Mutavus mutations can be broadly categorized into four general categories, the first being minor internal mutations. These are alterations such as a modified heart, or liver, or lungs, things that can’t be seen by casual observation. This type of mutation is often caused by some type of ongoing medical problem, such as cystic fibrosis in the case of lungs, or alcoholism in the case of liver. At some point the condition becomes immediately life-threatening, mutavus activates and somehow senses that the problem is a simple malfunction of normal bodily functions, and then solves the problem in the most efficient way possible: by permanently fixing the afflicted organs. Of note is how little extra modification takes place; when these minor modifications were first starting to be discovered across hospitals the world over, it was thought that they might not even be due to mutavus. The near-zero instance rate of trigger events in this population later proved that mutavus was indeed the cause.
The next two categories, selective external mutation and full-body mutation, are really the same thing, it’s merely a sliding scale of severity. These are caused by external events such as a stab wound, a fall from a great height, a violent rape, et cetera, et cetera. Basically anything that puts the host’s life at risk while not actually killing them. These, I believe, are a result of mutavus trying to ‘solve’ a situation that has no clear-cut answer. Sure you can patch a knife wound, but how do you stop the possibility of a knife wound from ever happening again? By covering the body in armor? With superior reflexes and your own bladed weapon? With the ability to spit acid onto potential attackers? How do you choose? A virus has no brain, no thought process, it can barely even be called alive by our standards, so how does a virus choose? For some insight into this we turn to the fourth category: catastrophic mutations.
You’ve all heard the horror stories no doubt. An unfortunate injury resulting in a monstrous, cannibalistic horror-creature out of a crazy man's worst nightmares. These are what truly makes mutavus such a feared and reviled affliction, but why do they happen to begin with when most mutations seem largely beneficial? Some research of the injuries involved in these cases shows that most were a result of massive physical trauma, often involving the head. Now, we all know that bad triggers can be the result of a drug-induced, altered mental state. The fact that a traumatic head wound would also obviously hinder mental state suggests a linked cause. It is my belief that mutavus “piggybacks” on whatever phenomena causes trigger events, and therefore, is affected by the host’s conscious mind in a similar manner.
Now. A lot of this is merely conjecture on my part. It can be difficult to separate cases of catastrophic mutation from other oddities of summer, or even just from regular cases of mutant animals, so keep in mind the data I’ve managed to collect is not the result of a scientific survey, but merely my own investigations of singular cases. Mutavus also tends to handle hallucinogenic or similar recreational drugs quite easily, whereas these drugs are terrible to combine with triggers, but that’s a matter for a different day.
Today, I wish only to test if massive brain damage truly increases the odds of a catastrophic mutation. To that end, I’ve assembled a variety of implements with which to do so, most notably this common N17 Lobbe handgun. I’ve been told its low-caliber ammo will indeed pierce a skull, but will not do so much damage as to kill a person before mutavus can begin its work… Hmm, note to self: do areas of higher gun use or ownership have more frequent occurrences of catastrophic mutation? I'll check into that after we finish up here.
-Monologue given by Dr. Kevin “Killaman” Jaro to a class of college students before his death at the hands of one of his victims.
Apparently we were heading to a ‘hospital’. A quick internet search on my phone revealed that it was where humans took their sick and injured for medical care. It wasn’t something I had ever really questioned before, but in hindsight it made sense to centralize long-term medical care and vital medical resources. I had sort of assumed the ‘ambulances’ I saw from time to time were the de facto method of assisting civilians in need of medical help, seeing as they appeared whenever there was a car crash, or street brawl, or sometimes when a human just collapsed. The first time I had seen a human collapse for no reason had scared me, as I thought there was another super picking targets out of the crowd, but I overheard that the man had suffered a ‘heart attack’. Research told me that it was a strange condition where the human heart just stops beating, primarily affecting older males? I suppose this was a condition similar to choking from clogged airways, an unfortunate product of the human design (a heart just...stopping. So strange). Either way, it’s apparently not too big a problem, because the human in question got back up well before the ambulance arrived.
I scrolled through the website for E13 General Hospital, a large building just a few blocks north of the Red Zone. They had several different areas of medicine listed as departments: primary care, rehabilitation, neurology, maternity, emergency (which had a lot more doctors listed than the others), and more. Quite a long list… Oh! There was a mutavus emergency response and care ward.
I was starting to feel... excitement! This trip had the potential to be a lot more beneficial than I thought. Maybe I could slip into the mutavus ward for a bit and have a look around, or one of the surgery wards; I’d love to see how humans fixed internal damage without the aid of mutavus.
The van rounded a corner, and the front of the hospital came into view. The building itself was a gigantic rectangular structure, about three blocks long by two blocks wide, but only two stories tall, much shorter than the surrounding structures. The longest side of the building was also the front entrance, and from the design I could tell the place was built for large influxes of patients. Multiple entrances marked as “Emergency” were spaced out along the front side of the building, and a wide approach lane allowed a small army of ambulances to easily enter and disgorge passengers without getting in each other’s way. As I watched, three ambulances were doing just that, the multiple humans of the medical caste carrying the injured civilians into the building. Let’s see, if I was reading the website correctly, then the humans driving the ambulances were emergency response technicians or EMTs, the ones who did surgeries were surgeons... optometrists, neurologists, nutritionists, so many! There were dozens of specialized personnel for every facet of human biology! Fascinating. Not all of them were located in the hospital itself; the sheer number of specialists and their required resources probably just didn’t fit. Were there really that many different facets to a human body? I had dismantled a decent number of them now, and hadn’t noticed anything that would require that many areas of study. Skeleton, musculature, brain and signal transfer system, skin and internal pressure maintenance could be counted as two systems I guess, appendix, the heart, and of course the multiple filter organs like lungs, liver, kidneys…oh! There would be two different reproductive systems; one for male, one for female. That increased the count, though not by much… had I missed something? It all seemed rather simple besides the brain; why would they need so many specialists? Admittedly I hadn’t managed to figure out why they had so many separate and redundant filter organs, but only the single appendix, so there might be subtleties I wasn't seeing. So strange… it had to be because of mutavus. It changed their biology on an individual basis, so maybe they were trying to cover all possible permutations? It seemed like a fruitless endeavor considering the near infinite variations mutavus might choose, but then again, humans did seem very stubborn when it came to the pursuit of knowledge...
A mystery for later. Right now I was more concerned with all the police I was seeing around the hospital premises. Especially since they all appeared to be armored and armed.
“That’s a lot of police…”
“Hm? Oh don’t worry about that,” said Fred, “Just don’t cause any trouble and they’ll ignore you; the Red Zone basically funds this whole hospital, they know where their salaries come from. Not like anyone wants trouble happening at a hospital anyways. Actually that reminds me, if either of you are ever in-mask and need medical help, get your ass to a hospital. Don’t try to tough it out or some stupid shit. Doctor’s can’t reveal anything they find out while treating you.”
“Sandra told me during my interview,” I replied. Gregor nodded his confirmation.
That whole part of the interview made a lot more sense now. I had figured if worse came to worst I could just kill whoever was trying to unnecessarily treat me. Much harder to do if it was a bunch of doctors in the middle of a hospital, and not just some EMTs down an empty side street. Honestly, I probably should have found out about hospitals a lot sooner, but I had been avoiding flashing lights and sirens whenever possible, and hadn’t come near this area while exploring.
...Exactly how many areas of interest was I missing by being ignorant? Worrisome. I needed to practice proactive scenario envisionment like humans did using movies.
While I pondered the best person to surreptitiously ask about ‘interesting places’, Brilla drove the car into the rear parking lot. There was a lot less activity on this side of the building, and we eventually parked near what seemed to be some kind of loading dock. Fred went to get a gurney to wheel the body in, since having two helmeted minions carrying a body around in a hospital was ‘too conspicuous’. I didn’t see why putting it on a gurney was any better. It wasn’t a human body anyway, why would anyone care?
“Me and Brilla can do this part if you guys would rather wait here,” offered Fred.
“I’ll come. I’m interested in meeting this Stitcher you mentioned.” As if I was going to miss out on a look inside, pfft.
“I think maybe I’ll watch the van,” said Gregor, “Don’t much care for hospitals.”
I found that strange. Hospitals seemed so exciting.
Fred led the way while I pushed the gurney. We used the loading dock entrance to enter; inside were a few workers moving boxes of what I assumed to be medical equipment. Fred walked up to a wide-eyed worker and asked him to go get Stitcher, and he practically ran to do so. The other dock workers quickly made themselves scarce.
After a few minutes, a man entered the dock area. He had thin hair despite his young age, and a crooked nose that supported a pair of spectacles. While his eyes were red from lack of rest they were nonetheless sharp, and he zeroed in on us immediately. Most telling was that he wore a white coat. A scientist.
“Whoever you’ve brought me better be at death’s door. Do you have any idea how busy I am?” he asked.
“No worries Stitcher, should be quick. No medical care today, just need you to see if you can I.D. a super for us,” said Fred.
“I’m not Hellion’s personal mortician,” he sneered, “I’ve got better things to do than digging through the aftermath of your mistakes.”
“Easy doc. I think this one might interest you,” said Brilla, and she lifted a corner of the tarp to reveal the stitched-rat’s head. The stitches and surgical modifications were on full display.
“...You brought a dead rat into my hospital,” said Stitcher. He scowled at the body, but after his gaze swept over the extent of the surgical modifications he sighed. “This would be one of the rats from the mall incident yesterday?”
“This one attacked an establishment in the Red Zone last night, but we think it’s the same guy.”
“Ah yes, that would explain the suddenly expedited interest. Fine. Follow me, and make sure that thing doesn’t drip on the floor!”
We followed Stitcher a bit deeper into the hospital while he continuously grumbled about patients he had to get back to. Several times he pulled aside members of staff to have them go check on active situations. I surmised that his apparent hectic state was an ongoing affair. We arrived at a room labeled “Morgue”, and he had me wheel the rat body in after him...
Bodies. Lots and lots of bodies! The room was full of them, and an extended shelf that poked from a small square aperture hinted at more stored away. They were in all shapes and sizes, with a few mutants in the mix as well. I started calculating my odds of being able to eat a few. It was unlikely I’d get a chance, but still! The things I could learn!
Stitcher pointed at two people working in the room and ordered them out, then directed me to move the rat to a large steel table welded to the floor.
“I hope none of you are squeamish. I can’t have my usual assistants help with cowl business,” Stitcher announced.
“I’ll be fine” I replied. Fred and Brilla looked a bit more reluctant.
Stitcher pulled the tarp off the body and began looking it over.
“Hmm. No lacerations, no real blood loss. Cause of death appears to be blunt force trauma. Rigor mortis hasn’t set in yet, are we certain it’s actually dead and not just unconscious? I’d rather not have it jump at me half-way through.”
“Uh. I mean it didn’t move on the way here,” replied Fred.
“Tch. Which could mean absolutely nothing. One of you stab it in the neck, over the drain please.”
I grabbed the corpse by the head and moved its neck over the drain before doing as asked. The blood didn’t so much leak out as ooze out. Definitely not fresh. Fred wasn’t looking too good, and Brilla was refusing to look directly at the operating table. I guess they were ‘squeamish’. Stitcher finished putting on a different coat, along with a cloth mask to cover his mouth and nose, and approached the rat body.
“Not the best conditions, but I’m in a hurry. One of you take notes, or just pay attention, I’m only going over this once. Now then...”
Stitcher held out his hands, and a strange shimmer effect emerged from under his sleeves and encompassed them. It looked like they had been covered in crystal clear water. He had a power! As I watched, the substance around one of his fingers lengthened to create an edge, and he used it to start dissecting the rat. His power reminded me of Magenta’s, but on a smaller, more precise scale. He talked while he worked, and I found it interesting to see how a human analyzed the corpse.
“The skeletal system is reinforced with metal in several sections. Care was not taken in preserving a normal range of motion. The digestive and muscular systems are mostly untouched, but there is no mismatched scaling with the rat’s other organs, so whatever method they used to grow the rat to such a massive size was done properly at least.”
“That’s a normal rat size. I think it was modified after it grew that big,” I supplied. His eyebrows rose at the information.
“...What metric are you using?”
“Tiny fits in my hand, small can jump at your face from the floor, medium is this dead one, and large hits its head on the sewer ceiling.”
“...I see. I believe I’ll be putting in a request for an extermination crew later.”
Stitcher kept opening up the corpse, paying special attention to the individual organs to check them for modification. He was starting to grumble about wasting his time, when he got to a section at the base of the rat’s skull.
“Ah-ha. Here we finally have something interesting.”
He was pointing at a lump of flesh that looked like brain matter wrapped in bone. It almost looked like my core (but with more fleshy bits).
“This tumor here is artificial. See the melding of different tissue types, but the design is too structurally demarcated to be a normal cancerous tumor. If my guess is right, there should be… yes, right here. See this?”
“...I don’t see anything?”
“Precisely! There is no connection between the tumor and the brain. There is no connection with this tumor and anything else in the body. The stitchwork on the epidermis is superficial, the metal reinforcing the bones should hinder the creature more than help, and the only piece of functional design isn’t connected to anything! This super playing at being a Victor Frankenstein is just that: playing. My hypothesis is that their power does all the heavy lifting in order for this rat to actually function. Any actual surgical work is simply an activation requirement, or maybe it isn’t even necessary at all and they’re just a wackjob.”
He started to clean up after the messy dissection. The mask and overcoat went in a bin with other dirty articles of clothing, but his power had kept his hands immaculately clean.
“So, any idea who might be doing this doc?” asked Fred. He should probably sit down for a bit and rest; he wasn't looking so good.
“Well, the good news is that it's definitely not an established super,” said Stitcher, “A power that makes remote drones from corpses to do the user’s bidding? Far too rare to not have been noticed before, even if its user is a complete hack. The bad news is that it’s probably a new trigger, so it could be almost anyone. Have they announced any demands?”
“Nothing so far.”
“Well in that case they are probably just a fresh trigger flexing their power. Do try to get rid of this one in a timely manner please. This type of power tends to cut out if the user is removed, but I’d rather not wait until they have a small army before finding out. Either way, I’ve wasted enough time on this as it is. Please clean the mess up on your way out would you?”
With those words Stitcher walked out of the morgue, and Fred, Brilla, and myself were left alone. Fred and Brilla took one look at the remains of the corpse, looked at each other, and yelled, “Not it!” They both ran out of the morgue, claiming that they “Need to make sure Gregor is fine,” and to “Take all the time you need!”
I looked at the large rat corpse, and the bodies throughout the morgue, and the lack of any cameras or humans.
It seems that biding my time on reporting the bio-weapons had finally paid off.
It was a shame I had filled up the night previous and couldn’t actually ‘eat’ most of the bodies, but I refused to miss out on this opportunity and deconstructed all of them with micro units, even the normal human males that weren’t mutated (and dumping the dust down the drains to keep the room clean). The final count was twenty-five bodies, with 15 of them being mutants and nine of them being female. The mutants were of course the most valuable (one had a chitin composite that was 5.67% more durable, and 2.5% more resistant to stress!), but finally having multiple examples of female and male anatomy was useful. So much of a human’s appearance was based on their skeletal/muscular structure, and there was only so much you could glean from the surface.
The most interesting thing I noticed was that, of the fifteen mutants, only six of them had outer mutations, and the rest all had internal mutations. Modified hearts/lungs/sensory organs, I recorded all of these especially carefully. Hearts were needed to properly distribute micro-units, and the improved lung design gave insight on how I could absorb mass from the air much more efficiently. These two organ designs I incorporated right away.
After I was done making sure the morgue was clean, I decided to have a look around the hospital. Fred and Brilla said I could take as long as I needed, and I still had enough time to meet up with Nicole later as long as I didn’t dawdle. I’d just need to take a taxi to get to the mall and buy cinnabons.
I decided to disguise myself to not draw attention, and stored my mask before covering my suit in fake clothes (my real ones were in a locker back at the base). The extra bodies meant I could discard the layer of fake clothes later and still be topped off on resources.
The hospital was laid out in a logical fashion, with very clear demarcations between civilian and staff areas (I considered a doctor disguise to check these, but discarded it as unwise before I knew more about what a doctor did). Whoever had designed the hospital had a clear goal in mind, which was to expedite treatment and quickly clear the space for fresh patients. Patients would enter from any of the several emergency entrances that serviced the ambulances, and would be shunted into one of the nearby operating rooms, whichever was appropriate to service their specific injury. Once stable, they were then moved to a series of rooms where the doctors decided if they could be released, or if they needed to be moved to more permanent care. This ‘middle’ part of the hospital also seemed to service the less immediate medical concerns of civilians who filtered in from non-emergency entrances on the short sides of the rectangular hospital. The back half of the hospital was the area they released patients, and it had both waiting areas, and peripheral features of medical care like the ‘pharmacy’. As far as I could tell, all ongoing medical care was moved to the top floor.
It made sense now why this building was wider than it was tall; it was designed to be abandoned at a moments notice. A tall building would be harder to evacuate, and the fact that the hospital was spread over a wide area meant they could build hallways and entrances/exits to be wide and accommodating for fast-moving heavy traffic. Other design features included reinforced alcoves and doors, redundant structural reinforcement in case parts of the building collapsed, sloped ramps next to every staircase to wheel patients down, and ‘unnecessary’ waist-high walls in the parking lot that would nevertheless be perfect for civilians or guards to duck behind. Whoever designed this building had been fully aware that a place full of injured and scared humans would be a statistically likely location for problematic trigger events. That, or they had been expecting an invading army.
I decided to keep my exploration brief.
The top floor was a lot quieter than the bottom floor. Carpeted surfaces and decorated walls meant that sound didn’t echo, obviously a feature to help patients rest. There were still a lot of doctors wandering around, but I noticed more non-injured civilians as well. I wasn’t sure why they were here until I saw one carrying a ‘balloon’ with “Get well soon!” printed on it. I suppose humans visit patients they know in the hospital?
I explored a bit more, but this part of the hospital wasn’t as interesting as I thought it would be. Mainly it was just a bunch of humans resting in beds. The mutavus treatment ward was also blocked off by armed guards, so I couldn’t go exploring there. But, as I was about to call an end to my exploration, I found something in a small alcove near the elevators: a vending machine! I had seen and used similar machines at the mall, and I found they were always worth looking into. They often had completely different selections of candy. I scanned the options and located a candy brand I hadn’t sampled before; Sour Bombs, witch-apple surprise flavor. I slotted a few coins and made my selection, the curled metal hook slooooowly turning to drop my prize into the dispenser area.
And then stopping before it dropped.
I pressed the ‘dispense item’ button a few more times, but the electronic label just displayed the price to buy another one. Clicking the return coin button also failed to give my money back. The machine stole my coins!
I looked around, hoping to spot a staff member or guard I could ask for help, but of course I just so happened to be alone (never around when you needed them to be). Well… the candy wasn’t really blocked off entirely, and I was alone. Maybe I could just fix this situation myself. If I was quick, I could have it out of there before anyone saw me. Even if they did it wasn’t like I was doing anything wrong anyways, I had already paid!
I reached my arm into the dispenser area, and bent my elbow out of its socket to get it around the hand guard. Then I used the extendable bone structures I implemented in my forearms to get as close to the candy as possible. I was only two feet away, so it wouldn’t be too hard to stick a tendril to the candy. Hmm, and maybe I could take one or two more. After all, it was the machine’s fault I was having to expend valuable calories to get the candy…
I quickly hooked the pieces of candy I intended to take and pulled, but in my hurry to withdraw my hand I must have touched some kind of sensor inside the machine. The dispenser area suddenly clamped shut on my arm! Trying to wrench it free didn’t work, I’d have to shift it free, or break the machine, or abandon the arm to get loose.
The human I heard approaching rounded the corner, a dollar bill in hand. He had obviously been planning to use the vending machine, but stopped and stared when he realized it was ‘occupied’. Then a small beeping alarm started coming from the machine, because of course it did. The only good thing about all this was that I recognized the man.
“Hey Olson, the machine ate my money, can you help me out?” I recognized him from the brief glimpse back on the training day. Short blonde hair, medium height, in shape but not really muscular, the only feature that really stood out about him were his vivid blue eyes.
Said eyes widened in surprise, and then narrowed in suspicion. Oops, I guess Olson uses a different name out of costume? “It’s me, Tofu.”
Even then he seemed suspicious, checking around to see if people were in earshot before saying, “Prove it.”
I pulled out my mask, and when even then he seemed suspicious, shifted the colors along my fake coverings while shifting the joints in my free hand in ways no normal human could possibly imitate.
“Ack, alright alright. I believe you, just stop that hand thing. How the hell did you recognize me?”
“I was in the fake jacket store when you went through on the training day.”
“...I didn’t notice you.”
“I like standing in places that are out of the way,” and out of line of sight of windows, and near solid cover, and where I can duck out of sight at a moment’s notice. It was simply prudent. He sighed and gave me a look that I couldn’t quite figure out.
“Um, could you help me out now?” I asked. I could hear the stomping of boots coming down the hall, and it worried me.
He rolled his eyes and appeared to make up his mind, “Yeah, yeah. Call me Bryson, and if anyone asks, you’re Cale. Try to act natural.”
The stomping boots were of course a pair of guards who had showed up to see what set off the alarm. They came around the corner with grim faces, and hands on their hip holsters, but soon started laughing when they saw my predicament and realized it was a false alarm. One called it in while the other shut off the alarm and tried to figure out how to unwedge me from the machine. The dispenser wasn’t clamped anymore, but my arm was still stuck inside from the angle.
“How the hell did you bend your arm in there in the first place?” asked the guard.
“He’s just that special kind of idiot,” answered Bryson, before I could attempt to explain.
Bryson kept the guards distracted with ‘small-talk’ to keep their minds off the fact that it should have been impossible to get my arm into the machine, and instead kept their minds focused on how to get me out of it. I took notes on how he led the conversation with anecdotes or small innocuous questions, punctuated with a joke or two to keep the mood friendly (especially the jokes, I still hadn’t figured those out). The conversation had turned towards maybe getting a rotosaw to get me out, when another alarm went off. This one was really loud, and there wasn’t any way to confuse it with something like a broken vending machine. It rang three times before stopping, and both of the guards immediately went for communication devices hanging from their shoulders. While getting the report, they glanced worriedly at me and then towards a direction deeper into the hospital, where I assumed the disturbance happened.
“Go, go!” said Bryson, waving them away. “He got it in somehow, I’ll get him out with some vaseline or something. There’s gotta be some lying around somewhere.”
They nodded and took off, more concerned with whatever had set off the alarm than one person with a stuck hand. Bryson checked to make sure they were really gone before giving me the all-clear. I quickly shifted a bit to withdraw my arm (with the candy).
“So. What exactly are you doing here?” asked Bryson.
“I’m on a job. We were taking one of the stitched rat corpses that attacked the Red Zone to be analyzed by Stitcher.”
“Heh, I bet he didn’t much appreciate the irony. So... if you're on a job, why the hell are you stealing candy from a vending machine?”
“I paid for it!”
He rolled his eyes, “Look, just get back to the job, and try not to get into any more trouble will ya? This was a one time thing, next time this happens when I’m off the clock you’re on your own. Got it?”
“Yes Bryson.” That meant I owed him lunch.
“Good. Now I gotta get back to what I was doing, I’ll catch ya later.”
“What about the alarm? Shouldn’t we evacuate?”
“That wasn’t an evacuation alarm. That was just to call some guards for aggressive medical care. Goes off like twice a day. It’s only a real problem if-”
*BRINNNNGGG* “ALL STAFF. PLEASE BEGIN EVACUATION PROCEDURES STAGE ONE. ALL CIVILIANS PLEASE CALMLY EXIT THE BUILDING. DO NOT CROWD STAFF.”
“...that happens,” finished Bryson.
“Now do we evacuate?”
“Yeah. Get back to your team, I’ll see you later.”
“Where are you going?”
“None of your business kid. Remember, you didn’t see me here!” and with that he jogged back the way he came.
I headed back to where the van was parked, using the route I took from the morgue since it was the opposite direction of where the guards went. Hospital staff streamed down the halls to get to patients on the top floor. From their hurried but unpanicked demeanor, I gathered they were all quite practiced at this routine. One nurse finally took notice of me, thinking that I was a lost civilian, and tried to direct me towards the normal civilian route. My mask started beeping in my pocket while she talked, so I decided to just head in the direction she was pointing so I could check it.
WHAT DID YOU DO? -Fred, was the message displayed. I messaged back that I had nothing to do with it.
GET BACK HERE PRONTO! -Fred
Yes yes, I was on my way. Annoying, this whole thing was going to make me late to meet up with Nicole. I’d need to call her and let her know.
I dialed her.
“Hey Nicole, it’s Tofu.”
“I kinda figured haha. What’s up?”
“Just wanted to let you know I’m probably going to be running a little late. I got called into work for a short job this morning, but it’s running a bit longer than expected.”
And it might run even longer from the looks of it. I had finally caught up with the flow of civilian traffic coming from upstairs. Apparently someone up ahead was pushing, because the crowd was stalled at a T-Intersection, and a few people were starting to panic.
“Oh. Well we could put it off for today…”
“No no! I’ll be there. Just got caught up in an evacuation at the hospital.”
“WHAT!? Why are you at the hospital?!”
“It’s fine Nicole. I was just making a delivery. Remember I work at a warehouse?”
“Well, jeez, be careful okay? Why are they evacuating?”
The crowd down the hall finally started moving again, but the flow of traffic was reversing instead of continuing to the exits. Humans were running away from the left corridor, and were picking any direction to run in. A final ripple of the crowd pushed the last of the humans into view, some of them were actually tossed through the air. What followed them was a rat.
At least, I think it was a rat.
It had a body like that of the medium sized rat we brought Stitcher, but where its head should have been was a… human torso? What looked like eight arms (all from different mutants) had been stitched to the torso’s sides, and a rat’s head was sewn on to where the human head would normally be. It tried to hiss at the crowd in front of it, but what came out was a weird gurgling bellow.
“Tofu? What the hell was that? What’s going on over there?”
“...I think the hospital has a rat problem.”