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Haywire (Forbidden's Pick Your Picture Challenge)

Short story By: Mistress of Word Play
Science fiction

A dark tale of adventure in Antarctica when a Scientist discovers an alien artifact. Soon the members of the expedition start to disappear one by one. This tale is sure to thrill and entertain any reader.

Submitted:Mar 13, 2010    Reads: 88    Comments: 17    Likes: 20   


There was a loud crashing sound as the door opened inward. Two men bundled in parkas and goggles entered the building. A frigid Antarctic wind blew snow into the laboratory and it settled on the building's concrete floor. A loud crackling sound came from the headset one of the men had on.
"Simon," the voice crackled and popped, "Did you find anything yet?"
"No, not yet," the man replied as he discarded the parka and goggles, "We just entered the laboratory. We'll keep you posted."
"Do that," the distorted voice said.
"Wonder where they went?" the second man asked as he closed the door and started shedding his garb.
"Don't know, Hayden," Simon said shaking his head, "Really strange we haven't found any trace of them. How can five people just up and vanish and not leave some clue of where they went?"
Simon, Hayden, and a small group of others had traveled to the isolated complex. They had not received word from any of the scientists who were conducting research for over a week. Their team had been sent to find out why. Simon and Hayden had meticulously searched the other four buildings, but nothing was found. There was no sign of a struggle or foul play as far as the two men could see.
Simon started to look around the structure. His eyes scanned the room completely, but the only thing out of the ordinary was that one of the lab chairs had fallen over on its side.
"Looks as if there might have been a struggle here," Hayden said gingerly righting the chair, "I wonder what happened?"
Simon walked over to where Hayden was standing and noticed a journal lying on the desk. He took one last look around and then let his eyes come to rest on the journal.
"Well," Simon replied pointing at the journal, "Maybe this might shed some light."
"What did you find," Hayden asked looking at the spot Blake was pointing to.
"Not sure, looks like someone's journal," Simon said sitting in the chair, "Let's take a look see."
Hayden had pulled a second chair up next to the chair Blake was seated in. The two men began reading what one of the scientists had written.
January 10, 2010
I don't know what's gotten into Salvador, but I found him sleeping in one of the vaults set aside for the dead here in the lab. He was on night shift duty and I came in to do some research. I thought I was going to have a heart attack when one of the vault doors opened and Salvador crawled out with not a stitch of clothing on. He acted as if it was no big deal.
After Salvador got dressed and I had composed myself, I questioned him about his rather odd behavior. I watched him fidget and his eyes darted around for a minute before he gave me an answer. I was ready to declare him certifiable after he told me his story.
Salvador said he had gone to collect some specimens two days ago and had found a cave we had not yet explored. In that cave according to him he found some type of artifact. Not sure of its origin or what it was, Salvador brought the thing back to the lab. He spent the evening looking the object over. At first it looked like some type of electrical device, but Salvador said he was not sure exactly what it did. He placed the artifact on the lab table and went to get himself a snack from the kitchen. When Salvador came back, the thing was gone. Sometime through his shift Salvador dozed off to sleep. A throbbing pain woke him up somewhere around three in the morning. He stared in shock at his chest. The thing he discovered in the cave had dug into his chest and embedded itself there.
I stopped Salvador as he started to show me his chest. I knew now the man had more than a few loose screws. Not wanting to anger him, I asked him to continue. I was curious to hear why he was sleeping in the vault.
Salvador went on to explain how the device once inside his chest cavity seemed to mesh with his body. The skin healed over and for moment Salvador said he thought it was all just a bad dream. He went on to finish his shift and went back to our quarters to get some sleep. That's when the nightmares started. They were vivid and always the same. The thing buried inside his chest was turning him into some type of mechanical creature. Whatever the artifact or device was it had every intention of gaining control of him. He said it was if it spoke to him in his sleep and that whatever the mechanical device was it had not been constructed on Earth. Evidently from what he went on to relay was that this electronic parasite was turning him into some type of teleportation machinery. It also began ordering him to send human specimens to wherever it was from. Salvador went on to explain the vault offered him protection from the nightmares and he felt as if the thing would not be able to change him if he slept inside the vault.
I remember the look of fear on his face. Though Salvador seemed convinced the events had taken place, I found it too far fetched to believe. It would be at least a month until our next supplies were delivered so to keep the peace I played along with Salvador's fantasy. It was our secret, I said to him. He thanked me and that was that.
January 14, 2010
Holmes discovered Salvador in much the same way I did today. Holmes does not feel the same about the whole sleeping in the vault thing as I do. After calling Salvador every name he could think of he went straight to Hale, the leader of our group. Salvador tried to tell them the same extra ordinary story he had confessed to me, but neither of the men bought the whole artifact, turning into a robot tale. They secured Salvador in his room. I heard him pounding on the door and screaming well into the daylight hours. At four in the afternoon Salvador finally gave up. I guess he must have fallen off to sleep.
At six o'clock I took a plate with food to Salvador's room. He had indeed fallen asleep. Strange thing is I heard a metallic sound coming from the bed where he was sleeping. I broke out in a cold sweat. Either I had caught whatever hysteria Salvador had or something unknown had manifested itself in my colleague. I was not about to stick around and find out. I left the food tray and left his room, closing and locking the door behind me.
January 15, 2010
I asked Holmes to take Salvador his breakfast. He grumbled and complained, but finally agreed to take it to him. After all I reminded him, he and Hale had locked Salvador in his room, not me. The burden of caring for Salvador was not my soul responsibility.
I busied myself with some rock and soul samples in the lab. Later that afternoon I glanced up from my work as Hale entered. He had a strange look on his face. He asked me if I had seen Holmes lately. I told him the last time I had seen Holmes he was taking breakfast to Salvador.
According to Hale, Holmes was nowhere to be found. To make matters stranger, Salvador had disappeared as well. Hale said he had spent the better part of the day looking for the two men but had turned up empty handed. I reassured Hale they were probably out looking for samples or perhaps they had journeyed to the cave Salvador had mentioned. Hale seemed to agree with my theories and went back to his quarters.
I finished logging the last of my data about an hour later and returned to main base. None of the three men were to be found. Perplexed I fixed myself a modest dinner and decided to look for the missing men. I searched every nook and cranny of all four structures, but to no avail. I could not find any of my colleagues anywhere. Frustrated I returned to the lab and continued to work.
At around eight o'clock I retired for the day. As I walked back to my quarters I spied movement near our sleeping quarters. From a distance it looked like Salvador, but a sound was coming from him that reminded me oddly enough of a wind up toy. I watched him as he moved toward me and I froze in terror. What was fast approaching was not Salvador, but something from a nightmare best forgotten. His eyes were blank as if he was walking in his sleep and a series of grinding whirring sounds came from inside him. Shocked and horrified I ran back to the lab.
I picked up one of the lab chairs and as Salvador entered I smashed him over the head with it. Salvador went down to the floor. As I examined his body I looked at the area my chair had made contact with his head. There was now a gaping hole in his skull. Where his brain should have been there were wires and circuitry. Whatever Salvador had become the chair had not finished him off. He was merely dazed. It took some amount of effort, but I eventually dragged and placed his body into one of the morgue vaults.
I am gathering some supplies and food together. Whatever Salvador has become I am sure it will be looking for me. Not sure what he did with Holmes and Hale, but I will not suffer the same fate they did. I would rather take my chances in the wild.
"Is that all there is?" Hayden asked Simon who was walking toward the morgue vaults.
"Yep, I would say he was a regular loony tunes," Simon answered as he started opening the doors to the vaults one at a time.


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