Episode 31: The Back Freezer
Larry the Brain stepped around the table set up like one of those science-class-in-a-high-school tables, all symmetrical to the room and in rows of four by three with double stools for lab partners at each table… In fact, it used to be an old English high school lab, but the school had been keen on replacing everything with shit metal for the upgrading student body…
Brain had acquired the original wooden classroom as-is (though nowhere head as-is prices) and had used Morimoto Corp money to have the classroom (basically, as it were), shipped overseas. And now, it was for all (financial) intents and research purposes, his.
Around one of these classic classroom wooden tables he side-stepped, towards the back of his industrial laboratory, towards the door that looked suspiciously like the door of a walk-in freezer at the back of any street-corner McDonald’s. In fact, he believed that this might be the very door of the removed freezer from that McDonald’s in Paris in 1999 when they had the entire kitchen upgraded to new European food-keeping standards… Although he wasn’t completely sure, at least that’s what the seller on eBay had described it as. The door had arrived tip-top and Brain had, indeed, had the back section of the laboratory converted to accommodate such a door, freezer and all, because after all, he couldn’t rightly be expected to be travelling through the building’s corridors to the morgue when he, Brain, might in fact need to use the frozen corpses for further research and such.
He walked close to the door and wrapped his hand around the old-fashioned door-latch and pulled the thing open, the freezer breathing cold fog like it was exhaling dramatically for the purpose of some horror flick. And indeed, the frozen horrors inside resembled something out of John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. Even in its frozen-solid state, Brain’s spine shivered just slightly because he thought (knew) that those reaching tentacles that were dipping like black ice to the freezer floor, exploding in their own freeze-frame from the unfortunate torso of Zarana’s corpse, the very one thing that had erupted from her guts into this world tearing open a swinging doorway through time-fuelled dimensions that humanity both new of (this one) and new not of (the other). If time and space surely were designed of some fabric, that fabric had not only been ripped, it had been chew ans spat out and its shreds left to float in the ethereal nothingness that no human could begin to put imagination to.
But the key, Brain knew, was so simple… His theory appeared to be holding strong and true (for now), a theory that could only be applied in practice on the Planet Earth for a finite amount of time (during his lifetime, anyway…) — A simple lack of heat, was all it took. Unfortunately, there was also another slight …issue… that of the fact that this tearing of the proverbial hole also scattered several pinholes throughout other regions of the planet… Something Brain would also become quite busy musing on as the hours wore into days, and things had to be done, for the sake of power and control, if nothing else.
Stuck in the freezer, there very thing that had torn open that crack in the universe and exposed Earth to what Brain could only think of as somebody’s version of hell nineteen hundred years ago, now in a transfixed state, could allow Brain to control the rift. Or rather, the door, as Brain now thought of it. Brain had discovered the lock to this door and he could now, at will, control it.
But aren’t the thing’s tentacles slowly, almost imperceptibly, reaching further down to the floor… reach further towards the door, in fact?
The freezer door, not the metaphorical rift in the time/dimension dividing fabric.
Zarana was frozen solid on the metal gurney. Her corpse, laid out strait, the one thing definitely not imperceptibly moving. Of course, the thing was certainly moving, Brain knew, because in order to control (lock) the door completely, he’d have to vacuum-seal this specimen in sub-temperatures of three degrees Kelvin (absolute nothingness… complete entropy).
Since Zaran wasn’t going anywhere, Brain exited the freezer and went to the other side of the lab where he kept most of his electronic equipment, in a surprisingly disorganized stack. He reached for a camera and then took four more minutes to root around for the tripod. At least he’d taped the video camera’s remote control to the body of the camera, but it did take him another two minutes and forty-two seconds to locate the fitted RCA cables he’d need if he were to wire up a monitor outside of the freezer, which he intended to do.
As he stepped back into the freezer, he saw the drop of melted ice drip from the bottom curve of one of the sixty-eight boa-constrictor-sized tentacles near the freezer floor. Her verbally cursed himself for leaving the door open. His continual lack of sleep was severely beginning to affect his daily performance, and he silent swore off any further cross-time rendezvous with Mr. Charles Beaumont in California until he could get his wits and thoughts back under his own control.
Quickly setting up the camera, he took it as far as he could before exiting the freezer again, this time slamming the door shut behind him.
He found himself having to leave the lab entirely, trying in vein over one complete round of the building to find Jerry the custodian, who seemed to be (usually, anyway) almost perpetually on-duty. After the second round of the building he didn’t have to spend much time talking Jerry into getting the steel drill and a tube of rubber insulation so that Brain could fit a wire hole in the bottom corner of the freezer door, which he knew, would likely inhibit any potential full-price resale of the French McDonald’s door on eBay.
With the wires pushed through the drill-hole and sealed in with the insulation, he hooked the ends of the RCA cables into the back of his monitor, which was now set up on the edge of the wooden table. He turned it on and watched through the eye of the camera in the freezer, waiting for either evidence of the thing actually moving about inside or for the camera to freeze itself into shut-down mode, whichever was to happen first…
What Brain was not expecting to see was Zarana, with the frozen-thing bursting out of her chest in its own cinematic freeze-frame, swing her legs off the edge of the table and step, with a considerable amount of zombie-esque imbalance, towards the camera. Lumbering, really.
Brain stared at the screen wide-eyed and whispered, “I didn’t know they could do that.”
Then his thoughts turned towards Lizzie… and shortly thereafter, Kodek.
And then, in the corner of the monitor, something else moved – quickly.
Getting his legs yanked out from behind him and his torso dragged across the grit of the pavement, Kodek wasn’t sure if he was pissed off or grateful for having been torn out of the path of those hellish black-slime beetle-slugs (but where the fuck did they all go?!) and then he suddenly realized that there was no grit, no pavement in fact, the dragging sensation under his torso had somehow smoothed out. He also realized he’d been conked out, somehow. He remembered guns, rapid-fire, being attacked by those things, massive black-sea armies of them and…
As if on the verge of fully waking from some abstract nightmare, Kodek twisted his body around to see who’d been dragging/pulling him ultimately out of harm’s way. As soon as he twisted, his feet were dropped, and they crashed painfully to the smooth floor, Kodek actually saw starts, and then the ceiling.
We’re inside somewhere
He saw the timber ceiling supports, then the timber posts in the open area. Surrounding all this, surround himself lying on the smooth concrete floor, with B.B. and Petersen and the film camera operator (Paul? Kodek couldn’t remember through the cobwebs of his memory) all sitting back on crates, all holding-
Kodek’s fingers twitched and her realized he was also still holding one of the-
Lizzie’s head appeared over his face, grinning. He knew she’d been the once that had dragged him to safety, presumably while all the rest of these people were able to run for it under their own steam, and for a split second, like a cinematic flash-back, Kodek had the vision of all those things dispersing in a million scatted directions with every step Lizzie took…
“I think he’s awake,” she said to the others while grinning down at Kodek’s face. He lifted the gun and shot her point-blank in her face.
Somebody screamed (Paul?) and Kodek wasn’t sure if it was because his reaction to her had been so unexpected, or if it was because the bullet launched from the gun pierced through her left eye, right through the back of her head and lodged into one of the timber supports running under the ceiling twenty feet above them. And that was the only thing that exited out from the back of her skull. No blood, no grey matter, no splatter, no bone fragments. Out of her eye, however, that was a different story. Yes, pout of her eye there was some think black oil-sludge, contorted with lumpy fragments of something like raw powdered pudding that wasn’t completely mixed, but black as hell with a slight green shine to it, climbing more than dripping or falling from her empty eye socket, too fast or too slow-movie-motion, Kodek wasn’t sure which, all he knew was that he wasn’t able to dodge his face in time (was that her foot at the side of his head?!) and when that black pudding hell hits his tongue and crawled to the back of his throat with tiny fur-brush legs/tentacles of some kind, Kodek had the most bizarre urge to stick the barrel of his gun in his own mouth and pull the trigger.
He must’ve gotten halfway there because through the cobwebs he hear someone screaming “NO!!!” and then the gun was kicked away from his grip. (her foot again!) clattering across the concrete floor but he must’ve somehow pulled the trigger because there was more screaming and yelling and general chaos now and and when he turned his head to the right he did see splatter now, crimson flesh splattered all of the brick wall and one of the support timbers, and he knew it wasn’t Lizzie’s and he hoped, now, it wasn’t his, even though he thought he might be dead, anyway, with this pudding trying to crawl down and bury itself into his lungs. When he looked back at Lizzie, he saw that his through and her eye socket were still connected with the black hell-thing climbing down out from her skull where it had apparently previously resided.
En feet away, B.B. And Petersen were now scrambling as Paul’s body spasmed, still miraculously in the sitting position he’d been in on top of one of the 4 x 4 crates stamped FRAGILE, despite the fact the the upper half of his head was now obliterated into a pulpy mess that decorated the bricks behind him. Secretly, Petersen was trying to pretend that none of that flesh was adorning him, and he currently refused to cast an eye down on himself to keep the toilet-paper-thin illusion perpetuated. B.B. was freaking out at something else entirely – the army of those black-slime beetle-slug things (second wave now!) scrambling out of Paul’s head. Or half-head, the part still attached to the bloody neck and twitching torso, which was still, amazingly, seated upright atop the FRAGILE crate.
All the screaming was masking the flapping-pounding of the aerial assault outside. At first, Kodek thought the sounds, even some of the screaming, was in his own head. Then he realized that both the screaming and the horrifying flap-flap-flap-flap-thwap-bang-bang were all outside of his head and actually happening. And he knew what that sound from outside of the warehouse was, instantly picturing the barrage of hellishly deformed vampiric jet-black bird-bat-slug creatures of varying sizes, from swallows to hawks, that had tried to overtake them in the forest just (half an hour? Fifteen minutes? Fifteen seconds?) ago.
As soon as he realized there was nothing but a black hole where Lizzie’s eye had once been (nothing connecting them now) he rolled away, quickly, only because he was able to escape, obviously his reflexes had now completely taken over all motor functioning because he also, completely without consciousness, scooped up his hitherto kicked-away sub-machine gun.
And this, Kodek started firing at Paul’s half-head, most of the shots hitting the black stuff that was pouring out of his cracked-open face at such a rate that it looked like a single wave of black ink as opposed to the hundreds, or thousands, of things they really were. It was all a blur, a blaze of black hell now, and there were no more screams, only shooting, guns firing rapidly at anything black and moving, and nobody really heard the smashing of the class, the crashing of the bricks as the fell, one by one, from the outer wall as it was pecked and bombarded away by the flying fucks outside, now gaining entry, and when Kodek looked over he saw Lizzie, firing her own weapon, as concerned with her -and everyone’s- survival as she had been when she dragged Kodek, unconscious, into the all-too-brief sanctuary of the brick warehouse. He began to wonder why he’d shot her in the face (feeling like he’d been forced to) and if in fact she had actually had evil intent when she spewed the black thing from her eye socket into his mouth. He felt good. He continued to fired the weapon in his hand while his lips tugged into a slight grin, watching Lizzie, now barefoot, firing her machine gun, splattering black hell all over them and the warehouse floor, and damn if it didn’t look like her right eye was already healing… Well, at least, it was pussing up somewhat, when he looked into her eye it was a mass of yellow gel/puss as opposed to a black hole. He wondered shy the fuck he found that so sexy right at that second.
A glance around in the other direction told him that both B.B. and Petersen were still very much alive and active, firing their own guns, although the screaming from that side of the warehouse had started up again. This time, Kodek heard it more as a war-cry than anything else, and he couldn’t tell if it was coming from B.B., Petersen, or both of them in unison. He was thankful that they weren’t flanking him at that moment.
At the moment the constant gunfire had all the creatures scattered to the interior corners of the warehouse, those bug-slugs that had spilled onto the floor from Paul’s face had now started scurrying up the corners where the walls met to the high axis of the ceiling, and the flying once were continuing to circle above (so many more of them now!) like planes at an overcrowded airport patiently waiting for their signal to land.
Not land, dive bomb, for sure.
And second and they’d all be out of ammo. Kodek was hoping that it was only a trick of his mind that he was hearing less gunfire than only a split second ago. He knew, really, no such luck.
“The back wall!” Lizzie yelled over the firepower.
In his mind, what Kodek hear was, “The back door!” and he thought that maybe Lizzie was losing at after all, because there was nothing but brick back there. And then Kodek realized that that was weird, too, because any operational warehouse, which this truly was, judging from the number of FRAGILE crates stacked inside, would certainly have to, by law, have a secondary exit for any employees. Unless, the was just a storage facility. Where the fuck are we, he wondered, before noticing that Lizzie, B.B. and Petersen were already running for the back wall, B.B. and Lizzie firing their weapons at it (Petersen must’ve been the fist to run out of ammo), and the last thing that Kodek saw out of the corner of his eye as he turned and ran for the back brick wall was the black hell coming for them from the air, the ceiling, the walls and all manner of cracks and fissures where there weren’t outright missing bricks or smashed windows. The night was coming in, and it was fucking pissed.
Brain was staring at his screen wide-eyed, thinking that the impossible had happened (walking Zarana-zombie making drooling faces at the camera lens, her new vampire/wolf-fangs barred in a bloody grin – only the blood was tinted black and now frozen around her cut lips and gums, while the thawing boa-constrictor tentacled thing wavered in the chill air around her, ice dripping off it in liquid form and then foaming up when it splatted onto the freezer floor before re-freezing moments later – and Brain was thankful that at least this new foaming tentacle saliva was not hyper-acidic and eating its way through the bottom of the freezer, a la Ridley Scott’s film Alien) when suddenly, then impossible really happened, as Zarana’s zombie head was blown clean off by a hollow-point bullet fired from a machine-gun uzi in the hands of the swooning actress he himself will have placed back on-set of The Corporation’s propaganda film only a mere few years from this point in time (though he was actually unaware of that fact right at that moment).
Zombie brains (if that’s in fact what they could be called) splattered all over the camera lens, obscuring the picture, but that didn’t matter because the camera was then also shot to hell, and then the freezer door was perforated with an explosion of rapidly-fired projectiles and then the banging caused it to dent out towards brain and his useless video monitor sitting on the old wooden science-lab table, before it completely crashed down off of its hinges, making the loudest noise Brain had ever heard in his own lab.
Staring at Lizzie, barefoot with one squishy-looking eye and an AK-47, with B.B. (who had obviously been the one to kick down the imported-from-France freezer door), Petersen, and Kodek bringing up the rear, much to his visible chagrin, behind them all the smashed-through wall formerly separating the back of the laboratory freezer from the huge storage warehouse beyond, and Larry the Brain saw an even bigger problem than just that hole in the wall, too.
“You realize that I’m never going to be able to re-sell that freezer door now,” he said to Lizzie while indirectly accusing B.B. of something he wouldn’t understand. “You’re going to owe me for that.”
The four warriors spilled into the lab proper through the crashed-open door of the freezer, the things in the warehouse how spilling into the freezer, and the thing from Zarana’s stomach now getting a life of its own and invading the lab from the side of the freezer where Zarana’s now-headless corpse lay. Thirteen of the sixty-eight boa-tentacles pulled its pulsating, hulking (and growing, Brain noticed for the first time) self to the gaping threshold, but it wasn’t completely able to disengage from Zarana’s body yet, instead, as it crawled headlessly for the doorway, Zarana’s corpse was being dragged behind, dead inertia.
If that freezer door hadn’t been smashed off of its hinges, we could’ve just slammed it shut, someone thought, and the rest of the group picked it up like radio waves.
Brain was flying into action already. He had what looked like, but what Kodek instinctively knew, was something other than just a regular fire extinguisher. It had the same type of flared hose-nozzle, but the three-foot-long canister was white, looked pretty damned heavy, and there were some Russian words written in warning-red down the side of it that didn’t look comforting to Kodek.
“What the hell is that?” he called out, yelling over the flapping of the horrid bird-things now beginning to invade the interior of the freezer. As soon as they entered, they could all see an almost immediate slow-down, the cold getting to them, affecting them more quickly than it had the gigantic what-the-fuck crawling around with Zarana’s frozen corpse attached to its back like a dead monkey.
“Liquid nitrogen!” Brain called back, and then pumped the contents into the freezer.
“Wait!” Kodek called – or at least the thought it was he who’d called out, but now the fog was back in his brain, just starting to creep in, and he realized it might have been Lizzie who’d said that. He wasn’t sure why…
The inside of the freezer was already a nitrogen-smoked mess of suffocation, and the sounds of the attack were almost immediately silenced. As if the things were even connected to those still in the warehouse beyond the smashed wall, well out of the line of fire of the liquid nitrogen canister. Brain was still spraying and Kodek wondered how much if that stuff was still in the canister. And how long would the affects ultimately last…?
Something felt like it was pulling Kodek, both in the physical and the mental sense. It was the fog, he knew, it was pulling him, pulling him towards Brain, Brain with the liquid nitrogen fire extinguisher, still spraying the innards of the freezer (and wasn’t that one of the boa-tentacles slowly poking out from the nitrogen fog?) while B.B. Lizzie and Petersen all stood guard, weapons pointed into the freezer (Petersen’s must still be empty, Kodek couldn’t remember anyone having extra clips) and nobody seeing him approaching until he had the three-foot metal canister away from Brain’s grip and he started (pulling) smashing the fucking thing down on his face, his chest, cracking ribs and smashing cheek-bones and eye sockets and then yelling again and some sort of fluttering white noise, but not that same as before, and then he was being pulled again, only backwards this time, dragged, like he had bee in the forest, from the forest into the warehouse, and he did have to turn around this time to know for sure it was Lizzie, her AK-47 strapped around her torso, grabbing him around his torso and trowing him (hard!) right to the floor, face-down, her bare foot stamping on the back of his neck, and then something horrid and foul was pulling itself right out of his mind, through his own nostrils, and he could see the black lumping sting of mucus-covered pudding slithering away from his nose, across the floor, emerging now from his lungs and up his throat, choking him, and he shut his watering eyes…
“He’s dead!” he heard someone (Petersen?) yell from ages away. Brain, he presumed… His eyes focused on the wall ahead of him, the drab-green laboratory wall, where the black pudding-shit that had poured and slithered from his facial orifices was now crawling up, stretching out, and seemingly turning towards him… what was left of that stuff near his face took form of some sort and wrapped itself around his hand.
He could still feel Lizzie’s foot applying pressure to the back of his neck while he remained sprawled stomach-down on the tiled floor. He could feel the gun in his right hand.
His left hand, the black hell-shit curling inside his palm and wrapping, solidifying, around his fingers, gaining the texture of flesh and some radiant warmth, suddenly felt like…