The footsteps following her sounded closer. She ran through the empty corridors of the hospital, her heart pounding with terror.
She turned a corner and stopped short.
A dead end.
No. She grit her teeth, her hands clenching at her sides in desperation.
She could hear the pounding behind her.
Thump, thump. Thump, thump.
How long did she have left? How long until it found her?
There was a door to either side of her, a window ahead. No door so far had been unlocked. No window so far had budged in its frame.
She tried the door to her left. The handle didn’t turn.
She shook the handle. She rammed the door. It didn’t so much as shake on its hinges.
She slammed her body against the door to her right, jerking the handle with all her paniked strength.
It stood indifferent to her.
The window. That was all she had left. Moonlight poured in through its dusty pane. A last halo of hope.
Trembling fingers pulled at the frame. She pulled and she pushed.
It slid open.
The footsteps slowed to a stop. The sound painfully close.
A clawed hand wrapped around the wall’s corner, raking into the plaster with terrifying ease.
It’s body swung into view with its next step. A lower body like a lion’s. A torso like a man’s. A head of a goat’s skull.
It’s form took up the entirety of the hall. There was no slipping back around it.
Empty eye sockets stared down at her. Lipless teeth grinned at her.
It took another step.
She stepped back unconciously. The night wind was cold against her back. She pushed herself into the window, carefull not look away from the beast before her.
It reached out to her, its clawed hand curling around a strand of her long hair.
She glanced down, out the window behind her. Four stories down the pavement looked as solid as a grave stone.
Her heart pounded in her chest.
What choices were these? Death from the fall or death from this creature before her? It was a cold death either way.
It drew closer still.
What was it waiting for? It hadn’t hesitated to drive that claw through the bodies of the others.
There had been no mercy as it slew researcher after researcher before her. It had been luck alone that she had been able to slip out of her bindings while it killed the men who had poked and prodded her for weeks.
It had been tireless in its pursute of her through the facility. Why had it stopped now?
The skull head was barely a foot from her face now.
Silently, it stared at her. Silently, they both waited, both as still as the grave.
What could it be waiting for? What could it possibly want?
“Your orders, master,” it rasped, its jaw still, its eyes empty.
She edged back, barely still in the window. The lightest push and she would fall to her end.
“Orders?” she asked.
The empty sockets flashed a green glow.
Had it come to rescue her? But why? How?
“Your orders, master,” the beast repeated, dropping to a knee before her.
“Me?” she asked. This creature’s master?
“Born of your flesh, born of your pain,” the voice explained. It traced the scars on her arms with one of its clawed hands, following the pattern the men’s knifes had so frequently run over her skin.
Voices echoed down the halls of the hospital. The men who’d hurt her again and again, she was sure. They grew closer as she watched the ivory skull of the beast before her.
A shout of surprise rose from the lips of one such man as he rounded the corner to her dead end.
“I’ve found them! Subject #084 and the Chimera,” the lead man said into his radio. In his other hand he extended his stun baton with a flourish. “I’m in Wing J, floor 4.”
“Your orders,” the beast repeated, its head turning to face the incoming intruders.
She stood in her window, dark eyes taking in the lab coat wearing men at the end of the hall. They approached carefully, their electrified weapons buzzing at their sides.
She was no human in their eyes. A subject with a number. Nothing more. So why should they be human in hers?
She lifted a hand to point at the leader. With calm dispassion, she said, “Kill them all.”
Their screams rang through the night.
When all fell silent much later, she and her beast strode out the broken front gates of the facity, crimson staining her blue hospital gown, crimson staining the ivory skull of her servant.