02 Sep Synthetic Skies
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"Synthetic Skies"Written by
Estimated reading time — 23 minutes
[PLAYING RECORDING 053]
We’ve lived in a mountain for… I don’t care anymore. Years I guess. It’s not like there was a nuclear war or ozone collapse or whatever crap people used to write stories about. No fallout, no radiation. Just blood… so much blood.
There are 389 of us. There were, at least. The first time it happened it was…
Damn it! Damn those things and damn this god forsaken mountain! How could I have been so blind!
I’m- I’m sorry. It’s just… I can’t do this anymore. The only reason we didn’t think it was anything more than a freak accident was because deep down we didn’t want it to be any other way. We didn’t want to believe we were in so much danger and maybe it’s for the best. Maybe the ones who are gone… it could have been quick. I mean… oh god. They’re all dead. They’re really all dead.
I’ve got to… I’ve got to keep this together. I’m just as dead as they are. There’s no way I’m going to survive so for all intents and purposes I’m a ghost with an extra chance to record his last words. I can leave this to warn any poor soul who may come across this in the future. I’m losing blood. Fast. I don’t have time to whine about this. You need to know.
My name is Morgan. Morgan Elliot. I came to this mountain when I was six. You know looking back, I’ve realized what happened. The people who raised us from our teachers to our own parents withheld so much and we never questioned it. We never thought about just how little we knew. They never told us what happened outside the mountain. All that they said was that there was fire and blood. They said that we should never be subjected to the outside world, that simply knowing what was out there would be half the pain of having lived through the event itself. It was this mysterious and almost taboo-like event that drove us “indoors” as we call it nowadays.
“Indoors.” That’s so funny now. So funny now that I know what the “outdoors” really is. It’s a euphemism. A euphemism made for a bunch of frightened kids in a big scary concrete building with no windows and six doors layered over each other made of only the heaviest and strongest materials. It was a euphemism for being so utterly undeniably screwed that they had to burrow into a giant rock, barricade the hole, and try to wait out eternity! That’s what this is. It’s just a giant rock. And under the rock there are cockroaches. Thousands of them. There didn’t used to be, though.
Everyday was pretty much the same, looking back. It was a perfect 70 degrees, perfect weather, perfect humidity, and a synthetic bright blue sky with synthetic sunlight timed just right to simulate a day-night cycle. It was like that every day since I was six. Everything – everything – in this building is just so fake. So utterly fake. It wasn’t how it looked, but how it felt. Everybody knew this. The administrator tasked the engineers with making things seem more natural. They were just as disturbed by their environment as everybody else. They started without hesitation. They made simulated weather, simulated animal sounds; they grew an orchard and gave it park benches and a fountain. They did everything they could to make it more natural. All it did was remind us about how unnatural it really was. It was like going to a museum with cute dioramas of how amazing the outside world must have been without any real evidence backing it up. They were the embodiment of false hope. False hope was an abundant and sought after resource in the mountain, but we didn’t want it shoved in our faces. The trick to false hope isn’t about being misinformed or even about whether or not you know it’s false, it’s about making sure not to remind yourself that it’s false.
So they went back to normal. Removed the animal sounds, the weather. All that’s left is the orchard. Even that hasn’t been touched in years. The grass is almost a foot high, the single tree has surrendered to a gnarled and stripped appearance. The power to it was shut off except for a small bit of synthetic sunlight. That and the underground water spring that cycles through the filter automatically and gives us our clean water is keeping them on life support whether they like it or not. I think the plants would rather be dead right now.
The day the first death happened was, like all the other days, a default standard issue “nice weather we’re having” kind of day. Yet it was somehow different. People were lining up at a door with gifts. None of us have many material possessions, so a gift is more symbolic than anything. It’s just a cardboard box with some wrapping paper. Usually just drawn on. They became more of a sign of comfort or gratitude. These were for comfort. Maybe pity too. The door opened and somebody peeked outside. They’d been crying. A lot. I watched as the people with presents tried to give them to her. They talked for a minute. I didn’t know what it was about. It ended with some unintelligible word being yelled and the door slamming. The people with gifts stood there for a bit, unsure of what to do or say. Nobody had ever died of anything but old age or age-related medical complications since we got here. Nobody knew how to cope with something so morbid. Let alone how to help others to do so.
The gift carriers dispersed, some taking the gifts back, others leaving them at the doorstep. One of them looked at me and came over. It was a friend of mine. His name was Lawrence. With so few people and in such a small space everybody’s usually friends with each other, so the fact that I was friends with Lawrence didn’t entail much more than the fact that I was friends with pretty much everybody of my generation. God, Lawrence what happened to you? Why were you so weak?
“Hey, Morgan,” Lawrence said.
“Hey,” I responded blankly.
“That was depressing,” Lawrence started to say, “Judas’ family doesn’t even know what to do.”
Judas was a coworker of mine, but I didn’t know him incredibly well. We had started to get to know each other when we first entered our job as Integrity Officers together. We would talk sometimes during lunch break or in between our roles. He took care of the military wing while I took care of the scientific wing. Our roles had a lot of effect on us, too. He became very familiar with guns and military gear. I always laughed at Judas, saying that gun knowledge was obsolete. Nobody broke the law anymore and if whatever’s outside came in then guns wouldn’t be all too useful, now would they? Once as a rebuttal he poked fun at me for reading so much about places no human will ever see again or foods no human will ever eat again.
After that conversation we kind of just stop talking for the day. Nobody wants to think about what we’re all missing out on. All we once were. He was right, why would I do that to myself? Why would I tantalize my fantasies with false hope? We lost our sky, and now we have to settle for a false sky. Maybe it’s the same with hope. We’ve lost all hope, and now all we have to live for is false hope. After that our work grew more separate. That said, that was about the only memorable conversation I ever had with him. I never really got to know him as much more than a source of occasional smalltalk.
A few days ago he was found slumped over a munitions crate in the armory. There was so much blood. Like we’d been told was outside of the mountain. He was just so dead. I won’t describe it but he was so so dead. He was destroyed. Unrecognizable. It was the most disturbing thing I had ever seen in my life. In fact it was the most disturbing sight anybody had seen with the exception of the last generation. The generation that had to see whatever it was that drove us indoors.
“It was brutal,” I said, “nobody should have to go like that.”
“I know,” Lawrence said faintly, both his memory and gag reflex beginning to remember the sight. He had vomited as soon as he saw it. It was just a picture and he saw it by accident in the crusty and rarely used investigations department.
I don’t want to get graphic, but it was really bad. Poor Lawrence was retching so hard his eyes welled up with tears from the pain. He wouldn’t admit it, but he was audibly sobbing in the bathroom after I left, doubled over and resting against the cold side of a toilet bowl, his neckline covered in his own vomit. He must have felt like he was going insane. There was just something so alarming about seeing such a violent scene after living a lifetime without incident.
Nobody knew what to do, so we convinced ourselves it was over. The investigations department declared it a freak accident relating to a grenade despite the fact that there were no signs of even a firecracker let alone an explosion in the room, all grenades were accounted for the day after the incident, and Judas… well… he didn’t look like he was killed by a grenade that’s for sure. That’s right, a department made up of people who hadn’t had to so much as come to the office let alone do their job in almost a decade had decided that somebody’s stomach having burst from his body was an accident. Nice detective work, Sherlock.
I didn’t want Lawrence to have to think about that experience so I changed the subject. “How’s work?”
Lawrence sighed a little. Did I mention Lawrence was a soldier? How ironic. For all we know this is the kind of thing they were supposed to be prepared for. I don’t know what it was like before the mountain, but in here soldiers are supposed to be fearless. They’re the guys who are supposed to protect this mountain from whatever’s outside, no matter how ungodly and awful it is. And here’s Lawrence, living proof that there is no way to prepare for whatever’s outside. Not when we’re this ill equipped to do anything.
“It’s okay,” he said. “Training for something that may or may not ever happen.”
“You enjoy it, though, right?” I asked.
He took a second before answering. “I get the exercise I need, three meals a day, top level health care. Doesn’t matter though. I joined because I wanted to keep the last safe place on Earth safe. But it’s never been safe, has it?”
“That’s why we need you so badly,” I said. Lawrence got to spew BS about him being some altruistic guardian, I got to spew BS about us needing him.
The next day I woke up really sick. My intestines were screaming at me. I tried eating but I couldn’t stomach it. So I decided to take a sick day. Sick days are way more tolerable when you have such a small job in such a small place. I walked around my quarters for a while. Every hour or so I would have to take a trip to the bathroom. I felt like my digestive system was just melting away. Like Judas… I thought offhandedly before realizing how terrible of a comparison that was. This couldn’t be anything like what happened to Judas, that’s ridiculous. I’d felt worse, after all. I think.
I decided to try watching TV. All of the things on it are reruns of the same two-year television program over and over, so not many people watched it since they’d likely seen everything twice or more as a kid. I switched to cartoons out of nostalgia. Living in a pineapple under the sea actually doesn’t sound that bad right now. As I sat there I began to feel more and more sick. The inside of my throat was dry and filled with mucus. The talking cheese or whatever he is made a good distraction, though. I laughed hysterically at it. I didn’t find it all that funny, it was just nice to see a character, fictional or not, who was so happy with his life. It made me a bit jealous. The clock ticked slower and slower until I collapsed into the couch and fell asleep to the sound of fry cooking, bubbles, and an incredibly annoying laugh that somehow managed to light up my dying world with its carefree blissfulness.
I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night. Everything was dark except for my TV. It was playing a different show now. Some kind of sadistic comedy show I loved as a tween hosted by this funny guy – Bergeron I think – about people getting kicked in the crotch and stuff. I sat up and looked around. I heard a faint humming. Then I saw a warm glow coming from the kitchen. It was my microwave. I quietly got up from the couch and creeped over to the kitchen to see if anybody was there. Nobody. It was completely silent. I was about to go over and see what it was when I stepped on something pointy that broke my skin a little. I looked down, my foot in pain, and saw all my silverware had been taken out of my dishwasher. In fact my entire counter had been torn out by something and left on the floor as rubble. What did I sleep through? I looked up again and all of a sudden I saw what was inside. Most of my silverware, a good pound of metal objects, had been crammed into my microwave.
I vaulted away from it, opened my door, and ran down the hallway as fast as I could. When I knew it was about to happen I got on the ground and covered the back of my neck just in time to hear the explosion erupt through the doorway of my quarters, ripping through the walls around it and sending chunks of granite mixed with plaster, wallpaper, carpet, hardwood, the various elements that made that room my house, out into the hallway and against the adjacent wall. The room blazed with the light of the fire and began to turn blood red from the light of the alarms. I blacked out.
I woke up again. I was lying where I had fallen. I could feel dried blood stick to my forehead in a trickling pattern. There was an alarm blaring. The one that had blared throughout my dreamless unconsciousness all last night. I must have been unconscious for a while because the synthetic sky was set to about midday. There was rubble everywhere and some of the fire was still burning. I was about to slip back into blood-deprived unconsciousness when two gloved hands firmly went under my arms and pulled me up. It was a soldier. I’d seen him before somewhere. Probably passing through the hallway on my way to work or something. He looked like he was in his late twenties. He was very dark skinned with piercing blue eyes that resided behind the dark lenses on his gas mask.
“We need to go!” he yelled. He was armed. Standard issue suppressed P90 submachine gun with a green laser pointer and holographic sight. Just like the one sitting next to me right now. Who knows, it could even be the same gun. The ID number is covered in blood, but I’ve been around too much blood today, human or otherwise, and I’m not touching it yet again just to see a stupid number. I gestured at the weapon questioningly, but he ignored me. “Come on, we have to go now!”
I was still in a haze from the explosion. My words slurred together a little. “Where… what are we… what happened?”
“We don’t have time, we’ll explain later!” the soldier said, “Just follow us!”
I followed him and the other soldiers alongside a group of other civilians. I had no idea what was going on. On the way we picked up other frightened civilians. We all started to run a little. Everything was incredibly confusing. I even started seeing other areas that seemed to have exploded similarly to my quarters. I heard the soldiers yelling at each other about the “scream protocol” and a security breach. What even was the scream protocol? I’d never even heard of anything like it before.
Finally we made it to a giant metal door. One of the soldiers swiped a key card. The soldiers looked anxiously and impatiently at the door as it went through a long unlocking process. It slowly opened, revealing itself to be somewhere around ten feet thick with electromagnetic locking devices on the inside. I could feel it in my fillings a little. We continued inside and they securely shut the door behind us.
Everybody was panicking. Other civilians entered alongside soldiers. Soon the administrator and council all entered. In only a matter of hours all 378 of us had been taken from our various areas to this place. They did a head count to make sure, too. People still didn’t stop panicking until the administrator spoke up. He was a tall man with short silver hair and a goatee accompanied by a nearly matching white suit and tie. He was a calming figure. In fact that was probably why he was made administrator. We needed calm. We needed peace. Even if that calm had no previous qualifications to become a politician.
“I know you’re all scared. Quite frankly I don’t blame you,” he began, “and the last thing I’d want to do is make it worse. I know this but I also know that I can’t keep the truth from you. You all deserve to know.”
Everybody was quiet.
“The mountain has been breached. We know what did it and we’re sure you know too. The last time we ran into them not all of us were strong enough to handle it. This place – this small section – this is our last stand. We either live screaming or die screaming.” He cringed as though he were bracing himself to get hit or something. Nothing. There was no outcry. There was nothing. Even false hope had abandoned us.
We stayed there for ten days. Hardly a single thing happened worth talking about for those first ten days. People sat around, frightened and depressed with an occasional crying fit or breakdown. There was a massive food and medical supply in this panic section of sorts, but nothing more. I’d actually been taken elsewhere. Everybody relating to the government, a total of about 60 counting the soldiers, had been called to join the administrator in a reserved panic room. Being an integrity officer meant I was an infrastructure official. This meant that my job was related to the government, so I was brought in. We weren’t sure why he’d had us all stay there, but it was obvious that he was very afraid. In fact it worried me just how afraid he was.
We all were, of course, but he seemed… apprehensive… he knew what was going to happen. Only knowledge can make somebody that afraid, so one day I confronted him about it. I walked into the contingency office. I was scared. I was angry. I needed to know. I got really mad at the man, and looking back, I feel so bad for it. He was such a good person in such a hard time. “What’s really going on?”
“We’ve told you all we know, Mr. Elliot,” he said, “please don’t look for somebody to blame for this. We’re withholding the identity of the people who were responsible for guarding the entrances the night before the breach. It probably wasn’t any of their faults anyway.”
“Don’t play dumb with me! You know exactly what I mean! What’s been going on? What happened outside? Why has an entire generation of people lived their lives inside of a rock?” I was getting extremely angry and my voice was displaying it very well. I realized this abruptly, preparing to be dismissed or kicked out or something.
“Elliot,” the administrator started to reply with unforeseen calm. He pursed his lips trying to think of what to say next. “Elliot we refused to tell this generation what was outside because…” he trailed off for a bit. “Half of the fear – half of the danger – is simply knowing that what’s out there in our once secure hallways even exists. Fear is one of its biggest weapons. So many of us broke. So many went absolutely insane.” His expression grew more upset and his voice began to croak slightly. “We had to leave them, you know. 704 people. All left to die a horrible death. Without even the comfort of a sane mind.”
I was speechless. This isn’t something that I or anybody I knew had ever been told about. “704 people?” I asked incredulously.
“Yes. I counted myself. There was nothing we could do. There was only room for 400 people in this base and 704 were too insane to even speak intelligibly anymore let alone make it safely into the entrance. It was a hard decision and an easy one. Leave the insane behind, they’re already doomed. That doesn’t make it any easier, though. I still had to give the order. Choosing it was easy, but carrying out was so much. You see, some people can’t take what’s outside. Even if you can, there’s no surviving it. It was undoubtedly the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make, but it looks like that’s not the last one.”
I didn’t care anymore. If I was going to die I’d rather die knowing what was killing me than die at the hands of something I didn’t understand.
“Administrator,” I said, struggling to remain calm, “What did we keep locked out for so many years? What got inside this building?”
There was a long silence. The administrator was holding back tears. Tears! He was likely the most emotionally strong human alive in this base right now. He’d endured so many things with so little experience beforehand. That’s how he gained his experience in the first place.
“Not what,” the administrator finally said, “who.”
At that moment the power went off. It was dark. The synthetic sky flickered and deactivated. I heard people murmuring in the large part of the panic room, the place where almost 328 people were supposed to be safe. The murmur evolved into frantic whispering, which soon exploded into screams. Amongst the pitch-blackness I could see the green glow of the soldiers’ night vision goggles as they made their way to the door. They were about to run out there when all of a sudden the screaming stopped. It was silent. I heard something slowly slide across strong metal. The electric charge to the iron filling in the door had ceased and the electromagnet deactivated. The door was not only unlocked, but something… no… someone… was opening it.
The green discs from the soldiers’ goggles hovered mid air. They looked at each other confused. So quiet. So so quiet. The sound of footsteps grew audible amidst the silence. Strange inhuman footsteps like a bird’s talons uneasily caressing the floor like a blade gently pressed against skin.
A sharp, unfitting sound materialized. It took a moment for me to understand what I was hearing. After a few seconds my brain accepted what my ears were telling it. Somebody laughing. It started out normal. Just a random person laughing. But it was so strange. Why? Why would you laugh? It started to change. It became hysterical, mad even. I heard people begin to whimper in fear. Another laugh came from the dark room. And then another. All sounds of fear – of humanity – were drowned out by the insane mass of primal madness. The laughter multiplied until we could hear the disturbing sound of all 328 people laughing. It was loud. People in the government panic room were terrified. I even heard somebody sobbing in terror. Somebody in the corner cried out. “Stop it! Make them stop laughing please! Just make it stop!”
Finally one of the soldiers closed the door without command. It was a selfish manifestation of basic survival instinct but one that prolonged all our lives by a few days. As the door closed one of the soldiers fell to the ground. There was a disturbing screech. It was too primal to be human and too maddeningly angry to be an animal. No… not angry. Animals can be angry just like humans. It was hate. So much hate. Hate so strong that something as unbiased and indiscriminate as an animal could never hope to understand let alone emulate. Something that was so uniquely human and yet delivered in such an inhuman screech. A soldier screamed in pain. Vicious snarling and the sound of snapping bone emanated from that area.
“Get it off of me! Please god, get it off! Please! Please!”
The room flickered between blinding brightness and blinding darkness as the soldiers’ muzzle flashes lit up the room. I caught a glimpse of some… shape… clawing at the soldier on the ground. When the gunshots stopped the sky turned back on. The door was closed, its magnetic lock active once again. The laughing had resigned to silence after the door was closed. The entity, whatever it was, was nowhere to be seen. The unlucky soldier lay on the floor. The bullets fired by his comrades had gone through whatever was attacking him and struck him repeatedly. People screamed at the sight, but I was worried about something else. Where was the entity hiding?
My thoughts were answered almost immediately. The entity fell from the ceiling and landed on me. I looked into its eyes, and whatever hate I could hear in its screech I could see multiplied by a hundred in its eyes. Like its screech, its eyes were too animal to be human, and too human to be animal. It’s mouth was that of a human skull with teeth dripping with a clear substance. Its skin was black and hugged its face in the cheek and eye socket areas. It was a twisted ungodly form, mocking the human face as though some sort of sick caricature. It’s jaw opened like a snake’s until its chin touched the base of its neck. From inside its mouth came an array of mandibles and feelers. Some sort of substance drooled from its moldy broken teeth onto my shoulder. The soldiers immediately started shooting at it. Unlike the last soldier, they shot it accurately from the side despite their panic, and so I didn’t get turned into bullet-induced swiss cheese. I was unhurt for the most part, but my shoulder was ablaze with pain. I removed my shirt and tried to get the substance it had drooled off of me. Whatever it was, it was burning into my skin like acid. I could see a light rash form. When I finally got it off my skin in that area was raw and thin. We looked around and the entity was nowhere to be seen.
For the next three days we were uneasy. Only around 60 of us were left in this tiny room the size of a slightly large house. People were so quiet. It was worse than during the first ten days. Once in a while people would get in fights with each other for no apparent reason and the soldiers would have to break it up. The soldiers started to lose it too, though. At one point one of them pistol-whipped somebody unconscious without showing any signs of being provoked and the others had to restrain him. Nobody ate. Nobody spoke. Nobody slept. Nobody was safe. Not anymore.
I didn’t notice it at first, but my condition was getting worse. Ever since I was attacked it seemed to amplify. My sickness I was feeling on the day before all of this was getting more and more intense until one day the pain was unbearable. I felt it in my stomach. It felt like it was going to explode. Just like Judas. Oh god please. Please god protect me. Please god don’t let me end up like Judas. Please god kill me before that can happen. Please god, please. I went to the restroom again. I was going more frequently. The doctors didn’t have any of their equipment so they couldn’t help me. Not that it would matter much. So I sat down. I could feel something inside my abdomen.
Something… peeked out. Oh no. No. No please no. It was the most disgusting thing I’d ever felt. It was graphically disgusting. If I went into just how unpleasant this next experience was, you wouldn’t be able to listen any further. That said I have to tell you somehow. There’s no way that what happened isn’t related somehow to that… thing… or one of them at least, which means it could happen to you too. Maybe it already has. But I need to talk about it. It’s awful, it’s disgusting, it’s inhuman, it’s unnatural, but I need to talk about it because I can’t let it have happened and then go untold of. Somebody needs to know. I didn’t try as hard as I could to survive it just so that nobody could ever know about it. It’s awful and unspeakable but I have to say it. Whether you choose to listen or not.
I could feel it squirming. Immediately I was pretty sure I knew what I had to do. Against my mind’s fervent protesting, I grabbed it and tried to pull it out. It moved. This was wrong. This was so wrong. Please let this be over. I prayed. I prayed so much. I didn’t know who I was praying to but I prayed that whoever it was would kill me so I wouldn’t have to endure this any longer. As I pulled I screamed in pain and disgust. I had to keep going, though. Whatever this was it needed to get it out of me. I continued pulling. I could feel it struggling to escape my grip but I wrapped it around my hand and wrist like one would a rope or leash. I could feel a pinch somewhere deep inside roughly two inches above my navel. There was no way it was that far in. I kept pulling. I was in so much pain. The most pain I’ve ever been in my whole life and the most I will probably ever feel. I continued to pull. Sheer will to live is what kept me holding on. I knew I needed to get it out, but the disgust and the pain were powerful. One foot. Two feet. I continued to pull it. Three feet. Four feet. It felt connected like some kind of root in the ground. Five feet. Six feet. How long was it? Seven feet. Eight feet. I screamed the loudest I’d ever screamed before in my life. Nine feet. Ten feet. It felt like I was trying to pull my own intestines out. Eleven feet. Twelve feet. SNAP! The thing came out with a sickening tearing sound like fabric being pulled apart by a grinder.
I held it at arms length. I wanted to toss it as far away from me as possible. I wanted to burn it, to kill it. Maybe if I killed it enough I could erase it from having ever happened. I wanted to but I couldn’t move. It squirmed around, constricting my arm a little and trying to snap at me with its faceless alien head. My level of fear surpassed any level I’d ever experienced and paralyzed me. I was physically incapable of moving no matter how much I wanted to.
My mind raced. I began to put together what was going on. Judas must have had one of these. It must have gotten to him somehow and exited through his abdomen. It must have had to do with those… things getting into here.
My thoughts were interrupted when a doctor walked in, presumably to check on me. She froze. I could hardly even speak. Neither could she.
“Help me… please…”
Then they locked me inside. Fear makes you do awful things. Those bastards locked me in with the worm that just came out of me. They said they were going to come back but they never did. I waited there, standing still. I felt the worm die around my arm. It wasn’t until a good twenty minutes after the worm died that I built up the willpower to move. I’d been standing still for almost an hour. I threw the worm into the toilet and flushed. I had no idea what that would do but I didn’t care anymore.
I sat curled up in the corner for what must have been a few days. My mind tuned out of the sound outside. I recall hearing commotion for a few days at times involving the familiar screech of the entity, then absolute silence for days. I finished the water bottle I’d had with me and I knew I was going to start dying of thirst. In fact I was surprised I hadn’t already died of sleep deprivation. My thoughts were interrupted when somebody opened the door. He looked surprised to see me. And that got me so, so mad.
“Why? Why did you do this? Why would you leave me here?”
The man was silent.
I pushed past him and went to the main atrium. When I’d gone into the bathroom there were the expected 60 people. I looked around. There could have only been 10 at most.
“What happened here?”
Lawrence saw me. He got up and walked over to me, a grim expression on his face.
“Morgan you have to understand…”
“Where’s the administrator?”
“What did you do?”
“We were dying Morgan!”
“And so was I but you didn’t seem to care about that!”
“Morgan we were starving! The entity… it killed most of us! Sometimes it would leave one of the bodies behind and…”
“You… did you… oh no… you didn’t… you didn’t… Lawrence you didn’t…”
“I’m sorry Morgan. We had to survive…”
“Survive? You idiots still think you’re going to survive this? We’re already dead! All of us! And you had a choice! You could suck it up and die like a human being or die without any of your humanity left!”
“Shut up! Shut the hell up! You monsters! That’s why you sent a guy to open my door, right? You wanted to eat my dead body? You monster! You’re no better than those… things that are doing this to us.”
Lawrence lost it entirely. He knew what he’d done the whole time and he finally couldn’t justify it any more. He crumpled to the ground and wept. He sobbed. He went on until it died down to a whimper. I glared down. I was taking it better than him. He was so weak. And they gave him the gun! He was the soldier here, not me! I resisted the urge to kick him in the stomach repeatedly and looked up from him.
All I saw was a brief glimpse of what I can only describe as the devil himself. It was a tall monster rippling with muscles wrapped around thick bones. Its black skin was leathery and thick. It was tightly wrapped against its form. Its cervine face was little more than a skull with long and gnarly teeth covered in bits of meat and stained with blood. This wasn’t the same creature as the entity. It appeared to be another iteration of it. A similar creature made out of the same materials but a different one nonetheless. Its eyes were just the same as the entities, though. Angry. Maddeningly so. I got only a second or two to see it.
Then I blacked out.
I woke up. I wasn’t in the panic room anymore. I was in a giant garage-like room lit by a single flickering light. Bodies were hanging from rope-like structures made out of some black and red substance. I myself was on the ground alongside a few skeletons surrounded by vegetation from the outside world and pools of thick purple liquid. It smelled awful. Worse than rotting flesh.
A light appeared. It grew into a square, then a tall rectangle, getting taller and taller. My eyes readjusted to see that it was a garage-like door opening. I caught my first glimpse of the outside world. And I wish I could take it back.
If you’re reading this you know exactly what I saw all too well. And I won’t molest my final moments with having to describe the monstrous place I expected to see Earth in the place of. Nothing is evil enough to warp Earth into this… place. Wherever we are it’s far away from our real home. Wherever we are it’s not Earth. I think we’re in hell. I don’t know what we did but I think this really is hell. In fact it would comfort me to think that this is hell, that this kind of place can’t exist terrestrially. It would comfort me to know that it can’t get any worse than this, because this is pretty damn bad.
By the time my eyes adjusted, a group of entities like the one that had attacked me poured in. I found one of the soldier’s P90s on the ground. I waved it at them, but they weren’t afraid. They didn’t even flinch when I aimed at them. One leapt at me. I grabbed it by the shoulder and shoved the barrel into its face, unloading the entire 32-round magazine into it until I was dry firing, an anguished expression on my face. More came in. I was out of ammo and all I could do was run.
I still don’t know very well what they look like, just their terrible inhuman faces and their horrible inhuman silhouettes. One must have punched a hole in my side. A big one. About the size of a quarter, actually. It doesn’t hurt too much but I’m bleeding out. All I have with me is a P90 with an empty magazine I unloaded into the entity’s ugly face and this recording device. Take what happened here as a warning and a lesson. Don’t let this happen to you.
Never ever let them get in.
I’m going to turn this thing off while my limbs still work. My skin’s turning white. I’m almost out of blood. If you make it back to Earth, whatever the hell that even is anymore, buy yourself a drink will you? I don’t care what. Anything. You know what, buy me a whole steak dinner. Buy it in my name. I could really use one right now…
[END OF PLAYBACK]
I picked up the recording device. Such a sad story. These mountain bases don’t turn out well when they’re isolated like this. Half the time the people inside still think they’re on Earth. I felt the bloodless body. It was still warm. What if I could have done something? What if I could have saved him? My thoughts were interrupted by a footstep that sounded behind me. Ever so soft. The sound of three long toes ending in claws treading on broken glass and charred rubble. It’s another one. I quietly pumped my SPAS-12 shotgun. All I had left was some birdshot. It would have to do. I wondered when this hell that I had long since taken for granted as reality would finally end.
Maybe it won’t. Maybe this man Morgan was right. Maybe I did something in a previous life and I’m cursed to wander this god forsaken land forever. Or maybe I can escape this world. Whatever this world is. In fact the notion was interesting. I’d always thought of this place as “the world”. It was all I’d ever known to call Earth. But now it dawned on me for the first time that no loving god would ever place people on this world. For the first time I realized something that would change my perspective on the world around me forever.
This is not our world.
Credit To – Pyrous Red