Dr. Qim opened up a cabinet. Inside, the shelves were topped with an assortment of pill bottles. She skimmed through the labels, picking up ones she deemed worthy, and tossing them in the bag behind her.
“You think this thing ‘senses’ where we are?” Eri asked, pacing the floor. “I mean like can it tell if we’re afraid or not? I always heard that in the face of true danger, people can sense impending doom – like their senses just pick-up on it like a radar or something.”
Eri was talking fast, rubbing his arm uncomfortably as he paced. Dr. Qim wasn’t paying him any attention, throwing more bottles into the bag resting on the stool.
“Easy with the noise, Doc,” Eri said. “I don’t wanna alert the vexin’ thing here.”
She sighed. “You know, this would go a lot faster if you helped,” she stated. “Why don’t you make yourself useful and grab some syringes and bandages out the cabinet in the back.”
“Split up?” Eri said quickly. “Uh-uh, not gonna happen. We need to stick together.”
“It’s just in the next room. Besides, it won’t do us any good if we’re here too long… and it finds the both of us,” she stated, jokingly scanning the room with her eyes.
“Say what now?” Eri said with wide eyes, scanning around too.
“Yeah, I think Aloe mentioned something about it being able to smell the scent of people that linger in an area for long periods of time.”
His eyes grew even wider with paranoia. “Y-you said syringes and bandages, right?” he repeated, swiftly heading to the other room.
She chuckled to herself. Sure it was wrong to tease him like that but they really did need to hurry. The sooner they got out the better.
After grabbing enough medicine, she scanned the room to see if she could find anything else. The entire Medical Bay held four rooms – one of which acted as a room for surgery. The others varied from patient rooms – for privacy obviously – to her actual office. They were all connected together, leaving only a single exit to the corridor outside.
Dr. Qim’s office was a decent-sized room accompanied with her desk sitting off to side of the exit. File cabinets and wall-lockers took up the majority of the room, layering the walls like a border. She was the ship’s only qualified medic and had more paperwork than equipment to deal with. With that, she kept everything tidied.
She recalled a small, portable heart-reader she kept in one of the lockers. Who knows if a heart-rate dropped too low to feel? she thought. She hoped it would never come to that, but it was better to be safe. She made her way across the room, propping open the first locker she came to. It only had a single shelf at the top. Below it was a bar with several lab coats hanging from it.
She smiled, noting the heart-reader at the top, grabbing it.
Immediately, she heard a loud thud from the backroom where Eri had gone. She jumped, cursing under breath. And he was worried about me making noise, she thought. She turned her attention back to the locker, but a shuffling noise followed after from the same room. It sounded like something was aggressively rubbing up against the wall.
This time she felt an unnerving chill creep down her spine. “Eri?” she called out softly.
The shuffling noise didn’t cease. She could feel her heart start to race. Was he playing a joke on her? She started to walk slowly towards the back room. After a few steps, she heard a low gurgle almost like a stomach growling. She froze instantly. The shuffling steadily grew louder.
She could hear something else though. It was like a beeping noise in the background that increased in tempo. The gurgling stopped too as if whatever was making that noise could also hear it. Vexus – what was it?
It finally hit her – the heart-reader! It was picking up on her heart beat.
In that moment, she heard a loud humming begin to resonate from the backroom. Instantly, she tossed the device away. She could hear the footsteps back there stomping towards her. Vexus! She needed to hide! Her eyes darted around the room looking for somewhere – anywhere. They fell upon the locker she previously opened.
She bolted to it, climbing in, and quickly pulled the door closed – ensuring not to slam it. Outside, she could hear the distorted humming continue. Did it see her? She could hear the heavy footsteps stomping around aimlessly. No, otherwise it would have instantly honed in on her. They grew distant. She scoffed to herself, realizing she couldn’t see out the vents of the locker.
“Dr. Qim?” a light voice spoke. She flinched nearly screaming out in shock. “Dr. Qim?” it repeated with more static. She looked down at her Caller.
“Ven?” she whispered.
“Yeah, try to keep your voice down,” he said.
My voice? she thought. He was the one calling her.
“I saw it attack Eri,” he continued. “It came right out of the ceiling – it happened so quickly,” he explained. “I tried to warn you but this vexing thing was acting up.”
“W-what should I do?” she whispered, lip quivering.
“Stay where you are, I can see you in the locker. It’s in the other room right now. But it’s taken Eri’s appearance now.”
She squealed impulsively, forcing herself to throw her hand to her mouth.
“Quiet!” Ven hissed. She heard a static curse.
“What? What is it?” she asked.
“It’s heading back to your area again. Stay quiet.”
She bit her lip, fighting off the urge to scream. Her heart was thrashing against her chest. Could the Thing hear it? Outside the locker, the humming continued – it was much lower though. Was it trying to listen for her?
Ven’s eyes were pressed to the screen while he held his Caller up to his mouth. The screen revealed the Thing with its appearance resembling Eri. It stood in the middle of the room awkwardly hunched over like a zombie. The vexing thing wouldn’t move.
He could hear Dr. Qim’s breathing through the device.
“Qim, try to keep quiet,” he whispered into it. “It’s right out –”
His words stopped short when the creature turned its head towards the surveillance. He felt his heart drop. Was it looking at him? Did it know he was watching? How though? Wearing Eri’s face, it cocked its head to the side while it glanced around at the ceiling.
Without warning, small insect-like creatures began crawling across the screen. They were out-of-focus, but they swarmed the feed until it went completely black.
“Vexus! Qim it cut the –” Again he was interrupted – this time by her squeals. “Qim? Qim, what’s going on? I’m blind up here?”
“T-the lights,” she stated through sobs. “It took out the lights.”
How did the vexing thing know how to do that?
“C-can you see it?” she asked. He could hear her voice quivering.
“I- I can’t. It took out the feed. Look, just stay put.”
Her breathing was heavy mixed with minor trembling. He wasn’t there with her, but he found himself doing the same. Vexus – what should he do? What could he do?
“Wait,” her voice started up again, “I-I think it’s gone,” she stated. “I think maybe I can make a run for the exit.”
“Dr. Qim, don’t. Just stay still.”
He paused listening, the Caller his only “eyes” now.
He heard the soft creak of the locker door opening. His heart was practically a drum now. He listened as her breathing sounded fainter – it was still present though. What was happening? It was too quiet – did the creature leave?
He felt relief when he heard her voice again. “I think I’m good. I’m near the exit now – wait…”
A faint humming could be heard in the background. He could hear her gasp.
“I-I see Eri – Vexus! He sees me!”
The humming grew to deafening levels, distorting the audio of the Caller. She screamed out in terror before the audio completely cut off.
“Dr. Qim?!” Ven called out on it. “Dr. Qim?! Qim?!”
There was no response.