This is a short story I originally started writing August 1999, put aside, and only now picked up to work on again. This is a work in progress, and an early draft with many revisions to come.
Untitled Short Story #1
By L. V. Gaudet
© August 1999
The naked figure crouched low to the ground as though trying to hide in the short stubble of the freshly harvested wheat field. Her hot steamy breath wafted out in a white mist between lightly parted lips as she exhaled gently into the chill fall air. The crisp coolness of the night enveloped her body in a silky blanket of frigid darkness. Alone in the center of the field, she raised up from her crouched position on the ground to her full height. Pale face reaching for the sky, she watched as the moon danced out from behind a bank of slowly roiling clouds to bathe her in its eerie white glow. A cold breeze tickled across her bare back, making her shiver, catching her long flowing ebony hair and teasing it up into the air like the swirling skirts of a dancing lady.
From a distance, a far distance, her form was breathtaking. Surreal beauty as you would expect it to appear in a nymph or a fairy that you just discovered, real and in the flesh. Glimpses of pale creamy bare flesh through a cloak of thick shiny black hair that trailed all the way down to her knees teased with a promise of what this creature might look like up close. An exquisite being that had just walked flesh and blood out of the mists of myths and legends. This, however, was if someone had been present to witness this creature from a far distance, far enough to leave details to the imagination only.
Up close her appearance was different. Very different.
All alone in the field not so much as a field mouse dared to invade on her solitude. Even the crickets would not have made a sound had they not been already slumbering from the cold.
Turning slowly like a broken carousel, wobbling slightly, face to the sky, she raised her arms like elegant featherless wings as she turned. Barely moving, she turned slowly, silently, ethereally. Turning and turning in one spot, ever so slowly quickening her pace. Faster and faster she turned, spinning like a slowly winding up top. Faster and faster she turned, trampling the wheat stubble beneath her feet to a flattened nest. Faster and faster she turned, dizzily, spinning wildly; face reaching for the sky, staring down the moon and the stars. Faster and faster she turned, a wild shrill cry erupting from her throat, getting louder, higher, as she turned faster. It was a bone chilling, spine tingling shriek of someone who has just lost everything that ever had any meaning to them. All at once. Devastatingly. All loves, hates, needs, wants and thoughts. The high wailing howl of death.
Silence and stillness crashed into the field at once when she suddenly stopped still, silent. Her dark eyes blazed with such intensity they should have glowed in the silvery light of the moon. Violence filled that heated glare. All the rage, hatred, fear, and loathing a world could hold filled those all too human eyes at once. Breathing heavy, her breath rushed out to meet the cold night air; a cloud of mist roiling out like the dust from a battle field as hot moist breath clashed with the freezing air.
Her face twisted into a demonic grin of hatred, a death’s mask. She dropped to sit on her haunches, unable to stand any longer. She was not accustomed to being able to raise herself to more than a low crouch due to the limiting confines of the cages she was cruelly kept in.
On hands and feet like a four legged animal, she fled. Racing from the field with a surprising grace and agility similar to a long legged lanky wolf, her hideousness was bathed in the moon’s glow. The long flowing hair was not a wondrous mane of human hair, but a scraggly pelt of longish dirty fur covering much of her body as well as her head. Bald patches gave her the appearance similar to an animal with mange. She was a creature that walked on two legs with a human-like body and very human eyes, with the face of a creature spawned from a cesspool of genes not of this world. Lesions, welts, and deformities twisted her body and features into a Frankensteinian creation. Hideous. Evil. Terrifying.
A terrible shriek shattered the stillness of the cool night.
Voices called out, echoing through the deserted hallways of the small research center, followed by running feet.
In the security office on the main floor beside the lobby door a telephone warbled its two quick rings signifying and internal call. It warbled twice more before the beefy security guard, who was leaning back in his chair with his feet up on the desk and dozing, sat up with a start and answered the phone.
“Security,” the large security guard croaked sleepily into the phone. He fumbled the receiver, catching it before it could clatter to the floor.
“Code B One in lab three, code B One in lab three,” a panicky woman’s voice hissed out of the phone.
Code B-1. Emergency of the highest degree.
Level 1. Biohazard.
His day couldn’t have been worse. A biohazard of unknown origin has escaped from containment in the lab, possibly leaked outside of the building. The repercussions are unforeseeable, unthinkable.
“Shit! I’m on it,” he said and hung up the phone. Fumbling for the keys on his belt, he pulled them off and hurriedly selected the one with the base encased in bright red plastic. Red for emergency. Jamming the key into the keyhole in the panel to his left, he turned it, releasing the lockdown controls in the panel. The security guard rapidly punched in his access code, the security code, and the lockdown code; initiating the lockdown process. Through excessive and intensive training, he could do this in his sleep, a reflex action. It was a conditioned response, ingrained deeper than the reflex for self preservation. It had to be or people could die. Billions. Perhaps the world.
An alarm started blaring loudly throughout the facility. This was quickly followed by a distance metallic rumbling and almost drowned out hissing of air.
The guard’s panicked mind automatically thought about his date tonight with that hot broad he met at the club last weekend. Shit, her number was at home. He’d have to stand her up and probably wouldn’t get another chance. Then he realized … biohazard.
His eyes widened, dilating.
His panicked mind raced. He could be breathing in some horrible disease right now, or worse. For all he knew, he could be a walking dead man right now and he just didn’t know it yet.
Jumping from his chair, the guard ran from the security office, heading for the door, and stopped. It’s too late. The emergency lockdown system is designed to lockdown swiftly enough to prevent anything, or anyone, from escaping. He would have had to be standing at the entrance to the building when the alarm started to sound, immediately pull open the door and rush outside before the falling shutter crushed the open door. Even then, sprinting for the gate, he would not have made it across the wide lawn in time. He could never have made it off the grounds. He silently cursed himself for turning that key, punching those codes.
Resigned, he returned to his office, put on his pistol belt, grabbed his walkie talkie, and headed at a dead sprint for lab three.
He doesn’t know it yet, but he is a walking dead man. Just not in the way he was imagining.
The alarm began wailing throughout the building and its grounds. The locks on all the exit doors thudded into place, a special red light on each pass card panel glowing to indicate that all access codes have been terminated. Airtight shutters immediately began to fall shut with a loud metallic rattle, sealing all external windows and doors. The entrance gate to the grounds began to slide shut, electricity already flowing through the fence surrounding the compound. Enough voltage vibrated through the metal fence to temporarily disable a man.
The surprised guard standing beside the closed wooden barrier at the gate house watched immobilized as an approaching blue sedan suddenly leapt forward, the driver gunning the gas at the sound of the sirens, bolting for the exit.
Racing the slowly closing reinforced gate, the car smashed through the barrier, sending pieces of wood flying. The car barely squeezed through the closing gap. The gate caught the bumper, pinching it against the electrified fence, ripping it off with a screech of tearing and popping metal, spinning the car left with the sudden jolt of the car breaking free of its captured bumper. A paralyzing jolt of electricity jumped through the car from its brief contact with the electrified fence.
Temporarily stunned by the reduced shock of voltage that jumped through his body, the driver sat paralyzed but aware, staring ahead as the car raced out of control across the lawn outside the fence, his food jammed hard against the accelerator.
The amputated bumper, caught on the gate, slid noisily along the pavement, pushed towards the fence by the closing gate. Caught between the two, the bumper was crushed by the relentless push of the gate, popping out and rattling discarded to the ground. The lock mechanism thudded into place with a dull metallic sound as the gate closed tight.
The building and grounds were effectively cut off from physical contact with the outside world.
Regaining some of his mobility, the driver regained just enough control of the car to swerve so it slammed into the large oak tree looming up from the ground ahead sideways instead of dead on, saving himself from being killed. Badly injured, it would be some time before he awoke and even longer before he managed to pull himself out of the car and begin to crawl away. He would escape under fire as the security guards locked in the grounds outside the building try to stop him from escaping, not knowing what bio hazard escaped or what contagion he may be carrying with him.
A sparrow, frightened by the noise from the alarms, took flight from its nest in a tree inside the compound and flew over the fence. Caught by the motion sensor, the small bird was sighted by a laser mounted on one of the brick fence posts, and burned into oblivion. A few charred feathers floating to the ground was all that remained.
Inside the research center, the sirens wailed loudly for twenty minutes then dimmed to an annoying but bearable volume. The air began to taste metallic and slightly stale. The fresh air intakes have all sealed airtight and redirected the circulated air through purifiers to clean the air and replenish the necessary oxygen from emergency tanks inside the building.
Thunder growled in the distance. Black clouds gathering on the horizon signaled the coming winds and torrential rain. Lightning flashed violently against a backdrop of heaving sinister clouds.
An omen to the end of the world?
IN THE BEGINNING
While the unidentified DNA was of extraterrestrial origin, the creature was of course a product of earthbound scientists. After all, a species of such advanced technology as to be able to travel so far to Earth would know better than to play around with something as deadly as foreign biological entities without fully understanding the nature of what they are creating and foreseeing the probable outcome of their experiments. Only a race of inflated ego and limited technology and even less understanding of it would be foolish enough to knowingly create what is, in essence, a living time bomb; blindly using ingredients they don’t comprehend. Like baking a cake with no recipe, using ingredients in unlabelled jars, and without knowing the nature of those ingredients. Any jar could be a spice, flour, sugar, poison, or even explosive.
Reading the report, his face turned very pale and his hand began to tremble. The document he held shook and crumpled as his fist clenched.
“This can’t be real,” Nathaniel Morgan thought to himself. “It must be a joke, a mistake. Something, but not real.” He read on.
“To study the reproductive process of their creation, the scientists tried to impregnate the subject with some of the frozen fertilized eggs they saved when they created the first test tube baby. All attempts were failures. The genetically altered eggs could not withstand the hostile environment of the uterus. The subject’s immune system attacked and destroyed the eggs. Something in the process of starting the cell splitting process was weakening the eggs. They would have to be fertilized through more conventional means. They would need a sperm donor. The only compatible sperm they found was human.”
“My god!” he gasped, “what have they done?!”
Frightened, she cowered in the little crawl space under the stairs of the house on the edge of the woods. The darkness of the night was a small comfort to her. She had already discovered that her senses were keener than most of the creatures she has encountered so far. Her night vision was much better than the two-legs who can’t seem to smell anything but very strong overpowering stinks. She could even see better than the four legged hairy things that chased her earlier. Their noses were keener than hers, but they seemed to have forgotten how to scent. They ran faster, but she lost them easily. Although they could easily smell her trail, and surely must be able to hear here, they couldn’t seem to decide which way to go. Such stupid creatures they are.
She raised her head alertly at the sudden sizzling sound in the distance. An acrid smell she couldn’t identify that made her nose tickle drifted to her on a breeze. What could this be? What activity are those two-legs gathered in a large herd across the open space up to? Was it dangerous for her? They didn’t act like they knew she was here, but her experienced had taught her these creatures could not be trusted.
There was a popping sound on the ground on the other side of the open space. Something leapt into the sky with a shrill whine.
Curiosity took over where fear climaxed. She cocked her head, listening, scenting, watching. She leaned forward in her hiding place.
Suddenly the sky exploded with an earth shattering crackling boom, and a flash of bright colorful lights.
She cowered lower to the ground, screaming in terror, eyes wide. Her nostrils flared with the pungent smell, her night vision was shattered by the bright blinding light. Temporarily blinded by the colored spots that danced before her eyes, she struck out with a hiss at a foe that wasn’t there.
Another pop and hiss. The sky roared with another boom as more lights erupted in the sky. The ground beneath her trembled with its shock.
She screamed again, trembling violently.
Hairy four-legs from all sides began barking and howling.
She recognized that they too were crying their fear.
A TIME FOR REFLECTION
The distant crackling of fireworks is quickly drowned out by the deeper rumble of the approaching thunder.
The blue sedan crumpled against the large oak tree had long ago stopped hissing and ticking as its lifeblood dripped from cracked parts under the hood down through the hot metal of the engine, the metal itself tick-tick-ticking as it cooled. An odor of gas still lingered in the air.
The man inside the car groaned. He lay immobile for a long time, jammed against the door jammed against the oak. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. That would have taken too long to buckle up, missing his window of escape. He thought he must be alive. You couldn’t be in this much pain and not be alive, could you? His eyes fluttered and closed as he lost consciousness again.
Work in progress