Chapter 6: “Unleashed”
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. 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 fifteen or twenty 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 glue. 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. Despite the distance, and the mirrored glass, he felt the creature’s gaze upon 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, listening. 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 them, steps inside, and quickly closes the doors. 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 trembling 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 a woman, the head scientists, holding a gun from one of the security guards. Her long, black, wavy hair, usually kept in a loose ponytail, is a tangled mess. Blood is splashed across the olive complection of her face, and covers her formerly white lab coat. 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 ‘Isabelle Belladonna’. But he knows her by the name he greets her with whenever he sees her.
“Dr. Isabelle?” Luis asks.
Isabelle, 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. Isabelle.”
Isabelle 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.” Isabelle 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, starring at Luis, as if confessing all her sins. “All I wanted to do was prove myself to him, to make him proud of me. It was my way of thanking him for all that he did for me. For taking me on as his assistant, for treating me like a colleague. Not some token female colleague, but as his equal. He never laughed at my theories of paleogenetic reconfiguration, or pushing Vat technology beyond its limits, to include previously unstable subjects. He believed in me!” she pauses, as tears well up in her eyes and spill down her cheeks. “He made all of this possible.” She breaks down and sobs uncontrollably.
All Luis can do is hold her hands. He’s torn between Isabelle’s sadness, and the chaos occurring just beyond these walls.
Isabelle grabs Luis’s hand, startling him. “We’ve done terrible things here! We were the most secret of secrets. We made my theories reality! We pushed science and nature beyond anything ever attempted before! 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 is coming to an end.” She releases Luis hands, who sits back in the chair. She crosses herself, “E il giorno del giudizio.”
Luis looks at Isabelle, afraid and confused. “I don’t understand.” he whispers.
“The day of judgement.” she whispers, “The end of the world.”
Isabelle turns the chair and pushes herself to her feet. She walks to the large curtain covering the far wall. She pulls it back to reveal a massive window. Luis gets to his feet and joins Isabelle by the window. They both look out. Luis wants to recoil from what he sees, but he finds himself stepping forward, placing both hands on the window, looking out at what he can only describe as a horrible, brutal version of the Ray Harryhausen movies he loved as a child.
Amid the fires tearing through various, 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 one who gets in their way. They aren’t movie-magic creatures. They are real.
“We wanted to push the envelope of science. Instead, we made monsters from insects, arachnids and dinosaurs.” Isabelle says in a sad, matter-of-fact tone. “Now the monsters are loose.”
“How did you do this?” Luis asks, his words trickling out as he stares out the window, watching the scenes of battle unfold outside.
“Genetic material from supposedly extinct creatures. Funds equivalent to the gross national product of China. Add to that unbridled scientific ambition, with no restrictions. We had carte blanche. Something I learned early on when working with Dr. Lo; when given that much, you never ask questions. But there were rumors. A top secret complex deep in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal. Beings and technology from alternate dimensions. Lost civilizations. Global conspiracies. It’s hard to know what is real and what isn’t anymore. ”
Luis looks over at Isabelle, a part of him praying that she has gone insane. He has heard rumors too, but he never believed them. But now, just outside the window, rumor has become reality. Seeing what he has seen, listening to Isabelle’s matter-of-fact revelation, his mind begins to swirl and his stomach churns. So many questions fill his mind, all of them wrapped in fear.
Something amid the carnage below catches his eye. Not about the monsters, but the security team fight them. “The security team! They aren’t human either!” he exclaims with stunned awe.
Isabelle nods her head. “They are Cat Clan. Always have been.” she looks at him, “Have you ever seen a member of the security team without their helmets? Or on lunch breaks? Coming or going from the complex? It’s because we created them too.”
Luis shakes his head as he watches humanoid cat creatures roaring and attacking the monsters. He tries to sift through his memories, to remember if what Isabelle said is true. He remembers passing them in the hall, saying a quick hello, or nodding thanks for one of them holding open a door. But they always wore military-style combat uniforms, and a helmet that covered their entire head. He never saw them without their helmets.
“They were monsters too!” Luis whispers.
“No!” Isabelle corrects Luis, “Irregulars! Not monsters.” she sighs and turns away from the window. She walks to the large table and leans against it, crossing her arms. “They didn’t start out as monsters. They started as a flight of fancy within the mind of my mentor and friend, Dr. Osaka Lo. That turned into an idea, which became a theory. He saw the scientific benefit of biologically reconfigured creatures. He believed a synthesis between humans and animals would speed up the creation of new medical procedures, medicines, and vaccines. Stronger immune systems for the weak, tissue regeneration for amputees, and fatal diseases cured, all thanks to a simple blood transfusion with an irregular.” she chuckles at the sound of her own self-importance and rhetoric. “At least, that was the idea.”
“How did it come to this?” Luis asks, gesturing towards the battles still raging outside, unable to believe anything positive could come from such creations. “Why would this Osaka let such monsters exist?”
“Why do good men let their dreams become twisted?” She pushes off of the table and walks over to Luis. “Why did men create the atom bomb? Or lethal viruses? Was it their intention to create evil, or was their ingenuity and brilliance co-opted? Were they blinded by fear? Greed? Doing something unsavory for the supposed ‘greater good’? No one dreams up monstrous, evil things. They become monstrous and evil.”
There is a moment were the world seems to pause. There’s a lull in the destruction outside, and a stillness within the complex. Isabelle and Luis share a moment of rational clarity, where the impossible events around them can somehow be scaled down and relatable to their lives.
The moment passes as Isabelle looks skyward. “Soon, the entire world will see our creations. They’ll have to decide who or what is evil.”
A heaviness fills Luis’ chest at Isabelle’s cryptic words. “What do you mean?” he asks. “You mentioned something before, about the end of the world? How will they do that? They are dangerous, but surely–”
“Not them.” Isabelle interrupts, “That.”
Luis follows her gaze upwards. He heard the weather report 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.
“Dios mio.” Luis whispers.
“God had no part in that. It was us.”
Luis doesn’t want to believe her. “No.” he denies. “That is too much!”
“No it isn’t.” Isabelle say indifferently.“Whatever delivered the dinosaur’s DNA to us, also brought a device. According to Osaka’s source, the device came here from another dimension. A dimension populated by irregulars. A dimension destroyed by this device.”
Luis closes his eyes and turns away from everything.
“Whatever that is, it disrupted our security protocols. It set the monsters loose.” Isabelle smiles a sad, weak smile. “There are other labs, like this one. There are also holding pens, the size of cities, holding hundreds of thousands of irregulars. Maybe millions. Whatever has darkened the sky here, is global. It unleashed the monsters here. It will do the same worldwide.”
Luis walks over to the table. He balls up his fists and lean on the table. Earlier tonight, the world was normal, sane. Now, everything is turned upside down. It is too much to deal with, to comprehend. He opens his eyes, as he realizes as complicated as everything has gotten, one thing remains. The simple, important things in his life.
“I must get home.” Luis says in a quiet, calm tone. “I must get home to my family.” He straightens up and turns towards Isabelle, his gaze and mannerism filled with certainty. “That’s all that matters to me now. My family.”
“There’s no way out.” Isabelle chuckles nervously, fearing the thoughts in Luis’ head. “They’ll catch us, and do terrible things to us! If we are lucky, they’ll kill us before they do those terrible things!”
Luis grabs Isabelle, 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 calms himself, and wipes blood from her face. “All of that,” he waves his hand at the battle beyond the window, “the monsters, the devices, all of that, it doesn’t matter. This,” he taps his chest, then her chest, “is what matters. Us. Living. Surviving this! Understand?”
Isabelle nods slowly, her fear waning.
“I’ll protect you. We’ll protect each other. Ok?”
“Ok.” she whispers, a forced smile on her lips. “There might be a way out.”
“Then lead the way, Dr. Isabelle.” Luis says, smiling as he takes her hand.
Luis’ confidence sparks Isabelle. She walks back to where she dropped the gun. She picks it up and leads Luis out of the conference room. They walk briskly 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 Isabelle.
But Isabelle 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. The hand that held the gun is torn off. It lays on the floor, still holding the gun.
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 my kind. You fear what I do to you.”
“Yes.” Luis responds.
“I a monster. I evil. Yes?” It asks in a tone that seems angry and confused.
“Yes.” Luis whimpers.
“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 change us! 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 only kill them that made us.” It leans in close to Luis. “You hide. Others find you. They kill you.” It straightens up, “They want to kill all humans. To them all humans evil.” It tilts it’s head, glaring down upon Luis with many dark eyes. “Are all humans evil?”
Luis looks at the creature in disbelief, before answering, “No. We are afraid.”
The creature almost seems to smile. “No. But you will be.” It makes loud clicking noises with it’s mouth, that sounds eerily like laughter, as it leaves through the large, double wooden doors.
Luis watches the creature leave the room. Despite it’s terrifying appearance, it’s brutal nature, it’s feelings were real, akin to a human. A great sense of fear wells up within him at the thought of such powerful creatures, who can think and feel, breaking free all around the world, and directing their anger and vengeance upon those that made them. He wonders if mankind will survive, not just the irregular’s wrath, but humanity’s own hubris.
Irregulars: Origin of the Species Copyrighted © 2010-2013 Mark James MacKinnon.
Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.