Bogleech.com's 2018 Horror Write-off:
The Baleful Agent
Submitted by Shakara
I am born before I know it, before I know what is, what was and what shall be.
Other beings like I are around, drifting through their own paths of life. Some are smaller. Some are bigger. Yet I am different. I know it well.
I know things without knowing. I move without learning to. I act upon my deepest, rawest instincts, and they guide me thusly through this strange world.
Without knowing who these beings are, I chase them, find them, and rend them limb from limb. I charge up to them open their bodies, wet and soft and tender.
I do this without sorrow. Without pity and fear, like the other beings show.
In a pool of translucent gore, I see someone staring back at me. My own face. I am dark and sharp, unlike the others, whom are pale and rotund.
My flesh is hard and unyielding. They give so easily, defenceless like babes.
I drift through the world, slaughtering more in my wake. It feels good. And with each one, I am stronger for it. I feel a dull heat settling within me, and my limbs begin to grow.
Hot and twisted muscle springs out, tendons and ligaments wrapping, bone shunting itself forward, fusing with ossified fragments in a tessellated, mad order of sick biology.
I don’t know who I am, or what I am, but I do know that I am hungry.
The world is strange around me. Cold and hot wind blasts through the world, yet I am not hurled backward, like some others I see. Desperate blobs of meat, clinging to bits of foreign material, frozen in crippling terror. I ride the contrasting gales, unafraid. I know that they will lead me somewhere.
The winds become hotter, more humid, and I know I am on the right path. Some deep and ancient feeling in my innermost gut tells me so. I fly through the world, and the surroundings twist and change. I am before a massive gateway, with pearlescent barriers, marked off with deepest crimson hinges.
The gateway swings open and shut with uniform frequency, letting out hot wafts of rancid air with each gargantuan creak. It’s been left open! It smells of food. I leap into the opening before the ivory walls shut behind me.
Luke – Entry 01
The ventilation system is working well enough, so I’m grateful for that. We were getting stifled with all this hot air swirling around in Bodig. Everything seems to be growing worse. Just earlier I had to manage the crimson dams myself. There was a leak, and with a small team of Fixers, I had to direct and fix it. I just hope we didn’t lose too much fluid. Without it, we can’t transport the nutrient blocks to the other sectors of Bodig. Sometimes I wish I had a break. Dammit, I’m working myself to the bone and beyond! And where was the support team that the Charger promised?
Ah, wonderful. My break is over. If I have to clean out the damned ventilation system for the fifth time this day, I swear I’ll smash something. Cleaning the blockages isn’t easy.
The land behind the gates it soft and red, with a field of pink grass. With each step, the ground trembles, stems flicking at my feet, as if analysing me. I kick at them, but they do not fall. More get up to replace them. I walk along, further and further into the dark cave. The wind is now much hotter. It’s almost burning. Yet I keep on. I know my goal lies in here.
The ground trembles, and I lose my footing. With a mighty rumble, the cave begins to shake wildly, and I am tossed around like a doll.
And I land in an even stranger world. I look up, seeing a labyrinthine system of rattling tubes. Some as thin as threads, others triple the length of my own body. I carefully stand up, wondering if this land, also, will pick me up and treat me so lightly.
I look around, curious at this translucent place. Everything is expanding and contracting. There is wind everywhere, pumping out with every scent imaginable. I find the closest tube, wide enough for my body, and crawl through it. In response, the tubes rattle and violently shake. I hear some odd high-pitched whining.
Luke - Entry 02
How often does one Fixer have to clean ventilation blockages? I’ve done over five shifts now, so that should be enough. No, I’m not going to clean it. Find some other cipher to do it. I don’t care if the Charger puts me in isolation. Bodig is a failing system. I’m considering leaving, although I’m not sure when the next ship out of the Sanguine Sea comes… Next week?
I’m losing track of time. Things are always changing here. With the cooling system errantly switching off and on again, everything is hot. We Fixers have to work around the clock to cool down everything. The residents of Celle can’t live in the burning heat. Last time we had a heat-wave, the very land of Bodig seemed to dry and crack up. Nobody could go to the surface, and even less wanted to travel to The Gateway. We were grateful when the flood came. Cold, cold water. … I could use a drink.
The tube shakes and rattles violently, and I am pushed out of the system. ‘System’. The word rings in my mind, without my own knowing. I know so many things without memory nor experience. Now I know that this place can lead me to where the food is. There’s more prey this way. I can feel it well.
I continue to crawl as the tube convulses and spasms, the surface becoming sticky under my hands and knees, and I arrive in another place, with other beings. They walk around, pale green and slow. They’re pouring fluids down the tubes to clean them. Routine cleaning, I can tell. They look so tired.
I leap out and attack the closest one. They don’t even put up a fight. They just surrender as my claws pierce their fat gut. The smell of bitter goo fills the air. … I won’t eat this. Their flesh is toxic, as my gut tells me. I try to get the other ones, but my feet are stuck in the puddle of jelly-like gore.
What does one moment matter? I’ll get there soon enough.
A Communiqué from The Charger:
Attention all Fixers! Bodig is experiencing further breakdown. As you may have noticed, the dams have been pumping slower, and the Bellowers are unable to increase speed. The overall flow of the Sanguine Sea is now at an all-time low. Be as spiteful as you want, it cannot go any faster. So far, traffic is blocked up at the Haupt sector. You may have to take a different route; say, the Laug or Armer routes.
Further information: All Fixers, you must work. This is not me asking, this is ordering. Yes, you may be tired. But for the good of Bodig, you must work together to help the ailing system we live in.
Bodig shall prevail!
So far, I’ve come across rattling tubes, long warren-like hallways, and now, a long lake of roiling yellow water. I stood at the shore, wondering how to cross it. First, I thought this was another place for food. Until I saw a piece of the cave ceiling fall and sink into the water, burning up rapidly.
Strange ships came and went, some sitting still in the acid lake, and others steadily sank, disappearing into the cloudy depths. Without knowing how, I knew that if I fell into that lake, I would be expelled from this place. That is, if I didn’t immediately burn.
I took a detour, heading away from the stink of chemicals and dead meats. Wasn’t there anything fresh here?
On I travelled, finding another place. The smell of hot metal was overwhelming. This time, it was divided into separate parts. I found myself standing in a wide, cave-like room. There were tubes everywhere, pumping odd beings back and forth. Each tube was filled with a creature, being shot upward or downward. They ranged from dark red to pale, yet all had the same structures. ‘Transport’, my mind thought.
These beings also looked tired. Every last one of them languid, with all the same faces: over-worked and over-tired. I didn’t even have to strain myself. I simply forced my claws into the nearest, strongest-looking cell, stood under the swelling hole in the ceiling, and I was pulled into a tube, shooting upwards.
Luke – Entry 04
Yet another interruption to the ventilation system. I see the Cleaners hadn’t worked hard enough. One was missing, and the others refused to return. I don’t understand! How can they have become so lazy?
… Ah. It’s not laziness.
One of the Cleaners is dead.
I don’t understand. The Cleaners are some of the most resilient beings we have in Bodig!
I’m hearing talk of an intruder. Someone who wants to disturb the delicate balance we have. That’s impossible. The last intruder we dealt with was crushed immediately. The Cleaners poured down their philtres, trapping the vile creature in the pipes before it could crawl to Haupt, Geot, or Intus. Then it was thrown out of the Gateway, never to be seen again.
Now we have a new threat. Something stronger.
The Charger is refusing to acknowledge it. Says that we’re too strong to be taken over.
Too strong? The dams are refusing to work, the ventilation system keeps on rattling, the acid disposal system is becoming hotter and more unstable, there’s constant traffic blocks in the Sanguine Sea and the cooling system is faulty!
Sod this. I’m going to see the Tekels. Maybe they’ll listen to me…
I’m in a new place now. Everything’s different. No longer this hot place with the stink of metal, but a clean, blue place with the smell of ozone. There are wires lining out almost every other structure, pulsing with pale blue light. Whirring, whining, clicking… There’s too much noise…
The beings here are new. They’re taller. They stride along these clean blue halls, thin and lank, with wiry hair. They’re clear, like glass, with veins of white and grey running through them. I can see whole crowds of them, plugging wires back and forth, switching through some huge and complex task that I don’t even know how to comprehend.
I do know that they’re not posing any threat to me. They don’t look like guards.
… There’s another room.
A large pillar of pure white shines in the middle, surrounded by many beings. They’re all looking at glowing monitors, analysing this shining device. Almost revering it. It’s very cold in here. I know what I need to do.
I shut the doors behind me, taking a length of wire and tying it shut. I lunge forward and lay my claws into them before they can even scream. Before long, the place is coated in gore, quickly freezing. Soon, I find out the function of this white pillar: It’s the cooling device. Keeps this place from overheating.
With a dark laugh, I break it open and fray the wiring. Moments later, I hear the sirens. The temperature begins to rise. I stare at the broken wires in my crimson hands, still glowing faintly. A trophy of my conquest.
I run, looking for an exit, yet I see that the others have been alerted. The tall ones, now filled with burning yellow light. I’ve been seen. They know what I’ve done.
I try to bury my claws into them, but they’re too fast. Before I can even blink, they’re upon me, and I’m tangled in their long limbs.
Luke – Entry 06
Ha! It seems my suspicions were correct. We did, in fact, have an intruder. One from the outside. He’d been sabotaging Bodig’s already-flawed system. Currently, they have him holed-up in… wat… the Manas sector.
Great. That’s all we need. That area has practically zero defences!
What’s next? A complete shut-down?
… Me and my big mouth. We’re running on auxiliary power now.
I’ve just been called to bring in the Tekels. Invigilator Monat is summoning every Fighter available to keep on guard.
“Zymo-arms primed. Plasma shields up.”
These words are what shake me from my drowse. The glassy creatures are gone, hiding away in some other area. I’ve been tied with wire and cannot move.
More beings are before me. Pale, yet strong. They carry strange devices I do not recognise.
… I have to confess, for the first time in my life, I doubt the Tekel’s ability. I’m not one of Monat’s Fighters, since I’ve been designated to Tracker, but… I can see what’s going on. Through the optics, I can see the intruder. And it is not pretty.
The last intruder we had was smaller, and fewer of the Celle residents died. I remember. They were squat and robust, with rose-colour skin. They’d managed to break through the surface, leaving a wake of pits and craters. We’d managed to stop them before any serious damage.
Now… looking at this one, I seriously doubt if we’ll be able to stop this one.
He’s taller. Dark. His body is sharp and lean, hands covered in the blood of his most recent kill.
I’ve just heard the cooling system is broken now.
I look at the rows upon rows of pallid soldiers. I see they’re carrying weapons.
“Fire!” the tallest one shouts. I brace myself for the onslaught.
A barrage of cold chemical bullets assaulted my hide. Yet my skin doesn’t break. I open my eyes, seeing I am unharmed.
“Another volley! Piercing rounds!”
Yet another barrage. It should be tearing into my skin, but nothing’s hurting me.
I begin to tear at my bonds, finally freeing myself.
Before the third round is fired, I lunge at the tallest one and take their head off. The soldiers continue to fire at me, but I know that their weapons are ineffective. Mere raindrops. I scythe through them. The siren continues to sound. In all this time, they didn’t even send someone to fix the cooling system! This place is more complacent than I’d previously guessed.
With every being that charges at me, ranging from soldier to cipher, they are no match for me. Flesh galore. There's enough meat here to last a lifetime! I gorge myself on the glut of translucent gore, feeling ever stronger.
I fear this will be my last entry.
We weren’t prepared. We thought we were strong enough, but we thought wrong.
Yes, we defeated that intruder that came years ago, but they were different. They’re getting stronger these days.
The system is getting hotter and hotter. The dams aren’t running correctly. Some aren’t even running at all. There have been multiple breaks. They’re leaking out.
Bodig was not an impenetrable fortress as the Charger had seen it to be.
We’re going down.
Being a Fixer was good while it lasted. But I dearly wished I had told the Charger to seek out better ammunition and training for the Tekels. We were just too weak.
I can only hope the zymo-arm has one bullet left…
The siren rises to a crescendo, of a piercing wail of agony. I feel so light. So fast.
The walls begin to creak, and the pipes behind them rattle themselves into a frenzy. They split, spilling out fluids of every colour imaginable. Still clutching those faint white wires, I sprint down a crimson hallway, making my glorious escape.
The land becomes hot around me, hotter than ever. Burning now. After going through hallways for what seems like forever, I see a familiar sight. Pearl barrier shutting and opening intermittently. The gateway!
I throw myself out, finally freed. The cold wind lifts me up, away from the dying system. I wonder what other bastion I can infiltrate.
The pallid boy on the gurney is staring at the ceiling with blurred eyes. Everything hurts.
He can barely think for delirium, and his fever is getting worse by the minute. So far, the doctors haven’t been able to do anything but hook him up to an IV, cardiograph and surround him in ice packs.
His skin is dotted with rough red blotches. Rashes.
“Final diagnosis, nurse?”
“Rubella.” She gravely says.
German measles. He’d thought that disease extinct by now, or at least only present in heavily impoverished countries.
“What do the tests say?”
“Inflammation of the brain. He’ll be comatose before the day is out. If he lives by some miracle, he’ll most likely be blinded for the rest of his life.”
The doctor shakes his head mournfully.
He can never understand why some parents just don’t vaccinate their children.