by Gary Buller
“Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into,” Oliver said, his round nose pressed against the grimy window of the tool shed. The rain had started to fall, but that hadn’t deterred the crowd milling about in the street. He shrunk back a little as one of them walked past, the creature was missing a face, and its eyes hung down over its gnashing teeth, supported only by the optic nerve. It was pink and naked, shimmering with the gelatinous substance into which it had been created, though Oliver thought that the deluge would soon wash this away.
Stan whimpered in one dusty corner, he was playing with his bow tie again and his bowler hat was spattered with tiny grey chunks of brain matter. He had removed his jacket and hung it over a rusty vice handle, his white shirt was spattered with crimson. “I didn’t mean to, Ollie—I mean when you asked me to fill the Oldsmobile with ‘gas’ I didn’t realise that you couldn’t use kerosene, Ollie…” his speech degraded into a familiar high-pitched squeak.
Oliver rolled his eyes, and checked the magazine of his AK47- there were only four bullets left, not nearly enough. “If you must make a noise, then do it quietly,” he hissed, “I’m trying to think here.”
He cast his mind back to that morning when they had started work as federal security officers at the 3D print laboratories in Santa Monica. Truthfully neither of them had a clue what 3D printing was other than it involved taking some sort of material, and then extruding it out of a nozzle in order to build something. He envisaged it like piping icing out onto a cake, but on the drive to the warehouse Stan had said that he thought that it was more like building a house with row upon row of bricks. Either way, Oliver didn’t think it would go this wrong, even with their dumb luck.
“What happened when I lost you in the security office?” Oliver asked, leaning against the door frame as he crouched. There was a two-inch gap underneath and they could see bare feet shuffle by on the wet concrete.
“One of the Incomplete’s bit me,” Stan said matter-of-factly.
Oliver grimaced as a white light flickered from the heavy clouds that rolled above, followed by a low angry rumble. “What? I can’t understand what you’re talking about? Spell it out for me.”
“An Incomplete Print, Ollie, it B-I-T me.”
“Where?” There was a note of concern in Oliver’s voice. He had seen what had happened to those that had been bitten. Had seen the terror in their eyes as the corrupted DNA spread within splicing their own and changing them.
“In the security office.”
“Yes, I know that, imbecile. Where on your body?”
Stan rolled up one of the blood splattered shirt sleeves to reveal a deep, red crater in his bicep.
“I thought that they might be printing things in plastic or rubber,” Stan whined, He removed his bowler hat and scratched an unkempt mop of hair as he sobbed. “How was I to know that they were printing out people? I wouldn’t have pressed that button if—”
“What button Stan?” Oliver looked across at him with a weary, knowing expression on his face. His little moustache twitched like a convulsing slug.
“The big red one that said ‘power’. I thought it was a test of strength or something, like at the fairground.”
“So that’s what caused all the printers to cease printing mid-flow, and now we have a 3D print apocalypse on our hands—semi-extruded bio-weapons craving human flesh to make them complete again,” Ollie said, exasperated.
“It sounds bad when you say it like that…”
The lightening flashed again, and Oliver could see more of them now. They had increased in numbers and a group of them had gathered around a woman. She had fallen on the seat of her jeans and was scrambling backwards on the rain-slicked pavement towards a shop window. The monster that was closest grasped one of her legs in its bony talons and pulled her calf towards jaws that dripped with saliva. Above the bridge of its nose, an eyeless brain quivered within the hollow bowl of its cranium.
It bit into her flesh hungrily and blood sprayed up into the horde, sending them into a frenzy. The others eagerly got down to her level and started biting and clawing, as she screamed and flailed uselessly. In the space of a few seconds they had opened up her stomach cavity, and Oliver could see them pulling out grey sausages of bowel into their hungry mouths.
“We need to do something, babe,” Stan said.
Oliver jumped, surprised at his friend’s sudden close proximity, and had to re-adjust his hat. He looked at the oval shaped bite wound on Stan’s arm. He didn’t have much time, and as far as he was concerned that meant they didn’t have much time.
“Grab that axe Stan—I think that this is our final curtain call.” He sighed. The streets were swamped with them now, splicers mixed with the incompletes, all craving DNA to make them whole again. They couldn’t stay here and Oliver knew it, they had to make a run for it. Maybe find a doctor who could help them? They couldn’t give up hope.
With that, he kicked the rickety wooden door off its hinges, and followed closely by his companion, ran outside into the cold evening rain.
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Gary Buller is an author from Manchester, England where he lives with his long suffering partner Lisa, his daughter Holly and dog Chico. He grew up in the Peak District where the hauntingly beautiful landscapes inspired him to write. He is a huge fan of all things macabre and loves a tale with a twist