[A/N: Something I wrote to clear out my Writer's Block. I'm still working on Necrosis, Recorded Attacks, and the Drabbles folks, so don't worry. Based upon the Half Life Mod, Afraid Of Monsters]
[EDIT: Thanks a whole lot to Jergling in dA for providing some very helpful editorial insight in my story. Too late have I realized that I only managed to remove spelling errors, and not grammatical ones which MS Word forgot to check. But It's my fault really; That's what you get when you type something in Notepad, Copy it in MS Word, Recheck the spelling, then brashly upload it on dA and this site at 11 p.m. Anyway, this story is dedicated to you Jergling!]
1- The Awakening
The buzzing flicker of the cold fluorescent light disturbed me from my position on the floor. Still throbbing with a mild wave of nausea, I lifted my head and turned it to the side, spotting the empty bottle of pills that I taken. Damn, I must have passed out. Struggling up to my feet, I hefted myself towards the sink. Letting the icy cold water run through my hands, I splashed the waking numbness all over my face, showering the gift of blunt alertness through me. Nubbing a small zit on my chin, I lifted my head and turned towards the mirror...
...Except the mirror wasn't there anymore. Or to be more precise, the mirror was shattered; fragments remaining at the edges of where it once was set in. Behind the mirror's original place was a thick layer of wood that seemed to board up a hollowed out section of the wall. But what most disturbed me was the figure painted crudely on the wall. The image was of a single, white eye; the one I had so clearly remembered from my earlier nightmare, and all the ones before it.
Starting to feel uncomfortable, I hastily exited the restroom and into the reception area. The place was bathed in an eerie glow of the moon's aura; so natural, yet so out of place. Immediately, I headed towards the double doors to my right that read 'EXIT' in bright neon green. But instead of swinging outwards, the door simply refused to budge. Oh no, I thought. I did not need this to be locked. Turning back to the hallway, I came upon a door that was slightly ajar. A small luminescent glow appeared beyond it, and I entered the room to take a closer look.
Immediately after setting foot in the room, the door shut itself behind me. A faint click echoed, and then disappeared as the locking mechanism trapped me in the pitch black darkness of the room. The luminescent glow that I had seen before was coming inside the bathroom; shining through the small slit under the door's frame. As I cautiously approached the bathroom, I suddenly heard the sound of what appeared to be footsteps moving around from inside. I held my breath as I saw a dim shadow pass by from under the slit, blocking out the light for a fraction of a second. With every inch I managed to move, the activity inside seemed to increase. Taps turned on and off, the toilet being flushed, and even the gentle whirr of the hand blower could be heard.
God, I hope this place wasn't haunted.
My knuckles rapped on the door in quick succession, announcing my presence. Almost immediately, all the noise coming from inside stopped, and only the eerie light permeating from under the door remained. I slowly pushed the door inwards, half expecting to be greeted by a very cross custodian or a doctor who had stayed in for the late shift.
But instead of seeing another living, breathing, person, I was greeted by a deserted bathroom with a single Kitchen knife lying in the middle of the floor. The knife had some very familiar flecks of red staining at it on its side, and I suddenly had a very strong inclination to pick it up. The knife felt oddly comforting in my hand, like a weird extension of my body, if you could call it that.
Wiping the red flecks off with my sleeve, I suddenly heard a loud crash emanate from outside that was followed by a very shrill scream. Cold sweat ran down my face as I pressed my ear to the door. Sub sequentially, the door was now unlocked, and I awkwardly stumbled forward, almost falling to the floor, and plunging the knife deep into my chest.
Shrugging the shock off, I glanced around to see where the noise had come from. For the fraction of a second that I glanced past the window at the end of the hall, I saw what appeared to be a woman's face, bloodshot and torn, smiling at me whilst hovering inches away from the pane of glass. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. Was I seeing things again?
The horrendous face stayed rooted in my mind as I came across a thick brown door with the label "Personnel Only" written on it. As my gloved hand stretched out to open the door, a strange contraption built upon the door frame caught my view. The device consisted of four solid pegs built upon every corner of the frame. Strung from each peg, were ropes, nine in total, mish-mashed across the door, and led down to a thick 2x4 that barricaded the door.
Running my hands across the blockade, I tried to move the piece of wood, but it was held firmly in place in a grip-lock made by the mesh. But then, I noticed something I didn't see before. Across the splintery wood, an inscription was written in light etches; too small to be seen from afar.
The cryptic statement puzzled me as I shifted my attention to the binding ropes blocking my path. Each length had strange letters and numerical symbols painted on them in some sort of white ink.
"A-6, I-7, E-2, T-9, S-3, R-5, R-1, N-8, T-4"
A thousand ideas and thoughts raced through my head as I tried to decipher the jumbled mess. Was it a phrase? A statement? A code? The numbers seemed to be so random... yet at the same time, seemed to make sense in a strange, yet understandable way.
Turning my attention back to the task at hand, I began to cut through the ropes blocking my way. It wasn't easy, as the Kitchen knife barely served an adequate purpose of cutting through rope, but bit-by-bit, I managed to remove the tangled mess off its hinges. The wooden board fell to the floor as the frame holding it up disappeared. Kicking it away, and pulling the door open, I saw that the word 'Descent' had been replaced by 'NO RETURN'.
Shrugging the growing uneasiness off, I hurried along the hallway, around a corner, and into a room labeled as 'Custodian Access". Scanning the shelves to my front, I snatched the key labeled as 'Stairwell Access' and quickly scurried back to the locked door. The key fit in perfectly with the lock, and I breathed a sigh of relief when the door swung on its hinges and opened the path for me. But the sigh of relief was quickly replaced by an exasperated one when I pressed on the call button for the elevator, and nothing came up.
I headed on towards the other double doors in front of me, still holding on to the hope of meeting another person in this place. As I rounded a corner, I came to face a gurney facing the wall. On it was a figure, draped in a white sheet, specks of dried blood staining the surface. Very faintly, I could hear a noise emanating from underneath the cover; a sort of raspy breathing that sounded like the person had its throat ripped to shreds but still was trying desperately to communicate. Fair to say, I ran away as quickly I could towards the end of the hall. Both doors at the end were locked, and I was fairly apprehensive to go back to the body.
Pressing my body against the wall, I slowly crept up to the edge. I didn't know how long I held my breath, or how long I stood there, but I remembered that once I rounded the corner, the body was no longer on the gurney. Instead, the corpse was sprawled on the floor, a hand sticking out of the now blood drenched cloth.
I cautiously approached with the knife pointed towards it, expecting the body to jump up and leap at me. Instead, it just laid there, blood pooling out from a wide gash on its arm. Directly above it, on the wall the gurney was placed against, was a message written entirely out of the crimson liquid that flowed from the body.
"My Insides Hurt..."
A low moaning erupted from under the sheets as the body underneath it started to quiver. In the blink of an eye, I was out of the doorway and running down the stairs, headed for the first floor. My heart pounded rapidly as my feet landed on the 7th floor. Gripping the handrails as tight as I could, I used my forward momentum to swing myself around the corner, down the stairwell leading to the 6th floor, and into a barricade of carts, hospital beds, and heavy crates.
"What the Hell?" The question popped back in my head for the umpteenth time this night.
The remaining flight of stairs was completely sealed off by the entangled mess. Pushing on it wouldn't work, as the items were too heavy and too tight to budge.
Alright, I thought. I'm calling bullshit on all of this. This was clearly a nightmare. It's all in my head. I had probably passed out again, and was lying on the floor of my apartment. But how do I wake up? I tried slapping myself, but that didn't work. I tried pinching, but that only annoyed me even more. Getting desperate, I pricked a tiny hole in my arm with my knife, but that only made me bleed. No, I was not dreaming at all.
And the worst part of it all was the fact that the hospital seemed to be mocking me openly. Scratched on the wall just next to the barricade was the phrase "You Are Trapped."
I trudged up the stairs back to the seventh floor. There had to be another way out, an employee entrance or something. The double doors to the left squeaked noisily as I entered through. Inside was another locked door, a Janitor's closet, and a sleeping quarters for the patients. The sleeping quarters was pitch black; not even the moonlight coming from the windows was sufficient enough to illuminate the room. All beds were empty except for one: A bald man in a hospital gown was cozily tucked inside his blanket. I crept in quietly into the other room as I silently prayed that he was real.
The adjacent room was devoid of any patients, and the only item of interest was a flashlight shining on one of the hospital beds. I picked the torch up, and instantly felt a wave of relief overwhelm me. Finally, a tool to vanquish the darkness. A frown formed on my face formed when the light began to fade; the batteries were nearly gone, and it could only last for another hour or two.
A thud and the sound of glass breaking erupted from the room I had just entered from before. As I shone the flashlight around, I found to my horror that the man was no longer there, and that bloody footprints led from his bed and onto a broken window. I peered around outside, the man was nowhere to be found on the ledge. I turned towards back to the door leading to the hallway, but found it to be jammed tight.
Having no other option, I cleared out the remaining shards poking out of the window sill with the handle of the knife. Carefully, I squeezed myself through the new aperture, and onto the ledge. The winds buffeted me as I slowly made my way up the wooden scaffolding. From my position, I had an excellent view of the city; bright lights shone from afar as skyscrapers gleamed against the midnight black and noisy vehicles buzzed around in an everlasting path. I stopped at a ledge for a bit just outside the 8th floor. Peering on the glass pane, I found myself glancing at Section G, the floor where I had awoken from.
Out of nowhere, the women's bathroom to the right was bathed with an eerie glow. The door swung open, and footprints appeared from thin air leading out the bathroom and right towards me. The prints took another few more steps, before slowly vanishing as quickly as they had come. Suddenly, a face appeared in front of me, dangling itself just inches from the glass pane. The face was pale and sunken; its eyes gouged out and bleeding and the figure tried desperately to talk, even with its lips sewn together.
I staggered backwards, and my foot slipped on the edge of the concrete. Thankfully, I managed to hang onto the scaffolding in time, sparing me the horrendous fall and the sudden stop at the end. I continued forward, following the scaffolding until it reached a ladder that led up to the roof of the hospital. My knees felt weak as the strong winds rocked the ladder back and forth. What I came upon when I reached the top of the ladder was a fenced in area; the place contained nothing of any interest except another locked door boasting its neon 'EXIT' sign. Guess I had to go back.
Through a break in the chain link fence surrounding the area, I managed to lower myself down to another scaffold. A single broken in window invited me in, and seeing as there was really nowhere to go, I squeezed myself through. I landed in one of those reception areas I had seen earlier, only a little more cramped. A table was against the wall to my left, and a single key labeled as 'Reception H' was hanging on the wall.
The door out onto the hallway was jammed, so I was forced to re-route through a small library filled with shelves and shipping boxes. In the corner of the room, one box had been opened, and it was packed full with all sorts of goodies. Batteries, a handful of flares, a flaregun with no ammo, light sensitive paint, even a detective thriller called "The Sudden Stop" by someone named A. Wake. I considered myself lucky as I replaced the leaking, old ones with a fresh new pair of AA-sized lithium batteries. Thankfully the next door I tried was not locked or jammed, and I entered freely to a hallway marked by the distinct Red Stripe that categorized it among the other floors of the Hospital. To my left, hung a very peculiar painting; It was of a woman and a child, their hands raised in the air akin to a triumphant salute. But in place of a face, the woman had the image of a fruit upon her head. The painting was too dusty for me to distinguish it. Maybe it was a coconut? A lime, perhaps?
Brushing the fruit argument aside for the time being, I turned further to my left and came face-to-face with a tangled wall of live wires. Sparks flew everywhere as the electricity crackled. Underneath all of it was a slip of paper; which I cautiously retrieved using my kitchen knife. Written on one side was a note addressed to the janitor to turn off the electricity in Room 401 so that repairs could be made to the wiring. I glanced back at the doorway I had come from. It was room 412. And the room past the obstacle I had to cross was 413. I exited to the hallway and shined my flashlight along the doorframes. 411, 410, 409, 407...
A thud came from behind me as the painting hanging on the wall dropped down to the floor. I shone the light towards it, and found that the image of the woman was now completely absent from the picture.
I continued onwards, still pensive about the entire atmosphere of the hospital. To my left was yet another pair of double doors, but this one had a large 'X' smeared on it with red paint. I wasn't surprised to find that it was locked. The next door was a fire exit, and I found out that it led straight back to the seventh floor. A sign at the top of the door at the end read "Rooms 405-401". I was heading in the right direction.
As I entered through the door, a small glint coming from the table at the end of the hallway caught my attention. When I crept closer, I found a gun with a note attached. It read:
"Take it with you. The fight is long and arduous; you will have to defend yourself. Fight them back... Resist..."
Fight them back? What did it mean? The weapon felt heavy in my hand as I inspected it from all angles. The gun was a P228; standard police issue in the Markland area. Pressing a small circle near the handle, the small magazine inside fell to my hand. 13 bullets in all, I counted. A full mag. For a while, I contemplated on whether or not to bring it with me. The note insisted to, and after all the creepiness and shit that had happened to me this night, I wasn't willing to take any chances. Flipping the safety on, I holstered the gun in my jacket, and marched into the next room.
At first glance, I could've easily mistaken the room I entered as a cafeteria after glancing upon all the tables and stacked-up chairs littered around. But after further investigation of the paintings hanging about, and the piano collecting dust in the corner, I could clearly say that this room used to be a sort of recreation chamber of sorts. Emphasis on 'used to be', since the furniture scattered about showed signs of disuse for around a year or longer.
On one side of the room was a sealed shutter next to a door which had the label of 'Cafe'. Well, at least I was half right. Adjacent to the door, at the far left of the room, was a corkboard covered in a musty old cloth. Emblazoned on the cloth was a riddle that read: "Open your eyes and open your heart. Fate does not control us; it is us who control it. Choose your destiny, and go forth and make it true."
I ripped the cloth off the board and found four paintings staring back at me. The first one was titled as "Reckoning", and it showed the different shades of Red and Blue dancing around in the darkness. The second was named "Reliving", and it showed a room with a mirror at the end of a long hallway. The third, "Regret", was a picture of the Hanged Man Tarot card on a table. The fourth painting was "Forgiveness", and it showed a scene wherein three white figures are gathered around a hospital bed while Death was standing nearby; balancing the scales of Good and Evil.
Tacked at the bottom of each painting was a post-it note stating "Choose Wisely." Feeling extremely alarmed, I hurried through the door beside the corkboard that read "403-401". Descending to the perpetual darkness, I switched on my flashlight, illuminating the corridor with a small circle of light. Ahead of me was another door marked as "Personnel Only". Thankfully, this time around, the door gave in to my efforts to push it open. To my left and right were two doors, both locked. But around the corner, beyond a heavy wooden door, was Room 401.
I entered carefully, one hand on the gun in my pocket, the other clutched tightly around the flashlight. No one was inside, and the only noise I could hear was the whirring of the electrical machinery, and the sound of my heart pounding wildly in my chest. The power switch was right in front of me, under a sign that boasted it as such. Placing both hands on the switch, I pulled down, and all the machinery inside the room came to a dead stop. Immediately afterwards, a gentle whirr came from around me as the lights inside the hospital slowly died down. But as soon as I turned on my flashlight to venture back to the hallway, I heard a loud crash from outside, followed by heavy footfalls and pounding on the door. A thick gurgling sound pierced the night as the banging on the door grew louder.
I raised the gun up and slowly peered through the door. I saw a blur of a dark figure and felt a sudden impact as I was thrown to the floor. Standing in front of me, its arms raised menacingly, was a man. Or what appeared to be one. His shirt was torn to bits, blood spilled out from a cavity in his chest. His face was distorted and unrecognizable as his entire body shuddered. His head twitched uncontrollably, whipping about like some out of control madman.
I gave the figure a swift kick to the chest while I struggled to raise myself up. The creature was back on his feet and slowly advancing towards me. I dove for the Kitchen Knife that had fallen on the floor and raised it up threateningly. The creature continued to lumber back towards me, and I found myself up against the wall, cornered. In a blink of an eye, the creature darted forward; its footsteps not matching its forward advance, making it look as if it was gliding on air. With a blow from its mighty claws I was knocked to the ground directly beside the P228.
Picking the gun up from beside me, I raised the barrel to the creature's face, and fired.
This Dream just turned into a Nightmare.
Minor A/Ns Below:
[Details are added since rumple took so much time in dwelling on the specific names and back stories, that it would be a shame to leave them out.]
[So yeah, "like some weird extension of his body." David's gonna being using the Knife for a while, so it would be better for him to feel natural the first time he picked it up.]
[The binding ropes obstacle was added because hacking 2X4s with a knife doesn't really cut it in the Realism aspect of things.]
[I reimagined the floors of the hospital, since most of the wards and clinics are on the upper floors, and the lobby is at the bottom. Considering the fact that David climbs up to the room and sees a pretty large and detailed skybox- er, I mean panoramic view of the city, it is safe to say that the East Wing (If you can call it that) of the Markland Hospital is very tall.]
[I know that the painting is a music album of some sort, but I don't know what it is on the lady's face.]
[Yes, it is a P228. Andreas specifically stated it was such, and considers it to be the most powerful handgun in comparison to the Full Auto Glock, and the well balanced Beretta.]
[Finally, they're Twitchers, not Zombies. The creator is annoyed to hell when they're not called as such :D]