The Resurrection Gene
New York City, New York
He should have never listened to him. Trespassing deep within the abandoned New York City subway tunnel was a bad idea.
The darkness was an abyss stretching out endlessly before him, holding within its yawning maw all manner of horrors.
Dread crept down A.J.’s spine; his body quivered and muscles tensed. He pulled his baseball cap tightly around his head.
Something lifeless stared back at him from the brewing shadows, he was sure of it.
He blinked and it was gone.
His breath labored and his heart thundered with agony. A.J. had to keep his reactions under control to avoid being tracked down.
Eyes darting back and forth, his feet dragged across the metal tracks. The littlest of sounds could spell his doom.
In the distance, a subway train scraped along the tracks, its patrons clueless of the looming danger.
If A.J. didn’t make it out alive, the world would never know.
He envied their ignorance. A morbid smile spread across his face, as he thought of his long-past craving for adventure.
That was a time when he’d pray for a life-changing experience that would shatter his otherwise mundane life.
University. Nightly partying. Endless homework. It was a circle he couldn’t get out of, and now he longed to get back to it.
Anything was better than running for his life.
As A.J. ran along the dank, rat-infested train tracks, his lungs gasping for air, one thing was clear: he had to move now, or he would die.
The air in the abandoned tunnel was thick and pungent, made rotten by years of neglect.
Cockroaches and varmints had made it their home, living in squalor. Not even the most desperate of transients would hole up here. Its curved walls crumbled with disrepair. Only the graffiti, a splash of color in an otherwise grimy environment exhibited a time of hope.
Wincing with every step, small stones crushed underfoot in an otherwise deathly silence.
Even the barest whisper was a thunderclap in the underground. It was only a matter of time before he was caught by it.
Sweat prickled his temples, trickling down the sides of his face, as he remembered what he’d seen.
Stinking of fear, A.J. wanted to strip his jacket, black top, and pants—frivolous garments. They were but the useless remnants of a life that would never be the same.
Stained in blood and sweat, A.J. longed for a weapon—a gun, a knife; he’d take a stick at this point.
He was armed with nothing but his wits and fists, though he feared neither would be enough.
Slamming his back against a dark nook, A.J. glanced back just long enough to see if he was still being chased.
Nothing. He had to catch his breath.
Small bits of rubble fell around him, softly impacting against his body. A.J. doubled over, heaving air into his lungs, dripping sweat from his brow.
Every breath strained through his crackle-dry throat was broken glass, slicing its way down his gullet.
His muscles throbbed and ached, their tendons torn apart. Every step was misery, every second another endured torment.
The putrid smell didn’t help matters, either. A.J. could almost taste the bile in the back of his throat. He wished that this was nothing but a nightmare.
His head cracked in the direction of the sound. Silence. Minutes were like hours in this living hell.
A gust of wind stirred the old magazines and trash littering the ground, and the tense air was alive with fear.
Someone was near.
Only the rusted bars lining the tracks signaled any hope for salvation. He had to follow them, no matter what the risk.
Yet somehow, the ominous sense that he’d been herded into a trap shuddered through A.J.’s body.
His best friend Chad had been captured by it—slaughtered. No one could survive that thing.
How he wished that his best friend was by his side now; he didn’t want to die alone in this grimy tunnel.
Those last moments Chad had experienced must have been filled with absolute terror.
Had Chad seen flashes of his family? Had he thought of the wishes left unfulfilled, or of all the times he and A.J. had shared growing up together?
So many questions that would never be answered, even long after they found his rotting corpse. Or what was left of it.
Somebody had to notice they were missing eventually, right?
A.J. swallowed hard, remembering how Chad had made him promise not to tell anyone where they were going.
A.J. was a fool for having listened to his best friend. Right now, he could’ve been chilling in their cruddy apartment like any other dateless Friday night.
Whispers ricocheted across the walls in every direction. High voices, low voices. He was going mad.
His heart slammed into his chest, his knees shaking like weak jelly.
Something unsettling, something unnatural, something unholy was brewing. His mind raced. He couldn’t stay here. Staying here was suicide.
As he stumbled along the tracks as fast as he could, he couldn’t help but allow the guilt to sink its claws into him.
Poor Chad. He’d been hunted like prey. If he hadn’t made it, what hope did A.J. have?
He’d looked everywhere for his best friend. His tattered and blood-soaked shirt proved it.
The short-lived battle had been messy, and only by a miracle had he escaped. For now, anyway.
Lifeless milk-blue eyes, unnatural pale skin.
Rumors of mole people tickled his mind. It was said that they’d lived for generations under the bowels of the city.
Surviving on trash and rotting corpses, they were the rebels of a civilized society.
A.J. didn’t know what it was that had attacked them back then.
But it was coming for him.
He picked up the pace. The exit door was in the distance. If only he could get to it.
This was too easy. Something was wrong; his survival instincts told him so. Even without its physical presence, fright had seized A.J.
The stealth being was something borne of only the darkest nightmares.
As he ran, the tunnel’s curved walls melted into the roof as if closing in on him.
He was living on borrowed time.
Chad had said he’d found a passageway that led to an underground facility, and A.J. couldn’t let him go down there alone.
The whole idea sounded insane. His best friend’s conspiracy theories, often powered by online chatter, were amusing. Initially, he’d brushed it off.
It was said that these abandoned tunnels were a prime location for such facilities as they were still tied into the city’s power grid.
Often times, these kinds of places would go unnoticed, at least until Chad and A.J. had stumbled down here.
And the pods…he shuddered, thinking about it. Those long cubicles emanating their ethereal green glow. It almost looked like an electronic womb.
Wires protruded from the pods, pulsing with light and energy, as if something were breathing life into them.
All thoughts that the experiments were merely electronic evaporated as they saw through the fogged glass, a face staring back at them.
They had to leave, but their uninvited transgression wouldn’t go unnoticed or unpunished.
The entrance to the subway had been blocked off by warning signs, signs that, right now, A.J. had wished they’d heeded.
A train rumbled nearby. Like distant thunder, its wheels squealed against the rusted tracks in protest.
No one had been down this part of the tunnel in years. It was neglected and crumbling, its cracked red brickwork untouched by graffiti.
Nothing could reach it, not even a cell phone signal.
No one would hear him scream.
Savage red memories fueled his race toward the door—his escape, if he could just get to it.
Its faint glow was his only sign of hope, the only way back into the outside world and back to his normal life.
A gurgling rumble broke through the eerie silence. A.J.’s heart froze and his body stood rigid with tension.
He couldn’t help but be overcome by the feeling of being watched, the feeling of being hunted.
The predator was back.
The horrid stench of death filled the tunnel. But from where? A.J. was almost afraid to look around.
He looked but there was nothing.
Flickers of light from the overhead lamps strobed and yet the abyss still offered nothing but the rancid stench of death.
Raspy breathing echoed off the concrete walls with a hush, and whispers flew by like bullets.
Everywhere and nowhere, the beast sent chills throughout his body.
Whether it lurked from behind the wall or hung down from the ceilings like the strings of sewage that dangled above, A.J didn’t know.
Uncertainty permeated his spirit, and fate laughed its way through the ticking countdown that was his life.
Either way, he had to move faster. He had to make a break for it. It was now or never.
Summoning the last remnants of strength he had, A.J. pushed off, not caring about the noise he made.
The predator was on his trail.
His feet slipped against the ground as his frail muscles were pushed beyond their limits.
Stones scuttled on either side, thudding against the wall, clinking against the train tracks as he ran.
His panting breath reverberated against the wall. The fearful smell of his sweat was intoxicating to the creature.
Pain shot up his ankle; it was sprained. The injury only served to remind him that he was alive; there was no time to think about it.
As A.J. dashed down a turn in the tracks, flashes of the silhouette that pursued him grew closer.
The more he ran, the harder he pushed and the more he dragged himself through mud.
The lights fluttered. From the darkness, the silhouette pursued him in an animalistic fashion.
His heart raced as he ran through the pain, ignoring the begging strain that made him want to do little more than crumple to the floor.
Then, all was dark.
For a moment, everything was silent. A.J. could hear only the rushing blood of his heart beating and the sound of his stifled breath as he listened.
The deathly silence was broken as the impending crunch of something moving towards him cut through the air.
He wanted to move forward, but where was forward? Where was backwards?
Chad had warned him never to step foot on the third rail of the subway tracks or he could be electrocuted.
What a way to die.
A.J. had to take that risk.
The lights fizzed overhead, providing him a way out, strobing faster, faster as he moved into a sprint.
The whispers were all around him now, muttering unintelligible things, demented things.
He wanted to scream but couldn’t expend the energy.
Something crawled along the walls; he swore it. The shadows in his peripheral swam with movement.
Out of nowhere, something leaped toward him, whooshing through the air. He swung out of the way just in time.
An arm, a leg, a tentacle, a tendril—he wasn’t sure what had tried to grab him.
Whatever it was dislodged the rubble as it moved along the sides of the wall, gaining on A.J. with every second.
Move, dammit, move.
A.J. had never run faster in his life. The chase was relentless, and it would be one with an inexorable end unless he could get out.
Almost there. The exit door’s glow radiated, its ghostly green glow a haven.
In his moment of triumph, A.J. looked back. Big mistake.
Tripping over the track wasn’t the worst part; hitting his head on the rusted rail hurt the most.
Pain sang in his head and A.J. rolled onto his back, processing the sensation that was ringing throughout his body.
He groaned, cradling his head in his hands. Blood seeped from his forehead, filtering through his hands.
He noticed that his baseball cap had fallen off, and with a bloodied hand he reached for it. Then, there was a snarl.
It wasn’t only the gurgling sound of the predator that paralyzed him with fear. No, he had much more pressing matters.
A spotlight shone in his face, blinding him, the beam of light coming from nothing other than the oncoming subway.
Barreling towards him, its vibrations rattled the track, the whir of its engines propelling it ever closer.
Sweat ran down the back of his neck after all that running, all that struggle. He couldn’t let it be for nothing.
He had to get up. Now.
As he got up to run, he realized that his foot was trapped. Pain crippled him as he fell to the ground.
The tracks had shifted, locking him in. Panic gripped him.
He was a sitting duck.
He’d come so close to escaping. This felt unfair, for it to end like this. A.J. scrambled up, pulling at his leg in a frenzy.
He twisted until it hurt. The bloodcurdling yell that escaped from his throat was dwarfed by the sound of the oncoming train.
The tracks rumbled. His eyes widened. A.J. took a deep breath and pulled with as much vigor as he could muster.
Pain seared through his tender wound as he pulled it free, skin scraping off in the encapsulating horror.
Light flooded into the decrepit tunnel, creeping along the tunnel walls until it had illuminated the silhouette of the predator before him.
Was that thing wearing a tattered Nazi uniform?
A.J. gasped, stumbling backwards. Its hunched body approached, unperturbed by the incoming train.
Honk! The train’s horn blared.
Whether he was crushed by the train or devoured by the being’s insatiable appetite, A.J. would die.
He was sure of it.
A.J. made the symbol of the cross. He’d never been a religious man, but now was a good time to start.
Even if God existed, He had no place there. Whatever this thing was, it was born from hell.