“Director, I’m on the quarantine floor.”

Doctor Alice Jarrod stepped off of the elevator and into a pristine hallway of many sealed doors, walking briskly through the corridor with a simple phone held to one ear.

A casual voice responded to her through the phone.

“Good. Room two-fifteen,” the Director instructed her briefly.

Alice clicked her tongue, staring ahead, knowing the facility well enough to not need to check the room numbers right away.

“I don’t know what you expect me to do. Flesh corruption isn’t reversible.”

“I don’t expect you to cure the patient,” the Director spoke calmly and casually. “I need you to make sure she’s stable. An incomplete chaos beast fusion doesn’t happen regularly.”

“That’s the part that bugs me,” Alice now spoke in a hushed tone, passing by other staff members occasionally. “Are you sure it was a chaos beast? Don’t they usually eat their victims?”

“Yes,” the voice responded. “And yes.”


“That’s why we think there was a flesh cult involved. With the proper ritual, a chaos beast could be goaded into fusing with someone.”

“A forced fusion? I thought the Society kept an eye on the cults to prevent this kind of thing?” Alice hissed.

“We do. But we’re not omniscient. It’s an arms race, Doctor. It was only a matter of time before one slipped through the cracks.”

“A matter of time?!” Alice found herself raising her voice, now. “An innocent woman has been corrupted because your lot couldn’t do your jobs!”

“We’re not omniscient,” the Director reiterated. “We have our methods, but it’s always possible for a new cult to spring up, or an old one to suss out our ways.”

“Now, what I need you to do,” he continued, “is work with the patient, Jennefer Allery. Make sure she’s stable, both mentally and physically. Make sure that the corruption isn’t going to overtake her before we move her out of quarantine. Do not attempt to press her for more information just yet. But if she does tell you anything interesting, be sure to let us know.”

Alice took a deep breath and sighed audibly, slowing her pace down as she approached the appropriate door.

“Right,” she muttered. “Has she … shown any signs of getting worse?”

“No. The Peacekeepers who picked her up mentioned that the beast did not appear to have taken over and had submitted itself to her nervous system, as it should be with a ritualistic fusion. The only problem, really, is that she was an unwilling participant to the ritual, and also the fusion was incomplete. She’s in control, but her mind and body have undergone a lot of stress.

“She was catatonic when they were moving her, and she still might be. But that’s part of why I want you to take a look at her.”

Alice finally stopped, reaching into her jacket for her ID badge, waving it over the keypad next to the door. It beeped and lit up green.

“Oh, and Doctor. You’ve never seen a fleshling in person before, have you?”

Alice hesitated. “… No, I haven’t.”

“Well, then. I suggest you brace yourself.”

Published On: August 5, 2023

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