The Plagiarist by Deus X Machina

The first thing Dr. Oscar Genneson, Ph.D in biochemistry, noticed when he awoke was the burning sensation that flowed throughout his body as if his blood had turned to acid. His muscles weak, he struggled into a sitting position and opened his heavy eyelids. His blurred vision revealed little more than a dim room with a television and VCR in the middle of the floor.

Crawling over to the television, he squinted his eyes and noticed a note on the VCR that said "Press play." Oscar turned on the TV and hit play. Static buzzed loudly from the speakers, causing Oscar to cover his ears, before it finally faded. The white fuzz on the screen gave way to the image of a handpainted puppet.

"What the hell?" the chemist whispered.

The puppet turned its wooden face towards the camera. "Hello, Oscar," it said in a rough voice. "I want to play a game. For years you have been stealing the hard work of others, passing it off as your own to cover your own inadequate abilities. You have filled the academic world with lies and now I do the same to yours. You have been injected with a deadly poison that was the subject of one of the papers you stole. Though you did none of the research yourself, I'm sure you recognize the symptoms. The antidote is in the cupboard. All you have to do is get to the cupboard, open it, and take the antidote. The door is not locked or booby-trapped. You have about a minute. Live or die, Oscar. Make your choice."

As the television returned to buzzing static, Oscar stood anxiously, adrenaline causing him to forget his poison-induced weakness. Ordering his eyes to focus, he soon spied a wooden cupboard standing only a few feet off to his side. Laughing happily, he hurried toward the cupboard, stumbling over the television in the process. He ran toward the cupboard…

Only to see another version of himself materialize before him. A split second later, he felt himself hit a wall. Oscar and his double pounded at the glass wall before realizing what it was. A mirror.

Afraid of what he would see, Oscar slowly turned around. He was met with an uncountable number of mirrors. An army of frightened Oscars and an equal number of identical cupboards stared back at him. The puppet's words rang in his ears.

"You have filled the academic world with lies and now I do the same to yours."

"Oh God, no…" Oscar moaned. Tears of desperation flowing from his eyes, Oscar threw himself from one cupboard to another, being met with a mirrored dead end each time. He ran panicked through a maze of mirrors, desperately searching for the right cupboard. Each one he found was a lie.

The burning in his veins intensified until his legs turned to jelly and buckled beneath him. He dragged himself across the dusty floor, trying desperately to reach the next cupboard. Each cupboard he reached was a slight increase in his chances for survival.

Oscar inched closer and closer without meeting any glass resistance. Could this be the one?

The burning in his body became unbearable. His muscles melted. His reaching arm dropped to the ground. Try as he might, he could not will his body to move. The last symptom of the poison.

Oscar's dying words barely escaped from his lips. "No! Oh God…no…"