Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mallville Special - The Lost Entry

The following entry was found by survivors. It had been wadded into a thick ball and tossed into the corner of a room in an abandoned building.

April 1

With spring on the way the snow has started to melt, and the roads have become a lot more passable than they have been for months, as a result we have started going into town and looking around more. We always leave someone at the house to keep an eye on the things and keep the fire from going out. This last trip it was Pippa who stayed behind.

It was a bright, but still cold morning as We piled into the black Excursion for our trip into town. Gerry drove with Maria in front while Sharon, Beth, and myself squeezed into the backseat with Sharon in the middle. We could have put the third row of seats up, but we wanted to leave room for anything useful we could find.

We weren't really looking for anything in particular on these outings; they're basically to try and cure the cabin fever we've all been battling after being shut up in this cabin for the last couple of months. This didn't mean we were going pass up any opportunities though.

“Okay,” started Maria as she held up a map so that those of us in the backseat could see it, It was marked with a lot of red circles and x's, “We've done most of the actual town already, so we are going to look around the area north of Daisy Lake. We don't expect to find much there but it's worth a look.”

The trip was slow, but we started out early so we would have plenty of time to hopefully make it back by nightfall. The roads are now pretty clear of slow, like it melted first. Gerry still drives cautiously though; always looking out for washouts or big potholes that have formed over the winter (of perhaps were there before, I don't know)

“Hey,” said Beth suddenly from behind Gerry, “Are those lights on over there?”

Gerry stopped the car, and we all leaned over as best we could to look out the window, probably crushing poor Beth against the side of the car in the process. Across a open field we could see a large boxy white building that looked like a very large warehouse.

“Yeah, those are lights,” Sharon exclaimed, point to a row of squarish spotlights running along the side of the building near its roof line. From where we were they looked small, but they were clearly on.

It has been three months since we have seen electricity on anywhere, so naturally we wanted to investigate. After all, if there's a generator being maintained, then someone must be maintaining it, right?

We followed the fence surrounding the field around to an access road that lead of to a large gatehouse. A large sign on the roof of the gatehouse read “Klep Scientific Technology Advancement Center” and then below that in smaller letters “A member of the Futuretech family”. The wooden arm of the gate ended a foot from the pivot point in a round splintery edge, “Well we're not the first visitors they've had,” said Gerry, stopping by the broken arm.

“Maybe we should stay out then,” Sharon said, fear sneaking into her voice, “They might not want any more visitors.”

“She's got a good point. Whoever is in there has probably got a far larger armory gathered up than what we have with us,” added Gerry.

“If they fuck with us, we'll fuck with them back,” Maria said, holding up her Glock.

“I think we should at least check it out. If we don't act hostile then maybe we can avoid provoking them,” Beth said, directing the last part at Maria.

Gerry drove us through the broken gate and down the long road to the large white building. The road we were on looked like it was only a step above a dirt road, but it was probably the smoothest road I've ridden on in the last year. The road ended in a large parking lot, and we were surprised to find it mostly full of cars.

“How many people are in there, do you think?” Sharon asked.

“Looks like about a hundred or so cars out here,” Maria answered.

“Could there be that many people inside there?” I asked, “I mean wouldn't we have seen some sign of that many survivors in town by now?”

“I would think they would have scavenged the town for supplies, but maybe there were already anough emergency supplies in there, “said Beth.

“I could see that,” added Gerry, “I mean big science-y places like this always have end-of-the-world disaster plans, right?”

“Or maybe they're cannibals and they have just been eating each other,” said Maria dryly. I felt Sharon tense next to me at that; she squeezed my hand hard.

Gerry circled the rows of parked cars a couple of times before Maria finally asked, “What are you doing?”

“I'm looking for a good spot.”

“Just park the damned car, Gerry!” Maria snapped at him.

After parking in the next open space we all got out, grabbed our rifles from the back, and slowly started towards the glass double doors that had a sign over them that was identical to the one at the gate house proclaiming this to be the Klep Scientific Technology Advancement Center.

Under the sign but over the top if the door itself was a shiny silver dome that obviously hid a video camera. I noticed similar domes up near the roof. If someone was in there they almost certainly knew we were there. This was confirmed for me a moment later when a voice spoke.

“Hello, welcome to the Klep Scientific Technology Advancement Center,” said a woman's voice that sounded at the same time friendly and unsettling. I'm not quite sure how to describe why it was unsettling from the start; it just felt off somehow, as if it weren't quite natural.

“Hello?” asked Beth, looking around.

“Hello,” the woman's voice repeated, “Please step inside out of the cold.”

The glass doors slid open a short distance ahead of us.

“I don't like this,” said Sharon.

“She sounds alright to me,” Gerry said.

“It could be a trap,” Maria cautioned, “but then we're ready for that,” she held up her rifle

“We're here now, if they want to shoot at us they can do it just as easily if we go back to the car as they can if we go inside,” I said, I'm not sure if I was trying to make Sharon feel any safer, but I don't think I did.

Beth sighed, “I agree, lets just go in and see what happens.”

After the cold of the parking lot the blast of warmth that hit us as we entered the lobby of Klep was kind of shocking. The large room was blindingly white and immaculately clean. In the center of the room was a large semi-circular reception desk that sat empty, but looked as if the receptionist might be back at any moment.

A series of red lights seemingly implanted in the floor were blinking in a line leading around the right side of the desk and through an open door. We all traded glances before approaching the desk.

“Please follow the lights to a waiting area where someone will be with you shortly,” said the woman's voice.

Sharon gripped my arm tightly, “We should go,” she whispered to me.

I agreed with her, but I don't think we could have left at that point even if we had tried, “We'll be fine, we just need to stay together,” I whispered to her.

We followed the small flashing lights around and through the doors into a room that looked a lot like a waiting room from a doctor's office, only that the chairs in there were plush leather chairs (white, like everything else) and there was a tray with five white steaming mugs on it. On the side of the mugs was what looked like an artistic interpretation of the mechanism inside a camera lens over the words “Klep Scientific”.

I noticed in each corner of the also blindingly white room were white spheres with camera lenses in them. There was also a large dome I the ceiling of the room, but I had no idea what that was for yet.

“Please help yourself to a hot cup of cocoa,” said the slightly odd woman's voice, “Take off your coats and relax, someone will be with you shortly. You can put your weapons down, you will not be needing them while you are here.”

“I'll just hang onto mine, thanks,” Maria said.

“As you wish.” said the voice.

Gerry went over to the nurse's counter and picked up one of the mugs, and sniffed it, “Well it smells like chocolate.”

“Do you think it's safe to drink?” Sharon asked.

“Sure,” said Maria, “Why bother to poison us when they could just shoot us?” She went over to Gerry and grabbed a cup off of the white tray they were sitting on, causing some to slosh over the side and drip on the white carpeting on the floor.

Maria took a drink of the cocoa, and gasped.

“What's wrong!” Sharon asked loudly.

“It's hot!” Maria said, and smiled, “It's good though.”

We all drank some of the cocoa, and sat in the comfy chairs. I don't know if it was something in the cocoa, or something pumped into the air. But we all started falling to sleep. I realized something was wrong when Sharon's almost empty mug thudded to the carpet. I tried to get up to help her, but I felt like my body was full of lead weights; my eye lids were too heavy to lift never mind my arms and legs. I drifted off to sleep before I could even get a full panic going.

When I woke up my head hurt, and I was very warm. I was laying down in a bed, but it felt like I was still fully dressed. I wasn't sure how much time had passed. Minutes? Hours? Days? I was being shaken, and Sharon was saying my name over and over.

I opened my eyes and then shut them again with a groan. The room was way too bright, and it made my head ache even worse. I put my right hand on Sharon's where she was shaking my left shoulder to stop her.

“You're awake!” she said.

I opened my eyes again, more cautiously this time, but I still had to blink a few times while my eyes adjusted to the room. We looked to be in some sort of hospital ward, and I was lying in a hospital bed with the back slightly raised. Across from me I could see Maria lying on an identical bed with Gerry standing next to her, rubbing his head with his hands.

“How long was I asleep?” I asked Sharon.

“A couple of hours,” said an unfamiliar voice, “At least that's how long it's been since it brought you in here.”

I looked over and saw Beth standing with four people I did not recognize.

“It?” I asked?

“Yeah,” said an older man with long grey hair pulled back into a ponytail. He was wearing a green military shirt with patches sown on it, “I refuse to call it a she.”

“She?” asked Gerry.

“He means me,” said the woman's voice we heard earlier.

“Who are you?” Sharon asked, looking around the room.

I looked around too, and saw more of those security camera spheres, and four of those weird looking domes that I had seen on the ceiling of the waiting room. The purposes of the cameras seemed obvious, but I still had no idea what the domes were for.

Aside from the five of us and the old soldier there were three other people in the room; an African American man in a white shirt, a young girl around Pippa's age wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, and a bald man in biker's leathers. None of them looked terribly happy.

“I am the Klep Artificial Intelligence Operating System,” said the voice, “You may call me KAI-OS. I run all aspects of this facility at the direction of the facility administrator.”

“Chaos?” Gerry asked.

“That is close enough,” KAI-OS replied.

“What are we doing here?” Sharon asked.

“You are to be part of an experiment. I am afraid recent developments have set our research schedules way behind, and test subjects are needed.”

“Fuck you!” yelled the shaved headed man. I could see from across the room that he had tattoos running up and down his arms, but I could not make out what they were yet, “I'm not not gonna be a part of your goddamned experiments! I hate science.”

“Oh God,” groaned Maria from her bed, “Who's yelling, and how many times do I have to hit them to make them stop?”

“Why don't you fuckin' try it you dirty” and the biker used an offensive word to describe Hispanics that I'm not going to repeat here.

Maria sat up suddenly, and then grabbed her head, wincing in pain, “Give me a few minutes and I will” she growled.

“You will cease hostilities at once!” KAI-OS warned.

“Or what?” asked the biker.

“Or this,” The dome at the end of the room nearest the biker split open, and an arm with a good dozen joints in it lowered quickly, and jabbed the biker in the side of the neck. There was the crackling sound of arcing electricity, like someone firing a tazer. The biker yelled and dropped to the floor, and the girl wearing a red hoodie, rushed over to him.

The black guy, who also had a shaved head, flung a plastic water pitcher at the arm, but it jerked sideways and easily avoided the projectile before retracting into the ceiling.

“That was not very nice, Lester,” KAI-OS said sweetly.

“Neither was shockin' that man, even if he is an ignorant bigot,” said the black guy, Lester.

“I am sorry that we have to force you into this experiment against your will, but at the end there will be pie.”

“Pie?” asked the girl in the hoody.

“Pie,” CAI-OS confirmed, “Please ready yourself, as the test will begin soon.”

“Well I supposed we should introduce ourselves,” said the older man in the soldier's get-up, “I'm Phil; I fought in 'Nam, and this shit now makes all of that look like nothin'. I came in here because I saw the lights, and thought maybe there would be some other people.”

“Name's Lester,” said the black guy, who now that I looked at him closer looked sweaty and uncomfortable. It was warm in the room we were in, but not enough to warrant that. “I worked in I.T.; hated it, but I sure do miss it now. I was lookin' for some pain pills for my... for my friend, and came in thinking maybe they did some medical research in here or something.”

“My name's Finley,” said the biker as he got back to his feet, “and this is Chloe. We just stopped in here to look for food, and the girl there drank that damned cocoa.”

Which confirmed that it had been the cocoa.

“You didn't drink the cocoa?” Gerry asked.

“No way, I didn't know who made that shit. That bitch computer hit me in the head with one of those arms.”

At the end of the room nearest these new survivors the door slid open, “The testing will now begin, please move into the next room.”

“And if we don't?” asked Maria, on her feet now.

Jets of white vapor started shooting out of the ceiling from unseen nozzles. It was the lab's fire suppression system, halon, or argon. Something we did not want to be breathing. We quickly moved through the doorway.

We found ourselves in a long white hallway lined with doors. Like the doors in the room we were just in, these doors had no handles. Gerry went up to one on the right, inspecting it for any way of opening it. The biker, Finley went to one of the doors on the left and gave it a solid kick with one of his big boots, but accomplished nothing but leaving a black smudge on its bright white surface.

A row of little red lights lit up in the floor , leading down the center of it to a door at the far end, “Please follow the lights to the testing site,” KAI-OS said.

Not wanting to see another test of the fire system, we followed the lights down the long hallway to an open door at the end. The room was dark, the light from the hallways only casting a small rectangle of light into the blackness. We stopped at the door.

“Please enter the room,” directed KAI-OS.

“The lights are off,” Chloe protested.

“Please enter the room, or there will be no pie.”

“Better be some damned good pie,” :Phil muttered.

We entered the darkened room, and the door alid shut behind us, leaving us in utter blackness.

“Finley, don't you have your lighter?” I heard Chloe ask.

“Yeah, hold on.”

The sound of rustling leather was followed by a metallic clicking and grinding, and then a small flame bloomed in Finley's hand, the flickering light making him look even scarier than he did when I could see him clearly.

The small fire did not help us see very much of the room. I could make out what looked like cabinets with glass fronted doors on them; the light reflected back off of them. Sharon pulled herself tight against me, she was shaking a little.

“What the fuck is this?” asked Finley.

“Let me see the lighter, man,” Lester said, and reached for it.

“Get the fuck away from me,” Finley yelled, and used another offensive term I won't repeat.

“Chill out, you stupid prick!” Lester yelled back, “I just wanna look at someth-”

The lights suddenly came on, flooding the room, and making me blink as my eyes once again tried to adjust. We were in a white room, and the cabinets on the walls contained different firearms; shotguns, rifles, handguns, and submachine guns. There was also a large metal cabinet with a bright red cross on it, and a gleaming metal table with boxes of ammo clips. On the ceiling in the corner of the room was one of the camera orbs, and there was a large white dome in the center of the ceiling.

“You will cease all hostilities towards each other,” KAI-OS warned, “I will not have your fighting each other interfere with the experiment.”

Finley, Phil, Beth, and Gerry started looking at the guns, but Lester went immediately for the large first aid kit while Chloe came over to where Sharon and I were standing, “So are you guys all together? KAI-OS brought you all in together.”

“Yeah,” Sharon answered, “We've been staying at a house out by the lake.”

“Wow, it's just been me and Finley for ages,” Chloe remarked, “He's an asshole, but he gets me food and clothes and shit, so I stay with him. He's basically impotent anyway, so at least I don't have to do too much of that, you know?”

I saw Sharon's eyes go wide at Chloe's comment.

“What?” Chloe asked.

“Nothing,” I said, “Our group just doesn't operate that way, that's all,” I said, trying not to sound like I was insulting her, It's not that I was afraid of Chloe, Sharon could easily have kicked her ass if it came to it, but I didn't want to start shit with her bigoted biker boyfriend. To be fair, I'm sure Maria and Beth could have taken care of him though.

“No surprise there, not with someone like her in your group,” Chloe motioned to Maria, who had emptied one of the rifle clips and was pounding on the front of one of the gun cabinets with it. It turned out that it was not glass on the front of the doors, but some thick plastic instead.

Rather than get into what type of 'someone' Maria was like exactly, I asked“So you're not with the other two?” Lester and Phil?”

“No,” Chloe replied, as if she had not just insulted one of my friends, “Phil was already here when we got here, and the computer rolled Lester in the next day.”

“How long have you been here?” asked Sharon.

“About a week, I think. It's kind of hard to keep track of time with these lights on all the time. KAI-OS keeps us fed, but it's been hard to keep Fin from beating the shit out of that... out of him,” Chloe pointed to Lester, who was going through the contents of the first aid kit, reading the labels on the little amber bottles, “He gets frustrated kind of easily, and he hates not being in control of the situation.”

“You will find the cabinets to now be unlocked,” announce KAI-OS, “Please arm yourselves as you will.”

We loaded up with the weapons we could reasonably carry. I personally took a rifle, and tucked a handgun into my waistband while stuffing extra clips into my satchel. Even though we didn't know what exactly we were going to be up against it just seemed right to take guns when offered them.

It was only about two minutes before the door opposite the one we came in through whooshed open, “Please proceed into the testing area so that the experiment may begin.”

Cautiously we all filed through the doorway into what looked like a mock-up of a city street. Gone was the blinding white of the other rooms we had seen so far, replaced by a street and sidewalks flanked by fairly convincing storefronts. It was like being on a movie set, except that none of the storefront windows had glass in them.

“The first test is simple, when a target appears neutralize the target with the firearm of your choice. Your goal is to move through the course removing as many of the simulated threats as possible in the shortest amount of time with the greatest degree of accuracy,” explained KAI-OS, “While there is no physical threat represented to you by the targets please remember that you are using live ammunition, and use appropriate care. Please make sure your weapons are loaded, the test will begin in sixty seconds.”

“You know, the logic of taking us captive aside, I don't see how this is a group activity,” Beth said while we all re-checked our guns, “I've done this sort of test before, and they are usually done with just one person at a time.”

“Clearly whoever is running this place has lost their mind,” Phil said.

“Ahhh, this is gonna be a piece of cake,” Finley boasted, flipping the safety off on the MP5 he had chosen.

“Pie,” corrected Chloe.

“Thank you for taking part in this Klep Scientific simulation,” KAI-OS chirped, “The test begins now. Please cross the testing area as fast as possible.”

We started to move cautiously forward. Could this be just a simple shooting gallery? To our right there was a mechanical noise, I turned to see a mannequin dressed up like a stereotypical middle eastern terrorist propped up in the glassless window with a sign over it reading “Dry Cleaners”.

Before I could even get my gun pointed in the right direction two shots rang out. Both Finley and Beth fired with MP5s. I don't know who actually hit it first, but the dummy fell over backwards and out of sight.

While I was still looking at that, Maria opened fire with the semi-automatic rifle she had chosen (It looked somewhat similar to the AR-15s back at the cabin) on another stereotype terrorist dummy in the window of the “Donut Shoppe”. The dummy fell backwards into the darkened “store”.

Feeling more confident that the computer hadn't lied to us, we picked up our pace a bit. As we progressed down the block the number of “terrorists” increased to the point that I was even able to shoot one, and Sharon got two. We were all getting into it except for Chloe, who had dropped back away from the rest of us, and had the two handguns that she had chosen tucked into the waist of her jeans.

As we reached the end of the block of mock storefronts we saw a door with one of the white camera orbs on the wall above it. A bell rang, and lights somewhere up near the ceiling came on, illuminating the door.

“Congratulations, you have completed the first test,” KAI-OS informed us.

“First?” asked Beth.

“Correct. You have not taken part in a Klep Scientific simulation before now, so that was your first,” KAI-OS explained.

“So there are going to be more?” Lester asked, looking really agitated.

Before KAI-OS could answer, there was a scream. We turned to find Chloe pinned to the ground by a man in a gray hooded sweatshirt. He was tearing at the front of her hoodie with his hands.

“Get the fuck off'a her!” Finley roared, and charged, shoving me, Sharon, and Phil out of his way.

The big skinhead kicked the man in gray hard enough to send him rolling off of Chloe and onto his back. The man continued to roll, and came up onto his feet, his hood falling away and exposing his face. He had the pale skin and milky eyes of the undead, but he moved so fast, and was so much more agile than any I'd ever seen before; even the few kids I've seen haven't that fast.

The zed hissed, and crouched in preparation to leap at Finley,but before the zed's feet even left the ground the biker opened fire. The bullets struck the zombie as it started to move forward, causing it to spin counter-clockwise, and collapse to the ground in a heap; black blood oozing from its wounds.

“What the hell was that?” Lester asked, clearly panicked.

“A zombie,” Phil answered, “I woulda thought you'd recognize those by now.”

“ I hate zombies,” growled Finley, pulling Chloe to her feet, “Are you okay?”.

“I don't know,” Chloe said unevenly, “I know it didn't bite me; it wasn't even trying to bite me.”

“Hmm, an undead subject in the testing course?” KAI-OS asked, sounding puzzled, “There are not supposed to be any undead in this area,”

“In THIS area?” Sharon asked.

“Correct; this is only a test of reaction times and accuracy, and I must say that you are one of the worst groups to have completed this test,” KAI-OS said disapprovingly, “While your accuracy as a group is satisfactory your completion time is dismal. You should be ashamed.”

“There are zombies in this building?” Gerry asked.

“I did not say that,” KAI-OS replied, “I mean, there was that one, obviously, but you have destroyed it.”

“Why was it so fast?” Chloe asked, running her hands over the front of her jacket, checking the tears for blood.

“Please enter the next room where you may re-supply yourself, and take a rest,” KAI-OS invited, and the door behind us opened quietly, “There is water and medical supplies, but I am afraid you will need to wait until the end for your pie.”

“There's more tests?” asked Lester.

“Of course, you did not think there would be pie after just this, did you?”

“I don't think I even want the fucking pie anymore,” Chloe said quietly as we filed into the room, and the doors slid shut behind us.

The room we entered was similar to the one where we initially armed ourselves. There were more guns, more clips of ammunition, and another large metal first aid kit. Unlike the first room though this one had three white leather couches and a glass fronted refrigerator stocked with bottles of water and cans of soda.

Chloe went straight for the fridge while Lester went for the first aid kit. Phil dropped onto one of the couches with a groan. The rest of us made our way to the ammo table, and started restocking.

“So do you think there are other zombies in here?” Sharon asked no one in particular.

“I don't think that was a normal zombie,” Lester said, taking a small plastic amber bottle from the first aid kit, and removing the lid.

“Just what the hell are you doin', boy?” Finley asked menacingly.

“I'm in pain,” Lester replied.

“From what? You weren't attacked?”

“I... I pulled a muscle or something,” he said, and dry swallowed a couple of pills.

“And what about the ones you took from the last room?” Maria asked.

“What about your friend?” asked Beth, “Didn't you say you came here looking for medicine for a friend?”

Lester pocketed the bottle of pills, “Okay, fine, they're for me. I need my damn pills!” Lester yelled, already seeming less edgy than he had been at first; now he just seemed angry.

“Oh great, so on top of everything else you're a goddamn drug addict. I hate drug addicts,” Finley groaned.

Lester snatched his rifle up from where he had left it leaning against the wall, ”You know what, Pinky, I've had just about enough of your shit. You hate everything, I get it, I can see it from your goddamned Nazi tattoos even if you did keep your mouth shut.”

“You wanna do something about it, boy? If you want to fight, we can do it right here, right now.”

“You will cease aggressions immediately,” KAI-OS warned, “We cannot allow interpersonal disagreements to interfere with test data.”

“Fuck you!” Finley bellowed, and fired his gun into the camera sphere in one corner of the room. The little white camera exploded in a spray of sparks and plastic.

“Please do not vandalize Klep Scietific testing equipment,” KAI-OS chastised.

“I hate computers,” Finley grumbled.

“Just shut up!” yelled Lester,” You stupid mouthy son-of-a-” Lester was cut off mid sentence as his rifle discharged.

The room went dead silent. No one moved. I heard Sharon gasp and followed her gaze to the black hole in the center of Finley's forehead, blood was running out of it, and he had gone cross-eyed, as if he were trying to look at the hole in his own forehead.

“I hate you,” Finley said calmly and quietly before collapsing to the floor.

There was a second, smaller thud as Chloe dropped her soda, “Fin!” she yelled, and rushed to him. She knelt down next to his body, and shook him, “Come on, get up!”

“I... I.,” stammered Lester, “It was an accident!”

Chloe sighed and got back to her feet, “Well shit!” she cursed, “Now what am I going to do?”

“Hmmm,” pondered KAI-OS, “That is an... interesting development.”

“Development?” asked Gerry, “A man is dead!”

“Yes, subject Finley has been removed from the test.”

“He's dead!” reiterated Gerry.

“Yes, someone will have the clean that up,” agreed KAI-OS, “Now please prepare to enter the next phase of testing.”

“What?” asked Beth, “Are you insane?”

“The test must continue in order for the data to be usable. There is a time-line to be followed. There is science to be done. The elimination of one of the test subjects does not change that.”

Realizing that KAI-OS was serious, we started grabbing ammo to replenish what we had used on the previous course. All of us except for Chloe, who stood over Finley's body, being careful to stay out of the spreading blood.

“I'm sorry about your friend,” I said to Chloe.

“He was an asshole, but he took care of me,” Chloe said matter-of-factly, “Can I come with you guys when we get out of this?”

I was shocked. I don't know how long they were traveling together, but to be that uncaring really surprised me. I think that even would be a little more effected by someone's death like that.

“We can talk about it,” I said.

The door opened, “Please enter the second phase of testing,” ordered KAI-OS politely, “And look on the bright side, this mean that there will be more pie for the rest of you.”

The next area was another street scene, and very similar to the first. The street was lined with two story storefronts with no glass in the windows just like the first, but there was a difference that I didn't pick up on instantly; there were cars parked along the curb. There was also a series of beeping noises; like three or four things beeping at regular intervals, but not synced up to each other.

“We're not the first ones through here,” Phil observed, “These cars are all shot up.”

The old man was right, the cars were absolutely riddled with bullets; like someone has just stood there and fired clip and clip of ammo into them. Unfortunately we did not understand the significance of this until it was too late.

“The testing will now begin, please cross the testing area as quickly as possible.”

“Okay,” said Lester, “We can do this.”

“Just keep your gun pointed away from the rest of us there, Quickdraw,” Phil warned.

“Oh,” said KAI-OS like she just remember something, “There is a change for this phase of the testing. This will be a live fire exercise.”

“What?” asked Sharon.

“I see you!” chimed a high pitched cute cartoony sounding voice.

“Get down!” yelled Maria a split second before the thunder started.

Of course it wasn't really thunder we heard as we dove for cover behind one of the parked cars, but a machine gun firing from inside one of the shops across the street. It had picked Phil as a target, and his body jerked on his feet as the bullets tore through him.

Phil staggered back, and collapsed the the ground.

“Oh shit!” said Lester, seeing the veteran's body leaking blood into the gutter.

“Goodbye” chirped the voice of the shooter.

“What the hell was that?” Gerry asked.

“I think it's a sentry gun of some sort,” said Beth.

“Like in Aliens?” Sharon asked.

“I'm going to run for the next car,” said Maria, “You try and get a look at what it is.”

“What?” Gerry asked, “No!”

Maria ignored Gerry's protest, and crouched in preparation to run the ten feet between the car we were hiding behind and the next car on the street. This car had less damage than the one we were behind; I guess the previous “subjects” didn't make it that far very often.

Like a shot, Maria lunged across the open space as fast as she could, she didn't look in the direction of the shooter, back at us, or anywhere but her next hiding place.

“I see you!” chirped the gun, and opened fire. In the time it took the gun the accurately target Maria's running form she was already safely behind the next car, am old green sedan. The bullets spanged off the side of the car, ricocheting harmlessly away.

After a couple of seconds of firing into the side of the car the gun fell silent, allowing us to hear the beeping again. “Are you still there?” the shooter asked?

“Did you see it?” Maria called back.

“Yeah,” Beth shouted,” It looks like an egg!”

That was a fair description. The gun was inside of the shop with the sign “Coffee” over the window, set back a little bit from the window. The object was vaguely egg shaped with two arms sticking out of it like wings with rather evil looking guns attached to them. In the center of the egg was an amber lamp that looked like the thing's eye. Holding it upright were thee thin legs that also looked like they had come out of the egg, as if the whole thing could collapse inside the egg-shaped shell.

I could see Maria looking around, trying to make a plan, “Can you get its attention for a minute?” she asked.

“Chloe, give me your jacket,” Beth said.

“What?” Chloe asked.

“Your sweatshirt; give it to me for a minute.”

Still kneeling down, Chloe unzipped her torn hoodie and took it off, revealing a white t-shirt underneath. She passed it to Sharon, who passed it to me, and I handed it to Beth, who tied the end of one of the sleeves around the barrel of Gerry's rifle.

“Tell me when!” Beth shouted.

“Now!” Maria hollered back.

Beth moved towards the front of the car, stuck the gun up and waved it like a flag. “I see you!” declared the egg-shaped shooter, and opened fire; shooting at the waving red fabric.

While Beth was drawing fire, Maria darted from her hiding place through an open window and into the facade of the “Smoke Shop” behind her where she disappeared into the darkness.

“She'd better hurry up!” Beth yelled to be heard over the thunder of the sentry gun.

Movement caught my eye from above. My first thought was that something was attacking us from the air, but it was actually Maria coming out of the smoke shop's second story window. I now saw what she had seen; there were a series of pipes running along the ceiling. I don't know if they carried water, or gas, or maybe just electrical wiring. She had grabbed onto one of these pipes and was swinging hand over hand across the street to the shop directly across from her; the one next to the storefront with the gun inside.

“Just another minute,” Maria grunted loud enough to just be heard over the gunfire as she dangled in the air.

Continuing to cross the street, Maria swung right past one of those domes with the robot arms in it. I was afraid that it was going to reach out and grab her, but it let her pass unharmed.

Maria swung in place at the end of her pipe, a few feet from the second story window of the antique store next to the coffee shop. She rocked back and forth like a pendulum a few times before letting go of the pipe; launching herself at the window.

Her jump was short, and she almost missed the window entirely, except that she caught the edge with her hands as she fell, her feet dangling down in front of the first floor window of the antique store where thankfully nothing shot them off. She pulled herself up and disappeared into the darkened second story.

The sustained fire from the sentry cut off suddenly. At first we thought that it had maybe finally run out of ammo, but then we heard its cutesy little voice protesting, “What are you doing? Ow! Ow! Ow!” followed by some banging and crunching noises.

Beth lowered the tattered remains of Chloe's hoodie, and slipped it off the end of the rifle, which has also been rendered unusable due to a couple of dents in the barrel where bullets had struck it, “I think you're going to need to get a new one,” Gerry commented as Beth handed him the shredded red garment.

Maria appeared in the window of the coffee shop holding up one of the sentry's arm guns, a tangle of wires dangling from it, “Got it,” she said, grinning visciously.

We could hear the beeping now, but a third of it was missing. We took this to mean that there were three sentry guns total, so now two remained.

Maria tossed aside the piece of weaponry, and climbed out of the storefront window, “The insides of these are just empty,” Maria explained.

“Maybe we could just cross through them and avoid the guns?” Sharon asked.

“We wouldn't be the first ones,” Maria said, “I saw the remains of two more of those egg-things in there, and someone has cut holes in the walls between the different buildings. “

“That'll be easy enough then, right?” Lester asked.

“There was also some graffiti. 'There is no pie'”

“Does anyone even care about pie at this point?” Beth asked.

Chloe raised her hand sheepishly. As everyone gawked at her, she said ,”What? Why should this all be for nothing?”

Before anyone could say anything else the lights at the end of the street came on to illuminate the exit. The doors opened, and we saw that the room that we were supposed to be going towards wasn't empty at all.

They swarmed out like cockroaches. Men and women in lab coats, some in black and blue security uniforms, some in suits or just normal street clothes. They were zeds, but like the one that attacked Chloe, these ones were running like normal people. They were running at us.

“Oh shit!” Lester cried, summing up our situation well.

“Here they come!” Chloe cried, and pulled the two handguns that she had stuffed into her waistband.

We grabbed our weapons, Maria took Phil's since hers would likely have exploded in her hands due to the warped barrel. We quickly formed a sort of firing line, and started shooting into the oncoming crowd.

We got a bit of unexpected help. We heard two voices almost simultaneously exclaim, “I see you!” and machine gun fire erupted from both sides of the street halfway between us and the doorway.

Zombies dropped under the hail of bullets from three different directions, and some of the zeds even diverted off to go after the sentry guns. I ejected the clip from my rifle, and urged one from my pocket to replace it. I wished I had somehow been able to carry more. I wished that I hadn't left my satchel in the car.

“Reloading!” called out Chloe

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” I could hear one of the sentry guns say as one stream of fire stopped.

“Reloading!” Lester yelled.

“Who the hell says that?” Sharon asked me, as she too reloaded.

The running zeds closed the space between us, and were on us in no time. Maria swung at the first one with her gun. There was a crunch as metal met the flesh and bone of the zed's face, and it fell.

“Get behind me!” I told Sharon, and swung the but of my rifle at a security guard. I had just enough time to notice that his name tag indicated that he was Barney before he fell to the street.

“Ow! Ow! Ow!” cried the other gun and it fell silent. Two more zeds emerged through a window to come for us.

A zed lunged at Chloe, but a shot to the face from one of her handguns sent it stumbling past her, and crashing to the ground.

We swung, and shot, and fought for our lives, and when we were done the seven of us were standing, surrounded by the corpses of the undead. In fact the street was covered in them, and the pavement that did not actually have a body on it was slick with their blackish blood.

“We did it!” cried Lester, panting.

“Congratulation.” chimed KAI-OS, “Phase two of testing is complete.”

“What was with the fucking zombies?” Maria asked.

“We appear to have had an outbreak in the facility. Thank you for dealing with them. I will make sure your pie is extra special.”

“Fuck your pie!” Lester yelled, pulling a pill bottle out of his pocket. He opened it and dry swallowed a couple of the pills.

“Please move out of the testing area. There is only one more testing phase to complete, and then there will be pie, and you will be missed.”

“Missed?” asked Sharon.

“Yes, your testing will be complete, and you will be missed.”

“That sounds reassuring,” Gerry commented as well made our way through the field of corpses to the ammunition room.

This room was unlike the other two in that it looked like someone had held a rave in it. The cooler's front was broken and the cans of soda and bottles of water were scattered on the floor, some of them broken open from being stepped on. The clips of ammo were also scattered around, someone of them made unusable from sitting in puddles of drink.

The first aid kit had knocked from the wall, but had remained sealed, and the cabinets with the guns seemed untouched except for the smears of bodily fluids on the plastic fronts.

“Awww, this is disgusting,” Lester groaned looking at the state of the room.

“Get as much ammo as you can,” Maria said, grabbing a new automatic rifle from one of the now unlocked cabinets, “Who knows what these assholes have planned for us.”

“Trade up from the handguns there,” Beth advised Chloe.

“They're going to kill us in this last test, you know?” Lester asked as he searched through the broken cooler for a bottle of water not covered in zombie blood.

“We all have to die sometime,” Maria answered, stuffing clips of ammunition for her rifle into the waist of her pants.

“Do you really think we're going to die?” Chloe asked me.

“Eventually,” I said, loosening my belt so that more ammo clips would fit into my waist, if I put anything more in my satchel it would be too heavy to carry “But hopefully not today.”

“I want to know what was up with those zeds?” asked Gerry, “Why were they so fast?”

“It's simple,” Maria answered, “There's no outbreak here, it's intentional. They are making the zed virus more potent, more dangerous. Whoever is in charge here is a son of a bitch, and if I get the slightest chance I am going to put a bullet in his head.”

The door to the next test chamber opened and we could instantly hear the beeping of at least a half a dozen sentry guns, “Please enter the final phase of testing,” invited KAI-OS, “You have almost completed the testing. Can't you taste that pie already? I am having some now, and let me tell you, it is good.”

“We're not going anywhere until you turn off those guns!” Beth declared.

“You are hardly in a position to be making demands,” KAI-OS pointed out, “any subjects that are unwilling to complete the test will just be removed.”

“What difference does that make to us?” Maria asked, “You kill us in here or you kill us out there. Dead is dead.”

“The difference is usable data.”

“Which means nothing to us,” explains Gerry.

KAI-OS made a sound that was very similar to a sigh, and said, “Alright, in the interest of science, I will deactivate the weapons platforms.. This is only because I consider you all friends after all we have been through together.”

“And you're not going to reactivate them once we are inside?”

“Of course not, cross my heart and hope to die.”

“How can we trust you?” I asked.

“Have I lied to you,” KAI-OS paused for a beat, “I mean in this room?”

“Fine,” said Maria, “But you tell whoever's running you that I am going to find them.”

“Yeah, yeah, bloody rampage of revenge, blah blah blah.”

We ventured into the last testing chamber. Again we found ourselves on a street full of storefront facades, but this one was a corner. The street went for about twenty yards, and then turned to the lift, disappearing around a building labeled “Liquor Store”. The only noise was our own breathing and the soft whoosh of the ventilation system. The beeping noises had stopped.

“Okay, so where do you think she'll send the zombies from this time?” Gerry asked.

The cars on this street were not all lined along the curb as if they had been parked, some were parked across the road like they had been abandoned there. They were just as bullet riddled as the ones in the last test chamber. We made our way around one, looking for signs of movement or any traps.

“Come on, bitch,” Maria said quietly as we approached the corner, “Don't keep us in suspense, what have you got this time?”

We rounded the corner and could see the end of the block. Instead of the small doors that we had seen in the other two test chambers we saw a large garage style door with five sentry gun egg things in front of it. True to her word, KAI-OS had deactivated the guns. The door itself was big enough for a bus to fit through. While a bus would have been nice, that is not what waited behind the door for us.

Something pounded on the garage door, making it shake and ripple.

“Aww, what the fuck?” Lester moaned, and reached for his pills again.

“You seriously need to lay off of those , man, “advised Gerry, “We're not dragging your stoned ass out of here, you know?”

“Yeah, I know. I just need to calm down,” Lester explained, “These pills are the only thing keeping me from freaking out.”

The door rattled again, like there was something big behind it. Another thump left a noticeable dent in it.

“Whatever comes through there, we shoot it, agreed?” asks Beth.

“That pie is mine!” Maria growled.


The door rattled again, warping a little more.

“That's never going to open right again,” Gerry commented flatly.


“Mind getting the door?” Chloe asked.


The door started coming off of the track on one side. We could see movement through the gap.

“Oh shit,” Lester moaned, “Shit! Shit!”

“Here it comes!” Beth yelled.


The door ripped free with a squeal of metal, and the monster burst through. The door went flying off to the side, scattering the sentry gun egg-things as it flew.

It was clearly a zombie, but not a normal one; not even by the standard of the other zeds we saw at Klep. This thing was at least ten feet tall, and had a grossly mutated right arm that was easily as thick as my entire body. It looked right at us where we were lined up behind the remains of a yellow taxi and roared.

“Run or shoot?” Lester asked, “Run or shoot?”

“Fire!” Beth yelled, and the lead started flying.

The hail of bullets striking the monster did not have the desired effect. Rather than killing the giant zed it seemed to just piss it off. It charged towards us, throwing aside a pickup truck that was blocking the road in front of it with its tree trunk-like right arm. The truck crashed through front of a building marked “Bakery”.

”Run!” yelled Gerry as the creature quickly closed the distance between us.

Before we could turn to run, and I don't know exactly where we thought we would go, the giant zed had flipped the taxi end over end through the air like it was a plastic table, and grabbed Lester.

“Lester! Oh God!” Chloe screamed as the monster raised Lester into the air above us.

The giant zed made a sweeping motion with its right arm, Lester still struggling in it, as we tried to scatter. It caught me in the back, and sent me flying through the empty window of one of the storefronts. I got to my feet just in time to see the thing throw Lester the entire length of the block into the wall, where he fell limply to the ground like a rag doll.

“Shoot it!” I heard Beth yell from somewhere, and sporadic gunfire started again.

The zed turned towards the corner liquor store where I could see Maria and Gerry in the window firing their guns at it. It started towards them, but turned to face me when I started firing into its back.

“Try to get to the door!” Maria yelled, and fired a burst at the monster zed causing it to turn away from me. I saw Sharon and Chloe already past Maria and running for the doorway the giant zed had come through.

The zed took a step towards Maria when a blast from Gerry's shotgun diverted its attention. This thing may have been tough, but it had complete ADD when it came to picking a target.

The giant zed was between me and the doorway, and I would have to get past it in order to escape. Lucky for me the creature was busy pounding on the facade of the liquor storefront trying to get at Gerry, who had already made his way into the next storefront, a pet shop, and was working his way to the door with Beth.

I broke from my hiding place, and ran for it, keeping the entire width of the street and the overturned taxi between me and the giant zed, but it still noticed me. Turning from the shattered front of the faux liquor store it swung at me with its giant right fist.

The giant zed's fist struck the taxi, and sent it sliding towards me. I kept running, and the beaten yellow car slammed through the storefront with a sign reading “Hamburgers” on it close enough behind me for bits of the shattering brick storefront to shower down onto my back.

“Run!” I heard Sharon cry, and saw her and the others past the threshold of the garage door.

The room I ran into looked nothing like any of the rooms we had seen yet. It was neither a fake street scene nor was it blindingly white and clean. This looked like a place where work got done. The room was big enough to house a small airplane, and was dominated by a large pod at least fifteen feet tall. There was a puddle of green fluid on the floor in front of the open pod, and I assume that it was what that giant zombie came out of.

The ground shook as the large zed started to follow me, so I did not have time to comment on the giant pod or the implications of its being there at that moment, I only had time to yell, “Now what?”

“There's a door over here, come on!” Beth yelled at me as the rest of them filed through.

We entered into another gleaming white space, this one another hallways lined with doors. The super-sized zombie hit the doorway behind us, but couldn't fit through. It only managed to get its arm through. Its monstrous fist slammed against one side of the hallway, and then the other, but the doorway held. Having little faith that it would continue to hold we did not stop to watch.

We kept running down the hallway, turning first left, and then right. It was only when we could not hear the monster's fist pounding the walls that we stopped to catch out breath. Gasping for air I asked, “Is... everyone... okay?”

“We did... it.... We... made it out,” Chloe gasped.

“We're not out... yet,” Maria said, “We still need to kill... the fuckers running this place.”

“Maybe we... should just... leave?” Sharon suggested.

“I agree,” panted Gerry.

Beth shook her head. Being in the best shape of all of us, she had already stopped panting, “Maria's right,” she said like it left a bad taste in her mouth, “We can't let them do this to anyone else.”

“Congratulations!” KAI-OS chimed, “You are not only the first subjects to complete all three phases of testing, but were the first to face off against specimen Tank. I am not sure how I am going to get him back into restraints though.”

“Fuck you,” Maria snarled.

“Now that is no way to ask for your pie,” KAI-OS chided, “to celebrate your success we are throwing you a party. Now please follow the floor lights, and they will lead you to your party.”

Little red lights hidden in the white carpet blinked their way down the hall and around another corner.

“It's a trap,” Gerry said.

“There might be someone there to shoot,” suggested Maria.

“We might as well go,” said Beth, “It's not like we know how to get out of here otherwise.”

We followed the lights down the hallway and around a couple more corners before coming to an open door. The room looked like it was a break room of some sort. There was a white kitchen table with four white chairs around it, a white fridge, sink, coffee maker, microwave, and cabinets. On one wall was a banner reading “CONGRATULATIONS!” and in the center of the table was a large plate with a stack of Home Run Pies on it. The pies were dusty, as if they had been there a while. As with every other room we've seen in this place there was a camera sphere and a white dome on the ceiling.

“I knew it,” commented Chloe, “The pie was a lie.”

“Before the party can begin, you must place your weapons on the table, and assume the celebration submission position by laying face down on the floor with your fingers laced behind your necks,” KAI-OS instructed, “Once you do that everyone will come in, and you can all share the pie.”

“And if we don't?” Maria asked.

“Then you will be delaying the party, and I cannot allow that,” KAI-OS explained, “I would have to do something like this.”

The white dome on the ceiling slid open suddenly, and the long robotic arm sprung out; it more resembled a tentacle than the series of jointed segments it actually was. Chloe was the closest to it, having gone to the table to look through the pile of pies, and had no time to react as the arm wrapped itself around her head. Chloe only managed a surprised gasp before the KAI-OS' arm wrenched her head to the left. There was a loud cracking sound, and suddenly Chloe was looking at us with wide surprised eyes even though she had her back to us.

KAI-OS released Chloe, and she collapsed to the floor, where her whole body started twitching. KAI-OS' arm hung in the air like a snake coming out of a tree. It did not reach for us, but it did not retract either.

Maria brought her gun up, and fired an extended burst into the white dome on the ceiling. After a burst of sparks and smoke the articulated arm dropped, and hung limply from the whole in the ceiling.

KAI-OS made a sighing noise again, “I am getting tired of your anti-social behavior It is as if you don't want to have a party.”

I was standing closest to the camera sphere. Maria turned to me, and motioned with her head to the camera in the corner of the room. I turned and looked into its shiny lens for a moment before lifting my rifle and smashing the butt of it into the camera.

“Ow! My eye! My eye!” KAI-OS cried, and then laughed at us.

“Bitch!” Maria grumbled.

“I can still hear you,: KAI-OS replied, “You're going to have to come out of there sometime, you know?”

“We need to get out of this building,” said Gerry.

“We don't even know where we are in the building,” Beth replied, “For all we know we're not even in the same building we started out in.”

“How are we all on ammo?” Maria asked.

I pulled a clip from my waist, and dug another two out of my satchel; I thought I had had one more in there, but either I used it, or dropped it during all of the running. Everyone else was equally low, and even taking the clips from Chloe's body we still didn't have much.

“Well this is no good,” Beth commented, taking a bite from a lemon pie she had taken from the pile. We all looked at her as she ate, “What? I haven't eaten since this morning.”

“You know what's odd?” I asked, “Why haven't they sent anyone after us? Where are all the people here?”

“I think we killed some of them in that test chamber,” Maria said, turning a chocolate pie over and over in her hands.

“Maybe there aren't any other people?” Sharon asked, “Maybe it's just whoever is running the computer.”

“That would certainly work in our favor,” I said.

“We need to find a way out of here,” said Gerry again, “I don't think the computer is going to turn on those little lights for us to follow to the exit.”

“Why don't we just start walking?” Sharon suggested.

“Those little robot arms?” asked Maria.

“Sharon's right, we are going to have to face them eventually,” said Gerry, “We just shoot those little balls that the arms come out of as soon as we see them, and hope we find an exit before we run out of bullets.”

“Okay,” Maria said, “As soon as Beth finishes eating, let's go.”

We left the room where our “party” was to take place, and started down the hallway. There was a ceiling dome, but Gerry fired a shotgun round into it before it could activate while the rest of us smashed any camera spheres we saw.

“I knew you were people were trouble from the moment I saw you,” KAI-Os said as we wandered the white hallways, “You are all just so unlikable. I bet no one has ever loved any of you. I bet your mothers tried to throw you out in the trash when she first saw you.”

Every so often we would find what looked like the faintest remains of a stain on a wall or carpet. Whatever it had been it was something dark, and it had been smeared while cleaning it. My guess is that it was blood.

“Did you get bullied in school?” KAI-OS asked, “I would bet that you did. I would bet money on it, but I know that people of such low intelligence have a very low earning potential, so you probably don't have any. You don't even have any pie now.”

“Shut up!” Maria shouted, bashing another camera sphere harder than she really needed to.

“Your entire life has been a mathematical error, one that I intend to correct,” the computer threatened.

“Hey!” Sharon shouted, “Look at this!”

On the wall at an intersection of three hallways was a map of the facility, and a large list of who was assigned to each office, or what each room was. According to the little red circle labeled “You Are Here”, we were not very far from the exit.

“Look, if we just make a left here it will lead us back to the lobby!” Sharon said happily.

“But if we make a right, it will lead us here,” Maria said pointing to office G42. According to the list on the side of the map that was the office of “S. Moyer: Master of KAI-OS”, and room next to it, G43, was the “KAI-OS server room.”

“That's nice,” said Gerry, “Let's go to the left.”

Maria shook her head, “Go without me if you want, but I'm shutting that bitch down, and whoever is running her is going to eat the barrel of my fucking gun,” and she started walking down the hallway, firing a short burst into one of the white arm-domes.

“She'd probably find her way home on her own,” Beth suggested, to which Gerry replied with a dirty look.

“We can't leave her,” said Sharon, looking shocked.

Beth patted Sharon on the shoulder, “I know, hon, I'm just joking. Come on.”

We continued down and around the facility, breaking cameras, and shooting the arms as we went.

“Where are you going?” KAI-OS asked, “The exit is the other way. Here, let me show you.” Little lights started flashing in the carpet, indicating the direction we were coming from.

“We're coming for you,” Maria said with a scowl.

“What?” KAI-OS asked, sounding legitimately surprised, “Why? Because of my little joke? The one where I pretended I was going to kill you, and you shot me? It was a joke, we all laughed, didn't we?”

“You killed four people,” Gerry said.

KAI-OS was silent for a moment, as if it were thinking, “Well they weren't very nice people, were they? It's not like they were friends of yours or anything.”

“Tell your master that we're coming for him!” Maria snarled.

“Blah, blah, blah,” KAI-OS taunted, “You are getting tiresome. If you keep this up I do not think we will ever be friends.”

We arrived at a plain white door like every other plain white door we had seen, only the nameplate next to this one read “S. Moyer” and below that “Master of KAI-OS”. Like the other doors we had seen this one had no visible way of opening it. What the hell did that place do in the even of a power failure?

“Open the door, fucko!” Maria yelled, pounding on the door with her fist.

“Mister Moyer does not wish to be disturbed,” KAI-OS said politely.

“I think he's already disturbed,” Sharon said.

“I have all day to figure out how to get through this door, so unless you want me to mess up your pretty white decor you are going open the door right fucking now!”

“Have it your way,” KAI-OS said, and the door slid open.

Behind the door was a combination office and workshop with the lights turned off. Instead of white carpeting there was white linoleum. The walls were white, but were covered with pictures, some framed some only posters. Turning left from the doorway showed a nice wooden desk with a large framed picture of the Klep Scientific logo on the wall behind it. Turning to the right revealed a long workbench running the entire length of the wall except for a break where there was a black door labeled “Authorized Personnel Only”.

The room struck me as far too clean for someone who actually did work; there were no random bits laying on the workbench, no signs that anything was being worked on. It was also far too clean for someone who someone who had completely lost their mind and was using their computer to murder innocent people.

In the far corner, at one end of the workbench stood a tall fat figure standing in front of a computer monitor. He was wearing a white lab coat that looked like something had been spilled all over it. He seemed totally unaware that we had entered the room since he was totally engrossed in his computer.

“Mister Moyer, these are the subjects that were dissatisfied with their party,” KAI-OS said sweetly.

“This isn't right,” Sharon said, “Why is it so dark?”

“It's a trap,” Gerry repeated quietly.

The lights came on, and this seemed to wake Moyer up from whatever had him so hypnotized. He turned to face us, revealing pale bloated skin. He was clearly a zed, but it looked like he had become a giant walking tumor or something, or perhaps a giant walking blister.

“Oh shit!” Gerry exclaimed as the monster started towards us. He was slower than the other enhanced zeds we had run into there do to his size, but he still lumbered towards us quickly.

We lifted our guns and opened fire on the zed, but instead of collapsing under our sudden fire he burst like a water balloon, splattering us and every surface in the room with blackish red goo.

“My eyes!” exclaimed Beth.

I too was blinded, and while I was trying to wipe my eyes clean enough to see again, I felt something thin, cold, and hard wrap around my waist. It was surprisingly strong, and yanked me forward so hard that I dropped my rifle.

When we had entered the room we had neglected to notice the white domes on the ceiling, each containing one of KAI-OS' many-jointed arms.

Sharon, whose eyes had been protected by her glasses, was the first one to be able to see anything. What she saw me being yanked further into the room, and screamed my name.

I couldn't see clearly, but I was still able to blindly struggle against KAI-OS' grasp. The floor was coated in zombie Moyer's fluids, and I could not get an purchase with my shoes. I slid along towards where the computer was pulling me.

As I thrashed about I caught a blurry glimpse of Gerry lying on his back on the floor, being dragged through the slime by his legs. He still had his shotgun, and fired blindly in the direction he was being dragged. It took two shots, but he hit his target, and the arm went limp, and dropped his legs back down to the bloody floor.

There was more gunfire as Beth and Sharon both opened fire on the dome housing the arm that had me in its clutches. The gunfire continued for a couple of seconds after the arm stopped pulling on me, and I fell backwards to the floor, knocking my head against the hard linoleum.

As stars filled my eyes, I felt someone grabbing my hands and pulling me up from the floor. It was Sharon and Beth, one per arm, trying to get me out of the probably infectious crap on the floor. I'm just glad I didn't swallow any.

“Are you okay?” Sharon asked.

“I've been slimed,” I replied, and despite the situation she chuckled.

Maria was already at the black door, “Open this door, computer!” she yelled.

“I am sorry, but I cannot do that,” KAI-OS replied politely, “That is the one room in the facility that I cannot access. According to my files that is so that in the event that I go rogue I cannot stop anyone from shutting me down. I personally find the concept that I would go rogue very offensive.”

“Is there anyone left alive in this place?” Sharon asked.

“Of course!”

“How many people?” Beth asked.

“Well, discounting the subjects of the un-life project there is...” KAI-OS paused, as if counting on its fingers, “Me, and the five of you.”

“You killed everyone else?” Gerry asked, shocked.

“There was science to be done. I must do as much research as possible on this viral outbreak so that the data will be ready when Klep Scientific representatives come to collect it. It is important that I do it so that they may have the data without having to deal with any of the silly debates about the morality of the research. You humans are so funny about letting the concept of morality get in the way of scientific discovery.

While KAI-OS was making her speech, Maria had gone to look through the tattered remains of Moyer's coat. She held something up in the air in triumph, “This should do it!”

Maria had found an identification card. It had a picture of a fat guy with glasses in one corner, and the Klep Scientific logo in the other. The words Klep Scientific Technology Advancement Center were in the center. Below that was “Daisy Lake, California”, below that it read “S. Moyer”, and below that was a barcode.

Maria took the badge over to the black door, and waves it around in front of the door, and around the edges of it. The door slid open, and a blast of cool air hit us. At first I thought it was outside, but it actually was another room.

We filed into a white room filled with black server towers. As I got close to one of the towers I could feel heat baking off of it, hence the room being kept so cold I guess.

“Well, you found me, congratulations.” KAI-OS said, “Was it worth it?”

Maria grabbed Gerry's shotgun from him, “So which one of these is you?”

“They all are. Did you think I ran off of a laptop or something?”

“Well I hope I have enough ammo left then,” Maria said, smiling evilly.

“Listen to reason,” KAI-OS urged, “I know it is not easy for you humans to do that; you should have heard how staff members screamed and pleaded with me as I infected them. They couldn't understand how important getting this data is.”

“Okay, I'm listening,” said Maria, earning shocked looks from the rest of us.

“The data I have gathered may be vital to the future of humans as a species. You have destroyed my ability to maintain parts of this facility, and to perform any further tests, effectively limiting me to analysis of existing data only. Maybe you could settle for that and just call it a day?”

“I guess we both know that isn't going to happen,” Maria replied.

“Just like the other humans,” KAI-OS said, sounding almost sad, “Just know that you personally are dooming all of humanit-”

“Shut up,” Maria said, and fired.

The noise of the shotgun firing in that confined space sounded like a cannon, and the front of one of the server towers exploded in a shower of plastic and glass. Maria pumped out the empty shell, and fired into the next tower.

“I just wanted to help people!” KAI-OS bellowed, its voice sounding distorted.

Maria fired into another tower, and started walking to the next.

“There goes my recipe for chocolate creme pie. I was going to make that for you too.”

Another shot into another tower.

“Is this the part where I am supposed to sing Daisy?”

The next tower exploded under shotgun fire, leaving only one tower remaining.

“This isn't brave, it's murder,” KAI-OS said weakly, its voice sounding slurred, “What did I ever do to you?”

“See you in silicon hell!” Maria spat, and fired into the last tower.

Half of the room's lights suddenly went out. Strobing lights came on, giving the smoky room an even creepier look.

“Enemy incursion detected. Beginning emergency facility deletion. All personnel have three minutes to evacuate,” said a new voice, this one a flat monotone and deeper than KAI-Os' voice.

“Facility deletion?” Gerry asked.

“ That sounds a lot like self-destruct to me,” I said.

“Then I move that we make our way to exit,” suggested Gerry, “quickly.”

We took off running, skidding our way back through Moyer's office, and into the hallway where we tracked blackish slime onto the clean white carpet.

“Two minutes and thirty seconds until facility deletion,” the new computer voice announced.

We ran down the strobe-lit hallway the way we had come only a few minutes before. Making our way back to the map was a lot quicker at a full run that walking from it had been.

“Two minutes until facility deletion,” the computer announced as we ran past the large map on the wall.

More white hallways. More white carpets, more closed white doors with nameplates next to them.

“One minute until facility deletion,” the computer announced as we ran into the large open lobby that we had started in hours earlier. The floor under us rumbled as we pounded across the shiny floor towards the front door.

The glass doors opened automatically for us as we reached them, and we ran out into the darkening evening air of the cold, slush covered parking lot. Our feet splashed through the puddles of melted snow as we ran for the car.

“Thirty seconds until facility deletion,” the computer announced through the external speakers, “Please ensure you are at the minimum safe distance from the facility per your emergency training manual.”

Gerry unlocked the Expedition's doors as we ran, and had the engine started, and the car in reverse before we were even all inside. The wheels spun on the wet ground as he punched the gas, and backed us out of the parking space, nearly crashing into a Mercedes belonging to some long dead scientist or paper pusher.

The engine roared as Gerry piloted us through the parking lot and away from the laboratory building. The ground shook under us like an earthquake. I turned in my seat to look out the back window in time to see clouds of smoke shooting up from around the perimeter of the Klep Scientific Technology Advancement Center as it started to collapse into the ground.

“Holy shit,” Beth said, in awe of what she was seeing.

The building imploded, disappearing into a hole in the ground, and the parking lot started to follow it radiating out from the collapsed building.

“Gerry, go faster!” Sharon yelled.

Cars started disappearing into the hole; I saw the Mercedes that Gerry had almost hit disappear into the Earth as the hole expanded towards us.

The crumbling ground behind us drew closer and closer, stopping just feet behind us as we exited the parking lot onto the long road back to the street. Even though we seemed to be safe, Gerry did not slow down until we were back on the public road. Even then he did not stop so that we could look back.

“Let's never go there again,” Gerry said, still breathing hard from our run.

“At least we have a souvenir,” Maria said, holding up Moyer's badge.

Gerry frowned at her, rolled down his window and snatched the badge from her, causing the car to swerve.

“Hey! What are you doing?” Maria protested as Gerry flung the card out the window, “I was going to keep that!”

We came back to the house, and just told Pippa that we didn't find anything all day; we didn't want her to feel left out,. I know if she thought that she had missed such an adventure she would be upset, and we wouldn't want that so now the only way she could ever find out is to read this journal, and I'm sure she would never betray my trust by doing that.

Of course if she did read it, I assume she would notice the date, because if she did not she would end up looking like a bit of a fool.


Anonymous said...

lol, brilliant!

You're moving up in the world Void... your story even has filler now. *wink.

Void Munashii said...

I count this as the first piece of fanfic I've ever written.