Pain shot through my forearm as I desperately tried to stop the corruption from getting further. It was futile, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Purple and green lines cris-crossed each other. My hand clenched. My arm grabbed at something that was not there in an effort to alleviate the throbbing, radiating pain.

“What did you do to me!?” I screamed.

My words echoed from the alley walls.

The hooded figure simply smiled. His teeth were stark white compared to the purple and green on his gums. He threw off his hood to show me the stains over his skin. But I couldn’t understand his eyes. How could he see with no iris? Was there a pupil in there, or was it all black?

“Welcome to the fold,” he said.

His voice was like a snake’s hiss, slithering out from under the bed at night.

I ran. There wasn’t time to demand a cure. It was their plan all along. Get a junkie to reach for their drugs and infect them.

“You’ll get used to the pain!” the figure called after me.

I burst from the alley into a sea of walking people. A disgruntled man in a suit stopped moving to give me space. His eyes widened when he saw my arm.

“He’s one of them,” he stumbled, “Part of that god damned hive!”

People flinched, turning to see where the threat was coming from. All eyes went to me and my arm.

“Help me!” I screamed at them.

Some of them screamed back. All of them ran like I was a human bomb. People went into the street, cars slammed on their brakes.

I ran towards the hospital. I had no idea if they had any plans for those who weren’t fully consumed by the hive. My only thought was amputation. I’d rather lose my arm than my identity.

Through the streets I went. My teeth clenched against each other so hard I feared I might be shattering some of the weaker ones in the back. Years of drug use had left my molars in bad shape.

The lines of corruption weaved down to my elbow. I constricted my hand around my upper arm like a tourniquet. I could feel my tendons fighting back, spasming against the nano-bot invasion.

The masses parted as I moved. Their eyes widening in terror as they saw the colors of The Hive.

“Hospital, which way?” I shouted.

A woman, keeping a trash can between herself and me, pointed north.

I nodded, unable to say thank you. I hope she understood.

My lungs were pushed to their limit. Without my morning fix I was operating at half capacity at best. Thankfully the pain from my arm canceled out the new pain of overexertion.

With the hospital up ahead, I could see a glimmer of hope. My pace picked up. I made my arm visible to the walking traffic, and they moved aside.

Through the doors, I found someone at a desk.

“The Hive,” I strained to sound calm.

She pushed her chair from her desk to get away. Then, after I showed no sign of trying to touch her, she could speak.

“I…we. I don’t know if we can…” she stumbled.

“Then cut it off!” I screamed.

She stared, horrified.

“Now!” I yelled at her.

She shot out of her chair, ran to a button on the wall and smashed it. The button was big, red, and looked like no one should ever press it.

It was either for security or doctors.

The lines of corruption passed my tourniquet hand. It was approaching my lower arm. I needed this arm gone.

Doctors rushed out. Their confident squinting became fearful stares when they saw my arm.

“Cut it off!” I called to them, taking a few steps, “Help me!”

Two of the three backed off.

The one in the front had regained his confidence, “Prep for amputation!” he yelled.

I felt relief. The pain surged, and I winced with my whole body.

No one ushered me in to the other room. I followed them. They kept a close eye on me, rightfully so. No one dared turn their back.

“Dr.Ghatti, are we…” one of the doctors began.

My hopes began to fade.

“We’re amputating his arm,” the confident interrupted.

“Dr.Ghatti, with all due respect he’s got…”

“The Hive!? No shit,” Dr.Ghatti shot back.

I liked this doctor.

“Just one touch from his arm…”

“Just cut it off!” I screamed.

There was a small moment of absolute silence. Dr.Ghatti spoke up.

“I need you to find anything that we can shield ourselves with.”

The two doctors left the room and Dr.Ghatti readied what looked like a gun.

“No!” I yelled.

“It’s a tranquilizer!” he said, backing away, “I can’t risk getting close until you’re out!”

I nodded at him.

“Dr., it’s spreading,” a nurse to my left said.

I looked down. The lines were halfway to my shoulder now. I saw the dart land in my chest, and felt nothing.

“I’ll do what I can,” Dr.Ghatti said, “What should I do if I can’t stop it?”

I looked up, making sure to look him in the eyes, “I’d rather be dead.”

As I slumped to the floor in a heap, I heard him say, “Understood.”