Chapter 04: Dead Man Walking

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An hour of abject misery passed.

Marshall helped the others seal the ten corpses up into the sad black bags, zippering them shut against the elements as quickly as they could. Nate spent a little over half the time in the cockpit, trying to make heads or tails of what remained of the internal equipment and database. He emerged irritable and upset, informing Marshall that the crash had pretty much knocked out everything relevant. They couldn't even tell where the ship had come from.

With Nate's help things went a little bit faster. They bagged up the bodies and hauled them, one by one, into the infirmary. Marshall had initially wanted to set them up in one of the storage rooms, but Nate pointed out that all of the storerooms were still mostly full of supplies. What sealed the deal was when Alice said she needed to perform scans and autopsies on at least some of the corpses, preferably all of them.

They had a bit of a mystery on their hands.

When the last of the bodies had been bagged and placed in the infirmary, Marshall had gone back out to the ship one more time with Nate to make sure that the power cells or the engine wouldn't overload and blow up half the base. Once he was convinced that none of that was going to happen, he and the technician made their way back across the snow, their lungs burning from the rock bottom temperatures and all the exercise.

"Go to bed," he said when they'd finished getting out of their cold weather gear. He'd already sent Viktor off to sleep.

"Are you sure?" Nate replied. They stood in the rec room, trying to get warm.

"Yeah. We're going to really need that comms array up, badly now. You'll need to get an early start," Marshall replied.

Nate nodded, turned, and left. Marshall watched him go, momentarily lost. He stood alone in the rec room for a long moment, suddenly very tired. For the past hour he'd been simply acting, losing himself in the horrid monotony of wrapping up one corpse after another. He'd been granted a temporary reprieve from thought, the decisions coming with relative ease. Now all his thoughts were catching back up and he realized that nearly a dozen men and women had just died violently on his doorstep. He shuddered, then collected himself as he heard voices.

Marshall rubbed his eyes and moved out of the rec room and towards the infirmary. Through the glass he could see Laura and Alice standing over the lone survivor. Marshall stepped into the room and swept it with his gaze. All of the examination tables were occupied by bodybags, and there were more of the vile dark things along the back of the room, taking up the open floor space. Both women glanced over at him.

"What's happening?" he asked, guessing that Paul and Andrea were off to bed as well.

"He's alive and stable, for now," Alice said.

"Then why do you look worried?" Marshall asked, slowly approaching.

"Well, besides the gash on his forehead, some head trauma, and bruised ribs, the only thing that's actually wrong with him is, well..." Alice hesitated.

"Someone bit him," Laura said.

Marshall blinked. "Bit him? Like...a person?"

"Yes. Look." Alice pointed to where his shoulder and neck met. There was, in fact, a good portion of flesh missing. "It had been bandaged, hastily I might add," Alice said as she set to work cleansing and re-bandaging the wound.

"Jesus," Marshall muttered. "What about the others?"

"I haven't had any time to look at them yet," Alice replied.

"Cabin fever?" he hazarded.

"Maybe," Laura replied. "I really wish our fucking comms array was working, then we could call this in."

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