Faces in the Mist, Part 26

Read from the Beginning

Captain Darian Flaherty flicked on his flashlight and crept down the dark hallway. Lieutenant Starkley, and two others–Lieutenant Pace and Sergeant Masters–followed, weapons drawn and lights on, ready to attack if any more…creatures…were lurking in the shadows.
“Do you think anyone is still alive, Captain?” Sergeant Masters asked. Darian had promoted last week for his three years of service–easy to get that many years when you were born on the Luna Dome, Darian thought–but Masters had yet to prove himself in a real combat situation.
“Well,” Darian said, “Doctor Leeland is as tough as nails. And he’s been here longer than all of us.”
Unfortunately Darian’s knowledge of the inner hallways of the medical bay was limited. Where would Doctor Leeland go if he were trapped in here? What was he working on again? Something about the contagion being a mineral, and definitely not the Moon Flash Virus. Skyla didn’t look convinced of that, he remembered. God her face, that was all he could remembered, all he could think about…
His light washed over another hole in the wall, about six feet tall, three feet wide. The woman who they shot–who he shot–couldn’t have made this hole, or the one at the front of the bay. He stepped through it, shining his light left and right down the adjacent corridor. Nothing.
Further down the hall, there was a smaller hole–big enough for one person to crawl through. Darian’s stomach curled. They were getting closer to Lady Harmony’s and Lady Dominique’s quarantined room, to where he was only hours ago. He prayed they were still asleep, or maybe even dead. Not that it mattered–whatever contagion they had, it was everywhere in the Dome by now.
Darian got down on his knees and put his flashlight into the hole. “Another light, please.”
Starkley got down beside him and offered his flashlight. The room was like any other room, but Darian knew it all the same. The one next to it was where Lady Dominique and Lady Harmony slept; he could see a large hole in the wall, a big one. Debris was scattered all over the floor, suggesting the wall had been blown in from the Ladies’ room.
“Damn it,” he muttered.
“What is it?” Lieutenant Pace asked.
The hole wasn’t quite big enough to crawl under. He got up and tried the door–locked with a keypad that was blacked out with the electricity gone. He sized up Masters. “You think you can fit through that hole, Sergeant?”
“I can try, Captain.”
“Try, then. Starkley, Pace, keep your lights and your eyes on him. Don’t let him out of your sight.”
“Yes, sir.”
While Masters got down on all fours and wormed his way into the darkness, Darian radioed Lieutenant Kraul and the other men.
“Captain Flaherty here. Status?”
His radio sputtered static. “Lieutenant Kraul here, Captain. We’re in the maternity lab. Found three more dead, sir. A nurse, a technician, and…well, sir, a patient. Seven, maybe eight months pregnant.”
Starkley swore. “My wife’s appointment is tomorrow…that poor woman…”
“No sign of Doctor Leeland?” Darian asked.
“No, sir.”
“Or holes in the walls?”
“Just the one up front that we all saw, sir.”
“Keep looking. Flaherty out.”
“Captain, I don’t see anyone in here,” Masters said. “Oh. No…spoke too soon, sir. A body. And…oh God…” Darian heard Masters retching.
“Identify it if you can, Sergeant,” Darian ordered.
Let it be Harmony, Darian thought. Let this mess have one happy thing, one good thing that I can tell Skyla, to ease her mind, to make her smile again.
Masters sniffled and coughed. “Sorry, captain. Her face…gone…Definitely a Lady, sir. Wearing the dress. But the blood…sir, it’s like a wild animal ripped her face off.”
“A more accurate description would be helpful, Masters.” He quickly scanned the hallway again and then knelt beside Starkley and Pace. Between the two of them blocking the hole, it was hard to get a good look inside. “Starkley?”
“Body is behind the bed. Can’t see it well enough, sir,” he replied. “Might have been a struggle. Hard to tell with only these lights.”
“The girl has–had–brown hair. Five ten, maybe five eight. Can’t really tell without her…face…but, Junior Lady, maybe? Dark blue dress.”
No red hair and no blonde hair meant it wasn’t Lady Harmony or Lady Dominique. Damn it. Those other two Junior Ladies, though…what were their names? Lady Kristen was one of them, the one that wouldn’t stop talking. There was another one too, a French one. If that was one of the Junior Ladies, where was the other one?
“Come back out, Masters. We’ll continue on. Finding Doctor Leeland is now our number one priority.” If anyone knew what was going on, it had to be him.
Starkley and Pace got up and re-checked the hallways while Masters crawled out of the hole, wiping his uniform of bits of plaster and glass and debris. His head turned sharply to his left. “What’s that sound?”
Darian held his breath and listened. A faint clicking sound, accompanied by light footsteps. And insistent pounding. Pace moved his flashlight down an intersecting corridor labeled LABS. “This way.”
They ran. The pounding sound grew louder. Shining their lights on the door windows, Darian almost jumped out of his skin when a face appeared in one of them. A young nurse–a redhead, not more than nineteen, blood on her white uniform– pressed her hands against the window, screaming silence. Looking past him. Behind him.
The ghastly crunching sound of bone against bone and flesh tearing flesh hit Darian’s ears. He held up his weapon, and turned around.
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Fantasy, science fiction

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