You know that new kind of burger? The one made from cells taken from the skin of cows. Yeah, seems like the science teams and research labs finally created a way of making food from basically nothing, and you’d think that’d be a great thing, but I’m not so sure.
This isn’t the first time a project like this has sprung up. You’re probably thinking I’m screwing with you now, but I’m serious, it’s happened before. You’ve probably never heard of this, and like all things, there is a reason for this never being told. A rather… disturbing reason. Way back, into the Second World War, The Russian government realized they were struggling to feed their people. Children were sick, people were diseased and malnourished, many even tried to protest but, as history tells, they were quickly “silenced.” Of course, the government needed a solution that didn’t involve murdering all that spoke out, and fast. An unhappy populace leads to riots, violence and destruction after all, so they commissioned a small team of scientists to create… something. No real idea was given, so the science team was given free reign to do whatever they chose. Code-named “fine Russian cuisine”, in the end, they came up with a monstrous idea.
You know how cancer cells multiply and multiply when in the body? Well, the Russian science team thought they could use this sort of growth, found in tumors and other such awful diseases and inflictions,
As meat products.
Now, if tumor burgers sound bad enough, it gets far worse from here.
They created a sort of serum, made tumors spring up on animals like bubbles on a boiling pot of water. They needed something that they could grow the cells on.
Animals were out of the question, as they were needed to produce more and more food, so the first thing they ask the higher ups is not a lab, or a grant or something like that, they asked for permission to use prisoners of war as freaking guinea pigs. So they try it out. They get results, and then, in the blink of an eye, only a few weeks into development, something catastrophic breaks the whole thing down.
Now you’re probably wondering how the hell I know this grotesque shit, but I'll tell you.
I’ve been to the labs. When I learned from an anonymous source that this insanity was going down I just had to find where they did it, and sure enough, after months of searching around the Russian wilderness, I finally get a lead in this Russian town called Ust-Ilimsk. I talked around about “Russian cuisine” and on the second guy, I get a genuine response. It wasn’t a good one albeit, the guy spat at my feet and told me to “fuck off and die”, but it was still an indication that the labs were known around the town. I ask around, and I either get weird looks, shrugs, or scowls, until I meet one guy. Vasily, looked like he was in his late 80s, had a face like it’d been kicked by the hind legs of a horse, had a sort of limp to go with it, but the man was a gold mine when it came to the project. He gave me the exact location, the way to get in, and even how long it would take to get there, and I was surprised, to say the least. Most people in the town didn’t even know, let alone want to talk about it, so I was a little suspicious. I asked him why he was giving me all this information, and he simply responds:
“There is something you must see,” in a throaty Russian accent.
“What… is it?” I reply tentatively, a little nervous now, with his cryptic message making me rather anxious
And with that, he hobbled off. And I was left with the knowledge that there was something important… and possibly horrifying I needed to see up in that lab. Now, at this point, I had a choice. I either stay far the hell away from whatever the hell Vasily was speaking about, or I go and feed (no pun intended) my curiosity. Of course, curiosity won in that round, so I gathered up some supplies, a flashlight, some water, a map of the wilderness, stuff like that, in a rucksack, and drove off.
It took about a day to reach the decrepit old tunnel. It was right up a rather long, steep climb, up a rather intimidating mountain, like a spear among thumbtacks. The tunnel jutted out of the mountainside like a knife through butter. It was untouched, the little guard box at the side of it still had a gun and ammunition in it, with a little book opened at the side. I pressed a small button to open the large gate leading inside. It groaned and yawned open, the dust barley hanging on as the gate shuddered to life. I walked inside, and took the flashlight out of my bag. Turning it on lit up a long, dusty hallway, with a large, metal door at the back of it. I walked up, far less anxious than I was earlier, thinking that there probably wasn’t anything living in here for years. No sign of life, not even algae growing on the walls, or plants in the cracks. Nothing.
I creaked open the door, and headed deeper into the heart of the facility. A few new paths sprung up in front of me. ‘Infirmary’, ‘canteen’, ‘labs’, ‘sleeping quarters’ and ‘holding cells’. I decided to check out the sleeping quarters first. Inside, was another hallway filled with doors to different rooms. Workers quarters 1-10, Scientist quarters 1-5, and Warden’s quarters. I checked a few of the worker’s quarters, nothing but dusty beds and empty drawers. The scientists’ wards provided some more interesting results. One to two were empty, but three had a little tape player and seven different tapes. I took them up and started listening to them as I looked along the winding passages. The speaker had a very familiar voice. I couldn’t put my finger on what, but I knew I had heard it before. The throatiness, the depth and pitch, all seemed eerily familiar.
“Day 1 of project ‘Russian cuisine’, the test subject, named Norman was injected with the serum to produce cancerous cells, slight discomfort, but no tumors grown. I’m still utterly ashamed at my colleague’s ideas to eat tumors, but at this time, it’s better than any other idea we’ve come up with. It’s either that or we starve. Artyom tells me that the workers don’t know what they’re working towards, probably for the best.”
After checking the other quarters I finally headed into the warden's room. It looked like all the others; dusty bed, open drawers, but there were two things that caught my eye. One was a little key card, with a label saying “cells” attached to it and the other was a note, scrawled in Russian. Knowing a little Russian myself, I attempted to translate it. What I found made me… nervous, to say the least.
“If you are reading this, run. This building has a fucking curse you can’t even hope to comprehend. The things I and the other men did will forever haunt these halls, and no priest will ever cleanse this place.
Growths. Those satanic growths”
The end of that passage in particular made every synapse in my being simultaneously scream in one-voice ‘RUN!’ but my curiosity again caught hold of me like a choke chain. I rationalized again that this place was very, very abandoned, but at the same time… there was something very off about it.
I put in another tape. And the familiar voice played.
“Day 2. Growths have finally sprouted on the liver and intestine. We had to give a high dose of morphine to ‘Norman’, as his screaming was scaring the other scientists working. Extracting the tumors was easy enough, but we are struggling to think of ways of testing the potential products. Norman is now in holding, and presumably will die in the next few weeks. We will discuss with the chefs and talk about the ‘mystery meat’.”
I got out of the quarters and headed into the canteen. The empty rows upon rows of dining tables and benches spanned the huge hall. Empty plates, dirty knives and forks, everything again was untouched by time. Which was when I noticed an eerie hum coming from the kitchen.
I wondered. Was electricity being supplied to this place? If so, why? What reason would the Russians have to supply this place with electricity? I headed into the kitchen, and found the hum was coming from the refrigerator. I shuddered to think what sick thing lurked behind the metal door, but I wanted to know now, I was already knee deep into it. It would be stupid to quit now. I placed my shaking hand on the cold handle, my heart pumping quicker and quicker, my anxiety levels through the roof, and I flung the door open.
Rows upon rows meaty, gross flesh. I nearly threw up, just barley reaching my mouth and covering it. The smell was unthinkable, like someone cut open a swine and left its insides to rot for a while. I immediately shut the door, and tried to catch my breath in the musky darkness. I decided to listen to another tape to try and calm my nerves, but it only made things worse.
“Day 3. We fed the meat to a couple of the men. They seemed to enjoy the burgers, though they did notice the so-called odd taste. Apparently like lamb, maybe even a bit of liver. We’ve decided to feed more people the meat, though I, like many others in the project, are still skeptical of the health aspects from eating this… ghastly concoction. “
I was still hyperventilating after seeing the products of the experiments, but I pressed onto the labs. This is when things got even more gut-wrenchingly gruesome. There was crusted, dark blood on the little lab tables, more of the gross meat carelessly splayed, hacksaws, everything you might imagine in some kind of stereotypical horror flick. Again, the smell was unbearable; the sights made me want to spew, but the room saved the worst for last at the back. A little door with ‘testing’ on a little sign attached to it.
A gut feeling told me that this was going to be bad. I played a tape.
“Day 4. Our new subject tried to break free. A couple days of growing had completely warped his mind and physical appearance, which led him to try and attack some of the workers and myself, bastard bit me, he nearly broke out, so in the end we had to put it down. Describing in words what he looked like by the end of the endeavor would be like trying to describe an orphanage catching fire, so I will spare the details. One thing is for sure; I don’t want to work here anymore. The things we’ve created need to be stopped, but here I am trapped. I need help”
So I was back at that moment. My heart started racing, my whole body was shaking in terror, I knew this was going to be bad, and I knew whatever was waiting on the other side would be even worse than the cafeteria. I swung the door open, expecting the worst.
And what I got, was a small room, a glass window and another room, holding a chair. Nothing serious, I looked inside a little more, and suddenly saw a black mass sitting on top of the chair. Immediately I crouched down, fear spreading through my body.
Shit shit shit, something was in here. The mass wasn’t moving, so I thought what ever it was, was either dead or asleep. I wanted to see what it was, I needed to know, Vasily’s cryptic message started to make sense, as my curiosity had been fueling my decisions every step of my exploration. I needed to see this, as I started to feel like I was being guided by some otherworldly force, or at least that’s how I rationalize it. Looking back, I must have been insane to not run away after I opened the fridge, but who knows.
I crept up quietly, to check if it was breathing, and sure enough, not a sound. I relaxed a little and played another tape, the scientist now sounding a lot less healthy than the tape before. Stopping to cough mid sentence, it sounded like he had gotten ill with something, and sure enough…
“Day 5. I’ve been infected. The things spread after you touch them, I can’t believe I didn’t realize, the workers that have eaten the meat have been ill with god knows what, it finally makes sense about what’s wrong with them. I have a… tumor growing out of my face, I think I’m going blind in one eye. The rest of my colleagues are holding me in my cell before they bring the doctors in to remove it. I try to tell them we need to stop, and if we continue feeding the workers the meat, we shall have dire consequences, but of course they won't listen. Poor bastards. More afraid of their own government chastising them than creating these abominations.”
It was then, that I finally put a light on the mass sitting in the chair. Something that looked human, but at the same time was something ungodly and unjust. Scars littered the face, which in itself had bulges the size of tennis balls coming out of various areas. Its gums were bare, as its lips seemed to have been removed, showing large, broken teeth. The body was almost as bad, a skinny, withered figure, with only one, large, pulsating arm, tied to the chair.
God, tumors must have been growing in every muscle in his body. I looked at its eyes, black, distended, out of a proportion like some kind of messed up Picasso painting.
And the eyes looked back.
I jumped back and dropped my flashlight, screaming. The thing was alive, and it was looking right at me. It breathed in a heavy, throaty mix of a splutter and a cough, like a man being choked. It tried to struggle free, struggling and screaming in a disgusting guttural screech, its mouth wide open, and teeth bared at me. I ran to the door, but the thing broke free. It jumped on me, its one huge arm pinning me down as it tried to gnaw its knife-like teeth into me. I barely managed to grab my flashlight and hit the monstrosity in the head as hard as I could, and managed to get it off me.
I didn’t stop hitting it until its face was merely a red smear on the floor, with my hands dripping with a mixture of blood, sweat, bile and tears. I sat down, almost completely depleted, my mind still racing and my heart still pounding. I tried to relax, and decided to put in the second last tape in the mean time.
“Day 14. I have been in the hospital for many days. My face still feels numb from the surgery, and things are worse off than ever. The tumors have been spreading amongst the workers, more and more people have had to be put into the cell blocks as we eat our own ungodly creation. I try and tell my colleges that we need to run, now, before we all turn into one of those damn things, but they don’t listen. So… I ended it. I ran out of the facility, and made sure that the door leading to the outside was closed for good. If the meat managed to make it out of the country… god knows what would happen. If anybody finds these tapes, get out. Now. Before you catch it”
I was confused. There were seven tapes, yet the sixth seemed to conclude everything. Why was there another? Confused, I played the final tape. The voice was different, but still the same throaty speech.
“If you are listening to this, you are probably wondering about a few things. Why is this place being supplied with electricity? What are you looking for? What happened to the rest of the crew? It seems improbable, but the answer to all these questions lies behind the cell block door. I warn you, once you see it, run. Run out of the complex and shut the gate. You can't let even one of these disease mongers escape into the world. Good luck.”
After I had fully recovered after the assault, I headed for the final part of the complex. ‘Cells’ as I walked along the hallway, anxiety and dread building up ten-fold every single step I took towards the door at the back. This is what I needed to see. This is what I had worked up to, enduring horror after horror in this godforsaken complex. I stood in front of the steel door, and through the door I could hear noises. Growls, choking, spluttering. I could guess a few tumor farms were on the other side, nothing I couldn’t handle after dealing with the first. Throwing caution to the wind, I took out the key card, slid it through the locking mechanism, and opened the door.
Bodies, all huddled together, packing the room in its entirely, all deformed, all with pulsating, overgrown limbs, rocky teeth, red bloodied gums, and dead black eyes.
And all looking at me.
I ran, I dropped everything and ran as fast as possible to the light on the other end, a horde of the abominations hot on my trail, screaming, gnawing, biting, and swiping at everything they could. If I stopped even for a second, I would be ripped apart. Sweat was practically pouring out of me as I reached the end, and quickly pressed the button to shut the gate. They were still running, the gate wasn’t shutting fast enough, oh god, every one of them was going to get out!
And the gate slammed shut. I could still hear their screeches and scratches against the metal gate. I kept running to the car, too terrified to even think about slowing down, the only thing in my mind being to get far the fuck away from there.
I don’t know what happened after that. I must have blacked out. When I came too, I was in my car, bloodied and beaten. The hotel owner gave me a hell of a funny look when I came back to wash the blood and bile all over me. I’ve not seen Vasily since the first time I saw him, and I’m writing this at the hotel.
My head hurts.
Oh god my head hurts.
I think I’ve been infected. Gross bumps have appeared all over my hands. My head feels heavy, and I feel weak. I’m probably going to have to… off myself, make sure the disease doesn’t spread, but at least my story was told.
God help anyone who finds me.