This wasted land stretches before me. Mostly barren. Early morning light gives the dirt a shade of discoloration. Brownish and old. Layers of smoke are seeping away from the city now, hanging over the land, seeming to drop downward. It's almost a suffocating effect. I can smell it, the city, burned and burning still.
It's not going to stop this time. The city is self-destructing. Has been since before I woke up in that alley I suppose, but I can only comment on what I've seen during my waking time. It's all going to end badly. Calamity Carl told me so. Not that I believe him necessarily.
Still, it makes me wonder why I'm going back there.
Aran. Want to find him. He can help me. With what I don't know just yet, but I'm struggling to obtain some sort of goal. He's as good as any for now. Anything to get me by. Anything. Whatever.
I've been walking slow, watching the land. It's been changeless the entire time. Throughout the night nothing new caught my eye. Just a few kilometers of lifeless dirt. I suppose that some sort of mutant plant lives out here, sucking moisture from whatever's in the air, feeding off small rocks--glitch I don't know. So many unexplained and undocumented life forms out here. Nobody has the time to come out here and study. It's too dangerous, or perhaps nobody cares. Whatever the reason, it hasn't and isn't happening.
Only a few more kilometers to the city now. A few hours ago I wondered how I got myself out here, but it was a pointless thought thread so I gave it up. Doesn't matter. Nobody out here to give answers anyway.
I tried feeling my belly last night. Put my hands right there. Right there where my child should be, growing. My child? I can't really come to grips with that right now. Actually, there are a great many aspects of my situation that I can't come to grips with right now. But for now, I've put off asking those questions. I know I'll have to answer them sometime. In the future.
I couldn't feel it. The life within me is too small. Nothing to touch. I can't even sense it within me, no feeling or sixth sense awareness. Nevertheless, I believe what 2-85 told me. I--
A piece of the sky is falling.
It's a dark streak, haloed by a thin red glow, moving against the still darkened sky. It's a meteor of some sort, on a collision course with the earth. It's above the smoke layer at first, but then it is engulfed by the smoke, but only for a second as it then emerges, heading down, towards the ground. It's a beautiful thing to watch, a spherical blob, charring at the edges, trailing smoke and fire.
It's coming in fast, and I realize that it's going to impact nearby, but it's moving too quickly for me to react and so I just watch it descend. For a moment, just before it hits, my mind tells me that its rate of descent slowed, minutely, but it was there. Wasn't it?
I don't have an answer because the meteor passes downward behind a rise in the ground and then there is a small explosive impact sound filling the air. The ground beneath my feet shifts and then there is an even bigger explosion--sounds different, muffled and precise--and I don't know how my eye is picking this up, but I can actually see the destructive shockwave coming towards me. It rushes outward, towards me, at an incredible speed, tearing at the earth, spewing up dirt and rocks and before it hits me I can onl
Stale dirt in my mouth, grinding against my tongue and in-between my teeth. Gritty there and pasty against my gums and the sides of my mouth. I keep myself from swallowing somehow and manage to spit the intrusive dirt. Propping myself up on a skinned elbow, it takes several minutes to clear my mouth.
The shockwave threw me several feet. Think I remember a lifting feeling, feet leaving the ground. Floating--flying--soaring--sailing. Whatever. It wasn't a gentle push--felt like my eyes were going to pop out the other side of my head from the force. Didn't hit any big rocks, sharp or otherwise, so I guess I was fortunate. Still, there's enough filth pressed up against my body to make up for it.
I stand up. Inordinate amounts of dirt fall from underneath my shirt and out of my hair. I feel dirty all over now, dirt in my ear and against my neck snatches my attention. I shake and brush as best I can, but the unclean feeling still persists as I turn toward where the object landed.
I have to walk over a small rise in the ground to find the impact point, but it's there. Not as spectacular as I expected. The crater is only about three meters deep and ten meters wide, a slightly skewed oval most likely due to the impact angle.
And there, at the deepest valley of the crater, is the object. It's smoking quietly, thin gray wisp tentacles extending, undulating in random patterns determined by unknown forces. Not smoke actually though. More steam than anything else. It's smaller than I expected--only about half a meter in diameter. I move closer. I can feel heat radiating off of it.
The surface of the object is venting from countless pores, angry molecules escaping. I can't touch it yet, but I know I'm going to the second I can. I want to feel the surface of it, the texture, that strange uneven texture. It's roughly a sphere, but there are shallow indentations, minorly curving craters, small dents of shapes and sizes various.
Where did it come from? my mind asks and Shouldn't you be worrying about other important things, like finding that chrome man, the one who saved your life?
I don't know and yes.
But I don't leave the object. It's cooling down fast. Already the heat from it has lessened, despite the sun already burning in the air. I'm on my knees now, in the crater it created, leaning as close as I can without searing my skin.
It's a level of curiosity that I don't think I've felt before. It's driving me, pulling me along with it. I want to know about this. Not explaining it to myself, I'm just doing.
The heat is really just a warmness now. I'm going to touch it now. I reach my hand out. Skin's a different color due to the dirt, splotches of brown scattered on the lighter shades.
The surface is unyielding, but warm to my fingers. Still giving off heat, but hardly any steam now. Texture of smoothness, even in the dents and sloping craters which cover its surface. But it's as dead as a rock. No vibrations, no movement. I sense this and for some reason, I'm disappointed. It's nothing more than a piece of lifeless debris which fell from the sky. I lean closer, hoping to see my reflection in its black surface. Can't.
No purpose at all.
Of course, as this thought passes through my mind, the object explodes once again. This time right in my face.
Whoosh! and Wind!
The explosion blows my hair back, but it's not really an explosion, but a thin outward force of wind. I feel dust in that force. It's against my face and my eyelids. And it's over in an instant.
I open my eyes. I can see and feel a black layer of dust on my cheeks. It's there on my neck too. Eyelids and lips feel gritty. Trying to keep the offending substance out of my mouth. Probably not healthy to consume.
The black dust came from the object. It's smaller now--the surface of the object is not there anymore. It's been removed. I think it's on me now, vaporized into micro-sized particles on my flesh. Soiled.
Not again, glitch it.
The object as it is now is a perfect sphere. Still, it's the darkest shade of black I've ever seen. The sun's hidden behind the smoke and clouds, but the object's surface is practically absorbing the meager light, almost making the surrounding dirt and air dimmer. It's unblemished and smooth. I can see my dark reflection--just barely.
I want to touch it again. My urge.
Hand is moving before I realize and my fingertip ridges are against its surface. Oh so smooth and so so black. Liquid tar curve slides beneath my hand. Second hand is there now. Not under my control I think, but I want to touch it. Discovery and curiosity please oh please. Cradling and cupping of sphere. It's solid and real.
But I push myself away to think for a second. Where did this come from? It's definitely not from outer space. This thing is dipped in the stink of humanity and I can smell it. The feeling of distrust washes over me. This object was made by humans and that means that all the twisted baggage which humanity brings is packaged there. It's rotted already--already defined to be infected.
It looks sinister now, sitting there silently, emanating that dark haze. Maybe it's just a trick of light, but I think I can see it. A fallen satellite? Not too many of those these days. Space travel is not an option anymore. Too difficult and too dangerous. So much pollution and poison in the atmosphere. Besides, that technology is mostly gone. Mostly.
Nobody gives a glitch about space anyway. Humanity has other concerns--namely its own--to worry about. Glitch everything else. I think people once thought that turning to the stars was humanity's future. They knew we were on a road of self-destructing behavior. We were ruining out world, and we weren't going to change. The obvious solution: move to other worlds. Explore the universe. Open a food market on one of Jupiter's moons.
It's funny how easily dreams are overwhelmed by reality. What a nightmare.
We're not getting off this planet. It's a dying world and we're stuck here. Living, breathing humanity, self-condemned to breed and birth and rot in this graveyard of a world.
What a glitched mood I'm in.
Still, I suppose there is still junk floating up there in the heavens
But this isn't a satellite. I think it's a weapon. And somebody sent it here to cause some damage. And the reason I know this is that, as I was standing here thinking, it opened up like a flower and something came out, moving under it's own power.
Moving towards me.
The thing that came out is horrible.
I take a step back, then another. Almost to the crater's edge.
It's a convoluted beast. It has a bulbous, fleshly body, like some partially inflated black balloon. I can't see a head, anything to guide and control its direction. What I do see, however, is a twisted conglomeration of legs and tentacles, writhing wetly against each other and against the dust of the ground. These limbs aren't moving randomly, but as if each twitch is guide and has purpose--discovering the surroundings.
I'm part of those surroundings right now and I'm a little scared.
Because, you see, some of those tentacles and some of those legs are man-made. They're metal!
I step out of the crater just as I realize that the...the thing isn't moving at me directly. Rather, it looks like it's just exploring, and its initial direction had just happened to be towards me. It's fully away from its shell now--that black sphere now split like a symmetrical claw. The opened claw that brings evil.
"Glitch," I say under my breath, hardly realizing I'm actually making myself heard.
The thing stops dead.
Glitch, I think this time, it heard me. Can't I just keep my lips together and my tongue still? I stand still, and try not to make any noise. It's hard though when dust is tickling my nose and I need to scratch my shoulder.
Maintain control. Ignore the desires of the flesh.
It's tentacles, both fleshly and metally, are probing the air in all directions now. They move in slow, flowing motions, of so deliberate. Back and forth, crooked and straight, this way and over there.
Either it doesn't detect me or it doesn't care because it looks like it's not trying to find anything anymore. Now it's moving away from me, just on the opposite side of the crater.
I rub my nose and scratch my itches as I continue to watch the thing, that monstrosity. It stops. Its tentacles suddenly plunge into the ground. Dust and pebbles fly everywhere around it. It's really churning up the dirt below it. I realize that it's burrowing when the bulk of it disappears into the hole it's making.
I can't let it get away--at least without trying to find out where it's going or what its purpose is.
Somewhere up there my mind asks why? but as usual I don't know. Just me I guess. My nature.
I cross the crater, avoiding the thing's former home. It hasn't burrowed deeply at all. The squishy top of its main body, the balloonish part, is still above ground. It's not digging any deeper. Why did it stop? Ground too hard? Is it broken?
Broken would probably be good
The bulbous part of its main body is just above the top layer of dirt. I can see the ground immediately around it moving, as if the tentacles and legs are still in motion beneath the ground, finding comfortable positions. It's ridiculous, but it's the image that comes to mind.
Just a second now. What's this?
There's a small metal plate, about the size of my hand, on the top of its body, right there in the center. The flesh of the thing seems to flow around the metal, only barely tolerating it. But there's some sort of inscription on it. Too far away to make it out, so I have to get close once again.
Kneel. Dirty knees to dirt. Filthy hands to ground.
The inscription is clear now. It reads:
Oh that sounds lovely. What the glitch is that supposed to mean?
A sound to my right interrupts any further pondering. Head turning, blue strands swinging. There's something emerging from the ground about a meter away. Then the thing below me starts to claw its way back up from the earth. I stand quickly, backing up, distracted. When I'm sure that I'm not going to be attacked by the creature machine I was examining, I turn my head back to the newest disturbance.
Glitch everything straight to the pit. It's another one.
First there was one.
Now there are two.
The second one looks exactly like the first. Maybe a different ratio of metal appendages to flesh appendages, but it's the same type of beast--a mass of slithery black tentacles and machines metallic whips.
Disgusting. That perverted marriage of life and lifelessness makes me sick. Sick and afraid.
I'm afraid this time because the second one is churning up the dirt now. It's digging in the same manner as the first one, fast and violent. Sprays of brownish dirt and puffs of lighter dust.
The second one came from the first one.
No way in glitch.
The first one is the same size that it was to begin with, and the second is as big as the first. The first could not have birthed the second. There's just not enough matter in one to produce two. Something cannot come from nothing--impossible.
Unless the first created the second. Created from what though? It has to be the ground--the very dirt itself. It's the only answer that makes sense to me right here and right now.
But no, it all happened too fast. The creation of the second came too quickly. There has to be another explanation. Nothing that complex could be created that quickly.
And yet, as if to deny my logic, the ground over there moves, and a
The dirt became beast.
I move back to the other side of the impact crater and shut my eyes.
Back open. The three
The questions don't really matter of course. Time will probably reveal the answers anyway. Patience is all that is required. Most unfortunate that I don't have any.
A newcomer has arrived. It's not one of those things though. It's a tarokk, and a small one at that. It barely kicks up any dirt as it approaches on its hind legs, front arms curving crookedly over its back and head, thin claws pointed downward across its small face. It's squished nose sniffs the air and its eye is darting back and forth as its head swivels from side to side. So small, it was probably hatched only a few days ago. Must be a burrow nearby. I look for its twin--tarokks always have a twin, and they never travel apart--but I don't see one.
The tarokk only acknowledges me slightly with what I interpret as a sideways glance. It clearly has other prey, though I doubt that one so young would attack me alone. It makes a determined course for the nearest Bleed, which is just now unburrowing itself. The tarokk launches itself at the Bleed, slashing with its single-clawed limbs. The Bleed opens like rotted fruit, and a black metallic ooze pours out of two deep gashes. The ground around the Bleed thrashes for a second, the goes still. Apparently, the Bleed is dead.
Ah, but there are five others now.
And they are not unaware that one of their own has fallen. The tarokk and the Bleeds rush at each other. Claws swinging and tentacles whipping. One Bleed reaches the tarokk before the others. The tarokk never has a chance to strike because the Bleed jerks violently, spraying a greyish mist into the air. The mist envelops the small clawed creature. It falls to the ground, its mouth open, trying to scream, but unable to. Tarokks do not have vocal cords, and something in my heart aches to see it wriggling there. Glowing.
Glowing?!? What the glitch?!?
Somehow, it's a grey light. And as it shines, the tarokk dissolves. I can hear it happen--a faint grating--like millions of bubbles popping. It's not a good sound. And that light--that grey glowing--that is not a good light.
It's all over in a second. The grey light fades.
There's no trace of the tarokk. Not even any residue. Complete discorporation. Complete and total. Even some of the ground where the tarokk has been is gone.
Cosmic glitch! What are these things?
The Bleeds burrow again. Faster than before, the create another five. The nearby ground is littered with small indentations where the Bleeds rise from the ground. Some indentations are bigger, where multiple Bleeds have risen. And I can only stand idly by.
They multiply again, scattering, taking more ground. Getting difficult to track them all now. In motion constantly, as the risings overlap with the burrowings.
Then a group of the Bleed move off from the main. I look. They're headed toward the city. They don't go far though. They stop suddenly, and then there is a grey mist around them. And then the glowing. The Bleed sink into the ground as the earth around them is vaporized. The glowing is expanding, eating away at the ground. The area affected by the mist extends at an incredible rate, a circle growing in circumference. The sound is louder--that popping.
I hear that same sound off to my other side and I can see that a second group of the Bleed are over there. The mist is settiling to the ground and the glowing is beginning. The earth is dissolving--matter to pale grey energy light. Impossible.
But happening right before my eyes.
I must warn the others. Aran. Need to find Aran. And JACK. Others.
I'm moving toward the city now, walking swiftly, careful to avoid disappearing ground that the little clusters of Bleeds. When I'm past those grey glowing patches I run.
Not much time left. How long before those things reach the city? A few days? Doesn't matter. Need to get myself and the others off this island. Calamity's words are echoing in my ears with taunting tone, but my deep breaths and pounding heart drown all that out. Must get off this forsaken land mass. Now.
Because I think the devil has come for this island.
And no once can save us from the obliteration to come.
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