Chapter 1 - From Darkness, Light
As the darkness pulled away from the flickering tubes of light, the room was reclaimed by brightness.
Shattered lab equipment lay scattered everywhere. Splinters of wood and twisted metal from tables created tombstones for those who were already dead from the explosion. Their bodies lay scattered amid the wood and glass, bleeding out rivers of crimson onto the tile floors. But amid all of the carnage, something seemed to live. A small machine, spider-like in appearance, began scurrying across the wreckage. It crawled up to one body, then the next, always searching. Finally it came up to the body of a woman, and it shuddered. With surprising strength, it slid the large metal air duct off of her back and flipped her over, peering into her face with its optical lenses. This was her. With a hiss of steam, the compartment on the spider’s back slid open and a hydraulic arm popped out. The blue spark on the end of the arm danced around as the shadows had done earlier. Then the spark jumped from the machine to the woman’s shoulder, making a sound like a cracking whip.
The woman bolted to her feet with surprising speed, sending the machine off balance and clattering in to the rubble. She began to pant like a wild animal and her eyes darted around the room. What little colour she had in her pale face drained out as she began to see the blood and bodies. A scream began to form in the back of her throat, but some sort of instinct held her cry back. Instead she began to sob, letting her grief flow out of her with her tears. Then the pain flooded into her head. She jerked her hand up to her head and grasped her fiery red hair. It felt warm and moist. As she pulled her hand away, she could see it streaked with the same crimson that had been applied so generously to the walls and floors.
The spider regained its footing and peered up at the crazed woman like a bright eyed puppy. Her frantic movements and wide eyes suggested that she had lost her memory, or was in a severe state of shock. Further analysis would be required to find out the reason for her hysteria.
As soon as the machine moved, the woman stopped her sobbing and lowered her eyes to glare at the spider. She froze, and as she did so the spider also stopped moving. The two stared at each other for some time before the spider emitted a sharp hiss. The woman panicked, dropping down and lifting up a sturdy pipe from the floor.
“GET AWAY FROM ME!” she screamed, swinging her pipe wildly around her like a caveman’s club.
The spider did not move. It did, however, speak to her in the voice of a computerized woman.
“Charity? Charity? What are you doing?”
The woman stopped mid swing and let the pipe slip out of her grip.
“How do you know my name?”
The spider approached her cautiously, scrabbling over the rubble towards her.
“It’s me, Charity. It’s Charlotte. Don’t you know who I am?”
Vague memories flooded back into Charity’s head in a wave of information. She could remember screams, struggling people, blood. The loud cries of men and women suffering an agony that could be felt instead of heard. Then they were gone.
Charlotte moved up to her leg and tugged on the ragged pant leg.
“Charity, do you remember me?”
Charity looked down at the machine and focused her tired eyes on it. With a flash of the agonizing cries and suffering people, she failed to remember the spider.
The machine turned away, as if looking for a way to explain itself in the gloom. Before it could speak a loud, unearthly shriek pierced the silence.
Charlotte turned to Charity and spoke in a soft voice.
“Hide, Charity. Hide.”
“What? Why?” Charity asked, still trying to figure out her predicament.
Charlotte began to shove her towards the steel lockers in one corner of the room.
“If you don’t hide, they’ll kill you.”
No further explaination was needed to convince Charity to hide in the lockers.
Charlotte closed the door as another cry ripped through the still air. This one was louder. Much louder.
Charity could not see what happened next, but she knew she would not have wanted to. Whatever was screaming burst through the door ofthe room, screaming as it did so. Charity gave a hiss, followed by the sound of automatic gunfire. The thing began to cry in agony. The two could be heard running around the room, Charlotte's mechanical grinding and clanging and the thing's heavy thudding footsteps. With another burst of automatic fire, the shrieking fell silent. Charlotte ran up to the locker as Charity stepped out.
It was not human, the thing that Charlotte had killed. But it was more disturbing because of one obvious fact.
It used to be human.