Authors: Brian Evenson
Tags: #Horror, #Science Fiction, #Fiction, #Media Tie-In, #Action & Adventure
“Which will allow the rest of us to stay in the background and get things done,” said Markoff. “I must admit I find it very satisfying to think of your name leading the movement that you tried so hard to destroy. It almost makes all the trouble you caused feel worthwhile.”
“You’ll never get away with this,” said Altman.
Markoff smiled, showing the tips of his teeth.
“You can’t honestly believe that,” Stevens said. “Of course we’ll get away with it.”
“You have officially become expendable,” said Markoff. “We’ve decided to donate your body to science. We have a particularly vicious death planned for you.”
“You’ll find this interesting,” said Stevens. “Using a variant of the genetic material that Guthe produced, we’ve developed a specimen that we’d be interested in having you meet. It was
made by combining the tissue of three human corpses with the DNA. We’ve named it after one of the corpses. We’re calling it the Krax. The results, as I’m sure you’ll be likely to agree, are rather surprising.”
Altman tried to lunge across the desk but succeeded only in turning over his chair. He lay there with his face pressed against the floor.
After a moment, Markoff and Stevens got up from their chairs and heaved him back upright.
“Krax, by the way, was lying to you when he said he didn’t kill your girlfriend,” said Markoff. “What was her name again? Doesn’t matter, I suppose. He did kill her. A generally inconsistent character. Which is why he became expendable.”
Altman didn’t answer.
“So there’s your motivation,” said Stevens. “Revenge. Kill the Krax, and Ada’s death will be avenged. Should make for a good show.” He smiled. “It seems fitting, doesn’t it? An appropriate way for you to meet your end? Who could ask for anything more?”
“You may think we’re going to throw you in there defenseless,” said Markoff. “If you think that, you’re wrong. We have a weapon for you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a spoon, forced it into Altman’s closed fist. “Here you go,” he said. “Good luck.”
And then, without another word, the pair stood and left the room.
The chamber they dumped him into was circular, about six meters in diameter. They pushed him through a pressure door and had left him there, gripping his absurd weapon, for too long. He had tried to make it a little less absurd, scraping it against the walls and sharpening its edges, giving it a point, making it a makeshift knife.
The observation chamber was directly overhead, the same size and shape as the chamber below. The glass ceiling of the lower chamber served as the glass floor of the upper one. He could see Stevens and Markoff above, looming over him. They were drinking glasses of champagne, smiling.
It’s one thing to be killed,
but dying knowing what infamy will be done in your name after your death is another thing entirely. Better to be like the old drunk in the town and have no name.
The second door of the chamber slid open to reveal a dark corridor. He stayed where he was, near the door he had been pushed through, waiting for something to come through. Nothing did.
The world is a hell,
You can do everything right and cheat death, and then be ruined by one false step.
Those, apparently, were the conditions of life. Of his life, at least.
The smell suddenly reached him. It was a rank, rotting odor, putrid to an extreme. He gagged.
And then he heard a heavy scraping sound, and the creature pulled itself in through the door.
It scraped against the sides of the passage as it came. He could see, here and there, reminders that it had once been human, a foot that had been stretched and split and now projected from the joint of the creature’s chitinous gigantic arm. Fingerlike tentacles throbbed over its face. And there, in the middle of its pulsating abdomen, was a large callus that looked like Krax’s screaming face.
It pushed the rest of the way into the room and howled.
Let this be a hallucination. Let this be a dream. Let me wake up.
He closed his eyes and then he opened them again. The creature was still there. It roared, and then it charged.
This book would not have been possible if Frank and Nick Murray hadn’t provided me the perfect place to write at just the right time. Thanks are due to them and to
Le Trèfle Rouge,
and to the fine folks at Visceral Games/EA for trusting me with the best bit of first-person SF/horror dismemberment out there. And applause is due especially to my editor, Eric Raab, for his excellent, tireless, and thankless work.