The creature ingested two humans. It now stood seven feet from the tips of the tentacles to the top of the head.
Pores on the massive head opened and closed, inhaling cubic yards of air. Oxygen molecules burned off stored reserves of siliconized fat.
The creature felt hunger again.
The head of security saw the text from the morgue. He got no answer when he texted back. The assistant didn’t answer the phone call. The head of security failed to reach the on duty doctor.
The head of security went into the surveillance room.
“Bring up the morgue camera,” he told the video guard. Normally, morgue surveillance was disabled. Between the hospital and the clinic, there was plenty of on-screen action to keep track of.
“Reset the view,” the head of security said. He figured there was a problem with the feed.
After the reset the same image came back on the monitor.
“What are we looking at, Chief?” The video guard said.
“Not sure … set the recorder to capture still images at ten frame intervals and zoom in by 250 percent.”
“Right. Do you want me to send in some of our people?”
The head of security didn’t answer right away. After a long 20 seconds he said, “Put me into the Sheriff’s office.”
The division commander of the satellite office spoke with the hospital head of security: “What’s the problem?” The commander switched to the text screen. He looked at the images. “What is this?”
“That is in our morgue … we received an emergency text alert five minutes ago. We don’t have communication with the doctor or the medical assistant.”
“What do you make of this?”
“I don’t know … looks like some kind of unknown animal. It may be dangerous.”
“What do want from the department?”
“I want you to check it out … I’m not comfortable sending my people in with tasers and sidearms.
“Right, I’ll have a full tactical team over in about 30 minutes.”
Deprived of a food source, the creature’s hunger increased. A steady stream of air poured in through HVAC ducts and vents. Sensors in the software controlling the thermostat saw a marked increase in the amount of air being cycled in the morgue and adjusted flow and circulation.
Because the change was handled by the software controller no technicians were aware of the variation. An important factor was overlooked.
The creature was hungry but it had more than enough oxygen to maintain its internal silicone nervous system and external muskeleton.
The SWAT team entered the clinic through the delivery bay and took service elevators to the security office. One of the team stepped forward. He lifted his face shield: “What is the situation?”
The head of security ran the story down again. The team leader had been briefed by the commander. He went over the layout of the morgue. After barking out what sounded like a football play the SWAT team left.
The plan was simple: enter the morgue and start firing. Two officers came through the door. They moved forward, making space for other team members.
With rifles set to full automatic, the officers in front opened fire. Sixty rounds of 5.56 semi-jacketed hollow point slugs ripped into the creature.
The bullets had no effect. Hot lead was absorbed by silicone and transferred into energy.
The creature was across the room before the officers had a chance to load second magazines into receivers.
Tentacles pressed against the concrete floor. The creature forced its head to flatten. It blocked the entrance, trapping the lead officers between the wall and expanding tentacles.
The beak came down, branching out like twin lightning bolts. Each tip finding finding human flesh.
With the double absorption came increased strength. The creature broke through the wall. Jagged pieces of concrete and shards of twisted metal blew across the hallway.
The creature paused. It registered the heartbeat of every human within range of its feeding beak. The beak splintered into six separate components. Each one found a human to feed on.
Packed with added strength, the creature made its way to the open service elevator. It sensed the SWAT team had used it to enter the morgue. Instincts told it the shaft was a way out.
The creature worked its body into the opening, flattening out to pass by the hydraulic until it reached the top floor.
By now, alarms were going off. People poured out of the main entrance. The creature sensed human flesh. It broke through the roof.
People on the ground looked up when they heard the noise. The creature scanned the parking lot. Hundreds of heat signatures registered.
In the seconds it took for the creature’s primitive mind to map individual sources of nourishment the first rain drops fell from a gathering storm cloud.
Torrential rain poured down. Water soaked into the creature’s oxygen intake pours.
Molecules of water met living silicon. Electrostatic charges coursed through the nervous system. The creature died.