“I can see frozen corpses half-buried in snow drifts outside. It’s hardly much warmer inside the small outbuilding I’m hiding in but at least I’m alive. Miraculously, I don’t have any symptoms; not even headaches like those that plagued my colleagues.”
There is a mindless, rage-filled scream in the background, cutting across the recording of the woman’s voice.
“One of them is still alive,” she continues quietly. “I think it’s Dr. Oetikar. Let me check.” The sound of crinkling fabric and metallic scraping momentarily blocks out all other noises. When the voice returns it’s quieter and closer to the recording device, like the speaker is afraid of being overheard. “Yeah, it’s Oetikar.
“But... there’s something wrong. I mean, more wrong. All of them remained mobile, even after sustaining massive injuries, until they froze solid. Oetikar had to have been in one of the heated labs if he’s still moving around but... it’s his head.
“He appears to be hydrocephalitic; his skull has become grossly distended and his eyes are bulging. I can see him shuffling awkwardly, limping. His left leg is obviously broken below the knee but, like the others, he doesn’t appear to feel pain. OH!”
There’s a gagging noise, as if the speaker is retching or trying not to vomit.
“H-his eyes... they’ve... they’ve just been pushed out! He’s fallen but, no wait, he’s pulling himself up with the fence and... there’s some fleshy... something, pushing out of his eye sockets. It looks thick, spongy and it’s unfolding and stretching nearly 40 centimetres from the sockets to the tip of the growth.
“Oh God, I don’t know what I’m seeing! He’s just standing there, like he’s frozen, but his mouth is working. The growth is moving slowly, like it’s looking for something, and the tip is starting to swell. There appear to be other changes happening but I’m not close enough to make it out and I don’t want to go out there!”
There is silence for a long moment then the recording device appears to be turned off. When the playback resumes, there is the obvious sound of a strong wind howling in the background.
“This is Dr. Sigurdson, again. It has been two hours since my last recording.” Her voice is raw, as if she’s been crying, or screaming, and she sniffles constantly. “Dr. Oetikar stopped moving an hour ago. I... slipped out to assess the situation and it isn’t good.
“I am the only survivor. Those who haven’t been infected have been killed by those who were. Inside the main—heated—lab I found Dr. Higa with the same sort of growth Dr. Oetikar has but in a much more advanced state; I assume the heat helped speed its development.
“Unlike Dr. Oetikar, Dr. Higa’s growth has developed a large five-lobed, fleshy bloom, deep red in colour. While in the same room as Dr. Higa, my allergies began to act up; I fear the growth is some sort of spore releasing mechanism and it has released spore into the air.”
Dr. Sigurdson sobs at this point. She sounds like she’s trying to get control of herself to finish her report. “I... I don’t doubt I’ve been infected now. My head has started to hurt, the first symptom the others complained of.
“I have cut the power and heat so, hopefully, if there are any other active growths indoors they will freeze and be unable to release their spore.” She pauses, perhaps contemplating how cutting the heat and power will mean she will freeze as well. It sounds like she tries to say something further but she suddenly cries out instead.
“No! Oetikar! I thought his growth had frozen solid but... the wind! The wind picked up and I can see...
“A stream of spores... being carried up into the atmosphere. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry...”
The recording trails off into quiet sobbing, then ends.
"Flowers in the Snow"
© 2011, Tammy Lee