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TAP Preview: Chapter 15 Excerpt

Chapter 15

Waking to a Nightmare

There is no such thing as an end to suffering. Someone, no matter the condition of life’s existence, always suffers.

 

     “Wake up already!” A high-pitched voice screams.

     The sirens in the facility screech with no hope of an end. Vend tries to move. Though she is slow and still somewhat numb, she cannot, because her arms and legs are bolted to a table with metal restraints. Pain creeps up her spine and courses through her body. It causes her to twitch, which in turn causes more pain. The cycle builds until she belches her loudest squeal. It drowns out every warning siren in the facility, every boot clumping on the ceiling. This is no scream of a girl. This scream is multiple wails of torture, something that makes Vend shiver in fear at the rudest awakening of her life.

     Her scream is three blood-curdling women all wrapped into one.

     “Vend, you must bear with me, we don’t have much time,” A white man tries to shout over the commotion. White, Vend believes, more because of his lab-coat and bleached-looking hair than his pale skin. Her clothes are similar: a simple white shirt and shorts of pure cotton, specially made for hospital patients.

     He runs back and forth through the plain white room from computer monitor to monitor, quickly scrolling through streams of green data. He races to the left of Vend’s bed, getting within a foot from her. He hesitates to touch her, clearly more afraid of her than she is of him.  He still mumbles, “Please understand me, please understand me” to himself.

     Vend prepares to speak, but he holds his finger out. He almost puts it on her mouth, but      flinches back. His extra-thick glasses can hide his eyes, but not the horror in the stressed indents of his forehead and cheeks.

     “Don’t say anything yet. Just nod your head for yes, shake your head for no. Can you understand me?” Vend nods. “Good. Can you move your fingers and toes?” Vend tries, but the pain mashes through her spine like a car running her over. She shakes and slams herself on the table, trying not to scream again. Tears flow down her face. “I’m sorry dear, I know the drugs have worn off… things are going to hurt for a long time, but you must fight it… You must. Are you in complete control of yourself?” Vend nods again. “Look me in the eyes: are you ab-so-lute-ly sure?”

     Vend tries to fight the pain and tears. She has so many questions to ask, from her pain, the scream, the sirens and the spinning yellow hazard lights, to how this all happened. She refocuses on calming down, then nods to him. I feel like I remember him… who is this guy?

     The doctor moves to the front of the room. He looks at Vend for a second, then puts one hand on a lever while he hides his eyes with the other. After a huge CLUNK, all four metal bonds split in the middle, each with its own click, and slide off of Vend’s arms and legs. Vend rubs her arms, but the pain causes her to slam herself back onto the table.

     “What have you DONE—!” The instant Vend screams in anger, the monstrous sound rushes from her mouth, crippling her in fear and forcing the doctor to cover his ears. She breathes herself to calmness again, despite a growing urge to demand answers. “What have you done… to me?”

     “Trust me dear, it’s so messed up. Remember stage four? The weeks you had left? They told us of their experimental cure, but they didn’t tell us—”

     The double doors at the front of the room try to burst open, but heavy locks keep them shut. “Doors are locked!” screams a deep, raspy male voice on the other side. “Set the bomb, ASAP!”

     “Time is up! Listen, the pain is from your body not taking the drugs nor the mutation well. The mutation is not complete, but if I had given you the last shot, you would surely have died. They know the truth, Vend… They are coming for you. Fortunately, even without the shot, you are far stronger now than any normal human—”

     Something metallic clamps onto the other side of the doors.

     “Do not fear the bullets as much, I think your mutation may withstand some of them. However, DO NOT let them give you that injection—!”

     The door explodes, knocking Vend and the doctor back. He flies into the wall and collapses onto the floor. Vend forgets all about the pain as adrenaline pumps through her body. She rolls off the bed to her right, landing on the tile. She grabs a steel pipe with both hands and braces one leg on the wall. The metal whines, bends, then breaks to her brute strength. White smoke bellows up into the room.

     Through the smoke, four soldiers in dark green camouflage barrel through the doorway, heavily armed with automatic rifles and enough tan camouflage and armor to cover large athletes. All guns point immediately to Vend.

     “Kill it!”

     Though the automatic rifles fire as they should, Vend’s senses are too fast. The bullets seem to take their time dislodging from the gun. Her attention goes to the plain white room rather than the soldiers.

     Far stronger, huh?

     Vend finds herself jumping to the corner between the wall and the ceiling. A couple of bullets hit her on the way there, one in the leg and another in her chest, but her body responds as though nothing is wrong.

     Small, thick claws extend from her fingertips and toes, keeping her in place. The soldiers reacquire their target, their aim even slower than the bullets. She leaps downwards towards them before the guns point in her direction, swinging the pipe as fast and hard as she can.

     She hits multiple objects in a flash. She only knows because the vibrations in the pipe tell her body. When she realizes she is only swinging at air, she glances down at all four soldiers, who lie motionless on the ground. There are severe dents in their helmets, and in her pipe.

     It hits her: the smell of blood.

     She checks her leg for damage, but the wound is almost sealed already. The slight, additional pain in her chest fades before she can even check there. As quickly as she bleeds, her blood absorbs back into her body and turns into flesh. Her mouth salivates as she realizes the smell comes not from her, but a couple of soldiers.

     Her instincts tell her to tear the wounds open and chew out the flesh, but she resists, merely touching one soldier’s bleeding arm. Even though her hand is fine, the blood absorbs into her skin anyway. A cooling sensation flows through her body as the last of his blood disappears. Her hands grip with more strength than before.

     Her mind focuses back to reality, back to the raging sirens, and to the man who tried to save her. She looks at him, lying against the wall, with his head drooping to his chest. The world rushing towards her is still unsettling, but all she wants is to make him sit up, to make him more comfortable. Galeon. The name rings through her mind for a moment.

     More soldiers are coming, Vend.

     She is not sure if she can hear them or feel them, but she knows they are just down the hallway, and running fast. “Thank you,” she utters while sitting him up, then runs back to the doorway. No more sentimentalism. You attacked my friend and destroyed my body. I will spill the blood of your lies!

     She jams her pipe into the doorframe, clotheslining a guard into the floor. A second guard fires his rifle, but she dodges with little effort, and yanks it out of his hands with less. She chucks it like a throwing axe down the hallway, clobbering a third soldier in the face. His body spins from the impact as he falls. With one arm, she grabs the second soldier by the shoulder of his bulletproof vest and slams his body into the wall.

     “Violet cat-eyes…!” he mumbles, “those teeth… what, ARE you?”

     Eyes? Teeth?

     Vend sweeps her mouth with her tongue: her orifice houses numerous, triangular teeth with razor-sharp points that remind her of sharks. She jumps a little as she bites, expecting serious pain, but they sink into her gumline without any problem.

     “You don’t like my teeth?”

     In one punch backed by her horrible scream, she breaks the armor around his gut. He squeals and wheezes in pain until he passes out.

     Knocking him out brings her some ease. Letting them feel her pain, is satisfying.

     The only way out is a staircase illuminated by swirling red lights thirty feet down the hall. Metal stairs, obvious as boots clomp down them. Vend runs towards the oncoming soldiers. She leaps to the opposing wall, then leaps over numerous steps, clubbing a soldier in the head with her pipe. He stumbles out of the way. The next soldier calls to his fallen comrade, but another leap and he is clubbed the same way.

     “You soldiers are doing a lot of damage to my pipe,” she grumbles.