“Y’know, I really do believe that Amber is here – alive, not a mound of flesh on a trolley.”
Caden told Jude as they walked down a narrow passageway. The walls in that passageway weren’t tiled or painted. The grey-red, dusty bricks were exposed beneath a thin smattering of plaster. The floor was equally stony and cold, with suspicious smudges of red-brown streaking across it.
“Thank you captain obvious.”
Jude retorted; opening the door at the end of the hallway.
“Those dogs take a lot of ammo, they’re so damn hard to aim at! Be careful if you see any more, aim at the head, chest or legs. Legs won’t do much damage, but it stops them from moving and they eventually bleed out.”
She added on a more helpful note.
The door had a stubborn lock, but a bit of skilful cajoling involving a lock-pick and persistent shoving got it open.
Caden warned, but Jude just gave an ‘I’ve-been-doing-this-shit-for-years’ sort of snort, and walked on into the room, confident as always.
“I think you might be interested in this, Caden.”
She called from within. Caden had been standing outside the door, checking for BOWs that may have followed them, or any other dangerous creatures. He followed Jude into the room when she called.
There was a large, cracked, blood-stained mirror against one wall. Amidst the blood and dirt, more of the same lip-gloss was spelling out another message.
“I can hardly read it, but maybe you could take a look.”
Jude tactfully stepped back as she said this.
“It says ‘They cut me wide open.’”
Caden informed her; carefully examining the loopy writing. It was definitely Amber’s. He could swear that, but most of all he could feel it.
“Caden, I hate to be the one to say this, but if this place is crawling with freakish monsters, and somebody that is ‘cutting her open,’ I doubt that this girl, Amber or anybody else; is alive and still in a human state.”
Though Jude’s voice was soft, her tone gentle, she may as well have thrust a dagger into his chest. Caden knew that Jude was right, but he hated to be realistic, to think of what might have happened to Amber.
She added, moving closer to him. She had been standing some distance away.
“No, I know you’re right. I just don’t want to believe you.”
He replied; attempting to keep his voice steady.
“Hey, she could be here, and she could be alive. We just gotta keep searching. Now, there are some cupboards over there. The sooner we check them, the sooner we can search the rest of this hellhole.”
She smiled slightly as she spoke to him, and he seemed to perk up a little.
The two of them began searching the cupboards. Some were normal looking, like medicine cupboards. Those were the ones that Caden and Jude opened first. They contained an assortment of pills, tablets and brown glass bottles of medicinal liquid and antibiotics.
“So this place is some kind of hospital. There’s too much medicine just for personal use, and the trolley in that other room definitely looked like a surgical item.”
Caden remarked, reading the labels on the dust-coated boxes and bottles.
“Yeah, I think you’re right. But why have a hospital in the middle of a forest?”
Jude asked; moving on to the next set of storage units. These were unusual; big, wooden rectangular boxes fastened to the wall.
“I have a screwdriver, these are closed by screws. I’ll open this one up.”
Jude said; hunting through her pockets for the screwdriver.
She began twisting the screws out of the wooden box. They were rusted and tricky to undo, but she was patient and eventually each screw fell to the gunge-stained floor.
Then, Caden removed the wooden lid. Something fell forward onto him, and he jumped back as if he’d been scalded.
The rotting stench of death filled the room, as they looked down, and saw that the bloody, decaying smell was caused by a corpse.
“They were coffins on the walls!”
Jude was panicking now.
“What sort of mindfuckery is going on in this place?”
Her voice was unusually high-pitched. Caden was down on his knees next to the corpse, examining it. Both himself and Jude knew that he was making sure it wasn’t Amber.
Stiff, dead, blood and dust-clotted hair came out in his hands as he turned the corpse over so that he could get a look at the face. It was the dead body of a woman; mutilated, cut, scarred and filthy. Her black, rotting scalp showed through what was left of her brown, mousy hair. One of her eyes was missing, and brain-matter dripped through it in pink-grey globules. Her lips were blue-black, partially open to reveal yellow and grey teeth. Her nails were brown and brittle, specks of fire-truck red nail-varnish still lingering on some of them. Her abdomen had long, deep slashes through it, showing brown-yellow ribs and peeling layers of rotting pink, red and tainted green flesh.
Jude joined Caden on the floor beside the body. She saw one of the longest cuts, the one trailing from chest to pubic-line. It gaped right open disgustingly.
“Did you see any disposable gloves in those medicine cupboards?”
Jude asked, tearing the wound open a little wider. Caden didn’t like the look of that action.
“Yeah, I think so. Will I get you a pair?”
He asked; already getting up to find the gloves.
Jude replied distractedly.
Caden returned with a blue and white box of elbow-length, translucent blue gloves. He handed Jude a pair, and put some on himself.
“What is your obsession with sticking your hands in corpses?”
He asked; feeling nauseous as he watched Jude rummage through the dead woman’s innards.
“Ah, you know me. Sick shit is one of my many necrophilliac fetishes.”
She joked rather absentmindedly.
“No liver, no kidneys, no intestines.”
She muttered a list of missing organs.
“What do you mean?”
Caden asked, curiosity overcoming disgust.
“Most of her vital organs are missing. They might have been removed after her death, or their removal may have been its cause. Either way, this is some gristly, sick stuff.”
Jude explained. Then she went to open another coffin.