An IN THE AIR Excerpt: “Pathogens” by Edward Karpp

The video smeared as sensors compensated for the darkness.

The bottom of Roger’s face filled the left side of the screen at a forty-five-degree angle. Behind him, something shuddered, but it was only the pixelated blackness unscrambling into patches of dark and light gray.

Roger turned to his right at the end of the corridor, entering another empty hall lined with gray doors. The building seemed bigger on the inside.

Gracie lost her bearings.

“Be glad you can’t smell this. Wait.” He returned to the previous corridor, where boxes of gloves and other medical supplies sat on a cart. He pulled a surgical mask out and strapped it over his face. “For the smell, not the pathogen.”

Leave the building.

“I need to document the source of this odor. Huh. It’s locked.”

You know what the odor is, for Gods sake. There wasnt time to transport or bury all the ones who didnt make it.

“Don’t do that. It won’t prove anything.” Amir’s voice was firm, as if he were giving Roger an order.

“No, this door isn’t very sturdy. Look at it shaking, and I’m just using one hand.”

Amir ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m leaving. I won’t be party to suicide.”

“No, please. Roger needs you here. I need you here. Don’t leave me alone.”

Roger set the camera angle on the locked door. His footsteps receded, faint. “The camera shows I’m still recording to tape. Please confirm you’re recording remotely.”

“Yes,” Amir said quietly. “We’re recording here.”

Roger pried the doors with a piece of metal.

The latch broke.

Roger stumbled backward.

His arm shot up to cover his mouth.

The shadowy room behind the doors was full of corpses. Most clothed. All smeared with dry, black blood. Many body parts misshapen, unidentifiable—the final symptom of Stage Three.

Roger stepped into the room.

“This is enough. Please stop.”Gracie moved closer to the monitor, hear heart thudding. Her curiosity about Roger’s hypothesis vanished. “It is clearly real and clearly fatal.”

“No. I need a sample. An independent lab will be able to—”

“Stop.” Gracie spoke more quietly and more firmly, enough to make Roger stop. “Please. Please come back.”

“I don’t know what to say.” Roger faced the camera, still on the floor. He bent to pick it up but stopped to look at his hand. Blue curves pulsed and grew under the skin of his palm.



48416177_2008938705839504_8094266344947580928_nEdward Karpp is a horror writer with stories in Thuggish Itch: Viva Las Vegas(Gypsum Sound Tales), Schlock! Horror! (Hellbound Books), and Under the Full Moons Light (Owl Hollow Press). His not-entirely-serious writing about misunderstood movies can be found at Senseless Cinema (, where he writes under the pseudonym Dr. Pseudonymous.


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