Deadly Games

A pulp sci-fi story which I want to follow Joseph Campbell's monomyth structure, also referred to as the hero's journey:
I also want zombies to make an appearence at some point too.


The radio squealed, fell silent, then came to life again as a man's voice began whispering a string of co-ordinates, to lead them past the main obstacles on the Martian surface. Statham frowned and reached for the headphones.

"What happened ?" John stared curiously at the big man.

"The leader hit a soft patch, bogged down," said Statham curtly.

"What will happen to them?"

The big man shrugged, pulled on the headphones and began moving his steering levers in response to the whispered commands from the leading tractor. John stared at him for a moment, winked at Slade, then straightened in his seat before the gun.

Before him the red Martian desert suddenly turned black.

It was as if the red dust had vanished, leaving instead a glistening surface of shining ebony. It seemed like a smooth plain, a series of glinting highlights and black with the deep hue of polished jet. For a moment the illusion held-and then-

John yelled and clamped down on the trigger of the turret gun. He bit his lip until the blood trickled warm and salty over his chin, fighting an insane urge to get out of the tractor and run, and run, and keep on running from the hideous reality before him.

The desert was alive with horror!

They boiled from the sand, streaming in glittering rivers of life, huge claws wide, delicate limbs scuttling, multiple eyes twinkling with feral hate. They moved with the speed of racehorses, like a magnified army of ants, like black lobsters. Their serrated claws sheared at the thin smoking barrel of his weapon, narrowing his eyes against the searing brightness of the discharge, trying to ignore the pain of his burnt hands.

Desperately he pressed down on the trigger release, throwing the power rheostat to full aperture, and swung the barrel of the weapon in a close arc. Before the thundering blast of raw energy the scurrying bodies of the giant ants melted like ice in a furnace. They puffed, crumbled to a thin powdery ash, fell away from the teetering tractor.

Again John swung the weapon, searing the immediate vicinity with cleansing energy, freeing the tractor from the clogging bodies of the swollen insects. Abruptly the spinning treads gripped the fine red dust, the shrilling gears steadied and the tractor surged 'forward once more under full control.

For a moment it seemed as if the fight were over. The glistening bodies of the giant insects hesitated at the edge of the cleared area and, watching them, John prayed that they would abandon the struggle. He released the firing stud, blowing on the overheated chamber and blinking his eyes against the acrid smoke welling from the ruined insulation, slumping in his chair and feeling utter fatigue nagging at his body.

He relaxed too soon.

They came in a wave, a surging tide of darkness spotted with the glittering jewels of multiple eyes. They came in a solid mass, streaking across the desert with the speed of racehorses, their mandibles working and their huge serrated claws opened wide to rip and tear the tractor and all it contained.

They covered the red dust with the blackness of their chiton armour, sending a fine haze of dust pluming in the thin air from the impact of their twelve, claw-tipped limbs. They came like death, like a relentless fate, like an irresistible force.

Beneath John's hands the gun thundered into strident life, roared, then spluttered, sizzled, and blazoned in a puff of incandescent vapour. Heat filled the turret. The raw, liberated heat of free energy, searing skin and crisping flesh, streaming from ruined insulation and overstrained alloys.

He screamed. He clawed at his face, his eyes, felt the hair burn on his head and the material of his tunic burst into flame. Something smashed against the view port, something black and hard and serrated. It struck again, again, and the tough plastic bent and ripped open, yielding to the tremendous force of the huge claw.


John shrieked the warning as he stared at the ripping claw. His eyes seemed to be filled with blood, his face felt like a crisped skull and his hands obeyed his frantic commands as if they were made of wood.

Mandibles thrust into the opening, their cruel jaws pulsing in avid hunger and the cold glitter of multiple eyes stared over the gnashing segments. John stared at them, his mind cringing within his skull as he pressed himself against the far side of the turret.

Something touched his chest, something cold and hard, something which stripped the skin from his seared body as a man might strip the peel off an orange. A thin, alien, delicate claw-tipped limb reached through the opening, hung poised for a moment in the steaming air-and stabbed viciously at his eyes.

He jerked, twisting his body in a desperate frenzy of motion and with a strength he had forgotten he possessed. The limb twitched, poised for a second attack-and vanished in a thundering blast of radiant energy.

Again John fired, the hand gun jerking his wrist with recoil. Again, again, a third time, and the opening cleared as the body of the insect fell away.


"What is it, John?"

"The gun exploded. The turret's breached. I'm hurt." "Hurt?" "Yes."

The big man twisted his head and stared at John. He winced. "Slade, take over, keep the hand guns blasting the turret free of ants."

"Wait." Automatically John triggered his pistol at a glistening black shape. "If you try to get me out of here they will swarm over us within seconds. Keep moving, Statham, I'll hold them off until you can be covered by the convoy's guns."

"You can't do it!" Slade wriggled from the engine room, his pitted face a mask of horrified concern. "You can't-"

"Slade!" Statham glared at the little man and jerked his head. "Keep power."

John tried to smile, but his face didn't seem capable of it. He glanced once at his hands, then kept his blurring gaze on the opened view port. Around him blackness seemed to press in a narrowing circle, a blackness lit only by the stabbing flames of the hand blaster. After a long while even that light died.

The End

2 comments about this story Feed