Joe retorted something back in the room; probably didn’t agree with her order to evacuate. She had no intention of repeating herself; the others complied, or they died. Their choice. Whatever he had said, she understood not a single word of it. There were far more pressing things on her mind: the shuffling creature before her, and the chilling thoughts it dredged up from the unconscious. Indeed, her predicament reminded her of something very specific, something she would rather not have remembered until it returned to collect its next due.
It was similar to a recurring nightmare she had every few years: She would be alone in dark place. A corridor or a basement perhaps, someplace lightless where abhorrent things happened out of sight. There too, an undefined thing was lumbering towards her, vaguely humanoid but with no discerning features. She could not describe its aspect, but she knew who it was. A demon who had given up humanity long ago, whose only purpose for humans was for him to slake his unnatural and vile desires. He approached her ever so slowly, but with inexorable certainty. In this dream, she was unarmed. She had nowhere to run. But the worst of it was this:
In this dream, she was a child.
Even if Joe had been drinking and intended to yank the gun from her hand, her fingers clutched the metal in a deathly cold grip, like rigor mortis. Save the index was at ease, hard discipline overriding her instincts even in this situation and preventing accidental or ill-conceived shots. It was the unmistakable sound of a photo being snapped that pulled her out of the mire and back to the present. Somebody had… snapped a photo. A photo? Were they out of their minds?
“The fuck are you doing?!” she hissed, eyes trained on the monster, “Get out already!”
More people were mobilizing now, including the unruly thug. It seemed that curiosity got the better of him and he too became witness to the thing that was coming uncomfortably close. Joe took hold of a fire extinguisher; normally, Trisha would have to see about disarming and calming him, but in this situation she figured it was permissible. Perhaps it was better this way. He urged her to shoot, but she would not. She was not a cowboy or a gangster, not a movie hero. Shooting at someone had to be the last resort, the purpose of which was not to subdue or kill, but to prevent greater harm. Shooting was a choice for the lesser of two evils. Moreover, discipline forbade her from being goaded towards violence by a third person. She would fire only if there was no alternative… or if she found the Violator.
The room emptied surprisingly quickly all of a sudden when the realization of real danger finally dawned upon every last person present. With nobody left inside, Joe suggested the two of them leave as well; his tone was almost agreeable.
“Is everyone out?” she asked, casting a brief glance into the meeting room to confirm this. Her feet were carrying her slowly backwards, arms still extended towards the thing. “Okay Joe, let’s move!”
With his agreement, the two of them would run for the staircase where, hopefully, the rest of the patients had already descended towards the lobby and the street.