Across The Universe

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 36 (v.1) - 36

Submitted: October 14, 2018

Reads: 50

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Submitted: October 14, 2018

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It ended so quickly, that no one knew it happened at first; the world shattering around them.  In essence, it was Max’s fault.  He didn’t remember.  He didn’t remember how flimsy, how fragile things were.  He had never planned to be a murderer.

 

The day started in wonder, as Daisy opened the the pod, carefully slitting the protective liner that was keeping the saiga-creature within the nutriment.  After sixty days, it was ready to feel air on its skin, blissfully unaware of the coming storm that charged the air within the hub.

 

 

They— Max, Charlie, Adrian, and Daisy— had carefully carried the giant pod outside so that it wouldn’t suffocate, and were nervously waiting to see how the clone reacted to outside elements.

 

 

“Easy now,” Charlie said, holding up his hands, his words echoing oddly through the speaker in the chest of his suit.  Neither Daisy or Max had the heart to tell him that it was unnecessary anymore.

 

 

Nodding, Daisy ignored the camerae which had been set up beside the pod so the rest of the peoples could see as well.  Gingerly, she peeled the plasticky stuff back, being mindful in case anything had accidentally fused to it.

 

 

Once it was off, Charlie checked over his equipment for weighing and measuring, as Adrian held out a towel so that he could wipe the creature clean.  Easing her bare hands into the primordial ooze, Daisy moved slowly before closing her fingers around the calf, which struggled against the bizarre sensation of being touched for the first time.  

 

 

Once, the calf had been alone in the universe, and now it was amongst company, and its universe expanded beyond comprehension.

 

 

“That’s disgusting,” Daisy said, handing the calf off, pinkish slime running off her fingers.  “I realize it’s a miracle of life, but does it have to be so messy?”

 

 

Gently, Adrian wiped it clean as Max helped Charlie hold its head still as Charlie cleaned it ears, eyes, nose, and mouth, its mouth flanges wiggling disconcertingly.

 

 

“Hahhh,” the calf wheezed at them.  “Hahhh!”

 

 

“Set it down!  Set it down!”  Charlie ordered, and Adrian listened, gently getting its legs under it before letting go.  It promptly fell sideways, emitting a tiny grunt as its shoulder hit the ground.  In a couple moments, it was teetering back onto its awkward bird feet, testing the solidness of the ground beneath it.

 

 

Daisy, finished cleaning herself up, aimed the camera at the baby as it stumbled around, its toes bending under its feet as it tried to makes sense of its new state of being.

 

 

After a tiny bit, it was galloping around with the grace of a drunken foal, before being scooped up and measured in every form.

 

 

“Hahhh!  Hahhh!”  Fruitlessly, it gnawed at the sleeve of Charlie’s suit, trying to get free.  Max reached over and ruffled its head, and it gnawed on him too, its miniature fangs hardly denting his skin.

 

 

“Still creepy as fuck, though,” Max said, and they all nodded in agreement.

 

 

“Perhaps we’ll get used to it eventually,” Adrian suggested, casting a glance at Daisy, who was still scrubbing the feeling of the nutriment from her hands.  She ignored him.  She had refused to make up, like she always used to do, believing that putting her needs first for a change wasn’t that unreasonable, and realizing that if he wasn’t going to take them seriously, she was better off without someone who kept breaking her heart.

 

 

“If we still can’t decide on a species name, we should at least name this one something,” she said, nodding to it, as it clawed at its captors.  “It’s got a few years that it will be spending with us, we can’t just call it something like the specimen.”

 

 

“Przewalski,” Charlie suggested, nodding at the creature.  “Like those horses that died out years ago.”

 

 

No one else could think of a name on the spot, so they agreed, even though a couple of them didn’t like the name.

 

 

Setting it in a covered corral, it was left to explore for a few moments until Daisy climbed in, carrying a bottle with enriched synthetic milk.  It was a sight to see it eat.

 

 

The other three watched, still reeling from being not only introduced to a new creature, but something so alien, yet harmless.

 

 

After its bottle, it gallivanted around a bit more, its feet sure under it.  Then it found a dark corner, curled up and went fast to sleep.

 

 

Closing the corral up to protect it from the wild version of itself, they went back inside, Max and Daisy waiting with the other two as they stripped down, hanging their suits in their respective spots.

 

 

For a few moments there, Charlie seemed more like his old self, before xenophobia began to take him over.  Daisy wondered if he had accepted his fate, or had merely forgotten his state of being in the time it had taken to birth Przewalski from its pod.

 

 

Since the culprit had been found, the supras had been offering Charlie nothing but kindness, though they never said who had turned him.  He accepted the kindness first coolly, then with resignation, remembering that they were once what he was.  As well, the human’s now shunned him, even though his wishes had never been considered by Lee, so for companionship, he had nowhere else, really, to turn.

 

 

Coming inside, they saw nothing out of the ordinary, but silence reigned supreme.  It was deafening.

 

 

Slowing down, Daisy glanced around, looking around for the cause of the distress, because that was what was tainting the air.

 

 

Her footsteps slowed as she noticed that several humans were far out of reach, staring at her.  At first she thought it was them as a whole that was being observed, but taking a step away from the group, she watched their eyes track her.  It wasn’t just unnerving, but ominous to say the least for someone who had always been the number one target for violence aimed at the supras.

 

 

For a change, Niemand was not in amongst the watchers, but Paul was.  Ever since Daisy’s assault on Lucille, Paul avoided being anywhere near her, but it hadn’t stopped him from flinging insults at her from across the room, or writing death threats and leaving them where she was sure to find them.

 

 

Looking around, she calculated whether it was feasible to walk the long way around to her cubicle without further ridicule, because she didn’t not want to be within throwing distance of them.

 

 

Turning away from them, back to the others, Daisy noticed that Max was frozen, staring back at their watchers.  She grabbed his arm, giving it a little squeeze, encouraging him to forget them.

 

 

“What?”  Adrian asked, looking first at her hand then at the group of humans, worry creasing his brow.

 

 

“They’re not doing anything,” Charlie said, despite it all, he was still automatically defending them.

 

 

“Give them time,” Max told him darkly.

 

 

Squeezing his arm again, Daisy shook her head.  “Let’s play cards,” she suggested, looking up the way to her room.  “All of us.  We deserve a break after that.”

 

 

“We didn’t do much,” Adrian pointed out.

 

 

“Do you have something better to—”

 

 

“Hey!”  The shout was deafening and harsh, like a gunshot in the middle of the night.  It was enough to make them all stand on edge.  “What are you doing?”

 

 

“Just standing here,” Max said casually, and Daisy tugged at his arm to get him to stop.  There was strict advisory from Evers since Daisy hospitalized Lucille, that in such events that the supras were not supposed to interact.  If it was possible, they were supposed to walk away.

 

 

Listening to the movement behind her, Daisy felt her stomach tighten as she realized there were more than she had previously anticipated.  Looking in Adrian’s face, she could see the alarm, most likely thinking back to his beating on the station.  Glancing at Charlie, she felt her heart break for him as he became aware that anyone he saw in that group that previously he saw as a friend, now saw him as an enemy.

 

 

Wetting her lips, Daisy turned around, obeying the screaming in her muscles and feet to not keep her back to them, but even so it was too late.  She felt something drop on her head, saw a flash of grey, then she was strangling.  She heard yelling, but from which side, she couldn’t tell, she was trying to get her her fingers underneath the tough metal wire that was cutting into her throat.  Her claws carved her skin, leaving blood trailing down her front as she dug in deep, trying to find the edge.  The guy holding her garrote danced and moved around, keeping her off balance, her vision narrowing to nothing, feeling a maddening pulse in her lips and eyes.

 

 

She was fine as the air was cut off, but her heart, her poor, slow heart, had not been trained to starve her brain for as long as it would take for them to think she was dead.  There was a tug, nearly pulling her off her feet, and she felt her windpipe crack lose in her throat, and begin to crush under the sharp pressure.

 

 

She heard a crowd running towards them, but to assist whom she did not know.

 

 

Fading, Daisy was yanked to the floor.  It took her a few moments, before she regained her senses, feeling the wire being opened and lifted over her head, a soft clattering as it was tossed away.

 

 

She blinked rapidly, trying to see.  After a moment, she understood why they had been able to drop the noose around her neck.  They had jury-rigged a leash pole out of a pipe and some wire.  It would have only looked like a strange stick as they approached, but once it was raised, the wire would remain in a circle until the end was pulled taut.  She saw it get dragged away from her, and watched as her attacker staggered to his feet.

 

 

“What are you trying to do, kill him?”  Paul demanded of Adrian, who had assaulted her attacker, knocking him down.  The carelessness and irony of the sentence was too much for Max, who stepped forward and struck Paul on the side of the face, putting all his worth into, much to the pleasure of the gathered supras.

 

 

The funny thing is that a punch like that was dangerous enough between two humans.  When Max hit him, there was enough force to not only shatter Paul’s cheek and jaw, but turn his head halfway around.  He was dead before Max had even pulled his hand back.

 

 

“Oh,” Max murmured, as the humans ran scared, screaming murder, running past grabbing hands that wished to put them somewhere near their comarade.  Looking down as Paul’s twisted neck, the way the body eyed them oddly from the floor, the eye above the fractures popping wildly as the force had displaced it, Max felt like he was going to be sick.

 

 

“Oh,” Max gulped, panting and swallowing hard as he fell to his knees.  “Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no,” he chanted, scrubbing his knuckles against his pant legs, trying to remove the sin from them.

 

 

“I’ll get Ortega,” Adrian announced, running for the medical centre.

 

 

Charlie was crushing Daisy to him and at first she hadn’t been aware until she suddenly felt the sensation, and she looked in his shocked face.  “It’s not possible,” he muttered.  “Something, something’s wrong, but its not . . .”  She hugged him back, watching Max worriedly, but the hold Charlie had on her, she couldn’t get to him without hurting Charlie.

 

 

“It’s over,” she whispered, watching the human’s approaching them despite the crowd, and she leaned her forehead against Charlie.

 

 

Niemand was the one who checked Paul’s vitals, warily keeping an eye on Max, who was so clearly guilty.  “He’s dead,” Niemand announced loudly, something that seemed unnecessary.  All they had to do was see the angle of the neck to know that it was true.

 

 

Getting to his feet, Niemand gestured to Paul, now a martyr for their prejudice.  “We all knew this was going to happen,” he declared.  “They want us dead or gone, they always did.”

 

 

“No, don’t twist it,” Daisy begged, though her voice was so far gone it was barely a breath and even Charlie couldn’t hear her, it was not enough to carry over the angry murmuring of the crowd.

 

 

“They’re violent, and unpredictable,” he went on, and Max looked up at him, incredulity showing through his pain and confusion.  “I am not going to allow—”  He stopped as Ortega came closer to examine the corpse.  Head down, eyes on the floor to show that he was not part of this, just someone to help, it was not enough to stop Niemand from grabbing him and shoving him away from Paul.  Ortega staggered back, putting his hands up, just as Adrian stepped between them as a barrier.

 

 

“Stop it, he’s just trying to do his job, let him,” Adrian ordered, and Niemand closed the distance between them.  Daisy gave Charlie a gentle push and stood up, accidentally ratcheting up the tension.

 

 

“Hasn’t he done enough?”  Niemand demanded, his paranoia glossing over the fact that Ortega had never caused any trouble.

 

 

“He’s a doctor,” Adrian reminded him, almost pleading.  

 

 

Sighing, Daisy saw that he could see what was coming, he really hadn’t been so blind.

 

 

“He’s one of them, and you’re no better,” Niemand snapped, his fingers curling.  He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt Daisy touch his arm.  He jerked away, taking a few steps back before lunging forward, his hand cracking hard across her mouth.  That was it.  Paul might have been the final straw for the humans, but this visible assault was too much for the rest.

 

 

Pandemonium fell, and insanity reigned for a bare minute, but it was enough most of the humans to get badly injured, and surprisingly a few supras.  Before they all devolved into murder, an electric shock went through the supras, and they stiffened, backing away from the humans, watching them with fury and resignation.

 

 

The supras who had corralled a few humans in a corner, stopped feinting at them with makeshift weapons and dropped them, walking towards Daisy, staring at her silently for a few moments before walking away like nothing had happened.

 

 

“What just happened?”  Adrian asked, holding her bleeding arm.  He watched and noticed that the supras were moving with purpose, rather than acting randomly.  Those who were still fresh were lead by the older ones, given a chore to do.

 

 

Adrian looked to Daisy for an answer, but she shook her head, unable to speak, her throat damaged beyond repair.

 

 

“Darian?  What’s—”  Adrian reached out for her, but she went past, for she had her own weight to pull.

 

 

“You keep the hell away from us!”  Niemand yelled at her from where he was stanching bleeding on someone she forgot the name of.  She had stepped too close and caused panic, but she ignored him and went on to the storage closet, accepting a pack handed to her.  She swung it on her shoulder, before accepting another.

 

 

“Darian, stop!  What are you doing?”  Adrian called after her.  He tried to come closer, and he was just moved out of the way.  “What are they doing?”  They both looked towards the centre of the hub as there was the sound of smashing glass.  Apparently, a human had found the vials of the serum.

 

 

“It’s going to take some time, but we can fix this,” Adrian promised, opening his mouth to saw more, but in that moment he realized that it had gone too far, there was no recovering this.  He remembered the rats, the way the ones that were reintroduced were targeted by the old ones, they way they had waged war, and the only difference this time was that they had lasted more than a couple days.  There was a gap, one too wide to bridge, at least now.

 

 

They looked at each other in understanding, and Daisy felt tears scalding her cheeks.  Adrian nodded and went off to help, whether it was to keep humans at bay or something else.

 

 

Wiping her face as she pulled the pack higher on her shoulder, Daisy wished she had not waited, she wished she had been firm.  She should have said that it was time as soon as they found the tunnels.

 

 

As one, they turned from their chores of gathering equipment and went towards the airlock.  Those who were new were given respirators then they were gone, stepping out into twilight.

 

 

Max held a step behind, slicing Niemand’s suit before following into a new life.

 

 

There had been a thought of destroying the plants around the hub, just for spite, but it would not be done for the plants benefited them all.  Standing around, they looked back at the hub, and saw through the window that a few humans were watching them, Adrian in front.  Daisy looked at him a moment before turning, leading her people away.

 

 

Stopping one last time, Daisy took the przewalski, tying a cord around its neck and handed the leash to Charlie, giving him something to anchor himself.


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