Short Story Saturday: Night Eaters

Rating: PG

This is a story of mine that was written two years ago. In order to keep its atmosphere, I have done very minimal editing. It was originally the first chapter of an unfinished book mentioned here. Although my writer’s voice has changed much since then, please enjoy it as it is.

He woke up with a start, and for the next couple seconds, he merely screamed with terror and then, after seeing no one to scream for, stared around wide-eyed at his surroundings. He was in some sort of a laboratory, based on the test tubes and desks and formulas and many other sorts of doctoral things hanging around the local area. It was very dark, though. Perhaps he was underground? He couldn’t say, but it was certainly dark enough, except for the light that shined in the structure that he floated in. He was in some sort of a very large blue liquid-filled tube, with something like a gas mask around his face. He darted his head to the left and right quickly, and noticed his hands were chained to something inside the structure. Luckily, he could breathe, but that was the only thing that wasn’t frightening right now.

The last thing he remembered he was being on a date last night with Sarah. They had been walking – yes, that was right – walking on a bridge, and she had asked why they were there, and he had gotten down on one knee and had asked her if she would marry him. It was a beautiful scene: the chirping of night birds, the songs of crickets, the full moon above…
Then her face changed to a look of horror, and it was all a blur after that. Where was she? Where was he? He struggled against his chains with a yell that was muffled by his mask and the water. There was no answer, but perhaps someone would hear and help! But could they even hear him?

He heard a faint opening and closing of a door. Salvation! he thought. But no, it was merely a man in a white doctor’s coat, with thin-rimmed glasses, a curly black mop of hair and light scruff. He was of a light build, about 5’5”, he guessed, but his walk summoned some sort of commanding presence that did not quite fit with his looks. He was carrying a plate of food in his left hand. After shutting the door behind him, the man looked at him and smiled. He quickly rushed over to the desk and pressed some sort of a button, then spoke.

As the doctor spoke, he could hear the sound coming through something in the tube. He moved around to try to find the source.

“Good morning!” said the doctor in a British accent. “Actually, it really isn’t morning. It’s about lunchtime, but I’m told you’re supposed to say good morning to people when they wake up. You slept a long time, probably due to all that running you were doing last night.” The doctor paused. “You probably have a lot of questions, I understand. I’m going to let you out, but promise not to run. There are some things you need to know first. Do you understand?”

He stared at the doctor.

“Do you understand?” the doctor repeated slowly.

He nodded.

“Very good!” the doctor said with a smile. “Now, this is going to be somewhat loud.”

He heard a very loud buzzing sound above him as the water level lowered around him. He watched it curiously as it came down past his head, below his waist, then disappeared altogether. The chains opened and he removed the gas mask. He walked out.

He was a bit damp as he looked – head tilted a little – at the doctor in front of him. He tilted his head back, took a deep breath of the air, and then breathed out slowly.

The doctor motioned to the chair in front of the desk. “Take a seat, we have much to discuss.”

He looked around at the room. A few more giant tubes lay in a row, each with a person sleeping in it. They were dressed, like him, in nothing more than white underwear. He took a seat.

The doctor put the plate in front of him. “Enjoy yourself. I’ve got plenty.”

He took the fork at left and began to eat. He hadn’t really gotten a chance to see it before, but he certainly didn’t mind the menu: medium rare steak with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy.

The man knows how to eat, he thought as he chewed contentedly.

“I’m not going to be all dramatic and ask if you know why you’re here,” said the doctor, “because I’m 90% positive you don’t. So listen closely – this is going to sound very strange and you probably won’t believe me at first, or at all.”

He put his piece of steak to the side of his mouth before saying, “I’m listening.” He continued to chew.

The doctor let out a sigh. “My name is Dr. Daniel Santos. I brought you here because you are what I refer to as a ‘night eater’.” He paused.

He raised his eyebrows but remained interested. “And what exactly,” he asked, “is a night eater?”

“A night eater,” Dr. Santos explained, “is a very rare genetic mutation which causes the carrier to transform into a ravaging beast on a full moon.”

He laughed. “You can’t expect me to believe that, Doctor. If I’m a ‘night eater’, then how come I haven’t turned before?”

“It requires a rather heightened emotion,” Santos explained, “It doesn’t really matter which one. Some people may not change until their late forties, others by adolescent years. It depends on the person.”

He chuckled softly. “So what, you’re telling me is that I’m a werewolf or something?”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Dr. Santos with a wave of the hand. “Werewolves don’t exist. That would require entire bone structure changes within a short time, which seems very much impossible to me. A night eater’s transformation entails paling of the skin, hyper-dilation of the eyes, extending of the fingernails, along with an unusual increase in muscle usage. People who would normally be unable to dunk a basketball into a hoop could now jump to the fourth story of a regular building with no problem.”

“Interesting,” he replied.

“At first, it may seem so,” Dr. Santos replied, “but when you add the increased aggressiveness and typical cannibalistic actions added to it, they become a terrifying freak of nature.”

“Yeah,” he replied as he continued to eat, “but how can you expect me to believe you? No offense, but this sounds like the ranting of a psycho.”

“Certainly,” Dr. Santos responded. He grabbed a remote and pointed to one of the tubes, then clicked a button. He watched in horror as a white light came on above the patient. Suddenly the female patient awoke and shrieked as her eyes turned a pure black, here skin turned white and her fingernails elongated. She turned to him and smiled eerily, then began to beat against the glass with a might never before seen. She hit it three times before he saw a small crack in the glass.

“All right, that’s enough,” shouted Dr. Santos, and then clicked the button again. The white light turned off. The girl returned to normal slowly, and then fell asleep again.

He looked at the girl for a while, and then realized to his horror the identity of the patient.

“Sarah,” he whispered.

“That it is,” replied Dr. Santos. “She transformed first, attacked you and had I not been there to stop her, probably would have killed you. The mutation is genetic but can pass through a bite if the cursed is already changed.”

His voice caught as he tried to reply. “Why am I still here?” he asked softly.

“Because,” replied Dr. Santos, “I believe I have found a cure for all of us.”

He looked at the doctor. “Us…?”

The doctor sighed, and his voiced became softer as he spoke. “You could say I started this whole mess a very long time ago. It’s what happens when you try to play God. Now I have to answer for my sins.” He thought he saw the doctor’s eyes water a bit. He was correct; the doctor wiped it away quickly. “Anyway,” he said, his voice returned to regular volume, “on to the fixing of the problem. You have been very helpful in this. This,” he said, holding up a test tube with a blue liquid, “is the beginning to the answer. It worked on you, but, sadly, not on your fiancé. I want to keep you both around until this is fixed.” He smiled faintly. “Sadly, it’s been unfixed for a while, and I need more than just your DNA to fix it.”

“What else do you need?” he asked.

Dr. Santos learned forward. “I want you to help me cure them all.”

He tilted his head and looked at the doctor out of the corner of his right eye. “I don’t know who you think I am, but I can’t take on super-strong psychotic cannibal freaks.”

Dr. Santos leaned back in his chair with a slight smirk. “Are you so sure?”

He rolled his eyes. “What did you do to me?”

“That’s a good question!” he yelled as he whacked the table. “I may have taken away your curse, but I gave you something more.”

“What, steroids?”

“Something much better than that,” the doctor said with a smirk edging its way into a smile as he leaned back into his chair.

“I thought you were all done playing God,” he said with a similar smile.

“I am,” he replied, “that’s why you’re here. Now I give you a choice: will you help me help others, or will you live your life like this never happened? It’s up to you. I’ll wait while you make your decision.”

He paused for a few seconds, and then responded with “I’ll tell you what. If you promise to me that you can fix Sarah, I’ll join up.”

“I promise.”

They shook hands. “Then it’s a deal,” he replied.

“Congratulations,” replied Daniel. “You have just started a new chapter in your life. I just hope you find it to have been the right one.”

“I hope so too,” he agreed.

3 thoughts on “Short Story Saturday: Night Eaters

  1. Gabriel, I love the concept of this story, quite a lot. I’ve found myself wanting more, so with that being said I hope you’ll be posting future chapters. You, my friend have a way around the written word… Bravo to ya…

    Take care and have a great weekend, from Laura ~

    Liked by 1 person

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