To Be Afraid

Cal watched the snowman.

He paid no attention to the bloodstains on the walls, the shadowy beasts crawling through the doorways, or the vampire staring back at him. He used to pay attention to them, but not anymore. He wasn't supposed to be paying attention to them. He was supposed to watch the snowman.

Several minutes passed before Dr. Barnes, the senior researcher, said, "Alright, let's call this a wrap for today."

Everyone else in the testing chamber groaned and stretched. Cal averted his eyes and peered through the glass and around the courtyard. The tiny cottage had become overrun by Halloween decorations at this point, and the courtyard was crawling with monsters.

"Anyone noticed changes?" asked Barnes. The other researchers shook their heads. "Then in that case, let's take five before the next shift, but first…" Branes smiled at Cal. "We're gonna have to say goodbye to you, Bold."

Cal flushed slightly as Barnes patted him on the shoulder. "Congrats on the promotion, kid." Barnes turned to everyone else. "Cal's gonna be leaving the 4745 team today, and taking charge of his own this afternoon. We're gonna miss you, pal."

Cal rolled his eyes and grinned as the team clapped politely. "I'll still be on-site, I'm not going far."

Barnes laughed. "Yeah, but you can't just go and do your own thing without a sappy goodbye." Barnes reached out his hand. "But for real, we're proud of you. Go have some fun!"

Cal smiled brightly as he shook his former supervisor's hand. As silly as the "sappy goodbye" was, he was gonna miss working with the folks here.

Cal waved to them as he walked out the door. He stopped for a quick lunch at the site cafeteria, then walked to the site director's office. He knocked at the door, and, hearing a "Come in," opened it and walked in.

Director Gable shook his hand, then directed Cal to a seat in front of his desk, before taking the one behind it. He pulled out a file and flipped through it. They sat in silence for a few minutes as Gable read, occasionally glancing up at Cal. Finally, he put the file away.

"I wanted to speak to you briefly, before you took your new assignment," said Gable.

Cal sprinted down the hall, the blaring alarms only fueling his panic. He stopped just before reaching an intersection in the hallway, his panic waning enough for him to think clearly. He slowly poked his head around the corner, and was thankful he'd thought this one through; an immense creature was at the other end of the hallway.

He turned his head and listened to the manic grunts and howls of some other monster. He ducked into a closet, and not a moment too soon; the sounds of the other creature instantly amplified as it entered the hallway he'd been standing in. He sat by the door, his heart pounding loudly, as he listened to the creature run past his hiding place.

Cal rocked back and forth, tears brimming in his eyes. There were only two ways out of this situation, and it all depended on someone else dealing with the problem. Either some task force came to recontain everything before he was killed, or they did so afterwards.

A sudden screech interrupted his thoughts, followed by the sounds of an intense scuffle. He peeked out of the door's window and saw nothing down either of the hallways. After a few moments, he risked opening the door.

Cal followed the sounds towards the intersection he'd been at previously, and peering around the corner, he saw the two creatures fighting each other violently. Perhaps while they were distracted, he could run past them. He waited until they were both turned away in their fight, and sped past them.

He heard a shriek and a thud from the fight, and figured one of the monsters had won their fight. Once again, Cal hid in another room. Luckily, this one could be locked, and he quickly did so. He breathed a sigh of relief. At least in here, he might be a bit more-

"Why hello there."

Cal nearly jumped out of his skin. His heart pounding, he turned around to find no one there - only a stuffed frog. "Floppy?" he whispered. "Don't do that!"

Floppy leaped onto the floor and approached Cal. "What's up?"

Cal groaned. "We're in the middle of a containment breach, that's what's up.

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