Chapter 5: "Infernal Rite"
Der Riese – Laboratories
Dr. Ludvig Maxis
December 5th, 1939
“At the current rate, I won't be seeing my daughter again for another month to come. Get the subject into position, and begin the test!”
The two lab assistants assigned to aid Doctor Maxis hurriedly placed the corpse onto the elevated platform bed of the test area. After an injection of pure Element 115 into the unused veins of the cadaver, the lab assistants exited the test area. What was once a pile of bone and dead skin began to rise up, and shifted its gaze towards the pane of glass separating the scientists from the creature.
The beast did not flinch at Maxis' simple command.
The decaying corpse of the elderly man rose up from the table and let forth a groan as it came to its legs in the operating room.
“Good. Look at me.”
For a moment it did not take notice of Doctor Maxis nor his command. In retort, Doctor Maxis snapped his fingers twice, calling out again, “Over here!”
It lifted its dangling head up to face the Doctor. The corpse's blank, soulless gaze turned to a more focused sneer.
“Good. Now walk forward.”
It began to dribble at the mouth and shuffle towards him across the concrete floor, dragging its feet as it did so.
“Excellent. Further. Keep coming.”
The awoken body lost its balance and fell to the ground, shattering its jaw and staining the floor with its blood. It groaned louder as it became more enraged, attempting to return to its feet.
“It's all right. Stay there.”
Now on its legs again it began a faster pace towards the pane of glass protecting Dr. Maxis from the interior of the operating room.
“Calm down! I order you...”
The zombie now began to swing violently as it approached the glass. Its mouth was now fully agape ready to take on the doctor.
Before it could reach the glass, a lab assistant unloaded two handgun rounds into the creature's head before settling his fearful, shaken hands back to his side. The bloated corpse yelped before sliding to the ground and draining of all life.
“Bring me another.”
Two assistants, one of which being the young man who shot the walking corpse moments before, left the spacious laboratory in search of another subject. Through their many tests over the past few weeks, Group 935's supply of cadavers had been cut short and they had been forced to resort to locally donated corpses to perform the tests Doctor Maxis demanded.
Deeply troubled and perplexed at the purpose of these tests, Doctor Porter inquired, “Doctor, what are you hoping these creatures will do once they are under your command? If I am being honest with you Doctor, these tests on the dead are depraved, sinful even.”
“Nonsense, Doctor Porter. Think of what can be accomplished if we can return these beings back to the way they were before death.”
“With all due respect, Doctor, is it worth it?”
Maxis stopped his reading of previous test overviews and statistics, thinking for a moment of the question.
“What are you proposing, Doctor Porter?”
“Life is finite for a reason Doctor. These things we are creating today... they are not the people they once were. They are like monsters. They are past their time.”
Doctor Maxis continued his train of thought, ruminating on the loss in his own life. He almost agreed with Doctor Porter; Life is precious and beautiful, but everything that is beautiful must end.
“Perhaps you are correct, Doctor Porter. But there is more I hope to accomplish with these tests.”
“I will share this with you Doctor Porter, before anyone else, because I can trust you. I have been given an opportunity to align Group 935 with the Nazi Party in exchange for funding. When Richtofen and I created the first 'zombie' using Element 115... I will admit I was intrigued by the possibility of an eternal life, spiting nature. But as I performed more tests and published more findings, I have caught the attention of the Party. I can utilize the dead as an army for Germany's war effort.”
Doctor Porter pondered the horrific thought for a moment, being interrupted as the metal door opened on its hinges and the two lab assistants had returned holding a new test subject. This one was younger than any of the previous, seemingly a young German boy, killed in some brutal accident that left him with but one arm still attached to his battered and scarred body.
Doctor Maxis called to the assistants sternly, “Take it to the operating room and begin the injection!”
In unison, the two young men replied, “Yes, Doctor.” They entered the sealed operating room, placing the corpse onto the operating table on its back.
Maxis continued his previous conversation with Porter, “Think of the potential, Doctor Porter. An army that does not grow tired!”
One of the men shone a hanging light into the body's face as the other searched for a vein, injecting it with liquefied Element 115.
“An army that does not need weapons!”
The body's limbs began to tense up as the lab assistants threw out their gloves and exited the test room before closing it once more.
“An army that feels no remorse!”
The boy's eyes opened for likely the first time in weeks. It did not breathe and its heart beat variably, without a pattern. At first the lights in its eyes frightened it but the sight of the many scientists in the lab drew its attention.
“Stand up. Please.”
The body raised itself up with its one arm, but lost its balance, falling shoulder first onto the floor. A fall to the concrete test chamber which would have surely injured the average human did nothing to impair the thing; It was no human. It began pulling itself towards the thick bullet-proof window with its singular arm.
As Doctor Maxis said it, the beast was stunned. It did not move for a few moments. It began to drool an oozy mix of saliva and blood from its mouth onto the concrete floor, releasing a putrid odor that could be sensed through the locked metal door. Doctor Porter began to vomit into the nearby bin, while the two assistants averted their eyes in disgust. Doctor Maxis had an expression of success; His bushy eyebrow raised as he was intrigued by the sudden cooperation of the monster.
“Good! Yes! Now... walk- er... crawl towards me, slowly.”
He snapped his fingers and the crawler continued to try and grip the flat ground, dragging its mutilated, naked body across the concrete towards the glass. It reached the wall and raised itself up on a shaky leg, then onto the other, finally standing again for the first time. Now leaning on the glass, it peered inside the laboratory at those that had awoken it from eternal rest, and it began to breathe rapidly leaving condensation on the window. Ravenous and angered, it started to slam on the glass with its arm.
“I ORDER you to-”
It began to scream progressively louder as the glass cracked along the entire pane. Finally the beast's enormous strength caused the glass to shatter onto the floor and it vaulted into the room with Doctor Maxis.
“KILL IT! KILL THE DAMN THING, NOW!”
Panicked and untrained, the two lab assistants raised their civilian-grade handguns, firing wildly in the direction of the beast. Twelve shots were fired in total, with 7 entering the walking husk and disfiguring it further. The entire floor was blood-soaked and concerned nearby members of Group 935 were racing towards the lab to investigate the loud screams and gunshots.
“It's all right... It's all right everyone. Someone get the cleaning crew, right now! Men, we are relocating to a new lab for further tests while this pane of glass is being repaired.”
The two assistants looked to each other with shock and fear, before doing as Maxis instructed, “Yes, Doctor.”
The body was crumpled and unrecognizable from the holes born into its head and chest. The young boy's face was rendered essentially non-existent. Doctor Porter felt sick, looking for any excuse to delay any further tests.
“Doctor... perhaps we should return to testing tomorrow.”
Doctor Maxis shooed the curious scientists back into the hallway outside, assuring no one else was listening in to what he had to say.
“Porter, I'm afraid it is of utmost importance to the organization that we continue our research with the undead.”
“Yes, but, Doctor...”
“We are in need of funding if we are to improve the human condition together. It is unfortunate our work is not free, but it is the reality of things.”
“What I mean, Doctor, is there may be other business that needs attending to. Doctor Richtofen and Doctor Schuster have been trying to contact you since yesterday. They say it is a remarkable breakthrough.”
“They can wait, Porter.”
“They've been working on this project for you, Doctor Maxis. They would not share the details with me. I don't think they will be working on the projects you've demanded until you concede.”
Maxis frowned, looking to the gaping window pane and the bloody mess laid out on the floor reeking of rot. The blood had soaked his boots and splattered on his lab coat without him even noticing. Doctor Porter adjusted his glasses before joining Maxis' side and gripping his shoulder.
“You need a break from all this death, Ludvig. Go see what Richtofen is up to. I will have the lab set up when you are ready to return.”
From the doorway to the lab came three men wearing protective masks and air-tight suits followed by the two lab assistants. The suited men gathered around the lump of flesh and began cleaning the remains off of the floor. Doctor Maxis called to the assistants, “Follow Doctor Porter's words closely. He will be instructing you on preparing for the next set of tests.”
In unison, “Yes, Doctor.”
Maxis leaned in to Doctor Porter, saying, “Thank you.”
“It's a matter of efficiency, Doctor. Oh, I forgot to ask, how was your outing yesterday?”
“It was wonderful spending time with Samantha. I had not seen her since her birthday just last month. She's so full of words now, always asking for things the other children have. I thought a teddy bear would be enough but now she wants a dog.... Hm, it's a wonder how she's grown so curious, like her mother I suppose. She's begun asking about her, and where she is. I will have to tell her the truth soon.”
“I do not envy your situation, Doctor.”
“Yes, well... she is worth all of it.”