• Published 12th Aug 2012
  • 5,725 Views, 277 Comments

Friendship Space - the dobermans

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Searching for Answers

A strong, confident voice crackles out of an unseen loudspeaker, hidden somewhere in the shadows above you.

“This is Director Tiedemann to all project personnel. I want the key subjects terminated and the facility scrubbed. This is not a drill. Tiedemann out.”

Message short and to the point. Finally, someone with a normal human brain. You step carefully past the spot where the guards had met their end, eyeing their gummed-up assault rifles and bunched silver uniforms in the dim light. Director Tiedemann, is it? The key subjects better watch their asses. Sounds like he means business.

The guns are a lost cause. There’s no way to pick the weapons up, hampered as you are by the straitjacket. Even if you could, that cotton candy had probably come out of Marmalade’s cute little knapsack. Not with the world’s longest ramrod would you try reaming that shit out.

Director Tiedemann’s message repeats itself as you move past the carnage, echoing from the dripping concrete walls and hissing steam pipes. You couldn’t see the mess for what it was, the severed limbs still wrapped in the tangled uniforms, the splatters and streaks of thickening blood covering the floor and walls. But it was there. And the bodies … who could tell where or what they really were now? Maybe that was why you had woken up in what was obviously a psychiatric ward. Hell, someone with delusions as extensive as yours deserves to be quarantined.

"I want the key subjects terminated …”

Tiedemann’s voice follows you up a corrugated metal staircase and into a short hallway. There’s only one door available to you. As you wait for it to slide open, you glance up at the gleaming white sign fixed above it: Observation Room.

The office beyond is as dark as the hallway, except for the pale blue glow of a single computer monitor. A clip of some kind of video playback is flickering on the abandoned screen. Whoever had loaded it had been here only minutes ago, it seems. You stop to listen, curious as to what someone had thought important enough to watch in the middle of all this insanity.

“Subject is Nolan Stross. Extension 158 …”

That voice. It’s the psychiatrist, the one who had terrorized your dreams for months. Or was it years? The same one who had barked at you for answers, smirking at the way you described Nicole for him as he took notes. Now here he was, pacing behind another sorry-looking dude asking more of his goddamned questions.

You kick the side panel of the desk holding the monitor. If your arms were free, you would throw the screen against the wall hard enough for that asshole to feel it.

The other guy’s face, someone you hadn’t seen before, was directly in front of the camera. The doctor was still giving orders.

“… let’s talk about what you saw today. Come on Stross, I’m here to help you.” Right. Help you go from third rate to first rate nutjob.

Stross choked quietly, his dark eyes searching as he struggled to remember, to find the words. “She was blue. Dark blue with a sparkling blue mane. She whispered to me.” You look down. This was tough to watch. Too close to home.

The psychiatrist leaned in close and hissed in Stross’s ear, “And what did the pony princess whisper to you? Come on Stross, what?”

Pony princess? There was something about a princess, something familiar …

“I, I can’t remember,” answered Stross. He started raising his voice. “She, she put so much stuff in my head, so much shit in my head. Promises of … happiness, joy, harmony forever. There’s no room for anything else. I can’t remember what she looks like. I can’t remember what she …”

The psychiatrist was pacing again, his padded cotton clinician’s shirt white against the gray tiles of the wall behind him. His face was out of view. “The princess, Stross! What did the princess tell you?”

“She told me I could be like her! That I could be a, a pony. Like her. Fucker.”

An impatient sigh. “Put Mr. Stross back in stasis, adjust his medication up 30 milligrams, and we’ll try another session first thing in the morning.” The screen flickers and the clip restarts from the beginning. “Subject is Nolan Stross. Extension 158 …”

Well that was messed up. The guy hadn’t even pretended to be professional, like he thought his little interrogation was some mildly amusing cat and mouse routine. This had to be before the outbreak, or else doctor douchebag would have been hanging on Stross’s every word. If anyone needed five minutes alone with a necromorph, it was that guy.

No, that wasn’t true. You couldn’t really wish that on anybody. You back away slowly from the desk, ignoring the canned voices. Whoever Nolan Stross was, clearly he shared your mental delusions. Could he be another survivor of a necromorph infestation? And why fairy ponies, of all things? Why not munchkins, like from the Wizard of Oz? Why not just normal, psychopathic humans? You’d personally met more than enough of those to fuel some good hallucinatory episodes. Were you that sensitized to violence, so much so that your brain had to transform it into something la-la sweet?

Well, you wouldn’t find the answers standing here with your thumb up your ass. You start humming “Over the Rainbow” as you tread as quietly as you can to the exit on the opposite side of the room. You used to hum and sing to yourself when working under serious deadlines, in better days, back when the world made sense. It helped, sometimes.

You pass through another tight, low-ceilinged hallway. Whoever had designed this facility obviously did not have had comfort and ease of mobility as their top priorities. Again, only two ways in and out. If a pack of pon… necromorphs happened to crash through the door you were approaching, you’d be up brown creek. Extra chunks.

Nothing. Not so much as a nicker. The door opens into a dark office, styled much the same as the Observation Room. Desks, monitors and not much in between. In the low, pale light you can see that the far wall holds panel windows overlooking an unlit, empty space below.

Out of the corner of your eye, you spot him. A solitary, white-clad figure standing with his back to you, staring through the windows into the darkness. Could it be Director Tiedemann? Thank God, someone you could talk to, who might be able to help you put a stop to this nightmare. You approach him quickly, eager to make your introduction and maybe get some much needed details as to how necromorphs had cropped up … wherever this was.

Before you can call out a greeting, you notice that he’s already watching you. He was watching you the whole time.

He lunges, gripping the back of your neck and spinning you around. You fight for a few seconds, trying to regain enough of your balance to launch a knee at his groin, but it’s a losing battle. You’re the one sporting a straitjacket.

His other hand comes up. Shit. He’s got something cold and hard pressed against your neck. There’s only one avenue left, and it isn’t a promising one.

“Come on, man,” you say as you give one last shake, trying to make it seem like you were a couple of pals dicking around.

Your captor chuckles in your ear as you strain to get a better view. “Patient four. I remember you.”

Of course. The good doctor. He continues talking, studying your face while reinforcing his grip on your neck, “Tiedemann said all the key subjects had to be eliminated. Terminated.” You could see his eyes in the darkness, small and livid. Not daring to look away, your peripheral vision catches dark, irregular stains covering the front of his shirt. Two and two meet up in your mind. You’re one of the key subjects.

He goes on laughing and babbling manically, but he hasn’t cut you yet. Maybe you can calm him down. “Listen … listen to me,” you begin, easing into it. “We can both get out of here. Just, just cut me out of this straitjacket.”

He holds your gaze, speaking through a brilliant smile: “No one’s getting out of here alive. No one.”

Oh fuck. This is it Isaac.

The white-sleeved arm arcs downward. It isn’t happening. It isn’t real. Your mind retreats from what’s about to happen. You shut it all out, squeezing your eyes closed, falling down into the darkness, turning away.

I’m sorry, Nicole. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.

Something hard jabs into your gut and twists in place. There’s a click, and your arms slip free.

The doctor takes a step back, grinning playfully, appraising you. “There’s no escaping from what I’ve done.”

“Just take it easy, buddy, take it easy,” you say. You’d gotten lucky. Now the trick was to coax him away from any lingering bloodlust.

“Your RIG is red,” he replies, a hint of sanity flickering in his eyes. “It’s red.”

Sad state of affairs, Isaac. You had forgotten about the health status indicator fixed to your back, and all of the other modules making up your resource integration gear set. Spending the past few minutes being chased by necromorphs might have had something to do with your lapse in memory. Or maybe it was the eternity of drugs and stasis you’d awoken from just prior.

In any case, he’s probably right. You must have gotten beat up pretty bad making your break from the psych ward, though it had only seemed like a brief tussle with a pegasus.

He points to a tall yellow cabinet standing against the wall opposite the windows. “There’s a health pack and a flashlight in that wall locker. You should grab them.”

If he was going to attack again, distracting you would be pointless. You risk a glance at the cabinet. The flashlight may be a bit of a liability – you’ll have to use that judiciously so as not to give away your position – but the health pack was another story. You could almost feel the warm blue gel already, absorbing and spreading through your bruised skin and muscles.

You walk to the locker and open it. Sure enough, small med pack, flashlight. As promised.

“Go ‘head. Take it. I won’t be needing them any more.”

You turn to thank him, anxious to hear his thoughts on what your options are. He might know where to find some weapons, or other survivors. Or if you’re really lucky, some anti-hallucinatory meds.

He’s gone back to the window, the force of his gaze pinning you where you stand. “Isaac, we’re all going to burn for what we did to you.” Before you can call out to him to wait, to tell him that there was still hope, before you can do anything, he raises the knife to his throat, and pressing hard, draws it across leaving a dark red line. Again he cuts.

You cringe, waiting for him to collapse. No matter how much violence you see, you’re never prepared. Paralyzed and sickened, you reach out, powerless to forestall another death.

Something is off this time, though. The blood, a severed jugular, the blood should be…

Slowly you realize that it’s not a knife he’s holding. It’s a red marker. He rubs it all over his face, leaving a tangled scribble like a kindergartner’s drawing. “Look you motherfuckers! Look! I’m already one of you, so come and get me. Come and get me!”

He falls with his back against the glass, sliding to the floor and blubbering. A dull silver key slips out of his grip.

“I’m a pony. I’m already a pony.” He starts coloring his hands, line by red, narrow line.