Of Monsters and Madmen
by K. C. Gray
Table of Contents|
Chapters: 1, 2, 3
Chapter Three: Primordial
Soft humming penetrated her ears, her subconscious. Her head lulled, feeling like it weighed a million pounds. Sounds throughout the room — soft murmurs, tapping, static of radios — it all spread out, thick and sticky, creating an amalgamation, a new sound altogether.
Pressure throbbed behind her eyes, feeling like any second they’d pop out of their sockets. What did she do last night? She moaned, the vibrations rolled in her head threatening to quicken her loss of eyes.
A wet cloth plopped onto her neck, sending chills down her spine. She forced her eyes open. Bright white light overwhelmed her senses, changing the pulse to an ache. She shut her eyes, grimacing, waiting for the thumps to subside.
After a moment, she opened her eyes just a bit, hoping to get them use to the light. A dark figure stood in front of her, silhouetted.
“Your head’s going to hurt like hell for a while,” the deep voice said, “but you’ll be okay.”
“Where?” It barely came out a whisper.
“Don’t you worry about that, little miss.”
Another voice, male, spoke. “Ask her if she fucked He.” Several sniggers bounced around the room.
“Watch your mouth around a lady!” the figure in front of her barked.
A multitude of low responses came. “Sorry, General.”
She moved her mouth, attempting to form the words spinning in her dulled mind. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.
“Now, miss,” the General said, “what you did with He while traveling is none of our business. We just want him for a while, to study him, and then you two can be on your way.”
A laugh choked from between her lips. “He’ll kill you all,” she croaked.
“Not without taking you with us, and I doubt he’d want to do that.”
“Why would you do this?”
The General stood with his hands behind his back and chest puffed out. The light no longer bothered her eyes, but he was still cast in shadow. “Several reasons. The main one is for his abilities. If we can create more of him, our country would be the most powerful, the most influential. And then there’s the chance he might side with our enemies, we need to know how he works and how to stop him. And if he decides to go away for another sixty years, we have to take this chance, now.”
She smacked her lips, and then tried to wet them with her tongue.
After a minute, a young boy kneeled by her side, holding up a canteen with a straw sticking out. She drank, gulping the fluid that cooled her throat and body. The boy beside her was too young, dark hair shaved so close it could have been painted on. His emerald eyes hinted at a weak smile.
She pulled away, done with water, now wanting to see if she could get free without He having to come. She shifted in her seat, feeling her arms across the arm rests and the cold metal around her wrist. Yanking, she looked up at General. The handcuffs clanked.
“I know this isn’t ideal,” General said. “You thought you’d travel the world with He, see new things, and have an experience to tell your children. I get it. He’s fascinating and theories abound about his true nature.”
“And truth is known about what he can do,” she responded. “Are you really going to put these young boys’ lives at risk, trying to control someone who’s already shown he can’t be controlled?”
“Don’t you worry about that, miss. We’ve already called him. He’s on his way.”
“He has your phone.”
Again, she struggled against the handcuffs. These crazy assholes had no clue what force they’d awaken in him. All creatures had a strong sense of self-preservation, but the one who could manipulate the world around... wait... his life wasn’t being threatened. Hers was.
“Listen to me, General,” she tried, again. “You’re not going to get the same response you got in Tampa. You’re going to get his wrath!”
He chuckled and walked out of her view. “He can’t do anything to us without doing it to you as well. If he cares enough to come here, then that won’t happen.”
She sat tall, hands balled into fists, and her eyes flitting over the room. In front of her, a yard away, was a large black metal door with a wheel on it, like a bank vault. Nothing else sat in the space between her and the door.
The dark olive floor and walls soaked up the bright lights from the ceiling.
Pushing herself up while gripping the armrest, she peeked over the high back of the chair. The back of the area held a bit more room, being twice as long as the area in front of her. Off to the side, nine soldiers of various ages sat at a table playing cards and chatting amongst themselves. And directly behind her was an operating area. A thin, clear curtain surrounded a bed and several equipment.
The General stood by the operating area with two men and one woman in white lab coats. They nodded while he spoke.
They were delusional if they thought He would just lie down and take it.
She wrapped her hands around the armrests and tried to lift the seat, but it wouldn’t budge... bolted to the floor.
“Relax,” a male soldier said, walking up to her from a table. “You’re not going anywhere, but we won’t keep you. You’re right about one thing... what He wants, He gets.”
“It’s not me I’m worried about.”
“You seen the documentaries?” he asked.
She didn’t answer.
“He can’t focus his power, so if he comes in here trying to tear the place apart, you’ll go, too. And after traveling with him, do you really think he’d do that?”
“There’s more to this man than you know.” When he’d pulled dirt from the wall, the powers had been finely focused. They had no clue who they were dealing with.
“What is He?” The soldier knelt down in front of her. “Did he tell you? I heard he was the first try at life here. But he was too unstable, too unpredictable.”
“No,” a soldier said from the table, “he’s an alien that got stuck here long ago.”
A different soldier walked up to her chair. “Well I heard he made Earth, using his powers to pull everything together.”
“God made everything,” the first soldier said, standing to face the other. “And He ain’t God.”
More soldiers stood from the table, eyes piercing her, looking for answers that even He didn’t know. Even if He had told her, she wouldn’t betray his trust. They had no right to anything: his history, his memories, him.
The General walked into view, arms still firmly behind his back. He didn’t have to say a thing. The soldiers slowly went back to their tables.
“Are you hungry?” The General gestured toward a solder, who stood awaiting her answer.
She shook her head, but looked down at the handcuffs. “I do need to use the restroom.”
He lightly chuckled. “We have a bed pan.”
She furrowed her brows, wanting to lay into him for suggesting she pee in front of a bunch of men.
He must have caught on to her look, and he nodded towards the back. “Dr. Whitmore would be more than happy to help. She’ll make sure you receive privacy. Do you still need to go?”
She shook her head, staring at him through narrowed eyes. Now she hoped He would show up before she actually had to go.
“Shouldn’t be long, now,” General said. “We’re hoping to have you both in and out as quickly as possible.”
“What if he doesn’t care that much about me? What if he comes here pissed and take us all out? All the civilians who have nothing to do with this?”
“We’re underground, in a bunker. Miles and miles away from civilization. He can throw a temper-tantrum all he wants. Then maybe he’ll go back to his mansion and sulk for another sixty years.”
“You stupid, crazy-ass, son-of-a-bitch.”
The room grew quiet, almost deafening if it weren’t for the cracks and pops of metal. The center of the door twisted, rotating clockwise, and folds etched into the surface, making it resemble water flowing down a drain.
She tugged and pulled at her handcuffs, trying her hardest to do what she knew to be impossible. “Get out of here!” she yelled. “Go before it’s too late!” She didn’t want to see them broken down into atoms and scattered into the universe, even though they’d have done it to themselves.
The center of the door groaned and creaked, bending more and more until it imploded. Dried metal crumbled to the ground.
Thudding feet and clicking guns moved behind her. Silence fell once the soldiers found their place.
He ducked down and stepped out wide to cover the bottom of the door. His legs looked longer to her, for some reason, the knees further up than she remembered. Maybe the tranquilizer still pulsed through her system.
As he pulled his other leg through the door, he looked taller and thinner, like a funhouse mirror reflection. He raised his head, glaring at the men behind her, and she gasped. His face looked like melting wax, just under his eyes, under the shadow of his fedora, and the area around his eyes were blackened, like two deep caverns, but gold still sparkled.
“He,” she breathed.
In the time it took for He to turn his head to her, his features snapped back into place. His height and body shape looked normal, again. Relief flushed his face. “Are you okay?”
She nodded, marveling, wondering at how human He looked right then. He’d never shown anything more than fleeting moments of amusement... until last night, when a full smile had graced his face.
“He,” General said from directly behind her chair. “We spoke over the phone. It’s very simple what we want. Give our doctors three days to study you. We’ll take care your little woman, and afterwards, you two can continue the honeymoon.”
She groaned and shook her head. “You’re wasting your time, General. Just let us go.”
“I can’t be replicated,” He said. “She’s right. You’re wasting your time.”
“Then let us waste it,” General replied. “And we’ll all be happy.”
He stared at her, his eyes searching her face as he’d done so many times. But at this moment, he did so with a gentle smile. And she realized, she’d separated the amalgamation, reminded him of the individual pieces, shined light on dichotomy. And maybe, just maybe, he would lie down and take it for her sake.
She shook her head. “Don’t.”
The General slid his hand over her shoulder. “Now, we can’t kill our only game piece.” He narrowed his gaze on the General. “But we can make her stay here very unpleasant. And since you can’t destroy us without destroying her...” The cold, sharp edge of a knife touched her throat.
In a split second, He changed, elongating again. His tawny skin pulled thin, causing his fingers to look like noodles, but the skin didn’t stretch. It loosened. His neck lengthened, looking more like the body of a snake, and the skin on his face drooped. The sockets of his eyes widened, exposing stalks with tiny gold nuggets at the end.
She pulled her legs up, resting her feet on the edge of the chair. Warmth seeped out and acid burned her throat. She felt worse than she did the first day they’d met because, at least then, she didn’t have so many experiences with him, causing her to question her own mind, her own perception.
The room erupted in screams and rapid fire. Bullets pierced his skin and body, tearing through his clothes. In two bounds, He lunged at the soldiers and left her sight.
Her body shook, chills working up and down her spine, handcuffs clattering against the arm rests, but this time, not from an attempt to get free. She pulled her legs closer, laid her head on her knees. The screams from the men sounded miles away.
An arm, from right beneath the shoulder, spun in the air, a gun still held firmly in the hand. It clattered to the ground. Blood seeped from the torn end, quickly pooling underneath.
And right after it landed, a one-armed soldier squirmed on the floor to her right. He made quick motions with his hips and shoulders, trying with all his might to slither away towards the door. As he made it halfway, she noticed a missing leg, too. Trails of blood were left in his wake.
He jerked backward, screaming, yelling. He still sounded miles away, this young man who’d brought her water. His fingers clawed the ground, but there wasn’t leverage. And in a second, he was gone, pulled back into a bloodbath, only two fingernails, still with flesh, remained in her sight.
Blood splashed out on the floor to her left. It spread towards the door while her chair rocked back and forth, something hard banging against the back. Thudding, thudding. Fluidic gurgling filled the room... and then quiet. No screams, shouts, growls.
Footsteps approached her from her right, and she turned her head away. How could she ever face him, again? And while she held blame in deciding to travel with him, forming a closeness to him that allowed He to be pushed to this level, she still couldn't look at him.
In a quick flash, her handcuffs disintegrated, not fully, but into little pellets of metal that fell to the floor and splashed. She wrapped her arms around her legs while He continued on to the door.
“Come on,” he said.
She chanced looking at him and hated herself for it. He stood draped in his human façade, no longer in tan, but covered in bright red.
“No,” she said.
He cocked his head, then a drip of blood falling from his fedora caught his attention. He placed his right hand on his chest. Bullets pulled themselves from his body and landed on the floor with pings. Next, he raised his left hand. The blood obeyed his command and peeled from his body but still surrounded him. It faded pink, light pink, blush, before melting away to nothing.
“Let’s go,” he tried again.
She shook her head in tiny, jerky, frantic motions.
His face scrunched up, and a shiny gloss covered his eyes. They flitted around like He searched in a panic for the right words. “Please? You keep me grounded.”
But she knew that wasn’t true. “No!” she screamed. How could she stay with him, knowing this would only be the first time she’d be used as a pawn. Knowing that the more amusing He found her, the more he’d notice anger. The more she showed him joy, the more he’d notice sadness. Nothing good could come from years with this man... this ancient, terrifying creature.
With a few blinks and a sharp sniff, the gloss over his eyes dissipated. Blankness once again layered his face.
He curtly nodded, stepped back through the hole and out of her life.
Copyright © 2017 by K. C. Gray