Approaching Wittenau Sanatorium ("Verrückt Facility” ), Berlin, Germany
Cpl. “Tank” Dempsey
October 21st, 1945
The winding dirt path through the German countryside felt all too familiar to Dempsey, which made him uneasy, but he kept up the facade of confidence; Without it, the German might think of doing something funny.
The mission was… the mission is to find something Richtofen called an “MTD,” a device that he claims can send them to Japan. From there, he’s got some kind of plan to put an end to the apocalypse that’s about to ravage the Earth; Or so the Doc said. After leaving that airfield, they landed just outside of Berlin because Richtofen believed the city must be in total chaos, and it would be safer to walk the rest of the way.
But, there’s something more… The mission… something went wrong. There were four of us…
Though he still could not trust the other members of the group, Dempsey had been intrigued by Takeo’s behavior. Apart from his blind devotion to his Emperor, he seemed to be the most level-headed of them all, and he held the most combat experience as an Officer; Yet, he acted loyal to Richtofen even when his stories did not add up. Maybe he knows something that Dempsey does not.
“Okay, we try again. I spy…” Nikolai paused to look around the barren fields surrounding them, “Something on fire!”
Dempsey humored him, despite his better judgement, “I dunno, one of those houses?”
Nikolai turned back to the American, with a punchable grin stretched across his face, “Which one?”
Dempsey pointed to the one to their immediate left, saying nothing.
“Nyet, it was that yellow one! You are terrible at game, Dempsey.”
“I guess I’m a little more concerned with the game we’re already a part of; The one where Richtofen jerks us around in search of his ‘MDT.’”
Richtofen chimed in, slightly irritated, “That’s ‘MTD,’ or more accurately ‘Matter Transference Device!’ Und you won’t be such un Sorry Sally when you see what it is capable of!”
Takeo butted into the conversation, responding to Dempsey’s earlier comment, “This is no game, ‘ Tank. ’ In games, the fate of mankind is not what is at stake. Our mission is serious. Very serious. ”
Dempsey shrugged off the apocalyptic implications of failure, “Yeah, right, sure, but… who’s to say we can’t have a little fun along the way?”
“I’d drink to that! In fact, I will.” Nikolai loudly gulped a helping of vodka.
Richtofen added, “I must admit, I am enjoying our adventure so far. Und I believe the best has yet to come!”
Takeo seemed to understand that the others were rallied against him, but he spoke with confidence, “If we follow the wrong path, the outcome may be irreversible… We should be prepared for whoever may try to lead us astray.”
Everyone went silent, perhaps ignoring Takeo’s negativity, but Dempsey thought his words over: Who was he talking about that could be leading them astray? Was it a warning about the Doc?
Richtofen, overjoyed, threw his arms up as their destination came into view, “Ahhh, here we are, gentlemen! Welcome to Verrückt!”
Dempsey knew immediately that something was off about this place. Everywhere else, his memories were faint and muted like a washed-out painting; But in the asylum, everything seemed clearer.
They split into pairs, Dempsey, accompanied by Takeo, entering through a breached doorway, and Richtofen and Nikolai passing through a broken window. This path felt natural to “Tank,” like a bike trail you ride twice a day. Dempsey felt a trembling fear trying to bubble to the surface, which he did his best to stow in front of the Samurai.
“Just imagine what kind of sick experiments happened here… ” Dempsey muttered as he scanned the rooms, catching a glimpse at what looked like a dentist’s chair.
Takeo added, “This war has bred cruelty in place of mercy… This place should be a haven for the sick, not a grave.”
Dempsey caught a glimpse of a tall, red and white machine with the word “Jugger-nog” in big, bubbly font scrawled along the top. It looked like a soda bottle dispenser similar to the ones back home. What the hell was it doing in a German asylum?
Dempsey continued searching, silently, as if not to disturb the damned souls. He returned to the hallway outside, glancing in the direction the Doctor and Nikolai had entered the building. They were behind a closed doorway with no apparent handle. Something else, however, caught Dempsey’s attention.
On an adjacent wall was scrawled a message in white chalk: “POWER WILL REUNITE YOU.” Dempsey felt a great pain in his head, like a static shock, and images began to flash through his mind that felt familiar yet foreign. He had seen this writing before. He must have. We had to find him… He’s not here… No… The kid was freaking out. They’re coming.
Dempsey snapped back into reality and nearly took a swing at Takeo as he grabbed him by the shoulder. As he realized what he had nearly done, Dempsey stepped back, saying through heavy breathing, “Shouldn’t sneak up on me like that… ”
Takeo glanced to the chalk, then to Dempsey, “Is this message significant to you?”
Dempsey debated playing off the whole ordeal, “It’s just… don’t you recognize it?”
“Of course not. I have never been here before.”
“Well I have. And I don’t know when, and I don’t know why.”
Takeo spoke the most cordially he had ever spoken to Dempsey, “What else do you remember? Not only of this place… but all of your past.”
Dempsey shut his eyes, shifting between muddled images that meant nothing to him in his mind, saying, “I remember fighting in the war. In the Pacific. But the Nazis… I hate them the most.”
“Concentrate on the message. It has been your only link to the past thus far.” As Dempsey followed his command, Takeo continued, “What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel?”
An image became clearer. “Yelling. Lots of it. The smell is… awful. Freakbags… There’s too many. I- ”
The image became shrouded once again as there was a loud clanging directly next to Dempsey on the metal door. Richtofen…
Dempsey approached the door, an urge to slap the conniving grin off of the Doc’s face held back only by the barrier between them. Richtofen said through the muffled glass window, “ This door is locked electronically und this facility has no power… some nincompoop must have turned it off.”
Dempsey glanced at Takeo for reassurance, receiving none. Dempsey said, “Alright, then we’ll rendezvous at the power station. Can’t be too hard to find. Let’s move.”
Takeo and Dempsey departed, leaving behind the fractured memory. Takeo said as they ascended a staircase, “I hope your vision is not a portent of our future… ”
The ground was riddled with corpses: Shot, bludgeoned, dismembered, and burned by an assortment of weaponry or crushed underneath rubble. The smell dulled all other senses, making breathing a difficult task. At the top floor, they could see out onto the courtyard in the center of the Asylum, separating the two halves. The balcony of their side had fallen to the ground floor below, destroyed by some kind of explosion.
Dempsey and Takeo walked down a hallway, encountering another soda dispenser, this time called Double Tap Root Beer.
“Man, I could sure go for a root beer right about now… ” The machine seemed to be affected by the power outage. “Well, if this ‘MDT’ thing doesn’t work out, at least we’ll have sweet sweet root beer...”
“The success of the Doctor’s plan is not in question.” Takeo seemed irritated by Dempsey’s attitude towards Richtofen’s fantastical claims. “He is a man aware of his destiny. We should all wish to be as blessed.”
“What the hell does that even mean? You actually believe all this nonsense about ‘saving the world’ and other dimensions?”
“Do not let your prejudices blind your judgement of character. Doctor Richtofen is no ordinary German.”
Dempsey scoffed, “Ain’t that the truth. Still, I’m supposed to just believe him?”
“I do not expect you to understand. He is working with the Emperor, and for that reason, he is righteous.”
Dempsey stopped, turning to Takeo, “I’m sorry, what?! You really think he’s working with the Emperor of Japan?”
“I know he is. That is why I am here, as the Emperor’s envoy. It must be why… But my memory is clouded.”
“Just like me. Just like Nikolai, forgetting all the booze in his system for a moment… But Richtofen’s memories are fine. Ain’t that a little, I dunno, fishy?”
“The forces of evil controlling the demons have affected our minds, but the spirits protect him; Guide him. Have you not been contacted by her?”
Dempsey was confused, “Who’s her?”
Takeo glanced around, speaking softly, “The girl. She controls the demons. She has tried to speak to me in my dreams. She wants to end our journey before it begins. Be wary of her words, American. Very wary. ”
Takeo pushed past Dempsey, leaving him speechless. He had not realized that Takeo was so deluded. He truly believed in everything the Doctor had to say, even dreaming up evil spirits controlling the mindless fleshbags.
Dempsey continued forward, now believing he would have to discover the truth on his own. Entering another corridor, they passed by a row of toilets and showers, discovering a caved-in wall adjacent to them. Through the rubble, the power station was visible, and Richtofen and Nikolai were waiting for them.
There was a low hum from the generator on the left side of the room, with a long, winding wire running across the floor to a massive lever. Attached to the lever handle was a human arm separated at the elbow.
Dempsey stared at the arm intently, faint images flashing through his mind like before. He was now certain; He had been here before.
Before he could reach for it, Richtofen swatted Dempsey’s arm away, wagging his finger at him. “Now, now. Allow me to handle this. Remember, I’m a doctor.”
Dempsey rolled his eyes as Richtofen slowly reached for the arm, pulling it away from the lever, and daintily setting it on a windowsill. The Doctor then made a show of rubbing his hands together, cracking his knuckles, and standing bow-legged as he wrapped both hands around the lever, pushing it up with a grunt.
The generator lit up, electricity flowing between two large coils at the top. Lights began to flicker throughout the building. Near the generator, a speaker began reeling off a set of numbers, “4 8 15 16 23 42.”
The son of a bitch went AWOL. It’s all up to you, Tank. You have to find… Who?
“Hooray!” Richtofen threw up his arms and cheered, turning to the group. Before he could say another word, he pushed past them all, fixated on something unexplainable.
Seemingly out of thin air, a massive wooden box appeared, lowering to the ground in front of the generator. On the top were two white, glowing question marks.
“Mein Gott… It just appeared!” Richtofen was fascinated by the anomaly, “From whence did you come from, mein friend?”
Nikolai placed down his vodka bottle, just as excited as the German, “Is the same box that gave us weapons in the bunker!”
“Und here I thought you und Takeo were just suffering from hallucinations… ” Richtofen carefully approached it, tapping it before recoiling back in fear. The lid opened to reveal a bright light, and from the light came a variety of weapons, appearing and disappearing out of nothing before finally settling on a factory-new Sturmgewehr. Richtofen reached out to claim the prize, checking it for any abnormalities. “Fascinating… it seems to defy all known laws of matter.” Richtofen then glanced down at his Officer uniform, patting himself down then shouting, “There are bullets in mein pockets! How delightful!”
“I take it your people had nothing to do with this, then?” Dempsey asked.
“I’m afraid not, Dempsey! This is a discovery of unimaginable proportions!”
“Well, if it ain’t German… Ah, what the hell.” Dempsey opened the box, receiving a M1 Garand rifle, and just like the German, he felt ammunition appear from thin air in his pockets. “This really is starting to feel like a game…”
Nikolai eagerly opened the box, receiving a Tokarev pistol and immediately losing all gumption, “What?! Last time was better! Chush' sobach'ya!”
Takeo stepped forward, “If the Doctor believes it to be safe… I will graciously accept its gifts.”
Takeo knelt down respectfully, bowing and reaching out to the box. He flew back onto the floor, shaken by fear as the box revealed a bloody teddy bear. A deafening cackle filled the skies above, booming throughout the halls of the asylum. It was almost otherworldly, but distinctly female.
The teddy bear floated up, leaving just as it had arrived, and the box below soon followed. Outside, grey clouds began to gather as thunder was heard in the distance.
Dempsey glanced to Richtofen for answers, noticing his similar fear to the rest of the group.
“We must find the MTD before it is too late. Schnell! ” Richtofen bounded towards a set of stairs in the power room leading to the ground floor.
As Takeo and Nikolai quickly followed, Dempsey yelled out, “Hey! Too late for what?!”
She replied from within the confines of Dempsey’s mind, “ Oh, Dempsey, you must know what comes next… Surely you remember? ” Her voice was child-like and distinctly German.
Dempsey gripped his head, “Who are you?!”
She giggled, the laugh descending in pitch to a demonic sneer, “ You really don’t remember, do you? ” Her laughing continued, “Because it has not happened yet!”
“What’re you talking about?! Get out of my head!”
“I do not need to remember anything, because here I see everything!”
Howls and moans of undead rapidly approaching sent Dempsey running towards the group.
The girl continued, “But you… HA! You don’t remember anything at all! You were brave once, just like Peter…!” The voice was now completely inhuman, “Now you’re just a broken toy soldier…”
That name… He was the mission. Search and rescue. But why? No… no, that can’t be it. Takeo said not to trust her. She’s the reason for all this madness.
“Did you stop for lunch on way here, American?” Nikolai sarcastically called out as Dempsey rounded the corner, dozens of fleshbags in tow. The Russian raised his pistol and took aim at the crowd, firing off several rounds as Dempsey got into formation with him. Down a short flight of stairs, Richtofen was fiddling with some electronics while Takeo defended him with the German rifle they had acquired earlier.
The freaks came in all different types: Doctors, soldiers, civilians, and mental patients all assimilated and empowered by the girl. They possessed super-human strength, tearing through walls with ease and sprinting at high speeds into the group’s hail of bullets. They would soon be cornered and overwhelmed.
“Doc! What’s the sitrep?!” Dempsey called out into the underground room.
Richtofen shouted back, “Sitrep?!”
“The situation, dumbass! This place is getting too crowded!” Dempsey’s M1 let out a ping as he prepared another clip.
Richtofen replied jovially, as if the situation was well in hand, “Oh, ho-ho… Ja, I’ve almost got it! Those Reichstag goons left the device in such poor condition… but this is my specialty...”
As Nikolai and Dempsey were pushed towards the stairs, they began firing up at the marauders, walking backwards as they did. Nikolai seemed particularly troubled trying to gauge his steps without looking, “Is shame we are leaving, you know? I would have liked to try cocktails with those cola machines… ”
“That’s the best idea you’ve ever had, Nikolai.” Dempsey maintained his calm as he fired dwindling rounds towards the horde.
“Our mortal souls are in peril at the hands of flesh-eating demons, and all you two can think of is drinking?!” The unamused Takeo fired off a burst of rounds at a zombie bursting through the floor.
“Like I said, Tak-” A zombie shot in the legs tumbled down the stairs, attempting to grab at Dempsey’s ankles before being stabbed in the head with his knife, “There’s always time for a little fun! Ooh-rah!”
The device Richtofen had been working with began to hum beneath the gunfire, and Richtofen breathed a sigh of relief. He clasped his hands together, presenting it to the group fighting for their lives, “Gentleman, I present to you un mostly functioning Matter Transference Device. At first, it seemed completely beyond repair… But! With a little elbow grease und dogged sticktoitiveness-”
“Yeah, yeah, save it for the research paper!” Dempsey shoved him aside, stepping into the bell-shaped device. “Now work your magic or we’re all fucked!”
As Nikolai joined him in the machine, Richtofen approached a control panel and mumbled through the constant shooting and moaning, “Magic is a bit reductive of just what this device is capable of… but, who wants to listen to me, I am just the genius who built it… ”
After some fiddling with the controls, he slammed his fist into a button and ran into the device, Takeo close behind.
An electronic door enclosed the four of them inside the device, a cracked viewport showing the growing undead horde building up in the room. They threw their bodies at the machine, unable to get inside.
A component hanging from above began flashing, and the floor beneath them began to rumble. The device suddenly began to vibrate vigorously.
Takeo asked, clutching his chest, “Is this normal?!”
Richtofen chuckled, still smiling, “Well, no. That’s not a very good sign.”
Dempsey had trouble standing as the machine rumbled, “What the hell is this thing gonna do to us?!”
Richtofen replied in his usual tone, “It will disassemble us into itty bitty pieces und send those pieces to our destination before reassembly! That, or they’ll be scattered to the four winds.”
Nikolai glanced around, frightened, “Ehh… Maybe this is bad idea.”
The active device only seemed to anger the undead outside, who were now slamming their arms into the chamber door, further damaging the viewport.
Richtofen said sarcastically, “Well, Nikolai, it’s your choice!” He closed his eyes as the light in the center of the chamber grew brighter, “Do not worry, gentleman, either we each arrive in Japan in one piece, or… in one piece.”
The light soon became blinding as Dempsey felt weightless. Through an endless, white void, he saw a young girl running up to the arms of an older woman before embracing her.
Dempsey fell to the ground all at once, landing on his chest. His vision was still hazy, but he could hear the others. Takeo was vomiting. The air felt warm and muggy.
He heard Richtofen say, “Welcome to the swamp of death!”
For some reason, Dempsey liked the sound of that.