E1M1: The Hangar
Blade slowly pushed open the metal door to the side entrance of the hangar and slipped inside. He drew his .45, checking to make sure he had a full clip and stood by the door listening. An open barrel of slime bubbled in the corner spewing green acid on the walls. The overhead computer console hummed quietly, belching a click-click at random intervals. A whispering wind blew in through a broken window to his right. The screams had quieted but they still echoed in his mind.
He had been on perimeter patrol when a ground-shaking explosion had rocked the research complex. Over the radio, he could hear firefights, the screaming of the dying and strange, unearthly sounds. He tried to raise Command on the radio, but no one answered his calls. He sprinted back to the complex, but by the time he had reached the hangar entrance, the radio was silent.
He slowly stepped into the hangar entry room and glanced out the window to the courtyard below. Bodies, lying in pools of scarlet, were scattered on the ground. He couldn’t make out any faces at this distance, but he recognized the uniforms; it was his unit.
“What happened here?” He asked himself. “Are they all dead?”
Behind him, he heard a grunt and turned to see a Marine shuffling toward him from the observation deck. He started toward the Marine, and then stopped as he realized what he was seeing. The Marine, it was Jonsey, had deep scratches along the side of his face and across his neck. The front of his uniform was covered in blood from the neck wound, and Blade could see Jonsey’s heart and lungs through a gaping hole in his chest.
“My God,” Blade whispered. He choked down the rising bile and stared with fascinated horror as this creature, which had once been a bright, easy-going young Marine, shuffled toward him with jerky, halting steps. The creature stopped and its glassy eyes stared at Blade for a moment. It then raised a shotgun and pulled the trigger.
Blade reacted by instinct, jumping to the side and firing his .45 into the monster. The bullets dug holes into the walking corpse, but the creature ignored the shots and slowly pumped the shotgun to fire again.
Blade aimed at the head of the creature and fired. The .45 slug ripped through the creature’s head and splashed brains onto the columns supporting the overhead computer console. It squealed like a dying animal and slumped to the ground, the shotgun clattering to the cement floor. Blade watched the body, the .45 still aimed at the creature, to see if it was going to get up. The creature was still.
Slowly, Blade lowered the .45. “The can’t be real,” his mind screamed, but the sting in his arm from a stray pellet confirmed that what had happened was all too real. What happened here? His security clearance did not allow him any details of the experiments that were conducted at the research complex, but rumor had it that the scientists were doing extra-dimensional experiments. Was this the result of an experiment gone bad? If so what was his next move? He ran his hand through his coal black hair and rubbed his steel-gray eyes. He should try to get to Command to see if anyone was left alive. Even if everyone was dead, he could contact Earth for instructions.
He bent down and picked up the shotgun the zombie had dropped, holding his nose against the stench of putrefying flesh. He stood and looked toward the observation deck and saw some body armor on a table. He quickly headed for the stairs to the observation deck. He would need that armor.
As he stepped on the first rung of the stair, a grunt sounded from the shadows to his left and another zombie stepped forward and raised a shotgun. Blade jerked back, pulled the trigger and the shotgun roared. The zombie’s head exploded in a shower of blood and brain and the body slumped to the ground.
Blade took a deep breath and slowly continued up the stairs and onto the observation deck. He glanced around the deck, looking for zombies, but thankfully, the deck was clear. He set the shotgun down on the table and picked up the body armor. He slipped on the armor, grabbed some ammo and reloaded the shotgun then headed back down the stairs.
Blade strode across the entry room and down a low corridor that lead to the hangar computer room. He stopped at the door and pressed his ear against the metal, listening for any sounds. He couldn’t hear anything. Taking a deep breath, he punched the open switch.
The door screeched open and Blade scanned the room. Two zombies standing by the center computer console turned and then started shuffling toward him. They both raised .45s and fired. The slugs whined off the cement wall beside him, spraying hot lead and cement fragments into his face.
Blade fired the shotgun, taking the head off the first zombie. Blade pumped the shotgun, aimed at the second zombie and pulled the trigger. Nothing; the shotgun had jammed. The zombie fired the .45 and the slug took a stinging nick from his right arm.
“Damn!” He said trying to clear the jam. He couldn’t get the shotgun to work. He looked up and saw the zombie standing a meter from him, pointing the .45 at his head, ready to pull the trigger. Blade screamed and ran toward the zombie. He swung the shotgun by the barrel like a baseball bat, aiming for the zombie’s head. The metal stock slammed into the side of the zombie’s head and the creature dropped like a sack of stones.
Blade hit the creature in the head again and again and again, screaming like a madman. From the hangar storage area, an unearthly growl brought Blade back to his senses. He dropped the shotgun and backed away from the ruined zombie, his breath ragged, his mind whirling.
The growl sounded again and Blade felt a chill race down his spine. The sound was unearthly, alien. Some part of him wanted to run and hide, but another part remembered his friends and fear gave way to anger. Something, or someone, had turned his buddies into these zombies. Somebody was going to pay. He drew his .45 and slowly walked into the storage area.