Friday, 2 March 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - The Invisible Predator

The girl was hallucinating, no question about that, but it was up to us to figure out why. Nobody wanted an outbreak of some unknown hallucinogenic contagion. Once we'd brought her down from the ledge, they shoved her into a plastic room and only allowed two of us in heavy biosuits to go in. Now she was restrained and sedated, but still muttering in her pseudo-sleep.

She had been running through the streets, knocking people down, screaming at the top of her lungs about pigs and lions. The local police cornered her in an office building, but she got out on a ledge somehow. She wasn't going to jump, she said, she just needed to be somewhere the invisible lion couldn't get to her.

In a few moments of lucidity, they had talked her inside, then ... all the officers' accounts were a little different. Some said she went crazy, called them pigs and knocked them down. Some said one of their own got a bit gung-ho, burst through the ranks and subdued her. Whatever happened, she was our problem now.

We drew some blood, hooked her up to a brain monitor, watched and waited. She was sweating like she was in a feverish dream, and her bare feet were cut up pretty badly from the running. Then there was the gash on her arm - deep and fairly long. We took swabs from that for testing, too.

About an hour into the examination, I thought I saw something outside the plastic walls of the temporary isolation chamber. But then when I turned my head to look, it was gone. I went to ask Dr Stevens, the other doctor, whether he'd seen anything, and just for a flash of a second I thought I saw a pig snout inside his glass bubble helmet. I blinked and that was gone, too, but then the low, white shape outside the walls flashed again.

"Stevens? I think I might be infected."

"Yeah, I think maybe I am too. Did you see anything outside the walls?" he asks me.

"Something low and white, like an animal?"

"Wait, shh..." said Stevens, and I refrained from asking "What?". We both hear a sound like claws clicking on the linoleum floor in time with soft padding steps. Then one wall of our plastic bubble room splits open suddenly, and our patient snaps awake and yells "THE LION!" at the top of her lungs. In a tense moment, I have to admit that I don't see a lion there. I see a white wolf. Dr Stevens, backing into a corner, is stammering "B-b-bear! B-b-b-bear!".

The analytical part of my mind is still operating beneath the panic. We are all infected, but we're all seeing a different creature. It is definitely solid, because it split the plastic with a claw, but whatever it is, we can't see it without the infection.

Stevens is calming down, and I motion him to help me wheel the girl's bed out the door, as slow and calm as possible. Keeping our eyes on the creature as it also eyes us, we disengage the wheel brakes and start backing out, through the plastic doors, towards the solid doors of the outer, permanent office where the girl was subdued. The creature keeps pace with us, quietly menacing, and as we reach the wooden doors it crouches back, getting ready to jump.

I shout "GO!" and we hurl the gurney through the doors, jump through after it and somehow manage to close them in time to hear the strange creature thud against them from the other side. It makes no other noise, and doesn't seem to have all the weight you'd expect from a wolf, bear or lion. We brace the doors and radio down for help - we are infected, the girl is safe, but we have a wild animal trapped in the office.

The response is quick, and before we are bundled off to another floor with a bigger plastic room and probably a long quarantine, I see the office through the reopened doors, trying to glimpse the creature again. There is no sign of it, but on the outer wall I see the open window where the girl climbed on the ledge and, for the life of me, I can't remember if we left it open or closed.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This one is based on a dream I had the other night.
PPS - It doesn't feel completely finished, but I'm out of time.

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