Chapter Seventeen: OverheardEdit
"Two weeks ago," began the park ranger, "Your son was driving on route 77 which goes through the Porcupine Mountains on his way home from a medical convention. There's a monster cliff that runs alongside it. He called me up to tell me that he had run off the road and was stuck on the edge." Mrs. Harper gasped and looked at her son. "For heaven's sake, Jim, haven't you learned how to drive safely yet?" Fred stopped her from continuing. "He swerved to miss an animal. At any rate, by the time I got there, his car was gone, so we thought he was dead. But, the next morning the police went out to search for him in a helicopter, just to make sure. Well, needless to say, they found him alive on a ledge jutting out from the cliff wall. But he was, well, damaged somewhat."
"I shouldn't wonder!" exclaimed Mrs. Harper, taking James arm firmly. "How was he hurt? Was his back injured? He's had many years of back problems, you know." James rolled his eyes.
"His back was fine, strangely enough," said Fred. "His whole body had undergone an incredible, yet horrible, change. The corpse of a bobcat lay alongside him, and it had bitten him on the left arm. But most of the bite was obscured by the—er—cat hair that covered his whole body."
"And then we discovered how to undo your son's hideous transformation," Fred's voice said on the radio lying in front of Chaleen Bright, who had a wide, malicious smile on her face. Unknown to the Harpers, she had bugged their house.
"Goodness, that was horrible!" Margaret said loudly. "I can see why you wouldn't want anyone to know about it. Still, you can confide the story in me." Chaleen stopped pressed stop.
"Oh, no, Mrs. Harper," Chaleen giggled to herself, "it's wonderful - in fact, this will be the greatest story of my career!"
Dr. Harper heard something outside the window, and gave a semiconscious jolt. Mr. Montgomery, seeing him act in this strange way, leaned over and whispered something to his ear: "What?"
Dr. Harper whispered back. "I bet it's Chaleen." Mr. Montgomery withdrew. He knew he had possibly made a major error. He reached for his radio to tell Officer McPherson before it was too late. Just as he was about to speak into it, the radio cackled to life:
"Good work, ranger! I told you that nothing good would come out of this. Today we found one bug listening in. We may hear more tomorrow. Now get out here, quick!" Mr. Montgomery rushed outside, just as he heard the sound of a helicopter taking off from the house's easement into the air. He looked up and saw that, in the passenger's seat in the military chopper, Chaleen Bright was pressing outward against the chopper's rear window, striving to break out of the cell she was imprisoned within, but looking very forlorn and unable to break through. At least she wouldn't be able to tell others what she'd heard from the bug.
"She had been caught eavesdropping on classified information," said McPherson just outside. "She's being deported right now to a top secret military prison, no bail. Our men are currently scanning the house for any radio signals going away from it which would tell us if there was another bug here."
Chapter Eighteen: Searching for ChaleenEdit
"And today," a reporter said on the news that night, "We are sad to report the mysterious disappearance of one of our colleagues, Chaleen Bright, 29. Search and rescue efforts have thus far turned up no evidence pointing to the location of Chaleen. Chaleen was always a very, uh...happy person and we hope she is found soon."
"Search and rescue efforts?" asked Fred in surprise.
"The search and rescue teams are operating independently of us and have no idea what the truth is," McPherson assured him. "We'll stop them from getting too close to anything suspicious."
"So they'll spend millions of dollars to try and find someone that you're holding?" Fred asked incredulously. "That's a phenomenal waste of money! Why don’t you put a stop it to?"
"No can do," McPherson replied. "That would raise people's suspicious. Keeping this secret is more important than money."
"What are you going to do?" Fred asked. "Hold her forever? She's a reporter and not a particularly trustworthy person - there's no way you're going to convince her to keep quiet." McPherson sighed.
"We're working on that," he said, "but until we come up with something, we'll keep her from telling anybody anything."
"Why?" Brian asked. "I mean, the whole thing sounds like the kind of cheesy story people making up stuff for the Fiction Wikia would come up with."
"True as that may be," McPherson explained, "she has evidence. She recorded you people explaining the truth."
"Well, what if you were to just destroy the evidence?" Brian asked. "If she said anything people would just think she was crazy."
"Or at least crazier than they already think she is," Audrey added. McPherson sat up.
"That gives me an idea," he said. "Fred, get my Dr. Newton on the phone."
"Dr. Newton?" Brian asked as Fred headed for the phone.
"Expert hypnotist," McPherson explained. "Miss Bright won't be able to tell anybody the truth, because she won't remember it. As far as she'll be concerned, she blacked out for twelve hours."
"Wow, you people are really serious about this," Brian said in amazement.
"Yes, we are," McPherson answered curtly. "And let this be an example to you of what would if you told anyone the truth."
"You don't need to worry," James told him. "I have enough trouble with people at work without them knowing I'm some kind of 'werecat.'"
At the prison whose location must remain top secret...
The helicopter landed, its motor blades spinning in the air with loud whirring noises; it touched down, bounced a bit before coming to a halt. Suddenly, with a crunching noise, it let out a great amount of white gas.
Within the cell of the helicopter, Chaleen, trapped and alone, shrieked from the loud noise, and hoped inwardly as far as she dared that nothing lethal had occurred. She had no intention of a simple news report to land her in prison, yet this was what the warrant officers piloting the craft had told her en route. In a shaky and high-pitched voice, she cried out to the officers: "What happened???"
One of the officers humphed. Another grunted. They were both excited by the prospect of being able to scare the sylph half to death: they were in control of her and had legal jurisdiction over her. But the first one did answer. "That's all normal with the landing. Some things you learn when you join the military."
Chaleen was in fetal position, so afraid she was of her immediate future, that the officers had to drag her out from the cell. Then the first one carried her limp form over his shoulder, while the second lifted off the aircraft with another loud whissing noise. It hovered back up into the air, and departed into the distance, as Chaleen watched it depart from her awkward, suspended position. "Let me GO!!!" she called out, yet knowing that it was futile, that everything she did while here would be absolutely ineffectual. She was at the mercy of the prison warden, and she knew it.
The lieutenant of the prison looked at the transcript with understanding. Yet another instance of an over-ambitious reporter out to snare a classified story... He stood up walked out of his office, where the warrant officer carried Chaleen over his shoulder like some large bag. "Cell twenty-four," he called out. The Torments Wing of the complex. Enough to scare the wits out of anyone and drive them mad. He laughed to himself, soundlessly.
The Torments Wing reserved nothing for scaring the inmates. The entire place hadn't been cleaned for months, on purpose, so that now the place was filled with maggots and mosquitoes. No one knew how many sharp objects protruded from every surface, only that the hay filling the cells was woefully inadequate for any decency. But that was the point, and as a military (not civilian) installation all this nastiness was not illegal; in fact, it had the right to exist.
"Come on, Miss Nosy," said one of the guards. "Don't worry, the Rat will take good care of you!" The Rat? The name struck terror in her heart as she was hauled off down the corridor.
Two more flights of stairs took them to one of the nastiest parts of the prison. Water dripped from the ceiling, and the smell of something dead filled the air. The reporter was dragged to the very end of the hall, to cell number twenty-four. Suddenly, a terrible gurgling noise reached the ears of the three. The two guards shuddered visibly, while Chaleen was struck dumb. In the dim light, a monstrous creature was visible in cell number twenty-four. Covered with matted fur, it had two yellow eyes and two small, ragged ears. It was vaguely humanoid in shape and size, but it looked like a monstrous rat! It opened its horrible mouth and let loose a growl. Its jagged yellow teeth shown horribly and slime dripped from them.
"Say hello to the Rat," said one of the guards. "We just brought him in last week. You want a story on a monster? Get his!" Opening the door, they threw her onto the damp floor. She looked up to see the horrible demon staring down at her.
Of the immense horror and ear-piercing shriek of shock of Chaleen, mere words cannot describe; we shall now zoom to a different aspect of this unfolding story.
Chapter Nineteen: The ReptoidEdit
Dr. Henry Jennings looked at the face of his patient. He could taste bile. If Andrews had been bad before, he was ten times worse now. The seargent's hair had fallen completely out, and now patches of scaley, brownish skin were appearing everywhere. His eyes were still shut and had become enlarged. His nose had shrunk significantly. The front of his face was coming outwards somewhat, as if it were a beak. "Carol," he said urgently, "Get me Dr. Billings. He needs to see this. And get me the phone. I'm going to dial the army base. General Stuart needs to hear about this." Carol took one look at the disfigured seargent and rushed off to find Billings.
"This is Dr. Henry Jennings from the Banal Hospital. I'd like to speak to General Stuart," said Henry as the general's secretary answered.
"I'm sorry," she said in her high, squeaky voice, "General Stuart's very busy right now and—"
"I don't care if he's busy!" growled the doctor. "I need to speak to him right away! It's incredibly urgent!"
"He can't be—"
"GET HIM RIGHT NOW!" shouted Dr. Jennings.
General Stuart sat in his office, looking over an exasperating pile of paperwork. Suddenly, he recieved a buzz. "Yes, what is it?" he said into his radio.
"General, a Mr. Henry Jennings demands to speak with you," said the secretary. He swore. "What the devil does he want?" he growled. "Put him on!"
"General, this is important," said Jennings once he had reached Stuart.
"Dad-gummit, I'm extremely busy, Henry! It had better be really important!"
"Andrews is worse. I can't describe him very well; the best I can do is to say that, well, he looks like a-a big reptile."
Stuart sat dumbfounded for a minute. Was it that virus? He swore again. "Has he woken up yet?" he asked.
"No," said the doctor, twirling his moustache in frustration. "He's still completely out!"
"All right, I'll be there as soon as I can. Forget this stupid paperwork!" He hung up and then buzzed his secretary. "Get me Marone," he said. "Tell him it's urgent!"
Soon Marone was in the office. "You called me, sir?"
"Yes. We need to get to the Banal Hospital just as soon as we can. Andrews is much worse."
Liuetenant groaned. "What is it now?"
"He's become, well, you'll see for yourself once we get there. Now go get the pilot and tell him to get that chopper ready!" Marone saluted and left the room.
Within forty minutes, the helicopter had landed on top of the hospital, and the general and Marone rushed down the hall to the Jennings' room. There a horrific sight greeted them. Andrews was even worse than described a little earlier; his nose was completely gone, and in its place were two holes, like a snake. A strange slime was coming out of the seargent's half-closed mouth. His skin had become dry and scaley and brown. Both of the Jennings were there, unable to tear their eyes off of the monstrous humanoid that now lay before them.
Marone felt tears spring to his eyes, despite having been trained to keep his emotions under control. All Stuart could do was stand there and gape in horror. "I guess I can't keep it from you any longer," he said, turning to Henry. The doctor looked up at him. "You'll tell us?" he said hopefully.
"I'll tell you two alone, but no one else is to know. If anyone else gets one word of this story from you, well, you'll both have to land in our prison. Get the picture?" Henry and Carol nodded.
"It all started about ten years ago, in the Himalayan Mountains..."
Chapter Twenty: The RatEdit
"So how was your experience in the Torments Wing, Bright?" asked Caulton Harrington, the prison warden, as he smoked his cigar. "How did you like the Rat staying in the cell next to you?" Chaleen, her usually fashionably elegant blonde hair now unkempt, sat up, shaking.
"W-well, it was quite an experience," she said, feeling dazed. "I usually like it when horrible things happen to people - it makes great news. I just don't like it when horrible things happen to me."
Harrington smiled. "Well, unless you want more time in the Torments Wing, you'll do exactly what I say," he said nonchalantly.
"How long will you keep me here?" Chaleen asked nervously.
"How about forever?" Harrington replied, matter of factly.
"You can't do that!" she said, alarmed at the prospect. "People will notice if I disappear!!!"
"Oh, relax, Chaleen. People disappear every day," Harrington pointed out. "It won't be at all suspicious. Besides, who would want to find you?"
Chaleen considered it. "Okay, I suppose you've got a point there," she admitted, "but it's still not fair! It's discrimination against all of us who have unpleasant personalities!" Harrington laughed.
"Life's not fair, Chaleen," he told her, smiling widely. "Take her back to her cell!" Two guards stepped forward and grabbed her by her arms to drag her out of the room. Suddenly, another guard ran into the room.
"Sir, Officer McPherson and Dr. Newton are on their way!" he shouted. The words were no sooner out of his mouth when the door burst open.
"Correction, they're here now," McPherson corrected. "We're here for Chaleen Bright. We've decided we're going to hypnotize so she doesn't remember what she's found out and set her free."
"Sorry, Bucko, she's mine!" Harrington replied. "I haven't had enough fun with her yet."
McPherson was temporarily taken aback. "I'm sorry," he said, "I thought we were working here for the good of our country and the world, not to fulfill our own sadistic tendancies. If you're working for the latter, I might mention something to your superiors."
Harrington considered it. "McPherson," he shouted, "you're under arrest for insubordination!"
"What?" McPherson asked incredulously, as two guards grabbed him. "You can't do that!"
"Oh, yes, I can," Harrington said smugly. "You and your little doctor friend will stay here until you learn discipline...discipline to me! Guards, lock them up with Bright!"
The guards threw Chaleen and the two new arrivals into cell number 24.
Fred was pacing back and forth across the Harpers' living room.
"Where's McPherson?" he asked no one in particular. "He should have been back by now."
"Same place he was last time you asked," Brian replied lazily. "Getting Chaleen to hypnotize her."
"Well, he should have been back by now," Fred repeated.
"You said that already," Audrey told him. Fred sighed.
"This is not like him," he said. "If there's one thing you can say about John McPherson, it's that he's punctual."
"Well, apparently he's not," Margaret added. "This lateness is quite rude."
Suddenly the phone rang. Fred grabbed it. "Hello?" he said.
"Hello? This is McPherson," came a shaky voice.
"McPherson! Where the heck are you?" Fred asked angrily.
"No time! Fred, you'll never believe it!"
"Never believe what? Come on, out with it!"
"Th-there's another monster here!"
Fred was struck dumb for a minute. "WHAT?" he exclaimed. "ANOTHER one?"
"It's-well, it's like a giant rodent!" McPherson broke down there. "I barely escaped with my life!" he sobbed.
"Where are you and what do you mean!!" asked Montgomery, shaken.
"That old bastard has put me in prison, and with that...beast!... That's what!"
"Well how come you're still alive?"
"That's just the strange thing. This one had plenty of chances to bite both me and Ms. Bright, but it isn't doing that..."
Chapter Twenty-one: Back at the CellEdit
Back at the cell...
The dimness was broken by a few shafts of light. The prison guards stood outside Cell 24, on tip toe, with their guns aimed at the beast. One of them had just handed McPherson, whom he trusted, with a cell phone, after seeing the amazing thing happen.
The giant gray Rat was sitting in a corner, simply watching the three inmates, with no intention of striking.
Was that what was supposed to happen? They all wondered. That was why they had Officer McPherson call to others involved in the crisis.
"Psst," McPherson whispered to the guard, after hanging up on the conversation.
"What," the guards replied. They liked him far better than they liked the cruel and sadistic warden.
"Get me out of here. We're going to spring this beast on the warden and scare him for a change."
"What if it attacks us!!!"
"Hush, man, you both see what this rat is like. He isn't going to strike out at any one."
"You've got a point..." the guards weren't all that convinced.
"Aren't you both still my pals? Don't you trust me? Don't you??"
Under this barrage of questions, the guards consented. Their hands shaking and the key rattling, they opened the gate. Officer McPherson stepped outside, and the rat, seeming to understand him, walked out right after, slowly and not poised to strike him down.
"The warden's office is that way," McPherson told the giant rat. "Go scare him, will ya?"
The rat looked at him, then, as if understanding, departed in the direction he pointed. McPherson smiled inwardly. "This is going to be interesting," he whispered to himself and to the other guards. "I'll get my revenge..."
"AAAARRRRGG!!! The warden jumped out of his chair and hit his head against a wall. He looked at the monster, mouth agape yet unable to speak a word. So striken he was, that he was unable to move.
Nearby, McPherson came up to him. "Ha ha ha!" he announced. "Got you scared, didn't I? Well guess what, I'm friends with him!"
The warden gulped.
McPherson continued. "This stuff about the virus and the three critters, it can't stay secret for long. It's going to be public news, TODAY!"
"NO!!!" shouted the still-half-stunned warden.
"Try to stop me," McPherson taunted.
"You CAN'T!!! It's classified!!!"
McPherson's eyes glared. "Oh really? Try me."
Suddenly, the Rat went into a crouch, baring its teeth. It gave a low growl, staring at the warden. "G-get back!" he said shakily.
"He hates you," said McPherson. "How long have you kept him in here, anyway?"
The giant rodent leaped onto the desk, scattering everything on it. Then it bowled into Harrington, knocking him over. Saliva dripped onto the warden's pitiful form from the Rat's horrible mouth. It gurgled, then began tearing Harrington to pieces.
But it didn't stop there. Looking back at McPherson, it began to move toward him. "Whoa! Stop!" said McPherson. "I thought you were my friend!"
"Fool!" said one of the guards coming behind him. "All it wanted was for you to get him out of there! Now it's going to kill all of us!" McPherson grabbed the man's pistol. "Get back!" he shouted. "BACK!"
The Rat jumped. BANG! A bullet lodged itself in the monster's shoulder. It fell to the floor and screeched, then leaped again. This time it got one of the guards. McPherson lost his nerve and bolted from the room. As he fled, three more shots rang out in quick succession.
He only stopped running when he got to the entrance of the prison, where he was accosted by Montgomery and the Harper family, whom he had called a few minutes back. He answered to them: "Yea, it turned out to be a bastard... but a smart one, though."
Audrey was disappointed. "What happened?"
"It tore Lgt. Harrington into pieces, that's what," he replied.
Brian thought for a moment. "That's strange. These were-creatures aren't supposed to be able to be so smart."
Montgomery gasped. "Maybe the virus is evolving to get smarter."
"If that's the case, then we ought to tell the news to the general public," replied McPherson.
Chaleen (who had been following McPherson) was confused. "Why?"
Chapter Twenty-two: "They're still people"Edit
Montgomery turned to her with a knowing smile. "I'll tell you, but I think you've learned your lesson, haven't you, and without the help of a hypnotist?"
She nodded. "This way turned out the better, as I certainly won't tell anything I figure out from now on, as opposed to being hypnotized, as I would spill out whatever I discovered later."
"Right you are." Montgomery was pleased.
"So, is that rat dead?" asked Brian.
"Hmm. If you all are armed, we can go check."
The Harpers nodded. "Security didn't have a problem with that when they heard the shots ring out. I figure they knew that things were out of order."
"All right then, come after me..."
"Wait, aren't you going to tell me?"
"We can't arrive at a conclusion until we see what's happening back at the office." So they went there, each of them armed: McPherson, Montgomery, Harper, Bright, Brian, and Audrey.
When they got to the office, their worst fears were confirmed. The giant rat was still alive and the four bullets had all missed it, while Lgt. Harrison was torn to pieces and the two guards were lying on the floor, infected by the virus and quaking with the biological changes going on inside them.
Dr. Harper pointed his revolver at the giant rat and shot at it once. Blood spurted forth from the wound, and the giant rat collapsed, dead. He then pointed his gun at the two guards.
"Wait, Dr. Harper. You can't shoot them. They're still people."
"You'll be committing murder, as most people in the government still don't know the truth. Since this material is classified, we can't let a hearing result in the evidence coming to light."
"So what do we do now?"...
A few minutes later, the two infected guards were safely behind bars at the nearest empty cells.
Dr. Harper stopped. "This sounds familiar.... Only now we're going to have two giant rats in the prison, rather than one."
McPherson stood silently for a moment and pondered. Then, on a hunch, he went to the classified prison archives in the drawer, and took the key to it from the dead warden. He took out folder after folder, until he came across a red one that said, "Unusual Occurrences".
"I think we've found what we're looking for," he said.
The others peered closer. In the folder was a transcript on how the first giant rat had been caught. Then another, on how the rat had tricked the guards into opening the cell gate and how it had killed the previous warden and infected two guards. How those turned into giant rats, but the newly hired guards weren't told of its significance; how one of the two was deported inside the cell of a prison helicopter to a research area in the Pentagon; how the other one was left here, as a symbol of what had happened before.
"Well guys, I think I know where we have to pay our next visit--the Pentagon."
Chapter Twenty-three: The PentagonEdit
- THE PENTAGON, WASHINGTON, D.C., USA
- MONDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2006
It had been two days since the bite, and now Andrews was gone. Completely gone. In his place was the most despicable, vile reptile ever to set foot on the earth. And set foot he did. The coma was wearing off, and his eyes opened. But what eyes! They were large and snake-like, and the pupils were slitted. His skin had come off entirely, leaving behind a new layer of reptilian skin. Painfully, he tried to get up off the bed where he was lying. Everything looked strange to him now.
A doctor entered the room, and stopped short. He was staring directly at the demon. "Help!" he shouted. "He's up!" He tried to run, but the beast leaped into the air and knocked him flat, before ripping out his throat.
Liuetenant Marone saw it happen. Grabbing his machine gun, he fired several rounds. Enraged, the monster jumped at him. But Marone had learnt karate, and he knew the moves. Leaping out of the way, he caught the giant lizard a sharp knock to its head. The creature went sprawling, and knocked over a cart being pushed by a nurse. When the nurse saw it, she screamed and ran. The creature got up and went after her.
"Attention all units!" shouted Marone into his radio. "Get out here to the Banal Hospital immediately!"
The general and Dr. and Mrs. Jennings, after entrusting Andrews to several military doctors, had flown to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia the day before where they could discuss the vital information in private. Plus, a lab there contained the virus, which the doctors wished to see.
"And so," concluded General Stuart, "The virus was lost to our knowledge, until several months ago, when a reporter by the name of Paul Stevens was bitten by a rat in one of our prisons. It changed him into one of the most devilish creatures on the face of the planet; a half-man, half-rodent!" The two doctors gasped.
Just then, one of the troopers came rushing into the room. "General, there's some people wanting to see you."
"What is this? Don't they have to go through normal procedures? This is the Pentagon, for cryin' out loud!"
"Yes yes I told them that but they said it didn't matter, because they knew about these were-creatures and that if we didn't give them an audience they'll have their reporter Ms. Bright tell the public!"
"Grrr.... Where are they now?"
"Out in the front of the Pentagon at a standoff with our soldiers."
"Go tell them."
"Go get them, dang it!" The General collapsed into his chair.
Soon a group of six people stood in the room. One was tall and wore a ranger's outfit, one was short, stocky and wore a police officer's uniform, and another looked to be about four feet tall and was dressed fairly casually. There was an elderly lady there, along with two teenagers, an athletic-looking young man and an attractive young lady.
"And you are?" Stuart asked gruffly.
The ranger spoke first. "My name is Fred Montgomery. I'm a park ranger at the Porcupine Mountains National Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This," he said pointing to the officer, "Is John McPherson, Chief of Police in Penmount, Michigan. And this," he said pointing to the casually-dressed man, "Is Dr. James Harper and his mother, Margaret, and two kids Brian and Audrey. As you may know, this is fairly important, otherwise we wouldn't have taken the trouble to fly out here to see you!"
"No, no, sit down," said Stuart, scowling. "Now what is it you want?" he asked. "Can't you see I'm incredibly busy?"
"We can see that, General," said Dr. Harper, "But we have important business to discuss here. You see, well, you tell him, Chief."
Officer McPherson took over. "We were just at one of your secure prisons," said McPherson, "And we found a little surprise there."
"Did you?" asked the General, subconciously knowing what it was. "I don't suppose it was a were-rat, was it?"
"As a matter of fact, it was!" said the officer. "And now you're going to have two there on your hands, because two of your guards were bitten! Oh don't worry, we killed the original."
General Stuart pounded the table in the small office and swore. "I just can't believe it," he said. "What were you all doing snooping around in the prison, anyway?"
"Well," said Mr. Montgomery, "It just so happened that a snoopy reporter got sent there for trying to get James Harper's story."
"What story? What's goin' on here?" But he already knew the answer. He had been notified immediately as to the the doctor's horrendous transformation, and had spent a week making sure the man had been cured.
Chapter Twenty-four: ConfrontationEdit
"Dr. Harper here is one of the victims of that virus," said Officer McPherson. "He was bitten by a bobcat."
Stuart stared at the doctor. "So you're that big case that I was being bombarded three weeks ago," he said angrily. "I take it they managed to cure you?"
"Yeah, but I'm still getting over it," said James. "To tell you the truth, I don't really think they've expelled the virus."
The general looked him over. "You look all right to me," he said dryly. "Is there anything really serious going on?"
"Sometimes I think I'm hearing things," said the doctor. "I was able to hear that reporter sniggering outside the window, even though no one else could."
"Hey that's true, he did!" exclaimed Montgomery. "I don't believe I noticed that!"
"Well," said the general, "We'll have one of our doctors give you a physical soon to make sure everything's all right. I'm sure it's just an aftereffect. McPherson," he said addressing the officer, "I believe we've met. You told them about the virus, didn't you?"
"Yeah," said the officer. "Of course, it was against my will."
Suddenly, there was a buzzing sound coming from the general's radio. He cussed and picked it up. "Yes, who is it and what do you want?"
"This is Lieutenant Marone, General Stuart," said Marone from the radio. The man sounded exasperated. "There's a big reptile outside the Banal Hospital!" The general's eyes widened. "WHAT? You mean Andrews is awake?"
"Yes, and several of our doctors were killed. He would have destroyed the whole wing if we hadn't arrived and stopped him with sleeping gas!"
The general pounded his fist on the table in frustration. "Where is he now? Did you move him at all?"
"We're loading him into a chopper right now," said Marone. "Where do you want him?" The general thought for a minute. "Take him to Area 44 in the North Cascades," he said. "Over and out."
He looked up at the terrified faces surrounding him. Carol Jennings fainted. "Don't worry," said Stuart, "He'll be safe at Area 44. That's one of our main top secret research labs, and they did most of the work with the virus there."
"Sir," said Fred, "Where did this bacteriophage first get loosed into the air?"
"I think," said Stuart, "It was in the Detroit area. Why?"
"That means it'll probably be travelling around the country by now! It has to be stopped, before it spreads around the entire planet. If it's not restrained, eventually the planet will be populated mostly by were-animals!"
"I've already considered that problem," said Stuart. "And no, it's not that serious. The virus is only passed on by blood, as your experience has already shown you, from infected were-creatures to healthy creatures. And meanwhile, our scientists have managed to develop a special anti-serum to render the virus sterile, as was proven in the restoration of your friend Dr. Harper here. All we have to do is to get each creature that turns up and inject it. However, there's no telling how many creatures there'll be."
"And of course, we have to get this virus before it spreads throughout the whole world!"
"We'll find a way," said Stuart. "But we shouldn't get overworked; after all, we have a serum."
"What do we do now, General?" asked Henry Jennings, his face heavy with worry.
"We'll fly out to the North Cascades tomorrow morning," Stuart replied. "In the meantime, I suggest that we all get some sleep. Believe me, we're going to need it."
The general turned to one of his lieutenants. "The files in zeta-alpha-four-omega are to be shown to the scientists at Area 44," he said. The lieutenant saluted, then departed.