County General Hospital
New Hebron, California
Everett heard a voice, it was deep, reverberating through his skull which throbbed as the speaker pronounced each new syllable. He couldn’t quite make out the words, but as he grew more aware of the world around him, the man’s voice became much clearer.
“–ime of night it is, Agent Hansen. Dr. Hassebroek,” expertise is needed. I don’t care how much he whines about it. Get him to County General and do it ASAP.”
The old man’s eyes snapped open, but he only saw a blur. Everett suffered from failing eyesight, so it came as a surprise that when his vision adjusted to the dim light of the room, he saw with such crystal clarity. He blinked, and rubbed his eyes, as the fog lifted from his mind.
“Mr. Howard?” the owner of the voice, who had woken him from his slumber, stepped into sight and Everett grimaced, taking in his tailored suit and ebony skin.
“Yeah, who the hell are you?” Everett groaned letting his head fall back into his pillow and as he messaged the crest of his nose.
“Special Agent in Charge Phillip Matthews with AEGIS. Do you know where you are, Mr. Howard?”
Everett let his eyes dart around the room before returning his attention to the much younger man. “Looks like the damn hospital.”
“Earlier this evening there was an attack on the city, by an individual or individuals with what can only be described as extraordinary abilities. We found you unconscious on site. Can you tell me anything about what happened?”
Everett shook his head and glanced at Matthews. “Can I see a badge?”
Matthews nodded, reaching into his suit jacket and produced it as requested, then flipped it shut and slipped it back into his breast pocket. “Now, Mr. Howard if you would help me understand what had happened it would be of great assistance to our investigation.”
Everett sat up, surprised at how limber he felt. He flexed his hand, which was always throbbing with pain and frozen up because of arthritis and shook his head staring up at the other man with a scowl on his face as Matthews reached out to help steady him.
“Don’t touch me! You—” Everett stopped mid-sentence, stopping himself before a slur escaped his lips. He gritted his teeth before shaking his head and sliding away from Matthews as far as the tube in his arm would allow.
“You want to know what happened?” He sighed cupping his face in his hand and messaged his forehead. He looked up at the other man and shook his head. “I’m not sure you would believe me if I told you. We all know about exemplar freaks and the things they can do, but this… it was something different, something else. There was a man, he hovered around in the air. He said his name was Kamash, I think.”
“Chemosh… we’ve had run-ins with that individual before.” Matthews stopped, staring at the wall and with slow careful movements slipped a hand inside his suit jacket.
“Mr. Harris, I need you to get down.”
He spoke in a soft tone that was only distinguishable from his previous timbre save it had the barest hint of steel, but it wasn’t until Matthews produced a pistol that Everett complied, dropping flat into the bed quicker than the Agent could blink. When the other man fired his weapon, and he heard a high-pitched shriek, a shiver trickled down his spine.
He turned his head to watch as something the size of a cocker spaniel slid down the wall, staining it with a trail of putrid green fluid which must have been blood. Everett didn’t get a look at the creature, other than a flash of fangs and a pair of pale yellow orbs that might have been eyes, but he was sure it wasn’t a damn dog. Another creature slunk through the wall leaving nothing but a dark orange stain on its unmarred surface as it appeared inside the room.
“GALLU!” It screamed, turning toward both men, its jaw hanging open revealing three rows of razor-sharp teeth. It stood hunched over on two legs, vaguely man-shaped, but not human. Matthews opened fire again, peppering the beast with bullets, but it slunk forward and the projectiles passed right through it blowing tiny holes in the floor.
“GALLU!” It repeated its horrendous screech and leapt atop the bed, leaving a trail of orange slime in its wake.
Everett rolled from the bed, taking the creature down with him and tearing the IV needle free from his arm. He howled in pain and clutched at his appendage. He scrambled to his feet, marveling at how spry he felt even as he dodged about. He avoided the creatures lunges with an ease he couldn’t even have achieved in his prime.
He leapt and jumped, ran and dodged, but each time the creature kept until it had him cornered. Matthews opened fire again, but the beast shifted to the side letting the bullets pass through it and into the floor again.
Pain radiated across Everett’s body and he fell to his knees, his insides shifted and turn as the creature came soaring through the air toward him. He held his hands up to block it, even as ribbons of pain shot from head to foot and his eyes widened in disbelief when the creature froze in the middle of the air.
Sweat cascaded down his body in beads and all he watched in horror as the little monster scratched, bit, and clawed at the empty air between them. A convulsion wracked Everett’s body, and he clutched one hand over his stomach as the fat there twisted and turned under his skin. The creature let out another screech and Everett threw his hand out sending the thing soaring across the room.
Matthews raised his weapon to open fire, but someone beat him to the chase. The creature let out one last misery-filled screech and collapsed dead its blood splattering against the floor and nearest wall. A woman wearing a hospital gown, came tearing into the room a handgun clutched in her hands.
Everett let out a sigh of relief, but soon realized that it was premature as a high-pitched wail sounded from the hallway and he doubled over in pain feeling his insides burn as the creatures’ onslaught continued.