Interlude: Consumed

A man quickly figures out why he’s being pursued, leading him to realize he was already dead.

“There he is!” The man in the black suit pointed at the hapless businessman. Black Suit’s partner whistled shrilly. Three more agents emerged out of the crowds and moved towards the businessman.

“I don’t know what the hell I did!” The businessman put his hands in the air. One of the agents fired off two shots. The man screamed in fear and ran off into the alley behind him.

He pulled his tie loose as he ran. He was too old, or at least too fat, to be running like this. He slunk into an adjacent alley and hunkered down, breathing hard.

He wiped sweat from his brow and grimaced. He rolled up his right sleeve and scratched fervently at the raised red patch on his arm. “This fucking rash,” he said under his breath.

He whipped his head up at the sound of approaching footfalls. He struggled to his feet and threw himself down the side alley. Somebody yelled out behind him. “There he is!” Several shots zinged by on either side of him.

“I didn’t do anything! Leave me alone!” The agents answered with more bullets. “I’m gonna die.” He gritted his teeth and pushed the heel of his hand into his chest.

His throat was on fire, and so was his arm. He coughed violently. He spared a look behind him. The men in black were gone. He instinctively pushed himself up against one of the walls in the alley.

The businessman gasped as he stared at his arm. the red had spread across most of his forearm and was quickly creeping upwards. A blue-green substance was weeping from where he had scratched it earlier.

“FREEZE! Federal agents!” He turned about. They must have routed him. He stumbled backwards.

“Why are you trying to kill me!” One of the agents shot. The other cursed and followed suit. The businessman took off running the way he had came.

A car pulled into his view from the main alley. The driver laid on his horn at the gaggle of agents running from the opposite direction. The businessman leaped onto the hood and cleared the car with a second leap.

He turned around, eyes wide. “How in the hell…” More gunfire pushed the thought away. He turned and ran, coughing as he went.

The first agent turned to his partner. “We’re running out of time.”

The other man nodded. He pulled out a radio and squeezed the button on the side. “We’re gonna need that chopper after all.”

The businessman squinted at the rays coming from the lowering sun. It was getting harder to think clearly. He dashed out of the alley and into the middle of a busy street.

An SUV dug its nose into the ground, tires squealing indignantly. The businessman half-screamed, half-howled at the woman behind the wheel. She screamed at the sight of him.

He looked down. His shirt looked puffed out. Something lumpy underneath it pushed at the the sweat-soaked fabric. He tore the shirt open with red, cracked fingers. His chest was a mess of green sores and blue fungus.

The businessman slowly lifted his head. “Please. Help me.” The plea came out as more of a gurgle than anything intelligible.

The woman screamed again. She accelerated the SUV backwards, crashing into the car stopped behind her. He ran off into another alley, car horns blaring behind him.

He hid behind a dumpster. He looked at his deformed body and began to sob. He looked up at the sound of an approaching helicopter.

The aircraft loomed over the building he was leaning against. A blinding-white spotlight flooded the alley with daylight. It quickly found the crouching man.

He stood, his contorted face twisting further as he screamed out in rage. He turned and ran, much faster than he should have been able to. The twitching spotlight followed his progress. The nose of the helicopter dipped as the pilot pursued his target.

The businessmonster ran into a small, abandoned parking lot. He whipped his head around, looking for a place to hide away. A number of agents flooded in from two adjacent alleys.

“Holy shit! Shoot him! SHOOT HIM!” A hail of gunfire rained down on the hapless man. He gurgled, howling in pain as a number of rounds found their mark in his torso. He half-ran, half-shambled into a shed built against the wall on one side of the lot.

A dozen agents pressed in on the shed, guns drawn. Police sirens and roaring engines signaled the arrival of back-up. All eyes returned to the shed. A deep, shuddering growl came from within.

The walls of the shed shook as the man-turned-monster thrashed about inside. There came one final, inhuman scream. Silence settled over the scene as the newly-arrived police units came to a stop behind the agents.

BOOM. The door to the shed banged hard into the side of the building. It crunched to a stop, ripped halfway off of its hinges. Glowing green eyes stared menacingly out of the shadows that lay within. The creature inside growled lowly, menacingly.

The twisted monster leaped from his hiding place, screaming and gurgling. The agents and police officers responded by raining gunfire down on the hapless creature. Round after round dug into the ragged mixture of tortured skin, fungus, and infected tissue.

The monster took a few more sluggish steps before dropping to its knees. Its eyes found the first agent and stared at him with pain and sorrow. The green light slowly faded. The creature slumped to the ground.

Some of the agents started to approach it. The first agent cried out. “NO! Stay back! Get the hell back…”

It was too late. The body of the mutated man swelled and bloated. The carcass suddenly yielded to the pressure, sending out a dusty white cloud of spores.

The men fell back, shielding their eyes and coughing uncontrollably. They waved their hands in the air, eyes watering. They began to look from one to another with dread-filled faces as the reality of their situation set in.

“Bongo two-niner, containment failed. Contagion released.” The helicopter pilot slowly circled the scene below, shaking his head as he went.

“Roger, Bongo two-niner. Flee the area. Incoming military hardware.”

“Confirmed.” He looked away, raising the helicopter up and away from the area. “Poor bastards.”

The helicopter circled back around several blocks away and hovered. The sound of an approaching jet swept over the city. Moments later a surface-to-ground missile flared towards the contamination site.

An enormous explosion rocked the surrounding buildings. A chorus of car alarms raised their voices into the twilight as the detonation lit up the area. The military aircraft rocketed over the kill-zone a moment later.

The helicopter pilot steered his aircraft back over the area. A large crater had taken the place of the parking lot that had been there only moments before. The shaking spotlight zoomed about the destruction.

“Bongo two-niner, area is secured.”

“Roger, Bongo two-niner. Return to base for debrief.”

“Gladly.” The helicopter pilot lifted the aircraft high above the city and angled it towards the nearby military base.

A badly wounded agent watched it go with his one good eye. He spit out a wad of blood and started shuffling towards the alley from which the businessman had come. He scratched absently at the back of his neck as he went.