October 8th, 2008
|liliaeth||12:29 pm - Fic: Fragments of Flesh|
Title: Fragments of flesh
Prompt:616/Marvel Zombies | zombie Spider-Man | gen | Zombie Spidey ends up in the 616, after Cortez sends him and the others out of their own universe. How does the poor zombie react? How do the Skrulls?
Rating:R for violence and cannibalism
Disclaimer: The characters and settings featured in this story are the property of Marvel Entertainment. This is a work of homage and no copyright infringement is intended.
Warnings: Death of major characters, people will be eaten and killed, in that order, it's a zombies fic
Author's notes: Finally finished and betaed, yay! For the record this is the only fic I'll ever write in Brand New Day continuity. There's a good reason why this fic is set in that continuity rather than in the real one. Just thought you might like to know.
Trapped in a city of the living dead, men and women that fell through the cracks lived with whatever they could gather. He watched people walking under the sun, through the drudgery of life as if nothing was wrong with the shadows. Mike liked to think he was a philosopher, a musician and an artist. And if he played his music on empty bottles and built his art out of remnants of other people’s lives or trash then that only made it more worthwhile to do so in the first place.
There was more than food to be found in a dumpster. The day before he’d found this gorgeous piece of shot glass, that caught the sun in a thousand angles when placed just right. And the day before that he’d dug up a pair of glass pearls that had gotten caught in between a banana peel. He’d washed it in the rain and used the pearls on the foot of his statue.
Mike had been digging through the dumpster behind Starlight’s, a nightclub just out of his usual zone when he saw an arm. At first he thought someone had thrown a mannequin in the trash and he jumped in, hoping to get to it first before someone else did. He was shocked to find that the arm belonged to a man, a man who was still breathing.
The stranger was naked, and had blood flowing from his scalp and forehead. Mike flinched, what if the bastards that had robbed this poor sucker were still around. What would they do if they saw him help their victim? It gave him goosebumps just thinking about it. Maybe the guy deserved to be beaten up, undressed and thrown into a dumpster. He didn’t know the guy, why should he risk himself for some stranger that might stab you in the back, the moment you turned away from them. Why should he care about someone he didn’t know? The only ones in this city you could trust were the heroes. Not the shiny ones, the ones on the covers, all government approved. Those were as bad as the cops. No, the real heroes, the ones that stood with Cap. Those still cared about the likes of him. And not like those social workers, that talked as if they wanted to help you, when what they really wanted was to put you in the funny farm, lock you up, three meals a day and think they saved your soul. Not him, no sirree.
He dragged the man out of the trash and pulled him down. There was a bit of a sound when the flesh hit the curb. He quickly jumped down himself, hoping he hadn’t hurt the poor bastard even more. Then he took off his own ratted coat and pulled it onto the wounded stranger. Good Samaritan he was, always ready to help another, but who ever helped him? Well who?
"Don't.... don't belong here. Please stay ... away." The words came out as a whisper, endlessly. Mike barely even listened to the man, no not a man, more like a boy. He pulled the kid's arm over his shoulder and watched him put step by step until they got to one of those rare sanctuaries of safety in the darn canyons of the city. A bright shining ray of light amidst the squalor. The volunteers let him right in and helped him carry the stranger on to a couch. The poor bastard tried to resist, fumbling with his arms, but not really up to putting up a fight. Ain’t no fun being carried like that, when your mind’s fumbling off some other place.
"It's alright." an old woman gently stated as she got some bandages and some water. "Has someone called the police yet?" Nobody answered. She looked beautiful in fine blue array, a true lady amidst the squalor.
"Cops tops, bad boy Peter.” The lady stared at the boy on the table, only now taking a good look of him. Mike could see her face, going from mere concern to fear.
The boy's eyes opened and for a moment Mike thought he'd gone insane. The kid's eyes lighted up in bright shining silver, like a blowtorch in a deep swamp, but even with that in place of pupils he couldn't help notice the horror when the boy stared at the lady. It was in the way he shivered, the way he held his limb as he scrambled right off the couch, crawling away from her to the wall in the blink of an eye.
"Dead, you're dead, gone, vanished, lost, ate you, ate you and her.” He stared at her as if someone had handed him the answer. “It has to be a dream, isn’t it? You just can't be here. Or if you are, then I’m not."
Mike had seen men like him, lost in their own minds. Not all of them could take care of themselves as well as he did. Just because you saw the angels and the demons, didn’t have to mean you were helpless. But the boy mumbled on and on, even Mike’s refined ears couldn’t make any sense out of the words leaving his mouth.
The mad messenger personified, straight out of the storybook, telling our brave knights a tale of horror to prepare the wiry protagonist for the tale to follow.
"Nobody's going to hurt you.” The kind lady stated, her quiet confidence in the face of such horror made her look even more like a saint. “You're safe here."
The messenger, who was more than he seemed at first glance, carrying the token for the story, the quest.
She reached out for the boy. Mike wanted to pull her back, didn’t she see the boy was more dangerous than he seemed. Didn’t she see those eyes, that horror that could turn to violence? He’d seen that look before, in men who had nothing left to lose.
"Close the doors; run for the hills. It’s not like I could stop myself. Not this time. Not when it mattered. I tore you to pieces, you and MJ, took a slice of double meat, but was stopped before I made it three in one bun. There was so much blood, it tasted, tasted, no taste, just blood and flesh. Oh God I need to throw up."
Mike didn't understand how the woman could just sit there, and listen to the boy's mad ramblings while he wouldn’t even let her touch his hands. When the police showed up a bit later, someone had managed to find the kid a blanket; he was still huddled in that same corner, scared whenever the old lady, May, got near him. Others had tried to approach him as well, but he started shrieking whenever they even came close.
His eyes were still glowing, but it didn't seem like they actually did something. One of the cops pulled the boy up. They seemed nice about it; they always did, till they had you...
"Where did you find him? Was anyone around? Who, what why?"
Chief interrogators of the dark city. Ready to throw him in a dungeon and throw away the keys, lock him with straight jackets until he took his meds and the world went back to the drabness it had before he saw the light. The old lady, May, then stood up for him as she’d done for the boy. Mike just wanted to run. He was pretty sure that the strange boy thought the same thing, but 'he' didn't fight the cops. He just sat there lost in the back of the car, staring at the mirrors as if the devil himself glared back at him.
Her arm was hurting. She’d dressed slowly that morning, desperate not to scrape the bruises. She knew she should call in sick. But after last weekend, and the three days the week before that, not to mention the other two times this month… if she called in sick again, she’d lose her job for sure. And she couldn’t risk her job. Her job meant too much to her for that. She’d snuck out of the house, desperate not to wake ‘him’ up. The upstairs neighbor was standing behind the window, staring at her as she left. Lisa gave her a quick wave and went out the door.
Lisa didn’t feel safe. Not in this city. She slipped into the hospital, smiling at anyone who bothered to notice her and wincing whenever she ran into someone who didn’t. She tied her hair behind her back and whistled a tune as she replaced her clothes with scrubs.
Tonya threw her some slips to put over her shoes and she cringed as she bent down.
“Was it that bastard again?” Tonya asked. Lisa flinched.
“I’ve told you before girl, you should just drop that bastard, go to the cops, and get him sent to the big house. That nigger ain’t worth shit.”
Lisa gasped, quickly looking around, hoping no one had heard them.
“Oh don’t go playing pc on me girl, I’m black, I’m allowed to say ‘nigger’ when I feel like it.” Tonya took a comb through her hair and removed the last of her make up before turning her all professional face back at Lisa.
“Don’t go taking the blame girl, sleazebags like that ain’t worth it. We’ve both seen plenty a women come in, looking like you and worse. And you ain’t ever had a problem telling them to run for the hills.” Lisa looked away from her, checking the mirror, hoping Nick hadn’t clipped her face by accident. He always tried to avoid that.
She wasn’t like those other woman. She was sure of it, Nick loved her. He just got angry, losing his job like that. He didn’t mean to hurt her. She just shouldn’t have annoyed him like she did.
Tonya shrugged, she seemed about ready to slap her, Lisa looked away and went to work, pulling on her nurse face. Smiling nicely, patient, quiet, ready to help. An old lady was sitting on one of the benches in the waiting room, holding her arm covered in a towel. She wasn’t moving. A woman was yelling at Theresa behind the reception to get her mother some help. But no matter how sorry they felt for people, they couldn’t just move up the lines for anyone unless it was a real emergency.
Some kid was brought in on a stretcher, gunshot wound in the stomach, gang member from the looks of his colors. His posse seemed to be making a nuisance of themselves around the vending machine. Then there was a kid who’d nearly choked on a chicken bone and his mother who seemed to be in shock, or that guy who needed to get his stomach pumped, because he’d decided that mixing drugs and beer was a good idea. Even after that, he still had a look of bliss on his face. If you asked him, he’d probably tell you it was worth it, all of it.
She’d been in the emergency ward, anything for a coffee when the doors burst open. A huge black man came in, carrying a white woman. They were both wet and at least half naked. Her hair was drenched and when Lisa came closer she saw clots of blood in the woman’s hair. Her face was a myriad mix of bruises, barely even recognizable as a woman. A couple of paramedics ran up to them and it surprised Lisa how gentle the guy carrying her was as he placed her down on the stretcher.
It seemed as if all the air was let out of him as soon as he let go of his precious cargo. He sank down in the middle of the hall, just grabbing his legs, breathing harshly. His eyes stood wide and white, as if unaware of anything around him.
Lisa dropped her drink and helped him up to a stretcher; one of the paramedics noticed what she was doing and took over before pushing her out of the way. Just one more victim in a night full of them, but there was nothing she could do.
Nothing but doing her job.
She noticed the guy again an hour later, the doctors were still working on the woman, and some of the paramedics had bandaged the guy and given him some pants. He looked like total beefcake with a fair helping of good country eating.
The man seemed oddly confused. ‘Yet another one’.
He said his name was T’Channa, claimed to be Wakandan and said the woman was called Janet. Aside of muttering about some kind of a giant; that had been all they’d managed to get out of him. Lisa stopped listening and started rolling up some of the clean bandages that had gotten tangled up.
When she was sent to the woman’s room later, it shocked her to see just how bad the white girl looked. Her eyes were swollen, her nose was broken. They couldn’t even clean her up yet, because the police wanted to do a rape kit as soon as she was stable. Lisa prayed to god that she turned out to be negative.
Even battered and bruised, you could still see that the woman was gorgeous Lisa covered her up under the sheets, pulling them tightly so there was no risk of her falling out of the bed. Then she took the woman’s blood pressure and checked her temperature. She warmed the thermometer in her hands for a few seconds before inserting it.
That’s when her patient woke up for a second and grabbed her hand. Her hand broke free from the straps and she clenched Lisa’s hand harshly enough that Lisa feared she was going to break it.
“I’m not alone! He’s still out there!”
“Who?” Lisa stared at the woman, trying not to notice the closed up eyes, the broken bones, the broken teeth.
“He’s still addicted to the taste.” She spat out blood and Lisa yelled for a doctor while trying to do what she could to keep the woman from chocking on her own tongue. “I tried to stop him, keep him from killing T’Channa, but he was too strong for me. It’s all my fault, all my fault.” The woman sat up, one eye wide open. “Tell T’Channa, he’s still hungry for flesh.” She screamed the words, repeating them over and over again. Lisa tried to calm her down, push her back into the pillow while telling her she’d give him the message.
When she finally fell down, Lisa thought the fight was over, but the monitors sent out an alarm. And Lisa stood there, wondering about the woman taking the blame as she sent herself in a cardiac arrest, refusing to calm down. Lisa just didn’t understand what could possibly be so important, more important than her life.
They got the call ten minutes ago. Some trash picker had made a weird find that morning. Even in New York you didn’t tend to find some naked guy in the trash. It just wasn’t his day, he’d been supposed to go off duty in half an hour, but with his luck he’d spend all morning at the station filing reports.
They parked the cruiser and went up to the shelter; some volunteers were serving food, most everyone was trying to stay on one side of the room. Except for May Parker who was trying to talk the kid into looking up. Vin stood shocked when she saw why. The guy looked just like his roommate. In fact, if it weren’t for the glowing white eyes, Vin would be pretty sure that it was his roommate.
“Did you run?” Those eyes formed shadows over a face that looked too young for the horror it held. “That’s how it happens. They run and you jump after them, they try to hide and you pull them back out, sink your teeth in their flesh and tear it to ribbons till the blood gushes over your gloves and your mask is torn.” Peter, or someone who looked just like him, crouched towards him, face forward, on hands and feet. His voice sounded like his friends and him in the scouts had tried to sound, while they sat over a campfire, trying to sound creepy. Yet somehow it failed to be even slightly funny.
Vin shivered and tried to keep from shaking under those empty white eyes.
“I’d bend their spines and snap them. Bad bad Peter under the hat, cops tops, bullets won’t hurt. Can I hurl now, and go bye bye Peter, off to the clouds he went.”
O’Neill mouthed “Bonkers”, but went up to the guy anyway. “We’re just here to help.” He said.
The guy sat there looking at them and didn’t even bother to put up a fight. All Vin could do was look at those eyes and fear. It couldn’t be Peter, could it? Was insanity of your roommate a valid reason to get out of a lease agreement? If this was really Peter, then he hoped it was.
A weight fell of his chest when he saw a familiar face appear in the door. Peter Parker, himself. Good, that meant he wouldn’t have to start looking for a new roommate just yet. It was strange that Peter seemed more annoyed than anything to find out he had a mad double. Almost as if it was nothing new.
Peter wanted to come along to the hospital with them, and Vin didn’t know how to tell him no. There was no reason why Peter should go along, but no reason that he shouldn’t either. And they would have to ask him some questions about the double, like how Peter had suddenly gained an identical twin. Vin kept quiet while O’Neill asked the questions and all the while that strange double kept muttering on and on, not a single bit of it making sense. Vin stepped into the ambulance just as he saw Peter getting into the cruiser with O’Neill.
They strapped the guy up in the back of the ambulance, Peter two just looked at him and it was like having someone step on your grave.
“Watch him. Carefully, if you’re his friend, then one day he’ll carve you up and eat you like steak.”
“Watch who?” Vin sat down on the bench next to the stretcher that they’d tied the guy to.
“Him me, anyone that wears the blue and red or other colors.” His voice sounded soft, eerie. “We all fell that day, even the most pure amongst our number.” As if you wanted to pat him on the back, but didn’t out of fear that he’d take it as an invitation to sink his teeth in.
Vin kept staring out of the window. He had to stop himself from pouncing on the front of the ambulance to get them to tell him if they’d arrived, so he could get away from the guy. And no, it wasn’t just because the guy was some kind of superhuman freak with glowing white eyes. He wasn’t that much of a … what’s the word, racist, speciist? Who gave a damn.
"Like you?" He answered; almost ten minutes after the double had started talking.
"No,” The man laughed and Vin felt hell freeze over as he did. “I was never pure, too creepy and crawly for that. But even the children fell when the hunger came."
Vin kept trying to come up with a way to describe how it felt, but not a single expression in the English language went deep enough to describe the sheer terror that voice evoked in him.
The double fought the straps and Vin almost grabbed for his gun as he did so.
“You’re all dead you know.” Vin wanted to get away from him, but in the close confinement of the ambulance there was nowhere to go. “It’s not your fault that you aren’t real. I’m just insane, seeing all of you, while the others are probably laughing at me. Why shouldn’t they when I’m seeing all these dead bodies walking when there’s nobody left.” Vin would almost expect him to start crying at that. “This is just a dream. But I shouldn’t be dreaming. We don’t sleep you see. Can’t dream without sleeping, can’t see MJ without dreaming. I can’t feel the guilt when I don’t see her eyes.”
Vin was still trembling when the doctors took the guy off their hands. He was staring through the glass as they took him to the mental ward. The initiative was already sending someone. Seems like whomever their double was, he was unregistered.
Vin wondered if they were going to talk to Peter as well. He really didn’t want to look for a new roommate.
For a man whose power was to show everyone else’s greatest fear, people never seemed to wonder, what it was that he feared. Up until this day, Terry wouldn’t have been able to answer that question.
Trauma had been sent along with the SHIELD doctor, just in case, to check up on some superhuman who’d been brought to the mental ward of Bellevue Hospital. They didn’t know who it was, but according to readings he was a class twelve at least. That was major. Trauma had had some counseling training, but even that didn’t prepare him for the sheer volume of collected mental pain that hit him as soon as he entered the ward.
He tried to close off from them, to isolate his mind so he wouldn’t accidentally reach too far and get trapped in their insanity. It was hard to ignore their moans and rambling. The place his mom was living at; was nicer than this one, it was a home after all, but it hurt almost as much as this set of rooms did. Bellevue’s psychiatric ward was merely a temporary location for most of these people. Some place for them to receive first care and evaluation.
He really didn’t like mental hospitals. It made him wonder why he’d ever agreed to become Camp Hammond’s councilor.
They were led down the hall until they stood in front of a triple locked door. Trauma nearly stumbled over the sheer mountain of emotion hiding behind the metal frame. He almost wanted to stop the doctor. You didn’t need to open the gates to hell. But of course he didn’t, they were here to do a job, not to judge. The first thing he noticed was the bareness of the room. You could see the spot where there had been a mirror, bits from the side were still clinging to the wall, but only by basic miracle. Even those shards were cracked. The room didn’t contain much more than the bed, it wasn’t slept in.
“He tore the mirror straight off the wall.” One of the nurses said. “He tore it apart and melted the pieces; went utterly insane just staring at it.” Terry could see a shard still lying in a corner. He guessed they must have missed it when they were cleaning up. Careless, but somehow Terry couldn’t blame them. No one would feel comfortable staying in this room for too long.
There was a young man, late twenties, possibly a little over thirty, sitting in the back of the room. His eyes shone a bright white. The guy was cutting his nails in his flesh, as if he was trying to feel something. There were red streaks in his skin, but no actual injuries. Trauma gently tried to touch out to the stranger and nearly pulled back at the sense of revulsion in the other. No not revulsion, not aimed at him at least.
He hadn’t felt this much recoil since his mother…
The doctor took a step back and Terry moved into the room.
“We drugged him when he came in. Yet the straps didn’t even bother him when he decided to get up.” Terry could see what was left of them clinging to the mattress.
“Super strength, possibly enhanced healing.” The SHIELD doctor stated it off as a dry list “Probably some kind of energy related power, noticing from the eyes.”
Trauma nodded. He was here to take the first step; he was the one with powers after all. The guy had been passive so far, but they couldn’t possibly know how long that’d last.
He forced a smile on his face and entered the room, one step at a time. “Hi,” He went up to the patient and knelt down next to him. “I’m Trauma. I’m with the Initiative. Have you heard of that?” He trailed off into the last words, shrinking back under those eyes.
“Hero?” the man asked, his voice was soft, gentle, like an innocent’s, but there was feeling behind the words, so much that it nearly struck him down.
“Yes, I’m a superhero.” Trauma managed to answer, not that he believed it. He was simply Terrence, weird Terrence, the crazy emo kid. But right now, he could help someone, that was why he was here, wasn’t he?
“There’s no such thing left.” There was no power behind the words; just a sad sense of mourning. “Not anymore, not ever.” The man went from quiet to furious in the blink of an eye. But he still wasn’t moving, just sitting there. Then the next second Trauma felt himself pushed to the floor. The patient in the white clothes was crouched on top of him. He was stronger than he’d looked at first sight. “It’s too dangerous.”
Terry reached out to the man’s mind, pulling an image of his fear from his mind, trying to find something to stop him. Suddenly a raging hunger filled his gut, his heart and soul. He barely managed to stop back in time and pull back, change out of the form he’d nearly been trapped into. He wanted to just sit there, holding his gut and scream, but by then the stranger was aiming his hands at him. It was only the last tingles of the form he’d just let go off, that stopped him from being killed right that second. The guards came running in and pushed the mad man to the floor, tranquilizers at ready, they didn’t seem to have any effect, but the patient wasn’t even fighting anymore.
Terry stared behind him at the disintegrated wall and the wall behind that one and so on. Something was in his throat and it didn’t feel right. Terry pushed back, still trembling under the memory of the hunger.
“No more heroes.” The man mumbled.
When Terrence stood panting against the wall a few minutes later, realizing just how close he’d come to getting killed in there, the SHIELD doctor came at him with a wet compress for the cut in his forehead.
“Why would he be so scared of Spider-Man?”
Terry couldn’t answer, but he still remembered the hunger.
O’Grady had many a bad habit. He was a drunk, when he got his hand on beer. He was a womanizer when he could talk one into sleeping with him. He was a coward and a thief, a liar and a cheat. So it was all that and more that led him to the lab he was in now. He’d only joined up at Camp Hammond, because it suited him. Because it kept them from realizing he’d stolen the suit for his own fun and games, rather than because he’d had no choice.
So here he was, caught in a place full of goody two shoes, having to pretend he was as pure of heart as they were. At least not all the instructors seemed to give a damn on playing the big martyrs that some of them seemed to be in it for.
He’d gotten his current suit by knocking out Pym and then stealing his latest invention. It’s what made him wonder if Pym had any new gadgets. The good doctor had locked himself in his lab for the past few days. Everyone thought he was working on something. Yet Eric had seen him move in and out of the lab when he thought no one was watching.
He hoped it was drugs, maybe if the good doctor had something to smoke, then Eric could use it to blackmail him into getting a nice free trip and a night on the town. Not Stamford, that wouldn’t do, and most of the girls there weren’t worth noticing. But New York. The big city, Manhattan.
Pretend he was out on a mission and spent some time in the clubs. Having something on Pym would definitely make his time here more manageable.
So he waited till Pym was off on another one of his trips to the city before using a security card that he’d swiped off one of the guards during a poker game to get into the lab. He was careful not to disturb any of the alarms. If working in SHIELD security for years had taught him anything, it was how to bypass alarms for matters of personal interest.
The lab looked pristine at first glance, until you noticed that things were too orderly. Things seemed to be put to the side, as if someone had cleaned up because they didn’t mean anything anymore. Eric didn’t know about Pym, but he was pretty sure he’d expected the man to be working on something at all times.
He sat in one of the chairs, turning around a bit. Then he did an eeny meeny miny moe to pick a cupboard or fridge to start his investigation in. He randomly opened some doors and found nothing but boring science ingredients. Then again, with how little he knew, they could be ingredients for some new drug or something. Still it didn’t help him, if he didn’t know what he was looking at.
Then he heard a sound coming from one of the doors in the back. He tried his card again, and opened the door. It was like entering a slaughterhouse, for real. Some old guy was spread out on one of the tables, straps holding him down. He seemed to be missing both his legs. Eric wondering if Pym was helping him or something, when he noticed what was left of a foot lying in a dumpster.
He took a step back, and bit his lips. Were those burn marks? He felt his stomach roll and leaned over the dumpster to throw up into it. Then he wiped his lips on a rag lying on the table’s surface.
“Help me, please.” The old man begged him. Eric backed away, opening another cupboard and looking straight at a human head. There were more, body parts and blood everywhere. Most of it was human, some of it was green.
“Please help me.”
He let out a scream, a manly one and hurried out of the room, back to the lab. He could go for help. No reason to slow himself down trying to drag the old geezer with him. Why should he risk himself like that? He wasn’t paying attention and ran right into Pym.
“I was just going to…” he tried to get out of it, but Pym just smiled and Erik backed away as fast as he could. It wasn’t fast enough and Pym started growing. Eric shrank down, but Pym just placed a glass over him before he could get away.
“You have no idea how much I’ve been wanting to do this since I first found out about you.” For the first time since he’d seen Pym at the helicarrier he was actually scared of the guy.
“I won’t tell anyone. I promise.” Eric tried, and he meant it, he could keep quiet. He didn’t want to die.
“At least when Lang stole my suit, he wore it with pride, with dignity.” Pym said while he pushed a bit of paper under the glass. Eric made himself grow, he knew it was going to hurt, but it was the only chance he had. He was right, it did hurt. He could feel himself getting cut as he broke through the glass, falling on the floor.
Pym pulled his mask over his face and came after him. Then some stupid pop tune started up. Eric tried to use it to slip away again, call an army of ants, anything. Pym swatted a finger and knocked him out.
“Sure Tony, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” It was all he heard Pym say to the phone as he was coming back to consciousness. He was no longer wearing the costume, he was still small, and he was lying on a plate, He quickly tried to scramble away. His head hurt. .
He had to sneak away, but Pym noticed him and flashed a smile. Had that insanity been in his eyes before? Eric didn’t know, he didn’t care. All he cared about was getting out.
Pym picked him up. His hand around his chest as he brought him closer and closer to that gaping jaw, his breath stank. Erik’s screams were muffled as Pym bit in. No simple visits to the stomach this time.
Oh god this was gonna…