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Dead Space

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A Short Story

Deadlights January 23, 2010 User blog:Deadlights

Mike knew, knew that he was as good as dead. He had no doubt his mind at this point.

It was only a question of when.

Most of the personnel aboard the USG Ishimura had been turned, twisted into horrific and monstrous parodies of their former selves. He had witnessed the Ishimura's descent into madness from the very beginning, as his initial concern over the strange and sudden surge of violent behavior turned to horror and revulsion as he experienced, first hand, the effects of the unknown contagion as it ravaged and mutated the corpses of his fallen shipmates.

He had watched as their limbs twisted and bulged into new and deadly configurations, as they rose and descended upon those who were uninfected with the sole intent to rend and tear flesh, creating more bodies to host the infection that animated their limbs and gave them their deadly purpose. Their numbers swelled with each crew member that fell and, as such, the infection spread with astounding speed.

He was a P.C.S.I Security Officer, individuals trained to handle internal, human based threats aboard star freighters like the Ishimura. That training was all but useless in a situation such as this, evidenced in the unending litany of death that he and his team experienced as they made their way around the ship, searching for other survivors and a way out of the waking nightmare that their lives had become.

Their initial hopes of escape were dashed when one of the engineering crew informed them, over the crackling and rapidly deteriorating Comms system, that all of the empty escape pods had been jettisoned by an unknown source, possibly due to corruption of the vast network of computing equipment that was intertwined within the ship.

To make matters worse, the docking bays, containing the only shuttles capable of interstellar flight, were in lock down due to the presence of biological anomalies. Communication with the Bridge had been severed at this point, meaning there was no way to remotely unlock the bay pressure doors without traveling to the Bridge itself. Using the Trams was out of the question because the system was malfunctioning. Mike knew that the only thoroughfare would be to traverse the dark access tunnels beneath the Tramway, and the thought of what might lie in wait in those tunnels turned his blood to ice.

He and his team had nevertheless attempted to reach the Tram access point and, slowly but surely, their numbers had dwindled until he was the last remaining survivor of the group. The creatures they faced, reanimated corpses with blades and talons that were attached to a set of frighteningly distended arms, were nigh impossible to kill. He, along with his team, had pumped full magazines of high-velocity Q-33 Anti-Personnel Pulse Rounds into them with little effect. The creatures simply plowed into the rounds, oblivious to the chunks of flesh that fell from their bodies as the rounds made impact.

As the last of his team fell, Mike had fled into a security office, sealed the door and collapsed to the ground, shaking with fear and anguish. He listened as the monsters outside the room attempted to breach the door, screaming and baying for his flesh and blood. The attack ceased after several moments and silence spread outward like smoke. So he sat in the locked, mid deck security office, staring at a terminal that displayed video feeds from various sections of the ship, pondering his current predicament.

He asked himself, not for the first time, how much horror and death the human mind can endure before sanity finally flees into the farthest reaches of consciousness. And, when the floodgates of madness are finally opened, what of the man remains? He found the question to be especially pertinent in his case, as he had caught himself cackling with mad laughter for no apparent reason on several occasions. He had to bite his tongue hard enough to draw blood in order to square it away.

With the coppery taste of blood in his mouth, Mike rapidly flipped through the video feeds, searching for other survivors. He went from feed to feed, each demonstrating rooms and corridors laced with blood and gore; evidence of the ongoing carnage that surrounded him. He came across feeds that showed other survivors on several occasions, sometimes civilians and crew, other times Security personnel, but they were all quickly and ruthlessly dispatched by the creatures. He did notice that several individuals were able to bring a few of the creatures down before they were overwhelmed. What he found interesting was that, in each case, the monsters only fell after several of their limbs were blown off.

He was disturbed to see that some people were simply giving themselves up to the creatures that roamed the ship. He observed one man as he knelt, hands outward in a placating gesture, and he watched as the creatures waded in and tore his flesh to ribbons. It was not an isolated incident. The audio feeds were clear enough for him to distinguish, through the gibbering cries of the creatures, that many of the people who surrendered screamed "Altman be praised!" before they died.

It eventually came to the point where the feeds no longer displayed any signs of human life. Order had been reduced to utter chaos in a matter of hours. He was alone, his fate lay solely in his own hands. He knew that the possibility of surviving the trek to the Bridge was almost nil, not to mention the fact that he would also have to haul ass to the docking bay, and that was if he managed to unlock the pressure doors. With that in mind, he had no allusions of survival, but he utterly refused to wait for death to come to him. At the very least, he could take a few of these fuckers with him.

He rose from the terminal. Checked his Pulse Rifle. Intact and fully operational.

He glanced at his last remaining cache of ammo: two clips that held 100 rounds each. Both were full. He doubted that it would be enough to reach even the tunnels, let alone the Bridge; he had observed how useless Pulse Rifles were against these monsters, and the video feed revealed that they were stalking the corridors between himself and the Tram tunnels. He would have to find ammunition or other weapons on the way.

Mike approached the door and closed his eyes, steeling himself to face the nightmare creatures that lay beyond. He slid one of his last remaining clips into his Pulse Rifle, heard the smooth click as the weapon registered and updated the ammo count.

"Here I come, you fucks."

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