Space Rescue

The jackals are moving in. You can hear their scraping and panting through the walls, as their claws and bumping muscles reverberate through the entire compound. They’ve taken over all but one small corridor, the small band of survivors have evaded them in all but this small bottle neck escape route. Now they are getting wise to the layout of the compound, and circling their targets, honing in on their last victims.
Running with the boy and the 2 women is Sergeant Jack, the sole survivor and leader of Alpha Numeric Squad 7, the trained space marine battalion dispatched to rescue the president’s daughter, wife and young son.
The war had just ended; scaled-back to be more accurate. The territory in which the alien force had ceded kept expanding into the unknown expanse of space. The exploration expedition out into space, the first team to attempt to map this region of space had bumped into an outpost belonging to the hitherto unknown aliens, and effectively kicked the hive. Once an automatic video report had been received of the team’s demise by Head Quarters, news immediately started flooding in of similar attacks from the neighboring colonies.  War had sprung; waged by an alien race whose appearance, at first, looked as that of upright Jackals- only with claws the size of a child’s head, and composed of something more metallic in nature. So much was unknown about the creatures. However, what was known was that they had a propensity for seeking out human life, destroying it, and that they can be killed by the usual means: fire and artillery.

Sergeant Jack rounded the corner with the three survivors in tow. A body lay slumped to the wall here and, while looking behind him, he nearly slipped in the pool of blood. The sight elicited a wail from the two women, and a shocked gasp from the boy. “Let’s move!” commanded Jack.

The nightmare scenario had visited the quiet moon base late at night, and the jackals descended on the stronghold after taking out several others, in a succession of assaults.  Their sequence of attacks could clearly be traced back to the unknown planetoid the first Expedition had stumbled into.
The view from the communication vid screen back at HQ had red lights, lighting up for every distress call sent stemming from the planetoid. The next one in line, the Commander could clearly see was the Moon base of planetoid Trop342, a tropical planet, still yet unexplored. Sergeant Jack and his team of Space Marines were dispatched as soon as it was realized the president’s family were residents at the compound on the moon of Trop342.

Jack was briefed, and the team on the way were briefed by Jack. Upon arrival – looming, over the compound they could see the shadow of what must have been the alien ship. From then on it was a race to meet with, and extract the three targets. Once the telescopic landing corridor sealed  with the main entrance bay, they had filed in. Before having done so, a message declaring their arrival had been sent to the compound, with no further explanation as to the purpose. It appeared routine to Captain Holloway, who had been assigned charge of the moon base compound.

Captain, after receiving his curious orders to receive a team of space marines, and subsequently being told by Jack that the purpose of their visit was confidential, a strange foreboding seemed to creep in through the tight riveted panels of the compound.
He walked into one of many domes, for a smoke.  This particular dome, which specifically recycled air wasn’t intended for smoking, but that’s what the men of the base tended to use it for. There were plants, and trees here- species apparently all that had been taken from the American North East. For Hollowy, having grown up in a quit New England town, it was quite homey. He lit his cigarette and waived out the match, making sure to put it in his pocket. Suddenly a rustling from the bushes about 100- 120 feet away from where he stood rapt his attention. His intuition and the chills on his neck were informative, so was the distant unfamiliar flapping sound off in the distant. It had sounded like a reciprocating fan, scraping or obstructed somewhere. Visibly now Holloway spied the leaves swaying as if being moved through. “What’s that!” he spat at what appeared to be an animal moving through some underbrush.  Memories of back home, and his youth informed his brain of what must be a small body moving about. But he wasn’t back there, and now stood looking at a continually extending silhouette of about 6 feet.
At the same time the inlet ramp was sealed, marrying the Transporter craft with the base, where Jack and his team entered the base. At once Jack asked the on duty personal who greeted him with a salute where Captain Hollowy was.
“He should be here sir.”
“But he’s not,” said Jack, “where is he likely to be?”
The soldier looked a bit nervous for a tick before saying “probably in dome habitat 6 sir.” Jack shot him a queer look, to which the soldier responded to with “for a smoke sir.”
“Smoking’s bad” said jack as he walked forward, then turning on a dime “escort Junior Sergeant Benny here and Frick and Slim, you go to, to this dome habitat,” he directed to the soldier.
“Yes sir!”
“Yes sir.”
“Inform the good Captain what we’re up against have initiate evaluation procedure.”
“Yes sir,” Benny then looked at a wide eyed and glistening soldier who jolted out of his daze to briskly walk in a direction.
Benny and the two soldier followed the moon base soldier. “The rest of you,” Jack directed to the remaining marines, “come with me.”

The rest follows just as you’d expect.

Presently, Jack reaches the Transportation Craft. After their arrival the door that lead to the extension connector was locked. Jack turns to the keypad panel set in the wall and punches in the standard code. The door, which is bifurcated down the middle, jerks suddenly but then halts- a hitch pitched straining sound can be heard from within the wall; gears apparently jammed up and a belt spinning wildly. Lights flicker down the hall from whence they came, as a scratching and scrambling along the path can be heard on the metallic floor. Jack looks in this direction, with his large gun, strapped over his shoulder pointed as well. The beast emerges, grimacing in the shadow and flickering light- its body shiny and red. Its elongated mouth filled with fangs starts to open slightly as its body appears to have been fixed tensely in a prone position. Jack let’s a fire ball blast of incessant bullets into the monster. The bullets shred through the head and neck as it howls a horrific shriek.
The women and the boy cower, huddled in the corner next to the malfunctioning door- on screams during the barrage of gun fire.
Once the eruptions from the gun had stopped, and the monstrous, black bloodied beast had skunked to the floor, a quiet set in for a mere few seconds. Wide eyed in horror, and clutching at each other in wild anticipation. Jack, perking his ears up and looking in the directions of the sounds, could hear the by now too familiar scramble of claws and bulk of the monsters elsewhere. Then, the sound faintly echoing down the hall, in between FTTZZZ sounds from the broken light fixtures.
“After all that noise, you can be sure more are coming.”
Sobbing erupted from the young woman clutching her mother and brother on the floor. Jack looked down at them, then sorrowfully to the floor, then to the door only slightly ajar, but not enough- not even to fit the small boy through. He then looked at the key panel on the wall, with anger, “C’mon!” He erupted while at the same time raising the butt of his gun about to strike the panel.
Suddenly the two sides of the door sucked into the wall on either side, as the four felt the rush of air into the vacuum of the corridor. Not a minute too late Jack ushered the family into the corridor just as three more beasts threatened to emerge from around the corner.
Opening the door to the ship, all filing in and closing it behind them Jack then rushed to the controls in the front of the ship. A flash of memory occurred: the pilot Jim inside the cafeteria getting slashed in half by an exceptionally large variety of the monsters.

Jack began manipulating the controls as the three rescued party watched in rapt attention. “Look!” The mother screamed, pointing out the windshield of the ship at a gathering mass of the beasts just before them.  Then, thumps from the sides of the ship, followed by faint scratching.
“Here goes everything,” Jack quipped before jerking back a lever, sending the ship into the air.  “Get into a seat!” Jack yelled to the huddled group over his shoulder, as he himself latched a seat belt harness.
The woman helped the boy into a harness, then the girl and herself. “Good,” Jack said right before punching the after burner.  G force thrust them back into the cushions of their chairs as the left the moon’s atmosphere.

Then, once floating through space jack set the coordinates for Head Quarters and initiated a scan of the outside of the ship. It came up nothing. Presently, Jack sighs with relief, wipes his brow and slouches in his chair. The mother, young girl and boy in the back unbuckle their harnesses and look appreciative at one another, tears in their eyes.

Presently, Jack queues up the caller, and taps the preset for command control at HQ. The call loads. Jack settles in, and prepares his summation of events in mind. The three loading dots continue to bounce, while no personal appears on screen. This has never happened before, it occurs to Jack. There are personal manning the communication stations around the clock. What he was looking at, to his mind, was an impossibility.

He continued to wait fifteen minutes- when suddenly an emergency screen appeared. The only message there being was: You are Being Directed To Terrestrial Space.

This Jack recognized from training, more than twenty years ago. For this to occur, he inferred, …he decided in that moment he didn’t have the energy, or required sleep to deduce, or process on a personal level, the possible explanation. The one, however, being readily surmised, was that HQ had been taken out, which meant the entire Confederacy had been compromised.
For now, Jack decided, it was time to sleep- as the Transporter drifted through space.


Labyrinth of The Green Man


With much effort and strain the door *KlunkT* open. A burst of electrical sparks greeted me on the other side, as I drop exhausted to the grated floor.  My head hit the steel grated sheet with a rattling thunk. Lights flickered in this room, the automated door on the firtz behind me undulated in and out of the wall.  Another shower burst of electrical sparks. My muscles began to relax but my brain felt like mud, so I allowed myself to drift.

Blackness and starbursts met me there. A warn loop of entering a room and finding a way out played on the reel of my mind, over and over. A horrifying snake pit in one room, as the floor gave out on either side of the walk way I stood on. A huge slicing pendulum swung by barely missing me in another. In another, lights flicker on in a large corridor illuminating various cells staggered on either side showing clones of myself in each one staring wild eyed at me. Until toward the end a baby me, adolescent me and finally senior me- this one disinterested completely in my being there, and staring at the floor while sitting on his bunk. Then of course a minotaur-like half man half alien creature that lurks the halls in places like this lunged out of a shadowy corner, right when I caught glimpse of the exit.

The last room I had been in played like an airplane crashing scenario. I must had been knocked out by a plume of noxious gas upon entry because when I awoke I was seat-belted into an airline passenger seat. As soon as I came to a feverishly and panicked pilot came over the loud speaker.

“We’ve lost control! Brace for impact!”

Instantly the passengers began howling and screaming in all manner of high pitched screeching, upon looking around, say, for instance to my left sitting there and everywhere, to add more yet another disorientating facet to the experience were nude women. Unclothed women, they’re faces contorted in a fixed look of horror. I look past my row mate out the window, as I remain seated in the aisle seat. Out the window a black void until a white crack crackles and disrupts the sky to illumine clouds and showering rain, and also the wing, where a grimacing goblin could be seen clinging to ripping at and throwing behind it shreds thereof. I unbuckled my seat belt with white knuckes amidst the howling and screeching, as I did the intercom crackled back to, and let out over it was a demon chuckle of sorts.
Then there I saw the door and lunged for it. I moved toward it as the door sense me and slid into the walls of the plane, I jumped through. On the other side, silence, motionless.

I stood up in a dimly lit spot, seemingly at the middle. I look behind me to see the door I had just previously lunged through silently role away from me as if on a track, or wheels. Pure silence insued, as I was left with a diminishing rapid heart rate and my adrenaline levels stabilize- while Standing there, trying to hold onto the calm.  I sat cross legged for a while, appreciating the nothing of the place. No disaster sequence or insane seemingly random horrors assaulting me. No abstract quandaries or existential angst for a change.

After a while I get up. I step forward, and hear a *clonk* type sound, as if produced by a women’s heal echo. Then with every step the same. I knew before I started to move again that of course the aberrant oddities would begin emediatly in this dubious illusory realm.
Wherever I was.
Memory erased.
Senses assaulted at every turn.

It was obvious I had become the play thing of some mischievous cosmic force or entity. Extricated from the normal, real realm of and thrust into a holographic ethereal world.
As I walked, contemplated my situation, so did the spot light, keeping time with me. I would stop and so would it.  I looked up to see merely an impossibly distant blare of light, fixed in a surrounding black.
Black as well described my surrounding outside the perimeter of my lit companion circle. The floor was seemingly colorless, maybe gray or green, linoleum- or a similar material.

This went on for hours. Nothing, a light directly above, and more nothing ahead, behind and all around.
Finally, a mist becomes visible out there in the darkness. I am suddenly aware of another place made possible there out beyond my dimly lit proximity.  I make my way toward the dimly lit other place. Mist rolling by, in back of what I continually confirm as a silhouette, a silhouette of a man, perhaps.
Presently, I stand perhaps 5 meters away from a standing black figure.

“Hello?” I say which echoes out.
Too big eyes open suddenly, the whites producing light. The eyes are larger than a mans, and the skin around them is green.
Behind  roles by a solid plum of mist, as if on queue. I decide I’ve grown weary of constant prestidigitation regardless of whether or not its intended for my sake, my entertainment or enjoyment or not- its far beyond having worn on me. I am frustrated at this point, and here before me is yet another anomaly, though, in human shape- something I can understand. I decide with a clenched fist that perhaps I can take this clown.

“Hello,” speaks a voice from several non local locations, as if spoken unanimously  by a encircling group surrounding me- all but from one place had it apparently emitted, the man who stood before me.

‘Very impressive- and clever- and awe inspiring,’ I thought to myself.

“*sigh*, well, who are you, I’m sure you’re going to tell no matter-“

“SILENCE” the omnipresent voice erupted. Despite myself I jumped- which angered me, having been manipulated like this.
Dramatically the figure then raised his arms to show a sort of winged cape that had draped around him.
That was it. The melodrama was too much, I had encountered far worse and this was the limit of my patience.
“You may call me-“ before the voice could finish I charged forward with clenched fists determined to deal violence.
Suddenly the man lifted up by unseen wires, that nevertheless strained squeakily pulleys above him that sounded their strain.
I stood below his feet, trying to make out his costume, of which I could not in the darkness. I look ahead just as the door out of there silently had been wheeled up, within sight by, I had decided, stage hands behind it- who are now  no doubt feverishly making up the next room.
In an annoyed tone, I turn my head up to address the man suspended above me “okay, so I do know the law and I am willing to sue for kid-“
The man had silently positioned himself to face me. Wide eyed and staring down.
“ I am the Green Man.”

He said, this time having actually spoken the words from his centralized self.

“ How very mundane,” I quip.

To which the Green Man responded  by shrinking away, fading into darkness.

That was the first encounter I had had with the Green Man, who would from then on became a running theme in the rooms ahead.

He proved to make a cameo appearance in every disparate themed room. Once as a disfigured woman’s pet dog. Another as a dead captain of a pirate ship, who, once all the panic stricken shipmates lept screaming to their deaths into the storming ocean; got up and did a jig before himself leaping out of a window himself.  Another time, while working apparently in an office building for a corporation that manufactured dog-sized slugs, appeared as a receptionist that would keep winking at me throughout a board meeting.
This particular room was very amusing. Especially once they took-out these large slimy slugs out of their suit cases and plopped them all before them. Apparently they had thought of me as a potential foreign investor, as they proceeded to demonstrate their technology.
They all pushed their fingers into the writhing slug mass before them to pull out of the body of the slug a tube. At the end of the tubes protracted into insectoid like mandables to latch onto the skin of the neck as galeae sucked out of the tube and into a vein to where it continue to unreel itself to the base of the skull. The businessmen then appeared to have epileptic seizure, as their eyes rolled back and the slunched in their seats.  Then the lights dimmed and a screen at the front of the board room descended down. Projected onto the screen then was a melee fight scene between futuristic soldiers, shooting eachother, killing each other for points and then respawning somewhere else in the game. I laughed until hoarse and in tears.

Afterwards the angry business men left in a hurry. Then I was approached by, presumably, the CEO while wiping tears out of my eyes who red-faced put a hand on my shoulder and asked the winking, green in complexion, “receptionist” to please escort me to the elevator.

This way please, the green man- with a woman’s body of course, sauntered in front of me, beckoning with a curly finger and winking the whole way.

“Right this way sir,” as she waved her open palm toward the elevator, which, dinged just as “she” did so.
“I’ll see you on the other side” I replied as I tripped into the next room.
This next room was squishy, and made up of flesh- everything. The walls were lined with nipples, every corner was covered in epidermis, scraped scared bruised and bleeding. Every light fixture was a bulbous sac of aluminous liquid. Every door handle was a thumb or a toe, the fixtures appliances and architecture consisted of and knees and elbows, hair and fingernails, lips and, most horrifyingly, eyeballs. I instantly stepped into a porous opening that displaced a blob of puss, which effected a chain effect from the wall where there had been a puckering anus of sorts that sprayed excrement and methane. The whole slodge through the place produced rude sounds and offense odors, erupted corpuscles, probing eyeballs or feeling hairs. A breeze of cold air rushed down one hallway, at the end of which I could finally see the exit, as the whole place contracted with goose bumps.
Onto the next room of course.

Presently I lift my head from the grated floor, just as yet another spurt of buzzing electrical outburst showers and dissipates above me. I pull myself to standing, as the door behind me yet still undulates in and out of the wall.
Before me, off in the distance I see a portal to the outside. Looking through, my faint reflection seen upon the window, I can see silently whirling purple galaxies, in slow motion, and be speckled stars everywhere.
“This is a maintenance room,” said the Green Man behind me. I see in the reflection of the window his person emerge from the shadows.
“Oh yeah?” I jadedly retort.
“We’ve run out of rooms to play in.”
“…oh yeah?”

“Yes, we are almost to the end.”
“Does there even exist the concept of ‘the end’ in this place?”
“Eventually there is always an end,” said the Green Man, walking toward me now.
I turn to face him, his skin green, his eyes too large, and his robe covering him. He has no nose, and affixed upon his face a permanent grimace, cocky and arrogant.
“There is no rationale to this place, if you are attempting to teach me a lesson you are failing miserably.”

The Green Man places a thought bent finger to his chin as he looks away pensively. “Hmmm, “ he says.
After a while: “Are you telling me we are on a starship, floating through space.”
“I’m not telling you what is obviously apparent to your senses.”
“This whole place is an exercise in tricking my senses.”
“So how am I supposed to know what’s real.”
“You’ll know when you arrive at it.”

I had at this point no energy to refute him, or decipher the meaning of coded words.

“Well,” I said “take me to the next room, let’s have more nonsense.”
“This is it,” he replied.
“What do you mean?”
“This is the last room.”

The idea that there could even be a last room had escaped me as a possibility countless rooms ago. I look around the decrepit dark room, flickering light showing shelves of mechanical parts with wires sprouting out. Dark, in the corner a defunct droid stood, all manner of tools and probes, broken devices lay about. In another corner a broom and mop bucket.
Looking back out the window, a swirling galaxy, and the star pocked void of space still presented ahead of me.

“So, am I to think this is real? Am I to deduce that I am on a starship, and this entire time had been dragged through an obstacle course of illusions, holodecks upon holodecks?”
“You’re not asking me this, you’re telling me.”
“So who are you?”
“I’m the Green Man.”
“Right, and, this is your ship?”
“No, I am a chaotic god from the old times, I have embodied this shape, and took this form so as to appear to you using language and a symbol structure your mind can comprehend.”
He then points toward the door. “Beyond that door you will find the bridge of the ship. We are currently floating through space. The exact coordinates of where we are uncertain since the Universal Positioning Unit is off line. No worries though, as you said there are holodecks here, and, you can queu up anything you need to know in order to do repairs.”
“Okay, so, this room is a tutorial for the next room, got it- and now I will be a commander of a Starfleet in the next room.”
“No, this is where you are now. No more illusions.”
The Green Man went on to explain how he had brought me to the void of space aboard a floating wrecked starship that had been destroyed by a virus long since having died along with the crew. The Green Man took it upon himself to refurbish the ship, to suit his purposes, which, apparently had been to psychologically terrorize me.
Sure enough, beyond the next door, was the bridge to a ship. Strewn about were skeletons, wrapped in a leathery old flesh and tattered matching uniforms. On the computer the Green Man showed me the make-up of the vessel.

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Cliff Wretched’s Escape: Part 2

(Read Part 1)

I stood on the precipice. Roiling below was the smashing ocean, clapping together and sinking into vast sloping canyons before filling again with yet more harsh, unforgiving ocean.  Grasping onto the eroded thick metal shards to my either side, I stood there on the edge, balancing myself. The oxidized, rough surfaces threatening to tear the flesh of my hands had I gripped too hard in an attempt to catch myself for losing balance. Precariously I balance the soles of my shoes on the enormous, rusted metal while peering down, dreadfully, at my fate. 
Standing in the frame of a huge exit wound, as it were, a breeched hull to Rust City, I prepared myself to jump. What had created this hole, what have torn into the giant metal wall I have no idea. All I concerned myself with was escaping the Floating City, or what us  wretcheds  referred to it as: Rust City.
Rust City, lay afloat, unwavering, solid, in an endless ocean of crashing waves attempting to scale its walls and capsize. But the gigantic heap remains, seemingly immobile out in the middle of an ocean of nowhere.
And there was I, heart pounding out of my ears, feeling the mist rush up at me from huge waves smashing apart against the massive solid wall of the city beside me.  The opening I stood in spanned about the size of a traffic tunnel. It looks almost, I imagine the result of a ballistic missile would cause. This thought, and being surrounded by all this torn metal reminded me, once again, of my fleshy, blood-pumping fragility. Here I was, to build up and gather the courage to plunge myself into suicidal uncertainty; to jump into the sucking, undulating waves of this ocean abyss in hopes of escape. This is, which, I finally resolve to do.
Surging with adrenaline, I am to direct all energy to my front- to finally push myself over- and so, waving my arms in a grand wheel motion from back to front, bending my knees for leverage and then pushing with all the gathered might- off, I push with the soles of my feet. Out, air bound I leap. The action is performed as atmospheric pressure stops and gravity slows time down. Arching mid dive, and pointing cupped hands straight forward, together before penetrating the deep blue wave; as if through the head of a diamond. Smashing violently into vast bottomless blue nothing.

Momentarily I am all consumed by a cosmic bubbling void.

No thoughts now, besides those of the hindbrain, primal instinct, encoded for survival. Desperate reaching, and shoveling back with my extended mechanical arms.
This went on for as long as I can remember. Nothing now matters besides reaching an uncertain surface, gasping at air and exerting everything I had went through the pictures of my mind. My every bit of energy, fiber of body and mind went towards that island.

The island, the one I had stared at for a good, long while before taking the uncertain plunge, stood fixed out there off- in the distance. A minuscule mossy lump rising out of the ocean.  I had made my way down there winding sewage corridors there in the bowls of Rust City. I was on sewage duty, to sand down barnacles that had been let-in- and to file back the rust that had built up. Telling my partner for the day, his name was either Abiff, or just Biff- I can’t remember that I had to take a restroom break, to which he replied “yep” and I set down my rig. I sloshed my way through the winding tunnels until coming to where I had been told the breech in the hull was, and there it was. Gaping, and open to the naked sea.
I crawled my way through barnacles, dried and stuck, some patches slimy, nodes for me to steady myself on as I reached the terrible metal, wrenched, gash -as a way to avoid the gruesome cleaver-like shards twisting out at me at odd angles. I place my feet steadily, mindfully onto the layered metal.

Off in the distance it sat.  A miniature plastic island. It appear so unreal, as an island get-away would in a commercial on the vid screen.

After jumping, I went for a ways, peaking every once in a while ahead, at the distant beach- my destination. Until, black.  I could exert myself no more.

I could feel it all around me, looping long thinking fleshy ropes around me. Probing me, latching here around my waist- tightening and squeezing, others simultaneously around my thighs, shoulders neck and underarms.  Long, undulating tentacles firmly loop their winding way around me as I lay flaccidly afloat just under the surface of thinning out waves. I only remember the scene, in hindsight, and even then vaguely.  Some snuggly wrapped me, others severely coiled to me.  Finally, the snug ones loosen and fall away, the tighter ones, around my waist, neck, wrists and thighs do follow suit slightly at first, then all together disperse from me.

After an eternity of this, I wrench open the eyes to a black abys marked by flash points bursting and then shooting off electrically. This bright lightning never seizes to surge, to gather into different nodes in a network only to burst again. Layers upon layers of this creating a panoramic strobe of galactic mini explosions. This landscape of sharp bursts of neuron bundles spark envelope me, it all occurs so rapidly and lingers so long that I can’t concentrate, nor track the network of veins or attempt to notice patterns. It seems to be at random, and is too much for my comprehension at the time. flash- flash-flash –spread- spread gather- flash again. A nervous system seemingly.

My sense, over stimulated and my eyes go into an epileptic flickering seizure, as the electrical storms begin to move away. They appear inches away, then miles- until they fade out to the farthest reaches of this nether space to black. I am given to the sensation of being wrapped in a gauze, paralyzed and placed in the back row of a vast auditorium.  This goes on for how long I cannot recall.

My senses find their way slowly infusing back. I awaken to the gentle white noise of ocean waves nudging me back. Very twisted and bent in on myself, rolling waves shove me then, up along the wet matte of the lower beach.  The sloppy mess of beach and frothing water all round me. Clinging to me, is seaweed, affixed to my half sopping jumpsuit here and there, not tentacles, but coiling green and slimy rope wound round. The top of my head burns, and my shoulders are stiff, my whole body aches. I start to shiver as I find my back and upper half and dry and caked with sandcakes, my lower half licked by undulating arriving waves.  I’d been washed-up! Apparently, it would seem for a while, having sunburned and beached half submerged, the undulations having created a cavity here in the sand shaped like me.

I pull myself upright, painfully. I then peel off the seaweed, brush off the dried along with the wet caked sand, and empty some snails and sea shells from my open pockets.

Presently, I stand on a beach that extends in either direction, indefinitely- the edge ending in mirage producing wavering hot air. To the edge of the beach is thick forest, palm trees and bushes, inside is pitch black- a mysterious shadow space under a canopy. Off, above the trees is a distant fine mountain.   The air is breezy, spiked with a daggering chill, the sun dampened by some hovering overhead clouds, waits to punish me anymore, but its heat is felt as well.

I had made it. Standing there in sand, taking inventory and stock of my surrounding- I had almost forgot to celebrate my accomplishment, never mind my survival.

And so I smile. I look out now onto the ocean, expanding off to the edge of the known world. I put my hand up as a visor to shield my eyes from the sun now making its appearance, raining down its harsh rays.  Looking now,  out here, light gray and dull, and having the appearance of an upturned pin hammer, tiny like a trinket, distantly laying on the edge of an ocean, the impossible floating city.  The I Rust City.
I stand there, for a long, introspective moment, to allow the immensity of the scene to take root in my comprehension.

I see a flash, a burst of light like in my dream prior, at the top of the needle that sprouts out the middle, the citadel as it catches the sun ray and flashes off a spark. A wink.  The rest of the prison there rests, stationed immobile, like a tomb as the ocean lays flat for it at this distance.
I let my shoulders down, and draw in a deep breath.
It’s over now, and it had at least become time to consider my next actions. And so I decided to walk, perhaps take in the perimeter around before attempting to penetrate into the mysterious forest.
I shuffle forward, the movement making me I feel creaky, muscles strained and cramped. “Errggh,” I moan, as I walk along. Though painful, at first, my energy was up. Thereupon realizing this my stomach growled and turned, the indication I well noted.

I decided to walk for what I could measure was about ten minutes, after such time I would make every effort to forage for sustenance. This thought dissipated, however, as soon as I saw ahead, an unexpected sight. Wavering in the hot air, what I ascertained to be, rationally,  a mirage. To the mind it appeared to be a figure. At first, the aberration was apparently still, then moving slightly- animated, I had decided, only by imagination. After more steps, the figure remained, I projected upon it a standing structure. Wavy heat continued to obscures what had evolved from mirage to be physical structure, larger than a man. Sturdy, and upright, a black standing figure, off in the distance down the long stretch of the beach. As I continued to stare, it became quickly apparent with some excitement, that, the figure was making its own minute progress in my direction. And I its.

Suddenly, my foot strikes something hard in the sand, and I stumble forward, falling down. I look back to see what it had been.  And there, I see resting in the sand, a black stone the size of about a brick. From the feel of the impact I decide it to be adamant, perhaps even partially buried in the sand- as it hadn’t seemed to budge from its spot. Looking intently at it now, while I rubbed my smarted toes, I notice it crackled here and there, all over in fact, and within these cracks the color red. The look of it was almost spongy in appearance; as I continued to gaze, momentarily absorbed int he mystery of it, I see it almost slightly move, expanded out, and then retract. I realize then, just as the throbbing pain in my foot reminded me of my situation, that, this is what all inanimate objects do when attending to them with intense tunneled focus for so long.  Quickly my sense come back to me and quickly I turn my head, and attention, back to the approaching figure.
Now, getting up, I continue on my way for the anticipatory meeting.

I continued to walk toward it, staring in rapt attention, at which point it became clear that the thing was not only a figure, but too had been moving my way.
Gradually it formed- a human shape,  holding a staff. Then, a female (judging by height, shoulder and hip width) , pale skin, little cloths (if any) and shoulder length hair. All this arrived to my vision gradually.  Heart pounding, legs moving faster carrying me toward what had moved out of the wavering heat to incarnate as a girl, who, certainly  at this point wore little clothes. In fact, I could see now, what constituted as covering was very little indeed,  just a hanging, waist strapped loin covering that looked as if fabricated out of tanned animal hide. She was nubile, being no more than 25 years in age.
As we approached each other there in the sand, she looked upon me apparently in astonishment, as I imagined I must have looked upon her. Mouth agape and wide-eyed. Her brunette hair picked up and flickered in the breeze sweeping in from the ocean.
We both stopped then, approximately ten feet from each other, mutually perplexed, apparently, and unthinking; too awe struck to even attempt to fathom the other’s circumstance.
Here beset upon me was what appeared to be, in all likely hood, a savage island dweller. I looked upon her dirty face. Her white sand breaded tan skin. Her expression of completely abandoned shock at my arrival. Guarding nothing, loosely holding a staff in her nakedness.
As she too examines me- I blink to my senses and attempt to communicate.

“Hi” I utter, and as I do she flinches, automatically as a point of instinct it would seem,  angling then her spear in a lazy daze. I contemplate her spear. The arrow head fit into the notched end of a stick the length of her own body, which must have been no more than 5 feet.
I hold my hands up in gentle protest. “I mean you no harm,” is the cliché Tuesday night matinee vid feature line I deliver. An automated response as my brain scans for viable options based on past experiences. Of which there is no precedent.
I stand my ground and repeat my hands-up gesture, she responds by maintaining her grip on her pointing spear and continued her wide-eyed stare. Her eyes are crystal blue, her breasts bare, and she’s fit with toned muscles, adequately fed for a girl, and comely. Sizing her up like this of course stirs the imagination, fueled with red blood. My forebrain determines it wise, however, to be suppress such stirrings at this juncture.
“I won’t hurt you,” more lines come out of my mouth. I contemplate the best course of action- I figure, rightly, that I could physically take this small girl and extract the weapon from her; or, I could submit to her as an authority by kneeling and see what happens.

Through the course of holding my hands up palms open and flat to her, and attempting to intimate through empathetic facial expressions I see, after a while her face unchanged.  She appears to be in state of such unprecedented shock that she fails to exert any intimidation with her stance, does not shake her spear, or even grip it tightly. She in fact has not even eeked a sound out of her wide open mouth, or shut those rather large blue eyes for a second.  I stand, looking quizzically and see her for what she is. An awestruck savage girl who is out of her wits.
I stand upright, firmly and walk slowly over to her. Meanwhile she attempts no sudden moves and simply watches me do it. I reach out and grip her spear as she releases it to me.

Now in possession of the spear I look down upon the dirty, wild creature, holding it in my left- I take my right forefinger and nudge her petite chin with my forefinger. Instantly her eyes shoot farther open and a rush of blush brightens her cheeks. Her eyes glitter and dance while holding my gaze and suppressed thoughts are reintroduced as she, almost instinctively it would seem moves her face in toward me, closer to my own.
‘My god,’ I think, ‘what is’- and before I can finish this thought she pushes her face in a sudden jolt toward my own, her lips gripping my own.
We stand there pushing into each other, intimately kissing.

She then removes herself from me and looks upon me once again momentarily. Thoughtless and gathering my own thoughts, I respond in kind- until she lunges her hand out and grabs mine. And then she is a flurry, turning suddenly on the balls of her feet carving sand below her she pulls me suddenly with a lurch. Her dainty hand gripping mine pulls with all her bulk, which I feel now. I run behind her for a while, admiring her backside and, as thoughts begin to thaw, faintly celebrate my surreal good fortune. This is until, after several yards gained, I grow annoyed with the uncertainty and lack of communication, whereupon I throw her hand away from me and stop in my tracks.
She turns instantly.
“I demand you tell me where you’re taking me.” By way of answer she once again lunges at me, pushing up from the ground with her feat in a jump. Her small frame hits me, as her arms fling around my neck and her warm, soft red lips are reintroduced to my own. We stand there in a romantic embrace, our blood circulating to the surface of our bodies to warm the other’s. She releases me with a wet smack for a momentary gaze, as I realize I had dropped the spear in favor embracing the girl’s smooth skin.  She once again grabs my hand and turns abruptly. Realizing I had no longer the spear in my hand I turn to pick it up with my left, free hand. This stopped the girl in her tracks as I effortlessly lashing her back, her grip on my hand unyielding. Lifting back up now with the staff in hand I am once again greeted with a kiss, and she pulls on my hand- yanks now. Though, having felt my power compared to hers, and having experienced already the discomfort of her insistence to drag me running to an unknown location, I felt compelled to walk.
I sturdily, and firmly walked- more of a stroll, as she yanked and pulled on my hand, her naked feet sliding back forming skids and trails in the sand along the way. I smiled at her ceaseless effort. We made progress as she amused me to no end. She gritted her teeth as she pulled and screwed up her pretty face, she turned around from time to time to grab my wrist with both hands- grunting the whole way, falling down, her breasts swaying from the effort.
I was in heaven I decided- I was dead and incarnated into a clone of myself. This wasn’t reality- this was a masturbatorial fantasy I had manifested subconsciously and was to play out for eternity.
I experienced corporality to its fullest extent. I gripped the grooved wood of the spear, I contemplated my legs.  I looked upon the struggling girl before me insistent and resolute in her dangling loin cloth covering not her shapely tanned thighs.

Soon thereafter as I was brought further, we came upon presently a little village on the beach in a cul de sac formed out of the tree line. The girl kept me hidden from tree to tree along the forest line however, peering around the corner of each one until pulling me in a rush forward, just to hide behind the next and repeat the maneuver. I could see huts, now, bundled together with sticks with roofs and smoke stacks sprouting out of each. I could also see figures off in the distance, either carrying something or tending to a fire. The girl now yanked me hither onto a worn path through the woods. We promptly came to a fork at which she darted left with some urgency. I smiled at this and even laughed a little- to which she responded at this point with a small savage growl close to my face. I pulled her in for a kiss, she accepted the brief respite as she pulled me further along the way, until, presently we came out of the shadow of the canopy to a clearing near the entrance to a hut. She pulled now with all her might toward the entrance.
I had noticed no one around. Soon, standing inside the cool shadow of her, I assume, hut, she untied a flap that fell to cover the open portal. She then turned to me, wild.
I looked, to my right for a wall to set the spear against, and saw cabinets. Actual cabinets too. Manufactured by rotary saws and wood glue and nails- complete with porcelain knobs. Before perusing any more of this thought I was set upon by the girl, who had rushed and lunged toward me once again. I felt her soft hair spray me- firmly pressing her lips on me, I grappled her lean frame. We kissed hotly while she folded her arms around to the back of my neck. I grabbed her buttocks and picked her up.

All the while realizing, that, I must’ve been dead. Here I existed now, in a phantasmagorical dimension. Of course these thoughts were side-lined- the inevitable conclusion to them was evident: I was simply to enjoy myself.
I place the girl down as she frantically kissed every inch my face, onto the counter top- tiled, and next to the basin of a sink, with a faucet.  These things- I decided, I will make every effort to ignore and effortlessly integrate into the living fantasy I currently found myself in.  Soon she was grabbing at me, trying in vain to navigate my jumpsuit. I obliged her by locating the zipper, and- before I was able to remove my wrappings, we were suddenly interrupted. I heard a heard a high pitch mouth noise, and a clicking-also by mouth. And I turn, to see, yet another naked savage girl. Wildly flailing her arms at the girl in my own arms, of which she then extracts herself from to jump to the dirt floor and, with her back to me braces herself up against me.  The other girl, now, getting louder, staring suddenly from me back to her- catching my eyes. She could very well have been the girls sister, though a little taller, and hair lighter.

The other girl suddenly moves in as she and the girl argue. The girl, in response to the other girls increase in volume pushes her teeth together, and with her tongue and O-shaped lips “Shushes” the other girl.  Presently, the she grabs the other girl by the hand, who looks up at me searchingly, and is taken to a corner of the room- where they murmur to each other excitedly. They continue to talk incomprehensibly, while occasionally the looking over at me, the other girl doing so more apparently interested than the other, at which point the girl gathers the other one back to emphasize her points. They go on like this for minutes.
This is when, I decide to contemplate the contradictions present all around me. The unlikelihood of the entire scenario and of course, the reality of my situation. I open the cabinet doors over the sink, empty. I try the faucet, which does nothing. I work my way around the cabinet doors which reveal nothing, until I step on something that yields underfoot, like a soft spongy material. I lift my foot to discover what looks like a root- though, again, soft and red in color. As I look I can see it expand out of the dirt floor as if taking a break, and then shrinking again- and then repeats.  I look up at the girls still arguing, animatedly in the corner- beautiful and naked. I kneel to further inspect the root. It expands and retracts before me. I touch it with the tip of my finger to find a warm- fleshy item- alive-seeming. I quickly jerk upright.
*KERCHUNK* the spear falls to the floor. *KERCHUNK* Looking up, in the direction of the noise, I look at the larger, closet-sized cabinet. It’s the long vertical one, where one would store a broom. *KERCHUNK* I notice now, the door abruptly opening slightly as if a vibration, and slamming again. *KERCHUNK* and again. *KERCHUNK* and again- as if it were locked from the inside and some one where kicking it. *KERCHUNK* Or an earthquake were causing it shutter. I reach out my hand for the knob, and take it.
I wing the full length cabinet door open to discover a large eye- a slit for an iris running up and down it, glossy and glistening and terrible. It flicks around the room behind its film of wax- around it flesh and lids enveloping it, with tiny mouths puckering around it- also flickering tiny tentacles shifting wildly like flames licking and lapping.  The slit of the eye focuses on me as it contracts- the tentacles stop and stick erect outwards toward me- all angling to point at me. The small mouths pockmarking the wall of red and black flesh now uniformly pucker a shape and start making a tiny “ah” utterance- in chorus.  Terrified, my heart pumping blood in hurried palpitations I slam the door shut. But instead of slamming in its frame it doesn’t shut, but instead hits the squishy edifice of the terrible monster inside. Then, suddenly another living root pushes up from a crackling spot in the dirt floor, and even right below me, one pushes up under my feet and emerges in the loose dirt.

Then, suddenly, noticing the two, I look up to discover the two girls standing side-by-side, looking at me with the same mischievous expression, mouths curling up at the ends. Their holding hands between them and they move toward me with the same step. They start caressing me, and the girl finds my zipper to my jump suit where she had learned it to be from before. More living veins push up out of the top soil and the new girl puts her wet open mouth onto mine- when the cabinet door fires open, nearly hitting me. The huge terrible eye and its slit for an iris stare into me. I look back as I move away from the girls, who- with looks of surprise and not understanding remain in place. Backing out I include the terrible cabinet monster in my sight which now appears to be bulging out of the cabinet door as more veins pop out of the earth. I push the cloth door to the hut aside and rush outside. From behind me I can hear the same mouth sounds and whooping from the girls.

I’m frantically running now, toward the beach, past other huts- past other savage nubile young women. As I rush buy small groupings of girls their heads turn with me. Out on the soft sands of the beach my breath is pushed out of my lungs, and my heart is beating out of my chest and I fall to my knees and turn onto my side to lay on the beach.  The whooping of the girls follow me, as I catch my breath. I sit up now, sensing the girls- and so I look. A large crowd, maybe over a hundred girls- all naked, all beautiful.  I push my legs out at the sand, getting up off my backside. I feel an incessant drum beat inside me, a nightmare adrenaline fueled urgency to escape- and so I turn towards the ocean as the crowd of girls form a crescent around me- effectively surrounding me.  Encircled now, in an open cul-de-sac allowing only the ocean as a way, I stood, in the lapping diffusing and fizzling waves reaching my feet. The girls, all cacophonous chatter of some incomprehensible language, closing in on me- shortening the ground between myself and them. Then louder, the whooping sounds of the girls, and the ocean waves- a wall of sound behind and ahead of me.  I stopped, then.
I looked around. I felt a calm suddenly, in the storm. I peer right beside me- an obscuration there, afloat in midair- immediate and fixed. Like a ghost, there beside me set fixed like an invisible field, a sliver- like that of the eye in the cabinet. A black floating slice, as it were- enveloped by a warped wrapper running along the edges, obscuring the image of what lay behind it- half of the beach and half the ocean waves. I touch the aberration, the floating ghost hole. It is solid, yet ephemeral, of this world and behind. Feeling the waves rush by me now, and conscious of the encroaching army of girls-all of whom stare wild eyed directly at me while chanting- I decide I only have this route- this portal. Presently I plunge my hand into it, it, or rather its edges, proving to be elastic in a rather solid kind of way. It takes some effort, like pulling a heavy bucket, but I pull either side wide enough to allow for my body size to pass through. Splashing next to me now, the girls move closer, like zombies- like the possessed. The begin reaching out at me with outstretched hands as I life a foot and push a whole leg into the portal. It feels like a black matte surface, on the other side- is the only way I can describe it- as I pull the rest of myself in just as a myriad dainty, groping hand grab around my collar. At first they were unyielding, and so I let out a horrible yell and, with all my might lunged myself forward into the darkness. Once inside, the darkness was complete, save for the shrinking sliver of the portal. Smaller and smaller it shrank- then a one hand shot through, whereupon the portal closed on the wrist thereof. And as it did- the closing echoed like that of a granite covering to a tomb.
And then darkness.

Unfathomable abyss darkness. Infinite, final darkness. I felt afloat in the nothing of it, suspended in ethereal solutions- inky, and increasingly wet. Then flashes- that, at first looked as if light flickering off of an oil black wave pool-then the first burst. I remember now. The electrical storm arrived back into view- slowly at first. And then all at once, like speeding towards a galaxy faster than the speed of light.

Engulfed, now- in the electrical storm- blasts, and viens made of light surge all around me. Stuck, and entangled in the bursting network of electricity. However, I am awake this time, and filled with anxiety, frustration and anger. So I start to frantically flail, punching my fist outward and kicking my feet while screaming-thrashing violently side to side. In a sense: I throw a tantrum.
Then, whether its blood filling my extremities once again, or my feeling out the area- I feel, the enclosed space I was in: its walls.  I feel slime now, I taste the putrid bitter taste and feel horrifically warm dangling tendrils. This is, until I see, yet another sliver. This one white and I push straight for it. Pushing violently my environment to my sides, and head first, birth myself from wherever inside this is.
Spurting outward, wet from birth, blackened by the oily substance coating me; I fall head first toward the sandy beach. I’m screaming my head off- slithering in the sand which sticks to me, my feet feel still latched to the thing from where I had sprung as I dangled there. I kick, and then, with my back firmly planted in the sand, I kick again. My slits for eyes are almost welded shut from the black slime- but then I force them open to behold the living holding cell that had me.
Before me, looming black, large and hideous, obscuring the sun- a monster. A large vertical slit running up its middle, where, at the top a large hideous eye. All round springing out of its red-veined and pitch black skin are innumerable undulating tentacles. The bulk of the creature is circular, resting on top thick, elephant legs like trunks- with a long reptilian tail trailing behind it, also flailing this way and that. Strands of the black slime fall dripping from the gaping hole onto the sand. Having taken in the hideous sight, I quickly and frantically back track like a crab away from the hideous creature.
There I am on the beach- a beach, off always is the tree line to the forest.
I hear a sickening chorus of tiny mouths emitting a horrible siren song. A high pitched “ah” is carried by the wind.
Plastered with the black slime I discover, I try to wipe it-only to find that it sticks slightly, but also goops. Suddenly, a bulky shadow appears just behind the creature, standing before me- its eye fixed onto me.
Another one. I turn around to find more, running like nightmare mascots.
‘More dream?’ I wonder- ‘no, I just came from the dream spewing into the nightmare.’

And so my eyes dart toward the forest- where to I am presently sprinting toward, just as I notice the original monster along with its ilk are doing the same, only more in the way of a lumber- toward me. Upon running up the beach, over some rocks and up to the tree line- a little ways off I notice a path, just like the one the girl had lead me to. It’s small, and human sized. And the distance between the trees, I decide, the way could not allow the bulk of these monsters. And so I run toward this path and step into the shadow of the forest.

A few yards in, I stop. My heart pounding, my thoughts settling, I look back past the bushes and trees to the mouth of the path. I see the ridiculous insulating tentacles shuddering there. And over the bushes I can see more shadow shapes framed by rubbery spikes that extend or retract.

I keep moving, along winding path, leading further into the forest.
Cursory glances at the plant life and fauna discover tiny bizarre, scurrying creatures and colorful, potentially dangerous plants.
Too exhausted and stuck in instinctual overdrive to take much interest, I keep walking.

A ways further, past some large rocks and strange, almost yodeling sounds from deep within the forest, I come upon a clearing.
At first I hear the loud sound of rushing water- until, then, I see a large water fall. At the base of which, its clear crystal pool of water.

I reach the edge, cup my hand and take drink after drink.
I turn over on the shore of it, a little ways away from the edge- and, laying there on my back, close my eyes and drift off to sleep.



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It’s a clunky ship, but it’s mine.
Drifting noiselessly through space.
Sitting at the nav desk on the bridge I impatiently strum my fingers on the nav board in front of me.
*Click* I press a finger on the intercom button “Steven to bridge,” I demand into it.
Momentarily the automatic door to the bridge puffs open as Steven strides in.  A young man of 19, Steven stands clipboard in hand, jeans and black t-shirt. I say, from the nav com swivel chair “we’re not moving, it’s been 4 hours and I hear no engine hum.”
“Apparently the core needs to be reboote-“
“How many times does it need to be rebooted?”
“Salem said until he finds the disconnection in the circuits, he thinks there’s a bad aethernet wire-“
“Okay, meanwhile we float closer to our new best friend,” I motion my hand toward the bridgeshield, where, seemingly not too far off can be seen a pock-marked, massive grey nugget.

Impossibly, the asteroid is 7 hundred miles away, but already is the size of an island, sashaying in slo-mo toward our very location.  I press a finger down on the steering scale screen, triggering a large exclamation mark, a short burst of a vibration and an alarm sound.  I say “okay,” and steer the chair in its track over using the small ball joy stick in the arm of the chair, over to the actual steering wheel. I take hold of the massive thing, rubbery leather strapped around a thick loop, and with all my might pull it to the left- exerting myself, and straining just to find the thing immovable.
“How many times have you tried that?” Steven asks.
“About 50,” I respond.  I look sidelong at him.
“you want to die on this ship?”

“No sir.”
“Where is Salem now? Do you know?”
Steven pauses, looks down, and off a little.
“Where? Salem?” He looks up, and nervously tells me.
“The kitchen,” I shoot out the automatic sliding door that is instantly sucked into the wall and down a section of about 5 steps, turn down a short hall way and jump 5 more steps, and left through another door.
There, sitting at a table covered in bowls and kitchenware is Salem, hunched, as it were, over a shot glass and a bottle an arm’s length away.
Holding a putrid face, locking eyes with me now he pocks the glass down onto the table as he begins to lift the bottle with his other hand.
I grab a chair and place it next to the table as he pours, not offering.
I sit and cross my arms.
“W’eve been floating idly for about 5 hours – ‘any plans to spare us certain death.”
With a shot glass full, the bottle is placed down once more. He grasps the shot glass looking over onto me, turns again and shoots the glass up, pulling a gulp from it.

Slams it down.

Wiping his mouth with his sleeve he says “I’m getting to it.”
“This clunker of a ship is headed-“
“Straight towards our ‘new best friend,’ I know- I need to – fucking, I need to figure out… I’m still figuring out the problem- I think its rotten circuits-“
“Steven told me.”
“Steven is getting in my way.”
“Steven don’t wanna die, he wants to live to set foot on another planet as doI.”
Salem looks away.
“What about you, you’re pale, you haven’t been bathing- have you lost hope?”

“Its part of my job to lose hope, I keep this place running.”
“You could be more cheery.”
“I couldn’t be, I would be you if I were- if I weren’t me.”
I ponder the esoteric meaning of this, sitting there in the belly of the ship, the “Golem,” a floating vessel I had hopes for to not make into a tomb.
I tell Salem this.
“A tomb is for kings, we’re in a metal coffin.”
“Your negativity- you’re right, ‘may be helpful to entertain some negative aspect of a predicament to find a way around it, but, we need this ship fired up soon, and going, so as to not meet an abrupt and violent end.”
“Save the speech,” Salem slurs at me as he lazily creaks out of his chair. Pushing the chair back rubbing along the floor, and grabbing the bottle, a quarter full now. I look up, imploringly, almost pleadingly, and he interprets this expression rightly, by groaning and turning away.  He slouches away, apparently having sat for so long working a permanent crease in his back, as he shuffles along the wall, down some steps and through an automatic door.
Sitting, pensively for a moment, I too decide to get up, not to go somewhere else to worry however, but to have a contemplative stroll through my only means to get around: my ship.

I’m met with a hushed cacophonious laughter drifting down the hall, intermingling with the humming of life support still being pumped in through vents and the electromagnetic charge around the hull.  Steven is watching a comedy show, he would be on social media had we been in range of any sort of life that didn’t take 3 weeks to communicate a signal.
I walk down to the cargo area, its dark here, large crates take up the main of the space.  I can easily imagine demons lurking around, leering at me, grimacing there in the darkness; waiting to shred my skin and devour my glands and organs.  I imagine the gore spread along the floor.
I see Salem’s face then, sweating, arranging some wires, or fastening a bolt.
He has the hardest job among us.  This is a clunker of a ship, for sure, but its our ship. ‘All we’ve got to get anywhere.
And where we are right now is a pickle.
Of course, I think as I step a bit forward, through some red glaring lights past an air lock port, we’re always in a pickle.
We’re no more a crew than we are brothers, of which we are not- we are simply here- our story is unremarkable.
Space drifters.
I walk down to the engine room. Centered around a large blue glowing column, a force of mysterious power. Partly the job of the core is to mimic the circadian rhythms of mother Earth, so as to keep our mitochondria from breaking. Nothing I loathe more than a malfunctioning mitochondria.

I grab the railing surrounding it.

I speak the word “Golem,” the ship.  A ship for a ghoul like me.

Instead of standing around being gloomy, I walk toward my bedroom, where my dog sleeps, and farts.
The door opens and there with a bark and an ecstatic tale is pokey, I say “c’mon” and waive my hand.

We both make our winding way to the bridge. Where Steven has turned off his sketch comedy shows and is now staring out the window.  Where a large grey mass approaches. Pokey sniffs his pants cuffs, stirring him out of his daze. I take a seat once more, where I was, and where I will remain until either the end or the beginning.
The overhead lights flicker, once, a couple more times and then a loud high-pitched moan reverberates through the whole beast. Dials unfade to on, red-lit, and a scree beep shrieks to life the dials and buttons. The familiar humming and vibrations of life ignite our massive tin can. I look at Steven, and Steven with this unrestrained optimistic joy and bright broad smile, dancing eyes and we cheer, hug and plop into place.  Pokey runs a circle around our area, barking at our enthusiasm.  *crack* the intercom crackles and a Salem mumble emits from wall mounted speakers*uncrack*.  I press the intercom button “Good looks Salem.”  I tap the steering app on the screen in front of me as it fills full view. I drag the bar along the scale to the left and burners fire right on que.
Golem is seen turning, and accelerating in a particular direction, away from the asteroid.

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Trevor Mallard vs. Metropolis City

I step off the curb into the street that resembles any street here in the vast wasteland dystopia of metropolis city. Unless you want infection, disease or certain biological failure due to toxicity, when doing this, you’d be doing well by yourself to step over the gutter.
The gutter, where accumulated grit and filth coalesce in a stream of liquid shit and piss flowing downstream into the eventual drain, passing through the bars into below the street, if not clogging it ; in which case a flooding of the street occurs, a frequent occurrence at that.
But then again you’d be doing yourself a favor by avoiding the biohazard zone that is metropolis city all together. Everywhere within its boarders is public space including your own living room, if you’re lucky enough to have one. The place is lousy with degeneracy, the public offices held by professionally self-interested curroptioneers. Empty rhetoric vomit out their pudgy, pock-marked demonic faces displayed on massive vid screens plaguing every street corner on every black red-light lit sky scraper in the city.

My name is Trevor Mallard, and I carry a blaster. I mention this due to the importance of self-defense in this postmodernmodern future where savagery is the default unspoken code of the land. Not to mention the “illegality” of owning such an object. Illegality I place in “scare quotes” here because of the fluidity of the law proper, and its subjective not only interpretation but jurisdiction. The law’s enforcers too are dubious as to their allegiance, and to who it applies, to be redundant, is up to debate. Suffice it to say, the oligarchical law makers are legal positivists, who honor only their self-anointed devine right to lord over the loathsome plebs.
I step one step further after my gutter hop, and keep on moving. The barricades of built up and abandoned vehicles surrounding this block prevent traffic. A withered hand pops out of a cardboard tent in the middle of the avenue, holding out an icredit device and mumbling in a weak incantation “alms.” This I ignore. I do not give credits, I only trade credits for equal value. Since I harbor no empathy for the old voters of the current establishment charity is far from my mind. Allocated funds are to flow into my current interests, which for at the moment involve a paying gig. A big project. For which I have financial backing not only, but a personal interest.
The larger than life neon sign for the casino looms overhead as I weave in and out of little encampments here and there, iCredit devices will be held out for a gracious transfer and will be ignored, the intimidation of wild eyed thugs will be ignored- only the advance of my destination is at hand. I see now the tuxedoed brute, negroed doorman, named Tget.
“You back now?”
“Back, Mr. Seprume is waiting-you already now.”
A pause as Tget’s eyes glaze off into no particular direction as he receives instructions from his employer through the auditory implant in the right side of his brain close to his ear. I now felt his eyes on me. Receiving instructions no doubt, considering the vid implant in Tget’s optical nerve, giving a direct feed to Seprume’s office vid screen. I feel the gaze once again when Tget turns back to me, to say.
“Mr. Seprume says proceed.” Tget holds out his icredit to collect his toll, I take my own out of my inside breast pocket; tap out 50 and flick a scanning inferred laser onto his open screen displaying his Personal Pairing Code.
It beeps ready, he looks down at it to make sure, then turns his one green prosthetic eye toward the door which instantly opens out. The garish doors, ornate in a classically Greece kind of way with long ornate, useless handles running up and sown the length of them birth entrance to me.
Wordlessly I pass by the gatekeeper into the belly off the south town beast.


End of Part 1

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Cliff Wretched’s Escape : Part 1


Dark inky swirls, cold dense water innumerable fathoms deep. I am submerged, faintly light from the surface penetrates down to me as i am pulled almost by some thing, a living rope, a thinking and probing tentacle. Down further, further down until the last blip of air is crushed out from my lungs. My ankle is wrapped at first, a pulling, then swiftly a wrapping around my stomach, waist and thighs. My neck is the next to be hooked and then all at once jerked down.
Open my eyes for just a sec to see a flash and bolt of lighting now shattering and spreading out into a complicated network of electrified veins.

Before my escape into the ocean, however, i was held captive with the rest of them. The life drained, no souled wretched walled-in aboard the floating city. The floating city, is made almost entirely of thick rough metal bolted together in long large sheets and beams, how it even floats is beyond my comprehension. How big it really is I do not know I’ve tried to walk its total expanse but as far as i had ever got was the citadel, and that was starting at wake time till curfew; when i was found out and placed in holding for two weeks. Neither do I know how many wretcheds in number there is inhabiting this place, and that’s not counting the enforcers or the so called “advocates.” I do know however the general layout of the entire enormous structure. The top view design being that of a dart board, concentric circles with the smallest in the middle being the citadel. A city within a city, the citadel is where The Ones live, our, basically, owners, but who would like us to refer to as our “benefactors.” Those who reap the benefits of our labor and lifetime confinement to the processing plant of their holding. We are nothing more than batteries to their machine. Test animals. Robots. Owned junk people. And so on. They leave the city as well, are able to fly away on their flying boats to the real dirt island we wretcheds are not supposed to know about.
I found out about it one day while a companion I had been scheduled with, for a job, told me of his discovery.

It was last week, day B.

We both hold the elderly woman down to either side of the bed in order to trigger the clasp sensors. I made sure to hold the hand i had over the red dot just as I had been trained. The clasp contracted snug around her wrist and she moaned distantly in a suppressed pain. She had a heavy dose of tranquilizer in her i had injected into her when Hans, my companion for this job, had visited here cube earlier in the day. We invited ourselves in and found her placidly sitting blankly in front of the vid screen, a woman of about 60, thin in her grey jumpsuit. She must’ve finished being briefed just as we rounded the corner to her vid room. We wear orange jumpsuits for these jobs, and be sure she knew what was coming next from years of experience she tilted her head and brushed her aside in order to expose her neck.
I pushed the tranqgun firmly to her and pressed the release. As expected the shink sound of the retracting pressurized needle punctured her and injected the special tranq formula. It caused her body to immediately go limp as we both sprang to catch and guide her to a resting position on the couch. I made especially sure to wipe the nozzle of the gun with a cloth i then threw away in the vacuum receptacle all cubes have, as the solution is very strong and can be absorbed though the skin effecting the nervous system. The way it works is to paralyze her body, but numb her senses, or effect her mind in any way, so she remains fully cognizant.
I snap the tranqgun into the utility belt around my waist and rejoin my weekly companion with the day’s subject.
“How about you get the legs and I’ll get the arms,” he says.
“Sounds fine,” I reply as I maneuver into place.
“And lift,” he says as it is clear we both have a firm grasp, and we lift.
Trotting the body through the cube, through the kitchen over its linoleum floor, the automatic door sucks up into the ceiling and out it we go. Down to the curb where our carrier vehicle awaits, the back door already opened. The vehicle looks like a lower-to-the-ground version of what would be called a “street cleaner” in the old world, what you would read under “history of the world: before the beaconing” section on the vid screen’s info network.
We harness this woman, subject 405B-8, onto the bed in back. Next the door os shut, triggering the kaleidoscope light show that is projected onto the ceiling for the subject, in order to condition the mind.
We slip into the front, he will dive.
“So Biff,” he begins, turning the key switch on the dash, which kicks alive the diesel engine.
“Uh, it’s Cliff, actually.” I reply, as we pull out- the vehicle, it has one swivel wheel in the front, two in back.
“Oh right, ‘Biff’ was my companion last week.”
“And you’re Hans if I’m not mistaken.”
“Last week I was with Franz.”
“Funny how they split us up by name that way, always coupling us with the same group of rhyming names.”
“Yeah, personality types all categorized by similar names– ‘still haven’t figured out how they test our personalities and decide which other group is most conducive to our own.”
Hans drives down residential corridor 408 en route to the processing plant in the next circle, beyond the dividing wall.
We talk about personality type groups ending in ‘iffs and ‘ans and how its odd that we’re never permitted to meet members or own group, or know that we have. Its a conversation we’ve both had countless times before.
As we descend into a transitional tunnel into the next circle we begin conversing about the sports ball game that was on the night before. As is expected he rooted for team X as all personality types ending in ‘ans do, just as my group roots for team Y. The highlight, of course, was when an automaton from the X team had been sacked by a Y team automaton, who stole away the ball and started for the goal. That is, when, just as he started away, the fallen X member hatched a rotary saw out of an aperture in its right palm an cut he Y members foot of at the ankle; thereby recovering the ball. We both howled with laughter as we rolled into the plants under parking garage.
A booth jockey, no doubt a ‘att personality type checked our forearm chips by scanning them with a wand before waiving us ahead. Parking the carrier- already a lift was waiting, with a gurney.
The light show flickered rapidly as the back door lifted. There was fog in the air as well the lasers and lights projected onto for a desired disorienting affect for the subject.
We are not to talk to her, as per our training, and are to halt all conversation around her as well.
Rumor of a companion team talking about sports ball around one male subject reportedly took the bloke out of his trans before processing, and thus the probe couldn’t probe that deep, recovering little.
The handling process is to be done with care, prepping for processing to ensure best results. Full recovery of the planted experiences the Programmers went to such great lengths to implant. One day I too will become a subject, as will all Wretcheds.
Secured to the gurney, we wheel her onto the lift and Hans punches the only button on a panel to the right of the door. The door is sucked down and slowly at first, and then exponentially the entire lift is carried up rapidly. I feel only a slight pressure weighing down my entire frame until a its a whirring, winding down sound followed by a ding, and the door is sucked back up.
Off down the hall, Hans pushing the gurney behind me as i take out the chip. A recording device affixed to the collar of my jumpsuit, combined with a ceiling camera in the back of the carrier records the whole trip. Starting with my and my companions meeting, on through the pick up, drive to the plant and finally onto the processing gate; the subject’s final destination. The gate is where we are now, as i dig the small chip that has downloaded the entire journey into one vid chunk from the infra info network.
Wheeled down the hallway past rooms along the way, until we get to 4B.  I press the open button and the doors swing inward as Hans pushes the gurney into the room.
Inside there is a bed in the center, surrounded by all manner of gadgetry, including the probing machine mounted to the ceiling above.  The telescopic probing node at the end of a the long device is a shiny orb.
Our instructions are explicit, and we execute them deftly, as we have many times before.
The body is placed on the bed, the back rest of the bed is to be raised upward on a 33 degree angle. She is strapped down, not intending to restrain her incase she attempt to flight, but incase there are vibrations within the buildings structure that vibrates her body to the edge and possible spill.

Then the routine process of data entry and initiating the Process begins.  We both enter equal halves to the entire amount of information about the subject we had been given during our short briefing. All we enter is already known, it is a mere formality at this point, and to give more busy work to us processors.
At this point the machines whirr, jostle and elaborately yet delicately glide into action. Taking vitals of the subject, blood pressure, stress levels, pulse etc.
Then it begins, a fog machine spirts out smoke into the room, and lasers flicker on to shine their straight green, red and blue lines onto the fog.  The probing machine extends *SHUNK* and then again another length *SHUNK* again, and again, until the probing orb is pressed to the processes forehead.
And then, at this point, Hans and I are out the side door.
Walk down the deserted cement service hall a way, then to a side door, onto a fire escape.
Hans removes a pack of smokes from his inside breast pocket and offers me one.
I take one.
I squint into the sun, now lower than earlier, blaring directly into my eyes- my forehead is heated to perspiration.
“Catch the pron last night?”  Hans asks. This is the part in the day when myself and my companion, a ‘ans asks about the pron from the night before. There is scheduled pron, or, more accurately: pornography, for us in our cubes we play on our vid screens.  To make it feel illicit, and to arise a feeling of forbiddance to the whole experience, its considered illegal to view.   Even before the vids begin we are treated to static on the screen as if it were coming in through antennae via radio signal.  However, it’s a prerecorded special effect, as it is the same one every time, and then doesn’t happen again for the duration of the vid.
We all know its condoned, and even encouraged to view the pron, and we all do.  Sex on Rust City, as one finds out soon when arriving here, is not allowed. There are women in the City, but, are kept separate from the men, unless we are talking about the elderly- who cohabitate in the same blocks.  Of course, this is because by this old age the sex act not only is no longer desirable (a certainty reassured through drug conditioning) but pregnancy is less possible.  Unscheduled pregnancy, by the managers never ever happens. This does not erase, however, ones’ biological drive to copulate with the fairer sex. And, any man knows, after so long without a female touch ones’ taste seek ever increasingly visual stimulation to curb the cravings.
The programmers for the pron are sophisticated psychologists who are aware of this. And so the Pron is always novel, and goes farther, harder, and more extreme than even most of the Wretched men can imagine.
There are certain personality subsets who tend toward their own sex group, and, this is allowed—such is the same with women on the other side of the City. In fact, I hear that most of the females go for each other, but, again, this might be a sex-starved over-worked imagination at work.

“Sure did catch the pron last night, I didn’t know they manufactured furniture like that.”
Hans, paused, and looked around, beads of sweat sitting on his brow.  This isn’t usual, I thought for a second, and realized he was nervous.  He was looking for something, inspecting the fire escape stairs, and the metal building-which was flat pressed with only bolts showing here and there.
Straight down to the street was 80 feet of sheer drop, and only the zig zag of the stairs leading down.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.  Han’s looks at me.
“I don’t want to be recorded saying this, you know how they randomly place mics—“
“Yeah, we’re supposed to just ignore them.” My pulse quickens.

“I want to tell you something.”
“What?” I implore.
“Last week, I was scheduled with an ‘iff down in the sewage ducts, to sand build-up off the older parts of the shit system.”
“Yeah,” I said.  This sort of scheduled work is pretty normal, not pleasant, and occurs regularly maybe three times a month.
“Yeah, well. There was an emergency area I heard about, and it was close by to the section where I was.  72XR, the section was 73XR, so while my ‘iff companion was sanding away; I decide to go take a piss in this area.  I found a hole.”
“A what?”
“A hole, a breech in the hull of the city’s shit system.”
“Oh, huh.  Interesting. What did you see outside? An expanse of never-ending ocean? Ha!”

Han’s looked earnestly at me, glowering under a glistening brow. His arm wresting on his bent knew, his hand holding a cigarette mostly dangling ash at this point.
“What did you see?”
“We’re about a mile away from an island.”
I look, straight at a large omnipresent wall, towering over us, as if I didn’t expect it to be there. The sun now, shows only half, peaking up over the side of it.
“A mile away?”
“A mile away.”

He drops his cigarette to the floor- I look at mine, it has burned completely through as well. I drop mine as well, flickers off of a mesh floor, and then down down down.
“I can swim a mile,” I let mindlessly drop out of my mouth.
“We should get back, the processing is probably just about done,” Hans grabs railing on either side and pulls himself up.

End of Part 1

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