"Unborn" by Patrick Stacy

 

The Unborn
by Marcelo Hipolito & Marcelo Machado

 

Once upon a time, in a cold and rainy metropolis in America, there was a huge, dark, and dirty warehouse. Inside the ghastly structure, one room contrasted sharply with the others.

It was a fully white and antiseptic room. Unlike the foul stench that impregnated the warehouse, the air inside it was fresh and purified. Several wires interlaced on the floor formed a complex, yet organized web, connecting several computers and state-of-the-art machinery to a high-tech stand located in its center. Over it, laid a hermetically sealed glass container. In its interior, floating immobile in a reddish, thick and opaque liquid, was a dead human fetus.

Of no more than four months of age, the fetus had six needles, attached to the base of the container, inserted alongside its body. A few wires were attached to the head and torso, linked to electrocardiogram and electroencephalogram machines, both flat-lined.

Two people were operating the machinery. The first one was Doctor Weiss, a gray-haired scientist in his late sixties with an authoritarian posture and wearing thick glasses. The second one was his assistant, Adam, a young man in his early twenties, with a beak-shaped nose and a ponytail.

After a signal from Weiss, the young assistant started the experiment at the main computer.

A sequence of synthetic stimulants and hormones were injected into the fetus through three of the needles. The container temperature was gradually increased to the human body's standard temperature of 36.5 degrees centigrade. The remaining needles transmitted a series of alternate mild electrical shocks into the fetus's nervous system... After a brief interval, the fetus life signs became active.

The resurrected fetus was slowly moving his unformed limbs. The tiny head turned from one way to the other, as if trying to understand the world around it.

Weiss couldn't help wondering what fantastic revelations the fetus could disclose about the afterlife if it were resurrected as an adult. He was awakened from his daydream by his assistant's shouting. "No! Not again!"

The old scientist could not believe it. He was so certain that his experiment would at last succeed, that the new software he developed to perfect the balance of the chemical pumping and the electrical stimulation would work this time.

The tiny fetus started to twist in apparent great pain as the experiment deteriorated further. Its tissues grew out of proportion. The life signs flat-lined again. The once humanoid shape became a small ball of red flesh, which exploded out of the container, spreading blood, shards of glass, and fetal tissue all over the room.

Adam sighed, upset. He would again have to clean up all that mess and prepare the room for the next attempt.

Doctor Weiss, however, knew that this might have been their last chance. He would have to convince his sponsors that, despite the countless failures during months of research, his experiment could still pay off. It was clear to him that the process was correct. The failure could only reside in the computer processing, which was too slow to keep up with the extremely complex changes in the fetus every millisecond.

All he needed was a faster computer.


* * *

Lisa was a beautiful twenty-year-old girl. She lived her entire life with her parents in a comfortable house in the suburbs. She went to college to study psychology in a university near home, so that she wouldn't have to move out.

If it weren't for Joshua, she probably would have lived a calm and uneventful life. He was a rich and spoiled youngster who, despite being the father of her unborn child, didn't want anything to do with either Lisa or her pregnancy.

Lisa knew she couldn't go through it alone, so she decided to ask for help from the only person in the world she could trust. Her best friend and confidante: her mother.

Although her father was a good man, he was sometimes a bit rigid due to his strict observance of his religious doctrine. Her mother, on the other hand, was more down-to-earth. She understood her little girl's feelings and needs, and at times they seemed more like sisters than mother and daughter.

When Lisa confessed what had happened, her mother was both angry and heartbroken. At first, she didn't support her daughter's decision, but Lisa insisted that if she had the baby it would only make things worse. She knew that her father would be devastated to know she had become pregnant before marriage, and that the situation could destroy their family.

Her mother was divided between her own morals and beliefs and the future of her daughter. As often happens with loving mothers, she finally chose not to risk her daughter's future and decided to go along with Lisa's decision.


* * *

Lisa's feelings were a jumble. Although in her mind she was convinced she was doing the right thing, her conscience was catching up with her and the guilt and remorse overcame her fears. If she hadn't been partially sedated during the procedure, she would've backed down at that moment, but it was too late already. The three-month fetus had been harvested from her womb.

Lisa was released and her mother took her home. They told Lisa's father that she just had a cold. And so she remained secluded in her room, crying almost ceaselessly for the next couple of days. After that, Lisa had apparently returned to her normal self, but inside she was still crying, unsure if she would ever be able to forgive herself.


* * *

When Lisa checked in at the clinic, there were several papers she had to sign. Due to her mental state at that time, she didn't read any of them and just signed whatever paper they put in front of her. Among those papers, there was an authorization releasing the fetus extracted from her for scientific purposes.

The fetus was sent to Doctor Weiss, part of a batch of fifty, all harvested from healthy women ranging from eighteen to twenty years of age. The batch arrived in the lab together with a new, state-of-the-art supercomputer.

Weiss had been successful in convincing his sponsors. He knew that his moment of glory was finally coming.

Inside the sterilized lab, as the experiment was about to begin, his assistant, Adam, dressed in full sterile garments, randomly picked one of the fetuses. It happened to be Lisa's.

He took it to the high-tech container, connected the proper wires of the electroencephalogram and electrocardiogram machines to the head and torso. After that, he carefully placed the fetus over the six thin needles attached to the base of the container. He then sealed the container and activated a switch, which filled it with the thick, reddish liquid.

"Commence primary sequence," Weiss ordered, eyes fixed on the monitor.

Adam took his seat in front of the brand-new supercomputer. He ran the program. The precise balance of chemical substances and electrical impulses started taking their effect on the lifeless organism.

As in many attempts before, the fetus started moving inside the dense liquid. For a moment, the alarm sign flashed on the monitor. At first, Weiss thought he had failed again, but he soon realized that the outcome would be different this time.

The fetus's agitation wasn't violent, and the tissue growth was proportional at last. The new computer was succeeding in processing the changes in the fetus's physiology!

At that very instant, miles away from there, Lisa felt a shock, as if hit by lightning. She was in the middle of a class when she fell to the floor, twisting in pain. To the teacher and the other students, it seemed like she was having an epileptic fit. But, in fact, her mind and senses had been overtaken by bizarre images and sensations.

Lisa felt her newly formed eyes opening to a watery, opaque universe. She seemed to be immersed in some sort of liquid, surrounded by a barrier of glass, which distorted the view of the world outside it. Each cell of her body ached as if she were being stretched in every direction. She looked down and saw the tiny limbs she had for arms and legs, each growing in a surreal speed. Even stranger was the realization she was occupying a MALE body.

Doctor Weiss and Adam were baffled. The accelerated growth was even faster than they had ever predicted. In a matter of seconds, the fetus broke through the confines of the container, spilling glass fragments and the reddish liquid onto the floor.

In her catatonic mind, Lisa could see the world more clearly, in spite of the blinding lights that hurt her eyes. She could perceive the sophisticated machinery all around, with two perplexed giant men in front of her. As her new body continued to grow, the two men's stature seemed to decrease along with the rest of the place. Then came an agonizing feeling of air deprivation in her lungs. She was suffocating.

Doctor Weiss read the monitors and saw that the life signs of the resurrected being were starting to collapse -- unaware that Lisa had been dragged along with it. Her bizarre connection to the altered fetus caused her own body to suffer the same organ failure it did.

"Stop the procedure!" Weiss ordered. "NOW!"

"But, if we do this, it could die..."

"If it stays connected to the machinery, it will die anyway!"

Adam didn't have time to act. The body mass of the fetus became so large it smashed the high-tech stand, along with the six needles, into pieces. The newborn, with a body now similar in size and appearance to a gorilla, fell to the floor.

Although Lisa stopped convulsing, the ordeal had been too much for her. She remained unconscious. Outside the classroom, the siren of an approaching ambulance could be heard.

Back in the laboratory, it was not possible to discern the creature's features as it lay in a fetal position, covering its head with its mighty arms, almost two times the size of a regular man's. Its skin was like a grayish leather.

The experiment resulted in something completely unexpected, something that surpassed Weiss's wildest dreams. The creature wasn't showing any signs of movement. Weiss wondered if the brain had been damaged during the process, which, considering the creature's external deformities, seemed likely. He moved toward the creature.

"Be careful, doctor," his worried assistant said.

Weiss disregarded Adam's warning, certain that the strange being, despite its huge size and apparent physical strength, presented no danger. It was just a mass of flesh and bones, deprived of consciousness... or so it seemed.

It all happened very fast. Lisa never knew how lucky she was for being unconscious, for it saved her from the terrible experience of witnessing, through her strange connection with the creature, the carnage that soon followed.

Her son jumped up, with feline agility and speed, yelling like a vicious beast. It stood, disproportional muscles covered with thick veins and nerves; the huge arms hung down close to the knees of its titanic legs; the deformed and relatively small bald head sat on top of an unnaturally large chest; and the face... it was a horror not even the maddest of the mad could conceive. The mouth was a lipless gash; primitive fangs bared instead of teeth; instead of eyes there were fully black, bug-eyed ocular globes, the left one two times the size of the right one; and there were small holes where there should have been a nose and ears. A truly hellish image.

Doctor Weiss was terrified during the one last second he lived before the creature smashed his head with its grotesque hands. It was like a regular man breaking an egg.

Adam raced to the exit. The monstrous behemoth jumped over the wrecked machinery in one single bound, but the young man was faster, hermetically shutting the steel door behind him just in time.

Adam leaned on the door trying to catch his breath. But, as he felt the first exploding thump of the creature hitting it, his heart almost jumped through his mouth. As the clobbering became stronger, he knew that not even that reinforced door would hold much longer, so he ran out of there as fast as he could.


* * *

Lisa awoke in a hospital bed. The first thing she saw were her parents sitting beside her. "What happened?"

"You passed out in school, sweetheart," her father explained softly.

Lisa looked through the window and realized the sun had set. Her confusion turned into apprehension. "What -- Why?"

"It is nothing to worry about, honey."

Her mother took her hand. "The doctor said it probably was an anxiety attack."

"Which reminds me, I was supposed to call him the minute you were awake. I'll be right back," her father said, before leaving.

Lisa was puzzled. "An anxiety attack?" Being a psychology student, she knew what that was.... It made no sense to her.

"The doctor told us it was probably caused by the coming midterms," her mother recalled.

"Did you tell him about my pregnancy?"

"I didn't have to."

Lisa nodded. Just then her father returned with the doctor, who was holding the results of Lisa's medical examination. "Just as I expected, the results show nothing unusual with Lisa." Her mother was relieved.

"Hi, Lisa, I'm Doctor Jones. Tell me, what is the last thing you remember?" the physician asked.

"I remember being in class... and, all of a sudden, I felt dizzy.... Then I woke up here," she answered. "I also remember having some dream...."

Her father was curious. "What about, honey?"

"I don't know.... It was weird."

"It's quite normal to have strange dreams in such situations," the doctor intervened. "I'll tell you what, I will prescribe for you a light tranquilizer, just to lower your tension. And I want you back here in a couple of days so that we can make sure everything's all right, OK?"

Lisa and her parents thanked him.


* * *

On the way home, Lisa barely spoke. She didn't want to alarm her parents, but she was having difficulty concentrating. She felt her mind strangely tired for someone who spent the better part of the day lying in a bed.

At first, she thought it was the work of some medication they gave her at the hospital, but somehow she knew it was something else. Not to mention the feeling she had that there was something out there watching her, lurking in the shadows. Something that made her feel a bitter taste in her mouth.


* * *

Back at home, Lisa barely touched her dinner. Her tiredness increased so much that she went straight to bed, falling asleep practically as her head hit the pillow.

Under the comfy sheets, Lisa's calm sleep was disturbed by a dream, a very bad dream... or so she thought. She was seeing through someone else's eyes. Someone... or something... very tall that was heading toward the house from the backyard.

Lights coming from the kitchen caught the intruder's attention. Lisa's mother was just about done washing the plates, while her father was wrapping the trash bag to take it outside. Lisa could then feel the intense hate the intruder felt towards her parents... a murderous hate.

Lisa woke up, scared. Her eyes opened, and she found herself back in her room. But, to her horror, the images she witnessed in her dream were still with her, superimposed over her regular vision.

Not only was her sight affected, but also all of her senses. In the complete silence of her room, she could hear through the intruder's ears the sounds of her mother putting away the dinnerware in the kitchen. The backdoor opened, startling both Lisa and the intruder. It was her father going out with the trash, unaware of the grotesque creature that started to race towards him.

Taken by despair, Lisa ran out of her room, down the stairs to warn her father. However, before she could reach the lower floor, she was frozen by the image of the intruder's long sharp claw-like hands ripping her father's chest open. She could hear his screams with both her ears and the murderer's.

Without even thinking, her worried mother raced outside to help her husband, only to be hit with a mighty blow by the intruder, which threw her back inside the kitchen, barely conscious, over the table. The beast entered through the backdoor and ripped her chest as he did the father's, shredding her to pieces.

With tears running down her face, Lisa proceeded down the stairs, hoping against hope that it all had been just a sick nightmare, and that she would find her parents safe and sound. As she reached the kitchen, and saw the dreadful carnage, she broke down in shock. "Mommy..." she murmured to the woman's remains, spread throughout the room.

Through the eyes of the creature, Lisa realized he was lurking outside, hidden in the bushes. She could not understand what made him stop, why he didn't finish the job and kill her too... but those questions soon faded away.

Gripped by an irrational fury, she took the biggest knife she could find and went outside. She didn't care how monstrous or strong the creature was. All traces of the calm and somewhat fragile Lisa were gone. All she wanted was to bury the knife deep inside his body and shred it open, while staring deep into his eyes as the last sparkle of life abandons his hideous body... just as he had done with her parents.

Lisa stood by the backdoor, ready to attack the creature, which, due to their mental connection, could not hide for her. As she held the knife tighter, just about to run toward him, the images vanished from her mind. Just as she wondered where the creature had gone, Lisa got her answer in the worst possible way -- for as the images returned she could see herself from above.

She looked up and found a demonic silhouette, hanging on to the wall outside her bedroom. The dreadful sight terrified her. Her fiery rage was replaced with uncontrollable fear. As the frightful creature jumped toward her, Lisa's world turned black.


* * *

Lisa awoke with a bright light on her face. Two paramedics, a man and a woman, were leaning over her. One of them was testing her pupils' reactions with a tiny flashlight. "How are you feeling?" the female paramedic asked.

Lisa's mind was a jumble. She noticed a half-dozen police officers in the backyard and a few detectives poking around. She didn't understand what was going on, since she had no recollection of her ordeal. Then she saw her father being zipped into a body bag. Everything came back. The paramedic pushed: "Miss, can you tell me your name?"

"I'm Lisa... Lisa Cook."

"Miss Cook, are you experiencing any pain?"

"My face... it hurts."

"Your face is bruised a little, but it's nothing serious. We'll take you to the hospital just to make sure everything's all right."

A gray-haired, obese detective approached them. "I need to ask her a few questions first."

"All right, detective, but please make it quick," the female paramedic said.

"I'm Detective Giannini. First, let me tell you that I'm very sorry for your loss." Lisa acknowledged this with a trembling nod.

"Can you tell me what happened?" Giannini asked.

Lisa searched carefully for the right words. She was afraid that if she told the truth, they would think she was crazy. "I was sleeping when I heard screams. I raced down to see what happened, and then I saw... I saw..." Lisa burst into tears. The memory of the scene was too much for her.

"Did you see who did it?"

"Just a glimpse..." she replied, sobbing, trying to get a grip of herself. "He jumped over me... when I came outside. All I could see was... that he was very big... over seven feet... After that, all I remember is blackness."

"Are you sure you didn't see his face?"

Lisa shook her head.

The female paramedic stepped in. "Detective, the ambulance is ready."

"All right," Giannini said. "Miss, I'll check with you later to see if you remember anything else. Rest assured we'll catch this bastard."

"Thank you, detective," Lisa said as she was carried into the ambulance.


* * *

It was past midnight and the ambulance was halfway to the hospital. Lisa was lying silently on the gurney. She thought she would finally have the time to try to make some sense out of all that had happened... She was wrong.

First, there was a horror that hit her like lightning. Then came the images: Visions of large distances being rapidly covered in single leaps. And then, from high above, she saw the ambulance she was in. The gruesome creature, that had slain her parents, had found her! One more jump and, through his eyes, she could see the ambulance coming closer and closer.

"Oh, my God! This can't be!" Lisa cried in despair. The female paramedic accompanying her was appalled. "What's wrong?" she asked.

There was no time for an answer. A heavy thump sounded on the top of the vehicle. The impact was so strong that the driver lost control of the ambulance. It crashed into a lamppost.


* * *

As Lisa recovered her senses, she realized the ambulance was upside down. Both paramedics were dead. She noticed a streak of blood running down her forehead. Although fairly shook up, she gathered all her strength to pull herself out of the vehicle.

She crawled a few meters away from it. In her shared vision, she could see herself from behind, kneeling down, pale, and with several scratches and bruises showing. She turned around to face her stalker.

This time, the streetlights allowed her to take a good look at the hideous monster that crawled from behind the ambulance. He was a horrendously deformed mass, badly wounded in the accident it caused. Exposed, fractured bones, deep, bloody cuts, bruises, and scratches covering its body. It was a miracle that anything that injured could still be alive. Then, to Lisa's awe, the creature's wounds began to heal on their own. Bones mending, cuts closing, all in one exceedingly accelerated pace.

It was a bizarre spectacle that mesmerized the few bystanders who witnessed the accident. Lisa, however, wasn't fascinated at all. She was terrified.

She ran from there as fast as she could, without looking back, hoping the creature's healing process would last long enough to allow her to escape.

A few seconds later, the creature stood up, almost fully recovered. To the amazement of everyone present, he jumped to the roof of a ten-story building nearby in a single leap, disappearing into the night.

Lisa wandered without direction. How could this thing, after brutally killing her parents, allow her to go unharmed? And then be following her, even hurting itself to do so? What could he possibly want from her?


* * *

The sun rose, taking away the darkness of the night. But not the darkness inside Lisa's mind.

Lisa spent the whole day hiding in alleys, or any other place she could find that was away from prying eyes. She was strangely uneasy... as if she was being attracted to something... or to some place.

By the end of the day, her feet were calloused, her legs tired and painful, almost as painful as her empty stomach. That's when she found a building she had never seen before, but that seemed oddly familiar: a dirty and abandoned warehouse.

The entrance door was unlocked. Lisa entered the strange and sinister place feeling a bizarre mix of fear and deja vu. Not knowing exactly why, she took the corridor to her left.

Lisa ended up in front of a thick metallic door, smashed and laid on the floor. As she stepped into the room, she felt her heart tightening.

She found the wrecked machinery inside the lab. There was a large dry stain on the floor. As she kneeled down to examine it, she heard an eerie voice coming from behind her. "Who are you? What are you doing here?"

Lisa stood up in a jump. She turned around and found Adam aiming a gun at her. She remembered his face from the moment of the creature's birth. "Hey... I know you!"

Adam was sure he had never seen that girl before. "I won't ask again," the frightened young man said, his finger almost pulling the trigger.

She realized he was even more terrified than she was. "My name is Lisa, and I actually don't know what I'm doing here," she told him nervously. "I think I know this place... from a dream."

"A dream?"

"Yes. Only it wasn't exactly a dream."

Adam was intrigued. "You're not making any sense."

"I saw it in my mind. Someone -- some THING killing a man. Right here in this place," she said, looking back at the stain on the floor.

Adam was petrified. How could this girl know what happened? He put the gun down, realizing there was more to Lisa than met the eye. "That stain... is blood."

"Then, someone really did die here."

"Yes. It was Doctor Weiss... my boss," Adam revealed. "I was assisting him in a scientific experiment."

"What kind of experiment?"

"I'm sorry. It's classified."

Lisa got angry. "Cut the crap! I know what that thing is! I've seen it! It killed my parents and is now after me. Not to mention that we are connected somehow."

"Connected?!" he asked, even more intrigued.

"There are times I can see what he sees; feel what he feels."

"What?!" Adam thought for a second. "What's your last name?"

"What does it have to do with anything?"

"What is it, dammit!" he insisted.

"Cook," she replied, startled with his reaction.

"Lisa Cook...." His face became pale as a sheet of paper. "Oh, my God!"

"What?"

Adam leaned his back on the wall, allowing his body to slide down, until he sat still on the cold floor.

"What the hell is this all about?" she demanded.

He couldn't hold back anymore. "We were working on an effective way of resuscitating dead organisms," he said. "For that, we were using dead human fetuses harvested in abortion clinics."

Lisa was completely baffled. "Why fetuses?"

"You see, the major problem of resuscitating a corpse is the brain. When it's deprived of oxygen, even for a few minutes, it suffers irreparable damage. But the nervous system of a fetus is still in formation. Its cells have a highly reproductive capacity, which constitutes the perfect material for our experiment."

Lisa almost couldn't believe her ears. The story seemed taken from an old B movie. "The experiment didn't work at all on the previous subjects, but on the last one it worked TOO well," Adam said. "It not only regained life but also grew in size beyond human proportions. It killed Doctor Weiss viciously... I was lucky to escape."

"That's all fine and dandy, but what the hell do I have to do with all this?"

"Lisa, your dead fetus was the last subject," he revealed.

"Then, that thing..."

"That's right. That creature IS your fetus."

To his awe, Lisa remained unaltered by what he thought would be a shocking revelation. "You don't seem surprised."

"No. I -- I knew it," she said. "Somehow, I just knew it... That's why he hasn't killed me... He knows I'm his mother."

"It seems that both you and the creature have formed some kind of psychic bond," Adam figured.

"Yes, he is inside my mind," she agreed. "I can feel his fear, his anger..."

"Anger?" Adam was puzzled. "With what?"

"With me," she answered, with profound sadness. "He hates me for having him harvested from my body. He thinks that I abandoned him, denied him life itself," she lowered her head with a tear running down her face. "And he's right..."

"So it is after you," Adam realized.

"HE! ...Don't call him 'it'," Lisa corrected the young man. "But how can he possibly know who I am, where I live..."

"No doubt through you," he said. "If there is a bond between the two of you, it probably works both ways. And its -- sorry -- HIS knowledge of the world is in fact yours."

Lisa displayed a faint smile, appreciating the irony of it all. "I suppose it's due. Since I deprived him of his life, he is now feeding upon mine, right?"

Adam couldn't help but feel sorry for Lisa. The guilt she was carrying must be heavy, especially for a young girl.

"So what do we do now?" she asked.

"There's only one thing to do," he replied, showing her the gun.

Lisa's face became dark. "I see."

"After we kill him, I will contact the project's sponsors. Then, I'm sure they'll make everything go away."

"I don't know. Maybe we should go to the police--"

"And tell them what?!" Adam interrupted her. "'Excuse me, officer, there's a seven-foot tall fetus trying to kill us!'?"

"No need to get--" Lisa suddenly interrupted herself.

"What's wrong?"

"It's happening again," she said, as the images flowed into her mind. From the roof of Joshua's sumptuous mansion, she could see him leaving in his expensive sports car. The creature jumped to the nearest building, keeping Joshua in sight.

Lisa turned to Adam, terrified. "Oh my God... He's going after his father!"


* * *

The night fell over the city. Adam was driving his pickup truck like a madman. At his side, afflicted, Lisa was using Adam's cell phone to try to reach Joshua's.

"Any luck?" Adam asked. Lisa shook her head. "It must be off."

In her mind, Lisa could see Joshua parking his car in front of a beautiful house, where a party was going on. "I know this place," she said. "It's a sorority house in my university." Through her son's eyes, Lisa witnessed as Joshua was welcomed by a gorgeous blonde with a hot, wet kiss.

Joshua and the girl entered the house together, followed by the creature, who broke into the place with extreme violence. The brief surprise of the people inside was replaced with terror. They started to scream and run in panic, trying to escape any way they could.

Lisa watched as her son finally found his father. As his deformed hand grabbed Joshua by the neck, the image was suddenly gone. "I lost him," Lisa said, stunned. She dialed 911 on the cell phone.


* * *

Adam parked the truck under a large tree, about ten meters away from the lightless sorority house. There were two empty police cars parked by the front garden. Their red and blue lights flashing in the silent dark.

"He's close," Lisa said. "I can feel him." She opened the car door. Tense, Adam held her by the arm. "Where do you think you're going?"

"I gotta help Joshua!"

"The police are here."

"They don't know what they're up against," she said, pulling away from him as she left the vehicle. Adam followed right behind. "Are you mad? In that darkness, the cops might end up shooting US!"

"I'm not forcing you to come," she replied, defiantly.

"No, you're not," he concurred, pulling out his gun and cocking it. "But I'm partly responsible for this whole mess. Besides, I can't let you go in there alone." She looked at him with grateful eyes.

They crossed the smashed front door. The silence inside was sepulchral. Adam stepped in, followed by Lisa, who was practically glued to his back.

What they found in the entrance hall was a shocking and gruesome image that burned into their minds. Illuminated by the light coming from outside, they were able to see several mangled corpses scattered throughout the place.

Adam and Lisa had to fight the urge to vomit. They walked on, taking care not to slip in the pool of blood that the floor had become.

Lisa felt compelled to go to the living room. Adam, now on edge, accompanied her.

Along with several more dead students, they spotted the corpses of four policemen, equally brutalized, their guns laid on the floor close behind them.

"Have you ever fired a gun?" Adam whispered to Lisa. "No, never," she replied.

"Now is a good time to start," he said, giving her his .38 and helping her hands find the correct grip. Adam picked up one of the cops' shotguns, cleaning off the blood on a curtain nearby. He smelled the barrel and found no scent of gunpowder, which indicated that the weapon had not been fired. He cocked it.

They noticed an erratically blinking light shining from a corridor leading to the back of the house. They exchanged a glance and decided to go check it. They arrived at the kitchen, where a fluorescent bulb was short-circuiting. Among the carnage in there, they encountered the remains of Joshua's playmate.

As Lisa turned around, she gasped at what she found: Joshua, hanging a few feet above the ground. His hands, arms, and legs pinned with knives to the wooden wall. The thick streaks of blood, running from the wounds down to the black-and-white floor tile, seemed like a devilish work of art. Still barely alive, half-conscious, Joshua took a few seconds to recognize Lisa. "Help... me..." he whispered faintly. "Please..."

Lisa went toward him without thinking twice. Despite all he had done to her, she still had feelings for him. Suddenly, coming from the shadows in the corner of the room, the creature, her son, stood in her path. Out of reflex, she promptly aimed the .38 at him. Adam also raised his weapon, but Lisa was right in the line of fire. "Lisa, move away!" he screamed, desperate.

Lisa lowered her gun, trying to communicate with the creature. "My son," she said, tenderly. "I don't know if you can understand what I'm saying, but I'm sure you can feel what I'm feeling." Surprisingly, the monster seemed to calm down. The once-raging expression began showing an almost childish innocence. "Son, let your father go. Please."

Even in his frail state, Joshua was struck by the meaning of Julie's sentence. "Son...?"

Hearing that word coming from Joshua's mouth was like wildfire running through the creature's mind. In a frenzy, he decapitated Joshua with a single blow of his claws. Lisa could only scream. "NO!"

The creature advanced toward Lisa. But instead of attacking her, he jumped over her, landing in front of Adam, who shot him pointblank in the chest. The creature easily withstood the blow. Before Adam could pump the weapon, the creature broke his neck as if it were a toothpick.

The monster then turned around, his chest drenched in blood. As he roared at Lisa, showing his animalistic fangs, she fired at him three times. She witnessed in awe as the wounds started healing almost instantaneously, just like the one in the chest.

Desperate, Lisa raced out through the backdoor. Her progeny followed.


* * *

Lisa ran franticly through the dark campus. No one was in sight. Not that it would make much of a difference for her. She knew quite well no one would be able to stand against her son.

Like a harbinger of her doom, the images from her son's eyes resurfaced in her mind. Lisa was watching herself from behind, running away. Her unstoppable assailant getting closer and closer. It was a matter of seconds now. Her only chance was to reach the university's main building. If it were locked, she would be finished.

Lisa grabbed the doorknob, expecting to find it locked. To her surprise, it wasn't. She entered, slamming and locking the door behind her. She barely ran a few meters before she heard a furious roaring, right before the creature broke through the thick door.

Lisa looked around and found the chemistry lab. She blew the lock open with a shot and stepped inside. The lab consisted of three long tables filled with personal computers, digital microscopes, centrifuges, test tubes, and flasks.

It was dark. Having no time to look for the breaker, Lisa had to rely on the faint streetlight shining through the barred windows. The creature appeared at the door, which was the only way out.

Lisa stopped beside a pair of 40-inch long metallic tanks that were covered with warning signs.

Seeing his mother cornered at the end of the room, the creature approached her, slowly, as if savoring the moment.

Lisa opened one of the tanks' valves. Its contents started leaking to the floor, forming a pool. She cocked her gun, pointing it at the floor.

Her expression of fear was now a fierce one, cold as steel as she faced her son. For once in her life, she knew true courage.

The creature felt these new emotions coming from her. It was something he had never experienced or seen in anyone in his brief existence. He realized he was in peril. Perhaps it was the sheer will to survive or a hint of regret that made him say his first word: "Mommy."

For a moment, Lisa hesitated. Her resolute heart became full of doubts... Doubts that vanished the moment she remembered the corpses of her parents, massacred at home.

Lisa shot at the pool. A single tiny spark was sufficient to ignite it, enveloping the entire lab in a gigantic fireball. Over a tenth of the building was destroyed by the explosion; the fire took care of most of the rest.


* * *

The media would make a carnival of it all.

Detective Giannini seemed mesmerized by the scenario of destruction. It took several hours before the firefighter teams were finally able to put out the fire. One sole corpse had been found among the debris, incinerated beyond recognition. All the evidence found indicated that the cause of the fire was accidental. No trace of Lisa's gun would ever be found.

In the sorority house nearby, a large number of corpses were removed in body bags. Giannini found evidence proving that the massacre was drug-related. The evidence being a thick envelope containing a hundred grand in 20-dollar bills, and instructions on how to proceed.

The next day, he would organize a raid at the crack house of a well-known gang. All members would be killed while "resisting arrest".

As for the murders of Lisa's parents, Giannini would conclude that she killed them herself, probably under the effect of drugs. Lisa would be wanted for double-homicide. Nothing would ever link any of those incidents to a certain Midwest pharmaceutical company that had secretly sponsored Doctor Weiss' work.


* * *

The full moon's silver rays shone through the cloudless night sky. The firemen were almost done searching the ruins of the college building.

Firemen like Sergeants Osborn and Hayes, who were still looking for bodies under the rubble of concrete and dust. Not that they were expecting to find anything. After all, no one was supposed to be at the building when the fire occurred. But since one body had been found already, it was possible there were more.

As they lifted a large block of concrete, they found the remains of an almost fleshless hand sticking out from the debris. "Jesus! Wait here. I'll call the lieutenant," Hayes said, leaving.

Osborn kneeled down to take a closer look at the bones. Suddenly, the hand and its owner rose from the rubble, grabbing Osborn's throat. Before Osborn could react, his neck was crushed.

Lisa's offspring had risen from his tomb. His body a quilt of bone, tissue, and blood. The healing process began at an accelerated and painful pace. In a matter of seconds, the horrendous creature was back to his original form.


* * *

When Hayes returned with his lieutenant and a few others, they found no trace of Osborn or the dead hand. Osborn's disappearance could never be explained, becoming one more urban legend.

As for the creature, he vanished into the city sewers. His intelligence developing faster and faster, and he thought best to wait... to grow stronger, to learn. Preparing for the day when he would once more unleash his fury upon a defenseless world, and finally take revenge on it for his unholy existence.




Story
© 2002 by Marcelo Hipolito & Marcelo Machado arquilagos@openlink.com.br

Illustration © 2002 by Patrick Stacy pld895@aol.com




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