“Stand up,” I ordered myself. “Just stand up.”

I could hear the screaming outside. Bullets were popping against walls and hitting things that let out the occasional hiss. And then there was the slurping. It was everywhere. I didn’t know what it was, and right now, I didn’t care. I had to get out of here. Report to someone. Maybe my supervisor.

I threw my fleet over the side of the bed and watched them fall helplessly against the floor. Soles firmly planted on the ground, I tried to will my muscles to flex and my knees to lock. I heard something slam into something metal outside, and then I heard the same slurp-slurp I’d been hearing before. The fear invigorated me. I pushed up against the bed and tried to straighten myself. It was too early for someone with a recent appendectomy and a numb lower-half to be walking, but there wasn’t much time for me. For anyone maybe.

I walked up to the double doors of the operating room, keeping one hand out to balance myself and the other carefully over the stitches that were the only thing keeping my guts on the inside. I leaned up against the wall and took a peek through the slit in the door.

It was a plant. Or we’d called it a plant. A pink fleshy bubble with branch-like veins supporting and giving shape to the bubble’s skin. The veins fell off the bubble like malleable roots that swayed in the soft winds. This moon didn’t have very much of an atmosphere, so there was rarely anything more severe than a cool breeze. And around lagoons of ammonia there were these plants, in bunches. We’d brought some back to study them. We tried to pierce the skin and finally did. It turned out that the bubbles were gas sacs that contained tiny fibers that ran through the plant’s entire body. A little like a nervous system. There was nothing more incredible than being a part of the science team that was the first to dissect and study these wondrous new creatures.

But now, they didn’t look like plants anymore. The “roots” swayed back and forth, prehensile and enraged, grabbing onto my doctor’s face and neck. Another two of the roots had pierced in through his eyes, and one root had demolished the cartilage and septum of his nose, digging deep inside him like a rapist’s finger.

The veins along the creature’s translucent skin glowed deep red as it slurped up my doctor’s insides.

I turned my back against the wall, unwilling to watch anymore.