No,” she said, “no experience; Four years in college, two years on a ship to get here; nothing; No love. It has all been boys trying to get busy and ditch you at the next space station.”

Harris told her, “You can’t see love, so you can’t find it. It has to find you.” She laughed and said, “Well it’s not going to find me on a tiny moon orbiting Mars. It’s not going to find me, having to saw off body parts.” He reassured her, “No, but it might find you having to fix the broken.”

“That is nightingale syndrome,” she said, “Not love. A man falls for his nurse, because she fixes him. It is as simple as that.” “What if he admires her?” calmly wondered Harris only to hear her tell him, “He looks to her for treatment, and loves her for that. He’s just not in love with her. Replace the nurse and he might fall in love with that replacement.”

Harris closed his eyes and said, “Unless she was irreplaceable.” “Fat chance of that,” she said with a chuckle. Once he opened his eyes he bent his legs and moved them to the side so he could crawl above Phoebe.

His body was going north and her body was going south. He then lowered his lips to hers and gave her a brief kiss before he lifted himself off her. With a smile he told her, “You’re irreplaceable Phoebe.”

She immediately lifted her head and connected her lips with his again. This time she ran her fingers through his short dark hair. The steam rose at the center of the bed where both of their heads were.

With a deep breath Phoebe was back to reality; the reality of a dark, dingy, beaten and cramped medical ward that was running out of oxygen. She had a white bottle in her hand that had two little pills that spilled out and ended up in her mouth.

Phoebe stepped through the sliding door out of the storage room and into the ward itself. The ward had been thrown into a panic. People came rushing to her asking if it was true. “Is what true?” she asked.

Dr. Vosko broke through the pack of people and asked her, “Is it true that the jarhead out there cut off our oxygen and we now have only an hour left?” “Damn it Tendrick,” Phoebe yelled in distain. Dr. Vosko shouted, “It’s true! Her being angered at my assistant proves it! We are running out of air!”

She told him, “Yes it is true and shouting is only going to use more of it up.”

From beyond the crowd of patients came a yell, “I’ve got an idea!” The crowd parted ways and looked back to the man. “I’ve got it,” said Santura as he pulled out his pistol, “Not everyone here is gonna make it right?”

Phoebe came walking across the room over to Santura, as Dr. Vosko screamed, “No! He’s right! We’re all not going to make it! Survival of the fittest and my friend over there is fit. I’m fit too! Tendrick, Phoebe! We are all fit!” Vosko then looked to the tall Jessiah and muttered, “Sorry Jessiah, but a one eyed man can’t do much with aim these days.”

Jessiah commented, “This one eyed man has one finger for you.” With that he gave the one fingered salute to Dr. Vosko who added, “It’s a fact of life. Never is it survival of the sickest.”

Santura pointed his pistol down to Winters and said, “We can save oxygen by making sure there aren’t too many people breathing it.” Jessiah stepped in and said, “Yeah, well start with yourself first.” Santura was comically insulted and made a long winded, “Ohhhhhh; my feelings Jessiah, how you have hurt them!”

Phoebe went between the gun of Santura and the bed of Phoebe as she yelled, “Are you insane?” He scratched his temple with the gun and said, “My mom used to ask me that same thing, but I’m the sanest person here.” He tried to rationalize, “Look either four people live or twenty-four people die.”

He then asked, “Chaplain, you’re a man of God. What would Jesus do in a situation like this? Save four people or kill twenty-four.” Winters spoke up from behind Phoebe and said, “Step aside nurse. I’ll be the first to take a bullet to the brain if it will help everyone else.” She turned her head and shouted, “No!” She then hushed her voice and turned her head back to Santura and said, “No one is going to be shot.”

“Aw come on,” shrieked Santura, “I’m a soldier baby, I gotta be shooting something.” Winters yelled out again, “Then you should have gone with Harris instead of threatening a bunch of injured and dying.” Dr. Vosko jumped into the conversation, “See! The dying; not everyone is going to live through this anyway.”

Tendrick tried to interrupt, “I think Phoebe and Jessiah are right.” “What?” screamed Vosko, before he yelled, “That is why you are the assistant! You are not the one paid to think! You just get the coffee! And you couldn’t even do that right. Mondays especially, you were always so slow on your feet.”

With that said Tendrick backed down from participating in the conversation. Instead, Santura took a step forward while still pointing his gun and said, “Let me through Phoebe.” “Over my dead body!” she screamed!

“Fine,” said Santura, before he turned around to point his firearm at another patient. The gun shouted, “Blam!” A single bullet was put into the head of a patient whose blue eyes grew big and wide. Santura then shot a second patient in the head.

The gun was pointed in the face of Jessiah and Santura screamed, “Back up big boy or I’ll put one in your good eye!” Santura then backed his body up along a row of beds, before turning his gun on two more of the injured. He killed them both, making a total of four dead at the mouth of a single pistol.

Satura turned his pistol to Dr. Vosko and deviously said, “And you, ya bastard. There is no way you are getting out of here alive! You caused this with all of your experiments. You brought them here and I can’t let you leave this room alive.”

The gun was pointed at the head of Vosko, who was frozen in fear. Any movement would have sent a bullet from the unstable minded Satura. There were no words spoken between the two of them. Instead, the sound of Jessiah’s voice could be heard, “Drop it Sandy.”

When Santura turned back around, there was Jessiah and his own pistol pointed at the head of Santura. It was a stand off. A pair of pistols aimed at each other’s eye.

“You’re not here to do this,” said Jessiah, before he elaborated, “Remember what you told me when I first got here?” “No,” replied Santura, “Why don’t you play back that memory for me.” Jessiah aggressively told him, “My first day, you asked me why I was here, and I told you that I was reassigned to be the personal security of Vosko over there. You said that you were here to ensure the safety of everyone here on Phobos. Then you added with a laugh that Vosko was a safety hazard to everyone here.”

Santura’s eyes were wide and he screamed, “So this is it? You are defending him?” “No,” said Jessiah, “I am making sure that no one else gets killed for oxygen.”

“It’s not like you knew those four people!” screamed the wide eyed Satura, before he continued, “We’ve all been stuck here a week together, but you know we never knew them! Why? Cause we all knew the end was just around the corner, so we didn’t bother to get to know them, cause poof; just like that they could be dead.”

Jessiah retorted, “They could have been dead at the hands of those creatures out there, not at the hands of some psychopath with a badge and a gun. Someone that is a member of security; Security designated to protect the population of this complex.” In distain, Santura screamed out, “Did you memorize the handbook? Come on Jessiah! There is no population! We are it! You, me, Phoebe, Tender, and everyone else is just a corpse that is just taking up oxygen!”

A gun shot went, “Blam!” The talking was ended with a bullet into the head of Santura. Jessiah had pulled the trigger and ended Santura’s killing spree. “And yelling just wastes more oxygen,” uttered Jessiah to the downed corpse of Santura.

Jessiah’s hand went weak and the gun dropped to the floor. With anger Jessiah looked to Winters and Phoebe, before he said, “Santura’s right you know. We’re just taking up oxygen.” He then looked down to his friend and yelled to him on the floor, “But you didn’t have to go shooting people in the head!”

“How much oxygen is left now,” he asked Dr. Vosko who replied, “Let me ask the computer.” He was not happy with what had transpired, but there was nothing he could have done. After he went to the control panel on the wall he pushed a few buttons and told the room, “At current capacity, there is approximately eighty minutes of oxygen left.”

The entire room stood silent, and Dr. Vosko knew that a single person could have nineteen hours of oxygen, but he bit his tongue.

Phoebe sat down on the foot of a bed and prayed, “Harris where are you? Come back please.” Tendrick touched her shoulder and she shook his hand from her body and said, “Let’s get some body bags from storage.”

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Even though Santura was dead, he was still on the mind of Jessiah. They were not only thoughts of what he had done, but how Santura and Jessiah had gotten to that point in the first place.

As Phoebe zipped Santura into a black body bag, Jessiah’s mind was stuck in a dark corridor. In his mind, his body was in an even darker corridor within the complex.

Red lights flashed at the top of the walls while lights along the bottom lit up the floor. The corridor was dark and heavy to breath. Jessiah’s head was covered in a helmet which glowed red from the lights at the top of the walls. He was unwounded and had no bandages, instead he was in severe mental stress.

There were warning sounds that came from down the hallway; Audible warnings that first told Jessiah, “Structural integrity of Sector 1 compromised.” As Jessiah caught his breath against the dark wall, the second warning came, “Security breach in Sector 1 in the form of an unknown humanoid life form.” Jessiah knew this already. He had just come from there.

The warnings also let it be known, “Sector 1 doors sealed to prevent lab depressurization.” His breaths were heavy, because he had just come from there.

Just then came the rust of four security officers that ran by Jessiah. He tried to wave them to stop. They did not heed his warning. Instead they found a sealed door at the end of the corridor. It was a massive door that opened in four sections.

The leader of the security squad came back to Jessiah and asked, “What happened in there?” Jessiah looked up from his position and said, “An explosion.” He just could not catch his breath as he began to gasp, “Created a hole in the side and a swarm of creatures entered from the outside.” The tag on the leader’s armor read “Santura.”

Another member of security with the squad said, “That door’s sealed shut. Nothing is getting in or out until a crew can fix the wall and pressurize the room.” Santura said, “Thanks.” He squat down and looked Jessiah in the face as he told him, “There’s nothing we can do here.” He then asked, “Did anyone else get out alive?”

“I can’t tell for sure,” said Jessiah, “I tried to get the staff out, but they were all either sucked through the hole or killed by the aliens.” Santura naturally enquired, “What did they look like?” “Humanoid,” replied Jessiah, “Grey skin, a beating heart in the center of their chest.”

Santura shook Jessiah to get his attention as he asked, “What about Doc Vosko? Did he survive?” He waited and asked again, “Is he alive? Answer me Jessiah.” “He’s gotta be dead,” Jessiah replied as he took off his helmet, “He and Tendrick were in the booth and there’s no way out that isn’t space right now.”

From above the officers there was the sound of bangs and pings that came from above them. The three other officers looked to the ceiling while Jessiah said, “It’s them.” “You don’t mean Vosko,” stated Santura as he looked up and readied his shotgun.

There were more sounds. The sounds of denting metal that came from the ceiling. Santura looked to Jessiah and asked, “Are you strapped?” Jessiah slowly came to his senses and said, “Yeah. Yeah I’ve got my sidearm.” “Get it ready,” said Santura.

A chilling hiss could be heard from behind them down the other end of the hallway that they had come from. All of five of the men looked down the hall to see an endless string of red lights that lined the ceiling.

After another long chilling hiss echoed from down the hallway, Jessiah pulled out his pistol. A warning then sounded, “Power failure in Sector 1.”

As the men pulled out their flashlights and shook them for kinetic energy that is when the creatures dropped from the ceiling. An unknown amount of the creatures dropped with metal ceiling tiles onto the nameless three men that stood at the sealed door.

With the power outage, Santura and Jessiah could only see the glow of beating red hearts and shot gun fire. The hallway was filled with the sound of screeching of metal; and organic screeches from the creatures along with the screams of the three officers being torn apart.

Jessiah grabbed Santura and yanked him away from the carnage and they ran down the hallway to be spared their lives. When the screams of their comrades had ended, that is when Santura said, “Stop. I need to go back there!” Jessiah explained, “The fact that your squad isn’t making a sound just means that those creatures will be here!”

After another try to pull Santura away from danger, he finally pulled away from Jessiah’s grasp. Santura screamed, “Then I’m going to die with them!”

Santura lit his flashlight and Jessiah watched him start to rush back. Without a light, Jessiah was grabbed by a clawed hand on the right side of his face. There was a scream from Jessiah that made Santura turn around and see the grey face of the creature.

In the flashlight, he caught a glimpse of eight eyes on a single head. The eyes looked dead, black and hollow like a spider’s. As for Jessiah’s head it was scarred with huge claw marks that went across his face and blood drained into his eyes and mouth.

The creature had Jessiah grabbed with its left arm and was about to strike him with his right. Before the creature could deliver the death blow, Santura readied his shotgun and shot a blast into the body of the beast.

Jessiah told himself, “That man saved my life.” Dr. Vosko asked, “What?” Jessiah was back in the medical ward out of the dark corridor he had once been on. He continued to look at the body bag containing Santura and said, “Sandy saved my life in that hallway.” Dr. Vosko then said, “And you repaid him by shooting him.”

That was not the good tone that Jessiah wanted to hear, so he said, “I’m out of here.” Dr. Vosko yelled in a berserk panic, “What? This isn’t like a hotel, you can’t just go strolling the hallways!”

Jessiah readied a shotgun and checked it for shells as he said, “I know.” “How far do you think that you’ll get?” asked Vosko. After the tall black security officer positioned a large container in the center of the room, he commented, “I’m going far enough to get us some more O2.”

He then picked up a box of shells and said, “One eye or not, I’ve got a weapon that I’m not gonna miss my target.”

Winters put down his book and gave out a hearty, “Good for you son!” Jessiah then said, “I’ll be back in an hour; and when I get back, I better not find any more dead bodies.” With that said Jessiah disappeared into the air duct above the ward.

After helping Phoebe move Santura to a corner, Tendrick looked up at the hole in the ceiling. He was consumed with thoughts that he was the one that had lead Santura to kill everyone. If only he had not blabbed the secret that the oxygen was running out.

With emphasis, Winters said, “What are you waiting for? Get your pencil neck ass up there and do some good.” Tendrick looked back to Winters. First he looked to the grey and aged face of Winters, before he looked down to the missing legs of Winters.

Dr. Vosko stepped in and said, “Oh no! The stakes are too high for you to leave.” Tendrick didn’t say anything, instead Vosko tried to say it for him, “You are called Tendrick for a reason. People like you and me are not meant for physical combat, crawling through ducts and shooting firearms.”

Tendrick asked, “What are we meant for then?” “Well,” said Dr. Vosko, “I am meant for the mental challenges that my Ph.D. has prepared me for all of those years of attending USIT. You Tendrick; you are…”

Phoebe came into the conversation and told him, “Tendrick is meant for whatever he wants.” Vosko then exclaimed in a shout, “But he is my assistant! He is paid to assist me!”

“Five men are dead because I am your assistant! These aren’t just accidental deaths; no these are cold killings to survive a situation that you are responsible for. I’m not paid enough to deal with death on my conscience,” said Tendrick as he went to the opening in the ceiling. Tendrick looked back to the doctor and said, “I am meant for something better. Something that will make me remembered by everyone that survives this.”

Dr. Vosko approached his assistant and said, “Tend; James, think about this. You are good natured, but that does not fit in a combat situation. Now come down from there before you get hurt.” Tendrick continued to stand tall atop of the yellow container as he told Vosko, “You might be old enough to be my father, but don’t try to be my father. You’re just my boss and right now I’m on a paid vacation.”

Tendrick had difficulty pulling his body up into the ceiling, but once he did he yelled, “And I quit!” Vosko yelled out, “You can’t quit!” He could hear the sound of Tendrick snugly crawling through the air vent and quietly said, “You’re. Well not fired. I need him.” Vosko then screamed out, “Damn it Tendrick get back here!”

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The medical ward was rather quiet. There were five bodies in the corner each in bags. There were seventeen people in the medical ward including one stressed nurse that continued to take her pills. The bottle was running out and she would have to cope on her own, but she would be out of oxygen long before that.

The patients in the ward found other ways to cope. Some of them offered her to take part in card games or board games. Phoebe would always refuse them, because she was still working. She would always say, “No thanks,” and then give a smile before saying, “Thanks for asking though, maybe later.”

Periodically she would check the storage room next to the bathroom to see if Harris was trying to communicate with her. Periodically meaning once every thirty seconds; she would walk a lap around the medical ward and enter the room again to ask.

It went on like that until Winters stopped her and said, “Are you practicing for a race? I keep seeing you do laps on this floor.” “No,” she said, “I’m just working off the anxiety without jumping up and down looking like a loon.”

“We all should be lucky,” commented Winters, “I’m stuck reading books.” Phoebe apologized, “I didn’t mean it like that,” before she asked, “Is there anything that I can do for you while I’m here?”

“Not that it’s my business,” he said, “But your white coat tails flapping in the wind when you walk is becoming a distraction.” Instead of laughing, she said, “I’ll get a stapler from storage and make sure that they don’t flap anymore.”

“Don’t do that,” said Winters, “Your white tail flapping is the only peace flag that we have for all of the hostility in this place. Man versus alien. Man versus man; even man versus women.” He then elaborated, “I’ve heard your talks with Harris since I was put in here.”

She sat next to Winters and touched his shoulder before she said, “Yeah, but that’s not your concern.” “I’m the chaplain,” he said with an old smile, “Even when I’m not in the chapel, I know everyone’s little secrets. But yours; yours my dear nurse is no secret how you feel about him.”

Phoebe then asked him, “Don’t you have prayers and solace to offer?” “I am trying to offer you solace,” he said, but she bat down his offer when she said, “A man reading ‘Thy Flesh Consumed,’ cannot offer me solace.”

She wondered, “How are you even calm enough to read a book in this chaos?” Winters scratched his nose and commented, “Either you have my morphine at just the right level or I think that it might be that I have been snatched from the jaws of death a lot in my life.”

“It is a book of nine short stories,” he retorted, “And the only thing within arms length.” Phoebe then stood up and grabbed a book off the shelf next to him and gave it to him. “Here you go,” she said. He looked at the book and read the title, “’The Power of Positive Thinking.’” He then wondered, “Have you read it?” “No,” she said, “I know that everything that I think will happen will never happen. So I always imagine the worst.”

“You must have imagined the good things,” said Winters, “Because we are in a worst case scenario.” “Oh no,” she corrected him, “I imagined terrible things, but you know, I never imagined anything as bad as this. If I had imagined things this bad, I am sure we would have been attacked by magic space bunnies with candy canes.”

She then continued to elaborate, “Instead I have people with decompression wounds, missing eyes, bruises, broken bones and yes sorry to say missing limbs.” She then added, “No offense.” “None taken,” said Winters, before he added “You forgot one.” “What is that?” she wondered, only to hear him add to her list, “Mental anguish.” Phoebe coyly wondered, “Of who?”

“It is whom and don’t be coy with me,” said Winters. Phoebe replied to him, “I am not coy or smart apparently; if you just corrected me. I have a correction for you though; I do not have mental anguish. I have negative thoughts in an attempt to be proven wrong.” Winters jumped in and wondered, “Because whatever you think will turn out wrong.” “Exactly,” she said, before she stood up and walked around his bed.

Phoebe started to walk away, before she said, “And now I am going to storage to get some ice cream, cause that has been known to heal mental anguish in women for centuries.”

Winters kept a smile on his aged face and looked at his two choices of book. He spoke the titles out loud, “’The Power of Positive Thinking’ or ‘Thy Flesh Consumed?’” He then dropped the first book and held the latter as he said, “I don’t want to fall asleep just yet.”

As he started to read his book, there was a noticeable banging that came through the heating vents. While the air ducts came through the ceiling circulated by fans, the heating ducts were located in the walls near the floor.

The sounds became more noticeable, until Winters put his book down and looked in query at the vent next to him. Others heard the sounds. Soon they began to approach the bed and ask, “What’s that?” Winters answered, “I’m not quite sure. What does it sound like to you?”

Then from other heating ducts came more sounds. Similar sounds that moved and grew in intensity. There was a rattling from each of the ducts that were on the wall that was opposite of the large window in the ward.

Phoebe came back with a bucket of ice cream and wondered, “What’s up?” Dr. Vosko first looked at the bucket and then to Phoebe when he commented, “Your weight will be if you eat that whole bucket.” Winters jumped in and told her, “There’s…”

As he tried to utter his sentence, there was a long hiss that sounded almost like a quick intake of air from a mouth. One of the men in the ward had grabbed a gun and looked closely at the vent in front of him. He then boldly told the others, “I see movement!”

Phoebe heaved the bucket of ice cream onto a table next to the rabbit cage. The rabbit was going insane within the cage from fear.

“If anything comes out,” she said, “I want someone to kill it.” Dr. Vosko pointed out, “Nothing can fit into the heating vent except for that rabbit. The life forms that we’ve encountered have all been humanoid.” He then stepped to the wall and pointed at the grate as he said, “And no human can fit into the heating ducts.”

Winters mentioned, “It could be something new. Something we haven’t encountered.” Phoebe told Winters, “Hush up.” She then looked closer at the vent in the wall and said, “You’re giving me the willies.”

From within each of the four heating vents there was movement from things that were just a shadow beyond the vents. That was until one of the men in the ward shined a flashlight into a vent.

In the light there was a terrifying pale head inside of the duct. The head was upside down and its mouth opened more than any human could! Inside of its mouth was not pink, but a bright oozing color of red. The pale face unleashed a horrifying sound from being spotted by the flash light.

Elsewhere in the complex, Jessiah had found the blockage in the air duct. Even Jessiah and Tendrick could hear screams and gun fire coming from behind them. However, in the confined area, they could not turn around to go back.

Instead Jessiah punched out the vent above a storage room and dropped through to the floor below. Tendrick followed him and Jessiah was of course a little surprised that he was followed.

Jessiah asked, “Decided to stretch your legs and go for a walk?” Tendrick commented, “I never knew it would be like a casket in that vent.” Instead of having concern, Jessiah continued to look for oxygen and said, “Don’t get cluster phobic on me, because there is no way back, but through those ducts.”

They could hear the gun fire coming from the duct, and Tendrick wondered, “Where do you suppose that gun fire is coming from?” “Other survivors,” said Jessiah, “Maybe the security droids finally became active. Each one of those little droids has a machine gun.”

Tendrick knew that Jessiah was wrong though; there were screams and shotgun blasts that sounded from the ducts.

As they searched for oxygen tanks in storage lockers and bins, Jessiah asked, “Are you packing?” Tendrick had no clue what was just said, “Packing what?” “Heat man,” said Jessiah, “You brought any steel with you?” Tendrick told him, “I wouldn’t know how to use it if I did.”

Jessiah pulled out his side arm, and informed him, “Here grab my piece.” Tendrick at first refused and shied away from the gun. He even said, “I don’t touch guns.” Jessiah laughed at the comment, before he said, “This isn’t a gun; this is a death bringer and a life saver!”

Tendrick wasn’t buying it, and retorted, “That didn’t save Santura’s life.” “Santura had it coming,” commented Jessiah, “He fell to the sickness. He started getting all weird. Like the rest of them out there.”

“Now take the piece,” commanded Jessiah, before he added, “Look man. I need an ally out here, not a liability.” Tendrick took the gun in his hand and said, “If it makes you happy.” Jessiah took a different posture to look Tendrick in the face before he wondered, “Do you see me smiling?”

“No,” replied Tendrick only to hear Jessiah inform him, “Good, cause this isn’t a game. You either pull that trigger to save a life or someone will die. We all watched Santura take four lives before I pulled my trigger and put a stop to it.”

Jessiah then instructed him how to use the pistol, “Pull that. Point that. When you’re out, slide out the clip. Grab another one; slap it in hard with the butt of your hand.” Each instruction Tendrick followed and performed until Jessiah was satisfied.

After the instruction, Jessiah warned him, “Now just don’t catch that funky space sickness that has been going around. It puts you into dementia and then you start acting crazy like Santura. Then you degenerate into one of those living dead out there. The sickness won’t let you go.”

There was obviously no oxygen containers left in the room; just medical kits and supplies; neither of which was needed. Jessiah even checked a security locker that used the combination 9-2-7.

His interest was peaked at the fact there were two canister grenades inside of the cabinet. The canister grenades are explosives contained in tube that can fit in your hand. Because they are in canisters they can easily roll along the floor.

Jessiah took the two grenades and then hit the button to open the sliding blue door that exited the room.

As the door lifted, Jessiah said, “There’s no O2 in here, so come on plucky sidekick, we got lots of other rooms to check.” Once the door was open, Jessiah raised his shotgun and checked the next room for anything that could be waiting.

He then gave a gesture to Tendrick and said, “After you.” Tendrick quickly asked, “What?” “Come on,” said Jessiah, “You’ve got heat now. Be a man and go through the door first!”

Tendrick raised the gun, before he hesitated. He finally got the nerve, threw his gun up and was ready to go through the door into whatever awaited him.

Just as Tendrick had the nerve, Jessiah laughed at him and said, “Okay, get back. I was just playing with you.” Tendrick was hurt, and stepped back from the door as Jessiah said, “Good to know you have the balls to raise that steel.”

The two of them went into the next room to discover bodies; lots of dead bodies. Some of them had their skulls broken into from blunt force trauma.

Tendrick wondered, “What happened here?” There were no claw marks on any of the walls, and Jessiah commented, “That damn space sickness that makes everybody go crazy is what happened here.”

Jessiah was no scientist, he was merely spreading rumors and what he assumed was true.

The room was large with a second floor balcony that looked down to a security station. There were men in black security uniforms strewn about the room. Like an entire team had been called and failed to hold off some unknown attacker.

Tendrick went to the computer at the security station. He said, “I’ll ask the computer where we can get more oxygen.” Jessiah looked over the room to find the large glass wall that used to overlook the less than scenic surface was blackened by the shutters. The security doors were down and sealed tightly because of structural breaches on the other side.

After assessing the door, Jessiah spoke, “That’s how the O2 was cut off. There is a breach that has Sector 3 cut off from the rest of the quadrant.”

Once Tendrick had gone up a set of two stairs he turned the corner at the desk to find a lot of security monitors. He told Jessiah, “You better come take a look at this.”

Tendrick added, “Its Harris.” Jessiah wondered, “Can we talk to him?” “We could if we had his military frequency,” explained Tendrick, “Of if he was at a communication or security station like we are.”

Jessiah hopped up the stairs and quickly looked to the monitor. There was Harris on the security monitor with two security officers. Jessiah wondered, “Where the Hell is he?” Tendrick pointed to the bottom of the monitor and uttered what it read, “Asaph Hall.” Jessiah wasn’t too happy and looked intently at the monitor, “He’s at the cafeteria about to eat while we’re starving for oxygen back at the ward!”

There were a series of four cameras that monitored the cafeteria named Asaph Hall. Each camera was mounted over the four entrances. Each entrance leads to one of the four sectors of the Phobos Labs. A fifth exit lead into the other two thirds of the complex.

Harris had been on a journey with Staci Smith and Cutter Daniels to rescue an unknown woman from a closet. The woman’s voice continued to plead for help every so often over the com, “If anyone can hear this… We need help in Sector 4!”

Cutter continued forward while Smith stopped to look out the grand window. In the cafeteria there is a window that goes from one side of the room and extends upward in a large glass dome that has titanium supports. It was not a single pane of glass for safety reasons. Instead it was several panes of glass with a web of titanium that held it together. The view of Mars was so bright that it lit up the otherwise dark and powerless cafeteria.

The cafeteria was partially subterranean except for the dome. Next to the dome were the rails of a grand monorail that stood on tall supports and lead around the exterior of the complex.

Staci took off her red goggles to reveal her blue eyes as she said, “This was always so excellent for star gazing.” Harris stopped to stand and look at the view of the giant red planet that loomed over them.

Behind the two of them stood a small monument for the discoverer of Phobos; a man named Asaph Hall was immortalized in an abstract metal sculpture that was designed ten years before.

The two of them continued to look up as Smith told him, “It reminds me of why I wanted to go into space. Didn’t have the grades to be an astronaut or a pilot, so it was either be a part of security or a space janitor.” She then inquired, “So why did you come up here?” Harris kept his eyes above them and said, “To find something that I didn’t know existed.”

A smile overcame her tan face and she wondered, “You mean the things that came up from under the ground?” Harris replied, “They existed before, they were just unknown.”

The two star gazers were being watched though, by Duwalt and Golden that had appeared behind them. Harris and Smith had no idea that they were behind them. At least not until Smith took a step back and said, “It’s beautiful up there.”

She bumped into Golden and turned around with her gun pointed. With a laugh she realized who it is, and said “Oh I didn’t know it was you! I could have killed you dumb ass!” Golden looked up to the dome that towered over them, before he looked back into the sparkling blue eyes of Smith and said, “You’ll hit the floor dead before I will.”

Duwalt looked to the dome and asked, “So what’s up there?” Golden informed him, “It’s not what’s up there, it’s what is beneath of us that we should worry about.”

Duwalt’s perspective changed and he looked down to the floor. After a moment he said, “Wherever they came from, they’re all around us now.” Golden laughed and added, “And among us.”

Harris continued to look out the window while Smith said, “Stop it you two. You’re creeping me out.” Then Harris wondered with a deep voice, “What’s that?” All four of them looked up to see a humanoid body sprawled out across one of the panes of glass. Its body was grey and had a beating heart in the center of it.

There it was in full clear view for them all to see, even if it was ten meters above their head. Smith put her weapon into the air and pointed it at the creature. From far across the cafeteria, Cutter ordered, “Put it down smith!”

She glanced to him and he started to walk over to her as he said, “It’s on the outside and we’re on the inside. If you shoot out the glass, we all get sucked out into space. Then we depressurize and explode.”

Smith put her weapon down, but they all looked up to the creature. Harris then had a question in his mind. At first in his mind, but then he asked, “What’s it doing?”

The creature clung to the thick pane of glass that could probably withstand a blast from a shotgun. A red jelly started to flow from the mouth of the creature and melt its way into the glass.

The five of them stood looking up, until Harris realized, “It’s gonna melt through the glass.” There was no hesitation in Harris’s mind as he grabbed the arm of Smith and took off running. The other three officers followed them.

That was until the red stuff had melted enough of the glass so that it shattered into a million pieces. The creature was sliced to pieces by the glass and blown away from the moon’s surface.

As for the marine and the four members of the squadron, they were left hanging on for dear life. The oxygen was being sucked out of the large Asaph Hall and the security doors had sealed shut to prevent the entire complex from depressurizing.

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Flimsy chairs from the cafeteria were uprooted and sucked to the mouth of the open window. Some chairs were sucked through the open glass. Other merely slammed against glass and were stuck or crushed against the titanium supports that kept the dome from getting entirely ripped off.

Duwalt was pinned against a pillar that had a bevel in it. Due to the bevel he was perfectly protected and couldn’t be sucked out. However, His shotgun had been sucked out of the tiny window.

Golden was stuck under a steel table that was bolted to the ground. However, the table itself rattled from the suction trying to rip it from the floor. Cutter was the closest to the hole. He had been yanked off of his feet and slammed into one of the supports that held up the dome. Pinned to the ceiling, Cutter feared the suction would stop and he would fall to the hard tile floor.

All three of those men had taken out their oxygen masks and put them on. The oxygen masks were originally for the use of tear gas or to deal with breaches in the structure. The masks were black and had a hose that lead to a small canister of oxygen on their belts.

As for Harris, he had his arm locked on a decorative metal bar that was on the wall next to a corridor. Just beyond his reach was a large read button that had a sign marked, “Shutters.” Smith had her gloves clung to the steel neckline of Harris’s armor.

The sound of rushing air being sucked out of the room into the endless vacuum of space was the only thing that could be heard. There were no yells for help, because there would soon be no air to breathe. The vacuum would have sucked the sound out of their lungs before they made it anyway.

Harris continued to muster his strength, not just to hang on, but to keep Smith from flying away into the hole. Her body whipped violently as she held on. Eventually she was able to wrap her legs around Harris’s body.

However, this did not help his pursuit to hit the button marked “Shutters.” Instead he now had to pull both of their weight to the button. He tried to slap the large red button a few times. Each time he made an attempt, his muscles buckled and he had to start all over again.

His elbow was bent and locked around the bar. His muscles are what kept his arm from breaking around the pole.

The table that Golden hid under still rattled like a tornado was pulling it. After another moment, the steel table was yanked off of the two posts that held it to the floor. The long metal table snapped on the titanium supports when it hit the opening into space.

As for Shane Golden, he was no where to be found at first. He had been pulled to safety by Duwalt at the pillar.

Harris gave it one last try to slap the red button and close the shutters. When he reached out, the metal bar began to buckle and bent slightly from the force of the suction. His strength never faltered and he kept his left arm extended and finally slapped the button.

There was a small screen above the big red button. When the button was slapped, the screen turned red and informed them, “For safety purposes a key is needed.”

Harris probably couldn’t read the information, nor could anyone else. He just kept slapping that button, unaware there was a slot for a key that would save them.

Meanwhile, Tendrick and Jessiah were watching the monitor at all of the chaos. There were warnings on the security panels. More warnings than had originally been there before. An audio warning spoke, “Structural breach in Asaph Hall; venting atmosphere; complete decompression of Asaph Hall in sixty seconds.”

Tendrick exclaimed, “What do we do?” Jessiah hovered over him watching the monitors and replied, “We look away, so we don’t see them die.” That wasn’t the answer that Tendrick expected, but Jessiah elaborated, “The security doors are shut to minimize casualties. Nothing can open them, and the only people that can close those the shutters on the outside are on the inside of that room.”

Jessiah squeezed shut his working eye and turned away. He then performed a cross over his head as he said, “May an angel watch over them all.” Tendrick blurted out, “What do you think we’re doing on the cameras?”

Tendrick said, “I think that I know what to do!” Jessiah continued to keep his eye closed and inquired, “What kid?” “I can’t close the shutters from here,” he answered, “But I can make the doors open with some reprogramming and disabling safety protocols.”

There was no happiness from Jessiah as he retorted, “You do that, and even more will die!” Tendrick just about rolled his eyes and said, “Yeah, but we won’t have the doors open long, just two minutes or less for them to get through.” Jessiah ordered, “Then do it kid!”

When Jessiah opened his eye, he saw movement on the floor that the security station overlooked. There was movement from a body. At first it was just the arm that moved, and then the body tried to pick itself up. It was one of the security officers that had been strewn about the room.

Jessiah readied his shotgun quietly and looked to the floor as the body rose. The security officer stood up without a helmet. It shook its head to get its bearings. Then it looked to Jessiah who had a flashlight pointed down at the man.

Tendrick first looked at the light next to him and then looked down to the officer. He then asked, “Is it one of them?” Jessiah have half a laugh and wondered, “One of what; one of us; one with the space sickness or one of the damned?”

The security officer looked to the security station. There were two meat bags for the hungry belly of the officer. It took a running start to dash up the three steps, before it met the sound of a “Blam!” The body of the officer was thrown backward by a shotgun blast from Jessiah.

Tendrick turned his body to the command prompt on a black screen and began typing. Jessiah told him, “But can you do it in less than two minutes?” After a moment, he then took a harsh tone and said, “Answer me!”

“Probably not,” said Tendrick as he swiftly typed away and pressed the enter key after every semicolon. He then added, “But yelling at me might make it happen faster.”

There was more movement coming from the floor. All of the dead bodies on the floor slowly rose. Jessiah then had to ask, “What about thirty seconds? Can you do it in thirty seconds?” “Hell no,” answered Tendrick, as Jessiah stepped down the stairs to face them. Jessiah turned to him and said, “That’s all the time that I’m giving you before we go back out that door and crawl back into the air duct.” Tendrick was undaunted, and continued to type on the keys as he said, “Yeah, fine. Whatever.” He then muttered to himself, “Dr. Vosko used to yell at me all the time, never got the work done any faster.”

Shotgun blasts filled the room as Jessiah brought peace once again to the dead. He silenced a lot of their moaning bodies. After each blast, he cocked the shotgun and pointed it to the nearest one before putting a hole in their heads.

Jessiah screamed out, “How are you coming?” “Just dandy,” yelled Tendrick only to have Jessiah scream “Get down!”

The meek Tendrick turned around and saw a former human looking over him. Its eyes were a dull yellow and its mouth was covered in red raw chunks of meat. As for the former human’s head there was a hole in the front of it. A big hole that looked like it was caused from a sledge hammer.

When the former human lurched forward to nab Tendrick, red blood poured out of its head; blood had pooled in there until it was tipped like a pitcher of punch.

Tendrick screamed in fright and Jessiah jumped up the stairs with a single leap. He cocked his shotgun and put a shell through the head of the former human with the sound of a “Blam!”

Jessiah then reached over the desk and said, “You get up, and keep typing.” Tendrick crawled up to his knees and continued typing lines of code to reprogram the system. He did not even waste time to sit down.

The shotgun of Jessiah had to be reloaded, and as he took time to do that, the living dead swarmed around him.

Tendrick exclaimed, “Almost got it!” With the last stroke of an enter key he yelled, “I need your security key!” Jessiah pulled the trigger and sent another former human to its former death. He backed himself against the wall and pulled out a red security key card.

With a mighty fling, the card was thrown to Tendrick. However, key cards do not fly that well, so the card just flopped on the hard floor. Tendrick yelled out, “I got it!”

He rushed down the steps and amidst former humans and shotgun blasts he grabbed it from off of the blood soaked floor. Jessiah had run out of shells once again, so as he loaded his shotgun he was forced to bash away his former comrades with a flashlight.

Tendrick went up the steps to discover more former humans. All of the gun fire had attracted them. In an instant he pulled out the pistol and pointed it at one of the three former humans that faced him down.

He shook when he spoke the words, “I know how to use this!” The former humans didn’t care; they were going to eat his fat juicy brain. Their pale faces were whaling for food.

Instead of Tendrick shooting them, Jessiah did with a blast from his shot gun. He then yelled at Tendrick, “When I give you a gun, I expect you to use it and not talk about using it!”

Jessiah cocked the shotgun again and shoot another former human away from Tendrick. This former human had civilian clothes along with a sticker that said, “Hi my name is Floyd.”

With the former humans twitching from shot gun blasts, Tendrick scurried around the desk. He quickly put down the pistol only to hear Jessiah say, “Pick up that damn gun and start shooting!”

Tendrick muttered something along the lines of, “Fine.” He picked up the pistol and shot it blindly into the mass of undead humanity that closed in on Jessiah. Neither one of them knows if his bullets hit anything other than the wall or floor.

He then slipped the key card into the reader and pressed the enter key once again. With a sound of triumph in his voice he yelled out, “Did it!”

Then to everyone’s dismay the shutters of the room opened. Jessiah looked to the red planet Mars through the window and yelled, “Do you know what you’re doing?” Tendrick had his head pointed at the window when he said, “Damn it!” He stomped on the floor and got right back to the code.

Meanwhile, the swarm of two dozen former humans in tactical gear looked up to the red light and became distracted. Jessiah shoved one back into the other, before he took out a canister grenade. He screamed, “Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out!”

Then he ran up the steps, just before there was an explosion that rumbled through Sector 3. Bodies in black tactical gear flew into the air and flopped back down on fire and in meaty pieces.

Jessiah screamed into the ear of Tendrick, “Open that door!” To which he quickly replied, “That’s it done!” With the stroke of an enter key, one of the five doors to the cafeteria opened.

Tendrick was delighted, “See! We saved them!” “No we didn’t,” uttered Jessiah in contradiction, “We let them save themselves. Just like God would do.”

There was a moan from the floor. Jessiah quickly blast a shotgun shell into the former human that made the sound. He then uttered, “Damn these never ending zombies!”

An eerie long shadow then stretched across the room. It was quite noticeable and darkened the room. The shadow was originating from outside of the window, but the window was too high up for them to see out.

Jessiah then looked up to the window above and said, “Sorry about the swear God.” The shadow did not go away; it just loomed overhead and slowly got larger and larger. Unseen to them was the shadow of twin horns on the wall across the room.

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With the security door open, there was now an opportunity to escape the doom of space that Harris and the squadron faced. There was also more time, because the entire sector was depressurizing instead of just the massive cafeteria. However, with the door open, there were more hazards that were pulled through

Other objects that were sucked from the hallway outside. Boxes, containers and even dead bodies were slowly pulled through into the Asaph Hall cafeteria.

When some of the objects were pulled out of the hallway they lifted off the floor and crawled along the walls. Containers did flips over obstructions and hurled themselves past Harris and Smith. The containers then went to the pillar where Duwalt and Golden hid. From there it was up to the domed ceiling.

The force of the containers would make cracks in the glass of the dome and then get stuck amongst the titanium supports.

Dead bodies of civilians were yanked up toward the hole in the ceiling. One was sent tumbling straight toward Cutter that was stuck near the ceiling. The body landed lodged next to him and began to move.

It didn’t move from the suction, it moved from its own power. The pale hand lifted and moved toward Cutter’s boot. When it had a hold of him, the body’s head looked up to him with a crazed look in its yellow eyes.

Cutter tried to kick the former human away from him. Since they were both stuck to the ceiling, the attacker wasn’t going anywhere. Cutter then slowly pulled out his pistol and tried to steady his hand to put a bullet into his attacker.

The gun was yanked from Cutter’s hand and he watched it disappear right out the window. As for the attacker, he pulled himself up Cutter’s body and opened his mouth wide.

Just as the zombie was about to sink its teeth into Cutter, a yellow container tumbled upward and slammed into the former human. The body spun over the titanium support and flew out the window.

Another strange object came into the cafeteria; it was an entire desk. There were no monitors, because they had already flown off and into the hole.

Stranger than that, the desk had a former human handcuffed to it. The former human was dressed in blue coveralls with a white apron that flapped from the suction. Its head was bald with no hairnet on it.

The desk approached the corridor that Harris and Smith were. As the desk crept closer, the former human in the apron reached out for Harris’s arm.

Being handcuffed to a desk, the former human was unable to grab Harris at first. After a few seconds the man in the apron grabbed onto Harris and gained his attention. The former human had Harris’s attention for another reason.

There was a yellow key on a large ring that the former human wore on its waist. Harris reached out with his left hand for the key. He knew that time was short, so he ignored the dangers of a former human trying to claw at him.

The former human’s body was sucked into the cafeteria, while the desk was stuck in the corridor. The former human’s head flailed wildly from the suction.

There they were, face to face together, Harris and the former human that had obviously been a cook. Smith would have seen too, but she was too busy clung to Harris.

The former human used its free right arm to cling to Harris whose body was beginning to falter. Not only was his body faltering, but so was the bar he hung on.

Without any warning, the bar snapped loose and was sucked up through the hole in the dome. Staci was yanked from Harris. She flew upward, slammed into the pillar. Her back was arched backward across the pillar, before she was dragged by the suction up to the dome where she stuck between two of the supports. When she hit the pillar her helmet flew off to reveal blonde hair that had strands pulled out from her bun.

Harris managed to hang on the blue coveralls worn by the former human. He grabbed the yellow key and yanked it off the ring. Well it was not yanked off the key ring; instead it had a cord attached to it that could stretch out.

The desk that secured both Harris and the former human was still moving to the corner. In a mere moment it was pulled through into the cafeteria.

With one swift motion, Harris put the small yellow key into the hole, twists it and slapped the button. The shutters began to rotate closed like massive metal blinds.

However, Harris, the man in the apron and the desk were sucked through the air. The desk smashed just above the heads of Duwalt and Golden.

Harris flipped backward to the dome, while the former human almost got sucked through the window. The desk had flown halfway through the closing shutters.

The shutters had closed on the desk, which left the former human at the top center of the glass dome. The air was still being sucked out of the dome, because of the desk caught between the shutters.

Stuck to the ceiling, Harris poked his head out from beyond one of the supports. He could see the former human trying to yank its wrist off in an attempt to get away from the suction.

First the apron was sucked between the shutters into space. The dimension between the shutters was a mere inch, the same as the thickness of the wood that the desktop was.

After a few seconds of struggling, the former human was yanked through that one inch dimension between the shutters. There were no screams, just blood and puréed bones that flowed to the exterior of the dome.

The desk was then split in half from the force of the shutters. They were all sealed. Harris and the others dropped from wherever they were. Staci hit the floor and Cutter landed near a wall.

As for Harris, he fell through a metal table and broke it off of its two legs. There was a huge dent in the metal from Harris’s broad back.

The atmosphere and life support then turned on automatically. There may not have been any power, but life support and oxygen have auxiliary systems.

Harris was in a daze as he stood up. His face was red and he could barely stand. His right arm hurt beyond belief. Maybe that was cause of his previous injury.

He may have wobbled, but he did not fall. Instead he tried to catch his breath. No one spoke a word. The only sound was that of oxygen being replenished in the room.

Slowly, one by one, they began to emerge. First it was Duwalt, who had on a black mask with a long tube that went to a canister of oxygen. Golden appeared next and he too looked barely affected, because he too had on the dark mask, red goggles and a helmet.

After a moment, Cutter rose off the floor. He was wearing a black oxygen mask that could be found on his gear.

All three men looked to Harris that straightened out his back. They were three alien figures. Completely unrecognizable inside of their tactical gear; Black helmets, black uniforms covered with light armor, red goggles that lit up their eyes and masks with tubes that lead down like trunks to their waist.

Harris was unaware they were staring at him through the mist of white atmosphere that was flowing into the room to pressurize it. When he finally noticed they were looking at him, he cared more about, “Where’s Smith?”

No one answered him; they just continued to look at him in eerie silence. So Harris tore across the empty room past a line of tables. At the end there was Smith lying on her back helpless.

She was the only member of security that didn’t have a mask on or red goggles. Her helmet was off too and strands of dyed blonde hair flowed out of her bun.

There was blood all around her mouth. She had choked it up. Harris looked down to her and didn’t know what to say. He knelt down beside her and heard her say, “I can’t get up.”

Her eyebrows arched in pain as she elaborated, “Only thing keeping me together is the suit.” Harris looked to her body that was contorted at her spine, but she grabbed his hand to get his attention. She then quietly said with a blood soaked voice, “Don’t let them kill me.”

Harris looked up and saw the three men in black with their alien like face masks. Each breath they took vented air through the white mist and blew it in swirls. Their goggles hid the intentions of their eyes like a clouded window.

“I don’t want to go,” she said Harris to get his attention. Her blue eyes were misty with tears before she choked, “Not by them!” Duwalt told him, “She’s gotta go.” Harris told them, “We can come back for her.” Cutter explained, “We kill her now, or one of those things out there kills her.”

Harris stretched his body and barked out, “It’s not your choice! We don’t even know what’s wrong with her!” Golden looked to the strange way Staci’s body was contorted and said, “Her back is broken; broke when she hit the pillar.” He rebutted, “You can’t know that. You’re just assuming.”

Staci’s hand continued to squeeze onto Harris’s as he defended her, “There is no way that you can!” Golden merely tapped his red goggles at the side and said, “All three of us can see that she has a broken back.”

Duwalt pulled out his pistol and said, “One in the head, she’ll be better off dead.” Cutter told Harris, “Now step aside.”

Golden began to speak, “She’s not… one of us.” Harris didn’t waver, and wondered, “What do you mean?” After he uttered the question he knew and said, “I get it. You three go on ahead.”

Cutter continued to look down to Staci and her mouth covered in blood. He told Harris, “Don’t make this an issue.” Harris said, “This will be a mercy killing.”

They stood there looking down to her while Staci looked up to the three men that would kill her in an instant. Cutter took an uneasy step back and told Harris, “If I don’t hear guns shooting in the next thirty seconds I’ll come back and do the job myself. The weak slow the strong Harris.”

Cutter turned around and began to swiftly move through the white mist in the cafeteria. He then yelled out an order, “Duwalt and Golden! Come on! We need to find better weapons!” Duwalt hesitantly put away his pistol back into the holster.

The three men exited out the corridor that leads into Sector 4. Meanwhile, Harris pulled out his gun. He squeezed the trigger twice and fired two bullets. Then after a pause he pulled the trigger a third time.

He looked down to the body of Staci covered in armor. Then he looked to her face, still covered in blood and told her, “They’ll think your dead.” She looked at him with her tearing blue eyes and said, “Thanks Harris.”

After being thanked, he holstered his pistol. Staci then told him, “I thought that you were one of them.” “One of who?” he wondered. Staci closed her eyes and said, “One of the people to make sure no one survives this mess.”

It was beyond comprehension to Harris and she told him, “Come closer, it hurts to talk.” He lowered his ear near her mouth as she whispered, “Ted and I found them. I mean they found us rather. I’ve seen them kill a lot of innocents just like they killed Ted. They take their orders from someone else other than command here on the base. Someone doesn’t want survivors.”

He voice eased down and she asked him, “Would you tell me a story? I want to close my eyes and go to sleep.” Harris pulled his ear away from her mouth and saw her eyes gently close. He told her, “Sure. I have a story.”

Staci softly said, “Tell me why you’re out here.” “I came out here to get away from my demons back home,” explained Harris. He had a laugh and added, “I never thought I’d come face to face with real demons.”

“Was it worth it?” she wondered and Harris replied, “Yeah. It was worth it. I found my purpose; I fell in love here in this place.” Staci quietly asked, “Is it me?” “If it were you, the story wouldn’t have a happy ending,” he said holding back emotion. She wasn’t hurt, but instead uttered “Lucky bitch. I wanted a happy ending.”

With her eyes closed she violently coughed up a spatter of blood. She let out another cough and asked, “Tell me about her would you?” “She’s in the medical ward right now,” he told her, “Couldn’t get her to leave even in I tried. She’s bound by duty to help the wounded there.”

Staci whispered, “Aren’t we all? That’s what kept us from getting off this dust ball before the shit hit the fan.” She had a broken smile on her face amused. Harris told her, “I’m going to get to command central and get us all saved.”

“Don’t you know?” she wondered, “They’re all gone.” She wouldn’t elaborate, she merely arched her neck with laughter and said, “Don’t let Cutter know anyone is left in the medical ward. They’re gonna find her. They’re gonna kill her. They’ll kill you once you’re the last one left.”

Her eyes opened and more blood spattered from a cough. She then laughed and said, “I made a mistake of not stopping them myself when they shot Ted back in the offices.” With her arm, she then reached out and pulled on the steel ring that made up Harris’s collar. He was pulled close to her by the dying woman to hear her say, “You’ve got to kill them.”

Staci’s hand slipped from Harris’s collar and a com signal came from the radio. It was the woman again, “You’re close! I can hear you! Watch out for the creature!” Harris looked to the signal wave on his forearm panel.

When he looked back to Staci, she was gone. Her eyes were open and vacant. Harris still clutched her hand, but he soon had to let it go. He heard the woman plead again, “We’re in the closet! It’s about to fit through!” From the transmission came a horrible organic screech from the mouth of a creature followed by the scream of two people.

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