“The fuck you mean the reactor’s off the charts?” the general screamed into his phone. Alarms echoed against the concrete tunnels in a deafening roar. The structure shook, and dust scuttled through the ceiling tiles. A low moan of steel giving and a loud crack reverberated through his very bones. It had been months since Subject 15 had left. The programs had been plotting an even graph with very few minor spikes to be worth mentioning. Predictive analysis he had been handed not one week ago estimated the cross-over closer to the end of the year. They had containment being set up for that time, not immediately.
A blood-curdling screech hung in the air. Everyone dropped what they were doing, their eyes swivelling in the direction of the sound. It bounced around in a sharp clip, like a penny bouncing inside a shaken plastic canister. His skin crawled at the sound. He could do no more than clamp his hands over his ears. That did nothing to muffle the sound. The sting of the notes drilled through his skull. He pulled his hands away to find blood on his palms. He looked around at his men. Blood was pooling from tear ducts and dripping from noses.
A boom shattered the monitor screen in the room, and a massive crack rattled the foundation of the bunker. The men looked around, and a sinking weight gripped the general’s chest. He made his unsteady way out of the chamber and down dimmed hallways, the lights blinking red emergency beacons. He couldn’t hear the alarms anymore. A chirping clip at the decibel level of standing behind a jet plane around reverberated in his head, the only noise that he could discern. He crawled his way to the containment chamber.
Brilliant blue light cast harsh shadows in the door frame. It was brighter than it should be, and a gust of fresh, frozen air ripped away at the metallic tang of the hallways. He looked up at the massive hole four stories up to ground level. The emergence ring lay in pieces, warped and smouldering. He glanced around in terror to find his scientists slumped at their stations, blood dripping in a grizzly wash. Other personnel had fallen where they had stood. Zephyr slumped against a far wall, barely breathing.
The general crawled to him. He leaned over but couldn’t hear a word the man whispered through the blood dripping from his broken eardrums. He could only read the man’s lips.
“It’s loose….” Zephyr coughed his last breath, his eyes glazing over, pink and bloodshot.
Fane woke the following day to Ishan curled around him. They were in his small bunk room. A sigh of contentment evaporated to a hiss. Something tugged at the back of his skull. A slippery, cold ooze refused to ease from under his skin. His head throbbed, threatening to split open. Unravelling himself, he dressed quickly. He was replacing his knives when Ishan finally emerged from dreamland, looking rather satisfied.
“Everything all right?” Ishan asked, noticing the tremor running through Fane’s hand. His bodyguard leaned over and kissed him. “Bad dreams, that’s all.”
“I shouldn’t have had you bring me down here,” Ishan apologised.
Fane shook his head as he sheathed another knife home. “Not your fault. I’ve had these since I can remember waking up in the hospital.”
“Do you want to talk about them?” Ishan offered, pulling on his shirt.
“Really, I don’t even think I can explain it. Probably should see a shrink,” Fane muttered more to himself than to the Prince.
“I can arrange that if you want.” He touched Fane on the arm to draw his attention.
Fane sighed and nodded his head. “Yeah. I’d -if you still want to pursue a relationship after last night with me?”
A banging at the metal doors of the armoury had them both flinching. Ishan turned to the door with a hiss. He was not finished with having Fane to himself.
Fane slumped for half a second, resigning himself to the day of work ahead and kissed Ishan’s neck before turning to the thrumming door. “Hold ye’r horses!” he shouted and paced across the cold floor. He pulled the door, the man on the other side falling in with the next knock.
“Anson! Anson! The Prince!” The man noticed Ishan coming out of the room, pulling his hair up out of the way. “Oh, thank the heavens,” the man gulped. Fane helped heave the man up, setting him on his feet. “So you heard, good, the rest of the family will be coming shortly.”
Fane and Ishan glanced at each other, confused. “What are you on about, man?” Fane grabbed the man about the shoulders, dragging his attention back to him.
“Wait! You haven’t heard? But it’s all over the news!” The man ducked as Ishan snapped on the little radio on the table, a crackling hiss echoing around the metal and concrete room.
Fane had to fight through the accent and try his best with translation over the static-laced broadcast, but he got the gist. “Grey monster…size of a skyscraper…fire…Post London has fallen…” He pulled at the words, willing them to conglomerate into something feasible. Sweat beaded along his back and under his arms.
Ishan glanced at him, then at the soldier. “Has this been verified?”
The man nodded vigorously. “There are print-outs upstairs in the drafts room. I-I didn’t bring them. I. They. We didn’t know where you were!”
Ishan loomed over the man. “I’ll be right up. Go tell them I am with my bodyguard; they don’t need to fear for my safety. They need to get to the bunkers.”
“Sir!” The man dashed from the room. Ishan stared into the hall, trying to sort through his brain. He swallowed and waited for his heart to settle somewhere outside of his throat.
Fane turned to the Prince, worry creasing his face. “Ishan?” he asked, drawing the man’s attention.
Ishan swivelled to look at Fane. “New Scots, Walshland, and Eand have been completely wiped from the map,” Ishan breathed, barely a whisper, his eyes round as the shock hit his system.
“It’s here…” Fane fought his knees buckling. A crack and a pop in the far corner of the silent room drew their focus. He pushed the Prince behind him, releasing his dagger from the back sheath.
A blue electric current wavered in the air, throwing plasma arcs to channel along the metal shelves. Fane’s eyes travelled with the light, flinching, waiting for it to hit the munitions. It danced around the tubes, the powder refusing to blow.
“Fane Anson?” A low tenor voice beckoned from inside the blue arc. An African American man pushed his way through, the blue washing across his skin like water. He stood an inch shy of Ishan’s height. A pale woman with vibrant pink hair popped her head through the blue.
“Ishan, are you seeing this? Corbin Zephle of Joiner Petroleum is standing in front of me from a random hole in the air. Right? Can you get that therapist scheduled?” Fane whispered, praying this was part of his dream.
Ishan pressed his hand against Fane’s hip, leaving his hands free. “I’m seeing it all right, but my brain is saying it wants to melt,” he whispered, his gaze fixed on the couple coming out of the strange rip in the air.
“Ishan Orlov?” The woman pushed her way through.
“And you are?” Fane at least had the wherewithal to begin asking questions.
“Corbin Zephle and Sophia Lisgon. We need for you to come with us.” The woman motioned them to the blue arc.
“Not happening, sister,” Fane growled.
“Zephyr is dead, Fane. And the Grey Monster has swept a burning path from Eand to Afghan in four hours. You’ll be dead in the next,” the man, the richest man in this century’s history, the man who couldn’t be emerging from a random blue hole in the air, stated bluntly.
Fane backed Ishan toward the door. “We’ve got to get you away from the city.”
“You’ll be too slow for that. He’ll die, vaporised by the river, you wrapped around him, the only identifier’ll be the serial number on a plastic plate in your head,” Corbin stated flatly.
“How can you know that!” Fane hissed.
“We’re two years ahead of your time. This Grey Monster starts a war that is going to destroy this world, and we need you!” Sophia yelled as a boom shook the palace above them.
“Shit. It’s here-” Corbin looked up at the ceiling.
“Did we-?” Sophia looked at him.
“Calculated the Meridian an hour off,” Corbin admitted.
“Ah, fuckin’ hell! You two, here, now!” Sophia screamed at them. Fane didn’t know what was happening, but the creeping wet tentacle feel across his skin was enough to have him pulling Ishan to the couple.
“What about -?” Ishan asked as Sophia pulled him to the blue arc of light.
Corbin grabbed Fane’s arm and heaved him into the portal. “No more time!” he shouted. They found themselves in a large lab as a loud phoom burst through the room, a bright searing light and rubble bouncing against the blue barrier. The Prince and his bodyguard looked around, startled. Blue cylinders clung around the perimeter, each encasing a body in stasis.
Corbin dropped Fane’s arm and sank to a stool at a large blacktop table. A series of monitors and chords fell from the table in a massive cascade. Fane followed the line of the chords to an eight-foot-tall white metal ring. The centre had closed down a metal iris, shutting off the blue light.
Fane turned to look at Ishan. “Tell me this is one of my bad dreams,” he pleaded quietly in the space.
Sophia approached them with a stethoscope. “Nope, those dreams you have aren’t dreams. Just that fuckin’ creature looking for a way into this world,” she bit off. “Here, sit down.” She pointed at a pair of chairs.
“What do you mean by that!” Fane demanded. Ishan took Sophia’s suggestion and sat down, waiting for the adrenaline in his system to give him a break.
“You didn’t know? Honest?” Sophia asked as she approached the bodyguard, reaching out to touch the side of his head. He shifted away from her, drawing the dagger from his back to block her hand. She stepped into his line faster than he expected. Grasping his wrist, she spun. He went with her, pushing himself over her, freeing his wrist and retaining possession of the knife. His head spun. He looked down, disoriented as the floor tried to seep up to greet him. A sizeable green tube with a short needle stuck out of his wrist. “Wha’ the…?” he dropped into a black void.
Let me know what you thought of the story! I’d love feedback. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey.– Chapel
Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.
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