Bogleech.com's 2014 Horror Write-off:
" gBÜn:30 "
The first person to get it was a man from Germany, 36 years old. His name was Rupert Fritz Heidrich. It was sudden. No known external source. The only thing heard was screaming. A neighbor called 911, ambulance sirens sounded, and Rupert’s house was put up for sale.
This isn't the story of Rupert, though. It’s the story of Francis Davidson.
Frank Davidson was a man who was known for his unusual strength. It wasn’t special. He couldn’t stop a speeding train or lift a house. He could only beat most guys up his age. Nothing special. He was happily married with three children: Drew, Marcus, and Pammy.
One very uninteresting day, he woke up to his alarm clock. It made a loud sound, like an ambulance. He had a large pain in his foot. He scratched it. That made it worse. He decided to ignore it.
He turned on the light. In the mirror he saw his stubbly chin. He gathered all necessary equipment and began to shave. The pain in his foot was unbearable now. He scratched it again. Should his skin feel slimy? No, Frank thought. It should not.
His foot, it seemed, had muscle where skin should be. It was bleeding badly now. He screamed as loud as he could. And why not? He looked in the mirror.. Skin was peeling off around the area where his eyeballs were. Frank fainted for the first and last time in his life.
Georgia woke up to, unlike her husband, the sound of screaming. At first she thought it was Pammy, waking up from yet another nightmare. But it sounded more...masculine. “Frank?” she called, scared. Frank never screamed. He was tough. Georgia admired that.
She heard silence, then “MOOOMMM!” from one of the children’s bedrooms. It was Marcus.Whatever was happening was not good. She checked where the screaming came from first, the bathroom. Sure enough, she found Frank, without any skin.
Thoughts ran around like bunnies inside her head. She ran to the bedroom and dialed 911. Stuttering terribly, she told the police officer at the end of the line what she had seen. She hung up the phone, walked shakily into the hallway, and fell unconscious.
Marcus was in fourth grade.He loved baseball and played catch with his dad in the park when he came home from work. He wet the bed, a secret only he and his mom knew. He woke up that day to screaming, like his mother. He started out of bed to find his pants soaking wet. “MOOOMMM!” he cried. He needed a towel, but he didn’t want to walk to the bathroom to get one. If his dad found weird-smelling puddles throughout the house, he might not like him anymore. His dad once told him that bedwetters could never be strong men, and to be glad that he wasn’t a bedwetter. He obsessed over this matter constantly.
Instead of hearing Mom’s footsteps coming to bring him a fresh warm towel, he heard “beep-beep-beep”, followed by his mom speaking in a hushed voice. Was Mom making a phone call? What kind of phone number has only three digits? He puzzled over that for a while.
Drew woke up on his own. He looked at his alarm clock and found that he could get at least thirty more minutes of sleep. So he took the chance. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived prepared for long trip and he didn’t even notice.
Pammy was in kindergarten and rode the same school bus as Drew. She got good grades and was very polite. She woke up to a very loud “MOOOMMM!”, somehow picking up Marcus’ voice inside her nightmare. She overheard a hush conversation, hearing the words “f-f-f-found F-frank on th-the f-f-f-f-f-floor with-th”, and wondered what Mommy found Daddy with. She climbed out of her bed and walked down the hall. “Daddy?” she called. Nothing to be heard.
She stepped carefully over her sleeping mother into the bathroom. She saw Daddy all red and wet. “Daddy…?” The front door to the Davidson home was swung open and several people ran past Pammy into the bathroom, pushing her aside. She stood there, petrified.
Finally, they came out with a body on a stretcher covered in a white sheet. A short woman speaking frantically into her cellular phone turned to her and said “Go back to bed. Forget about Daddy (she said ‘daddy’ like she didn’t want to but was forced to) for now”, and walked away. She got one last glance at her father and noticed a sticker on the sheet: “gBÜn MATERIAL”.
Georgia woke up in a strange room. She remembered Frank and panicked. “FRANK!” she screamed absent-mindedly. A short woman carrying a cell phone ran into the room carrying some pills. “What” she panted. “do you need?”
“Do you know anyone by the name of Frank Davidson? Please” she added.
“Yes, we do. He is dead. But you are very sick-”
“Who are you?” Georgia snapped.
“Erm, Danielle. But you may call me Doctor Mangard for the time being.”
Georgia felt calmer with the word ‘doctor’, she eased up.
“I accept your apology. However, Georgia, you are very sick. You should be glad you came to the hospital at this time. You must take these pills.”
How does she know my name?, Georgia thought. Oh well. I guess a doctor should know his patients. She took the pills. They tasted odd - like raspberries.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Doctor Mangard asked as if Georgia was a child. She shook her head ‘no’. “Good. And, erm, one last question: do you know anyone by the name Frank Davidson?”
“No, of course not. Should I?”
Drew rode the school bus to the middle school knowing nothing about what happened at home. The bus stopped suddenly as an ambulance speeded around it, sending all of the students’ faces forward into the backside of the seat in front of them. The bus driver grumbled something about the government and being underpaid. No one paid attention.
Later at school, he opened a bottled water in class for a quick sip. His dry mouth was glad for the taste of good water. The water tasted strangely of raspberries…
Marcus was taken to a hospital-like building. He got a fresh set of clothing, a big pancake breakfast, and a comfy bed. It was almost like a hotel. He asked a short woman who had come into his room if his mom was okay.She told him that she was in the room beside his. He ran immediately to the room and into her arms. “MOM!” he cried. “Do you know where Drew is?”
“He’s probably at school.”
“She is also here. The whole family is, except for Drew.”
“What dad?” She looked at Marcus like he was crazy.
“What do you mean?”
“You’ve never had a father, honey! You were adopted, remember?”
Marcus ran back to his bed, scared. Later, the short woman came back with a small container.
Pamela had gone back to bed like the short woman had said. She didn’t know what to call her, so she named her Jenny. That was a nice name. She thought about Jenny and what ‘gBÜn MATERIAL’ could’ve meant. What did two dots over a letter mean? Was gBÜn even a word? When she fell asleep, she had another nightmare.
When she woke up, she was in a very fluffy bed. Jenny walked into the room carrying her cell phone. “Hi, Jenny!” she called. “My name is not Jenny, Pamela. It is Marion Stillers. But please, if you are going to call me anything at all, call me Doctor Stiller.” Pammy hated doctors. They gave her icky medicine.
“What happened to Daddy?”
“Your Daddy?” She sneered Pammy changed the subject.
“Why did you come?”
“To give you medicine, of course.” Doctor Stiller held out her hand, which had two pills in it.
Pammy refused at first. But Mommy always said that medicine makes you feel better. She swallowed them. They tasted like raspberries.
“Back to your question, Daddy had to be taken away.”
Francis woke up. He remembered very little - just a pain in his foot. It must have healed. His foot felt fine.
He looked around. It seemed like he was in a...a...a hospital? No… He got up, as thirsty as his son. Why did his limbs feel tired? Did he get surgery? He looked down. He was wearing a lot of clothing: socks, two shirts, overcoat, gloves, pants, a hat and thermal underwear. He pulled off his shoes without bothering to untie them. He didn’t need them. He saw that they were winter boots. Huh. Where was his family?
“Your family has been taken to your old home. They believe you never existed. You’ve been asleep a long time. I’d say...four days? Yes”, said a sharp voice behind him. “I think it has been.”
He spun around. “Who are you?”
“A short lady stepped into the room. “Who I am is not important now. You’ve contracted a strange disease that is incredibly spontaneous. 29 other people have gotten the illness as well. It seems that whoever gets it loses all of their skin.”
“I am part of a group of scientists working together to rid the world of the disease. We believe it may be contagious, so we keep all patients away from the rest of the world. You might have noticed that your skin feels...shall we say...heavy. That is because we have replaced your skin with steel. You will not be able to be harmed. You will, with most certainty, die of old age.” She said the last sentence as she left the room.
“Goodbye, then”, Frank said.
“Oh, and one more thing - your name is no longer Francis Davidson. Your name is now gBÜn:30.”