A/N: To those of you who have read the original of this story (which I took down earlier this month), yeah… I'm changing it. Big time. The original was not working for me, I got bored of it, and I just really did not like the overall story. I started writing it for the lulz, and it ended up being a mess. Then I didn't touch it for, like, a year, sooo… it got really stale and I even forgot where I wanted to go with the damn thing.
I'll keep many of the medical aspects that were present in the original version, but I'm going to change the overall premise. It's going to be a supernatural/horror story instead, 'cause that's how I roll. If you don't like this change, then go write a medical mystery of your own. :)
If you want me to email you the original, tough luck. I have it, but I'm only willing to send it to, like, two or three people that I know of.
I won't give you any warnings. Expect anything. The only certain thing is that there will be no pairings except maybe some slight Royai, but that's all irrelevant to the story anyways. Also, Mustang will have a big role.
Also, go read Taranova's shit because she's fabulous, and she's betaing this story. /smooches!
Disclaimer: I do not own Fullmetal Alchemist, and I make absolutely no money off of writing this shit.
And without further ado, happy reading!
Written by Hyperthia
"In the Attic"
A great gust of wind sent a flurry of rain and leaves into and throughout the massive entry hall as the front doors flew open, making ancient dust fly and cobwebs shudder in protest. Edward marched into the pitch-dark mansion, his lantern providing the only meager light, which barely penetrated the curtain of blackness before him. Alphonse followed, cautiously, behind him.
"Brother, you need to stop doing that!"
"Doing what?" Ed asked, carelessly whirling around and nearly hitting Alphonse with the lantern.
"Walking into buildings like you just did!" Alphonse answered, glancing around at the dark corners of the grand hall. "What if there was an old booby trap or an ambush?"
"Well, we would know by now. Besides, I doubt anyone's even been in here since it was abandoned," said Edward. He took a look around the dark, cavernous hall and whistled. "Wow, this place is so cool. Too bad it got left to rot."
"Yeah it's, uh, pretty creepy, Ed," said Alphonse, still glancing nervously around in the dark. He jumped back at the sight of a rather grotesque painting, hanging on the wall, depicting a man with a goat's head. "Gee, I can't imagine why he left."
"Could have been financial troubles," said Edward. "Then again, the guy was supposedly doing research for the military, so who knows." Ed turned to look at Alphonse, the light from the lantern casting an orange glow on his face. "If we find that book, though, we might just have our answer."
That book. The whole reason the brothers were currently searching through an old decrepit mansion. It had only been five months since Edward had gotten his title as a state alchemist, and he and Alphonse were willing to turn over every rock, even if it meant searching for some legendary book that may not even exist. Mustang had not been too keen on the idea, but Edward had pestered him enough that the man finally gave in and told him where to look in the library. Mustang had made it clear, however, that he didn't want the brothers trespassing on the property until they had gained legal clearance to do so. But that would have taken too long, so Edward went anyways, dragging a very hesitant Alphonse along with him.
According to some of the locals in the small town, the man who lived in the mansion was a "mad scientist" who may have performed some questionable experiments on humans. One day, the man simply left the estate, leaving everything behind. Based on Ed and Al's research in the library, however, they found enough sufficient evidence to know that the man was actually doing research for the military, and possibly research on human transmutation. His whereabouts were completely unknown; there were theories that he might have left for some reason, been kidnapped, or murdered, but there was no body, no evidence, no trace, and not even a name to the man who had lived in the manor, other than "Dr. McLean" which was supposedly an alias. Someone knew, but they were keeping it all a secret for whatever reason, and Ed was going to find out why.
Based on the few paragraphs that the brothers had found on the case, the man was supposed to have been writing his findings in a journal. That had been enough to get the brothers on a six-hour train ride to some nothing town out in the middle of nowhere. Seeing the rickety old building, sitting on top of the hill like a castle, was one of the first beacons of hope for the brothers in their quest to regain their bodies.
The brothers found their way to the main staircase, which wound its way up and up to the second and third floors. Without any hesitation, Edward started up the staircase, skipping steps in his rush to reach the top. He made it about fifteen steps before one of the wooden planks gave an unpleasant moan and his automail leg went straight through it.
"Damn it!" he yelled, losing his balance and dropping to his other knee. "Watch your step, Al," he warned, gingerly pulling his metal leg out of the splintered, rotting wood.
"You watch your step," Alphonse snapped, climbing up the stairs much more slowly and carefully than Ed had. "You're going to need another automail leg if you keep that up, you idiot!"
Ed scoffed and carried on up the stairs, moving a bit slower and more carefully this time. The brothers made it to the second floor without further incident. Edward, panting slightly from the climb, raised his lantern toward one of the long hallways. Green wallpaper with golden floral designs had begun to peel from the walls in large strips, leaving behind grey panels of rotting wood. There were cracks and holes all down the hallway, and some of the wooden doors had rotted to the point of coming off their hinges. Ed felt a steamy yet cold moisture in the air, which he had not felt downstairs, and he wiped his brow to get rid of some of the sweat that had formed there. He looked at Alphonse and saw that he was also covered in a layer of condensation.
"Okay," said Ed, "let's get up the rest of these stairs, and work our way down."
"Sounds like a plan," said Al, running a finger over some of the dew that had formed on his metal body. "It's awful wet in here. Would explain why everything is rotting so much."
"Yeah," Edward said, shrugging and starting up the next set of stairs. "Let's get a move on."
As they climbed to the third floor, the air only seemed to get wetter. They finally came to the top of the stairs, and Ed saw water dripping off of the wooden railings and forming dark, brown puddles on the steps. He expected to find a giant hole in the ceiling, letting the rain inside, but when he looked up he only saw the ceiling—completely whole and free of damage. He could not even find a leak large enough to practically flood the top floor like it was. He stepped onto the old carpet, which gave a sickening smoosh sound from being so damp.
Edward made a face and turned to check on Alphonse, who had already begun walking down one of the hallways. They both made their way down the long hall, opening each and every door, but with no luck. The same happened when they went down the opposite hallway. They could find absolutely no sign of a laboratory; only swollen doors, soggy rugs, and moldy wallpaper.
"Guess we ought to check the other floors," said Edward, scratching his head. "But I swear those records said the lab was supposed to be on the top floor."
"Maybe we're not actually on the top floor," said Alphonse. "Did you see any openings for an attic?"
"You think I didn't already check for one, Al?" said Edward, bringing his hands to his hips. "Have a little faith in me. And no, I didn't see any openings anywhere."
"Hmm…" Alphonse put a giant, gloved hand to the far wall at the end of the hallway, where a giant bookcase stood, and knocked. It sounded hollow. "Ed, check this out."
Ed stepped up, knocked on the wall, and listened. "I think you're on to something, Al," he complimented. "Can't believe I didn't even think of that. Help me move this, will ya?"
Together, the brothers shoved the old piece of furniture out of the way. Edward raised his lantern again and grinned at the sight of an old door.
"This has gotta be it, Alphonse," he said, reaching forward and turning the rusty old knob. Unsurprisingly, the door had been locked. Ed raised his metal fist and brought it down hard on the metal doorknob, breaking it off it one easy motion. He pushed on the door but the wood had warped and swelled up from all the moisture, fixing it in place. With a loud grunt, Edward kicked the door and it fell right off its hinges.
"Man, I love kicking doors down," he said, admiring his work. His proud moment was short-lived however when some of the air from the forgotten room seeped into the hallway. Ed's eyes suddenly stung and his throat burned; it was as if someone had been cooking with the hottest chili peppers in the world, and for a moment Ed couldn't even see through the tears in his burning eyes.
"Ack!" he coughed, trying to regain his ability to breath normally. "What the hell?"
"Brother, what's wrong?" asked Alphonse, growing concerned. Ed coughed and wheezed, finally clearing his lungs enough to speak.
"The air," he managed to say, bringing his coat up to cover his mouth and nose.
"Maybe we should come back later with a gas mask for you or something," Al suggested, concern evident in his voice. Ed scoffed and looked beyond the door, where more stairs led up to where he assumed the attic was located.
"No," he said. "We've wasted enough time, and we're not even supposed to be here. We'd be risking someone seeing us if we left and came back. Let's just find what we're looking for and get out of here."
Alphonse sighed. "Brother, this is really dangerous-"
"I'll keep my mouth covered, Al," Edward interrupted. "We'll make this quick, I promise."
Al hesitantly followed Edward up the stairs and into the dark attic. Edward kept his lantern up, gazing in astonishment at the laboratory that he had only been able to dream of for the past month. The room, filled with antique chemistry equipment and all sorts of odds and ends, was completely undisturbed aside from a thick layer of dust and numerous cobwebs; whoever had owned it before had left it just the way it was, right down to the old quill pen and notepaper.
"This is so awesome," Ed whispered, walking over to a bookcase lightly touching the spine of a seemingly ancient book. "Okay, Al, let's start here. We're looking for a journal type of book, so it'll be handwritten. And, hey, if any of these books look interesting, then bag them up for later. You start at that end, and I'll start over here."
Alphonse nodded, and the brothers began digging through each text, checking dates and authors and looking for whatever handwritten notes they could find. Each book that they carefully flipped through, however, proved to be rather useless. After nearly half an hour, Edward stepped back from the bookcase to rub his eyes, which were still burning and watering. Their search was proving to be rather fruitless and the air had only gotten worse. In his search through the books, Ed had forgotten to keep his mouth covered, and now his throat burned, his nose was running, and his eyes were watering almost to the point where he couldn't see. He backed up to survey how much more of the bookcase he still needed to search through, and he nearly tripped over a large trunk that had been left in the middle of the room.
Regaining his balance, Edward turned and examined the old leather case, using his left index finger to trace over the initials "D.B." engraved on the top. Could these be Dr. McLean's real initials? If so, then this was the closest Edward had gotten to knowing the guy's actual name. Edward broke the lock and pulled the heavy lid open and examined the inside, which was mostly filled with broken, glass beakers and test tubes, a few blank sheets of paper, an old notebook, and several quill pens.
Edward did a double take. An old, leather-bound notebook sat innocuously on top of the chest's contents. It's leather cover also had the initials "D.B." Ed carefully pulled the journal out of the trunk, avoiding contact with the broken glass, and he could practically feel the energy being contained within the text. Excited, Edward quickly unwound the leather string around the book, and opened it. He gasped and flipped through the pages and pages of handwritten text, complex arrays that he had never seen before, and most intriguingly, notes on human transmutation. The phrase alone came up multiple times, and Ed could tell just by thumbing through the pages quickly.
"Al!" he yelled, running to where Alphonse was still pouring through books. "Al, look at this! I found it!"
"Brother," Alphonse seemed to ignore what Edward had just said, and stared at his face instead. "Your nose is bleeding."
Edward took his gloved hand and wiped at his nose. Sure enough, his nose was bleeding and he got red all over his white glove. He quickly covered his mouth and nose with his coat again.
"Just look at the book, Al," he said, handing the journal to Alphonse.
Alphonse flipped through the pages, stopping every few before flipping some more. "Brother," he said. "What am I supposed to be looking at?"
"What you mean?" Edward asked, growing agitated. "Look at what's in front of you, Al! Those are the notes we were looking for!"
"But Ed," said Al, "there's nothing in here."
"What?" Edward snatched the book out of Al's grip and flipped through the note-filled pages again. Only… they weren't note-filled anymore. All the notes and arrays that Ed had just seen with his own two eyes were all gone. Was he going crazy or something?
"No way," he said. "No way! I just looked at this. It was all right here! It was just here! This is such bullshit!" Edward shoved the book back into Al's hands and stomped away. The burning sensation from the air seemed to have made it to his skin, and now his arm and leg itched like crazy.
"Brother," Alphonse said cautiously. "Maybe the air in here is getting to you. We should really get out of-"
"I'm not going crazy, Al!" Edward snapped, scratching furiously at his limbs, then his torso, and then his neck. God, he itched everywhere. Maybe he was going insane.
"I never said you were crazy," Alphonse said, sounding almost hurt. "You just seem a little, um, sick right now. We should get out of here."
"No!" Edward yelled, stomping back to the bookcase and grabbing each book, one by one, opening them and throwing them across the room. "That book was probably a decoy. The real thing has gotta be here some—AHH!"
Edward stumbled back, screaming in pain and covering his eyes with his hands and falling to the ground in a graceless heap. His whole body seemed to flare-up in a wave of a fire-like burn all over his skin. He wheezed and his lungs burned and struggled to take in air; his eyes watered until he could no longer see.
"Brother!" Al yelled, rushing to Edward's side and lifting him off the ground. He gasped at the sight of Edward's skin, which had gone almost completely red and was covered with what looked like fingernail marks.
"I'm getting you out of here," Alphonse said quietly, knowing full well that Edward had already passed out and couldn't hear him.
Without looking back, Alphonse ran out of the house carrying his brother. Before he left though, Al slipped the old journal into his armor. He wasn't sure why he did, but it felt like the most logical thing to do at the time.
He would later regret it.
To be continued…
Reviews are very much appreciated. I'm also leaving anonymous reviews open.