The time of madness had returned with the tormenting racking pain. But with madness came an animal-like cunning. The figure shuffled along the corridor on the ground level. He was muffled in a red cold weather parka and olive drab wind pants; the mukluks left puddles of water with each step. The name ‘Parker’ was stenciled on the left breast of the coat. ‘Parker’ stopped at the junction of a corridor, breathing harshly, like something from a bad horror movie. The chem. lab was to the right and the weapons lab was to the left. ‘Parker’ sniffed the air…prey…easy…vulnerable. The figure started down the corridor at a stumbling shuffling run.  He skirted the airlock allowing access into the lab when the heavy blast doors were closed during experiments, just in case. Singing could be heard coming from the lab. Heightened senses detected one female. ‘Parker’ turned and pushed the button closing the blast doors. The well maintained equipment uttered no more than a faint hum as the servos closed the heavy reinforced shutters; a mild thud could be heard when the interlocking mechanism shot home.

Lisa Mann sang to herself as she tidied up, unconsciously she hooked the stray blond hair that had escaped the hairnet behind her petite ear. It was a shame that she drew the rostered cleanup tonight, but she didn’t mind. If she was late Max would be all the more eager to see her. She looked at the black watch on her dainty wrist.  She smiled to herself.  In a half-hour she would meet her marine at the casino. Lisa smiled in anticipation. He had said tonight was something special, she was sure he was going to propose. She hung the white lab smock on a hook revealing a diminutive frame, and minuscule waist, with nicely rounded hips. She quickly adjusted her blouse, tucking it into a pair of corduroy pants and as she stripped off the hairnet, glanced at the small mirror hanging on the wall in the changing area. Her rosy cheeks were reflected back, probably from the warm lab, she mused. Lisa’s smoky grey eyes stared at her, knowing that the blush in her face had nothing to do with the room’s temperature. Satisfied with her appearance she turned around. A figure muffled against cold was slowly shuffling toward her.

She started, and then laughed a nervous little laugh. Her musical voice was delightful. “I didn’t hear you come in. Can I help you?”

The man silently advanced, the only sound was his dragging booted feet on the metal grated flooring. Happy anticipation turned suddenly to uneasiness at the man’s strange behavior. Lisa abruptly realized that she was alone and fearfully moved to slide past ‘Parker’, but he stepped in her way far faster than she had anticipated. She jerked to a stop quickly. Now thoroughly frightened, Lisa gasped as she quickly tried to dart the other way past the ominous figure. ‘Parker’s’ hands shot forward, one grasping her arm, the fingers cruelly digging into her muscles. The young woman sagged to her knees as her strength gave way to the pain and terror that surged through her.  Lisa screamed in agony and horror as the hand squeezed tighter. Her repeated screams echoed off the soundproof metal walls as she tried to pull away, but only succeeded in hurting herself more. She sank back whimpering as the fingers tightened. Frantically, she groped for anything.  She found a beaker and in desperation swung with all her might.  ‘Parker’, far taller and stronger than Lisa, easily caught her arm and bent it back. The beaker dropped unnoticed to shatter on the floor. The continuing pressure was unrelenting. She felt something tear in her chest and warmth trickled down her stomach. Tears ran down Lisa’s elfin face, as she screamed frantically for help, then sobbing hysterically she began begging for her life. ‘Parker’ relentlessly continued the slow backward pressure; with an audible snap the shoulder bone broke. Suddenly, with insight, Lisa knew she was going to die, she would never be able to tell Max yes. The last thing she saw was a knee coming up into her tear-stained, pain-racked face. Then darkness and mercifully that terrible pain finally stopped.

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