's 2014 Horror Write-off:

"Unscheduled Sick Leave"

Submitted by Trar

The wide, decrepit hall loomed before me with its dull flourescent lighting and tacky, peeling wallpaper. Identical gray doors dotted the walls every so often. I could hear the faint sound of those terrible machines clanking in the distance. The cracked tile floor was stained with various trailing bodily fluids, only some of which were identifiable. In other words, it wasn't much different from before.

My boots squelched in the liquid as I made my way forward, head on a swivel, checking behind me every five seconds. I'd come this far, managed to (surprisingly) find my equipment and ditch that damn filthy robe and stick. I wasn't going to let that spiky bitch get the drop on me now. Not for a third time.

The corridor made a right turn up ahead. I peered around to find none other than the reception area, a fairly spacious room clad in the same too-old-to-be-tasteful wallpaper. My hallway entered the room at one of the corners, and close to me on the wall to my right was another one of those white doors, this one with a peephole. I'd spent far more time in those frigid wooden halls than I wanted to, and I wasn't going back now.

Sitting in the corner between that door and me was another morbid black and green eye-stalk plant. I could never tell if those things were really watching me or not.

I shook my head and looked across the room. A marble receptionist desk loomed in the far right corner. On it sat a CRT monitor and a red rotary phone, and for a brief moment I felt a strange compulsion to make a call. I quickly pushed it out of my mind and realized that nothing sat behind the desk. Pancreas told me there would be a receptionist. I was just relieved I didn't have to deal with who or whatever it was. Another tile hallway stretched out from the corner opposite it.

Thought I heard scuffing from the hallway. A quick check confirmed I was still alone...for the time being. I noticed the sounds of machinery were slightly louder in reception than in the hall.

I looked over to the left. Next to my hallway were the smiling, greasy green double doors. I was not in the mood for whatever these quacks thought passed for food, and the faint smell radiating from them did not help any. I wasn't in the mood to hold a conversation with it, either; hopefully it grasped that and stayed quiet. I still didn't quite believe it, but after what I saw in the storage area, I was prepared to believe it would likely try.

And bingo. Over on the left wall was the door to that damn "doctor's" office...which for some reason was pink. Whatever.

I didn't like my chances, seeing as my last attempts at asking him anything ended in varying degrees of dismal failure, but maybe things would turn out differently considering what I had at my disposal now. I fully intended to give him a piece of my mind my fear and disgust with everything about this perverted "hospital" now mostly replaced by anger and quite possibly several pieces of hot lead if he didn't tell me how the fuck to leave.

I crept closer to size up the door when the occupant just happened to step out. Crawl out, whatever. He looked uncannily like a purple lozenge attached to a pipe cleaner with spider legs...a very weird bug with a crooked mouth-line, glasses straight out of some old x-ray vision toy kit and a goddamn pink sequined bowtie.

As Dr. Phage turned to look at me, I raised my M4A1 directly to his face. To his credit, he jumped back in surprise before speaking up in that perky voice of his. "Oh, my! What a surprise. I was JUST heading out to look for you!"

His chipper attitude didn't make me feel any less angry. "Right here, asshole."

What surprised me was the tsk-tsk sound he made after he glanced at my uniform. "...what are you wearing? It's positively a fashion disaster!"

Did he realize how his bow-tie disqualified him from any sort of fashion judgement? Or that I was holding him at gunpoint? Maybe he noticed how my hands were shaking.

"And what are you doing with that weapon? You've healed enough to grow one but that doesn't mean you're healthy. You shouldn't be out of bed in the first place, what with those nasty epidermic metal transfusions you had for some reason."

He caught me off-guard with his blathering enough that it took me a second to respond. "That was shrapnel from an explosive. That you still ha...wait, did you put MORE inside me?"

Phage looked taken aback. "Of course! What else would we do?"

At least that explained why I felt worse each time I woke up from "surgery". I started getting angry again, but before I could verbally tear into him he continued.

"Why else would you even be here, if not to receive the best medical care in all the perception zones from me and my staff?"

The smarmy virus he was a virus, I remembered seemed to puff up at that. My whole body was shuddering slightly now from anger, pain, and slight fear over what he meant by 'perception zones'. If that void I found beyond the 'exit door' I previously tried and what little Pancreas told me about it was any indication, it was nothing good...and I was still in the dark.

Not that I particularly cared anymore.

"I'm going to tell you again. I was on patrol with my squad. We were attacked. I'm pretty sure you're not an insurgent, so I really don't know why I woke up here after that rocket went off." I took a deep breath and a step forward.

"And I'm sick of your fucking bullshit excuse for medicine. I want to leave. NOW." I could see my spittle almost hitting Phage's face.

Another second passed. The self-professed bug of medicine blinked.

"My, my, you are delirious, aren't you? Not to worry, that's nothing a transfusion won't fi-" I stepped forward again and interrupted him. Phage took a step back himself. It was my turn to be unnerving.

"Patients are supposed to have RIGHTS, aren't they? I mean you don't seem to know what 'do no harm' means but you must kn-"

That got him going. "I most certainly do! The health and propogation of all pathogens is our number three priority!"

The way he talked, it was like his whole upper head lifted up and down, as if it wasn't connected to anything. It was almost too much whenever I was looking at him. Another dumbfounded moment passed. That was a funny way to pronounce 'patient'. Was he trying to confuse me, or...?

I didn't have time for this. I readjusted my sagging aim; holding a rifle with three superfluous fingers on your trigger hand isn't easy.

"You know what, I don't care what sort of stupid rules you go by. You are going to tell me how to leave before I make you tell me."

Phage wasn't so much as shuddering despite the fact that I was twice as tall as him, doubtlessly several times stronger even with my injuries and pointing a loaded rifle at his head. He released a short sigh.

"Doctor Mizer, would you be so kind?"

...Doctor Mizer?

I was about to wonder who that was.

Then I heard footsteps behind me.

God fucking damnit there was something in the hallway after all.

I whirled around and was almost face to neck with one of the other resident doctors I'd seen, this one apparently Phage's assistant. So that's what his name was. Those haunting eyeballs floating in his head a giant syringe half-filled with something I didn't want to think about betrayed no emotion as usual. The long gloved arms reaching for me did. Time seemed to slow down. I had seconds to react, and I was too fed up with these things to surrender now.

The burst I fired didn't seem to hit him, although me panicking and rapidly backpedaling might have affected my aim. I don't know how else I could have missed his midsection. Bastard didn't even flinch; he promptly replied by backhanding my rifle out of my hands, which wasn't hard considering his arms were probably longer than his body. The gun clattered to the floor on my left.

I stumbled in that direction from the two advancing "doctors", trying not to fall on my ass while cursing my lack of a sidearm and by extension Army sidearm policy. Phage surprised me once again when he started shooting these tiny bullets at me from his mouth. A couple of them hit me in my chest armor. Glancing down, they looked much more like bullet-sized versions of Phage than actual bullets, and they were embedded in the armor.

After narrowly backing out of the way of one of Mizer's hands attempting to grab me it was easily the size of my head I remembered I still had my combat knife. Unsheathing it didn't deter either of them, but Hell, I was prepared to use it. By now I was close to the other hallway, and I glanced behind me to see none other than that nightmarish pile of biohazard bags down the hall, rushing towards my rear faster than really should have been able to.

That cinched it. If I was going down, yet again, I was not going to make it easy.

Mizer was large, but I could dodge him. Ignoring my flaring shrapnel wounds, I quickly dashed forward, dodging more virus-bullets and slashing at his left arm. What came out wasn't blood. Jumping over his other arm as it tried to trip me, I aimed a solid kick at Phage that he jumped out of the way of. Was he a fucking spring, too?

I had a pretty good feeling the "nurse" was close to entering the reception.

It was now or never.

I turned to face Mizer. His white coat and dress pants somehow only made him look more monstrous. He was glancing at the wound in his arm. His neck was narrow; it looked much more like a fleshy tube than a neck. That was more than enough for me.

I started sprinting the last couple of feet between me and him. He turned to look at me.

I tripped on my own dropped rifle and fell on my stupid face, cursing again in surprise as I fell.

Mizer rather forcefully grabbed me with his good hand before I could roll out of the way. The way it just barely wrapped around my body pinned my arms to the side. My knife lay at his feet. I was too exhausted and in pain to struggle, the adrenaline that had been coursing through my body was spent, and I could only watch as he turned the point of his needle-head towards me. I wished I had a grenade.

Phage perked up again before I could be injected with head fluid. "Now, I think we should prepare a proper solution before we go injecting him with anything. Not that I know what that solution would be, but I'm sure we'll find out!"

Mizer's needle point turned away from me. I turned my head to look at the virus-doctor, and while I could sort of see him I couldn't see the biohazard nurse anywhere. Figured.

"Just knock him out and we'll put him back in his room."

Oh. Christ.

I started feeling terrified and disgusted again when Mizer forced a large pill into my mouth, me being too out of it to really resist. I thought I could still fight back, bite his hand and spit it out or something, but my panic was rapidly being replaced with drowsiness as I felt the tablet quickly dissolving.

Phage was back to babbling about something or other. I couldn't make any of it out besides a reference to "gray zoner mentality".

Blackness consumed me.


I woke up back in my room, on the same cheap bed, dressed in the same sort of cheap gown, feeling groggier and generally worse than I did the last time. Waves of dizzying nausea and pain throbbed through my body. It took me a moment to fully arrive, as it were.

Voices were running through my head. Not like before, either these were louder and more diverse. Was I finally going crazy?

When I tried to sit up, I realized my lower half didn't feel right. I looked down. Despite the cacophony of foreign thoughts in my head blathering about this and that, one in particular stood out; one crazed, half-panicked, half-voyeuristic comment.

Escaping this place wasn't going to be as easy with that large misshapen blob on my abdomen.