Friday, March 28, 2008

Janever Six (Part II)

Chapter 1: To The City of Cruxiss.
Present Day…

Goddamned bloody rain!

The down pour was thick and gray and cut off all light from possible use. The cloud cover was a mosaic of darker grays and blacks, to compliment the sheets of water coming down. Sometimes the vertical lines of rain would rush sideways for a moment, on the back of a huge gust of wind.

Oh! The wind!

It was a cold, menacing sort: wisps of icy chill shot this way and that, and still colder air was constantly blowing to the East, or at least trying its best to stay in that direction. A howling sort, too, for every larger and even colder gust that came through seemed to treat the ground as a giant bottle; the wind just pressed its cold lips to the rim of the bottle and blew. It was creating a rhythm of dread. Every new scream of wind willed you to fear it.

This was the kind of storm you usually have the smarts to get away from, knowing what natural terror they bring.

But on this plain there was nothing but field and trail, trail and field. Flat ground surrounded him for what seemed to be miles. No mountains off in the distance. Only a few trees offered themselves to be seen through the near-opaque rain; most of these were baby oaks and maples, barely three years old, and perhaps neck-high. Mud ran due North and due South, once a wagon trail, now a shallow brown river. And there were the grain fields, being terrorized by the thought of flooding. Wheat stalks whipped around in a most random fashion, shaking off the water so as to prevent the ground from saturating and beginning to flood.

The wind slapped his thick black cloak to and fro behind him - despite its weight from being absolutely soaked - occasionally wrapping halfway around him and threatening to costume him as a human tornado. The rain beat him, beat every inch of him. It felt worse than Chinese water torture and it showed no remorse for doing so. Through the hooded cloak, two emerald-green discs completed their scan and started again; they were looking for anything that resembled temporary shelter, whether it was up a ways on the trail or ten miles off the beaten path. Small puffs of steam were seen being pulled away from his mouth by the wind in a totally defiant rhythm from the opus of the storm.

His search was dubiously slow and practiced, not quite the frantic scan and fret and frown that he yearned to apply. In fact there was no possibility of him not doing exactly what he was trained to do, and that training actively took control of his movements; his eyes never paused long, but crept across vast field after vast field methodically.


It was a depression in the field, or something resembling such, about a mile West (into the wind, he grimaced) from the mud creek in which he was standing. Either way it meant safety for the time being: anything was better than standing on the road like a wet and tired beggar.

He sloshed towards the shadow, at first slowly and deftly so footprints in the mud wouldn’t point to him; as he trudged into the field, he broke into a full sprint, a diminutive black streak among the wheat stalks. He slowed again when his approach brought him within one hundred meters of the shadow, and slithered in a zig-zag towards it.

Now the depression revealed itself as an old house foundation in the only large pit of land found for tens of miles. The bowl dug for the house was too symmetrical to be natural, and also much too steep. Perhaps this was tornado country, he thought. A look to the sky offered its answer in the form of a great bolt of lightning. It landed nearly a quarter-mile away, and the shock and sound of its touchdown almost flung him to the ground.

His fear almost broke him of his learned behavior, and he started for the foundation … rather, started for what was left of broken concrete and felled timber. In a snap his training came to, and he stooped and ran on four appendages as fast as he could. Moving this way, he covered more ground as he took a perimeter and gathered information of his new environment, while still remaining mostly out of sight. On the South side of the foundation (the once-rear of the house) under some brush and burnt wood was a cellar door.

Oddly enough it looked like an old-fashioned door. It looked thin and corrugated, as a sheet-metal door would appear, and it was truly in a concrete base.

Closer inspection made clear this was no ordinary cellar. Although the house foundation was broken and decayed, the cellar - what little showed of it - was reinforced concrete of military grade. It probably had thick titanium rods woven for its skeleton. And the sheet-metal turned out to be military-grade plastic, probably also mixed with titanium, and not corrugated at all, but rather two inches thick and painted to look that way.

And too, it should not be forgotten that this particular cellar door was different in all these ways, but none were more important than passing trivia you share with your friends when compared to this:

The cellar was locked.

In the middle of absolutely nowhere, on the way to noplace, and, in fact, more of a pain to get to than its true worth, this cellar was locked with the most technologically advanced mechanism known at that time to humanity.

Why the hell would anyone of right mind lock a cellar door out here, much less with that confounded gizmo?

He started to feel dizzy just thinking about it.

No, not that …

He was feeling dizzy all by himself … he should sleep.

So he did.
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Janever Six by Michael W. Hyde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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