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Submitted by: Ken Stark
"Leave the drugs behind, Doc. I don't mind a little recreational chemistry, but I have to draw a line."
There was a long moment where Walker stared at Mason uncomprehendingly, but then he understood and forced a chuckle.
"No, no, no, you have it wrong. Like I said, I'm a coward. This was going to be my escape." He unfurled the cloth and let the vial clatter to the table. "Look, see? Propofol. An easy transition from this world to the next. No pain at all. Just…..…oblivion."
Mason couldn't help but scoff.
"A bullet's faster, Doc."
Walker glanced down at the gun on the floor and shrugged. "And if I'd had one, I'd have used it, believe me."
"That's too bad," Mason scowled his disappointment, "I was hoping you had a few extra clips."
Even as he said the words, a dark shadow passed through his thoughts. It was like the first vague tickle of a notion; a notion far too horrible to imagine.
"Sadly, no," Walker said. "I saw that poor policeman's gun on the floor and grabbed it as I ran. I'd never even held a gun before. I don't know what I was going to do with it, but it seemed right to take it."
The tickling persisted. The shadow was growing darker. But it couldn't be. It just couldn't.
"I saw the cop," Mason narrowed his eyes, "and the empty holster. The spare magazines were gone, too. I assumed….."
He let the words trail off, and studied the man. What Walker said next would either allay Mason's concerns or give full life to that dark, dreadful thought.
"No," The doctor scowled down at the pistol, "Like I said, things went bad quickly. I guess the poor officer did all he could do. The gun was empty."
Just then, Mackenzie's hand gripped Mason's hand like a vice. She gasped, and stared wide-eyed toward the doorway.
"Doc," Mason felt his blood run cold, "Without bullets, how exactly did you attend to your patients?"
Walker shrugged and rolled the vial in his hands.
"Propofol is quick and painless. They didn't suffer, I assu—.…."
Something clattered to the floor just beyond the break room, and they all jumped to their feet.
Mackenzie clung to Mason's side and hushed a firightened, "Mace……."
Mason threw an arm around her shoulder, and bent to whisper in her ear, "I know, Mack."
Another crash. Far down the hall.
"I don't understand," Walker peered toward the open door with widening eyes, "They're all dead, I assure you. Every last one of them. I'm a doctor, for chrissakes!"
Something metal clattered to the floor close by.
"W-who is out there?" Walker stammered. "W-what is it?"
Mason turned a steely eye to the doctor, and his words fell in a hush.
"Doc, welcome to stage three."
* * * * *
Ken Stark is a horror writer from Vancouver, Canada. Excerpts from his latest book "Stage 3" can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Stage-3-Post-Apocalyptic-Thriller-ebook/dp/B01CYITYOS or through his website http://www.kenstark.ca