Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Elk

Alexey was looking for silhouettes on the horizon when he heard a branch snap behind him and he was turning and bringing up his shotgun when the elk slammed into him.

It was so large up close. It snorted, sending burst of fog into the cold air. He could hear the power of its lungs. It opened its mouth, revealing row after row of the teeth and fangs of many animals.

The elk bit into his leg and tugged, pulling him along the ground. It kept tugging until a piece of flesh was torn free, and lifted its head to chew.

Then Alexey was trying to remember what was happening. Why did his leg feel so strange? Everything came rushing back and he realized he had passed out. Much more of his leg was missing now, and he could see bone in several places, but there was no pain. He realized he was still gripping the shotgun.

Alexey struggled to lift the shotgun with one hand. He fired as soon as the barrel was pointed in the right direction. The recoil slammed the gun out of his hand and deafened him. The elk seemed unaffected, until blood began to flow from its thick matted fur. Then it resumed eating him, and he passed out again.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Whalefall

The galaxy has been, for billions of years and at all scales of power, perception, intelligence and activity, overrun with life. The geometry of reality gives spontaneous rise to minds and organisms, and they beget infinite variations of their kinds. Escaped experiments learn to breed, autonomous systems outgrow and abandon their creators, patterns self-select and iterate into extinction, ‘gods’ billions of years old delineate a living space in lesser minds, time and mutation turn every individual into an ecosystem, and always, new and ancient races build and fight and die. No matter how small. every niche is a fight to the death and nothing exists for long without gaining predators, prey, parasites, and infections. The cosmos is a rock, and when you overturn it, it writhes with life.

Whalefall is a sudden glut of resources stimulating an orgy of growth. Life operates as close to the edge of starvation as it can get away with, and when presented with surplus, gorges itself in a binge of eating and mating. It can only thrive, making the most of its find by packing itself with competition and variety, until you can't think beyond the smell of blood and rot and sex, until the glut is wrung dry and the ecosystem bursts, and the survivors return to a diet of starvation.

You said at first that things were better than ever, that grain quotas were being met faster than they could be set, that your fruits were larger and larger, and that everyone was having twins. Then you said it wouldn't stop, that crops were devoured by the soil, fruit rotted before they ripened, and that with every birth was discovered a new birth defect. Viruses, locusts, wolves, humans, everything thrives and swarms and mutates and speciates and you cannot survive with so much life.

You ask, why us? Why Earth? Why now?

There is nothing special about you, or this place. It is like this every time.

Humanity is a fruit, and it is almost ripe.

Notes: I have been vaguely dissatisfied with Strange Aeon for a while, and feel it needs to be refocused. I am making it less explicitly Lovecraft based, and intend to explore a sort of cosmic body horror.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Moscow

The banks of the Moskva river have collapsed and flooded, creating new wetlands. Much of the subway system is also flooded, but some are known to have survived in sealed sections. In summer, Moscow swarms with the activity a new ecosystem, and dozens of species of stinging insects. In winter the river freezes, and the survivors emerge to scavenge and hunt hibernating beasts.

The USSR will not abandon its former capital without a fight. There have been numerous attempts at reclamation over the years, all of which have failed, and many of which have left behind pockets of soldiers. Most die, some are assimilated by bands of survivors, passing on their skills.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Manhattan

South of central park, all of Manhattan is enclosed in glass, a carefully maintained habitable environment, spring 365 days a year. A glass roof is supported by the tops of smaller buildings and fills the gaps between taller ones. Cars are forbidden with the enclosure, as air pollution has nowhere to go, and much of the subway system is flooded. There is an electric bus service, bicycling is encouraged, and many streets have been converted to pedestrian only walkways and "open-air" markets.

Outside of the enclosure, things are dicier. The giant squatter cities of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Survivors focused on getting through the day, and preparing for increasingly difficult winters. Although they hate it, much of their economy is based on the Manhattan Enclosure, either in service positions or making hand-crafted goods to sell there on weekends.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

London

An airtanker arrives, every day, to dump white powder over the city. The drops focus on Hyde Park, ground zero for the infection. 25 tons of powder per day adds up, blowing about the city and piling into drifts. When it rains the mixture foams and bubbles, and bleaches the stone as it drains towards the Thames. The river is as dead as the city, but with the population of Great Britain dead or evacuated, no one complains. Nature has grown strong enough and weird enough to look after itself anyway.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Footsteps

Based on a prompt

“Did you hear that?”

“Something in cargo fell over maybe. Get back to work man, we’re almost done.”

“No, it sounded like it came from the hull.”

“So maybe we got winged by a micrometeorite. We’re almost done man, I want to get back to my pod.”

“…Okay, that time it definitely came from outside!”

“Yeah, I heard it, lets…”

“…”

“…”

“Are those…”

“…footsteps?”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wendigo

Based on a prompt

We all wanted to serve so desperately. We were unfit, but given an option. This unit only takes volunteers, and your lame leg or poor vision won’t matter.

A wendigo has no body of its own. It needs a vessel. It needs a host.

The first host had been Smith. He’d been nervous, but eager. I think he was curious about how the officers would live up to their promise to make him strong. The next time I saw him was D-Day. He had his own landing craft, slightly ahead of the others. When the ramp dropped a long-limbed thing burst out, rushing up the beach, impossibly fast. It wrenched itself into a bunker and then there were screams and an explosion.

The second in line had been Martin. One of the officers showed him into the bunker. There was a lot of shouting, and we were all pulled away by the rest of the officers. I didn’t seem him again until Caen.

We were pinned down by machine guns, and the officers had brought forward an armored truck. Martin scrambled out as soon as they opened it, and this time I got a close look. Every part of him was emaciated except his belly. The skin on his limbs and head was drawn tight, outlining his bones, but his belly bulged. He appeared to have been gnawing on his wrists.

Then he rushed forward, leaping from the ground through a third story window. It sounded like he was bursting through the walls of the old houses, and we saw him pounce on one of the machine gun teams from behind. He killed at least thirty before a lucky hit from a Pak 38 cored him like an apple.

After that was Taylor, who tore the head from a tank commander, dove through the hatch headfirst and tore apart the crew inside. A Sherman had hit the tank seconds later, making mincemeat of him. Treblawny sprinted through a trench, killing as he ran, killing several dozen men before falling to sheer blood loss. Smith had dodged sniper fire until he got close enough to leap and knock the sniper from his tree, falling on top of him and burrowing into his chest with his fingernails. Smith had killed only two of the snipers who had ambushed us when he stepped on a landmine and lost his legs.

Now it was my turn. The officers took me to the chunks of bone and gristle that had been Smith. They reminded me, you wanted this, you volunteered for this.

I tore out a piece of his leg and began to chew.