Cliff Wretched’s Escape: Part 2

clifwretchpart2
(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.

 

THE END OF PART 2

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Cliff Wretched’s Escape : Part 1

CLIFFWESCAPE

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.”
“Yessir.”
“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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