Authors: A.R. Wise
By A. R. Wise
Copyright 2012 Aaron Wise
Cover Art b
y A.R. Wise
Original photo by mouthofmaggotstock
Kindle Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
She stared at the growing pool of blood under her friend's head. The dead girl's eyes were open and there was a small hole in the center of her forehead. Paris Dawn had been shot in the head.
"You idiot," said a guard that rushed into the hallway where the murder had occurred.
The other guard, the one that killed Paris, pointed his monstrous weapon, a black metal object with a handle that the guard held while his finger was curled around a trigger. "She was going to attack me."
Echo Dawn began to hyperventilate as she stared at her friend's body. Paris's blonde hair was awash with brilliant red blood and her mouth opened as her jaw muscles relaxed.
"She's all of ninety pounds, asshole," said the guard at the door. He carried a weapon similar to the one used to kill Paris. The men were dressed the same, in black jumpsuits with thick pads covering various spots. They had masks with grey visors that were raised and revealed their ugly faces. They were pock marked and scarred; much uglier than Echo ever imagined a man would be, something she'd fantasized about during the eighteen years she'd spent in the all-girls Facility. She could smell these men's bodies beneath their suits, and the stench turned her stomach. Before the murder she had been joking with Paris that if this is what men looked like, she didn't want to see the Surface. That was just minutes before Paris tried to reach out to the man and take his helmet off to get a better look. The man killed her for her transgression and Echo was still trembling in shock.
The weapon had erupted with a thunderous noise, which still rang in Echo's ears, just as a flash of light came from the end that he'd pointed at Paris. Echo glanced down at her friend, and then back at the hellish weapon the man had used.
He shook his head and spit on Paris. "I've seen these fucking bitches go apeshit before. I ain't taking no risk, Dog."
"They're supposed to get an injection, not a bullet."
"I'm telling you, the cunt tried to step up on me." He pointed his gun down at her and mimed his murder for his friend. "She got what she deserved."
"Whatever." The second guard seemed anxious to be done with the conversation. "I don't have time for this shit. Call Med and get them in here so they can salvage what they can from her. I've got to get to Base Station."
"What's the rush?"
"You didn't hear?"
The murderer shook his head as Echo continued to stare at his weapon. "Hear what?"
a bunch of Undying down by the purification intakes. We're headed out there to clear them out before they get into the Facility."
The murderer groaned in disappointment. "For real? I get bitch detail for the first time and we finally get some action on the outside? That's bullshit.
Last time I got to plug a Grey was when I was spying on the traders. That was months ago."
The second guard laughed and started to head
off in the opposite direction. "That's not my fault, brother. You've just got bad luck I guess."
The second guard raised his middle finger as he ran down the stark grey corridor, his black boots clanked on the metal floor beneath him as he went. The murderer cursed and used his left hand to rub his eyes in frustration. Echo studied his weapon as it dangled at his side. He saw her gaze and was amused by her interest.
"What? You like my rifle? Ain't never seen one of these before, have you?"
"No." Her voice was meek and squeaked out as if her throat tried to keep her silent.
"You Dawns are smoking hot, but dumb as rocks." He shook his head and laughed as he stared at Echo. She didn't understand his reference to her temperature. It was quite cool in the tunnels outside of the Facility. "You saw what I did to your friend, so ju
st keep quiet and do what I say or I'll bust a round up in your grill too. Got it?"
She shook her head. "I don't understand."
He rolled his eyes and grumbled. "Don't do nothing stupid and I won't use my rifle to shoot you in the head like I did your friend." He spoke slowly and emphasized each word as if speaking to a child.
"You just have to point it at somebody and pull the trigger to kill them?"
He snickered and smiled as he nodded. "Yeah, pretty much."
looked down the corridor toward the guard that had been talking to them. He was far away now, on his way to the surface.
"Stay quiet while I call one of the Meds."
She nodded and said, "Okay."
He released his rifle and let it
hang at his side, connected to his shoulder by a long strap. He pulled a black box with an antenna off of his belt and fiddled with the knobs before an awful crackling noise escaped from it. He clicked a button, which silenced the noise, and spoke into it. As he did, Echo saw a knife in a sheath on his belt. She was familiar with knives from using them to cut food in the Facility before they were restricted. One of the Dawns had used her steak knife to kill herself. She'd plunged the knife into her throat and died, quickly and quietly.
"I need a Med in service bay ten, near the Facility elevator. We've got one dead ass bitch here. One of the Dawns. Over."
He released the button and a couple seconds later a new, feminine voice came from it. "Copy that. What happened? Over." He cringed at the sound of her voice, as if he hadn't expected a woman to hear his 'dead ass bitch' comment.
Echo moved to the left, pretending to avoid the growing pool of her friend's blood. She stared at the strap that held the knife in place on the murderer's belt. It had a single button that held the loop over the knife's hilt.
The murderer clicked the button on his radio before speaking. "She attacked me. I did what I had to…"
movements were precise as she undid the button on the strap with one hand and jerked the knife free with the other. The guard dropped his radio and it bounced off the floor as he desperately tried to reach for his rifle. He almost spoke before she jammed the long knife into him. The blade pushed up through the lower half of his jaw and into his mouth. He staggered back and Echo lost her grip on the blade as he fell away from her.
The murderer grabbed the hilt and tried to pull the blade free, but only managed to jerk his mouth agape as the serrated edge sawed into his wound. Blood gushed out over his chin and his severed tongue flopped to the floor. He stared at it and gurgled in agony. His pained, guttural cry turned to anger as he glared at Echo while still pulling at the knife.
She knew she had to act before he reached for his rifle. Echo lunged and pushed at the knife. Her attack knocked him back and his helmet slammed against the wall. The blade plunged deeper into him and he went limp almost immediately. She backed away and watched him slump to the floor as his radio chattered.
"We're sending two Meds to your position now. In the meantime, do what you can to stop the bleeding. Do you understand? Over."
Echo panted as she watched the blood of the murderer and his victim mix on the cold metal floor. She was overcome with fear, anger, and uncertainty as she stared at the dead man.
A red light flashed above her and broke the daze she'd fallen into. Flashing lights always signaled something important in the Facility where she'd lived for the past eighteen years, and she guessed that it meant something similar here. Panic seized her, but she steadied her breath and assessed the situation.
The rifle that the guard had used scared her, but she needed to take it. She also considered pulling the knife out of his neck, but he was probably much stronger than she was and he'd had trouble getting the blade out, so she decided to leave it behind. It was a gruesome task to slide the rifle strap over his corpse to steal the weapon, but she didn't have time to waste. The radio had said two people called Meds were on their way, and she either needed to kill or evade them. She preferred evasion, having found that murder was more grisly than she'd imagined.
Echo studied the terrifying weapon that the guard had used to kill Paris and was surprised at its heft. She lifted it and pointed down the hall before pulling the trigger to make sure she knew how to use it. The weapon blared as it had before and kicked back with shocking force. She lost her grip and staggered as the weapon flung out behind her, the strap swinging around her shoulder.
The rifle's explosive noise caused her ears to ring even worse this time and she pressed the palms of her hands against the sides of her head in shocked pain. She had to shake off the disorientation before the Meds showed up. Echo glanced down at Paris for the last time and apologized to her for no good reason other than as a final goodbye.
She ran in the direction the other guard went, towards what she hoped would be an exit to the surface. He'd mentioned something about clearing out the Greys, but she didn't know what that meant and any conjecture on her part would lead to wild theories since she knew nothing of the outside world or the men that populated it.
Echo drew close to a sharp turn in the hall and stopped before reaching the corner. She pressed herself against the wall and moved quietly along until she was flush with the corner and could peer around it.
"Crack it," said a guard standing beside a man in a different outfit. The guard looked similar to the one Echo had killed, but the person he stood beside appeared much different. He was wearing a blue jumpsuit instead of the black armor the guards wore, and he carried a rectangular, red metal box instead of a rifle.
His clothes gave Echo a better view of what a man's body looked like. The guards wore thick, bulky equipment that made it seem like they were beastly creatures. She could see by the shape of the man in blue that men weren't much different from women when they weren't wearing armored suits. The Administrators had shown the girls in the Facility pictures of men, but none of the Dawns had ever seen one in real life.
"Crack it?" asked the man in blue incredulously. "The fucking blade's still spinning." He motioned towards a vent on the wall that was vibrating from what Echo assumed was a fan inside.
"So?" asked the guard.
"So? You know, there're
two reasons they put these blades here, right?"
The man in blue snickered and shook his head as if amused by the guard's ignorance. "Reason number one is to circulate air, but reason number two is so that if any fucking creatures slip into the shafts, they'll get chopped up before getting inside."
"Bullshit. If that were true then they wouldn't have us running out to clear the intakes."
The man in blue set his box down and fished through it for a large tool that looked almost like a rifle but was much shorter and instead of a long barrel it had a sharp point. He pointed it at the wall and pulled the trigger, causing his weapon to come alive with noise and a vibration that Echo could feel in the wall at her back. She then understood he wasn't holding a weapon, but some sort of mechanical tool.
"They just don't want the fuckers gumming up the works. You ever had to clean up a mess of body parts?"
"More than my fair share."
"Now imagine all those nasty bits spinning around inside a unit." He spun the tool in a circle in front of the guard to prove a point. "Pretty fucking nasty."
"Then why didn't they put a bunch of fans inside the shaft too?"
"They did," said the man in blue. "But if enough of the
Undying get in there, they'll jam up the blades with their bits and pieces until the motor seizes up."