View Full Version : Of Broken Minds and Broken Worlds

April 25th, 2012, 07:20 PM
Warning: Adult subject matter. Graphic violence.

The report says the event started less than twenty hours ago. Twenty hours, and the city is unrecognizable.

Grey, skeletal buildings slump, as if tired. Like suddenly, standing got to be too much. Small fires burn sporadically. The streets are strewn with rubble and trash. The air is thick with smoke, even in the copter, and the smell of burning rubber has bonded with the senses. It’s a gong show. Kayle’s heart kicks erratically. He has experience with this type of mission, but never on Earth. He had envisioned his first visit to the home planet to be much more celebratory, a chance to enjoy the beginnings of mankind, and to revel in the adaptive nature of his brethren. Laura and Kayle had planned to go to Earth on their honeymoon but the solar panel had broken, and so they took some money from the fund and rescheduled. Except that wasn’t the end. Things kept coming up and after being married ten years they’d never gone. It was a sad, regretful reminder of things lost when he had told her he was being sent to Earth on a mission. One of too many such reminders.

The helicopter begins descending, shifting the passengers in their seats. Kayle catches Oscar’s eye. They exchange a solemn nod. There’s times for jokes during service and Oscar is usually well stocked with funnies. This isn’t one of them. Kayle knew what had him on edge, and he was sure Oscar felt the same. The wording.

“...travel to Earth and discover the cause of...”

Command doesn’t have the slightest clue what happened. Everyone knows the republic is all about cost efficiency. Efficiency at all costs, that’s how the empire was built. Space travel isn’t cheap. It’s advantageous to send a transport, and small unit of mid-level soldiers into unknown territory. That way, if you lose your assets, you can cut your losses and it’s nothing too bad. Lose a dreadnought or a battleship, though, that’s a different story. Send in eyes, learn from what they see, and then send in the heavies. No need to waste resources. Or at least waste the least valuable. That’s not what’s troublesome, though. Usually when there’s unknown territory, it’s not on Earth.

The copter lands with jolt, and Ernie, the pilot spins around. “I’ll hang steady until you reach your objectives and make it back.”

Kayle takes in the nine other men wearing imperial black protec-gear. They all have teams of two, one partner and different co-ordinates.

“Maintain radio contact.” Jimbo shouts. He always does. “If something’s out there, we need to know about it. Whorah.” Jimbo jogs to the south with his partner trailing closely behind.

Kayle nods at Oscar, and they follow suit towards their own co-ordinates.

Kayle leads with Oscar flanking, walking at a brisk pace, rifles out and scanning the destruction. The Eastern quarter is a poor part of the city; many low cost, two floor apartment complexes, and shady foreign food restaurants. Kayle reads a nearby sign; Licensed Restaurant. Bizarre that a restaurant would need a license to operate.

What’s particularly off putting, is the complete lack of destruction in this part of the city compared to downtown. Not a single bit of architectural damage. One-floor stores with unbroken glass. Cars with the shine of a recent polish.

Kayle stops, a distant buzz catches his attention. Oscar bumps into him, eyes scanning everything but his partner.

“What’s up?”

Kayle doesn’t answer, simply looks ahead, a finger held up. There it is again; whooosh. Sounds like wind. Oscar must hear it too, they make eye contact.

Oscar nods towards the sound, “That way?” Kayle nods, and squeezes the radio.

As they get closer to the sound, it gets louder. It’s like several winds, or thousands, combining in a huge room for an echo. Or, it sounds like-

“It’s cheering.” Oscar says, eyes wide, his wide face child-like.

Kayle shakes his head lightly, what the hell do these people have to celebrate?

It becomes apparent as they get closer that the roaring of a crowd is coming from a football stadium. This is outside their grid, but it’s the only sign of human life they’ve encountered. Kayle radios in, let’s the others know what they’ve found.

On the stairs to the stadium’s doors, they find the first sign that anyone ever lived here. A woman, approximately seventy years old, lies on her back, neck twisted at an inhuman angle, eyes staring surprise into space. Oscar crouches beside her, puts fingers to her neck. Her shakes his head. Here, the sounds of the crowd are deafening. A group of seven people, aged from teens to twilight, run past and sprint up the stairs, elbowing each other out of the way.


They ignore the call and disappear. Kayle notices a dirty shoeprint on the woman’s chest, staining her white blouse.

“She got trampled.” He notices more flecks of dirt on her body, what had happened that had caused people to run over a little old lady? What was so important?

Inside, the concourse is nearly empty, but people are lined out of the arena’s entry doors, punching and kicking their way in. More people lie on the ground in puddles of blood, mostly the elderly and the very young. Those too weak to withstand the crowd.

Kayle taps an old man in a grey top hat and cardigan on the shoulder, and he stops trying to gain entry for a moment. “What’s going on?”

The man gazes intently at Kayle for a moment, and then snarls “Get bent.” He turns back and jumps onto the back of a middle aged woman.

Kayle looks back at Oscar, who shrugs. They walk through the concourse looking for an opening. Every stairway into the arena is jammed tightly with people.
Kayle is taken aback when he looks inside a food booth. Various food items are suspended in the air behind the counter, black droplets of coke, kernels of shiny buttered pop corn. A tiny universe of food with it's own orbits.

Oscar points to the nearby line, noticeably smaller than before.

“They’re getting through.”

Kayle nods, and swings his rifle onto his back, gets into the line. He begins pushing with the others, a man in front elbows him in the stomach and he grunts. He is kicked in the ankle, but the line continues shoving forwards, into the belly of the arena. They are in the darkness of the tunnel, just before the stairs now. Kayle lurches forward when he is pushed from behind onto stairs, but grabs several people’s shoulders, and rights himself.

The tunnel opens into the arena and Kayle stops in his tracks, which gets him a violent push from behind, sending him forward. The arena is full of people, literally full. There are people in every seat, on the field, and even in the air.

“Oscar.” Kayle calls. His partner is behind him, mouth wide, as people pour by. Kayle sees a fat man running down the rows of seats in front of him, when he is suddenly lifted, and floats into the air, giggling hysterically.

Every person in the city seems to be here, and they are all having the time of their lives. That cheering, is an expression of pure joy, their eyes rolling in their heads, face’s frozen in an expression of ecstasy.

Kayle feels a tickle in his stomach, a warmth, that spreads throughout his veins, even down to the tips of his fingers and toes. He feels a loose smile spread across his face, and a boyish sense of wonder consumes him. He skips down the stairs like he did when he was young, not realizing he is now yelling with bliss. Sitting on a step, he marvels at the texture of the plastic sealer, it’s so smooth and yet so sticky. Incredible.

Hearing laughter that he recognizes behind him, Kayle spins and sees Oscar float into the air, eyes sparkling, and fingers working like he is playing a piano. Kayle laughs so hard his ribs hurt, Oscar’s face is priceless. A wonderful heat is spreading through Oscar; blankets in the sun, warm soup in the bath. Kayle feels a deep connection of love to the universe, and to all things, and reminds him of the most special thing.

A pretty girl, who wears shorts in winter, a girl whose smile stops time, that breaks your heart. Bright brown hair, framing shimmering eyes, starlight, with the mischief of youth. Cloud soft skin, a heartbeat so gentle, and so strong, warmth to get through cold nights. Word play and dreaming forward, imagining adventures and recklessly living, seeing the universe. Spontaneous moments that make you smile, and cry once they’re gone. Pancakes. Magic that enchants you, forever transfixes you in the little things. A glance is a never ending waltz.

Tears stream down Kayle’s face, his knees are eroding the stairs to dust. A voice, so beautiful it’s agony, consumes his mind’s eye.

“Life is so fragile. It’s gorgeous, and utterly putrid. Humanity. Where does it stand on the spectrum? How ugly, and how great? That’s the problem we all face. Man can be the kindest saint, the giant lifting a petaled flower to safety, or the cruelest beast, tearing the face off his brothers, and setting fire to his crop. You can feel fantastic-“

His brain tickles, and Kayle moans, elated, limbs writhing, trying to escape and rub in the feeling at once.

“-and you are very pleasant. Or, you feel evil. Weak, angry and hateful. Then, you are chaos. You are flames, guns, bombs and rotting death.”

The face of the speaker appears to Kayle, a middle aged man, little more than loose skin wrapped around bones. No muscle, no flesh. Legs that hang unnaturally, thinned by complete lack of use. His head, seemingly unnaturally large, in perspective with his body, with wispy hair, missing in patches. He smiles.

There is a crack in the brains of everyone in the arena, like a whip lashing the pain centers, adrenaline fills the blood, saturates it and a cry rises up. It’s an awful, primal sound. The destruction of the voice box. Kayle sees red, and his breathing is out of control. His hands shake frantically, and his mind is racing. Need to rip, kill, hate feed, smash, burn, BAM, respect me or I’ll tear- Pandemonium erupts as a preteen boy jumps from the top row, teeth bared, ready for lethal battle, and scratches an elderly woman in the face, blood pouring from the gouges.

Kayle is concentrated pain, his training and mood make him an unstoppable force, his mind is napalm, his fists are hammers. A middle aged man with a deep tan’s face crunches loudly as Kayle sinks his fist into sharp nose bone.

Oscar feels warmer, warmer, a pot on the stovetop boiling over, running out of water, running out of fuel, starting to burn-to char-to bake. The people in the sky begin to combust, and screaming, lashing out with hands and feet, they die. They are turned to ash in seconds, and black ash rains down on the battle royale taking place in the stands and on the field. Blood pours down the stairs like a necromancer’s fountain.

“Your true nature, is far from tranquil. It is the opposite of peace, of love. So quickly, a switch can be flicked, and you will tear one another apart.”

The infinite rage begins to burn out, and fade. Kayle’s vision returns to normal, and he collapses, exhausted from the rush of adrenaline, the taxing of his muscles. He feels content, and peaceful. However, he doesn’t know why, and no matter what, he feels deeply disturbed by what he just did, and what he sees. Bodies, in every direction. Torn to pieces, or battered into something abstract, broken. He doesn’t understand it, but he knows why. The man, the bobble head floating in the center of the field.

On a hospital bed, floating five feet above the carnage below, he lies there, body useless, completely unnecessary. “I love you.” His voice, ethereal, forever, is heard in their collective minds and is received as if water to a man dying of thirst. “You are the strong, the survivors. You will be mine, and you will serve me. Together, we will break their rule. Together, we will be more than men. We will be a revolution.” A cheer breaks out. A strong dose of pleasure enters Kayle, and his body twitches from the force of it. “I will appreciate you. You will not be cogs in the war machine, you will be people. For once, acknowledged and recognized as the flood of violence and primal rage you are. You will know earthly paradise, and you will feel the allure of power. We will end them. We will end tyranny.” People in the crowd jump up, screaming and tearing their clothes off, the pleasure rending their self control mute.

Kayle feels a mad impulse to join them, but resists, his forehead aching with the pain of it, eyebrows running into his eyes. He needs something to distract himself, something to bring him back. He forces his head to the side, and sadness pours over the happy blaze. A black republic protect-suit, lying coated in a pile of black ashes. Military grade assault rifle, ZX-439 with scope. Oscar. Kayle sobs, still smiling despite his best efforts. His mind is a confused mess of emotion and thought. Still, he knows what to do.

He stands and forces himself to walk down the stairs, throws himself over the ledge, landing with a hard thump on the field. The grass is soaked through with blood. He takes a moment to regain his breath, focusing on Oscar, his friend, the guy who loved to play pranks on superiors, who got a laugh out of everyone. The guy who loved living.

Kayle stumbles towards the middle of the field, to the center of the message, the broadcaster. He pulls the assault rifle off his back, his torso’s muscles seizing from being flexed for so long, he groans and aims it at the hospital bed, closes an eye, braces and pulls the trigger.

Huge bullets rip through the white cloth, and a million screams echo in their minds, Kayle continues firing, until the screams overpower him and he falls to his knees. He drops the gun, and covers his ears, trying to stop the sound, wanting to be deaf, needing silence from that infernal sound.

He looks up, sees the bed has broken in two, and twitching on the ground is the strange man, his tiny neck flexing, trying to sit up. He reaches up, and the sky is engulfed in flame. In every direction, red and yellow clouds of heat above head, melting the atmosphere. Kayle closes his eyes, to protect them. He tries digging into the ground, to get away from the oven that’s been created, but he is not fast enough. He smells skin, hair, burning and sizzling. He looks down and sees his arm twisting, pieces of flesh peeling up like the skin of a carrot. He screams, and before he fades, he sees the broken bed, aflame. The man is gone. Then he is enveloped with agony.

“How long do we have?”

Dr. Sazlo sits in a comfortable leather desk chair, in front of a large black metal table. Not a question scientists appreciate. These bureaucrats think they can snap their fingers and have things magically appear before them.

“I can’t give you an exact number. The brain is complicated enough. Add the new elements that we did, and-“

Frank Winter brings his fist down hard on his coffee cup, shattering it, sending brown liquid in every direction, staining his white collared shirt.

“Listen. This mess gets any worse, and you’re the one getting bent over. A whole city is lost. We have no damn clue where he went. We need him contained.”

“Absolutely, I was the one that emphasized caution in the Chicago case, but you were worried about wasting assets. Raskin is our most important asset. If his mind degenerates before we can contain him, I’m afraid the result won’t be a good.”

Frank bites his lip. “We’ll put out a bounty, get the mercenaries looking. We’ll assign the entire military division. You did a psychological profile on him?”


“Have any idea where he would go? What he would do? Does he have any connections?”

“He was a loner, he grew up on an electronics colony. He’s lost, afraid and he’ll wander until he finds something. I don’t envy the next planet he arrives at.”

“Jesus Christ you’re incompetent. Do you have any idea how much this little experiment is going to cost the republic?”

“I know how much we’ll profit when he’s contained. Forget the world republic, and replace monarchy. We’ll be irreplaceable, unstoppable. An immortal ruling class. Now tell me that doesn’t have an innate appeal.”

"You're off this project. The republic has changed it's views on your work. This mission is now a search and destroy." Frank smiles tightly. “Now get out of my sight.”

Dr. Sazlo smiles. Frank thinks he’s on top of everything. He has no idea what Raskin is capable of. With his rapid dissociation from reality, the republic will soon learn. If they think he'll just give up on his life's work, then they're more blind than he ever thought.

April 26th, 2012, 03:47 AM
This was a great read. Your use of adverbs was amazing!("like a whip lashing the pain centers" awesome!) Very well done. I kind of want to know what happens next :dejection:

April 26th, 2012, 06:19 AM
Thanks for reading zarz! Also thank you for the kind words. I will be sure to do a write up when you post a piece.

Its interesting you mention wanting to know what happens. This is an idea ive been playing with for a long time. Ive been asking myself if i want to write a novel. My scripts keep me busy but i liked how this came out so ive decided to go for it. Ill be turning this concept into my first novel. Im so excited haha.

Thanks again and i wish you creativity and passion in all writing you do.

Olly Buckle
April 26th, 2012, 07:36 AM
They all have teams of two, one partner and different co-ordinates. This didn't quite work, "They are in pairs, headed for targets at different co-ordinates (locations)" perhaps.

“Maintain radio contact.” Jimbo shouts. He always does. I am no expert on punctuation, but I would write this as
“Maintain radio contact,” Jimbo shouts, he always does.
Have a look at a recent thread "Dialogue" in writing discussions regarding dialogue tags. http://www.writingforums.com/grammar-punctuation-spelling/129294-dialog.html look at Sam.W's post, the fourth one.

Personally I found the present tense form difficult, I kept expecting past, but that may be purely a personal thing.