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The following entry reads the account of Dr. Simon Hughes

October 4, 1982

The element of madness tends to be subjective in modern society. Especially when one ends up in the loony bin for having witnessed the unexplainable. It becomes paradoxical irony when the attempt of understanding that which cannot be explained sends one into unmitigated lunacy. This virtually sums up my fate. After what I've seen I can barely establish whether I had actually gone insane. The days of my lifelong career as a forensic pathologist were numbered – all due to a horrifying ordeal that occurred one pivotal night.

I was scheduled to work the night shift at the behest of my superiors. Even though I despised this duty I was not given a choice. Thankfully, I had been in the company of my assistant, Dr. George Munro. Our recent and only autopsy had been finalised in the early evening. We were instructed to stand by for any possible upcoming cases which had been the most tedious aspect of our profession. I felt my body slowly growing wearier, yawn after yawn; however, this wasn't an issue since I could rely on an occasional cup of coffee to keep me awake.

Time came to pass as George and I anticipated the final hour of our shift. As if we had nothing better to do, the local coroners delivered another body into the practice. According to them it had been found in the woods near the outskirts of town. There was no said cause of death so far and – from a brief observation – the body had been dead for no longer than five hours. After the coroners had submitted the body and provided us with the I.D profile, we commenced the autopsy. I prepared the tape recorder and began to read the body's I.D.

"Victim's name is Raymond Aldridge, aged 38. Cause of death remains yet unknown."

George stood by my side, awaiting instructions. He'd only recently started working at the morgue, therefore I took the liberty to mentor him through certain procedures. Luckily, it was not necessary to run him through the basics since this was obviously not his first autopsy.

"We will begin with the Y-incision," I said. George had the scalpel in hand and began to cut. As we opened up the breastplate we could detect a vile stench seeping out of the body. It was certainly not the stench of a long-dead corpse that we, as pathologists, were already used to. Not even a sewage system could be comparable. This was something that I could never explain if I tried.

"Jesus! What did this guy eat?" George exclaimed as he covered his nose.

I knew that it could not have been the stomach contents giving it off. Much to our dismay, our surgical masks didn't filter the stench. Nevertheless, I held my breath and continued the procedure.

I took a close look inside the body's torso. At first glance the vital organs looked normal – that is until I noticed something unusual which could have very well been the source of the stench. Under the ribcage, right between the lungs, was a strange growth that looked somewhat like a biological sack. What makes it evermore peculiar was the fact that it appeared to be intact.

With a rhythmic pulse and a silicic layer of skin, this strange growth seemed as if it was somehow . . . alive.

"Cause of death could be a possible infection," I added. Both George and myself could not be entirely certain of our bizarre discovery. We were simply dumbstruck by this abnormal growth. Alas, the rotten stench did not disappear. It lingered in the air like old food. It was blatantly unbearable. This would, of course, continue to affect our concentration on our job. It was merely a matter of time until George suggested to take a coffee break. To no surprise I decided to join him as I was craving a cigarette.

I felt weary – exhausted from a night of essentially doing nothing but play the waiting game and, to make matters worse, deal with another autopsy within the last hour of my shift, topping it off with that mysterious growth inside the body. As frustrated as I was, it became clear to George and myself that this was going to be a long night.

Within our ten-minute break the obvious topic of conversation revolved around the growth inside that body. We brainstormed possible explanations with little-to-no certainty of how it developed; what caused it; or what it was. George remarked that we may have stumbled upon a 'patient zero' carrying an undiscovered disease. As likely as it was, I took it for a mere joke. Either way, we needed to remove it from the lung cavity in order to harvest and weigh the organs.

I felt a nervous tingling feeling inside of me. I didn't know why but according to my instincts, something seemed awfully wrong. It was slightly unsettling. For a smoke break I had to step outside the building since smoking was prohibited indoors and, in all honesty, I could feel that it may not have been a good idea to leave the body alone in there without supervision. Needless to say, what could possibly go wrong? A corpse is a corpse. The worst that could happen would be if George and I would also become infected due to our exposure to the stench. This sounded bad enough already.

We returned to the practice and resumed the autopsy. The dreadful stench had still drifted through the air. I could already predict that this would eventually become more stressful over time. In any case, I intended to complete this autopsy as soon as possible due to my utmost desire to head back home. George had removed the ribcage in preparation for me to cut out the growth. Despite having a clearer view of the organs I noticed the growth having strangely increased in size.

"Scalpel," I told George who immediately handed it to me. I carefully sliced along the line of the growth's attachment to the lungs. Surprisingly, it didn't cut through. It was as if the scalpel was as blunt as a butter knife – not even a scratch.

"It's like trying to cut through elephant skin," was my response.

"Looks like we need something sharper."

George passed the number twenty-two blade – the ideal sharpness for cutting through skin as thick as this. Neither of us could guess that not even the sharpest of blades could cut through it – another failed attempt.

Our last resort was to use the electric bone saw. It would be difficult to cut precisely, yet I was sure that this was ought to work. What happened next sent a shiver down my spine. As the buzzing blade merged with the growth's tissue, it cut through and, all of a sudden, I stepped away, almost dropping the bone saw. A cluster of what looked like numerous leeches rapidly crawled out of the growth's opening. George and I ran for the door, kicking the leeches away from us. The both of us watched as these parasitic creatures crawled into the mortuary freezers.

"Shit!" George uttered in disbelief. We rushed towards the freezers and opened them up. The bodies were still in regular condition – strangely not a single leech in sight. Upon our realisation, George and I exchanged a look of perplexity.

"What the hell is going on?" he asked. If only I knew how to answer his question. My eyes turned back to the body. I noticed a strange number of bulges moving rapidly under the skin tissue. It appeared as if some of the many leeches still crawled their way through the corpse.

This was getting out of hand. My emotions began to run haywire. I couldn't spend another second inside that room. I didn't have the slightest idea how I was to explain all this to my superiors without receiving a response of sheer scepticism. My level of stress had reached its maximum; my frustration itched inside my stomach; and my escalating fear was growing. This led me to haul myself outside for a breath of fresh air and another calming dose of nicotine.

I sat outside the building with my legs shaking in agitation. While puffing on my cigarette I contemplated whether I should simply lock up and head home or finish the autopsy. If I'd choose to call it a night I would find myself in a world of trouble with my superiors. After all, they didn't take kindly to incomplete autopsies for good reason. With the intention of finishing our shift as quick as possible, George and I agreed to each take turns when taking a break while the other would proceed with the autopsy.

I gazed thoughtfully at the night sky and the empty parking lot. The security guard, whose name was Scott, occurred to be nearby in the vicinity. He approached me in conversation.

"Hey, Doctor," he greeted with a smile.

"Evening, Scott."

"Is everything okay in there? I thought I heard noises."

I frowned as I couldn't quite understand what he was on about.

"Noises? I didn't hear anything," I answered.

"Earlier I took a stroll and passed your practice room. I heard something that sounded like a 'bump'."

He was probably referring to George and I opening the freezers. In our state of panic we may have been a little loud.

"Oh, that was just us," I replied.

"Alright then. You let me know if something should rise from the dead," he joked with a giggle. We greeted each other with a 'good night' as I made my way back into the building.

Upon walking down the hallway I was suddenly startled by what sounded like a metallic tray hitting the ground. I froze and squinted my eyes, trying to catch a glimpse through the small windows in the door, however, I could barely see anything from the twenty-foot distance where I stood. There was silence. Suddenly I heard something crack. The light in the practice room died out – it went pitch black. I couldn't see a thing.

"George!" I called out as I paced towards the room. He didn't answer. I struck through the door and reached for the light switch. The light didn't go back on. I figured that the cracking sound was the shattering of the bulb.

I found myself blinded by the darkness around me.

"George!" I called again. The sound of my voice vibrated as much as my legs did. This better not be George's idea of a practical joke, although at this point, a part of me hoped that it was so. My eyes could vaguely make out the table reflecting faintly from the outside lights in the hallway. I hasted towards a nearby cupboard; opened the drawer; and snatched a headlight. I switched it on and held it facing the table only to see that the body was gone. My hand slowly moved the headlight towards the freezers. They all stood wide open and . . . empty. From the looks of it there had been nobody but me in the room, except for the fact that my instincts hinted another presence.

I was not alone.

Feeling too afraid to move I stood in the corner like a statue. My head was spinning with countless questions to a point where I felt light-headed. I shined the headlight on to the empty table, wondering how a corpse could possibly disappear – unless someone had taken it. Despite my eyes being fixated upon the table, I caught a glimpse of something on the floor. As I moved the headlight downward, my heart began to race as I found myself staring at a puddle of crimson blood. I was breathing heavily in all my panic. The vile stench in the air did not bother me anymore.

I slowly tip-toed towards the blood puddle. I spotted a trail of drips that led into an adjacent corner of the room. My suspicions became clear. Something happened to George. It was at this moment that my survival instinct began to kick in, leading me to grab a scalpel and follow the trail of blood. I wasn't going to let someone – or something – inflict harm upon me as they may have done to my assistant.

I continued to tip-toe along the trail and approached the corner. I was prepared to strike anything that was about to jump at me. As if things couldn't get any more terrifying, what I was about to discover would continue to haunt me for the rest of my life.

I stood facing the corner where the bloody trail had led me. My hand slowly moved the headlight upwards. I could feel the unwelcoming presence of another lurking in the dark. What the small beam of light was about to reveal, would defy all logic and explanation for its existence. I found myself staring at something that appeared to be incredibly tall, in fact, it seemed to almost reach the ceiling. My eyes were feasted upon the most hideous abomination unknown to man. A being so morbid that one would simply have to see it to believe it. A nightmarish creature that could merely have been otherworldly.

I listened to the unsettling sounds of animalistic rattling reminiscent of a taunting reptile. I could feel my jaw vibrating in my state of extreme paranoia. My headlight shed its beam of light upon the monstrous entity. Razorsharp pincers sprouted out from the oral cavity of a lifeless human head – the very head belonging to the subject of my autopsy. The very head that was now attached to an elongated serpentine body – an exoskeleton of large jagged protuberances punctured like knives out of the shreds of dead flesh and skin. Its slithering soma towered on a dozen sawtoothed legs evocative of an overgrown arthropod. It was obvious that this was no animal. What was once a lifeless body of flesh had now become a wretched monstrosity that spawned as a probable result of that infectious growth – a leviathan that had been brought to life by those leeches that clung to their host.

It all became clear to me. I could feel a momentary pause in time as my eyes scanned the colossal horror that stood before me. I tried my best to stay focused and prepared to run for my very life. At this point I could surely guess that George was already dead. I didn't care how I was to explain this to the authorities, as long as I could make it out alive without having to suffer my potential doom. I took a deep breath. The muscles in my legs tightened. I prepared for my escape.

It rattled again in an intimidating manner. I couldn't stand there and wait another second. Like a timid animal running from its predator, I darted for the door. The corner of my eye caught a glimpse of the creature crawling along the floor like a striking snake. As I reached the main entrance of the building I could briefly see that there were more – five or six, as I vaguely remember. They rapidly crawled along the walls, destroying whatever obscured their path to get to me. I stormed outside and, to my luck, I ran into Scott. I didn't need to utter a word to him since he already saw what was chasing me. He drew his pistol and fired six rounds at the creatures. They screeched in agony. However, this didn't seem to stop them. Their attention was drawn to Scott which granted me the chance to escape out of the vicinity.

I rushed for the exit and hid behind a wall. I watched in horror as one of the creatures propelled its pincers through Scott's torso, tearing his entrails out of his writhing body. The creature violently tore his head from his shoulders and shoved it into its oral cavity. I felt nauseous and struggled to prevent myself from vomiting. My survival instinct drove me to run for the exit and find the nearest access to a telephone.

I sprinted through the empty streets until I finally reached a hotel building. I told the lobbyist that I was acting in a state of emergency and that I needed the telephone. He co-operated and proceeded to call the local police department.

After approximately twenty minutes the police arrived at the scene. They had closed it off as they usually would in the case of a homicide. I was brought in for questioning. This was the most difficult part of my horrifying experience. Nevertheless, I stuck to being honest. As expected, they didn't believe a word of my story. Their interpretation of my shaking legs and overall body language proved me an apparent madman. As a verdict I was blamed for the murder of Scott and the disappearance of George. There was no choice for me but to play along.

So, it was that I pleaded insanity in front of the judge to avoid jail time. I was transferred to the state hospital where I am now trapped for the rest of my life. What more can I say? I had been an eye witness to a series of unspeakable events that led to the end of my career and, ultimately, my normal life. Until this very day I am tormented with the pain of the undeserved fate of both George and Scott. They had both fallen victim to these abominable monstrosities. I came to the realisation that, for the unexplainable truth to see the light, this nightmarish event would have to repeat itself. More innocent lives would have to perish until the world can finally see it for themselves. I would be found 'not guilty' at the expense of others. This is truly a painful position to be caught in.

I guess that I, Dr. Simon Hughes, will have to live with the fact that my honesty will forever be regarded as blatant madness.

Written by M. Alex Hyne
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