Infirmary

Photo by Jonas Friese // Unsplash

<Continued from Captain’s Quarters

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“Dammit, someone help me!” Charlie’s throat was starting to taste like iron and the gag of every junker he passed reignited his urge to vomit. “Richard need’s medical attention!”

“Richard’s dead.”

Charlie snapped to the voice and then back down to Richard. Covered in blood. Head mostly gone. No more convulsing like he had been.

“We found the infirmary’s backup power.” The man bent to grab Richard’s feet. “Looks like no one even tried it until now.”

They carried Richard down the hallway into the medical bay and threw him on a table. The lights were dim, but aside from the splotches of red and Richard’s corpse, the room looked pristine.

“We found a log from one of the last survivors,” Charlie said as he yanked his eyes from Richard up to the man who’d helped him. Colin, about the same age, joined the crew a year or so after Charlie had. “Something was hunting them, and they just left this place untouched?”

“Might have been locked,” Colin said, “though I don’t know why that would be.”

They let it hang as their eyes slowly lowered down to the corpse between them. The bunny-tentacle-beast had eaten Richard’s face before Charlie managed to get off a shot, and that shot tore out just about everything that was left. There’d been no point in carrying him all the way to the infirmary after that, but he just couldn’t leave his friend there like that, could he?

“You okay?” Colin said.

“You fucking kidding me? Richard just died.”

Colin pointed to Charlie’s hand. “You’re bleeding.”

Charlie looked down between his thumb and forefinger, saw dark blood oozing from a wound he didn’t know he had and had no recollection of getting. At first he thought it could be Richard’s blood—it was everywhere already—but when he made a fist more seeped out of the hole.

“Bunny must have gotten me, too.”

“Bunny?”

Charlie explained what had happened as another junker, a woman named Luly, walked in. She and Colin stared at him in disbelief as he finished.

“So tentacles just popped out of this thing and it wrapped itself around his head?” Luly asked.

“No, its whole body separated into tentacles.” The dumb looks on their faces didn’t show any hint of understanding. “Have you ever seen a picture of an octopus?”

Colin nodded. “They made us study them even if they were all gone long before we were born.”

“Good, me too,” Charlie said. Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, the hole in his hand was starting to throb. “It was like the ‘bunny’ we saw was a camouflaged octopus, and then when it jumped it gave up the disguise and threw its tentacles out.”

It wasn’t a perfect description, but it was enough to get the point across. Richard’s corpse was enough to get across how dangerous it was.

“Where’s it at now?” Luly asked with a hint of concern on her voice.

“I shot it. What’s left of it is down the hall.”

“How’d it get you?” she asked.

Charlie glanced down at his hand and then slid it behind him. It was embarrassing, for some reason. Maybe that the little bunny had taken them by surprise and managed to wound them both before he could even so much as think of what to do. The cute, little bunny.

“Wait,” he said, and they both looked up from Richard’s corpse. “The log mentioned the bunny, too.” He took the scratched, bloody paper from his pocket, his hand throbbing and resisting his every movement. “We found this before we saw it. One of the last survivors mentioned the bunny before his entries stopped.”

Colin took the paper in his hands. “You think that bunny is what killed everyone?”

“It took one of us quick enough,” Luly said as she looked at the log over Colin’s shoulder.

“Hard to fathom something like that killing an entire crew, though,” Colin said.

Charlie looked down to what was left of Richard, his eyes moving unconsciously. “There might be more of them. The log says people were dying every night, but he didn’t see the bunny until the end.”

“If so many died, where are the bodies?” Luly asked.

Charlie had been wondering that exact thing. A giant vessel with five or six decks, derelict for who knew how long, and not a single body of the crew aside from the captain? Not even the author of the log?

A whirring started down the hall. Charlie spun toward the sound, his hand already on his gun, before he realized what it was.

The lights flickered beyond the doorway and then hummed to life. The infirmary was suddenly almost too bright for his eyes, and he grew aware of a steady buzz of background noise that hadn’t been there before.

“Looks like I got the ship’s power working,” one of the crew’s mechanics said over the intercom. “Found drum of fuel in one of the bays that’s been untouched for who knows how long.”

Charlie locked eyes with Colin and Luly before Colin’s gaze fell to Charlie’s bloodstained hand on his gun.

“You want to put that thing away?” Colin said. “Don’t want anyone to get too jumpy.”

Charlie sighed and loosened his grip, letting the gun hang so its grip was easily within reach.

“Funny about the fuel,” Luly said. “They had more to keep the lights on but never used it, and they didn’t bother bringing any of their wounded in here.”

Charlie gazed down at what was left of Richard. If that tentacled beast had been responsible for even one other death, where was the body?

“Might be another medical bay,” Colin suggested. “Might be they didn’t have enough fuel for a jump and needed to keep the lights on.”

“Guys.”

“But then why didn’t they, you know, keep the lights on?” Luly asked.

“Guys.”

“Maybe they lost whoever was in charge of the fuel and didn’t know how it worked?” Charlie said.

“Guys!”

“What?” They were looking at him like he was interrupting something he wasn’t a part of.

Charlie pointed down at the corpse. “His hand just moved.”

<Continued from Captain’s Quarters

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