“I don’t know but I really wish I knew!” André cried exasperated. The whole table in front of him had papers scattered everywhere. His hair was ruffled and unwashed. There were dark circles under his eyes and his glasses were slightly askew. He was talking to someone who was swallowed by the darkness. “I know, I wish you did too, but you must stay focused. You cannot let human ignorance get in the way,” a raspy voice said, its chill licking you like a cat's sandpaper tongue. Its voice is hollow and empty, the speaker's face hidden in the darkness. André shuddered the voice's words like a slash across the face. He was trying as hard as he could to find an answer, but no matter how hard he looked, the farther he got from an answer. “Sit down,” the voice commanded. So, as though he was being pulled by strings, André sat down at the table and resumed his work.
With two nights of no sleep, long drawing hours pouring over old medical records and medicine theories, and still, not a clue had been found. This ‘favor’ was getting ridiculous there was no trace of anything, and yet if André hadn’t accepted that offer a few days ago. He wouldn’t be stuck in this mess.
Still, André flipped through the endless piles of papers. His head started to fall, and his eyes were growing heavy. The sound of ruffling papers didn’t help at all. They were like a soft hum, lulling him to sleep. And soon, André’s head had fallen with a quiet thud onto the papers. Snoring softly in the sleep he deserved. André was twisting and turning, throwing papers onto the floor. It’s obvious what he was dreaming about, the event that occurred only two days ago. Anyone who had gone through that would have a hard time sleeping.
The event that started all of this mess was quite an ordeal. If you are willing to hear the horrors that happened, continue, if you wish to sleep a nightmareless night tonight then stop reading now. On André’s way home from Binguels Community Hospital, his workplace. He always worked the night shift, not many were eager to work this shift though. Some said weird and crazy people showed up to the hospital without any real emergencies. André had not seen any of these strange happenings… until tonight. André stopped at a stoplight, waiting for the glow of the red to turn green. Then, out of nowhere, there was the sound of scratching against metal. Jumping, André looks around, trying to find the source of the ear-splitting sound. Next, there was something that sounded like a spider scuttling across something. Drumming his fingers on the steering wheel, waiting impatiently for the light to turn green. An uneasy feeling flitting across his chest. Something was outside his car, and he didn’t know what it was. Suddenly, all the lights in the street went out, André’s headlights flashed off and on, and the stoplight kept changing randomly. Fear filled André, he didn’t know what was happening. He couldn’t see if anything was moving outside. Although he could sense it. Whatever it was.
Out of nowhere, his car started to shake. This wasn’t an earthquake, this was unnatural shaking. André was being thrown around, his airbag had been activated and blood was spilling from his lip. His car was being thrown back and forth and side to side. Soon the doors were pushed in and the front was squished. It looked like a can.
After three minutes of this brutal shaking, it stopped. André lay limb in his seat, his seat belt digging into his arm. Still, he was conscious but barely. He was vaguely aware of something trying to pry open his door. Through his half-open eyelids, he saw long, spiny, bone-thin fingers gripping the inside of the door, slowly pulling it open.
Fear struck André like a sharp dagger across his face. He was unable to move, he was stuck, stuck in a nightmare. The door started to screech open, its joints being forced to rip apart. André opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out, only quick and rasping breath came out.
Now the door was hanging off its hinges, revealing the most distorted, sickly, abomination. Its skin everywhere looked as though it had been peeled back and someone had tried to replace it. It was a color of black and gray. Hanging in the air was the awful smell of decaying animals. It was wearing torn and jagged clothes, barely covering anything. The thing was making a gurgling sound. Its mouth was not open and it seemed to be coming from inside the thing.
It started getting closer, hunger gleaming in its distorted eyes. Inching closer and closer to the half-conscious André, baring its black, inky teeth. Stuck and terrified, he couldn’t move, even if he could, fear would hold him back. Then, the thing lunged at him, bracing for impact, but it never came. Instead, it was biting off the seat belt, was the thing saving André? No, it couldn’t be, the thing was a complete monster, why would it save its dinner? Soon the beast had gnawed all the way through the seat belt, freeing André. Whether out of injuries or of fear, André fainted. He sat hunched in his seat while the monster examined him through its glossy eyes.
Then, it reached its thin, bony arms around André’s waist and hoisted him out of the totaled car. It was in André’s favor that he was unconscious, unable to feel the rough, scratching skin of the terrible monstrosity. I shudder to imagine what it would feel like to be held in that thing's arms.
It walked with André in his arms for several blocks. Everything seemed still, no lights were on in the street, no cars were zooming by. It was only the creature and André on the streets tonight. Then the pair of them turned into an alleyway, swallowed by darkness. The disformity unceremoniously set André down on the hard ground.
Pausing for a moment to study André’s unconscious body before going to a corner full of grimey dumpsters. Its arched back reveals every bone in its decaying back. It was scouring through the garbage. Perhaps looking for something to eat or perhaps it’s looking for a way to wake André.
Soon André started to stir feebly. Slowly, he regained consciousness and started to take in his surroundings. He, luckily, hadn’t spotted the things still so absorbed with the dumpster. André examined himself, checking his cuts and doing a mental check of everything. He seemed to be fine, until he noticed what was in the corner…
Every bone in his body turned to stone, he couldn’t move or breathe. His eyes were wide in shock. He watched as the very hands that had pulled open the car door were now ripping open Cam’s Chicken box. Whether he could move or not, he just sat there in a horrified state. André’s heart had never beaten faster, he felt like his heart would just jump to his throat and out of his mouth. Sweat dripped from his head, falling into his eyes. André didn’t care, he didn’t want to take his eyes off the putrid thing for a second. He was stuck, as though in some sort of trance. He sat there for ten solid minutes in a solid block of fear. Then, he managed to muster up some sort of voice and called with a very shaky voice, “W-who a-are y-you?”
The beast stopped its savage attempts to get the last of the chicken out and turned to stare at André. A hungry, desperate look in its eyes.
“You are André?” the thing asked, its voice was dry and weak. “Y-yes… w-why?” André asked, his voice quavering, hardly anything above a whisper.
“I require… assistance. I have heard of your medical expertise,” it said, choosing its words carefully and thoughtfully. “For what?” André questioned, slowly regaining his normal tone.
“I am ill,” the beast said simply, as though they were talking about the weather over morning coffee.
“Ill? That is unlike anything I have ever seen in my years of being a doctor,” André said.
“It’s an unknown disease, it’s been turning me into this,” the thing said, gesturing to it’s deformed body. “So…? I’m sorry you’re sick and all but, what am I supposed to do?” André asked, repulsed at the thought of ever treating something as disgusting as that.
“I want you to find a cure for me. This disease is not only changing my appearance, but it is changing my actions, my thoughts, I am losing myself,” the thing said, a note of pleading in his voice. “Look, I’m sorry, I don’t know what I could do, it may take years to find a cure and by then…” André didn’t need to finish that sentence, it hung in the air like a cold dark mist.
“And I don’t want that, I want to be me again, I had a life, I want it back,” the beast said, desperately, if he had human eyes he would even be crying right now.
“I-I can’t- there’s nothing I could do,” André repeated, feeling slightly repulsed by this creature's strange display of emotion. André found it hard to believe this thing was ever human.
“I need to find a cure, I need your help, you have to help me,” the beast said, its voice no longer pleading, it was forceful. André’s heart started beating hard again, this thing was getting scarier by the moment.
“I-I’m sorry, I wish you all the best b-but I gotta get home,” André stuttered, finding his way to his feet, searching desperately for the exit.
“No. You are not leaving. You will help me. If you still refuse to help, I will not only hurt you, but your family too.” the creature hissed, its voice making André’s blood run cold. His mind immediately went to his wife and unborn child back at home, waiting for him to return. He knew what he must do, he couldn’t put his family at risk.
“Fine. I will do it, just promise to never touch my family,” André said fiercely, the desire to protect him filled him with a raging fire. Here it gets fuzzy even for me, I tried to find out more but all I know is the creature took André to the place that they are at now. There were already piles of files all stacked for him to search through.
With a start, André woke up, papers sticking to his face like gum to a sidewalk. His brain was fogged with sleep and his mouth tasted like dried tomatoes. He could hear the beast's heavy, rasping breaths. It sent shivers down André’s spine with every breath it took.
André was getting annoyed at this project, he just wanted to stand up and leave. But he couldn’t, and if he did, the freak would hurt his family. Closing his eyes, holding himself so he didn’t fall asleep again, thought hard about what could help this thing. They had tried fruits, every vitamin, every vaccine, but it never worked. They all had something in them that could counteract the effects of the disease, but none was strong enough.
Then, out of nowhere, like a bird hitting a window. It hit him. The answer to everything. He slapped his hand to his head, the answer was so obvious, he was stupid to have overlooked it. “Wake up wake up! I know what to do!” André cried, jumping up and down, sending papers flying. The beast made a grunting noise, hoping up from its dark corner.
“What? What is it?” the thing asked, its voice clipped at André’s ears. He ignored this though, there was no time for petty arguments when they were so close.
“I need a tomato,”
“Yes a tomato, now if you want to be human again stop asking stupid questions and get me a tomato,” André snapped, getting impatient at the creature. It nodded, hurrying over to the pile of fruit that lay discarded. Next to it was a box of vegetables, though they never needed to use them because no vegetable contained what they were looking for. But a tomato wasn’t a vegetable. This is why André was so surprised when he realized it, he had forgotten that tomatoes weren’t really vegetables, they were in fact fruit.
“Here,” the creature said, handing André the fruit.
“No, you take a bite out of it, it won’t cure me,” André said, heart beating quick, anxious to see what would happen as the beast took a bite. It raised the round, red fruit to its decaying lips, digging deep with its teeth. A hungry and desperate look was in its eyes. It chewed slowly, as if daring something to happen….
The name generated was: André