Bogleech.com's 2018 Horror Write-off:
Ready, player Terra?
Submitted by Halcyon
Ready, player Terra?
She carefully extended one of her arms and
picked up the glistening egg. One of her right eyeclusters carefully checked it over, before she hummed contently. Its soft shell was pristine and just the right colour of blue. It would hatch another worker, just like she choose it to be. Terra-a name she had chosen for herself, liking the tune of it-picked up another egg and inspected it. This first clutch would
yield about forty workers and twenty soldiers, enough to kickstart her small hivespiral.
The walls pulsated and glowed a soft darkblue, clustsers of tendrils sprouting from the vein-like structures snaking along them. Terra spread her wings out once more and hummed softly for herself. Scanning the still small brooding caverns, eye clusters twitching, her humming became less content. She felt her wings twitch, This one is bored. This one requires stimulation, interesting stories to make songs from and share with my sisters back on Hiveworld. This one requires one of the....Strange Ones. She placed one of her hands on the wall closest
by her. Nerve-tendrills started to crawl all over her hooflike toes and fingers. In an instant Terra began hearing a loud buzzing noise,
accompied by a fast humming. A worker-class member of her kind entered the
brooding caverns and stood still. It had a simple bodyplan compared to her multy limbed and winged form. It had a Stranger bodyplan, she had discovered. Standing up straight on two clawed legs, with long arms and a beaky face with two large eyes and wings. It made the strange ones a bit less scared of her 'drones' as they liked to call the rest of Terra's kind.
The drone still stood before her, motionless. She spread her wings and saw it do the same. She then placed her hand on its chest and gave it her wish through the Nerve-tendrils alongside its neck. The drone sprung back to life after this, flitting its wings and running of to fulfil it's job.
It must have late in the afternoon when the
doorbell rang. Snow had been falling for well over a few weeks now and had carefully painted the neighbourhood white. Time for hot cocoa, cookies, books and more of that kind of stuff. But I digress, the doorbell rang and I knew what it meant. I sipped my tea one last time before finally
answering. I stood there in my oversized hoodie and bunny slippers, the Drone motionless before me. It's coloration was striking against the white and gray of the outside world. Dazzling greens and blue's and oranges, almost hypnotizing if you weren't used to having them around. "So, Terra requests my
companionship?" as I expected, the Drone didn't really do anything.
I slowly nodded and saw how it mimicked me. I grabbed it by its arms and pulled it inside. I know....Drones don't really care what happens to them but still, Terra always seemed to enjoy it when people where careful with her Drones. Especially since her Hivespiral was still under construction. Besides, I found them kind of endearing. "Just wait here, okay?" The Dronestill didn't move.
Waiting for to get dressed and grab my gear belonged to its current job.
Terra's lair wasn't that far from my hometown.
After a ten minute trip by car and following the flying Drone, I arrived. It was a domed construction, made of a hardened, slimy substance.
Guard-Drones patrolled near by, their eyes and
wings larger then my working-class guide.
Three of them sat perched among the snowy treetops and stared at me.
I smiled, slamming down the trunk and waved, "Hi Terra!"
All three of them lifted their hands and waved
in unison. I knew she could see me, Guard-Drones that sat still, were always
connected with their Hive-queens, I had been told. To this day, I still didn't
know how it worked exactly, and I didn't really want find out. It had been
decades since the first
me and started to patrol the area, Terra had disconnected.
It-she not it Terra remembered-waved at her and
at that moment she had put the command in to action. It shot through the wall-veins and entered the brains of her perched Guards. Their hands waved back, a bit uncertain. Stranger-gestures where...still strange after all these years. He-no she!-walked past more Guard-drones,
following the Worker-Drone Terra had sent to fetch the Stranger. Terra had them all wave, even letting them try to hum a greeting she had been practising.
Then she finally entered the brooding caverns. The atmosphere was breathable for both of them but she could see that the Stranger was not fully comfortable. She discarded a piece of clothing that was called a 'coat'. Then Terra noticed the thing she had called a 'bag'. It was a black one. Terra's eye clusters trembled with excitement. "Hi Terra, you grew bored, didn't
you?" her voice was deep and enjoyable to Terra. The Worker-Drone had fulfilled it's job and
stood waiting for another task.
Rows upon rows of eggs, the mass of limbs, eyes and wings that was the Hive-Queen. It could have been a scene out of an old
horror novel. But instead of my brains exploding or my eyes melting, I only ever felt a slight discomfort when I saw multiple of her drones acting. It wasn't that bad when it was only one or two. With simple drawings and sign language Terra had told me she had found it odd how I was a"Lonely-not-lonely" person. It was the best description she couldcome up with. She called me Stranger, even though we knew each others names. Her name was a series of low bellows, that I couldn't even start to try and pronounce. My name was fairly common, but Terra couldn't pronounce it anyway. Stranger and Terra, both sounded good, nicknames between strange friends.
Terra saw how Stranger laid out the cables, the two rectangles that were called a 'screen' and 'docking station'. Something called "Controllers" also appeared from the black bag. With a face
crunched up in concentration Stranger seemed to be unsure of what kind of game to pick.
Without hesitating, Terra laid a hand on thewall and concentrated for a short moment. Drone 1 was busy cementing a cavern wall with
slimy stuff, a feeding ground for the veins and nerve-tendrills. Drone 2 was one of the guards, posted outside, perched high in a tree. Drone 3 was the one that had fetched Stranger. All three of them started to move, just as she had commanded. She noticed how Stranger looked up and saw the Drones standing in a neat row, their arms outstretched.
"...I still get the creeps when you do this. But I know it's normal for you kind. Just like you find it odd how we humans can't do it." an uncertain sound, Stranger had called it a 'uncertain laugh.' Stranger reached out to each of them and gave
them a controller, "...I was wondering, are you up for a racing game today?" She felt her eyeclusters trembling, the three
Drones nodded in unison. Stranger smiled, this time it-she not it!- seemed not so uncertain anymore.
The Drones stared at me. I smiled once more and hooked up the game system. Monster Kart 3 Ultra was Terra's chosen game. A racing game playable with up to twelve players online, four if played old
fashioned at home. I laid out a blanket, and finally sat down. A shadow fell over me, and there her vaguely horse-like head hung beside me. Eye clusters like grapes, slowly trembling. A hoofed finger pointed at the tiny screen. "Yes, we are almost ready to begin. I just have to boot the game up and enter names for Drones." The clusters trembled harder, her whole head started to shake.
"Do you want to pick the names out for them?" She 'nodded', basically swaying her head back and forward. On that moment she felt like an excited child and not a young Queen that would soon hatch her first brood.
"Okay, how about "Poopieface"?" I said. I know, it sounded kinda dumb. But even though I was a grownup, I still liked to give characters really dumb names when given the chance.
Terra's head remained motionless, not a suggestion she enjoyed.
"...Captain Frogpants?" This one got her swaying again, she liked it. Drone 1 was now called Captain Frogpants. TerrorChicken, Bumble-Bee, Cat-Socks were the other suggestions she took a liking to. It was now time to select a character and a track to race on.
Terra saw a colourful screen. She liked the bright blues and oranges of one particular character, it reminded her of the time she and her King had had their first mating flight. Flying high above orange valley's, under the bright blue skies. She pointed at the cartoony figure clad in a orange dress with a blue cloak and crown.
"Queen Carratonia? Is that the one you like?" Stranger asked, turning her head.
She waved her hand and then pointed towards the Drones, the one now called "Cat-Socks" should be a queen. Stranger showed her the roster of characters. But none of them were as beautifully coloured like this 'Queen' character. All the Drones ended up with the same one.
She saw Stranger picking out a buff....other queen clad in greens and red.
"This is Queen Musclara, in the games story she and Queen Carratonia are rivals and like to race each other to the finish. After that they like to eat pie in a local bakery...sounds kind of dumb, but I still like the series. Childhood classic, Terra."
"Childhood" A word she didn't really grasp, but didn't bother to ask about. All she wanted was to play the game with her friend named Stranger.
I had chosen a candy-themed track. The music was upbeat and wild, the track had a chocolate fountain and candy cane bridges. Above all else a lot of blues and oranges. I don't know what it is with Terra and those two colours. She really enjoyed them, especially side by side.
even her chosen cars and bikes where those same two colours. With everything ready to go, it was time for the part that kept amazing me, even after all these months of playing with her.
The three Drones sat down beside me, picked up their controllers and bended over slightly, all in unison. I noticed how tendrils snaked down Terra's neck, how slits along side each Drone's nek opened up. Slit meet tendrill, was the case it seemed. Was this also the case with the Guard Drones outside, I wondered for a short moment. Terra and her drones pointed towards the screen, she was tired of waiting. The counting down began and....we were off!
Stranger's character stopped every so often to let the Drones catch up. Terra managed to keep her players in a neat row, cruising along but not making any attempts at winning. By the time the first to laps had been completed, Stranger paused the game, "You're supposed to beat me, Terra."
Her three players were parked on a clif, which offered a lovely view on sunset ocean and darkening skies. Orange water, blue skies. With Stranger looking at her confused, Terra send her Drones a different task: Drop the controllers and leave the brooding caverns. For two of them at least this was the case. She held onto the third just a little bit longer. It lifted its arms just as Terra commanded it to do. Then, it drew a dome on the floor, with a circle next to it.
"...Oh, does the game remind you of something?"
Terra swayed her head back and fort, she let the Drone draw a different symbol. It was a cube with a triangle on top of it.
"...home. It reminds you of home, doesn't it. Or at least Home...world? Is that how your people call your planet?"
Once again she swayed back and fort and Stranger nodded slowly, "Okay. Do you want to stop playing?"
For a moment Terra was silent, then she let swayed once more.
"That's fine with me too. But...if you don't mind, I would like to get some food before we begin."
Stranger-food. Terra pointed at the black bag and send her Drone to fetch it for them.
"Of course I have thought about the fast food flyer. You really like looking at cheeseburgers, don't you?"
Some swaying and Stranger smiled once more, "Alright, lets have a look."
With one hand, Terra held the flyer almost right in front of one of her right eye clusters. It looked funny, how concentrated she seemed. Meanwhile, she had put some of her Drones to work. With great care, a pair of them were moving the eggs away to a deeper part of the brooding caverns. Another one was busy making a makeshift table out of rocks. It failed, but it did it's best anyway.
Once again Terra fixated on the orange cheese of the burgers and I thought to myself: I will get a few burgers for her, so she can finally study them for real.
Maybe tonight, after our meal together, could I finally teach her how to properly play Monster Kart 3 Ultra. Or...screw playing properly....maybe she could teach me how she liked to play the game. Also, maybe she would finally tell me what the big deal with blue and orange was.