Thursday, September 30, 2010

Same Old Days

I rolled over groaning while hitting the alarm clock. I raised up to see what time it was, you can never remember how many times you’ve hit the snooze. “....shiiiiit” I rolled the pillow over my head hoping that the clock wasn’t right. Ten minutes is never enough time to get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, try to look somewhat presentable, and drive to work. It doesn’t matter what traffic is like, or if my hair survived my tossing and turning (it never does).

I rolled out of bed, grabbing a towel, and headed to the bathroom. It always seems further away right when you wake up. I brushed my teeth and washed my hair as quickly as possible. I’d have to keep the beard until I found time to shave in between my gaming, doing nothing, and procrastinating. Returning to my room, I had to ignore my usual habit of slamming myself into my computer chair and roaming the internet before I scrambled off to work. I through on my pants from the previous day and picked a shirt at random, I really did not care what I looked like today.

Driving to work is never eventful. Not that it’s a long drive. There is the occasional speeder that’s been pulled over with everyone in all six lanes slowing down to look at the pretty flashing blue lights. Finding a parking space is usually just as easy.

I didn’t feel like rushing to open the store. I was only running ten minutes late. Hell, half the stores still had their gates down. Of course, the day I’m late there would be a regular waiting for me. “It’ll be a few minutes, sorry.” He nodded and I lifted the gait and let it slam back down. I hurried to turn on the lights and the computer only because he was one of the nicer regulars.

The day was being pretty uneventful. I was sitting there with my chin propped on my palm staring at the stein display when Lacy came running in armed to the teeth. I slightly leaned my head to the side as I looked at her.

“Seriously? Even the Zombie Apocalypse can’t get any traffic in this mall, dead or alive.”

She looked at me shocked “Wait, you knew and you’re still sitting here at work?”

I shook my head and sighed “Nope, internet has been down and I didn’t get a chance to check it before work.”

She looked genuinely puzzled “Then how did you know?”

I slumped my shoulder and probably had a ‘how stupid do you think I am’ look on my face “You really think you’d be able to run in here with that many weapons and I’d think you were just out for a stroll?”

Apparently she had forgotten about all the guns she was wearing, not too good in case you get surprised by zombies if you ask me.

What? You expected some exciting story about me being in the midst of battle and such when the apocalypse started? Sorry to disappoint, but that is generally how every thing goes for me, boring. Hell, three weeks held up in this mall and I haven’t seen a single one of them....not sure if I’m lucky or not. God I hate this mall....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mezzo Cuprum

The chains clanked against the hard stone floors as I was escorted in the dark. The faint cries, muffled by the layers of brick, barely filtered through the walls. The stench of punishment permeated Tomb Prison. The small lantern, carried by the guards, gave little light to the horror that awaited me. The death that surrounded us swallowed the small beacon of life that wavered back and forth. A small crumpled man came into view, hiding his eye from the pain of the lights. Like a shadow in the sunlight, he shrank back behind the pile of bricks.

The guards threw me in the dank room that would become my coffin. It could barely fit the three of us. Not that it mattered, these prison cells were built for one person. I didn't fight them as they bolted the chains to the wall behind me. I would have helped if I could. The walls were old. There was no telling how long they had been there, awaiting the next prisoner in line.

The guards left and the darkness consumed me. After an hour of hearing the clonk and slurp of the mason, my eyes finally adjusted to the faint light. Maybe it was all the misery that made it darker than it seems. He had already sealed half the wall.

His chains connected to the guardrail, so that he could go up and down the corridor, barely moved as he worked. As the last brick was set into place I was forever left with the weight of guilt. The thought of the creature I created from my love. There was a reason vampires weren't suppose to feed on humans....

The Blood Moon was full over the Mezzo River. She had been reminding me of this night for a year. We strolled down the river walk, arm in arm, as the giant moon slowly rose above the water. The low hum of the steam works under the street could barely be heard as they continued to keep the lamps a glow. The smell of copper and steam ruled this age. A much cleaner smell than the era I had been born. The clothing seemed more elegant and easier to don as well. I looked over to my love, awe struck by the beauty of the scene.

There she stood, hands clasping the black iron railing, leaning up as if wanting the moon take her away. The way the black lace courted the crisp red silk around her body. The black feathery plume graced her delicate shoulder. An ivory pendant wrapped in silver dangled from the black lace choker. A gift on the night I revealed my love for her. Her hair, a stark black with sparkles of glitter, made her look as if she was one with the night sky. Her skin was a smooth light olive, and her sloe-eyes full of hopeful dreams. Yes, her eyes, they could pull even the soulless into their depths with a glance. She was much like a Goddess from the tales of my brothers and sisters.

Half-pirouetting, the dress spun as she clasped her hands together. Oh that look, I’d never be able to forget the longing in her eyes. “Please say you will!” I sighed, as I did every time she mentioned the subject. My doubts were no secret. I strongly voiced them each time, but I’d given in months ago. “I promised I would.” A single broken promise has been known to eat away at a human their whole lives, imagine living with that for hundreds of years. Some promises are better broken.

She had been romanticizing about it for longer than I’d known her. Our love only made the prospect of it more real. “Why do humans think eternal life is such a great thing?” I’d asked the question many times. Each time she produced a different answer. “Seeing the rise and fall of civilizations is a momentous thing! Because we don’t have it?” Then, one day, she told me the terrible news. She was sick. For two months straight she made even more attempts to get me to promise. I asked her the question one finally time. Her answer pained me so much that I began to cry. “Because I’m afraid to die.” Those words held so much of her fear that they barely made it out as a whisper. How could I say no?

She started growing weak as we crossed the cobbled street. She always abhorred letting others see her in such a state, but tonight she didn’t care. She’d be rid of it forever. Very few people wandered the streets this evening. Everyone was at the lottery, hoping their number came up. Praying they’d be the next chosen for a new life. The giant clock struck 22:00 and the steam rushed through the whistles at its base. As the whistle died down I could faintly hear the steam from the castle grounds. They lottery was starting.

Every Blood Moon a single person to each Viceroyalty would be chosen. They would procure eternal life. The machines that spun and whirled, brandishing steam high into the night air, would be able to choose those few people whom had the ideal blood for the transformation. It was far too costly to for everyday use. It would also break after every use, taking months to repair. Therefore we couldn’t check her blood. If I were a Viceroy, or even a Count, there may have been a way. Unfortunately, I was but a mere Peregrine.

We came upon our Manse just as the hoops and holler assaulted the otherwise peaceful night. The first of the chosen were revealed. Her body had reached its threshold a block earlier. I had pleaded with her sooner to let me carry her. She could no longer protest. The heart break washed over me as I ferried her in this sickened state. It would be insignificant compared to the anguish I would soon feel. I carried her up to the medicinal room and placed her in the copper tub. The cost of the room addition had been costly. When her illness grew more dour I didn’t even consider the money.

The structure took up both floors. The ground floor hid the boilers and pipes that would send the water and steam to the restorative room above. I’d hired a runt to help with the chore of running the machines. The upper room was a marvel all to itself. The copper pipes ran in alluring lines that helped distract the mind. Two grated coffers stood atop the largest pipes. The medicine placed in them was meant to envelope the whole body through the steam. The large copper tub could stow three full adults side by side. The depth of the water would just cover the body for fear of drowning the patient.

Only an hour passed and she was feeling well enough. I knew what she swaggered in for and I begged her to let the promise go. I dropped to my knees begging. She wouldn’t have it. She lowered to her knees and hugged me. The smell as she bit her lip was rousing. I knew what she had planned. Then she kissed me and I was lost.

The intoxicating taste controlled my every move. I kissed her like I’d never kissed anyone before. Our hands shifted gently to free us both of our clothing. It was to be the single greatest night in our lives, her birth into a new world. The twitching and squirming as we writhed through the blanket; the rise and fall of our bodies sweating in the red moon light, I didn’t want it to end. Our bodies met at a crescendo as I went to kiss her again. This time she pivoted to the side and my lips merged with her neck. I willed myself to stop, but my whole being yearned for that succulent taste again. My fangs sank in letting me gorge my true loves life. Those horrors would never fade from my heart.

Her arms, folded against my chest, suddenly straightened sending me flying into the wall across the room. My arm was broken from the force of hitting the dresser. The horrid scream tore my attention back to the bed. Sitting up on her knees, her eyes were wide and her mouth agape. Blood trickling out of any hole it could find. Her ears, nose, eyes, mouth, every orifice leaked her life away. Then the spasms started. She fell backwards onto the bed as every muscle in her body fought each other violently.

As sat there, in shock, knowing there was nothing I could do to save her. Her head snapping back and forth raising her in an arch until her muscle crashed her against the bed again. The sound of bones creaking and joints snapping in protest started drowning out the gurgles. Her mouth began attacking whatever it could, the only things being near it was her own flesh. Teeth sank into lips ripping the flesh away into her mouth.

The spasms became more regulated as she started clawing at her own flesh. The fingernails of her left hand sank into her skin at her right collar bone. I couldn’t turn away as I watched her rip a gash all the way down to her naval. The spasms started again with rended skin and pieces of tissue from her former right breast making nauseating flapping noises.

I was frightened beyond belief. I wanted to help her, end the tremendous pain she was probably feeling. But I couldn’t move. My body would not respond to anything, it wanted me to watch what I had done. The process took less than ten minutes, but it felt like days.

Her body arched ferociously standing on head and toes. Her arms dangled lifelessly towards the bed. It was as if the stars were sucking her soul out through her chest. She fell back to the bed, arms twisted at impossible angles underneath her. She lay there for hours in the bed that was now puddled with every drop of blood and other bodily fluids.

The slight moaning accosted my ears as I watched her sit up and shuffle towards the door, arms slamming it off its hinges. She was gone.

It was daylight before I realized that I was still sitting there staring at the bed. I was tempted to step out into the day, to rid myself of the loss I’d endured. I was too much a coward. At sunset I found myself slumped in front of the gate of the Proconsul. The guards came and I told them of my guilt. Without question they wrested my naked body from the street and brought me before the Lord of the night. I made no defense. I asked for death, but knew it would not be granted. Those of us that dared to cause such unspeakable horrors, to those that we fought so hard to befriend, would live with their consequences. I had broken the treaty with the humans. That visceral change I spawned was all I would see for millennia.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Birth of Venus

The ‘Birth of Venus’ project was one of the most astounding projects we as humans had ever undertaken. The amazing discoveries made shook us as a whole planet, in more than one way.

The year was 2550 and not much had changed. Sure, technology had come a long way in the last five hundred years, but it never changes how it’s used. The American Congressional Continent was at odds with Eurica. They had been for the last hundred years. The only thing that had been holding them back from totally destroying each other was the whole of the Asiatic Nation.

The A.C.C. Controlled all of the Western hemisphere, but they were the poorer of the three powers. The were the defining cause of the world being able to understand a single language, though each of the three nations have their own variations of English. The A.C.C.’s being ‘The President’s English’.

Eurica was comprised of what was formally known as Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. They prefer to still speak the ‘Queens English’ even though the Monarchy has not existed there in hundreds of years. The northern part of Eurica, what use to be the heart of the world, was destroyed in a catastrophic incident that took place at the World Technology Fair in the United Ireland Kingdom. The scientific invention was powered by a particle of dark matter. No one knows what really happened. The resulting blast was centered on the northern part of United Ireland. It completely destroyed the whole island, the bottom part of Iceland, the northern parts of German and France, all of Denmark, and the southern regions of Norway and Sweden. This caused a surge of colonization throughout all of Africa. Though, the northern parts of Eurica do still hold quite a bit of life, it is no longer the most advanced part of the Nation.

The Asiatic Nation is the most advanced, both industrially and militarily. Their nation spans from North to South pole. Both Eurica and the A.C.C. learned the hard way not to go against this nation. They allow both nations to work at many of the scientific centers in the country. The Mariana Trench facility being the largest in the world. The facility spans ten Kilometers overlooking the trench. Though they allow no other nation inside their military training facility on the Tonga Trench.

The A.C.C. was capable, like all the nations, of sending robots to the surface of Venus. A portion of the A.C.C. had been the first nation to put a man on the moon more than five hundred years ago, but everyone thought they’d lost their edge. It was a complete shot the day they received their first transmission from their crew on the surface of Venus. Both, Eurica and the Asiatic Nation were scrambling trying to get the A.C.C. to collect all the information they could from their exploration robots. Everything changed on August 12.

On the fifth day of their exploration of the Venusian surface the team of explorers found the most amazing discovery our world had ever seen. Some circles still claim it to be faked, that crowd will never die out. All three nations came together that day, dumbfounded by the news. Ruins had been discovered, and not just any ruins. What looked like ruins found on Earth were visible through the feed. All that was left was concrete. They took hundreds of samples, digging everywhere. We wouldn’t know just how big the discovery was until they ship returned to Earth.

On their last day, one of the crewman got sick and died. Everything in the ship was decontaminated again. They placed the crewman in the freeze to both quarantine and save his body for examination. They were back on Earth a week later.

Scientists found that the concrete found on Venus was the exact same makeup as that used on Earth in the early twentieth century. They also found that it was amazingly older than human life on Earth. Theory upon theory started flying around the globe. Most of which stated that humans had come from Venus originally. Many Eco-Terrorist groups were claiming that the humans that had previously lived on Venus did the same thing that most of the world was now doing to Earth. This caused a lot of wide spread terrorism around the globe.

Half a year after the exploration returned one of the main Eco-Terrorist groups called The Earth’s Restoration and Rights Association (T.E.R.R.A.) broke into the lab that held the corpse of the Venus explorer. The Earth’s Nations all tried to pay the group to give the corpse back. Before the exchange could be made one of the groups members opened the Freeze. This was the first disease the planet had seen in two hundred years and it took full advantage. It was dubbed the Botticelli Virus.

A third of the population of the entire world was wiped out before the military stepped in to ‘control’ the situation. All the scientists that survived were relocated to the Mariana Trench facility to find a cure. It took a year of hard research to come up with the first trial cure. It took another year for the first suit that could that would be safe enough to go into the infected areas to try the cure. Thankfully, no one was concerned with money at the time. If they had, there would not even be a prototype of the suit due to costs. Fifty suits were made.

We never fully recovered from the Virus. Many wars have broken out and many weapons that pollute the Earth have made it almost uninhabitable. It’s dying. Our only chance is to look for another world that we could make livable. (The lights in the auditorium came back up) It is believed that we once made the journey from Venus to Earth. It is time that we take another step. That is why Dr. Allero and I are here today to outward, towards the depths of space, towards Mars. We ask that you give a thorough read through the project outline on your data pads. Tomorrow we will discuss the operation in detail. Thank you for your time today and we will see you again tomorrow.

“Well, that could have gone better.” I looked over to Dr. Allero, I could see he had been nervous the whole time. There is nothing like getting up in front of a thousand of your colleagues and making a proposal that was this insane. “I agree, but I think the plan will catch the eye of the right people.” He sounded as if he were trying to convince himself more so than me. “Care to come over for dinner tonight? Adriana is making Even-spiced Oarfish and Isopod soup.” She knew just what to cook when I was stressed. It was mine and Dr. Allero’s favorite dishes. “I would, but there are a couple of students I’ve been assigned to tutor tonight. They’ve got a lot of potential and would probably be a ton of help if we go to Mars.” I was a bit sad, but completely understood. It has been years since the three of us sat down for a good dinner. “If it’s not too late after you finish you know you can always stop buy for left overs.” He nodded with a “Thanks” and left. I stood there staring out at the auditorium dreading tomorrow....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day One: The Discovery (Part 2)

The knock at the door startled me. I looked up to see the young assistant standing in the doorway. “Dr. Allero told me to let you know when the bodies were prepped and ready sir.” The kid couldn’t have been more than seventeen, just out of New Earth Program Academy.

NEPA earned quite a bit of money from overly rich parents that wanted to decide their child's fate as soon as they were born. The Academy raised them from birth and parents had to pay extra for visiting rights. The program needed tons of money, but most of these people just wanted their names in on it. The price for the future wasn’t as small as people used to think it was. The children of the top scientists at the Academy were secreted in due to “special” circumstance. Gene therapy could make sure a child didn’t get diseases and was athletic, but hadn’t come far enough to make sure the child would be intelligent. Hence, not everyone that made it in became doctors or scientists.

“I’ll be right down, Liseth.” The more I looked at the readings from the gas collected, the more it made no sense. “Why’d this have to happen three days before rotation?” Resigned to try and get this solved before rotation, I dragged myself down to the morgue.

In the hallway, just out of site of the morgue, Dr. Allero stood with a scowl on his face. “Shit, Franz! Don’t tell me Ares is here?” He closed his eyes and took a breath as if trying to persuade a headache to go away “He wants to know how one of his Caddies died from a ‘disappearing rock’.”

‘High Martian Ares’ was top of the chain of the Martians and a general pain in everyone's ass. If one couldn’t tell from the self given title that he was full of himself, they’d have no problem when he opened his mouth. Though, it pains me to admit it, he is very intelligent in both science and military issues. I still think the only reason his company got the job was because his wife was on the NEPA board. He didn’t give two shits about his Caddy. He was just interested in possible security issues.

“Good afternoon Dr. Kelly.” Oh how Ares hated being called by his real name. I could always tell the feminine sound of it just pissed him off, even when he had to use it. He was trying to burn holes into my head with that nasty look “Dr. Veda”. It was the only greeting he ever gave to anyone, just their name and a slight nod. Liseth’s eyes were the size of saucers. She tried to look as busy as she could without having to go near Ares. I don’t blame her, he could be extremely intimidating. Hell, he was to me, but I tried to never show it. What can I say, I love pressing buttons that should never be pressed, must be the scientist in me. “Let’s get started.”

Liseth started the SASP. The Sound Analyzing Sensory Projector uses sound waves to produce completely accurate pictures of the body without harming a single cell. Autopsies used to be a huge mess. These days you didn’t have the body in the same room. They were always kept in a room by themselves inside the sound caskets. All in case there was a contaminant. It was created not long after the Botticelli Virus found its way to Earth.

Quickly scanning the outside of the bodies, I see no physical trauma other than the gaping hole in Lester’s head. “Show me a layered scan of Lester’s head, Liseth.” She was quick. She probably knows this machinery better than I do. “Zone in on layers 53 through 60.” I see Dr. Kelly shift his stance off to the left. “Is that a fragment of the meteorite, Dr. Veda?” Dr. Allero was already suiting up before I could answer. The robot was out for routine maintenance, like everything else this close to rotation. Picking up a glass container I remembered how it shattered the one the boy had stored the larger rock in. Sitting it back in place I decided on the metal container instead. Call it a hunch.

Dr. Allero pulled on the Hazard Level Black suit. Extremely expensive and worth every million. It’s made of a flexible hardened rubber that is resistant to temperatures from -200 to 150 degrees Celsius, with no effect to the person wearing it. The micro-filters inside change Carbon-Dioxide to Oxygen and have to be changed out after every use. The visor is made of the same rubber, put through an extremely costly process to make it see through. That alone cost more money than the rest of the suit. The best part, it could fit to anyone who wore it.

As soon as he placed his foot inside the room, I was watching his every move. All I could do was hope that Lady Knowledge would watch over him. “Open the casket, Liseth.” We could hear the nervousness in his voice. He’d always felt the same as me. The more expensive something was, the more likely it was to fail. Even if these were the only suits that stood up against the Botticelli virus, he had no idea what we were dealing with.

I only began to notice I wasn’t breathing after he had the fragment in the container and the container sealed in the gravity vacuum scanner. He was starting to pull the suit off right as the alarm for the sterile room started blaring. “These...these readings aren’t making sense.” Dr. Kelly and Dr. Allero crowded around me, none of us could figure it out. Liseth was yelling something over the alarm and pointing. The alarm for the GVS was going off too. We all looked up, but nothing was happening. I’m not sure which of us pointed faster, but we were all four pointing to where the forceps that were used to extract the piece of meteorite out of the body. It was nothing but a pile of rust, as was the canister that used to occupy the GVS. My eyes were the size of saucers this time “The report from the HepaVents showed nothing but rust...” I was looking at the other three. “Dr. Kelly, I need you to cancel the rotation. No one can leave. Quarantine everyone that lived or was near the lower east side today at any time.” Without a word, High Martian Ares stood at salute and quickly vanished through the door. "Thankfully there is still enough time to cancel the flight from Earth...I hope."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day One: The Discovery

The sound of the alarm clock startled Lester from his peaceful dream. To most that would be a rude awakening that would nag at them for hours, but not Lester. Whistling as he stepped into the sound shower, he had a great feeling about today.

With the forecast for today calling for light showers on the lower west side, he decided to take a walk before the meeting this afternoon. Lester stepped out of the front door whistling to himself again. He looked up to see the beautiful red tinted sky just as the meteor blasted through his forehead, killing him instantly. Seconds later every monitor in his house blared to life for the Emergency Broadcast System announcing meteorites in lower east side of the Mars community.

An hour later after the all clear was given several small cleaning robots made their way to the front porch to clean the mess up. Sensing the blood, the first little robot automatically dialed the Martians.

The private security members had been here longer than any of the other scientists. Unlike everyone else that came to the planet they didn’t cycle out every few months. They were sent here to train at a young age and lived the rest of their lives here. They were the only true residents of Mars, hence the nickname “Martians”.

Three of them pulled up in the jeep already seeing the cause of death. There were no weapons out here. This was a true science community trying to set up a livable place for those who could afford to get away from the dying Earth. If the giant hole in Lester’s head didn’t give it away then the brownish looking rock that the cleaning robot was holding definitely did. Hern reached into the jeep and called for the morbid mobile as Sev grabbed the body bag out of the back. Piht, the youngest of the three, helped Sev place Lester in the bag. He was hoping there would be something interesting.

This was Piht’s first time out of the training hall and he wanted it to be special. It had been ten years since he arrived, since his family bartered him so that they could have a future place away from Earth. He started training as soon as he was handed over at the age of four. Now, at the age of fifteen, he finally got to go outside and see Mars. He wasn’t impressed. He picked up the meteorite and threw it as far as he could. He would have been amazed at the weight of the small rock had he not seen the mess it had made when it landed.

Hern walked up and smacked the hell out of Piht’s head “Go get that ya dumbass! This is a science community; don’t you think they might wanna look at the damn thing?” The young boy trotted off after the meteorite pissed. Not at Hern, but at himself for not realizing something so simple. Picking up the rock, he noticed a foul smell coming from it. He threw it in the container on his belt and ran back just trying to get away from the smell. Hern and Sev had the body inside the morbid mobile and were sitting in the jeep waiting when he returned. Sev looked up to him “Okay, now go shut down the house and meet us back at the pit.” Piht’s eyes got wide and he almost said something. He still had a year to go before he could speak in the field. Unless there was an emergency, the Caddies weren't allowed to speak at all outside of their dorms for a full year after they’re regent training began.

He walked through the front door and over to the Nuem. The main control pad in every building was located next to the first monitor you came to, with the exception of the Pit and the Face. There were numerous Nuem pads in both buildings. He swiped his PerChip and punched in the code, ceasing all power in the home with the exception of the cleaners. He walked back outside and started the five mile hike back, cursing in his head the whole way.

Piht finally arrived back at the Pit starving. Swiping his PerChip to open the door he stepped inside. Before he could even relax the container on his belt exploded, sending a horrible smell throughout the main hall. Alarms started blasting, ViroBarriers starting slamming down, and HepaVents started roaring sucking the cloud of fumes into a Haze Casket. Thirty seconds after the ordeal the alarms stopped and the barriers lifted. Thirty second after the ordeal and Piht lay dead, the small meteor gone.