I decided that I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, especially now that I can’t YouTube for the next couple of months (outside of the SlowCast). So, here’s the start! I’ll be uploading the entire novel in parts at the end of every day. I hope that you guys enjoy it!
The dark overpowered all her senses.
She searched for anything for her eyes to lock on: a hint of edge, a whisper of movement. She found nothing, and her senses continued scramble for anything. Smells. Sewage, mold, and rot mostly. Could be from anything down here, she reasoned. The old city was just that: old. Old things had death as a part of everyday life permeate their existence. Touch. Just the feel of ground rubble and dirt beneath her shoes. Unfortunately she felt everything: these shoes were taken from the corpse of her latest find. Past that, not much. Her clothes were dirty, full of dust, sweat, and more than what she considered a fair amount of blood.
Sight. Nothing. She shook her head. Focus, it’s dark. Of course you can’t see anything, idiot. She glared where she thought forward was.still pitch black. The lights had been on up until a moment ago, when they had flashed out of existence. Wait! A light flickered at the end of the road ahead, three times quickly and then it went out. First flicker, nothing. Same with the second. The third… it was too quick to make out, but something moved. Panic flared.
What could she hear? She swore inwardly, how could she forget to use her hearing? She listened closely. The sigh of ancient air breathing through the ruined skyscrapers and leftover destruction of the third world war. In the very far distance: drinking, fighting. Not a quiet one, there was gunfire. Suddenly, she heard crunching behind her.
Something sharp, across her back. She shrieked, fell forward. What the hell was that?! Scrambling, she tried to move away. Left arm, not working. Try harder with everything else. Every muscle burning hard to pull and push and scratch her way from whatever hit her. The light above her flickered.
Whatever she saw, she didn’t believe. 6 feet tall, covered in short, coarse hair. Teeth, innumerable teeth, in two mouths, two faces, one eye each. Teeth, innumerable, and six inches long. The light went out again.
She screamed. Something stabbed her right shoulder, lancing her mind with red streaks of pain. Roll away, get away, she thought, run. She managed to get up, but something was wrong.
As she ran, a sickening crunch came from behind. The slurping and chewing, she didn’t end up hearing. All she could hear was her heart pounding in her ears. All she felt, fetid air sticking to her face. All she knew, panic. After a short time, she felt faint. Then, she felt nothing.
He woke up. A good start, all things considered; it wasn’t something that happened all the time. Granted, he was beginning to regret it.
The headache from last night started to make itself known. A constant throbbing ache, which could be cured with some meds. Stumbling out of the bed, lurching to the washroom, he searched for the cabinet. He turned on the light, the brightness unexpectedly blinding him.
Clearly unhappy with the light, he turned it back off and looked for the cabinet by touch.
“Toothbrush,” he growled as he felt the worn and disheveled bristles of a tow year old brush. His hand slid up the wall and box. “Higher… there we go.” He touched the button at the top left of the box. Nothing happened.
“Aw, come the fuck on.” He punched the cabinet, and swore again. First his head, now his hand was throbbing too. Today was off to a fuckin’ fantastic start, he thought. He pried the cabinet open, using a bit more force than necessary, and tore the lid off. He searched through the pills, and realized he couldn’t read the labels. Cursing, he turned around, switched the light back on, swore, turned back to the cabinet, grabbed two bottles, and made to shut the cabinet.
“Fuck.” Remembering what he did to the ex-cabinet door, he walked from the washroom and sat back down on his cot. The bottles were opened quickly, several pills coming from each.
“Two of these, one of these…” muttering, he set aside some of the pills and swallowed them. The headache and pain in his hand subsided only seconds later.
He looked at the wall across from him, the dark stained wallpaper serving to remind him what kind of place he lived in.
It had been two years since he started living here, but it looked much older. The wallpaper was peeling in places, revealing the concrete that made up the walls of his tiny room. He made a mental note: there were three new places where the wallpaper was wrecked. Not that it was much to look at in the first place, since the wallpaper itself wasn’t more than a white rubber sticky paper with a thing black line along the bottom. It was much cleaner before: he definitely remembered the wallpaper being white.
Instead, it was stained in rusty streaks and yellowing spots, where fluids from injuries, meals, and drinks had left their mark. In some spots, black marks made very distinct circles.
He groaned, and lay back on his bed. He wasn’t ready for today, so today could wait. His eyes closed, but just as he got comfortable a loud noise rang throughout the room. His hand grabbed around the edge of his cot, found the source of the noise, and brought it to his ear.
“Tanner, Rick. You have… three requests available,” answered a smooth, artificial voice. It was difficult to tell if the voice was male, female, or something in between. “The first request comes from…”
He stared at the ceiling as the voice told him about the first request. When it finished, he answered. “Not interested. Next request.” He couldn’t remember what the first one was, but he wasn’t in the habit of doing the first mission that came by. He put the phone on speaker, and turned on the lights. He rooted around the floor of the room, finding clothing he intended to wear scattered around.
“… the request is for approximately two hours time, and requires no experience. Are you interested?” The voice had finished, and silence fell on the room.
“What? No, I’m not.” He wrestled one of his socks on. “Next request.” Now it was time for the other sock.
“The third request comes from the Canadian Biotech Institute. Job summary is… unavailable. Are you interested?”
He paused midway through putting on his pants. The Canadian Biotech Institute was a big deal; they had the resources to handle things internally. Asking for outside help like him was usually not needed. “Wait, the job summary is what now? Unavailable? What the fuck.”
“The summary is unavailable. Would you like to request additional details?”
“Yes I would like to request additional details. Reason given: walking into a job fuckin’ blind leaves me fuckin’ dead. I want some god damn details.” He put on a simple grey shirt, walked into the washroom, and began brushing his teeth.
“Thank you. Your information request has now been sent. Please hold.” The phone began playing some subtle music with a river flowing somewhere in the back.
“Shrr fing.” He started brushing, tried to look in the mirror, swore when he realized the mirror was on the cabinet door, which was now on the floor, and bent down to pick it up. Chewing on his toothbrush, he settled the cabinet door’s hinges in the grooves where it was meant to be sitting. The magnets did the rest, and held the door in place. He closed the cabinet door, and went back to brushing his teeth.
“Rick, thank you for holding. The information request has been answered. The answer is the following.” Suddenly, the voice changed. “I assure you, the reason for not giving you all the details is a good one, really. Simple really; it’s classified, and the information cannot be trusted over your network, you see?” The voice… male. Middle aged, fond of speaking. “It isn’t hard to understand. With that said, if you are still interested, we’re offering a large sum as a reward, and the risks of the job are minimal. If you would like to know more, please accept the offer and meet us at the local guild.” The artificial voice came back.
“Available options: request information, refuse request, or accept request.”
Spitting out the foamy fluoride mess in his mouth, he pondered what to do. He had just finished a job last night; hence the headache and the new wallpaper damage. He could do with the rest. At the same time, his current money situation wasn’t the best. More money would definitely help, and honestly? Nothing could be as stupid as the job from last night. He turned off the light in the washroom, grabbed the phone, and turned off speakerphone mode.
“Accept request. Additional note, I won’t accept the job in person without more info.” He made his way to the armor rack next to the door out, and looked for anything missing or broken.
It was a really solid, lightweight body armor. The green and white plates on the shoulders, forearms, neck collar, and thighs were made from durable titanium-carbon molecular armor plating. Joining the plates together was a jumpsuit of dark mesh; a nanocomposite, polyethylene-ceramic weave. The head piece, not much more than a mesh cowl tightly cropped to the forehead and jawline of the wearer with additional plating, which acted less as protection more as a high tech communications device and assistant when worn.
This wasn’t the most protective suit of armor in existence, but it was very lightweight, incredibly resistant to most attacks, allowed for mobility, and was perfect for someone in his line of work.
He groaned, and stripped off his pants, shirt, and socks. The wasted effort of putting the stupid things on earlier aggravated him, but it was necessary; once the armor was put on, it needed to seal itself and create direct contact with the skin of the wearer. Slight electrical neuro signals along the wearer’s skin would cause the suit’s mesh to react, either softening or hardening based on the signal. This helped to avoid certain lighter injuries like burns and scrapes, or more serious ones like open wounds by hardening and applying pressure around the wound.
Putting on the armor took about 15 minutes. He pulled on his boots, which were caked in mud, and grabbed his coat. It was a long, dark brown coat that went to his knees, well worn and covered in discoloured patches. The weather was the primary cause for the weird patches, but burns and various fluids account for a fair amount as well.
He grabbed his work bag, a long and entirely unremarkable bag outside of its contents, and left his quarters. He slung the bag across his shoulder, and made his way to the new-metro. It was time to go work.
End of Part 01