's 2016 Horror Write-off:

Pyramid Lake

Submitted by Kira M.

Geology has always been my passion in life, and I can hardly remember a time when I wasn't collecting mineral samples as a kid. After going to college I found work for the United States Geological Survey studying fault zones in the western United States. My job was to monitor seismology equipment at the Pyramid Lake fault line in Nevada, about a 30 minute drive outside of Reno. A lot of nights I'd simply pitch a tent and sleep under the stars, but on that fateful morning I was snugly in bed at the apartment I rented in Reno. 

Earthquakes are almost never unpredictable events, as there are usually warning signs days or weeks in advance. However, on that morning, at 4:57 am, a magnitude 8.2 earthquake erupted from the previously dormant Pyramid Lake fault, followed by a smaller 6.8 in the Virginia Seismic Zone at 5:01 am, on the other side of the country. The next thing I clearly remember is being trapped inside of the rubble of the five story high apartment complex. I wasn't badly injured, but from all around me I could clearly hear the cries and screams of those not as lucky as me. Thankfully, I could reach my phone and the bottle of water on my nightstand. 

My first thought was to call 911, but I couldn't get a signal, so I tried to stay calm and wait. Hours went past before I heard people shouting for any survivors, and I yelled back to them. They asked if I was injured, and I said no. They assured me that they'd come back soon, and that the injured took first priority. I spent another two hours listening to them dig through the rubble, and they periodically checked on me. It wasn't long after that when my attention shifted to a curious humming noise. It was completely different from the excavation equipment and seemed to be inside of the rubble with me. Soon it was directly overhead, and I had an epiphany; it was a search and rescue robot!

At the very least I thought it'd have food or water, or something like that. I stared intently at the jagged pieces of concrete above me. The humming grew louder and I could see brief flashes of spotlights as the ROV came closer. The lights were blinding as it peered down at me, and I couldn't make out it's exact shape. As soon as I thought that, the lights dimmed and I was greeted by something I didn't entirely understand. 

It was some type of robot, completely round and probably a little larger than a basketball, it stood on four spindly legs and began crawling towards me. It was semi-transparent and dull blue in color, and its body emitted a dim glow. As it inched closer I was still under the assumption it was a high tech robot trying to save me. Without warning it froze in place not two feet from my face, and a bright light from within the robot seemed to scan me very carefully. It's legs dipped wearily as it made its way closer. It had now enveloped my entire head with its own body somehow, and I could still see outside of it. I had enough time to let out a half hearted laugh before I felt a pinching sensation on my neck that grew ever tighter. Suddenly a whirling sound drenched out my screams as I felt the most intense pain of my life, causing me to pass out.

When I woke up, I was greeted with pitch blackness. I honestly thought I had dreamt it all, maybe a delirious hallucination from the stress. That hope was lost when I felt everything shaking around me as the robot dashed from under a table and into a room. I suddenly realized that I was a now a disembodied head, stuck inside some sort of terrible machine with a will of its own. I couldn't yell or stop anything that was happening, just an unwilling observer to this madness. A door shut behind me and halogen lights flickered on above. Five or six empty robots were gathered in the room and scanning the large filing cabinets that loomed over us. They eventually seemed to find what they were looking for and began prying open one of them.

It didn't surprise me when I figured out it wasn't a filing cabinet, as I watched the drawer open I knew it... we were in a morgue... and the robots had opened a cold chamber. My robot climbed straight up the wall and onto the ceiling, and hung directly over a closed body bag. Another robot unzipped it while two others peeled it off. It was a young woman's body, her torso was crushed and mangled. All the other robots were now doing something with her body, it looked as though they were preforming surgery when one of them lopped off her head. I knew what would happen next, but I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and began praying. I felt my robot slowly lowering itself down as intense pain once again overwhelmed me...

The next time I awoke I was strapped to a hospital bed with two people in isolation gear standing over me. They were speaking to me, but I didn't recognize the language. One of them revealed some type of breathing mask and began trying to attach it to my face. Some part of my subconscious began to panic, and I started struggling against it. Several other people appeared and started holding me down as one of them tried to stick me with a syringe. I watched as it neared my arm, when suddenly I felt my shoulder blade snap. I lay there screaming as I felt every bone in my arm braking and violently rearranging itself. My right arm began to spasm. It suddenly split open, blooming like a flower of flesh revealing a makeshift blade from my bones. I didn't have control over it as it desperately chopped away at the restraints holding me down. Every chop is met with a surge of pain as my bone slaps against a steel buckle.

Three men in military fatigues and gas masks appeared and ordered me to stop. They raised their rifles and screamed at me. I would've stopped but some primal part of my brain continued ripping myself off the bed. They opened fire on me. The pain was immense and immediate, and it briefly halted my frenzy. No sooner had I caught my breath when I felt something moving inside of me. It traveled from my chest and down to my right arm. It was the fragments from the dozen or so bullets, and a flurry of tiny tendrils began rearranging them to strengthen my macabre blade. I began sawing through the leather straps again as I heard the soldiers reloading. Suddenly I was free and unfettered, and my body surged with pain once again as my right arm exploded in length. The soldiers fell over, bleeding profusely. My bullet hole wounds had already healed. 

Looking around I was surrounded by people strapped to beds with the strange orb shaped robots stuck over their heads. They too began to struggle, and the horrific sounds of snapping bone and yelps of pain filled the air. Eventually we had all broken free, and the doctors and soldiers retreated. The 80 others and I stood silently looking at each other...

The government eventually quarantined over 200 square miles of land, and relocated more like us to our community. All in all, nearly 450 people had been effected by the machines. In time it was discovered that the machines had come from underground and had been released by the earthquakes, but that was all they ever learned about what they were or why they're here. Each robot did have a name, but we couldn't put them into words; they're names and language is expressed through the feelings and sensation of pain. Our life spans are seemingly endless, as neither accident nor disease affects us anymore. We wait in isolation for the next Pyramid Lake incident to occur near the major fault lines across the earth. We may wait for thousands of years for that, or we could kick start it with the help of nuclear devices; we haven't decided yet...