Luis stands frozen in place, clutching his mop handle, amid the shadows of the darkened complex, listening to inhuman voices enjoying their freedom. Another explosion shakes the ground and the walls. It jolts him to action once more. He drops his mop handle and runs down the hallway.
He isn’t the man he was when he ran with the local gangs in his youth. Back then, he was fit, tattooed and dangerous. But a wife, some kids, and years of sweeping, mopping and cleaning have made him doughy and old before his time. His once thick, black hair is thinning in the front and on top. His senses dulled by tedium. He has become a man he would have rolled for cash a mere twenty or so years before. He’s also terrified, something he never was in his youth.
Emergency lights hide most of the horrors from his sight as he runs. But there are so many bodies and so much blood that he cannot escape seeing them anywhere there’s a patch of light. He tries a few doors, hoping to find someone else, to find a way out of the complex that doesn’t involve walking out the main gates.
Moments ago, when he looked upon the gates, they were covered in people trying to escape. It wasn’t the barbed wire that stopped them from climbing over, it was something covering the fence. It was hard to see at first, but when they pulled their hand or bodies away from the fence, something was stuck to them, like strands of sticky silk. They were trapped like flies.
Then he saw it, the one who had trapped the people there.
Luis shakes his head as he tries another door. The image of that thing climbing upon the people, slicing them with it’s claws, tearing their limbs off, the blood splattering everywhere, it will never leave his mind. But the worst of it, is when it looked at him.
He grabs the handles of a set of large, wooden double doors and pulls on them. They aren’t locked. He wants to rush in, but he waits, listens. Somewhere in the complex, gun shots echo repeatedly. Something screams in pain, then anger. More gun shots, then humans shrieking. But so far as he can tell, nothing beyond this door.
He opens it and steps inside, quickly closing the door. He looks around the room, a lounge. It’s one of the places he was never allowed to clean. It was meant for V.I.P.s only. It looks untouched. Expensive chairs and furniture are still in place, there are no bodies or blood anywhere. To his left, a door marked ‘bathroom’. To his right, an elevator with a glass door beside it. No doubt both lead to the roof. V.I.P.s visiting the complex never drive through his village. Ahead of him, another large, wooden double door, this one with the company’s logo on it. Luis sprints to the double doors and opens them. A conference room, with a large table, chairs and audio/ video equipment. A large curtain covers the entire wall on the far side. To his right, a desk in the corner with a computer, monitor and various other related equipment, including a phone.
He rushes to the desk and lifts the phone’s receiver. Nothing.
Luis’ exhaustion and frustration catches up with him. He drops into the chair, looking at the computer, despondent. He rests his elbows on the desk and buries his face in his hands and starts to cry at the thought of these creatures escaping into the wild, discovering his village, ravaging his wife, his children, and he can do nothing to save them.
He’s yanked out of his sorrow by the cold, steel end of a gun barrel against the back of his head.
“Don’t move.” a small voice whispers.
“Don’t shoot.” Luis says in his broken English. He feels the end of the gun leave the back of his head. He slowly turns his head to see one of female lab assistants holding a gun from one of the security guards. Blood covers her formerly white lab coat and is splashed across her face. There are cuts and slices in her arms and legs, some wounds still have glass sticking out of them. But her name tag is undamaged and easy to read. Her name is ‘Elizabeth Belladonna’. But he knows her by the name he greets her with whenever he sees her.
“Dr. Beth?” Luis asks.
Elizabeth, her face screwed up into terrified anger and violence loosens at Luis’ words. Slowly, she lowers the gun. “Luis.”
Luis nods as he turns in his chair and slowly rises, keeping his hands in plain view. “Please don’t shoot, Dr. Beth.”
Elizabeth drops the gun to the floor as her legs begin to give, exhaustion finally getting the best of her. Before she can fall, Luis catches her and gently turns, setting her in the chair he was just in. She grips him tight, panicked tears pouring from her eyes, streaking the blood on her cheeks.
“What happened? You ok?” Luis asks, holding her.
“No, I’ll never be ok.” Elizabeth says. “Never be ok. Never be ok…” She repeats again and again, getting quieter and quieter. She eventually stops and slowly releases her grip on Luis. He kneels down in front of her, holding her hands, trying to comfort her.
Once she regains her thoughts, she begins to talk. “We’ve done terrible things. We were the most secret of secrets, pushing science and nature beyond what Dr. Kohl or even Dr. Lo could have ever done. We re-made the most prolific and most powerful creatures ever to walk the planet. We gave them intelligence and powers. Now, they are unleashed upon on a world that’s dying.”
Luis rubs Elizabeth’s hands and looks into her eyes. “I, don’t understand.”
Elizabeth stands and takes Luis to the large curtain and pulls it back to reveal a massive window. Luis turns from her and looks. He wants to recoil from what he sees, but he finds himself stepping forward, placing both hands on the window, looking out at what he only thought were possible in Ray Harryhausen movies.
Amid the fires tearing through the smaller buildings on the complex’s campus, the scattered remains of security continue to fight a losing battle against monstrous beings. These creatures resemble giant lizards, yet they walk on hind legs, they yell orders to others, who follow like well-trained soldiers. They pick up and hurl vehicles like they were nothing. They use horns, tails and razor-sharp teeth to tear apart any humans they find. They aren’t movie-magic creatures. They are real.
“We made monsters from insects, arachnids and dinosaurs.” Elizabeth says in a sad, matter-of-fact tone. “Now the monsters are loose.”
“How?” Luis asks absently, unable to pulls his gaze away from the scenes of battle outside. “How did you do this?”
“We were told never to ask.” Elizabeth replies, joining Luis at the window, looking up at the sky. “But if the world’s ending, guess it doesn’t matter now.” She looks down at the humans being overwhelmed by irregular dinosaurs. “When fresh D.N.A. from supposedly extinct creatures is handed to you to reignite a species, you don’t really want to ask questions. But some of us knew of a secret lab in Nepal. The insects and arachnids were just side projects. Experiments.”
“They will end the world?” Luis asks, his mind swimming with Elizabeth’s words and the disbelief he sees below.
“Not them.” Elizabeth replies, turning her gaze upwards, to the sky again. “That.”
Luis follows her gaze upwards. He heard the weather reports before he kissed his wife and kids goodbye this evening. Clear skies, no clouds. But something blocks his view. A black, rippling darkness, like waves of oil on a beach. There are no stars, no moon. There’s nothing.
“We did that too.” Elizabeth comments indifferently. “We wanted too much, pushed too far. Seems fitting that our creations will be our undoing.”
“I must get home!” Luis says, his panic rising.
“There’s no way out. They’ll catch us, do terrible things to us…” Elizabeth replies absently, trailing off as her mind flashes on what horrors she’s already seen.
Luis grabs Elizabeth, shaking her. “If we stay, we will die! I want to live! I want to be with my wife and children! To protect them!” He wipes blood from her face, speaking calmly. “I’ll protect you too. I promise.”
A glimmer of hope alights in Elizabeth’s eyes. “There might be a way out.”
“Lead the way.” Luis says, smiling as he takes her hand.
Elizabeth leads Luis out of the conference room and through the lounge, towards the glass door beside the elevator that leads to the roof. “I’ve seen the blueprints of this place and I’m sure there’s a way down to the basement, through an access hatch or something.”
“I’ll look.” Luis volunteers as he opens the glass door. A darkened stairwell leads up. Ahead of him, another door with a sign that reads ‘Elevator Access’.
“I think this is it.” Luis says, stepping back through the glass door, to Elizabeth.
But Elizabeth isn’t alone. Two dull black, clawed hands have her, holding her from behind. One seizes her left shoulder hard, blood seeping through her coat and between it’s black fingers. The other grips her jaw, turning it hard to her right.
A muffled scream is cut off as the creature tears her head and spine from the rest of her body.
Luis stumbles back into the wall, closing his eyes and turning away, waiting for a quick death. But it doesn’t come. He feels a clawed finger under his chin, turning his head forward.
“Open your eyes human.”
Luis does so. He knows what he sees is a human-sized spider and he’s gripped by fear of it. Yet he can’t look away from it’s very existence.
The emergency lights only allow him to see an outline of the creatures’ body, which is covered in short, thick, black fur with tufts of light-colored, feathery hairs. It’s large abdomen wobbles up and down as it moves. It’s attached to a large, round body segment with four muscular, spider-like legs, larger and longer than a humans, coming out from the side.
The front body segment is closer and can be seen a little more clearly. The fur tapers off, revealing skin that is black and seems hard yet flexible, with hints of brown. It covers a strong, broad, body builder-like human torso. The only difference in it’s musculature is to accommodate two sets of arms. One set is small, human-sized. The other is larger, more powerful. Both sets of arms have five sharp, clawed fingers. A thick neck holds a bald, human-shaped head.
As it leans into the light, Luis can see all eight of its eyes. Four small, black eyes, in a horizontal line across it’s face where its cheeks and nose would be, and two large eyes instead of regular human eyes. The two medium-sized eyes, above and to the side of its forehead look elsewhere. He can see movement beneath the shiny black surface of the two near the top of its head. But the other six are fixed upon him. Below its lower set of eyes, large, wide, black fangs the size of butcher knives slowly move and rub together. Behinds them, hints of a mouth and spike-like lips. When it speaks, it’s fangs and mouth make small plastic clicking noises.
“You fear me.” It says, “You fear what I do to you.”
“Yes.” Luis responds.
“I a monster. I evil?” It asks in a tone that seems angry and confused.
“Humans made me. Humans made us all.” It tells Luis with frustrated sorrow. Its eyes seem to glisten, as if tears were forming. “Why make us? Why am I evil?”
Luis shakes his head. “I don’t know. I’m just a janitor. I’m no one.”
“You all say same thing.” It says, frustration turning to anger as tears spill down it’s face. He reaches for Luis’ face with blood-stained claws, as if wanting to rip his face to shreds, yet holding back. “You fear me? They fear us?” He grips Luis by the chest, slicing his shirt and skin. “To us, you monsters! You hurt us! Kill us!” It bellows, pulling Luis forward, then slamming him back against the wall. Bones crack and blood rises in his mouth.
Luis feels the clawed hand release him. He falls to the floor. He clutches his chest as blood seeps through. When he looks up, the creature stands over him, wiping the tears from it’s face.
“I am not a monster.” It says, as if convincing itself. “I not kill you. You not one of them. I kill them that made us.” The creatures turns and walks towards the double wooden doors that lead out of the lounge. It opens the doors and stops. It looks back over it’s shoulder at Luis. “Hide. Others find you. They kill you.”
Luis watches the creature leave the room. Despite it’s terrifying appearance, it’s brutal nature, it’s feelings were real, human. He wonders if this one creature can think and feel, how many others think and feel the same. If they do, and if humans did make them, he fears what the future holds for his race if ever these creatures acted like humans and sought vengeance for what was done to them.
Irregulars: Origin of the Species Copyrighted © 2010-2012 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.