Chapter 14A Chapter by Rylan Leif
The seams begin to twist, shudder and unravel
The air was different outside the vault-- colder, calmer…dead. When everything fell silent in the halls I was expecting some sort of ear-splitting explosion or a grand earthquake; anything that would be show the significant shift of Earth’s environment from normalcy to chaos. I had to admit that I was a little bit disappointed. As far as we knew, our universe and our lives were about to unravel at the seams and there wasn’t any sort of indication or event to prove it. I assumed everyone, who could do so, would have made their way to a portal and deserted the universe. Our world would be torn apart without so much as a whisper from its inhabitants; Earth would fizzle out of existence as a ghost planet.
But then there would be more than a whisper coming from us. The will to survive paled in comparison to the wild stirrings of apocalypse that were whizzing through my brain. Thankfully, Trix snapped me back to reality before I drove myself mad.
“What the hell are we supposed to do now?” Trix’s feet padded around on the floor in a monotonous pattern; she was pacing.
“First thing’s first. We need some light. There isn’t any sort of back-up generator for the facility that would work after the portal tore open.” Reese replied.
“Why wouldn’t the generator work?” I asked, widening my eyes as much as possible so they’d adjust to the dark-- which they didn’t. It was like looking through a black hole.
“There was no backup plan for this situation. If the portal tore then we would evacuate and leave this world to its own devices. Survival of the quickest, if you will.” Reese said flatly.
The four of us fell silent again. Reese’s words pricked at my ears as the gears in my brain kicked up again with the stirrings of chaos and death.
“What would Dr. Priya and the others take with them when the left Reese?” Trix asked.
“Nothing. They would have taken the clothes on their back and started over on Terra.”
“Well that’s good then!” Trix exclaimed, startling us. “That means they left the dinosaurs here right?”
“That’s right. They would be able to gather new specimens from the new facility. Everything here was considered expendable.”
I smiled. Draak and Kobor were still here which meant that there was hope for us. No matter what manner of creatures spilled forth into our world, we would have a fighting chance with two raptors that were armed with pulse rifles. I was about to get up and do a little happy dance when a sinking feeling bit at the back of my head.
“Shyloh why are you so quiet?” I muttered.
She didn’t respond for a few seconds. I was about to repeat my question when she whispered, “Everything’s gone.”
I was taken aback for a moment. “What Shy?”
“Our world is dead. I can’t believe you guys aren’t in total shock from this. For all we know everyone we’ve ever known or loved could be dead and now we have to make our way across the country to another lab so we can zap our way to another universe-- if there’s any compound X there, and take down evil scientists! What the hell has the world come to? We should be at school worrying about exams and dickhead teachers not fighting creatures from the darkest abysses of the universe!” Shyloh was panting, waiting for a response; one that I didn’t have.
“Pull yourself together Shyloh.” Reese said, surprising us all.
“What do you mean--“, Shyloh started.
“I understand that this is not how the world works normally but you have to deal with it. The millions of universes that mesh together in the cosmos have been experiencing cataclysms like this for longer than you could possibly imagine. You need to accept that this isn’t a dream and if you want to survive in this new existence than you have to adapt and fight your way to survival.” Reese said. She was scolding Shyloh for being weak but her words had an elegant touch to them, almost like a mother was comforting her child who was terrified to be left alone at daycare or the first day of school.
Shyloh tried to speak but she was overcome with sobs, I could hear her heaving in the dark. I made my way over to where she was crouched and laid my hand on her shoulder.
“Shy, we need to accept that the world isn’t as it used to be. But we’re not giving up here. We’re getting the hell out of dodge and we’re gonna find Mom and Dad on Terra okay?”
“How do you know that?” She sputtered, sniffing the mucus that was making its way down through her nostrils.
“I don’t know it for sure but I have to hope that our parents would be smart enough to evacuate with everyone else. If we don’t hope then we’re admitting defeat and I’m too strong for that.” Shyloh sighed and sniffed some more mucus up. “And you’re my twin. If I’m too strong to give up then so are you.” I felt her perk up a bit of a smile.
“I guess you’re right.”
“Good. Now let’s get up and at ‘em sis!” I exclaimed, hauling her to her feet.
“I think I have an idea for light.” Trix said. Before anyone could reply there was a loud, high-pitched whistle. It lasted for about ten seconds and I wasn’t sure what to make of it; I’d never heard a whistle like that before.
“What was that?” Shyloh asked.
“Wait for it.” Trix said, “Wait for it.” Her voice trailed off and faded when a buzzing noise sounded from down the hall, followed by a pale blue light.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked. My question was answered instantaneously when I heard the magical sound WOOOOMP come from behind the light. Trix squealed and ran towards the light, her auburn waves of hair bounced behind her like a happy little elf at Christmas. She dove into the light and was trampled by a swarm of Womps who were all-too-happy to see her.
“My babies!” Trix yelled, laughing. The Womps purred and squeaked as the jumped all over her in an orgy of excitement.
“This is wonderful!” Reese shouted, “Now we have light we can check around for supplies and get the hell out of here. We have quite the trek ahead of us.”
Trix picked herself up off the floor, “Perfect, let’s get a move on.” The Womps were still hopping in circles around her. “Come on guys straighten up and lead the way.” The Womps stopped bounding around and clumped up ahead of her. The started humming a beat and let it build until the bass was strumming in our ears; the electricity in their bodies pulsed until it spilled out into an orb the size of me. I shielded my eyes from the light and so did the others.
“Dim it down a bit guys! We don’t exactly need it to be like daylight down here!” Trix commanded. The light calmed instantly to a shade that allowed us to us comfortable visibility. The hall was submerged in a pale blue wash, kind of like the lab had been sunk in crystal clear ocean water. “Beautiful work boys!” Trix said patting a Womp on its head. “Where to Reese?”
Reese pointed ahead of us towards the bay doors that lead to the Portal room, “To the Portal.” She declared with conviction.
Our brigade marched forward to the doors, the Womps lighting our way and Reese leading the pack. We each slid our hands between the two doors and pulled in opposite directions. They didn’t budge easily of course, because that would make life much too simple. A chorus of grunts, squeaks and grinding teeth sounded from each of us without any particular harmony. Finally, after a final ‘heave-ho’ the doors scraped apart just enough for all of us to squeeze through single file.
The portal room was pitch black but the Womps remedied that without any order from Trix. The Womp at the front squeaked and flipped up into the air, kicking the orb of light high above our heads like a professional soccer player. The orb whizzed up and collided with the ceiling with a loud BANG. Its blue light ruptured and dispersed along the ceiling like millions of stars blanketing the night sky. When the stars settled into place they started to twinkle, making the light grow brighter and brighter until eventually the entire room was as perfectly lit as the day we first arrived at Cere-Tech. We stared in awe at the marvel whose serenity and beauty seemed to wash away any feelings of tension or despair.
“That was some trick.” I said with a sigh. Trix smiled and replied with a wink.
“Alright guys,” Reese started, “spread out and look for supplies that might be useful.”
We fanned out, “What sort of supplies are we looking for exactly? Because I’m not exactly gonna start packing up the dehydrated potatoes and all that other slop that they fed us.” I said.
“Don’t worry about food Sylas; we’ll make a run to a grocery store for that.” Reese replied.
“So what should we look for then?” Shyloh asked.
Reese stared blankly at us, “Guns.” She said. The hairs on my neck tingled a bit. The realization that we had to fight for survival against whatever was going to come out of the Portal was sinking in again. “Look for anything that we can use as a weapon. We’ll do a full sweep of the facility for any necessities, but keep weapons in mind. We’re going to need a lot of them because we don’t know what we’re going to be up against.” We nodded in response and started our search.
The Portal room seemed the exact same as it did the first day I saw it, except that it was deserted now and the portal was no longer filled with the ooze that acted as the window between universes. There really wasn’t too much to look at in there. Just some empty chairs, vacant computer desks and the twisted spires scattered throughout the room that used to hum with energy. I walked over to the portal, climbed up the stairs and stood before the giant metal ring. Its grandeur towered over me; I was as insignificant to it as an insect would be to the likes of me. I ran my hand along the side of the ring which was as cold as ice against my bare skin. As I slid my hand further up something sticky squished between my fingers. I wrestled my hand away from the sticky mess and flipped it over revealing my palm which was covered in glowing ooze. My eyes bugged out of my head in excitement, “Reese!” I squealed, my voice cracking, “Come quick!”
She ran from the other end of the room carrying a couple of the glowing guns that the Blues used to carry. She huffed up every step of the stairs and planted herself in front of me, gasping for breath.
“What is it?” She asked.
I shoved my hand in her face like an infant showing off his first ‘owie’. “Look what I found.” I said beaming. She examined my hand for a few seconds and a smile peeled across her face.
“Brilliant Sylas!” She exclaimed grabbing a hold of my arm. She dragged me down the stairs and hauled me to the back of the room where the generator was. There was a small cabinet on the side that Reese popped open with her elbow, revealing a few dozen metal cylinders that were black. She unscrewed the cap off one of them and scraped the ooze off my hand. “We’ll have to fill about three of these canisters so we can operate the portal at the flagship lab in Ontario.” I eyed the inside of the canister which had about a millimeter of ooze in it.
“Great we only need about three hundred times more than that to fill just this one.” I said glumly.
“Three-hundred and four point eight times actually.” Reese replied matter-of-factly.
“How the hell are we supposed to do that?” I whined.
“We have to trek across four provinces to get to the lab Sylas. That leaves us plenty of time to find plenty more Compound X.”
I sloughed off her reassurance and walked away to find more guns. I was in a sour mood and wanted to find the biggest, meanest gun in the building so I could blow the head of something…anything.
Just behind the portal, where Trix and Shyloh were standing, was a table that had piles of guns on it. I scanned over the armada of weaponry to find something that suited my personality. There were the rainbow guns, some standard pistols, and a sawed-off shotgun and then I laid my eyes on a real beauty; it looked like a small cannon the size of my arm. I picked it up in both hands, it was heavy and I liked the weight. I grinned, petting the silver shaft and brushing my fingers against the trigger, imagining the destruction I could commit with this ungodly demon under my command.
My fantasy was interrupted when my head started to spin. The cannon drooped in my hand its weight pulled me to the ground.
“Sylas are you alright?” Shyloh asked in a tone that was riddled with alarm. “Sylas!”
I fell to the ground, unable to answer her. My vision blurred, Shyloh and Trix’s faces were becoming shapeless blobs of colour and the lights in the room kept getting brighter and brighter until all I could see was white.
I felt my body levitate from the ground and then I was bouncing up and down for awhile. My eyes were rolling around in my head and I could only hear slurred screams and words that I couldn’t distinguish.
After awhile the bouncing stopped and the lights in my eyes grew even brighter. A breeze licked at my skin and I smelled the grass that was tickling my arms and legs. I’ve died and gone to paradise. I thought to myself.
My eyesight cleared and I saw a perfectly blue sky. Birds were singing and the wind was rustling the leaves in the trees and the blades of grass that surrounded me. Shyloh’s face came into view right next to Reese’s who was shining like a brilliant pearl.
“What happened?” I asked sitting up slowly with a grunt.
“You got bit by something and the poison just about killed you.” Shyloh replied flatly.
“Oh.” I said, still not entirely comprehending what was going on. I still felt entranced and blissful, like I hadn’t a care in the world. I sighed and slunk into the grass playing with the blades and smiling.
“What the hell is wrong with him?” Shyloh asked Reese.
“It’s just a side-effect of the poison it’ll go away in a couple minutes.” She replied laying a hand on Shyloh’s shoulder.
“Good because he’s acting like a freak. What does that poison do? Trip you out on acid?”
“No, it breaks down the nervous system but first it releases mass amounts of endorphins in your brain so you’re too happy to be bothered by pain.” Shyloh didn’t reply back. She had a seat next to me and brushed her fingers through my hair.
“I think it’s wearing off now.” I said.
“That’s good. We’ll rest a few more minutes and then head back inside to finish packing up the supplies.” Reese answered.
“Sounds good to me.” I took a few deep breaths, letting the outside air fill my nostrils and circulate in my lungs. It had been months since I’d been outside; I want to suck up every ounce of fresh oxygen I could before having to return into the dank abyss of the hospital. “Oh Reese?” I asked after a few more breaths.
“Why is your skin shining?”
© 2012 Rylan Leif
A Grand Unraveling