Seeds of Destruction
When I became aware, this is what I heard
I was aware, not really fully conscious. I could hear the sound but couldn’t open my eyes, at least, I thought they were closed, everything was black, I couldn’t feel my body. I could only hear that repetitive sound.
It was not the sound of a ticking of a clock, much too slow for that. It had a slight echo or secondary sound, like water dripping in the sink, and the sound it makes when it strikes the tiny pool of water accumulated below the faucet. No, it was not exactly that sound. Then the darkness felt very heavy and the ticking sound faded, then nothing, not even darkness. I was unconscious, but I seemed to realize that fact.
Again I was aware. The ticking sound had returned and was getting louder with every tick. This time I noticed slight, high pitched squeal in each ear, slowly increasing in intensity and changing in pitch until it became a constant ringing in my ears. Still dark, but I sensed the movement of my eyelids and a dim flicker of light as I struggled to open my eyes. Then the pain slowly emerged. At first like thousands of sharp needle pricks all over my body, then intense heat on my skin as if I was covered with a burning liquid fuel. This lasted but a few tens of seconds and was replaced by an unmistakable, dull ache in my back and a sledge hammer slowly pounding the inside of my skull.
My eyes open now but stinging slightly I could see dim light from a window and a wisp of smoke swirling the air of the wrecked room in which I had awakened. I was seated on the floor against the wall, sort of seated, more like slouching. I could feel the cool stones in the wall puncturing the pain that smothered my back. It was a slight relief to the agony, but only where I pressed against the wall. The room was piled with debris, papers, a few broken chairs, bottles and cans, plastic scraps of all sorts, and various bits of rusted metal and oxidized aluminum, other stuff I couldn’t identify. There was a smell. Sulpher? Not quite, but definitely a hint. Mingled with the air molecules was a pungent, offensive smell, but also, a distinct meaty, mineral odor. What was it?
I was now almost fully conscious, feeling my body and although stiff and painful, aware that I was not incapacitated with injury. I thought it was time to stand, test out my legs, scope out my surroundings, and try to figure out what the hell was going on. I looked toward the ceiling but saw that I was under a heavy metal topped table with stout, off white painted wooden legs. The paint was cracked and peeling. I tried to clench my fists to bring flexibility to my fingers so I could slide out from under the table. As I tightened the fist on my right hand I realized I was loosely gripping something in that hand, something heavy and cold. I looked down to see the thick barrel and cylinder of a large caliber revolver. Puzzled I stared at it for a minute, I had seen these before. I then pressed the cylinder release lever, and swung it open. Three live rounds, three spent rounds. I snapped it closed and placed my left hand flat on the floor to crawl from beneath the table. My palm pressed into a warm puddle of sticky fluid. Jerking my hand back, I studied it for a second or two before wiping it on my leg. Blood!
It wasn’t mine.
I slid the revolver along the floor but still within reach, grabbed the lip of the table top and pulled myself out, opposite side of the table this time, as there was a large puddle of blood with a hand print on the other side. As I pulled my body out, the jostling of the table caused the weight of something on top to shift and an massive human arm drooped over the side, above the blood puddle. It was sleeved in what appeared to be a canvas jacket and the large lacerated hand was covered in blood which slowly dripped onto the floor. Tick, tick, tick.
I pulled myself completely out, grabbed the revolver and stood quickly, too quickly. The room began to spin. Placing my free hand on the table, I steadied myself and glanced around the room. This was some kind of one room stone and mortar shack, with a small cast iron wood stove in the corner, two small shattered windows, a sheet metal roof on lumber framing and a heavy door hanging by one hinge. A single, unlit light bulb hung from a cord in the center of the room. No one else was in the room, no one else except, the corpse on the table. Face down in a large pool of coagulating dark red fluid, this figure was enormous. Longish, coarse black greasy hair, shoulders that looked to be four feet wide, huge hips and long thick legs hanging over the edge of the table, this thing was larger and heavier than any I’d seen previously. Heavy enough to crush me, had it not been for the long sturdy table that had separated us. Its size made me feel conspicuous like some sort of a measly specimen. Dressed in dirty, dark colored pants, mud caked boots and a bulky brown canvas jacket with three large, blood stained holes in its back. What was going on? Was this someone familiar to me? Was it even human?
Breaking out of the curiosity that consumed the moment, I reasoned that I should investigate the exterior of this small building to get a better grasp on my immediate situation and perils that could be waiting just outside the door. Cautiously and slowly I peered though the partially open entry and around the huge half hanging wooded door, looked left then right. The top of my head was barely higher than the door knob. I could see nothing, except a dirty light brown colored fog. It obscured everything except a large, leafy tree with a fat knurled trunk. Next to it an old rusted and faded yellow pickup truck. The fog was filled with a faint acrid odor, a bit like burnt diesel fuel, but more sour. I felt a tingling sensation as I breathed. With no obvious or immediate threats that I could survey, I returned to the large lump of deceased flesh on the table, passing by the still warm wood stove. It was time to have a closer look, to search for a hint, to try to put the pieces of this puzzle together.
The carcass was too heavy for me to simply roll over, so with all the strength I could gather I tipped the table until it slid off with a crumpled thud onto the concrete floor, landing face up. Its face was hidden with its long, thick black hair that fell across it when its head hit the floor. Reluctantly but curious, I grabbed a handful of hair and moved it to reveal a hideous face. More gruesome than others I’d seen in this area during my lengthy clandestine stay in this general area. Its eyes were wide open and fixed towards the ceiling as if staring at a tiny spot through the translucent film glaze that covered them. Mouth gaping and busted up nose with cakes of blood plugging both nostrils completed a picture that popped my brain back into gear. I knew what happened. I knew where I was. I remembered why I was there.
Earlier that day, I had needed a place to hide and get out of the foul, cool, damp air. Even though I’d been exposed to this environment for a while, I was not acclimated yet. That was not happening as quickly as I’d hoped. I came from a place where the temperature was constant, the sunlight was always present and the air was crisp and pleasantly sweet. Here it was always cloudy and cool, and even without the dirty fog, the air was not pleasant for me to breathe. I had lived here long enough to study the population and I was adequately knowledgeable of this environment and their customs and corruptions. Today I had been discovered by some of the more combative inhabitants that I had been observing and they were engaged in a futile but vigorous pursuit. Despite my superior capabilities to evade and skill in the unstoppable annihilation of their type, I could sense that they were gaining. Their pursuit was not effective, until the sheer numbers involved in the chase would drive them eventually prevail. That would be the end of me if I was found.
Once I was discovered, as I was watching near a small population center, I fled stealthily through the undergrowth of a dense hardwood forest. It was shortly after my last indiscriminate kill. I quickly moved through the forest until I crossed a lightly traveled, narrow dirt road which I followed until it ended at the place where I now found myself. The yellow truck parked near the oak tree and the stone building, with a ribbon of dark brown smoke wafting from the chimney, gradually emerged from the blanket of sour smelling fog as I moved along. I was tired from running, tired from killing and not sure I could successfully rout the occupant of this dwelling, which I was certain, was occupied. I intended to take refuge here for at least a few hours to regain my energy and recharge my lethality. I needed a weapon. My weakened state would put me at an appreciable disadvantage. Quietly searching the truck, I found a handgun stashed in its glove box. I knew how to operate this weapon, it was a simple mechanism but impressively effective. As I gripped the weapon I considered that I had learned much about the nature of many in this population of beings in what seemed like a brief time I had to execute my task. What I learned about this civilization was not worth saving.
I turned the door knob and quietly stepped into the shack. I saw the hulk sitting, slumped over in a tiny looking wooden chair next to the wood stove, he didn’t know I had entered until a heavy drip from my nose splashed onto a piece of scrap aluminum near my feet with pronounced pinging sound. We glared at each other for a second, me with murderous intent, him with confusion and disbelief. Suddenly he was towering over me and I felt the grip of his huge hand around my thin, boney neck. He smashed me against the wall. My flailing tail broke the glass in one of the small windows on the right side of the door. He grabbed my tail, spinning, he swung me towards the wall on the left side of the door, losing his grip on the smooth scale covered, loose skin that covered it. I crashed into the stone wall and the back of my hard, pointed skull broke the glass in the other window. Before I could raise the handgun to end this battle he plucked me off the floor with both hands and heaved me to the back wall, which I smacked and seemed to stick to for a split second before I fell onto the table. As he charged toward me I rose the weapon and fired three quick shots. His momentum carried him toward me, but I managed to roll off, just before he collapsed on the table and gasped his last breath. I clawed my way under the table, breathing rapidly and shallow. Then the darkness came.
My task was complete. Soon the others of my type would arrive to take me away since they had been tracking my progress since I began. They knew where to find me now and soon would come my recovery, and a return to my comrades. I had sown the seeds of destruction that would eradicate all human life on this planet. It would soon be ours.
- Seeds of Destruction - An Outlandish Tale
Chapter 2 of the short story "Seeds of Destruction"