* * *
As my sword pierced its heart, I knew my end was near. I had been told so many times separating the head from the body was the way. It looked at me with its dead eyes and shuffled, deeper on my sword, I felt its teeth tear the flesh from my neck.
“Get off!” I shouted. I knew it was in vain, these things couldn’t understand me. They knew only hunger, gnawing from within. Only human flesh would satiate them.
I dropped my sword and clenched the bite. Bloody flesh wasn’t what I felt. It was the strangest sensation as my world faded.
* * *
I awoke strapped to a table. I could move my head, but my arms and legs were immobile. I lifted my head to discover my ankles, wrists and torso were held firmly in place with large straps. A single door featured a small window and a pair of eyes stared at me through it. Many thoughts raced through my mind, but my paramount thought was, Why am I still alive? I couldn’t feel my neck, but there was a dull pain emanating from my bitten neck.
The eyes were gone now. I was left alone to consider my situation. Why had those things not consumed my flesh? My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door opening. The creak was so loud; I couldn’t help but raise my head to see what would become of me.
“And how are we feeling Mister Johnston?”
How did this thing know my name? The face peering at me was of rotting flesh. Teeth were visible through the decaying lips. The eyes were sunken and discolored. The stench was overpowering. I felt the bile rising and I started to gag.
“Let’s get Mister Johnston something to settle his stomach.”
After some shuffling the eyes I saw earlier appeared briefly and handed the thing standing over me a paper cup before retreating out of view. The man belonging to those eyes was betraying humanity. I couldn’t believe he would side with them. When I escaped confinement, I would ensure the traitor would be dispatched.
“I’m going to place this medication in your mouth and I want you to swallow them.”
I saw the paper cup and the cockroaches scurrying about from within. I clamped my mouth closed in defiance. I had eaten worse while hiding, but I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of forcing me to eat cockroaches.
“Very well Mister Johnston, have it your way.”
The paper cup and its contents were removed before it continued, “We need to discuss what happened yesterday.”
I refused to answer. Whatever they wanted, I would not be party to it.
“You broke Kendall’s arm when you attacked him with that table leg. We had to subdue you for your protection.”
It tapped the restraints that bound me with the pen in its putrid hand. “These are for our protection. I know you are confused, but the sooner we start a dialog, the sooner we can discuss your options.”
I acquiesced to the situation and allowed myself a whisper. “What are you going to do with me?”
“That’s a conversation that’ll last longer than the few minutes we have together at this time. I’m eager to help you on your road to recovery, but we can’t have violent outbursts. Our facility is simply unable to accommodate it.”
With more confidence than the last time, I repeated: “What are you going to do with me?”
“What do you think we should do with you?”
“Well, if you’re going to eat me, just get it over with.”
It tapped the pen against the teeth in it’s rotting maw.
“Hmmm… Duane, please bring me Mister Johnston’s file.”
The man attached to those eyes from earlier stood smartly and replied, “Yes,Sir.” He swiped his name badge through the reader on the door and closed it quickly behind him.
It leaned forward and as it spoke, I could smell it’s fetid breath. “What are we going to do with you, Mister Johnston?”
It had been so focused on me it didn’t see me struggling against the strap holding down my wrist. When it spoke, I was able to disguise the sound of the bone in my hand popping as I dislocated my thumb to escape the strap. The pain from that and my slamming it down on the table to pop it back in was excruciating, but the pain I would experience at the hands of this monster would be far worse. He must have seen it in my eyes because he leaned back. If they could experience emotion, I would have expected surprise, but it was too late. I battled through the pain and seized his pen and swung wildly. He staggered back, overturning his chair. The pen was lodged in his ear and he made a strange sound as he fell to the floor.
I freed myself as quickly as possible. Duane would be back and I needed to escape before then. I wouldn’t be able to permanently kill this monster or the traitor, but my freedom took precedent.
Once freed from the straps, I grabbed the name badge from it’s belt. After swiping, I latched the door to room seven-B. Hopefully, I wouldn’t be in that room again. As I scrambled as silently as I could, I paused by what looked like an orderly’s station and overheard two of them talking.
“We need to hurry and harvest the skin in seven-B, the patient is waiting.”
“Works for me, the sooner he’s gone, the better I’ll feel.”
“I know what you mean, I…”
Her response was interrupted by a klaxon. They discovered I was missing. I may have missed my opportunity to escape. I tried to stand, but a hand held me down.
“Sorry, man. I really wanted you to escape.”
I looked into those same eyes I’d seen before. Duane’s face was the last thing I saw before my vision faded to black.