Chapter 1: The Outbreak

The streetlights cast a dim, eerie light on the winding road that led up to the laboratory. A single black car drove up the path, its motor cutting through the silence of the night. The headlights on the car illuminated a cracked and crumbling asphalt path that seemed to stretch on forever. The car approached the laboratory’s gates. A figure inside the car leaned out, waving a card in front of the gatehouse’s scanner. A beep sounded, then the gate doors slowly creaked open. The forest on the right side of the road loomed over the car as it drove by. The forest was equally quiet. Suddenly, a piercing wail sounded from the forest. It was an inhuman wail, no doubt. Still, the car continued down the road. A rustling at the edge of the forest went unheard by the car’s driver. The car kept going. Out of the trees burst the shadow of a creature, running towards the car under the cover of night. A single scream sounded, then silence.

The laboratory was quiet. Everyone had left — almost. Two scientists dressed in white lab coats stood in the experimenting zone. The walls of the room were primarily glass. Fluorescent lights shone brightly above their heads as they worked. The scientists — a man and a woman — worked urgently, like they were running out of time. The woman was tall with short, black hair. She had an ID card on a lanyard around her neck. It read: Scarlett Holmes, Ecologist. The man was short, with a blob of blonde hair on his head. His ID read: Aaron Jones, Biochemist. The man was hunched over an operating table with a vaguely human shape on it. The woman was standing by a computer, occasionally telling something to the man while she noisily clacked away on the keyboard.

“Aaron, are you almost done?” Scarlett asked Aaron with a slightly panicked tone.

“Maybe?” Aaron said weakly.

“You have to hurry up!” Scarlett replied, exasperated.

“Okay, I will! Do we even know if this will work?” Aaron questioned.

“Of course it will, Aaron.”

There was no response from Aaron. He turned back to the table, working hastily. It had been just under an hour when Aaron gave a triumphant whoop.

“I’m done! It’s ready!” He said excitedly.

“Good! Keep it down.” Scarlett whispered.

“Oh, sorry.” Aaron mumbled.

“Well, let’s not dawdle. Flip the switch!” Scarlett said, ignoring Aaron’s previous comment.

Aaron walked over to a switch on the nearest wall and gripped it. At that moment, multiple other people ran into the room, dressed just like Scarlett and Aaron.

“Freeze, both of you!” A man at the front yelled, “Aaron, back away from that switch.”

Instead of backing away, Aaron pulled it down. In a flash, the room changed. The glass windows lining the walls shattered. The glass fell like snow on a cold December morning, covering everyone. Aaron tried to hold on to the switch, but it was too much. He was thrown against the wall. Scarlett ducked under the table that the computer was on, shielding herself from the storm of glass. Blood ran down the lab coats like a crimson river, and bodies were thrown against the walls, slumping against the floor. The operating table shook. The humanoid figure that was lying on the table sat upright. It was not a human. It was a horrid beast. It jumped off the table. It looked around the room. Scarlett cowered. The creature, seemingly content, walked out of the room. Scarlett poked her head out from under the table to make sure it was gone, then crawled out. Her face was pale, and her hands were shaking. Aaron groaned, sitting up.

“What have we done, Aaron?” Scarlett whispered. Aaron just groaned, standing up.

Walter wasn’t having a good morning. He came into the laboratory for work at 4:00 A.M., signed useless papers, drank four cups of coffee, combed his hair twice, and had to recite the speech he was going to give tomorrow. None of that even competed with the worst part: there was a creature in his office that wanted to kill him. In the twenty-two years he had worked here, nothing nearly as extreme as this had happened. Nothing extreme had ever happened, as a matter of fact.

The creature snarled, walking towards Walter. Walter scrambled back, walking into his closet. Inside it, there was a single broom. He grabbed the broom, then experimentally waved it in the air. The creature was closing in on him, so he swung the broom. The creature grabbed the other end of the broom and pulled hard. Walter was lifted off his feet, and then let go before the creature could grab him. He ran for the door to his office. Actually, it was just a doorframe now, since the creature had broken through it. The creature followed him as he ran out of the office.

Walter made it into the hallway safely. He hurried towards the elevator. The elevator was almost on the opposite side of the building, which was something Walter didn’t enjoy. He continued running from hallway to hallway, unconsciously directing himself to the elevator. He had never run this much in his life, but he found some hidden endurance to keep himself going.

The elevator was in sight now. He ran as fast as he could. As soon as he went in, he slammed down the GROUND button. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the creature bounding towards him on all fours. He hit the button again and again. The doors started to shut. The creature was only a couple of yards away from the elevator, and the doors hadn’t closed yet. Walter was sweating profusely. He was feeling weak, and the world around him was starting to blur. The creature had reached the elevator. It stuck a hand into the elevator, grabbing for Walter. Walter’s legs gave way, and he collapsed, just as the doors slammed shut. He didn’t even notice the mangled arm that fell on him. He was already unconscious.

Editor at The City Voice

Hello, my name is Luke Fann. I love to read and write myself into a fantastical realm, but I love all genres. Of course, such a task requires assistance from my parents and older brother. I've feasted on alligators and tamed beasts like alpacas (my favorite animal), but none of that compares to my greatest weapon: a pencil. I am an editor here for the City Voice, and this is my second year writing for it.

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