Thursday, October 10, 2013

ICP4 S1.E01.5

The beginning: S1.E01.1



It was hot, and she was alone. Her voice wouldn't rise to call out, though she wanted desperately to scream out Marduk's or Eveline's names, and when she tried to work her jaw to make words, it felt like she was chewing around a piece of metal. Like an elderly woman, she hunched forward and leaned against the wall, shaking. Stepping over glass that cut painlessly into her feet, she hobbled out of the bathroom, and dragging her scalp over the wall left thin lines of blood as she went. Occasionally she paused to let lightning dance through her spine, but these fits passed, and she walked on.

She was in Marduk's house, wasn't she? She was. The bedroom she stepped into – a guest room towards the back of the house – was not out of order. The bed's gray sheets were flat and unwrinkled, the white carpet was immaculate, and even the silver statuette of a bull that set on the glass-topped shelf near the window sat undisturbed, frozen in a pose with its gaze turned over its shoulder, towards the window. The statuette gazed west.

Leaving spots of blood on the floor, stains in the shape of her feet, she watched the reflection of herself in the window as she made her way across the room. Her limbs were limp, her head swayed; to her own eyes she was like some sort of undead creature. This should've terrified her, and it did, but the emotion was distant. It sat at the bottom of her brain as though it had been melted by the bizarre heat that she was just becoming aware of i the apartment, and that fire ran in thin trickles down her spine as she moved.

Touching the bull statuette idly as she wandered past it into the second floor foyer of Marduk's house, her lazy eyes scanned the broad, clean room. She turned towards the room's seating area, a sofa and chairs, and the window past that, beyond which was blackness. It looked out north, towards the university, which was black at night. Small white and yellow lights of cars flickered in and out of sight on the highway, like fireflies, like splotches on her retinae. The glow of the entertainment district very scarcely stretched the outline of a vaguely human silhouette that hung nonsensically against the window.

She noticed all of this, somehow, before she noticed the man who was in the room. It was not Marduk or Eveline. It was a stranger, dressed almost like a police officer but in heavier gear and with what looked like a rifle in his hands, a phone to his ear. When he looked at her, she recoiled away from him, feeling fragile from her wounds and naked in her blood-stained underwear; the sense of exposure was unparalleled. He moved toward her, and she snapped thoughtlessly, with vehemence, “Do not!” and did not understand her own words. She marveled, though, that she had said something.

The man paused. He was obviously heavily geared for combat, but why was he in Marduk's house? Did he do this to her? Having put herself off-balance when she recoiled away from the man, she realized belatedly that she had crumpled from her legs and lay in an only somewhat upright pile of limbs. She tried to right herself, but her spine chose then to shake with lightning. She shut her eyes, ground her teeth painfully, bowed her head and shook.

“There's a woman here,” the man was saying into his phone. “I think she's been shot. Miss, I'm here to help you. What happened?”

She heard him take a step towards her, and wanted to tell him that she didn't know what had happened. She needed help. She needed to find Marduk and Eveline. She was so scared, and she wanted him to help her find the people she trusted. Instead, she felt her lips and jaw moving to say something else, and heard her rough voice grate out, “If you touch me I'll rip your arm off.”

When she reopened her eyes, the man before here was looking confused. He said into his phone, “Did Marduk have any women he would-”

“Do not!” The words snapped from her maw, but she didn't know why. Her gaze resolved and refocused, looking over the man's shoulder to the black figure that hung inexplicably in the air outside the window. Red lines seemed to burn from cracks in the figure, hideously thin, across its torso and too-long neck. The lines resolved on its face, into a blank caricature of a smile, like something a child had drawn, and it was watching her.

The man before her had not noticed. He simply nodded at the phone, “Acknowledged. I'll find it. But what about-”

“Do not!”

The window shattered inward, completely, and a rush of heat and power knocked her onto her back. Lightning struck in her skull and electricity fired down her spine, and she felt wet blood on her face. But she moved, suddenly, and did not fully comprehend how. Though she had been knocked backward, she was able to use that momentum to roll, and found herself on her feet in the next moment. Everything that had been weak and limp in her body was suddenly strong, and she easily found her footing. Everything was still numb; her thoughts were nothing but confusion, and she was only vaguely aware of what her body was doing. Blood ran into her eyes.

Still, she watched through that blood as the soldier before her was ripped apart by long limbs that bent like tendrils, morphing liberally in length and width as they repeatedly wrapped the mans body, dug their clawed hands into him, and then pulled him in different directions. Blood, gore, glass and debris was falling all throughout the room, and standing over it was the misshapen black body with the molten red lines on it, that smile on its face.

In the next moment, as the man's body hit the ground in seared chunks of meat wrapped in cloth and plastic, the claws came directly at her head and body. As the electricity still dance through her synapses, she ducked her head away from the claw faster than she could even think to do so. Another claw came at her abdomen, and her entire body rolled away from it, bloody limbs working together in ways she couldn't understand. The black form’s tendril-like arms curled around themselves, the claws opening wide and snapping through the air to try and catch her, but she felt herself kick off the ground and pass between them unharmed.

She was aware of the hot air burning her skin, but it was overwhelmed by the incredible pain of simply moving. Her spine and skull still flared hot with fire, with the feeling of knives and pins rending her every muscle with each movement. The momentum of each motion she made, the sudden changes of direction as she danced between the claws with no concern for her own inertia, was snapping her very compromised mind about until she had no concept except for her own movement.

One thing she did discern, though, was the laughter coming from that smiling, black-and-red face, as its claws sought after her.

Her body slammed against the wall by its own will as it dodged away from the claws, then ducked away and launched towards the corpse of the dead man. As the glass-and-plastic furniture was broken around her, flickering shards filled the air. They seemed to hang there when she saw them, but her confusion was such that she forgot them immediately. Instead, her hands were fixing on something thin and metal; the dead soldier's weapon. She'd never held a gun before, but her hands moved over it expertly, one affixing on its length and the other over its trigger. She watched her one digit flick the safety, another move the bolt, and then she was pointing that gun directly into the smiling face.

Suddenly, both she and the black silhouette were standing perfectly still. It was a dark, spectre-like shadow above her, in the center of the room, and its limbs were twisted and stretched about to fill it. The things head hung at the end of a neck that was almost half a meter long, its perfectly abstract molten smile painted onto an otherwise featureless plain where an actual face should have been directed at her. She marveled at her own pose, which was firm, legs spread, shoulders set, the rifle notched into the crook of her arm. Her hands gripped the rifle white-knuckled, and the scowl on her face was so strong that she felt it in her bone.

Something else she felt: fury. At some point, the terror she had been feeling had turned into rage. At some point, the exposure of her nudity and wounds had ceased to hold her. The bayonet on the end of the rifle was shining orange; the room was on fire. The glass that was still clattering to the floor all around them was flickering with red light. Dark gouges from the claws had been burnt into the walls and floor.

A few seconds passed in stillness before a hideous voice creaked out of the black monster, “You're difficult to kill directly. I can still burn you alive.”

The anger in her chest suddenly came alive, and she felt it take over her mind. She snapped at the thing, “You will tell me where Marduk is.”

“Let's make a trade,” it sounded amused. “I will tell you where Marduk is if you tell me where Elysian is. I know Foundation has hidden it somewhere around here.”

She moved the bayonet, “I will destroy you. Where is he?”

The thing's head dropped and it pressed its face against the bayonet, which began to melt on contact. “Oh, you are a very intimidating little harlot. Who do you think you are?”

Her words got away from her again, and she heard herself say, “I am an electric storm wrapped in bones and meat, sinew and sweat.” The words enhanced her anger as she spoke them, though she wasn't sure why. The red light of the beast's face flickered. She continued on, saying, “Thunder in my brain stem and lightning in my veins, my spiraling hurricane cloud cover soul flickers hot around the blood-spouting hole gouged from my skull. Gray matter lies scattered on the bathroom floor, graciously discarded and chilling on a bed of shattered glass soaked in scarlet. I somnambulize, shivering in my cold, overcast, to you. I don't care who you are or how you play into this, but you will give me everything I want. You will worship me.”

“Oh.” The thing lifted its head away from the bayonet, leaving it blunted, with drops of melted metal running down its length. “Are you Babylon?”

No words came to her in reply, so she stated, “I don't know.”

“You should have said yes.” Its claws twitched. “Where is Marduk's other bitch? Where is Eveline?”

She frowned at it. A seed of worry for her friend was planted in her stomach, but through the lightning in her brain, she heard herself say, “I am Babylon.” And then the air between them was filled with the sound of gunfire from the rifle in her hands.


The stink of rubber and the pressure of hot air was almost enough to overpower him when he threw open the driver-side door of the van, and that was even through the mask he'd put over his head. Monument jerked the steering wheel hard to the left, patiently tapped the break twice, and then slammed the gas petal. The van responded by losing all traction on the highway, whipping its rear end around, knocking a few wet plastic corpses aside, and hitting the beast Famine with roughly a ton and a half of metal.

Monument casually slipped out of the van as Famine bellowed in fury and ripped into the steal framework, finding the fuel tank and igniting it with the sheer molten heat of his claws. In the winter night that was already alight with fire- Unexpected file termination, unable to render further.

Running search for missing data ... Data not found. ... Repeating search. ... Data not found. ... Repeating search. ... Data not found. ... Repeating search. ... Data not found. ... Repeating search. ... Data not found. ... Repeating search. ... Data not found. ... Search timeout ... Search unsuccessful.

File S1.E01.6 does not exist.

Sending request to Fiction Machine:
DIRECTORY: |pRoj<Ec>T_</fo>uR|
file: S1.E01.6

Status: pending

... ...

Status: request recieved
File name: S1.E01.6 under construction
Input: plot-to-date -- Monument - Balance - Foundation

Update Code: 07.28

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