Bill McKinnis slammed the door shut and leaned against it, breathing hard. The key was in the desk but Hank was right behind him. Bill wondered if he could go for the window, but then Hank started pounding on the door.
Georgia Fald heard thumping from the corridor. Likely Bill had upset another one of his post-grads with a lame re-writing exercise.
But the hammering didn’t let up. In fact it began to sound like actual damage was being done to the door. She got up from the papers she was grading and went around the desk to tell whoever was out there to pull themselves together. She opened her door and saw Hank.
In the department office, trying to eat her lunch roll at the same time as getting caught up on data entry, Merilyn Somerkid heard someone scream from down the corridor.
Letting go of the lunch roll, Merilyn stumbled from behind her desk. She looked around the service counter, but couldn’t see anything amiss. Students ran along the corridor, heading for the stairs. Nate Williams jabbed at the elevator call button, head locked staring along the corridor beyond Merilyn’s vision. Down towards the post grad offices.
Buzzing the door open, she stepped into the corridor. With the sudden self-evacuation of the few students , the building seemed strangely quiet. Most of the faculty were lunching at either Demetrio’s or Burger King. Merilyn thought she was probably the only staff member on the floor, which made her the warden.
‘Hello?’ she called. The slow return on the office door shunted it closed. Merilyn jumped at the sound. She glanced back at the door and keypad, realizing that she’d forgotten this week’s code to get back in.
Further down the corridor something growled.
Bill leapt away from the door as it splintered open. He catapulted himself over the desk, feeling a spasm in the muscle he’d pulled at squash last week. Collapsing into the wall he hit his head against the radiator.
‘Nice,’ something grumbled from the door in an almost human voice.
Bill lay prone, trying to capture his breath. It felt as if he’d sliced his scalp on a radiator fin. His peripheral vision sparkled.
‘Serotonin,’ the half-human voice said. Closer.
Bill tried to stand, felt dizzy.
Georgia opened her door again. Stepping into the corridor she saw Merilyn down near the elevator.
‘I thought you were at lunch,’ Merilyn said.
‘Uh-huh,’ Merilyn said. ‘We should get out of here?’
Georgia looked through the shattered door into Bill’s office. Inside something whimpered like an animal.
‘Doctor Fald?’ Merilyn said.
Georgia took a step towards the door.
‘Hank?’ Bill said.
Bill could feel the thing breathing right by him.
‘Hank, let me get the venom, we can neutralize this.’ Please, Bill thought, let there be some vestige of Hank left in there.
‘Myelin,’ the thing that had been Hank breathed into Bill’s ear. ‘Myelin sheaths.’
A gunshot. Blood exploded across Bill’s face.
Merilyn tripped and stumbled back along the corridor, collapsing to the floor as Doctor Fald lowered her hand. Scrambling to her feet, Merilyn ran for the department office. What the hell were faculty doing with firearms?
Bill sat up, Hank’s blood running down his face. He grabbed Hank and rolled him over.
‘What are you doing?’ Georgia said.
‘Me? What were you thinking?’ He touched Hank’s swollen carotid. Nothing.’
‘He was going berserk,’ Georgia said, stepping into the room. ‘He wouldn’t have stopped with you.’
‘He’d taken the antigen,’ Bill said.
Georgia tapped her forehead, still standing.
‘No,’ Bill said. ‘You don’t understand. He took it all.’
‘And burned the notes.’
‘There’s nothing left.’
’Is he okay?’
Bill pulled Hank’s mouth open, saw the fangs. Another moment and Hank would have bitten him.
‘We could retrieve it from his blood,’ Georgia said.
‘It’ll take too long to get to the lab,’ Bill said, ‘it will decay.’ He looked up at Georgia and jammed his forearm into Hank’s gaping mouth, wincing as the fangs pierced his skin.
‘No,’ Georgia yelled, stumbling back, dropping the gun.
Merilyn fumbled the key code again, the office door remained locked. She remembered the two, then the two, and a four somewhere, but the numbers had all jumbled in her head. From down the corridor she heard Doctor Fald shout ‘No,’ then someone screamed.
©2011 Sean Monaghan
Sean Monaghan is a New Zealand writer with stories in print and online. Recent publications include Deadstick and Suitcase Nuke. Web: seanmonaghan.com