I was doing what I normally did at the ungodly hour of 2 AM, messing around on YouTube or Facebook, or some other website I could use to entertain myself. I always had difficulties sleeping, so I’d go on the internet until my eyelids got heavy and I dozed off at the keyboard, forcing myself to climb into bed.

Well, I was finally getting tired, tempting myself to give in to the warm calling of my soft bed and cozy blanket, when I remembered to check my e-mail that’s been neglected for over a week. I’d gone over to my account and cleaned expired coupons, junk mail, and spam files, until I came upon an actual e-mail.

The peculiar thing about this e-mail, however, is that the account that linked the attached file was illegible. The text had run over itself, creating a scrambled and rather disturbing looking collection of dark chicken-scratch. Well, my computer was quite hot, seeing as I’d been on it for god knows how long. That probably messed with the text or something.

The e-mail had no description, no comment, nothing. There was merely a video file attached- nothing more.

The file was labeled “morbus.avi”.

Morbus… Weird. I’d heard that word before somewhere, but I couldn’t recollect where.

I had conflictions deciding whether or not to download it and watch, but I was curious- I blame it on the night high and the desperate need to un-bored myself. Curiosity has shaken the sleep from me.

I caved and downloaded the video, finding no virus or threat to my computer, according to the file-scan I’d installed. When the video finished its twenty minute download, I observed the thumbnail of the video. A dark room with a metal table, a single light bulb dangling from a mere string over it. The soft glow from the bulb barely penetrated the dark. It just barely illuminated the table.

I hit play, and the video began as static that lasted for 45 seconds and cut to the dark room with a metal doctor’s table in the center, a large metal cabinet backed against the wall behind it. The large table was lit up in the middle of the room. There was no sound, oddly enough. The video was completely mute.

The quality of the video was awful and very grainy. It blinked to static a moment every few minutes. The camera that recorded this must have been very cheap. It was a bit frustrating to watch.

Finally, after about five minutes, a human figure walked in front of the camera, dressed in a dark coat and gloves. They wore a pale white Plague Doctor’s mask with a hood, keeping every inch of their body concealed. Red goggles bulged from the pale mask, hiding its eyes.

The disturbing thing about it was its towering height. It was so… so tall… It’d have to be at least seven, maybe eight feet at least. It’s arms were chillingly long, their fingers like notched, bony sticks.

The person motioned for something behind the camera, crooking their scraggly finger at something I couldn’t see. Two other doctors, much smaller than the other doctor, dressed in similar garb came into view, carrying something on a stretcher. There was a large white sheet draped over what looked to be a body.

This was getting weird- what the hell was this? I furrowed my eyebrows and continued to watch, my skin prickling ever so slightly. The figures placed the sheet-covered figure on the table and whipped it off, revealing a man strapped to the gurney. He looked terrified, his eyes wild and filled with fear. A leather scrap was belted across his mouth, keeping him from screaming out. His forehead glistened with sweat and his chest heaved. I felt my stomach lurch.

I hoped to god this was some sick bit of a horror movie, and that none of this was real. I had enough, pausing the video and shutting the laptop. I didn’t like horror movies, and I didn’t like scary things. I climbed into bed and let my heart slow down, trying to calm my rattled nerves.

“It’s a fake video.” I told myself out loud “This is ridiculous to get so freaked out over- it’s definitely fake, a video some people made. It’s supposed to scare people. Probably a teaser for a new movie”

I let out a breath and turned over; relieved I’d talked myself out of being so scared. I was such a baby.

The next day I felt kinda lousy. My head ached, and my stomach felt like it was full of rocks. I got out of bed, dressed, and went to work. I trudged through the day, irritable and sick. I went home still feeling like crap, but couldn’t make myself go to sleep, even after taking a few sleeping pills.

Since I obviously wouldn’t be sleeping anytime soon, I sat my chair and switched on my computer. I messed around online, playing some videogames and listening to music. It took my mind off my aching stomach. Taking a sip of water I’d gotten from the kitchen for another pill, I remembered the video from the other night. It did look kind of interesting, if that didn’t sound too creepy. And it was fake anyways, so there was no harm to watching it again. I opened the file and it was back where I’d left off. The man was strapped to the table, the figure in the mask hovering over him. I hit PLAY again and started to watch the rest of the video.

The man was lying on the table, struggling against his bonds. There was no sound at all, so I couldn’t hear a thing, but I imagined he was making quite the racket. The tall, gangly figure pulled a blade from the small cart beside the table and lifted it to the light, making the knife shimmer. The man on the table began to cry, shaking his head wildly, his face red. The figure pulled a small box from a pocket in their coat. Small white text popped onto the screen.

“Subject has been confirmed with the infection- immediate surgery has been directed.”

They slipped the recorder back into their pocket and lowered the knife to the man’s exposed stomach, slicing down.

I cringed. No anesthesia…

The man shook his head and thrashing wildly, trying to escape the binds that held him down, obviously failing. The figure merely continued the incision, placed the blood-stained knife back onto the cart.

He pulled his gloves on tightly, securing them, then reached into the man’s stomach and-

I’d had enough. I didn’t want to watch it anymore. Fake or not, this was disgusting. My stomach felt awful now, worse than before. No wonder. I was probably just being a baby, but I hated gore. Made me sick.

I sat up from my chair and shut off the computer, crawled into bed, sick to my stomach, and flopped onto my mattress. The world was full of sick things.

My dreams were plagued by nightmares on the second night.

I saw them, standing in a dark concrete room in a circle with the tallest doctor in the middle. My dream was in the same crummy definition as the video. Each time the video blinked into a brief second of static, the masked man in the middle moved just a bit. It wasn’t really a movement. More like a twitch. About the third or fourth time the static spiked my dream, there was a symbol etched into the concrete wall behind them, written in white chalk. It looked like a cross.

The static blinked again and the doctors were suddenly lined against the wall, the tallest in the middle of them. The chalk symbol was now littered with bloody handprints.

I woke up screaming into my pillow, my entire body so hot I felt on fire. I screamed and screamed, even though my throat felt like someone had shoved a heat rod down it. My roommate burst into the room and grabbed me by my shoulders, calling my name. Sweat beaded from my wet hair, pouring down my forehead. My stomach cramped up, and I doubled over in agony and was instantly sick. I couldn’t stop screaming, screaming I couldn’t see, that my brain was exploding in my head. I instantly blacked from the pain.

When I came to, my roommate was on my computer, watching the video. I blinked, ignoring the throbbing agony in my head and stomach and limped over to him.

“Wh-Why are…you watching that?” I asked, trying to keep from getting sick again.

“I don’t know. It was on your screen when I came in after you… you know.”

“After I what?”

“Dude, you were screaming like a dying cat and emptied your stomach out everywhere. There’s vomit all over the floor…”

I looked behind us, wincing at the cramps in my stomach and muscles, and looked to the floor. It didn’t look like vomit, but more like the oil from a car.

“This… this came from me?” I asked, my stomach flopping and wretching in my body. Don’t puke.

“Uh… yeah. I didn’t want to move you until you were awake. I think we’d better get you to a hospital…”

I shook my head quickly.

“No- no, no. It’s fine. I’m fine.”

I hated hospitals. I hated doctors. No way.

“Dude, I know you’re scared of doctor’s offices and shit, but you vomited black crap. That’s not natural.”

I just shook my head again and again, insisting I was fine. He just rolled his eyes and muttered.

“Your funeral.”

I limped back to my bed and watched Brian, the aforementioned roommate, look at the video. He shook his head from time to time, sometimes even going “oh god”. When the video ended he turned to me, a funny look plastered on his face.

“Dude, this is disgusting. Why the hell would you watch this?”

I shrugged. “Someone sent it to me- I didn’t watch the whole thing.”

Brian rolled his eyes and shook his head. He got up from the chair and walked from the room, returning with a mop and cleaned up my vomit.

“You owe me, you asshat,” he growled.

He dumped the mop into the bucket and walked out the door, not leaving completely before popping his head back in.

“By the way, would you please not scream your freaking head off when you decide to have a panic attack? You scared the shit out of me. I thought you were dying.”

When he left and the cramps ceased, I went over to my computer and sat down. The video was still up, but I was hesitant to finish it. The video was so vile, but his curiosity made him reach for his mouse and hit play again.

The video started again with static, and the figure stepped before the camera again. But, this time, the several others went immediately to the table carrying a sheet covered gurney, carrying the man.

The sheet was removed, but this time it wasn’t the same person….

Wait… that wasn’t right. Was this a different a video? No, this was the same one, the same awful video definition, dark and grainy. But, this wasn’t the same person, no. His hair was longer, he was slightly shorter than the other guy. I continued watching, confused and a bit unnerved, and the beginning started as normal.

The beaked figure slipped a recording device from his coat in a familiar situation and muttered into the box. White text popped onto the screen.

“Subject has been confirmed with the infection- immediate surgery has been directed.”

The first “doctor” cut into the stomach, but then reached into his stomach and… began removing his small intestine. Thick black goo dripped from the organs instead of blood. There was no sound to the video, but I liked to believe the man would have been screaming loudly, as he looked in excruciating agony.

This wasn’t right. What happened to the other man? Why was this different? I looked at the time bar at the bottom. Thirty seconds in, no other footage behind this clip.

The doctor removed a few more organs, sawing and picking at his body cavity, then took a small jar from the cart and filled it with the black goo that filled his body cavity.

The man stopped thrashing, finally, and lay still on the table, his chest heaving and blood trickling from his mouth. He said something, what exactly, I didn’t know. No text came to the screen. The doctor set the jar on the cart and motioned behind the camera. The several other “doctors” ran over and rested beside the gurney. The man shook his head, eyes lit up with terror. The doctor’s ignored him, then brought a cloth from one of their pockets and wrapped it over his eyes. They took the strap from his mouth and jammed something in it and rebound his jaws. He must have been screaming too loud…

They exited and the main doctor brought a jagged-edged blade from the cart. The last five minutes was of the doctor tearing out the rest of man’s entrails, stomach, liver, heart, and prying his teeth from his mouth and placing them in a dish jar, then leaving the man on the table to bleed out and die.

I shuddered, my spine shivering. What the hell was this?! That’s disgusting- even for a horror movie. My throat tightened, and I shut my computer. God, I didn’t understand. What made my head hurt about this video? Surely I’d seen something worse than this in theaters? I couldn’t remember, but something about the video made my stomach churn.

I went downstairs to get a glass of water, my head throbbing again. As I filled a cup in the sink, my arm tightened. My stomach flipped. It felt as though someone had socked me in the gut, and I doubled over, grabbing the sink to keep from collapsing.

I choked and gasped, feeling a pain rip into my stomach and chest. My ribs tightened and I felt my jaw clench. I was instantly sick, vomit burning my throat as it forced its way up and out of my mouth, blurting from my lips.

I hacked loudly, dark goo spurting from my mouth. I stood hunched over the sink, trembling like a leaf for at least ten minutes, crying and dry heaving.

When I opened my eyes, my chest heaving and my lungs gasping for sweet air, I looked into the mess. A horrible taste flooded my mouth, like rotted food and spoilt milk. My heart leapt in my chest, a shudder ran up my spine. Thick black goo stuck to the metal sides of the sink and clogged the drain. What was that? That… that wasn’t… natural…

“What…what’s happening to me?” I gasped, placing a hand to my soaked forehead.

I tried to catch my breath, my chest still heaving, my mind over-flowing with painful thoughts. Was I dying? God, please no. There’s so much I hadn’t done yet. So much to do…

The agony was unbareable. I tried calling for Brian until I remembered he had work today and wouldn’t be back until late tonight. I was alone in our house, shaking and vomiting black fluid and possibly rotting from the inside.

I was too exhausted to look for my phone and call a doctor. Everything hurt, almost like someone had shoved my muscles into a meat grinder. I was in so much pain... blinding, white pain.

I refilled another glass after I’d dropped and shattered the other in the goo-filled sink, then crawled into bed. I needed rest. I needed to get some sleep. I wasn’t thinking right, wasn’t processing things right.

I pulled the sheets over my head, flopping down on my side. My stomach rattled in my body, twisting and flopping about. Part of me wouldn’t mind dying. At least I wouldn’t be forced to suffer through this…

Despite the throbbing in my head, I settled into an extremely uneasy sleep. Once again, the doctors invaded my sleep. They stood around me, binding my wrists to the cold steel table, the light that dropped from the ceiling gleaming in my eyes. They dripped with dark oil-like liquid, like they were constructed of it. It leaked from beneath their masks, dribbling onto the floor, onto me as they towered over me. Whispers and hisses filled my ears, like a room full of hushed arguments.

I couldn’t scream out, couldn’t call for help. The beaked figures surrounded me, scalpels and blades clutched in their dripping, gloved fingers. I could feel them cutting into my flesh, the cold metal of their instruments biting into my skin. They ripped and tore into me with different saws and blades, black goop dripping from my wounds instead of blood. The pain was unbearable, blinding. As they cut into me like a science class dissecting a frog, I felt a sensation of being watched- eyes boring into me as I watched myself being opened up and shredded from the inside. I slowly turned my head.

There were so many.

So many people lining the walls, their chests and stomachs gouged open, their intestines coated in black grime and uncoiled onto the floor, their eyes glazed over and blank. Some hung from the walls, others lay limp on the floor. They watched the doctors crowd me, tools in their hands. My mind was reeling in terror. I screamed at me to do something, say something, but I couldn’t… I couldn’t…

The man from the second video sat against the wall, blood dripping from his mouth. He lifted his pale face to look at me and he merely smiled, blood caked in his toothless gums. He grinned and stared up at me with his milky eyes, then merely uttered one thing-

“Don’t…let…the doctor…find you…”

I woke up sobbing, my heart slamming against my chest like a steam hammer. I felt like my skin was on fire, and I couldn’t cease my shaking. What was happening to me? What… what was wrong with me? My stomach felt as though someone had repeatedly smashed their fist into it.

I could barely move, could barely even groan. I checked the time- 10:57 PM. Thursday.

I’d slept for five days. Five. Fucking. Days.

I cringed as I tried to get up, my entire body throbbing and pulsating. I’d never in my life felt so much pain, never felt so sick.

“Brian?” I groaned, not moving from my bed.

No answer.



I slowly rolled from my bed, clinging to the sheets as I stood. I needed my phone- I needed to call him and get to a hospital. My entire body was being washed over with agony. As my feet touched the carpet, my stomach lurched- I threw up all over my floor, black fluid spurting from my throat. Oh god. I was dying. I’m dying. I was going to be in the newspaper, found on my floor, rotted from the inside out. The thoughts just mad everything worse, and they forced me into a dry-heaving panic attack.

I pulled my phone from my nightstand and dialed 911, then listened to it ring.



Three times.

Suddenly, a loud burst of static erupted from the speakers in my phone. I cried out and dropped it, holding my hand to my now throbbing ear. The static still screamed out from it, even though I’d practically thrown it across the room.

What the fuck was going on?

I left my room and hobbled to Brian’s room.

His bed was empty. I ran my hand over the mattress. Cold. He hadn’t slept in it. The sheets were messy and thrown back, unusual for Brian, seeing as the guy was a total neat-freak.

Black liquid ran from my lips and down my chin. I choked on it, heaving and shaking until I vomited all over Brian’s clean carpet. I felt so weak. Where was he?

I needed to sit down. I sat on Brian’s bed, my head in my hands. I couldn’t drive to the hospital myself. I could barely walk, let alone operate a car and drive forty miles to the nearest hospital. As I drowned myself in guilty, frightened thoughts, I heard a ringing break the silence from Brian’s bedstand. His phone was going off, and the caller ID showed as “Angela”.

I grabbed the phone and answered it, frantic.

“Angela?! Angela, it’s Michael!”

“Michael?! Michael, there you are! Where the hell is Brian?!” she demanded, frantic and sounding afraid.

“Wait, what?”

“Nobody has seen him five days. We went your house, saw you sleeping, but he wasn’t there. He hasn’t been to work or gone to school, and he hasn’t answered his phone.”

The phone trembled as my hands started to shake. Five days?

“He… he’s missing?” I whimpered.

“You haven’t seen him?”

“N-No, I haven’t. l-Listen, Angie, I need help! I need an ambulance, I need you to-“

The line went dead.

I stared at the phone screen, shaking. No service…

I dropped the phone, then limped to my room, my stomach tying itself in tight knots. I’d use my computer to get help. Facebook, Skype, somehow. My house was the only one out here for a good half an hour. It was the only in a construction site currently on hiatus from being completed. Going for help outside was useless.

As I hobbled into the room, my computer monitor flashed. I turned my head to look at my laptop- the video, morbus.avi was on the screen.

No. my mind hissed. No- I don’t need that, not now.

I charged over to my laptop and sat down, trying desperately to exit out of the video. It refused to close out, despite how many times I clicked the X. I almost jumped when the video broke into static and began to play.

“Come on, you useless piece of shit!” I snarled.

The video continued to play, and I felt my legs suddenly go numb. I couldn’t move them. I began to panic, my heart thumping in my chest. What? Why- why can’t I move?! I thrashed in my chair until the numbness spread into my torso and arms. I shuddered as I fell limp in my chair.

The video broke from static- the doctors were standing around the table, surrounding a human on the table. In the horrible quality of the video I could see he was limp, not moving. The coated figures strapped the man down then exited from view, leaving only the largest doctor and the man on the table.

But, when they cleared…when they cleared…

I heaved. It felt like someone had socked me in my stomach. My heart jumped into my throat and my chest tightened.

“NO.” I said aloud, my voice rising “NO- DEAR GOD, NO!”

Brian was strapped to the table, his eyes distant and glazed over. He looked so out of it, so confused. I choked back my sobs, watching the screen in horror.

The beaked figure raised a recording device to his face as he’d done twice before. My spine tingled as the same text appeared onto the screen.

“Subject has been confirmed with the infection- immediate surgery has been directed.”

“NO!” I wailed, screaming at the laptop. “NO, NO, NO, NO! NOOOOOO!”

“Brian’s been missing for five days,” Angie’s voice rang out in my head.

This had to be some sick joke. Some sick, disgusting cruel joke. Please, please… Please let them have just reset my clock, have everyone involved trick me into thinking my best friend was missing for nearly week. Let it be a joke…

But my hopes were crushed as I realized Brian’s legs had been snapped at impossible angles, the bone jutting from his knee, blood caked on the splintered joint. There was no way that could be special affects…

For over fifteen minutes I watched the figure carve into my roommate as it did with the others, tearing his stomach to shreds with the many bladed tools on his small cart. Brian didn’t thrash, didn’t cry out- he just observed in sheer horror as his body was opened up and pulled apart before him. Tears ran down his face, the dark circles beneath his eyes such a contrast to his pale skin. He was staring into the camera, like he knew I was watching, anguish in his lightless eyes.

The masked creature placed his bloodied tools on the cart beside him, the jar of black goo and organs next to the red-stained utensils. Brian, still clinging to life, tilted his head weakly towards the figure. He looked so tired, so weak- such a contrast from the last time I’d just seen him…


The text appeared again. I’d suspected it was Brian who spoke.

The figure rapped his gloved fingers on the table, then more text.

“Because you have been infected. We are ending all the suffering the world might bring you. The suffering you might bring the world.”

I saw Brian give a shudder, then fell limp. The figure crooked a claw-like finger to behind the screen, and the rest of the masked people unbound him and carried him away. I expected the video to end there, but instead, the doctor stepped up close to the camera, facing me. His pale white beak looked so close to the screen it could have protruded from my monitor. The scarlet goggles that hid his eyes glimmered on his mask, his true eyes concealed from view.

He was still for a few moments, just staring at the camera. Suddenly, slanted white text filled the bottom of the screen.

“Do you see what you’ve done?”

The screen blinked into static, and my laptop went black.

I buried my head in my arms, agony racking my body. I felt tears sting my eyes and stream down my cheeks. I sobbed loudly; begging to a god I was no longer sure existed.

No. No, no, no. Why- why us? Why us?

We’d never done anything wrong. Never been bad people. Why did this happen to us?

My questions were never answered. My body was enveloped in searing pain, so bad I screamed out, clutching my head. Black goo flowed from my jaws, dribbling down my chin, my throat. I was choking, heaving, unable to get air. My mouth was filled with the taste of rotting meat and trash. My throat burned. It felt as though someone had jammed a hot iron down it and pressed the molten metal against the walls of my stomach.

I’m dying. I thought bitterly. I’m going to die.

I coughed and choked, the black vomit splattering on my front, my lap, my desk. Everywhere. I gagged, trying to catch my breath. My vision blurred.

I felt so distant and light-headed. My body began to shut down. I gave a massive shudder, the drum in my head not ceasing its beat against my skull. I felt myself slip away into unconsciousness and soon, darkness had me in its grip.

When I awoke, I was met with the bitter, salty taste of leather in my mouth. I was bound to a cold, steel table, my sight blinded by a bright light above me. The rest of the room was pitch black, so dark that I couldn’t see past two feet ahead or to the side of me. Ignoring the agony that rolled through my body in waves, I tried to understand my situation.

Reality slapped me in the face, and I was engulfed in cold truth as I stared at the blinking red light of a very old looking camera not too far from the table I was held to.

I screamed, screamed despite the binds clenched between my teeth. Tears trickled from my eyes which I instantly jammed shut so I couldn’t see the horrific scene before me. I shook my head and thrashed in my bonds, trying to escape, to try to get away. I was held fast to the cold metal table. My struggles were rendered useless.

When I opened my eyes, still clouded by dizziness and sickness, I saw them- five of them. Their pale beaks pointed down at my face. I sobbed, my muffled voice bouncing through the nearly empty room. My throat burned as I pleaded through the leather scrap, dark fluid dribbling past my muzzle. The tallest one waved the others away, then returned to my side, lifting a metal scalpel in a gloved hand.

I felt death threaten to wrap its icy hands around my throat as I ran through my situation. This wasn’t a dream, an awful nightmare. I wouldn’t wake up in a hot sweat, my heart slamming against my chest in relief. No, it was real.

I stared up at the hooded doctor, staring daggers at him through my tears. It was as he turned his beak down towards me that I understood. Finally… Finally I understood now.

Morbus, the name of the file, a word I’d learned in a foreign language class, the Latin name for Disease.

The beaks had been familiar to me, and now I remembered, taken back to History class in high school. The masks Plague Doctors wore during the Black Death disease that hit Europe. From what I remembered about Plague Doctors were that they were second-rate medical doctors that weren’t qualified for a true medical profession. They were used in 1348 during the Black Death epidemic. Most of them would die from the exposure…

The cross. The cross in my dreams. The same exact cross that would be painted on the door of the house that held the contaminated. The dying.

The words the doctor spoke came back to me, the slanted white text littering the bottom of the screen.

“Subject has been confirmed with the infection- immediate surgery has been directed.”

I realized it, I understood it perfectly now. I’d been so ill, so gut-wrenchingly sick that I couldn’t think clearly. But I got it now.

We were infected. We were infected by the disease that rotted us from the inside. The video infected me, and now the doctors had to… take care of me. They were ending the suffering the world may cause me. The suffering I would cause the world. That’s why I felt so bad about the video, the awful feelings it gave me- because it was real.

The Plague Doctor that stood before me snapped at his gloves, still clutching the scalpel. Then, he pulled a recording device from his pocket. The dead, hollow voice rattled through my head. It was such a disgusting voice, a voice broken with disease and age.

“Subject has been confirmed with the infection- immediate surgery has been directed.”