ShockedAgain! - Part 2 ("Something
Always Has To Go Wrong")
by Matthew James
Feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom spent a second to quickly re-evaluate his position. The door out of
the medical room was directly across from him, about twenty feet away.
He quickly shook the canister of synth-skin, it was empty. He held his
breath for a moment, hoping to hear the melted man-thing breath and give
away it's position. Nothing. Shit.
Well, standing still was getting him nowhere
fast. He hurled the empty synth-skin at the window nearest the door, if
only to cause noise and possibly draw attention to his plight. Nothing.
The doctor's earlier stern gesture of dismissal to the other staff had
been too effective. He held the metal rod he had picked up tightly, and
tried willing his right foot forward a step. Nothing
he was too scared
to move. He had been detached from reality by the sheer insanity of the
last minute, and now he couldn't control his own body. He tried telling
his left foot to move. "C'mon left foot! You know you've always been
my favourite!". Still nothing. He took a few breaths to settle his
nerves. The adrenalin was wearing off fast, after his previous burst of
speed and strength, he felt drained. He wanted to get out of here and
"It's about time I found you! You know
how many frickin' med bays I've walked through!", exclaimed Suzanne
as she walked through the door with no warning. "Hey, you look like
", Suzanne stopped dead in the middle of her sentence
as she took in the two bodies on the floor, one soaked in blood. She took
another look at Tom brandishing a metal pipe. "Ummm
she uttered as she fought between coming into the room or leaving. An
unwelcome guest made up her mind for her. The melted man leapt from alcove
built into a gurney a few surgical units over, and ran towards her. It
had been in the room, quietly biding it's time. The thing wasn't as stupid
as it looked, unfortunately. Suzanne gave a horrible half scream, half
yell, as she frantically tried to close the swing door. She got it shut
in time, but they were playing tug-of-war with the door, and she couldn't
let go of it or the mutant man would simply follow her out. She hung on,
trying to keep the door closed. Looking at her face through the glass,
she was still screaming, but Tom could only hear parts of it, each time
the melted man-thing cracked the seal on the door with a tug.
This turn of affairs unglued Tom's frozen
will. He ran forward. The melted man didn't turn; apparently it had forgotten
about Tom in the excitement of chasing Suzanne. Tom took a second to wind
up and give it an overhead chop with the metal bar. He felt sick as he
felt a solid jarring on the bar, then a squishy yielding of the thing's
skull. Absolutely gross
he vowed on the spot not to make this a full
time job. The melted man gave a terrible gurgle and let go of the door,
and started to turn. A regular man could not have taken a blow like that.
Tom backed up a step and got ready to swing again, aiming for the left
side of the thing's head with a two handed right swing. He didn't get
while backing up he stumbled over the synth-skin can. Trying
to hang onto the bar with his left hand as he went down on the right,
he landed hard. Rolling fast to bring himself back facing the melted man,
he saw it open the door and shuffle off to the left. Suzanne had run the
moment Tom's attack had turned the freak undead thing from the door.
"Why didn't it come at me?", thought
Tom as he let go of the bar to lift himself to his feet. His right hand
was burned before, now it felt even worse. He had pulled a lot of skin
off it, and it felt like he may have pulled or snapped something in his
wrist in the fall; it kept feeling like he needed to snap it into position.
Once up, he stopped to retrieve the bar, and opened the door. People were
running down the right hall towards him. Suzanne and the melted man had
gone down the left.
"Get security down here. There's some
mutant freak loose, and it just killed the medical staff in this room.",
he gestured towards the room. "You, you and you. Follow me, it went
this way, after one of our Maintenance people. We have to stop it before
it gets anyone else.", he said as he started down the left hall.
"Hold it hero, take a look at yourself. The best you're gonna do
is get in our way
Go back into the med bay and one of our guys will
fix you up. We'll chase this thing.", said a large brown-haired man
in a medical smock, who pointed at Tom's metal bar. "Mind if I borrow
that?". Tom willingly gave it up, and gave a last minute warning
"It's strong as hell. The person it's chasing is called Suzanne,
try calling to her.". The large man and a few others ran down the
hall, while a spectacled older gentleman took Tom back into the medical
"Is there anything you can do for the
doc?", Tom asked the guy with the 'specs. The doctor walked over
to a cupboard, took out a large instrument, placed it near the downed
doctor, and pressed some buttons. Tom got up on the surgical unit while
the older doctor played with some sensors and stared intently at the device's
readout. "I don't think I can do anything. There's something foreign
in his bloodstream. The software's having trouble figuring out what it
give me a minute". The doctor kept playing.with the device.
One of the lines on the device took on a regular wave pattern when it
was flatline before. "Nice one doc
I'm assuming that's a heart
or something, right?", Tom said as he itched his hand. "That's
I didn't do anything!", mused the older doctor as he moved
sensors around. "By all means, Dr.Saloka should be dead. I was going
to try activating a brain and heart stim, but it looks like I don't need
to", the doctor said as he got up. "Help me move him to a table".
"No can do chief, my hand's pretty far gone. Looks like we're drawing
a crowd though. Hey, somebody give him a hand", Tom said to a growing
crowd of medical personnel. At least four people stepped forward and lifted
the doctor's body to a nearby surgical unit. 'By the way, my name is Dr.Thornton.
You're fortunate you didn't end up like the two in here.", the doctor
leaned closer, and quietly said "This isn't the first monster we've
encountered.". He pulled out an activation key for the surgical unit,
slapped it home, and activated it. Various sensors extruded themselves
from the unit and began scanning the downed doctor. Dr.Thornton pulled
out a second key and placed it in the unit Tom was sitting on. "Please
lie down. This won't take a minute". He pressed the activate button
and went back to watching the doctors. Tom felt the table hum and vibrate
ever so slightly as antennae, metal dishes and lasers moved around his
body, in a little shamanistic healing dance. "So what's the diagnosis,
Doc? A quick nanite injection, a minute or two in the unit, and I'm set
or what?", Tom quipped. He looked over to Dr.Thornton, who was looking
at a diagnostic panel. The doctor's face changed colour as lights on the
panel blinked into existence; by the fact his face was now bathed in an
unhealthy red glow, Tom figured something was wrong. "Is something
wrong?", asked Tom. "Something's wrong", said the doctor.
Damn, something always has to go wrong.
"So what's it say? I was rooting for
a record heal time. Nobody in Maintenance has ever beaten my quick 32.5
second heal for a shredded finger.", Tom joked again as he tried
to maneuver his head past questing antennae and other waving medical paraphernalia.
"It says it can't fix you", said the doctor, in a hushed tone.
"What do you mean can't fix me? You put the key in, right? Here,
let me up. I fix things; I'll fix it so it can fix me!", Tom said
as he pointed to the Maintenance logo on his jumpsuit. He started pushing
the scanning equipment away, herding them to one side so he could get
off. "No, the unit's working fine. It says the nanites can't stop
whatever's in you. There's some infection that is growing too fast. The
nanites pull it apart, but it keeps spreading", Dr.Thornton explained,
rotating the display panel so Tom could see a score of blinking red lights
and medical gibberish. "I see", he said dejectedly, itching
his right hand again. "It's a matter of nanites then, right? If you
have X nanites fighting Y cells that are spreading too quick, can't you
just recalculate for X and give me like a double dose? It should just
be a matter of numbers, right? Not to meddle in your affairs
said Tom, thinking hard. He didn't like the idea of something foreign
in his bloodstream, multiplying. It was pretty obvious to him he had picked
it up from the melted man during the fight, probably entering from the
open wounds on his right hand.
"It's not that easy. We can't just drown
you in nanites. They need fuel. They take it from your blood. They need
command and control. We can control them, but not in such numbers to stop
this. Not for precise operations.", said Dr.Thornton again, also
thinking hard. Somebody leaned into the conversation. "Dr.Forsberg
here. Some colleagues of mine were working on a similar problem back Earthside,
with controlling very advanced cases of hemmoraghic fever". Dr. Thornton
urged him on. "Well, we found a small number of precisely operated
nanites had no hope of saving the patient. But a large number of less
controlled nanites had a much better chance. Instead of healing the damage,
or destroying the cell, we commanded nanites to simply encase the infected
cells with their own metal bodies.", Dr.Forsberg explained. "How
well did it work?",asked Dr.Thornton, to which he received the reply,
"Decently, though the patients had to be caught before too advanced
a stage. Past that, and even massive doses of nanites could not stop the
fever". "But how do you solve the problem of fuel? That many
nanites, even if only moving once to encase an intruding virus or bacteria,
would consume a lot of sugar from the blood.", asked Dr.Thornton
again, questions and answers going back and forth like a ball in a tennis
game. Everyone else was caught up, heads going back and forth from Dr.Thornton
to Dr.Forsberg and back again. A tennis game for Tom's life.
"We prepared a large injection of a
few different types of sugars, as well as certain hormones that trick
the kidney into dumping extra blood into the bloodstream. And some compounds
that lower the rate of cellular injestion of the sugars. Reducing that
man's temperature should help too", Dr.Forsberg said, pointing at
Tom. Tom moved to get up. "No, keep still young man. Every move you
make will make a big difference. You'll pump blood around you faster,
spreading the foreign cells faster. You're doing their work for them.
Sit back down and be calm.", he gently pushed Tom back down. "Dr.
Ing, would you be so kind as to run down to the storage room and grab
me a couple vials of any types of sugars you can find? Fructose, sucrose,
dextrose, and any others you can lay your hands on. Dr.Schueller, would
you run to my lab and bring me back the vial labelled 1-C-2-tranchinusphase?
It's at the top of the rightmost temp-controlled cupboard. Thanks".
Two doctors turned to get the supplies. Dr.Thornton rummaged out a large
needle, and prepared an IV stand and opened a saline bottle. Tom concentrated
on trying to feel the infection in him. He couldn't feel anything. He
had to conciously try to keep calm. As soon as he thought about the trouble
he was in, his heart rate would soar.
He started to feel cold. Lying on his back,
he looked up at Dr.Thornton. "Don't worry son, I'm reducing the temperature
of the surgical backplate. We'll give the injection shortly, I'm just
prepping all the nanites now with a new program. They'll get additional
commands as they move through you.", said the older doctor as his
fingers tapped at the diagnostic panel. He wandered over to a shelf and
took two more nanite storage canisters, and inserted them both into the
surgical unit. A couple more keystrokes, and he looked at Dr.Forsberg.
"I think they are set, and we have as high a dose as I'm willing
to risk. Any more and they'll start leaking out of his ears", he
said, with a sideways glance at Tom, "sorry, bad joke". "Man,
you gotta improve your bedside manner! Hey, can you give me something
so I don't feel the cold! I'm freezing!", asked Tom, appreciating
the humour. "The unit already gave you a light analgesic for the
cold, the strain already on your body must be fighting it. I'll up the
dosage a tad". More button presses. "No, now I feel it more!".
More presses. "How about now?". "Nope, even more! I think
it's not going to help". Dr.Thornton eyed the panel. "I think
whatever is in you is capable of "ingesting" drugs. We've saw
something of this before. It's nothing like a normal virus. It takes over
your cells like a virus, but makes them behave in remarkable ways, doesn't
just turn them into viral factories like a normal virus does. I'd say
changing. Tom, I don't think this virus thing is going to,
and isn't meant to, kill you.", said Dr.Thornton. "Great, just
wonderful. I get to be a friggin' zombie thing like that other dude. At
least throw manacles on me before I transform too far!", he joked.
He almost regretted it when some doctors looked at each other and pulled
out a set of titanium manacles. Funny how they should have those ready.
Obviously, Dr.Thornton wasn't lying when he said this wasn't the first
time they had run into this organism.
Dr.Ing came back carrying a bin of vials.
He set them down, and several doctors started measuring and preparing
the injection. Dr.Forsberg was at a corner terminal, checking stored notes
over the Von Braun computer network. Shame his colleagues were light years
away. Dr.Schueller came in a minute later, holding a vial packed in ice.
All the doctors got together. A few more minutes passed as they readied
the IV bag solution and injectable solution. Tom could hear whispers between
the doctors. "Hey, think he'll make it?". "Nah, none of
the others did". "Ya, but this guy barely has it, and he doesn't
have an eel on him. The rest had it so bad by the time we got to them
it was too late"."Hey, what's the charge code for this time?"."0998
- Saving an obvious goner!". The voices seemed to warp in and out,
the pitches distorting. "What happens if the body transforms but
there isn't one of those eel things for it?". "We don't know,
it's part of the lifecycle we didn't get to see. Remember, we barely have
control of this thing, and it's already claimed a number of people. I'm
surprised we've even been able to keep a lid on it.".
Tom grimaced. These bastards knew was going
on. Tom hoped he wouldn't end up like "the others". He presumed
the latest of "the others" was the melted man in this room,
the very one that gave him this infection. But like the doctors said,
what happened if a person was infected. Where did the eel thing come from?
Did it grow from the infection, or did the infection just get you ready
for the eel, which came from something else? Was Tau Ceti 5 crawling with
these eel things? Was that what was going on? These shitheads must have
brought them up to the ship!
"We have the injection ready. Tom, just
relax. I don't know how long this will take. I'll be honest, you'll probably
feel very, very strange. This isn't a normal procedure by any stretch
of the imagination, but we need to do it to have a chance at saving you.
By feeling strange I mean not a painful strange, but a lot of weakness
and disorientation. We're all here for you. Just hang in there",
Dr.Thornton said. Tom felt a pain in his right arm. The doctors also attached
the IV drip. Hordes of antennae, dishes and lasers moved back in over
Tom. They were fanning like crazy over his right arm, but also spread
over over his body. Tom was disoriented, but not so much so that he didn't
notice doctors lightly placing manacles on him. He could see through lidded
eyes were we also shackling the downed doctor, and even the dead nurse.
Guess they were learning.
"How many?", whispered Tom, definitely
feeling very odd. He could barely feel his right arm. When he did have
fleeting feeling, it alternated between feeling like a block of ice, and
being on fire. He felt shooting pains in the fingertips at seemingly random
times. "How many what? Nanites? Lots. You want the exact number?",
Dr.Thornton asked as his eyes went to the display to read of however gazillion
nanites had been pumped into Tom's arm. "No, eel things. How many?",
Tom repeated. Dr.Thornton paled. Dr.Forsberg stepped closer. "We
don't know. The Command boys who touched down planetside brought 'em up.
Half of them are gone now. Not to get you worked up, but I don't think
you want to know the situation we are in. One thing at a time. Rest".
Dr.Forsberg reached past Dr.Thornton and pressed a button. Tom felt something
enter his left arm. "Doctor, the infection metabolizes most agents,
we know this now. You're just feeding it. It probably won't even put him
to sleep, it's like the infection is protecting him. Hell, the infection
might even warp the sleep agent into something else, like it did half
the antibiotics we tried on Johnston when he was infected
said Dr.Thornton. Tom felt even weirder. Well, hand it to the Doc, he
was right. The sleep agent wasn't giving the normal nice, comfy sleep
feeling he was used to. This was a knockout punch straight to hell
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- TO BE CONTINUED -