They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose, nor spake, nor moved their eyes.

rating: +36+x

A dark hallway filled with monsters was all Jeffery Winters could see in front of him. He couldn't see the monsters themselves, of course, but he knew it was a safer bet to assume they were there. There was no going back, whatever SCP-173 had become was right behind him, scraping against the door Winters had just shut.

He took a small step forward, then another. The hallway was coming into focus now. The windows on his right overlooked an open air office space, with various cubicles in a small cluster. He could see overturned chairs, smashed desks, and a large trail of blood that went from one of the chairs out of sight under him. He fumbled with the control panel on the open door for the stair down into the office space but it didn't respond. He tapped it with his fist once and then turned away.

Behind him was a small storage closet, also with an open door. It looked like it was, perhaps, used for the various members of security for the site. There were maps of the site, gas masks, tactical vests, helmets, and flashlights. None of them were on shelves, instead they were precariously placed in a makeshift pile in the middle of the room. Then he stopped cataloguing the items in front of him and turned his head slightly. The stone on stone scraping of 173 had quieted.

He sighed with a slight smile. It wasn't enough for him to feel relaxed, given his circumstances, but it helped. He reached down and grabbed a vest and helmet and put them on over his orange jumpsuit. He clipped a gas mask to his side, put a map into his pocket, and reached for a flashlight as he heard a scream cut short just below him. A whimpering noise followed, along with the sound of crunching and slurping. Then another scream began and ended almost as quickly.

Jeffery had been making more noise than he should've. It sounded like there had been people alive downstairs after all. Hiding, he suspected. Whatever they were hiding from had probably heard him rummaging through the storage closet and oh shit he needed to move. He put the flashlight into his pocket and left the closet just in time to see a lumbering creature on three knife thin legs begin to emerge from the stairs that led up from the office.

The creature's three legs terminated about halfway up in a squat grey carapace shaped a bit like a turtle's shell. The front and back of the shell sloped up, with the front a bit more steep than the back. The underside he could see on its front had a vaguely human face smeared in red and gore. The creature stopped at the top of the stairs and the room was completely silent except for a slight buzz of electricity.

Jeffery took shallow breaths and waited, edging back into the darkness of the space just in front of the door that led back to SCP-173.

The creature paused for a few more seconds before it vomited. A flood of human fingers and eyes came pouring out of its mouth and onto the floor. The fingers twitched at first, then flexed and stood up. The only connection between them was red sinewy flesh that came together at a single eyeball on a swivel above. They spread out onto the floor in every direction, including his.

A pitter-patter accompanied their walk. The whole thing was about the size of his fist, which he could tell because one was right at his feet. A fingernail dug into the cloth leg of his jumpsuit and then another, and then another. One finger after another dug in as it climbed up his leg. First to his knee, then his hip, then it caught a loop on the vest he wore and swung itself up onto his arm. His hand was still in his pocket, gripping the heavy flashlight about as tightly as he could without shaking.

The finger thing continued to crawl up his arm, and onto his shoulder. Jeffery stopped breathing completely when it began to try to climb his neck. The fingers couldn't find a purchase at all there, and just kept slowly tickling him. The eyeball stalk slid itself along his neck as well and he tried not to throw up.

Then the sound of a chair moving in the office down the stairs caught the main creature's attention. It growled, turned and scurried down the stairs. The finger monsters followed.

Jeffery ran across the dark hallway filled with monsters and opened the door on the other side. He closed it as quickly as he could once he made it through and knocked a zombie to the ground as he turned to run.

The zombie didn't really do much other than groan and fall over. There were crisscrossed stitches all along the skull of the thing, though it still wore the lab-coat of a Foundation doctor. It rolled on the floor and rose to its feet after several tries. Jeffery pulled the heavy flashlight out of his pocket and raised it to strike.

"Wait!" came an almost ethereal voice from across the room. Jeffery looked up, he was in the cafeteria now. Rows and rows of tables and benches separated him from a tall man wearing a mask with a long beaked nose. "It will not harm you. But. Who are you?"

"Winters. D-9341. Are you a doctor?"

The man in the mask chuckled. "Of a sort. Why are you here?"

"I just want to find a safe place, preferably outside the site."

"Ahh. The grand plans of small men. I will not stand in your way."

"Uh. Good."

Jeffery edged his way around the room and pulled out his map. The exit was three floors up. With no direct access available. He'd need to go down 2 more floors before he could access a safe exit. What a horribly designed site.

Absorbed as he was in the map he hadn't noticed the Doctor approach him. He looked up to see the man about 2 tables away now, looking directly at him.

"How is it that you are free of the pestilence?"

"Excuse me?"

"The pestilence. It has been present in everyone I've encountered. Except for you."

"I don't know what you're talking about. What pestilence?"

"The great pestilence. Surely you must know of it. It permeates this place. Soaks into every crack and seam. Yet you are free of its influence. You are cured."

"Look I just want to get out of here. I don't have time for…"

"One moment."

The zombie Jeffery ran into as he entered the room snapped its head to look at him. A half dozen other bodies he hadn't seen rose up from the ground and began to walk towards him.

"I must examine you. Determine how you have been cured."

Jeffery balled up the map and put it back into his pocket, then flipped the table in front of him. He ran around the edge of the room. The dead men and women following him were fast, but not as agile as he was. They tried to climb over tables and benches and found themselves caught. The whole room was filled with groaning monsters as the doctor with the beak mask tried to cut him off from the door.

Jeffery looked directly at the doctor and took a gamble. "I need to get the cure out of this facility. It's dangerous here and I could die with it. Surely you don't want that to happen?"

The zombies all stopped and looked at the doctor who also stopped.

"Grander plans still." the doctor said, with the small hint of a chuckle. "Very well."

Jeffery bolted for the door and shut it behind him.

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