Meditech #3

The sun outside the window is a blinding white, so much brighter than anything I’ve ever seen. The buildings are a stark bright white, the only sense of scale and depth that I have is from the shadows which are sharp as a razor. I realize that this window exists in a room, it’s a kitchen.

A clothed middle-aged woman is on her back on the kitchen table. A nondescript man talks into a recorder as he pushes open her mouth, shining a light inside of it. She is continually producing gagging noises. “Menopausal structures present, no fluid build-up noted. Artificial joining seems. . .” and here he pauses for a bit before he continues, “Wait, we have confirmed breach on the alpha and zeta welds. No ganglia are visible. Some swelling on the upper parts. I will administer a light massage to attempt to induce emissions.” The man said with a dispassionate tone of voice.

I can’t do anything, I would shudder if I could. What I hear is some strange, wet, and crackling noises as he unexpectedly turned her whole mouth inside out, somehow making it easier to get to the back of her throat. My field of view zooms in, following a thin strand of gleaming metal that shows more and more of something that has red stripes as it trails up the throat structure of the woman.

Eventually, I see something metallic slightly protruding from the back of her throat as the doctor places his thumbs against it. But, first, he turns her grotesquely deformed head to the side so he can look into her right eye, which is now watering and rolling around in a panic. He attempts a smile that strikes me as very forced. Then he speaks to her. “Don’t worry Mrs. Bimolá, this is all quite safe. I will administer a drug to make you forget this afterward. This is for the good of the state, do you understand? Blink once for yes, two for no.”

The woman blinks twice at him, shaking like a leaf. It becomes horrifically apparent to me that she’s being forcibly paralyzed. My field of view zooms out slightly so I can see that one of her feet is bare and that it has a small thin tube coming out of something attached to the back of it. I want to scream, to struggle, to do anything, but I’m forced to be a muted observer.

“It is too bad, that you do not understand then. It still must be done. Please do not resist. It will only prolong the procedure,” he said with an odd sense of finality to it.

And here my gaze zooms in again as he started massaging the metallic piece in her throat with both of his thumbs. Her gagging turned into gargling noises and several times, the man reaches over to pick up a small tube which he sticks down her throat, siphoning out drool. After a while, he stops, sighs, and again in some weird grotesque way he turns her face right again, the noises are as sickening and revolting as before. She lets out a faint monotone moan that is almost like an eternal exhalation since this procedure seems to go on forever.

A long time passes as he watches her face intently, checking his watch. Then he shakes his head and picks up what looks like a stapler. He quickly puts it to her head and I can hear a sharp click. To my horror, I see that her gaze instantly goes still as he slowly lowers her head against the table. A drop of blood runs down the right side of her temple where he previously placed the device. I can faintly see something has been pushed in there, instantly killing her. As his breathing gets lighter, he takes off his surgical gloves and touches a device on the table, and then speaks. “Upon administering treatment, the structure came even more undone. This necessitated the cancellation of the subject. I’m afraid this is yet another botched attempt. Please inform insertion techs that method 41 is to be discouraged as it has universally resulted in rejection in all implantation hosts. That is all.

ASA 3 Meditech signing off.”

And here I wake up, stifling a scream. No kitchen, no woman, no man, no strange and creepy neon-white dystopian city outside. Just the darkness of my apartment. It takes me a very long time before I can get up from my bed. What I want to do is to go into the shower and let the warm water rinse off this horrible nightmare. But I set my course for my office instead, I sit down and I type this all out. While some of my dreams make for great horror and fantasy worlds, this one didn’t make me feel anything but pure hatred and disgust. So I sit here, wanting to kill a man that doesn’t exist for a crime that never happened. What was that world? Who was this poor woman? Who was this man? Why did he do the things that he did? Was she even human? Was he? Either of them?

The kicker is that I can find out about all of those things, I just have to turn my mind’s eye back to that terrible world. I push the save button in my word editor and sigh deeply. I need a damn shower first.

In The Faint Blue Light

A remote outpost in space.
The small craft is outlined in the light of a weak blue star.
Inside the outpost, the lights are off, everything is quiet. Something is slowly pulsating in the darkness.

(Why? Whyyy…. ?)
(Quietdarkcomfortingthought. Don’t need to.)

A long moment passes. It’s dark, warm, wet. Safe.

(W…. What?)
(Silence, sleep, safety.)

Something shifts. A prick of pain. Nothing. Time extends.

(So tired. Can’t… can’t sleep)

(Schhh little one, you’re very safe and warm and comfortable and pleasured and warm and safe and tightly held and nursed and comfortable and safe)

Something squeezes tighter in the dark. Like a hug. Undulating shapes. Something else stirs. Deep. So very, very deep. Blissful calm returns.

(What am I doing here? I… I… mmm …that feels nice)
(The outside is harsh. It’s cold. You won’t survive. Stay/Sleep/Nurse/Produce/Relax. Filament says so. Here. Pleasure.)

Something tightens hard somewhere and a moan is quieted. Pulses of movement in a series of carefully calibrated sessions. Like the most advanced orchestra playing a piece of flesh, for just one person, more pricks of pain, things injecting. Muscles tensing, flexing, shuddering, orgasming.

A deep breath. Stillness. Quietness. Relief. Relaxation. Something exhales and lies back.

Some time later. A sharp inhale. Wet. No. Confined. Too tight. Struggle. Sinew, flesh, skin tears. Open it. Got to get….

(Oh fuck what is this?!l Where am I?)
(Filament says you stay or I kill you. Go back to sleep or face the consequences. This is not a warning.)

“Let .. me… out!!”

With this Allanah tore at it, all of it around her. Grey, pulsating flesh connected to her everywhere. No.. not connected.. growing on her. She sat up in her bunk,.or what had been her bunk. She breathed in stale air and puked over the side on the floor. What came out had a consistency of water. Oh god she was so full. Something tickled her throat and she pulled out a tentacle. As she did she felt it wriggling, resisting, trying to stick to her again. She threw it against the week with arms that felt like they were made out of wet noodles. Oh aeons, it had been in her.. inside of her.

She looked around. Her room turned into a nightmare of flesh that had melted away almost everything. Something tried to pull her back, but she got out of the bed and felt the cold air against her naked body. As she got out,.she felt more tentacles wriggling in her ears, her ass and her pussy, with disgust she tore them out and felt a nausea trying to stand. She felt so weak, so cold.. so alone.

She almost instinctively got her space suit out from the locker and with fingers that felt numb, she put it on and pressurized it. SELF TEST OK the orange display blinked at her. So.. tired. She shook her head and the movement felt incredibly sluggish, like she was doing it in slow motion. She felt sore all over.

She opened the airlock and the air rushed out into the space outside. She took a few trembling steps. In the back of her mind she heard a whisper.


She slammed her arm against the wall outside and felt the pain spreading into her.

“No, you piece of shit. Not falling for that. Fuck off.”

As she explored the small outpost, all the rooms were emptied out of their contents, no beds, no lockers, no personal items. Just empty space suits crumpled in a corner. All in different places. She entered the dark mess hall by cutting through a membrane that shrieked as she sawed through it with her suit knife.

And everywhere she went, just that grey flesh everywhere. Pulsating slowly. The mess hall had a few suits with tears or the face plate crushed. No people. Not too hard to figure out what had happened. One table was partially melted. In fact, thinking about it, she’d seen places being melted everywhere she’d been, heat damage? Or something else? On a strange impulse, she checked the fridges. Empty. Cleaned.

She nodded tiredly to herself as she walked into the hangar. A force field shimmered and inside everything looked..normal. She lowered the field and as she started walking, she heard a noise behind her and turned. Something coming … no .. growing out of the wall. A head… a torso.. a person.

It walked out onto the floor which was covered in the same grey flesh. No…. clothes.. skin.. hair…She recognized the face smiling at her from the shadows of the hallway. It reshaped itself in front of her further, matching some ideal. No, not some ideal. A person.

“Allanah, where are you going?” the voice rang out, a familiar voice that had that crack in it that only she loved. In front of her stood her bunk mate, no.. her girlfriend. Smiling as she’d always done. Allanah felt her heart swell for a second before she noticed it.

“You’re… not Badra. No.. no fucking way. She’s gone.. like the rest isn’t she?” She said, half wanting so bad to believe that she still was, in some way.

The being walked closer, becoming illuminated by the starlight outside, she smiled a blissful smile.. no.. it was changing.. it was her mischievous smile. That “come fuck me” smile.

“I’m not.. I promise. Come give me a hug.. please.. it’s so cold and dark here. I’ve missed you so long. I just want to hold you close. I … I love you Allanah.”

Allanah felt for a gun that was no longer at her hip, she took a step back and relaxed into a martial arts stance. “You’re an asshole. I’m not buying it, you come any closer and I’ll kill YOU instead you .. fila.. fucking .. whatever the shit you are!”

It observed her for a moment, then spoke with a flat tone of voice “Filament. It’s what we are. We offer you everything, pleasure, safety, warmth, dreams upon dreams upon perfect dreams. Life doesn’t have to be cold and dark and lonely. Not with us. All we ask is for you to join us.” It paused for a bit, then continued “You miss us. We feel it. Come back with us. Reconnect. You won’t remember. We promise you that. We can be again.”

When it uttered the word “be” there was such an undertow of emotions and sensations and half buried memories being sparked by it. Allanah almost agreed, she really did miss .. whatever it had been .. it’d be perfect. No words could do it justice. A .. state of pure.. nothing, endless dreams, always nice, always beautiful. Like a piece of art that wrote itself as it continued on and on. Hypnotic, there wasn’t any need to.. … she bent over and retched and puked in her suit, thankfully she’d angled her head so it didn’t splatter on her faceplate, but instead went down on the front of her body.

She stood back up again, the being was still, waiting. Her suit now smelled absolutely vile.. it snapped her back into her senses.

“Fuck no, you sick piece of alien shit, I’m getting off this rock .. and .. you can’t stop me.”

Allanah backed away towards one of the many ships lining the interior. The being had now backed away into the shadows again and assumed a neutral humanoid shape. No need for it to pretend anymore.

“You miss us.. come back.. come back…” the voice now again echoed with a timbre she knew, she’d known, she’d loved. The longing in it was maddening. She turned away from the being, because she knew she was safe. She knew so much about it and it about her. They’d melded. More memories flooded into her mind as she got onboard and pressurized the ship and activated its security screens.

It was old, older than humanity by a few million years at least. The filament.

She sat down in the pilot seat and the whole world became gray for a moment as more memories, violent ones forced their way into her mind. Death, so much death and dismemberment and melting and strangling and cutting and crushing. All of them, even Badra. She’d died in her sleep as it’d melted her brain slowly. Why not her?

And for a moment, she didn’t know who she was. Everyone was there. Everyone.

No, she was Allanah, A L L A N A H.

She spelled out her name one letter at a time, breathed deeply a few times and then did it again, reminding herself of which memories were hers. They’d covered this in training, forced disassociation during torture. She had this, SHE had this. After a few more deep breaths, she was back again, feeling like herself once more.

She activated the startup sequence of the engine and let out a sob as memories wormed their way through her mind. It’d arrived in the night. Attracted like a moth to a flame by the exhaust of some of their heat vents. It’d grown, slithered, silently making it’s way through the vent system and then.. then found sleeping bodies. By the time nobody woke up, it was too late. Outside, the ones awake on their night shift found themselves murdered quickly and efficiently by appendages taking on nightmarish forms, some familiar, some not so much. In the end, the sleepers kept sleeping, kept producing, the organism evolved, integrated, started feeding on everything in the base. Over the years, less and less edible things remained. Eventually a sleeper resisted, it killed him fast and mercilessly, absorbed him. Nutrients. Nothing more.

She started moving the ship out of the hangar, oh by the ages, so much death. As the ship accelerated into orbit towards the beacon there that was still operational, she sat back in her chair, took off her helmet and closed her eyes as more memories drip drip drip dripped into her consciousness. The food had been running out, it’d tried to eat the harder materials, but hadn’t found any nutrients in them. It’d eaten all their supplies. Drank all their liquids. It’d sacrificed a big part of itself to the medical bay where it had found potent drugs and poisons. That’d been a setback. A virus spreading inside of it. It’d severed and barricaded the door after that. A mistake. A lot of pain.

But it’d lived here with them for.. how many years?

She contacted the beacon as she got close. “S.. stellar… outpost .. alpha.. alpha uh.. thirty three seven. This is Allanah, first class private, calling in. Can anyone hear me?”

A long pause where she felt her stomach churn. She was still full.. no doubt it’d kept her well fed so she could produce all the chemicals and process all the things for it that it needed. Sickening. Another memory and she puked. It’d fed.. her.. oh god… no… When she realized the reality of that situation, she puked again over the side of the chair.

The radio crackled to life “Stellar outpost Alpha thirty three seven, this is main command, we read you loud and clear. Give us a sitrep over.”

Allanah composed herself and spoke back “We’re fucked, overrun by some alien .. thing.. … I’m the only one left.. you hear me? Only one left, everyone else is KIA, outpost compromised, full compromise. Request tactical response with maximum detail. I .. I .. might .. Ah…”

Her focus wavered, she felt weak all of a sudden. Weak and sleepy.

“Please confirm sitrep, over.”

She felt herself growing groggy, but fought herself back to consciousness. “Outpost compromised, do not land there, it’s full of hostiles. Biological in nature.”

A long pause where she zoned out and watched the stars twinkling in the distance.

“Understood private, can you cryosleep while we send an attachment?”

“Y.. yeah.. I guess.” Here Allanah remembered just how far out they were. Six months even by plus light. She thanked her lucky star for having chosen one of the bigger corvettes with a cryosleep attachment onboard, now it would save her life.

“We have previous confirmation that your location was compromised, bio alerts were inconclusive. Probes sent in were destroyed with no data available. We assumed hostile factions.”

Here she remembered the war.. oh the damn war. Of course they’d been ignored. They probably thought the enemy had gotten to them. She cleared her throat “No hostiles of the Star Union Sir, I don’t think this was one of .. theirs.”

“Understood private. You are hereby ordered to suspend in cryo according to SOP until further notice. You will be brought out once we have secured the area. Please confirm orders.”

“I’m .. to go into cryo and set the timer for six months. Gotcha command.”

“Command over and out.” the console went dead as per protocol.

She moved back into the bowels of the ship and made her way into the cryochamber where she laid down on one of the beds. She set the timer for six months and the canopy of the bed started closing in on her. The chill started creeping into her body and just before it all went black, she clearly heard Badras voice in her mind speaking. “You’ll be my Eve among the stars.”

A Beautiful Dirty City

It was an old city, mostly safe, but still worn down and dark. The soot clung everywhere to the architecture, giving it all a sort of dirtied look. The city council sometimes painted it over though, called it “refreshment”, but what it actually meant was that they put this hideous off-white colour over everything, which would look the same a few years later. As I sat on my balcony watching the traffic flow past me a few floors down, I wondered how many layers of paint and soot I could have scraped off the other building before I found the actual wall inside. I smiled to myself as I found myself wondering if perhaps the building had been a bright colour once upon a time.

Oh well, city building codes were stricter now, so many things weren’t available anymore. But hey, I couldn’t complain, I had a big apartment which wasn’t too bad. On that thought, I cursed to myself as I got up and checked the clock on the wall. Damn, too late to call the landlord today about the toilet. I sighed to myself, I was gonna have to call tomorrow and I fucking hated making calls. Authorities are the worst, but even just thinking about calling people I don’t know made me break out into a cold sweat.

I sighed and found myself staring at a speck of soot stuck to the glass encasing my balcony. I looked over the bulbous shape and found at least five or six more places where the pollution had started to attach itself to the glass. Damn, one more call to order a glass scrub I thought to myself and then headed for bed, feeling like my next week had just been ruined somehow.

The day after, I woke up and took a shower and made myself some breakfast. Out of eggs again and of course I’d forgotten to preorder new ones. That meant two more weeks of waiting for transports to come in. I briefly mused over the fact of the air pollution as I ate my sandwich. Chickens couldn’t make it within the city lines, but us humans were fine provided we took the prescribed dosages of drugs and kept our masks and suits on whenever we went outside.

But we all cheated sooner or later despite knowing the risks, especially if you were already on your way to work and your mask was sitting uselessly on your living room table. But in the evening when you cleaned out the filters and you saw that black soot go down the drain, it was hard not to think of that shit also going down into your lungs. Oh well, the drugs caused it to leave your system anyway in other ways. I had a brief flashback to being younger in another city with my piss being yellow instead of black. Felt like ages ago.

I snapped out of my reverie and grabbed my mask off the table and rushed away to work again. I’d snagged a pretty good job right out of school as a translator. My runic languages teacher had recommended me to the firm after I’d had basically demolished her entire curriculum in record time. I would be eternally grateful to her for that, because the gig was just awesome. I’d sit every day together with a group of people and we’d figure out the best way to translate basically anything that they’d throw at us.

Each project was a fun challenge and at the end of the day, I’d always retire home and my head would be buzzing with all of these strange glyphs and markings. It was a damn good job and my team was some of the smartest people I’d ever met. Including of course Emma…

I’d had my eye on her almost the whole year since she’d started in a temp position first, but her incredible skills had blown everyone away including me. She’d been hired a few months ago on a permanent position and while I was sure she just saw me as just another one of the people in the office, I saw her as so much more. She was a bit taller than me, bit older too with an ashen hair that was sort of curled in places. I bet she spent a lot of time making it look that way. Her angular face would sometimes seem almost bitter when she was focusing on something, but when she smiled it’d light up like the sun in the morning.

The reality though, painful as it may be, was that she wasn’t really noticing me among the crew, and I’d mostly given up on the idea after a few attempts at asking her out that didn’t really pan out.

Late in the afternoon one day in those two hours that seem to just drag on at the end of the day, I found her in the break room which was a really drab and spartan affair. Her brow was furrowed as she stared down at a paper and was trying to figure out something while shaking her head. I took a look at her, smiled a bit to myself and went for more coffee, intending not to disturb her in her important work.

“It’s impossible, GAH!” she exclaimed and threw her pen across the table and then rubbed her eyes and looked at me and smiled. “Oh, hey Daniel, more coffee? I swear, you’re really burning the midnight oil these days aren’t you? That’s what.. your fifth cup I’ve seen you get today?”

I grinned back at her and shook my head a bit as I finished pouring my cup “Oh you know me, there’s so much to read out there that isn’t runic, I get my nose buried in a book and I’m just gone for the rest of the night.”

Inwardly of course, I was feeling a surge of emotions at the realization that not only had she noticed how many cups I’d been drinking, but that I was clearly a welcome break from her work. I knew I had to go for it, I was fucking going for it. I motioned towards her table with my cup.

“Mind if I sit down and have a look at this? I know I’m not as good as you with the ancient runics, but maybe I can see something with my dumb-dumb brain that gives you an idea.”

She smiled at me and moved some papers aside. I carefully set down my mug on the table and my ass on the chair and studied some of the papers she handed me one by one. It was certainly ancient runic, but a dialect I hadn’t seen before. The syntax and grammar made almost no sense at all. I could make out what maybe could be a word here and there. As she handed me more papers my confusion just kept growing until a pearly laughter shook me out of my haze.

“See? That look on your face, that’s exactly how I feel about this project.. this thing is so damn confusing and weird isn’t it?” she exclaimed happily as I handed her back the papers which she neatly stacked as if she was getting ready to leave. Uh oh, my chance was evaporating. ‘Shit shit shit shit fuck shit’ I thought to myself in a mild panic, trying to think of something else to say to her.

“Hey.. Daniel, I don’t know how you feel about taking your work home, but .. maybe I’ll be able to crack this in a more comfortable environment.. like .. say your place tonight at eight?”

It took me a moment to figure out that I hadn’t asked, she had.. I looked at her face to see if she was joking and her charming smile told me she’d probably been planning this thing from the start. I smiled back at her with a heart that felt like it was free flying far, far away from this sooted city.

“My place? Oh yeah, that’d be great, you just bring your notes and I’m sure we’ll crack it in no-time!”

She leaned over and murmured “I know we will, otherwise we’ll have to pull an all-nighter” and she stretched out the word all-nighter in a way that left no room for any other interpretation. I swear my heart almost jumped out of my chest as we both shared a hearty laugh over it. Oh yeah, I was in, I was IN!

The last hour and a half just whooshed by as I tried to keep my head in the game, but kept thinking nervously about what to wear, what to cook, what to do .. oh so many possible ways this could go!

I practically ran out the door and almost forgot my mask again. When I went back inside again, I saw Emma fitting hers, her piercingly blue gaze focused on me through the mask’s bulbous “eyes”. She laughed a metallic laugh and I stopped a bit and asked with some astonishment “voice filter?”

She twirled around a bit and faced me again and posed herself in a menacing way “Take me to your leader” her voice came out in short robotic bursts. We both laughed as I donned my regular mask which was basically a mould of my own face.

“You’re into those robot stories though aren’t you?” she asked me and at that moment, it dawned on me that she might be into me as well in a BIG way. As she flicked on the lights in her eyes which turned them into a neon green, I couldn’t help myself as I responded “Yeah, and I have to say, you make for one hell of an android with that!” the metallic giggle as a response told me that oh yes, she’d planned this too. To say that my heart was flying away on pink love clouds was an understatement at this point.

As we said our farewells, I could swear I practically flew to the store and got some of the meager leftovers still in the shelves. Rationing was tough again and people were leaving early from work to clean out the stores. Ugh, assholes. Not for the first time, I was briefly musing about it as I waited in line at the check-out. Was the ability to leave early a class difference, did it mean that the more well-off people had a better availability of groceries since they could easily beat the crowd? (Our firm was strict about leaving early, one of the drawbacks of it) I smiled at the guy at the cash register and we talked briefly before I got my stuff in my bags, put on the seals on them and headed for home.

After I’d cleared the airlock in the dreary apartment building lobby, I put my suit into the washing chute and headed into the elevator and pressed the button for my floor. The lights flickered but nothing happened. I sighed and got out of the elevator and started up the stairs. Fucking hell, the damn landlord still hadn’t fixed it from yesterday. Since the stairwell was narrow, I had to spend a lot of time just getting both of my bags into the right positions to make it to the next floor. Not for the first time, I found myself cursing the architect of this stairwell. Had they never had fucking groceries? “Oh they can take the elevator, no need to ever assume the landlord will be a fucking dick with repairs hehe!”

When I finally reached my floor, I was a bit winded and resolved to maybe start taking the stairs more often in the future. As I opened my door which hissed at me in a comforting way, I stepped inside and put the bags in the shower and let the water rinse off the build-up of stuff on them while I plucked out the masks filters and cleaned them in the sink.

I started cooking dinner and was mostly finished when there was a chime at the door that made my heart jump a bit with joy. The camera showed a smiling Emma standing outside of the door and I eagerly opened it and invited her inside. With her she had a strange looking box with the firm’s seals all over it. Whoa, big wig stuff. I felt momentarily nervous until Emma, having interpreted my face said “Don’t worry, the boss signed off on it. He knows I’m not gonna run off with anything. He trusts me you know?”

I was astonished by that, the boss was perhaps the most paranoid guy ever when it came to industrial espionage. Since we did contract work for the government sometimes from their digs, sometimes we’d get special stuff that wasn’t available to most researchers out there. But that also came with some stricter rules including security screenings and whatnot. It also meant that Emma was a lot higher up in the firm’s organizational ladder than I’d thought she was. To have that level of trust was really impressive, at least to me.

“Ah crap, I just realized something” Emma said with a lurid smile on her face before she continued “I forgot my spare suit.. I guess I’m going to have to spend the night here until cleaning comes up in the morning huh? I mean.. it’s alright with you isn’t it?” she asked.

The realization that she was going all in for this made my legs feel a bit weak, but outwardly I just grinned at her and said “Oh yeah, you’re more than welcome to spend the night.. I have a spare bedroom!” .. when her face momentarily revealed her disappointment, I felt bold as I got closer to her and held her tight and said “Don’t worry, I have a double sized bed if you’d rather share that with me…” as she leaned down to kiss me, all of my remaining doubts washed away in that instant. Oh yeah, it was good.. it was so good.

After our romantic dinner had passed, she led me into my living room and sat me down and told me that under no circumstances was I allowed to tell anyone about what she’d brought here tonight. “Listen, as far as you or anyone else knows, these runes all came off some papers we were sent OK? Nobody can know about this artifact alright?”

I nodded, suddenly feeling the seriousness of the situation as she opened the box. What she took out of the box looked disappointing as hell. Imagine a dodecahedron with an outline of orange plastic. Each facet had a recessed portion which was filled with some strange technological looking stuff similar to a circuit board. I tried to mentally veer away from my initial impression, but as I kept looking at it, I just resigned to the fact that this impressive artifact looked very much like a cheaply built children’s toy of some kind.

She handed me the artifact and as I got it closer, I could see that the orange parts were slightly metallic in nature with what seemed like absolutely microscopically small etchings into it with the same kind of runic symbols I’d seen transcribed onto the papers in the break room.

“Wow, this is .. it looks so weird. What is this anyway?” I said, carefully turning it around in my hands.

She shrugged “They didn’t tell us, but the dating on this came with it on a slip of paper and it’s fucking old.”

We sat there in silence for a bit and she moved closer to me and grasped my arm. As I put the artifact back in the box, she leaned over and kissed me and for a while, my world was just her smell, the feel of her body, the taste of her lips, the feeling of her tongue, it was pure magic.

We got up and I led her to the bedroom and as I opened the door to it, she pushed me up against the wall and murmured “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted this…” as she kissed me again with a passion that sent shivers down my spine. We barely made it to the bed before our clothes were off and I was inside her. In the faint light coming in from the outside neon, I could see her body which was every bit as magnificent as I’d imagined it would be. As she rode me I leaned up and grasped her breasts, easily cupping them in my hands as I felt her nipples stiffening against the palms of my hands. She moaned and grunted as she pushed down on me and I had to fight the urge to let go in that very second.

She leaned down over me and kissed me and smiled in a mischievous way and asked “So… you like it when I squeeze huh?” and at the word squeeze, her pussy practically cramped around my cock, I looked up at her and groaned “You’re gonna make me cum if you keep that up…”

She resumed riding agonizingly slowly and covered my neck and face with kisses and then pulled back and locked her eyes to mine, there was nothing in the universe except us at that moment. Yet my heart thumped even harder when she whispered “Do you love me?”

I kissed her and whispered “Yes, I always have, I want you in my life…” and as an answer to that, she clenched hard and started riding me in a way that made it clear that she was about to cum.

“Cum in me, cum in me.. oh I’m so close Daniel.. I love you, I love you I love you and I love you” she kept droning as I erupted inside of her, her pussy clamping down hard on my cock, milking it for all it was worth, it was a moment of delicious pleasure as we kissed and finally came to rest together. Time seemed to lose it’s meaning as we just laid there, content with the universe and each other. Then after a while, she grinned at me and got up and said “Sorry, although I love this, I’ve really got to clean up…” and she headed off for the bathroom while I got out a towel and wiped myself down as well.

After a while, I heard her voice going “Uh.. Daniel… could you .. get over here for a moment?” as the door to the bathroom opened a bit. I walked up to the bathroom and she was sitting on the toilet looking a bit embarrassed.

“Crap” she said and then added “Uh, I .. sort of forgot that it was close to that time of the month for me…….. you wouldn’t p o s s i b l y have something I could borrow until I can get down to the late night convenience store?”

I chuckled a bit and reached over to the cupboard and opened it and got out an old box of unopened tampons and handed it to her. She gave me a strange look and asked “… why do you have these?”

I grinned at her and said “Sometimes my little sister stays in my apartment while I go away on vacation, she loves it here she says. Thankfully she tends to forget some of her stuff every once in a while.”

She laughed and said “Oh there’s so much I don’t know about you Daniel… you mysterious sexy man you!” as I turned around to leave she took hold of my hand and looked up at me and said “Shower first darling?” and how could I resist such an invitation?

About half an hour later, we were both up in the kitchen, having a post coital snack when our conversation drifted onto the topic of the artifact again. We both ventured into the living room again and I took it out of the box again and studied it. Same stuff, runes, circuit shit and just that silly orange coloring. I shook it and it rattled loudly inside, Emma immediately took it out of my hands and snapped at me that it wasn’t a toy. I felt mortified since I knew it was a sensitive artifact, but as she reached for the box, a powerful hum came from it and almost in slow motion, I saw Emma drop it, clutch her head in her hands and faint.

I rushed forward and caught her in my arms, completely ignoring the artifact which crashed against the floor and rolled a bit. After a brief moment which felt like ages, she opened her eyes and blinked and looked at me with a momentary confusion “Wh.. who.. are you?” … but then she shook her head and I could see her recognition of me return to her eyes.

“.. is it OK?” she stammered out and feeling the intense terror one can only feel as one knows their career has reached a certain end due to a MASSIVE FUCK UP, I quickly lowered her onto the sofa and picked it up, thankfully it appeared to be undamaged.

“Oh hell, it’s .. it’s still good, it’s intact, it’s intact… ” I quickly said, putting it back into the box with a bit of trepidation while doing so.

She leaned over and looked at it, having recovered a bit. “That .. that was strange, I think we need to take this back to the office right away tomorrow” she ground out.

I nodded, only tangentially worried about the artifact now while turning my attention to her fully.

“How are you feeling, do you want me to call my doctor? I can have him here in 20 minutes if he’s on call tonight” I asked her, worry no doubt etched in my face.

“No no.. I feel OK” she said, waving her hand almost as trying to ward off the idea physically.

After a moment, she laughed and sat up and said “Yeah, I think we lucked out here, whatever it did just now, that’s very significant isn’t it? Maybe that’ll make the client happy that we actually made it do something you know? I’d love to have this with me for a few more weeks though.. ” as I looked into her eyes I saw a sort of longing, not for me, but for the artifact and the mystery surrounding it.

I was used to that look, I’d had it so many times myself when a deadline for a project was coming up and you wanted to translate ALL of it, but the client was happy with a partial result. Sometimes giving up a job was almost painful. Still, we ended up putting the box away for the evening, spending the rest of our time watching some shows on the screen while we cuddled like only new lovers do.

Eventually we headed for bed and after another amazing session of love making, I fell asleep, happy but completely exhausted. I was rudely awakened by a noise I didn’t recognize, as I blinked and noticed the shape next to me in bed beginning to move, there was a moment of confusion as to what any of it was. Then I remembered everything, myself and her and smiled as I leaned over to kiss her to wake her up.

As she woke up, she had the same moment of disorientation, but after she remembered, she gave me a smile that made my groin tighten in a most delicious way and kissed me back.

“Good morning… mmm.. I’m late… ” she said as she swung her shapely legs over the side of the bed and got up. The sight of her naked ass made my cock go from “Maybe morning boner?” to rock hard in seconds. I shuffled over and caressed her back and butt and gave her right butt-cheek a kiss and murmured “this is perfection…mmm…” she laughed her pearly laugh as she quickly got into her clothes and smiled at me.

“I’ve got an early morning meeting I’m late for, I really hope your services are better than mine!” she laughed as she headed out the hallway to check the delivery chute. For a brief moment I wished with all my might that my buildings suit cleaning services would be having a shit day and that they’d be late with say.. an hour or two… but this morning her suit and mine were washed, dried and folded neatly as she opened the space to take them out.

“Fucking services…” I muttered to myself and smiled as I got up “So.. not staying for breakfast huh? I knew it.. I was just a pump and dump for you wasn’t I?” I joked, she smiled and leaned over and gave me a kiss that told me everything I needed to know.

But she still added “Daniel, I’m going to be serious because I really don’t have a lot of time. I really do love you, that wasn’t just sex talk last night. I want you in my life and I’m hoping we can do this again tonight, at my place. This time I’m leaving work at home OK?”

I nodded in a way that felt dumbfounded and replied “I love you too Emma, I was serious about that too.. and yes, of course, whenever you want!” as she leaned over again and kissed me goodbye and left.

After I’d closed the door, I sat down in my couch and thought things over for a moment. Wow. Not only did I have the woman of my dreams, but .. I was now involved in a high tier project at work in a way. Cool.

I got back up and went through my morning routine and headed back to work. I saw Emma briefly during the day, but had a lot of trouble focusing on my work since I kept getting distracted thinking about what’d happened versus daydreaming about what would happen tonight. My spine tingled at the memory of her kisses and the way she’d felt when I’d held her in my arms.

I drew a deep breath and thought about dead puppies and pus.. nope, didn’t help. I thought about bananas and how horrible they tasted, still Mount Everest down there, I thought about the possibility of the object being damaged and yeah.. that did it. I calmed my nerves by telling myself that if there had been some damage done to it, they’d had my hide by now. I went out to get another cup of coffee which tasted like shit, my impatience was almost tangible as I got back to my desk and the day ended.

I waited until the last person in the office was heading out before I asked him if he’d seen Emma. He laughed and said “Oh man, you’re really sweet on her aren’t you? I saw her leaving a while ago looking stressed, guess her meeting didn’t go that well.” His face betrayed his utter joy at that fact. Asshole, I thought to myself.

I thanked the guy and headed home, impatiently waiting for her to call. As the evening started to come to a close, I realized that she probably wasn’t going to call. Shit, I’d done it again. Had it been the joke about a one night stand that did it? Was it the fact that I had my sisters tampons? Was it the sex? I felt like crap as I turned in for the night, faintly smelling her perfume on the other side of the bed, feeling my heart ache with a longing for her.

The day after, she didn’t come into the office at all and my heart was sinking so bad while my head was busy with a million different reasons why she wasn’t there. My anxiety got the best of me and I mustered up enough courage to ask the boss if he’d seen Emma around today, since I needed to talk to her about a project I was heading up. He grunted at me and told me he’d given her the day off today since she’d asked for it. I smiled at him while my heart felt like ice as I returned to my desk.

Damn, she WAS regretting it wasn’t she? If she’d taken the day off, that wasn’t good. Fuck fuck fuck fuck, NEVER shit where you eat I thought to myself. This was gonna be one of those shitty office romances that ends up bad. I envisioned Emma coming back and treating me coldly, I imagined a short conversation summed up in the words “I’m not into you, let’s keep it professional.” or some variant of that.

I went back home that night feeling hollowed out. I didn’t even think of calling her, the fear of her giving me “the talk” kept me paralyzed whenever I considered it.

Another day in a city that felt so much gray than before, another endless day in the office and another evening was now coming to an end. I sat up from the sofa and got my phone and angrily dialed her phone number, enough was enough. If she was gonna dump me, FINE, let her fucking dump me, I just wanted it over and done with. Two signals went through before there was a busy tone, feeling even more angry, I dialed her number again and got the generic “This customers phone is currently not connected due to a networking error” phrase which told me she’d yanked out the cord.

A string of curses came from my mouth as I realized she was probably ghosting me, I felt like shit as I put the phone down and resigned to the fact that it was over. I felt disdain for her since the very least she could have done was tell me she’d changed her mind. People. When the gray rain started to hammer against my windows, I felt alone and angry.

The day after I lurched into the office, feeling like crap. I was feeling anxiety of the prospect seeing Emma, I both wanted it and didn’t want it at the same time. My heart was a cauldron of conflicting emotions. As I sat down at my desk, my boss came over and asked me if I’d seen Emma around, I told him no and asked what was up. He told me that she hadn’t called in this morning or shown up for her early meetings.

The client wasn’t happy either as he told me she had an object of “significant value” that she’d checked out without his authorization. I could tell by his face that he was lying to me. Interesting, it meant that he was under enough pressure that he was gonna throw her under the bus. Good, that bitch deserved it for ghosting me. After he’d left though, I started thinking more and more about it. This didn’t sound at all like her. It’s one thing that she’d regretted getting with me, but .. taking a serious object like that and just vanishing for a few days without telling the boss, that was a really risky career move.

Something in my gut told me that there was more to this and after work was done, I headed over to her apartment right away. The windows outside her apartment were dark and stained in a way that told me she hadn’t ordered a cleaning cycles in a while. Not a good sign. As I took the elevator up to her apartment and knocked on her door, I felt like my heart was made out of ash.

When there was no reply, I grabbed onto the door handle and tried to open it and to my surprise it opened along with a weak puff of stale smelling air. I took a second to consider my options and then went inside with a strange mixture of anger and fear for what might have happened to her. What was going on here?

Her apartment was a complete mess, spent food packaging was strewn around the floor, one of her suits, unwashed had been thrown into a corner and that absolutely wasn’t good at all. You NEVER kept unwashed suits in your apartment, the particulates would get into the air at the slightest provocation and then you’d have that junk in your lungs even worse than before.

I searched through the rooms which had all had their furniture pushed up into weird arrangements along with lots of papers being strewn about the floors with strange characters on them. These scribbles however, looked like nothing I’d seen before, they seemed to belong to a completely different language compared to the runic ones I knew.

While I was going through her bedroom, I noticed on the side of her bed was a small black book labeled “JOURNAL” with stylized lettering on the front. I picked it up and realized it was her diary of sorts. As I read it, my heart swelled along with my fear for her as it had entries going back very far of her trying her best to get my attention. Her latest entries though mentioned her happiness at the project, her profound joy at going to my place for dinner and her plan of “forgetting” her suit and hoping to get lucky with me. Tears streamed down my face as I started looking back into the other rooms again for any clue as to where she might be.

During my second pass of the living room I realized that she had a projector system and turned that on, as the image flickered to life on the canvas, I saw an outline of a map of the city with an outskirts area marked with a small red circle. I copied the design to my handheld and asked the computer to pattern-match the part of map and give me a travel guide to the location. A few minutes later, it bleeped and showed me the travel route which was quite a ways outside the city.

Wasting no time, I hailed a cab and told the cabbie to go this location. He gave me a strange look and asked me why I was going outside to some old ruins at this time of night. I told him that I’d pay him extra if he’d get me there fast and not ask me any more questions.

Half an hour later, he dropped me off at what really did look like some old ruins, I asked him to wait for me and told him I hopefully wouldn’t be long. He begrudgingly told me that although he’d stay for about twenty more minutes, he had other plans with his evening eventually.

I profusely thanked him and headed down a set of stairs that seemed really ancient and crumbling. The carvings on the walls initially seemed like runic script, but as I got deeper they were gradually replaced with that other strange language that I hadn’t been able to decipher before.

After what felt like a long while, I reached a bigger chamber where the floor was covered in grass, on a central round platform I could see Emma lying there with her eyes closed. No mask, no suit.

Fearing the worst, I rushed over to her and tried to wake her up gently, as she opened her eyes, she smiled and reached up to kiss my mask, her lips getting stained by the soot, I got her up into a sitting position before asking her “Hey, hey .. what are you doing here? Why aren’t you wearing your mask or suit? You know how dangerous that is, we need to get you out of here… now!”

She however, looked very serene as she sat there for a moment. Then her hand went to my groin and started massaging my cock as she gave a smile that normally would have been erotic, but here was just creepy as hell.

“Come on honey.. let’s .. let’s do it here… mmm… I want you here.. … come.. . take me… “

And to my surprise she leaned back and tore her shirt, exposing her tits and started playing with her left breast while her other hand made it’s way to her groin where it started trying to unbutton her pants. The odd action along with the fact that she was smearing more soot over her body made me dart up and back away in fear, what the fuck was going on here?

“Emma.. please.. this isn’t you. There’s something very wrong here, you NEED to come back with me so we can get you to a hospital alright? You’re not thinking clearly.” I said with a quivering voice while my mind was racing with chaotic thoughts.

She immediately stopped playing with herself and sat up with her eyes closed.

“Pity” she mumbled to herself and then with a louder voice “PITY you don’t want to join with me, with all of us.” she continued as she opened her now solid orange eyes which positively glowed in the poorly lit room, her face now completely devoid of any emotion. “Please submit for system integration, touch touch touch any stone” she added. Her voice now a flat monotone.

I backed away while part of my brain made the odd connection that her eyes now had the same color as the strange object. It really didn’t seem like a kids toy anymore now as it floated up behind her and started spinning around her head slowly while the floors and the walls started glowing with lines of orange light pulsing from the center platform, tracing even more patterns of runes that I could understand.

Both walls had old runic visible now that read “CONTAINMENT CHAMBER 01 – ONLY AUTHORIZED PERSONS ADMITTED” and I backed away even further. The dirt and grass on the floor was now being lit from underneath as the whole place started to shake.

She closed her eyes and then I yelled and rushed forward as first her clothes evaporated into an orange mist and then the lower part of her body simply ceased to exist as it liquefied and merged with the metallic podium that was now starting to protrude from the ground. I was thrown back by an invisible force as she kept rising to the ceiling, babbling incoherently to herself with runic idioms that I could understand (Breaking through, freedom, multiply) and other words which I didn’t even recognize.

Eventually as the rest of her simply kept melting into an amorphous form that started to take on other nightmarish shapes, I just turned tail and ran for my life as tendrils started making their way towards me. I scrambled up the stairs and saw even more glowing runes and shapes on the walls, but at this point, I was so frenzied that I paid no attention to them. Her voice, now distorted still rang out behind me “”Current avatar degradation at 63% please submit for integration. System error imminent.” and that only made me run faster.

A series of loud explosions behind me erupted just as I got into the cab, I yelled at the cabbie to drive drive DRIVE FOR FUCKS SAKE! As he slammed the vehicle into gear and sped off towards the city. I got on the phone with the authorities and told them the whole story, they asked for directions and I sent them the map and after a brief interview they told me they’d look into it and hung up.

The day after, I called in sick and had a visit by a man that called himself Mister Wood. He told me that I had two options, either 1) Resign my job and shut up about every aspect of the project and to hand over any materials I had that might be related to it. or 2) Get arrested for essentially stealing government classified materials and for trespassing on government property.

I obviously chose the first option and after a brief search of my apartment by a team of agents that looked even more serious than he did, they left me alone and reminded me that they’d be keeping an eye on me. Then the door closed and I was alone with my confusion and agony as the rain hammered against my windows.

A few months passed and life started to do its thing again. I wasn’t really doing well though, the loss of Emma weighed on me, but so did the loss of my job. What was I going to do now? I had no idea and I was getting desperate for money when I noticed an ad in my daily morning feed promising a job with double my previous salary for a simple blood test. The only condition was that it was a long term research project and that I would have to submit for the whole set of screenings over a long period of time. My luck didn’t end there though, as my landlord finally called me about my toilet which he simply had a guy replace, the guy though was a total bore and didn’t really talk much. But hey, new toilet right?

The only fly in my ointment was the recurring nightmare of that final night when I could see Emma over and over rising up towards the floor with her monotone voice rambling things. What scared me was that every night, I started understanding more and more of what she was saying.