Dead Blood

Originally written July 2009

My name is Dr. Gregory Stantz, PhD.  The document you’re reading is of the utmost importance.  On August 7th, 1955, around 3pm, I had a young man come into my office.  His name was Sam King.  The following week was madness.  He came in to have a large bite on his right arm treated.
      The bite was fairly fierce in appearance and as I examined it, I noted what appeared to be an early onset of gangrene.  The man said his arm was numb as well.  I set to work cleaning the wound so that I could stitch it closed.  As I was stitching, Sam complained of nausea; I gave him something for it and finished his arm.  The whole encounter was rather peculiar in that I normally dealt with such things as accidents and sickness.  This experience was vastly different, as I ultimately found out.
      Sam told me that he’d been attacked by a sickly looking homeless man.  At least, he appeared to be homeless.  After a late lunch with his girlfriend, they exited the restaurant and parted ways to head back to work when his attacker stumbled out of the alley, mumbling and asking for help.  He maintained a cautious distance and asked the man what the man wanted.  He was met with stammering at first and then a growl before the sickly man suddenly leaped at him and found his way to biting my patient’s arm as he tried to defend himself.
      I tried to disinfect the wound as best I could but it still appeared in bad shape.  I gave him a tetanus shot and told the young man to see me again in three days.  I wanted very much to study his arm more thoroughly if the condition didn’t improve.  I didn’t imagine it would.
      He thanked me and went on his way, promising to return in three days.  He seemed a studious man.  Average in most physical aspects but his eyes were kind and relaxed.  He was a likable fellow and I hoped everything would turn out well for him.
      In the following three days, I saw an influx of patients, mostly due to slight paranoia.  A few of them had merely had accidents but were worried about rumors floating around about that there was some new plague.  There was one man who said he had been attacked as well, and complained of nausea.  His story was dubious at best and he had no wounds.  As for the others, I set to work disinfecting the wounds, setting any broken bones and stitching my new patients’ up.  My tiny office was packed and my nurses and I put in double the work we had in a good while.
      At the end of the third day, Sam returned, rather worse looking too.  Most of the rush had died for the day and I ushered him back to my exam room.  His skin was ruddy and gray, his eyes were glazed and his lips were chapped and cracked.  He mentioned his appetite had been ravenous, which I found most peculiar.  Though, he admitted, he barely kept anything down.  Along with his complexion and appetite, his breath was fairly rank.  The smell was approaching severe halitosis.
      The young man recounted the past few days as best he could.  He was having trouble remembering things and had developed a bit of a primal temper.  He informed me that he’d snapped at his girlfriend and co-workers several times for no real reason, emphasizing they had not provoked him in anyway.  He had called his girlfriend, Stacy, to see if she wanted to go to dinner.  She agreed, of course but he said something in her tone set him off.  He didn’t know why and it made no sense to him.  He’d blacked out twice and woke up in his back yard.   On top of all this, he was very obviously dehydrated.
      He told me of the severe nausea he experienced that first night and the fitful sleep that plagued him.  “Devilish dreams of cannibalism,” he said and upon waking from his cannibalistic nightmares, he would often find his stomach roaring.  While he talked, I unwrapped the bandage on his arm to inspect the bite.  To my amazement, it was black, or rather covered in a dark substance.  The bandage itself was partly tinged with the copper of dry blood but his arm was covered in a dry black. I was perplexed as to how this was so, since the sutures were still very visible and tightly doing their job.  I had him wash in the sink and then covered the area with hydrogen peroxide.  It bubbled and fizzed violently, reacting with the wound and the black around it.  Sam informed me that the wound was mostly numb, as well.
      After re-bandaging his arm, I told him to return again in two days.  I prescribed antibiotics, bed rest and fluids.  Before sending him home, I gave him a large dose of vitamin B-12.  If he didn’t improve, I was going to have to get him to a larger facility with better technology.  Though, I wondered if anything could be done at all.  The young man’s symptoms were not usual for a man up and walking as easily as he was.
      That night, as I ate dinner, I heard a story of a man in the city who had been rushed to the hospital after being attacked by two men.  The men had ripped him to pieces.  The victim did not survive the ordeal.  There had been a few witnesses.  All reported coming about the man with his attackers on top of him, sick, wet sounds coming from the scene.  Police had arrived and during their peacekeeping duties, had been provoked to gunfire.
      One officer had said that a direct bullet to the heart didn’t faze them but when they shot their attackers in the head, they crumbled and made no further signs of life.  What was left of him was a bloody, fleshy mound.  Teeth marks, torn flesh and viscera spilled out.  I wondered if this wasn’t some new strain of rabies specific to humans.  The victim’s circumstances sounded eerily similar to my patient, pushed to an extreme degree.  If he showed no signs of improvement, I decided I would test his blood.
      When Sam returned, he was, as I had feared, worse.  He complained of stiffening muscles, though anyone could see the young man’s occasional jerky motions.  I ushered him into my exam room and told my nurses to handle anyone else who came in.  His skin was cold and a paler gray.  His eyes were glassy and distant; his attention distracted.  I had him lay on the table and informed him my fears.  He barely responded.
      I sighed and began drawing blood.  What came out was a sickly dark crimson.  The only signs of red were from the light.  This was most distressing.  While I drew, he merely laid there, shifting, sometimes mumbling.  He did ask a few times what I was doing.  I told him, though I don’t think anything really stuck to him.  While I waited for the blood test to finish, I unwrapped his bandages.  There was no noticeable change in the poor wretch’s arm.  When the test finished a few hours later, I began examining the results.  There was something there.  I had never seen anything like it though.  It was mostly unnoticeable but there it was.  Another alarming thing showed.  His blood was mutating.  It almost appeared as if he’d been decomposing but that wasn’t possible.
      I made my way back to the exam room.  Sam was gone.  A scream came from the front of the office.  I hurried forward, burst though the door and saw one of my nurses frozen in terror.  I followed her gaze.  There was my patient, holding my other nurse.  Her throat was torn out.  Blood was everywhere.  He lowered his head and bit into her face.  The sound itself was nothing to a doctor but the sight…the sight was beyond disturbing.  His eyes were dead..  I tried to talk to him anyways.
      I told him he was sick and needed help.  He dropped the lifeless body and looked towards me.  One word escaped his throat, spoken through a mouthful of flesh and fresh blood.  In a droning, monotonous tone, he moaned, “hungry.”  The sound was wet from the blood.  He lunged at me with primal ferocity.  I avoided him, tried to strike him at the base of his skull.  It didn’t work.
      He shoved me back and went for my other nurse.  He had a mindless strength and I tried to wrest her away from him.  In his steel grip, he shattered her shoulders.  She cried out, arms going limp.  As I tried to free her, he released and grabbed me instead.  I tried to resist.  Grabbed for anything I could get a hand on.  My fingers found their way around a stapler from the desk and I brought it down  into his left eye.  He sank his teeth deep into my wrist but before he could tear the flesh I kicked in both his knees, desperate to free myself.  He let go, more out of some vague surprise than anything else.  I moved away.  The last thing the poor creature saw was the blade of a paper cutter going into his face.
      That happened three days ago.  I have sought a treatment but I fear there is none.  I’m so weak now.  The bite he had inflicted on me, like the one he had received, is now working its strangeness in me.  I have little time.  If anyone happens upon this, all the information I gathered is here.  You must get it to another doctor.  Take it a biologist.  I’ve heard on the radio that it is already spreading but there is still time.  There must be.  This ghoulish disease must be stopped.  I implore you, if you’ve found this, it can only help you.  As for me, you will not find me.  I go to end it now, before I become like my patient did.  Before the dreams get worse and I lose myself as he did.  There is no hope for me.  May Fate smile upon you more favorably.  God speed.

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