The Depths of Vector-6

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Short horror story (rated 18+), about a new parasitologist who embarks on their first day inside Vector-6. A secret research facility buried beneath the Nevada desert. The truth beneath these sands will change his life, as well as the rest of the world. Word count: 1078.

Submitted: March 12, 2020

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Submitted: March 12, 2020

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In the deserts of Nevada, an enormous underground research facility lays beneath the sands. Known as Vector-6, this scientific hub has operated since the early 1940s, playing an instrumental role in World War 2. All experiments carried out in Vector-6 are highly classified, those not for the public knowledge, yet fully endorsed by the United States government.

On July 3rd, 2020, Zachary Eamon began his first day at the facility. This would be a day he’d never forget, nor would the entire world.

Accompanied by his mentor, Zachary received a tour of the areas he would frequent. Due to the size, this installation could not be experienced in a single working day. One-stop remained: a wing where active experiments were underway and required frequent examination.

Walking along a seemingly never-ending corridor, both research staff and military personnel scrambled to their various duties. Those in charge of Vector-6 took pride in having the reputation for having a tightly run ship, which did not accept any slacking, ever.

“You’ll get used to these walks, Zack. It’s a simple routine really. We each take a shift examining the subjects, document the findings on the computer and later we form actions on how to proceed as a department,” said the mentor.

“Dr. Callahan, this place is amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like this. It boggles my mind how determined everyone is here at what they do,” replied Zack.

“We’re impressed by you, kid. What are you, twenty-five? For a parasitologist, you possessed a background we could not pass up. Arguably, you may be the key for us to push things along a lot faster than anticipated.”

“You’re too kind, Doctor.”

“Just through here, kid. You will get a keycard issued soon. Always make sure no other personnel are nearby when you open the door. There’s even a list of security guards unauthorised to enter this side of the building. Do you understand?”

“Er, yes, sir, Mr. I mean Dr-Dr. Callahan.”

“Good, Zack. That’s good. Now walk this way.”

Dr. Callahan extended an arm ahead revealing a hallway with secure enclosures either side of the room with a computer terminal positioned centrally by each for recording data. A large window with one-way looking glass allowed those examining to study an experiment without their prescience causing any disturbance.

“Alright, Zack. We’re alone in here. Tell me about the first window over here...”

“Well, I can see half the enclosure is buried under soil. An ant colony. Above there are trees. It appears to be an accelerated cycle of the Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis.”

“That’s right. Accelerated how?”

“Everything is flowing in perfect synchronicity. The lava are hatching. They’re maturing at a faster rate. A small number are being allured when scavenging for goods and coming in contact with the fungus. I can see one infected yet it should take more time before they ascend to a higher altitude. Some are gripping the leaves in the final phase before spreading the pathogen. If that’s correct, how is the colony still sustainable?”

“Excellent observations. You’re correct, we’ve manipulated the ants to develop far faster than nature dictates. How are they not overrun with fungi? Well, with a press of the button we can reverse the process.”

“Sir, that’s incredible. But how?!”

“Ah, all in good time, Zack. All in good time. Over here, what can you determine in this window?”

Zachary saw a caged rat being surrounded by a group of cats. On the press of a button, Dr. Callahan released the rat which then attacked the felines with great ferocity before being torn apart.

“This is an easy one. Come on Zack, what caused the rat to fight this way?”

“Toxoplasma gondii, sir. I mean Dr. I feel a bit queasy.”

“You’ll get used to it. Take a deep breath. This parasite reduces the fear in rats of predators, yes. What else can you determine?”

“Urgh, that the chemical balance of the brain is...the composition is changed. Toxoplasma does not cause aggression. It triggers a relaxed behaviour in prey when confronted with predators. It doesn’t work in the parasites best interest for the host to stand its ground.”

“Again, excellent. It may surprise you, Zack. We’ve had vermin kill a fully grown cat. That’s why we introduce these specimens to a group of ferals. Our department has learned to influence the behaviour of these parasites. Somewhat ironic, as its only purpose is to control the host.”

“If we can control the parasite, we can eliminate it. That’s genius.”

“It gets better. Let’s walk down here. There’s a special case indeed. Please tell me, Zack, what is wrong with this cow?”

Zack stood before a window and saw a pulsating puss of raw swollen flesh. An unrecognisable mound that covered the entire enclosure floor.

“Sir, are we looking at the same thing here? That sure doesn’t look like a cow.”

“Oh, I assure you, kid. It is. What can you tell me about it?”

“I, urgh. I’m not sure. There’s no host. This looks like a strange blood-red fungus, consisting of tissue. I’ve never witnessed anything like this!”

“This you wouldn’t read about on the surface. It’s arguably one of our greatest discoveries. The department has created a parasite that can single-handedly contort the entire anatomy of bovine. It reduces the host to a mass. The smell inside is most horrific, I assure you. This is able to lure predators from miles around that carry the disease and in turn die as a result. It seeps into the grass and is digested by the cow once more.”

“You created this?!” How long does it take to reduce a fully grown cow down to this?!”

“Zack, here we can create wonders. To answer your other question, about fifteen minutes. Isn’t it remarkable?”

"What the hell is the purpose of this?"

"Well, Zack, the government wants insurance policies to use in the event of hostile threats overseas."

"You’re engineering this to be used against people?!"

"That's our job, Zack. You didn't think we'd be smuggled down here to manufacturer lolly-pops now, did you?"

“Go to hell, you sick fucking freak!”

“Now, now, I know it’s a shock.”

“No! Get me the fuck out of here! I came to cure these plagues not add to their numbers!”

“That’s a shame, Zack. A real shame,” Dr. Callahan drew a pistol from his coat pocket. “Your intellect would have been very useful, but I guess we’ll have to just use your body now.”


© Copyright 2020 Daniel A J Barker. All rights reserved.

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