A dark screen flickered to life, rays of dim multicolored light joined a low hum of the atmosphere and a click reverberated into the deathly still room. An array of static lines and dots exploded across the glass panel like a chemical reaction with a subtle pop, light catching the floating ash and dust hanging in the air making them glow like fireflies. There were many other screens in the room, most of which are shattered or plucked violently from their wall mounts or tossed across the wooden floor. The lone survivor of the evident barrage released oscillating tones and frequencies from its speakers. Someone didn’t want this place to remain functional. Bits of video clips appeared sporadically on the digitized celluloid projection that glitches onto the frame. The bars between each frame were noticeable and strange for such a technologically advanced studio. Was this a VHS tape? Do those still exist in March of 2057? The date 02-08-2023 was clearly displayed in the bottom corner of the blue screen regardless. Then, all of a sudden, a shadowy figure appeared on the screen and began to speak in a heavy breathed and forceful voice.
“Hello? Hello. My name is Aaron–well, that is not true, but for the sake of my protection you can call me that. I always wanted to be an Aaron anyways. It sounds much more suited to me than my actual name–which I will not be giving out, so don’t get any ideas!” At this point, the character on the screen was noticeably using a voice scrambler to mask his real voice.
“Anyways, on to important matters. I work…correction, I worked for a maximum security agency called The Eios Phyrigram, which embodies a new Court Order in Accilion requiring all 106,749 recorded beings in the population of the city to be under full surveillance at all times. It was my job to monitor 22 external life forms 18 hours out of the day and determine if they are effective contributions to society. I volunteered to take the evening shifts and sleep during the noon hours because in the late hours of the night are when the most interesting of things happen. If the subjects under revision are concluded to be vital contributors to our society by the Eios, then we move on to a new set of specimens once they are cleared–this can occur after a minimum of a 6 month review. But if they are not cleared as useful to society, well… No one really talks about what happens then, or would wish the shady happenings of ‘The Organization’ upon anyone. It is upon this matter that I am sending this message. The Organization has turned against the original plan with their contingency plans and their methods for eliminating threats to their faulty idealism. The original plan that I speak of was to battle against terrorism and track down suspicious characters that may appear. I tried to prevent the act from passing because of the violations of rights that it would bring about, but it was no use. The program was put into action 8 years ago and has continued to diminish humanity until we are no more than robots with calculated reasoning and extremist punishments. I have been filing data from cases for the rebellion for many years under the radar now, but they finally got to me. The longest case I ever managed to keep protected was 3 and a half years long. 1284 days to be exact and it all ended quite abruptly. Her name was Melanie, case number #24602. You are smart to assume that this is also a protected alias. And do you really think I would reveal the case number to you too? I would have been fired on the spot for that kind of negligence and jeopardize all of my progress against The Organization. No, the cases were not calculated by number, but 24-60-02 was an important number to the case and the vital information that you must remember. 24-60-02! You must remember! It is the key to finding The Eye.”
The video feed cut out for a moment.
“You may be asking “what makes you qualified to hold such a position”? Well, I was the programmer of the Eios Phyrigram. Yes, I am the wrecker of personal privacy, the ruiner of solitude, the target of the rebel hatred, the creator of this terrible invention and after the impact of Melanie’s case, I now seek to destroy it and I need your help. If you are hearing this message, then my plan is working and you know where to meet. Remember, 24-60-02! Don’t ever forget what we started here. Oh! Oh no, they found me. I gotta go!”
The screen scattered to static again after the man who called himself Aaron clicked the button. A tall man in a tattered black jump suit with silver-blue plates decorating his form like armor emerged slowly and silently from the eerie hallway through a large blast door that had been broken down with some explosive. He wore a gas mask to protect him from the floating ash and ghastly haze awaiting even this slightest exposure to his lungs like a poisoned predator. Even the slightest breath in this air would prove fatal. The man held a large barreled rifle close to his chest and aimed down the sites as he cleared the area, then relaxed. The man looked at the caked charring muck reaching out like gooey fingers across the ceiling and floor and walls, his thick boots echoing a hollow thud against cracking wood as he moved closer to the TV and a figure sitting in an office chair facing the screen. The image zipped shut in a flash of static light, and then it was dark. It seemed strangely cold too. The hair on the back of the tall man’s padded neck stood up straight and he was tense at the sight of the strangely thin man with sparse hair sitting silhouetted in the armchair as the film rebooted and replayed the message again. Flakes of debris and ash had collected in the figure’s hair and along the top of the armchair. The tall man could feel his breathing quicken and glanced down at his oxygen levels portrayed on his retro style arm band computer. He inched closer to the ghostly pale figure and leaned around towards the left to get a better look, his gun laser focused in the direction of the stranger. As he rounded the corner of the armchair, the video message reached a louder segment and the tall man started.
“24-60-02! You must remember! You may be asking “what makes—”
The figure in the chair was no more than a radiated corpse with distorted features, sunken skin and shriveled organs. The face of the man was ghastly and distorted, jaw overextended and broken from screaming. A horrific sight to say the least. It looked as if a mere breath would turn the corpse to dust. The tall man sighed in relief and looked towards the floor to recollect himself. He was glad that the only smell able to enter his nose was the scent of fresh rubber and cold sweat under his thick face mask. If the smell was as bad as the sight of this place, that alone would be enough to butcher his senses.
“Hallie? We got something here. You might wanna come take a look,” He radioed in through his wrist walkie in a light-hearted tone to pull himself mentally from the repugnance of this place.
“No thanks Drex, I am perfectly content here.” A soft playful voice rang through Drexel’s ear bud, which brought a grin across his lips. “I can see just fine through your transceiver anyway. Who do you think that message was for? And what could 24-60-02 mean?”
“I dunno Hal, a pass code of some sort? Whoever it was that sent this message, they must have sent it out as a distress signal. By the looks of this place, they are probably long dead now.”
“Get your butt back to camp then, and bring that tape. Garret will wanna have a look in more detail. He won’t get off me about it.” There was laughing in the background and the mood had changed drastically, though Drex was still shuddering deep down.
“Alright you two. Settle it down. Garret, I will bring you your tape.”
“Oh, oh! Bring the body too! I wanna run a carbon dating proce–” The male voice of Garret rang through the comms before Drex commandeered the connection.
“Garret! Get off the line, you cowardly baboon! You want this crusty meat sack? You come and get it yourself,” Drex shook his head and pressed the eject button on the VHS player carefully removing the who-knows-how-old tape and put it into a protective casing and slid it into his satchel.
“I’m out.” He said walking towards the blast door.
“Roger. Ring in when you are South side. See you soon.” Hallie said softly.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Roger?” Drex teased softly and they both chuckled. The comms went quiet after that and Drex was alone. But he didn’t feel alone. The hair on the back of his neck stood straight still and a shivering chill wouldn’t leave his spine. There was another presence about him lurking in the shadows. After almost a decade of war missions, Drex knew how to feel out a predator. He peered cautiously out of the blast door into the large two story room lined with a rail walkway and doorways. On the wall was a fading sign with flaking paint chips that said “E.I.O.S LABS”. Looked more like a prison block from this view. The distant clink…clink…cliiinnkk…of metal rang out like a metronome somewhere in the dark. Drex switched on his rifle’s infra-red screen, which hung off the side of the barrel and slowly scanned the area before proceeding to the decayed staircase to his left. There was barely enough steel protruding from the wall on some steps that it was like balancing on a knife, others shifted unsteadily, and one even fell after the first hint of pressure and CRASHED to the ground with a loud resonating clang! Drex closed his eyes and mentally kicked himself as he waited, knowing that he just revealed his presence to the entirety of the facility.
Off in the depths of the facility, the clinking sound had stopped, which perturbed Drex even more than the sound initially had. It was moving. He could feel it now.
“Hey Hal?” He whispered into the comms.
“Hallie, we got a problem here,”—–no response.
It was at that moment that the groaning clamor reached him. Something like a screech and a roar straight out of a childhood nightmare echoed through the halls. It seeped through him to his bones. Aiming down the sites of this rifle with the heat sensor where he thought the thing might come from, he waited for a moment longer wondering if it had gone away. Crumbles of sheet rock and concrete pattered against his shoulder and the top of his mask and he felt like fingernails against a chalkboard inside. He slowly looked up, tilting his rifle in unison to see the large teeth and dripping ooze opening above him.
“Blast…” He muttered.
To Be Continued….