Side Effects Include

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
After experimenting with an interactive new drug, a group of college students begin suffering otherworldly circumstances that could cost their lives.

Submitted: February 28, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 27, 2016



Side Effects Include by Randall Rydell Russell


Video games have always been my outlet. It doesn't matter if it's a counsel, hand held,
arcade or even on my phone. Video games are my life. From Super Mario Brothers to Call of
Duty, I can take anyone, anywhere, on any system. Try me. I'm not being cocky to be a dick, I'm
being cocky because I'm honest. Online gaming is cool if you're seventeen plus I can beat any
shoot em up or RPG game no problem, but my real love is horror games.
I like the games that really fuck with your head like Silent Hill, Dead Space and
Manhunt. I get off on that. I go to school for video game design at the Art Institute in West
Sacramento. There I'm in the process of creating my own game. It's called 'Psychmare'. In the
game, you get stuck in the outer realm (the reverse world between us and the real world), to
retrieve a potion to get back to the real world, but large monsters known as Cronakills, are sent to
slaughter you and you only have a short time to get the potion before you become stuck in their
world. Yeah I took it pretty far, but my intent is to create a game that no one has ever played, nor
experienced in their entire life.
Pot smoking is an everyday thing for me. Weed and gaming is the greatest match. But I also
do a lot of prescription drugs as well. Norcos, Vicodin, you name it. Just weed and pills, that's all
I do and mushrooms twice a year too. I love the feeling of not being in your own reality, that's why I
gravitate towards a lot of outlandish but amazing things in the universe like technology, music,
movies, the drug culture. You see the depths being creative can get you.
My apartment is near the campus and it is almost walking distance. This is where I
hang out with four close people: Gabby, a girl I met when I first began going to the Art Institute.
Gabby is Italian with shoulder length black hair, 5'4, great dresser and incredibly gorgeous.
Marcus, my roommate and buddy since Junior high, who also likes gaming and smoking pot.
Preston, the tech guy who is very uptight at times, doesn't smoke pot but is a genius at video
game design. Last is Andrea, the music maker and avid gamer. I probably play her more than
Marcus when she is over.
People say there are a few people in your life that will be there shaping you and truly
setting your life in motion. I think of them as those people and I will do anything for them, just
like I know that they will do the same for me.
Finals had just ended last week, but I decided to get a jump on enrolling for summer
classes so that I can have the next month or so to finish my game. Our editing lab is filled with
brand new Apple computers and video game software to keep us busy for a long time. My
number came up to have alone time in the lab to work, so I brought my laptop, log into the
school's mainframe and with my 'special disk'. I begin hacking the school's mainframe so that I can
get my game done much faster. I'm just permanently borrowing it, that's all.
The 'special disk' is a disk Andrea and Preston created that contains codes and viruses
we can put out to get and do whatever we want on the world wide web. I'll get every PS4 and
XBOX360 game that comes out before anyone in the city of Sacramento does.
Being on a computer all the time, you learn a thing or two about going behind backdoors,
firewalls and protection for your computer so you're not tracked. That's why it didn't scare
me when I hacked the school's mainframe to copy the video game software to my laptop. As I sit
here seeing that it is 32% done, I take a minute to pat myself on the back.
The life I used to live was a very sheltered life. My mother and father (my father more)
were very demanding of me and my four siblings growing up. The every night chat at the table
with everyone always included why we needed to be right with God, get straight A's, get a good
job, get married, have kids, end. That's not the life for me. I sit and think sometimes where I
would've been if I ended up like my two oldest siblings. They did everything my parents said like
little lapdogs. It sickened me to see Sarah and Robert like that, but they chose to follow the life
that my father made them. When I was around eleven, my parents divorced with Sarah and
Robert going with my father across the country to North Carolina and me, my Mom, older sister
Brittany and younger sister Julie staying in Sacramento.
Brittany is the one that introduced me to pot. She is two years older than me, but we are
very close to this day. Brittany lives in North Highlands with her boyfriend Kenderick and their
son Jabari. I go by once a week.
Julie is a year younger than me, so there is a love hate relationship between the two of
us. She was my smoking buddy, but only on the weekends because she played sports all through
junior high and high school. She plays softball for UTEP, following her dream to play the sport
she loved. So that's what she did. Julie calls me at least twice a week and we text all the time.
Sitting in the computer lab, I start to get that feeling. I'm very antsy now with the tingling
sensation through my body and head. I need to get on a good one. I obviously can't light up a
joint in the lab so I think about the next best thing.
My pill containers are in my backpack. I pop a pink one and a green one, chugging it
down with my Mountain Dew. I let the rush hit me. I can feel all the blood rush to my brain
quickly but I'm sitting down. I love that feeling. One of the reasons I smoke weed and pop pills. I
just love the feeling.
The door to the lab opens. Bryan McCall, the campus rich kid and drug connect walks in.
He speaks to me every once in a while, but he's too busy chasing after girls to actually finish a
conversation. If it's not about drugs, it's about a chick with him.
All I really knew about him is that he is a film major, his father has been an assistant
director for Hollywood films and actually had a job lined up for Bryan, but due to his criminal
and drug arrests in high school, no prestigious college with a film program would take him,
leading to him going to the Art Institute out here in Sacramento. His father didn't leave his
pockets empty though, so it is evident he comes from money just by looking at him.
"My bad bro, I didn't think anyone would be in here. Didn't think people actually
followed those rules," says Bryan. He walks over to me, only to see that I am hacking big time in
the school's database.
"Oh, shit. You're one of those cyber bandits right man?" he says to me. "I don't know
what you're talking," I tell him turning back to the computer. "You don't have to act like I'm
going to snitch or tell on you. I respect that. I'm Bryan McCall," he says holding his hand out. I
shake his hand. "Connor Gould. I know who you are," I tell him. "Everyone does," Bryan says in
a cocky voice. I sit there for a second. There is this odd silence until I can't take it anymore.
"Well look man, I gotta get back to this work so...," I tell him not trying to sound too much like
an asshole. "You take drugs?" Bryan asks me. "What are you a cop?" I tell him. "No, I just want
someone else to know about this new thing I just got a hold of," says Bryan.
This grabs my attention. I figured he smoked weed, but something new. I want to know
what it is. "What is it?" I ask. "It's what their calling an interactive drug," says Bryan. "How does
that work?" I ask. "USB port comes with a five foot IV, you inject it into the arm, it let's out a
fluid with hallucinogenic capabilities. Then, you connect to whatever is on your computer at the
time. It's a rush. I thought I was in the Avatar world the other day," says Bryan with a laugh.
Total bullshit. But if he's telling the truth, I want to know. "Let me see what it looks
like," I tell him. "Not here. Meet me out in the parking lot in ten minutes. I drive a Black
Suburban," he tells me and exits the lab. I don't know whether to believe him or not go meet him.
The drug side is telling me to too much so I collect my things and exit the lab.
Bryan McCall is the biggest shit talker on the face of the planet, an interactive drug? I
would have known about this so long ago that it makes no sense that he would even tell me
something like this. Does he have no friends, no one to play with? But at the same time, my drug
side is very curious to see and know what this thing really is, that's why I'm walking so fast to the
parking lot.
We sit in Bryan's truck where he shows me exactly what he was talking about. The tube
connected to the IV and the USB stick carries a green liquid inside of it. "What's that green
stuff?," I ask. "THC and the hallucinogenic properties that make you trip," says Bryan. "How
much for one?" I ask. "Sixty for one. Bill for two" he says. I begin thinking about Marcus and the
others, if they'd want to do it. But just to be safe, I'd want Bryan there as well so that I knew
nothing was going to go sour. "What are you doing tonight?" I ask him. "Class till seven why?"
asks Bryan. "I want to try this, but I want a few of my friends to try it and you," I tell him. "You
think I'm trying to poison you or something?" asks Bryan. "I don't know you from Adam, so yeah
I don't know what you have in mind or what your motives are," I tell him while I still have the
drug in hand.
I sound like a whiny bitch but I didn't give a shit. If this shit is as amazing as he is
making it out to be, I want him there and everyone else if I'm going to do this. "There a way you
can get three more?" I ask. "Of course, but if you're trying to do a group thing, there's a five way
USB connector, where you can put one large cartridge in place of the USB so a whole bunch of
people can take it," says Bryan.
That sounds like exactly what I'm pushing for. This could be that ultimate trip I've been
waiting for. That feeling I've always wanted to have without the crack, crystal meth and all that
other shit. Yes, this is what I want. This is what I want to do. Touch the universe like so many of
the greats have always talked about. I'm ready to be not here in the mind for a while.
"I'll call you later and give you directions to my house," I tell him as I hop out of the car.
"Wait, how are you going to call me, I never gave you my number," says Bryan. "I'll find it. I can
find anything online. Later man," I say. He drives off out of the parking lot. I stand there taking
in the high I am about to have tonight.
The walk home I text everyone to tell them to meet at the house. Marcus of course would
already be there. I text Brittany to see if she wants to come over, but she, Kenderick and Jabari
are going out of town to the Bay for a few days. She made me promise to tell her how the trip
is. I assured her I would.
The reaction of my friends when I tell them the news does not go the way as planned.
"Bryan McCall. Are you seriously going to listen to him Connor? Everytime he sees me in the
hallway, he always goes 'me wanna love you long time' and I go asshole, I'm Filipino, not
Vietnamese," says Andrea.
We are stretched out in the living room, all of us but Preston. He is on his laptop
continuing the design for the video game. Marcus lights a joint, passes it and begins rotation
between us. "I don't think it's a good idea. It sounds like something he put together at home,
just messing around in his rich ass house," says Marcus. "He's a tool," says Preston over at the
kitchen table on his laptop. "Thank you Preston," Marcus says. "Welcome Marcus," Preston
retorts with his eyes still gazing into his laptop screen. "Do you want to do this thing Bryan says
he has?" asks Gabby.
When she asks it makes me think totally different from where I was originally thinking. I
get lost in her smile. Gabby doesn't realize how fine she is because she hides it under her book
smart views, but either way, I make it a point to make sure she is over a lot, because I love when
she is around.
"Yes and no. I don't know what it is, so it's hard," I tell her. "You pop pills without even
thinking what it is," adds Marcus. "Thanks bro, not talking about that," I tell him. "Eating the
meds like Skittles huh?" says Andrea.
I flip Andrea off after she says that. She's the type that always comes with a joke that
goes a little too far. She's still great to have around though. "I just figured all of us can try
something that no one else has, and feel this ultimate high Bryan is talking about," I honestly tell
"There's still a chance that we could overdose on this shit though right?" asks Marcus. "I
don't know. He's done it before and he came out okay," I say to him. "That's even if he took it at
all," adds Preston. "You don't have to do it. But I want to try. I always try to reach that next level
experience. So why not try it. Just once. What could it hurt? Interactive. It's 3D but it's gonna be
like 30D. Come on?" I say to my friends with every bit of me wanting each of them to say yes.
"I'm down," says Andrea. "I'm cool," Preston says. It was kind of obvious he wasn't going
to try it. Preston likes drinking, that's about it. Marcus' face deemed me to believe his ass is
going to take the Preston route and puss out. "I'm gonna do it. But it's on you if anything happens
to us nigga," says Marcus. Gabby is last. She very seldom hits the weed, never pops pills and
it's always a strict no when it comes to the fungi. Her response left me in awe.
"What the hell. I'll do it," she says with no doubt in the tone of her voice or her eyes.
"Really?" I ask. "Um, yeah. I can try things when I feel I can or want to. Like you said, it's one of
a kind. That will be an out of body experience in itself," says Gabby. "Well all right then. It's
going down tonight," I say as I light another joint.
This new found experimental side of Gabby is a total turn on. I used to make Italian
mafia jokes to her until she told me her uncles do work for the mob, those jokes were dropped
after that. She wants to distance herself as far away from that life as she can, so that's why
she came to the Art Institute. The sad thing is, I don't think she even truly knows how I feel about
her and that hurts my soul a lot because I haven't manned up yet to tell her how I feel. She has
tons of guys trying to get at her on campus, so why waste her time with me? That's the
pessimistic side of my brain talking. I hit the joint a couple more times to let the drug side kick in
a little more, now my vision is less blurred and my strength is back. I love weed.
Ten minutes later, I am on my cell phone in my bedroom walking back and forth,
talking to Bryan about how things are going to come together tonight. The arrangement is simple,
he'll come over, hook the drug up for the five us as we get as high and out of this world as
possible. He tells me about how everyone has to be sitting down, no standing because it can
cause the person to faint, and for all of us to keep this between us. I tell Bryan he want have a
problem with that. We aren't snitches in this apartment. We smoke too much pot to narc on him
for something he's offering that's not even on the market yet.
I'm like a little kid anticipating his dad coming home with a brand new toy for him to
play with. No, I am a guy awaiting the craziest drug to touch the face of the earth, and I was
going to be experimenting this one of a kind high.
The living room is set up with two couches that make an L shape. That way we can link
up to either my computer or one of my video game systems. Preston tells me a demo of the first
two levels of Psychmare is ready. He puts the copy he has just burned on my computer desk near
the computer. The game will change lives when it hits the shelf.
Marcus continues to complain about it being a bad idea. He has always complained about
a lot. A real pessimist, but he is very optimistic too. He too is taking the film route. He wants to
be the next Spike Lee with the next great non Tyler Perry black picture. He helped me come up
with the story for Psychmare one night too. Stories just know how to mesh well in his brain,
because my boy can write some shit.
Bryan shows up around 8:15. The energy in the room is uneasy at first. My friends
automatically get into protective mode, not wanting to let him into the group. I don't blame them,
but he is offering something to us that we'd be stupid not to take.
"So everyone's taking it right?" asks Bryan as he pulls out the USB connector for
multiple usage of the drug from his backpack. "I'm going to sit this one out. I'll let you guys have
your Altered States moment," says Preston. "Fine nerd, more for us," says Bryan. Preston rolls
his eyes turning back to his laptop to continue work.
"Don't come over here disrespecting our friends all right?" says Marcus. "Didn't mean to
offend bro. Just had my mind blown because he's going to miss out on this," says Bryan. "Pres
drinks. He's not down with the whole drug scene. Now can we move forward with this McCall?"
Andrea says with her uneasy stance and tone of voice.
I should have known that there was going to be some type of conflict happening before. I
don't like bad energies before I take a drug that is going to make me trip so I pray and hope that
this tension decreased by the time we take this drug.
Gabby looks at the USB connector, growing obsessed with the color of the green liquid.
"It's so pretty. Forest green almost. I'm excited now," says Gabby. The girl I secretly crush on just
got the same thrill I get when I am about to take drugs. This is turning into a good night.
Bryan tells us to slowly put the IV needle into our inner arm. He hooks the USB into my
XBOX360 port. Everyone begins getting comfortable and settled. "Any game you want to put
in?" asks Bryan. "Just put whatever is on my desk into the XBOX360" says Marcus. He grabs a
disk, putting it into the machine. When he flips the switch, we all feel the bootup of the machine
like a rush of electricity flowing through us. I liked it. Everyone's reaction is genuine.
"Holy shit, that felt good," says Andrea. "I know right," says Bryan. Gabby has taken a
hold of my hand. She looks to me like she has just had the greatest orgasm of all time. Maybe
later I can make that a reality. Bryan sits down in a chair near the TV. The screen menu for the
drug pops up. This is it. The guy at the theme park has given the thumbs up, so it's time to press
the go button.
"Here we go," says Bryan. "Have fun guys," says Preston. Bryan hits start. Our heads
instantly drop. The feeling going through us is like the feeling of being born if I can remember,
added with the feeling of complete weightlessness or an out of body experience. I see everything
in reverse. My entire apartment is the exact opposite of what it should look like. The images in
the apartment look like water colors buzzing like fans.
My friends and Bryan are walking around like kids in a magical valley of wonder. We
are not on Earth right now. We have to be on some kind of planet unknown to man. This is nuts.
But I love every minute of it. My apartment is ten times bigger now for some reason, there
is new things to explore all around. I love it.
It feels like shrooms times a million, with the feeling of being stoned off weed and
vicodin at the same time. This is causing different reactions out of all of us. Gabby is obsessed
with rubbing a pillow that has become a furry rabbit to her face. Marcus is laughing hysterically
looking at himself in a mirror near the kitchen. Andrea is on the ground pretending she is making
snow angels in the snow that has actually appeared. Bryan is feeling the walls, and I'm pretty sure
he has licked my wall several times. I on the other hand am just taking it all in. Reaching a new
enlightenment that I have never felt, and don't want to go away.
I get to a door down the hall that I have never seen before, but it looks so familiar. The
others are back a ways, so I decide to move forward to the door. As I open it, I see a world filled
with complete mayhem and destruction. This begins to freak me out a little bit. I go to close the
door until a dark figure jumps up attempting to grab me. I scream out.
Something or someone is shaking me awake. I look up to see all of them, including
Bryan standing around me. "Bro, I never thought you would be the one with the bad trip," says
Bryan. I feel my face to make sure I'm really here. I stand up, looking at my apartment curiously
to make sure it's really my apartment. Gabby walks over, taking my hand. "Connor, are you
okay?" she asks.
The fridge is where I go next. I pour a glass of water, chugging it fast. My breath is a bit
off but comes back to normal. Everyone looks to me like I am crazy for a second. "What
happened?" asks Andrea. "Nothing. I just saw something that really messed with my head. I don't
know. I just didn't want to see that," I tell them. "I told you it's some powerful shit," says Bryan.
"Well, I'm cool off that. Once was enough for me," I tell him. "The mighty Connor Gould finally
found a drug that has grounded him," Marcus says. "Yeah, well you didn't want to take it in the
first place, so don't talk shit to me bro," I tell him with a tone in my voice.
Everyone is shocked at my attitude, especially Marcus. "Well, I'm going to get going. It's
been real," says Bryan as he collects the drug tools heading out of the door. Gabby walks over to
me. "I'll call you later, okay?" she tells me. I just nod. I'm still not totally better. Preston and
Andrea walk out after her, leaving only me and Marcus in the apartment.
"I didn't mean anything by it man," Marcus tells me. He's probably telling the truth, but I
don't want to hear it. "It doesn't matter. I'm over it. I'm going to bed," I tell him as I walk into the
back slamming the door to my room.
It is midnight. This is the first night in a long time that I have not smoked any weed or
popped a pill before going to bed. I can't. I can't focus at all. I keep seeing the figure jumping out
at me and the destroyed world I saw before me. It was too much. Everytime I close my eyes, I
see it. So I turn my lamp on. The first time I went to sleep with a lamp since I was eight-years-
old. It's time to take a break from doing drugs I think to myself.
A few weeks have gone by since the eventful night I saw a destroyed city in a door in my
apartment. I have hit the weed maybe once and I instantly go back to sobriety. I explain the
situation to Brittany who calls me stupid for even trying it. I tell Julie and she thinks the same
thing. Some things I just shouldn't tell my sisters. I want to get to the bottom of this so I meet up
with Preston outside in the quad at school to talk to him about how I'm feeling.
"The chemicals in the drug could not be mixing well with your body, and that's never
good. Have you gone to the doctor?" asks Preston. "No. I don't need them to check my blood
stream and see the amount of THC and Prescription drugs I have in my system. I'll be fine. I just
wish the nightmares would go away," I tell Preston. "This is what all those old Beat Poets and 60's
and 70's people call a bad trip Connor," says Preston. No shit is all I can tell him.
Marcus and Andrea walk over to join us. "Have you guys seen Gabby? It's been like a
week since she's been to school and she's not answering her phone either," says Andrea. Holy
shit. I've been so in my head with the craziness going on, that I didn't even bother noticing where
Gabby has been the past week. I jump up grabbing my backpack, heading for the parking lot.
"What are you doing?" yells Marcus. "Going to Gabby's house. Something's wrong," I tell him.
"I'm going with you," says Marcus. "Pres, go online and look up anything you can about this drug
or the shit that's in it," I tell him. "I can do that," Preston says. "Call me if you guys find out what's
going on with her. I have to get to class," says Andrea. "We will," I tell her. Marcus and I take off
into the parking lot, hopping into his car and speeding off out of the school.
It is overcast today. The sky is a dark gray with a few specks of white sky under it all.
Those clouds are going to unload gallons in a little while. I can feel it. Gabby lives about twenty
minutes away from school. But it was worth it to make sure that she is okay.
The sky rumbles as the rain begins falling down. We pull into her apartment complex,
going up the stairs to her apartment. I ring the doorbell and knock as well. "Gabby, Gabby you
okay?" I ask. Marcus begins trying to look into the apartment. "It's too dark, I don't see anything,"
he tells me.
I knock some more until a hand grabs me from behind. We turn around to see Jenna,
Gabby's roommate soaking wet with her hood on. Jenna is Jewish with her major being art as she
makes the craziest visual art you have ever seen. Jenna is a semi member of our group, but she is
a bit of a loner so we really only talk to her when we are at school, or if we all go out to eat or
something like that.
"Have you come to summon her out of her room?" asks Jenna. "How long has she been
in her room?" I ask Jenna. "God, at least four days. I know she's in there because I can hear her
walking around and talking. But she doesn't come out. Ever," Jenna tells us. "We need to get
inside Jenna. Now," I tell her in a rush.
Jenna unlocks the door letting us in. We storm down the hall to Gabby's room. I knock
first. "Gabby. It's Connor are you in there?" I say from her door. No response. I knock again.
"Gabby, come on. You have Jenna worried and you have me and Marcus worried. Open the door
or say something so we know that you are okay," I tell her. There is still no response. Marcus
goes to twist the doorknob but it is locked. "It's locked man," he tells me.
We burst through the door to find Gabby hooked up to her computer on the USB cord, but
passed out in her chair. "Gabby!" I yell as I pull the IV out of her arm. Moving her face doesn't
seem to help as I try to revive her. "Gabby, come on snap out of it. We need you here! Come
on!" I tell her but still nothing. "Call 911 Jenna," says Marcus. Jenna heads out of the room until
Gabby gasps for air, coughing her lungs out. She falls into my arms trying to calm down.
"She's doing that shit still," Marcus tells me. I grab the drug from him looking at it. "Why
are you still doing it?" I ask her. "It felt so good. I couldn't stop. It speaks to me. But then, I saw
them. These things. They won't let me go; I see them in my dreams. I see them here. And now...
I have to find the potion so I can stop them," says Gabby.
Marcus and I look each other as soon as she says that. Her words are sounding too
familiar. This is also bringing some light to my dilemma. "Check her computer bro," I tell
Marcus. Marcus opens it showing me the disc. "This look familiar?" he asks me. The disk reads
'Psychmare'. Son of a bitch. "McCall took my game that night and that's what we saw. Just like
my game," I tell him. "What are you guys talking about?" asks Jenna. "You don't want to know,"
I tell her.
Marcus bends down to look at Gabby's left arm. "What's up?" I ask. "Look at her arm
man," says Marcus. I walk over to see what looks like a large bloody claw mark on her arm.
"How'd you get that Gabby?" I ask. She begins laughing almost hysterically. "They're real. They
want us because we know. We got in. Now they want to kill us for knowing. They're already
here," says Gabby with tears coming down her face.
"This is not funny at all. This drug shit she's on, and what you're talking about, just get
out. I'll call 911 so she can get clean. But you two need to get out," says Jenna. "You don't
understand. We all need to get out now!" I yell.
Marcus is pacing himself due to his anger and realization of the situation. I turn to Jenna
to give her a piece of my mind until I see it, my creation in the flesh. A Cronakill standing
directly behind Jenna. "Jenna, move!" I yell. She turns but it is too late. With one swing of the
hand, the claw of the Cronakill rips a large chunk out of Jenna's chest. The piece filled with bone
and flesh slides down the hallway to the living room. Jenna continues to scream in pain until the
Cronakill bites her head off. The rest of her body falls to the ground in a pool of her own blood,
the Cronakill chews on her head then turns his sights to us.
"The window come on!" I scream. Marcus takes a chair near Gabby's bed breaking the
window. "Let's go come on!" he yells. Marcus jumps out first. It's about a story drop, but I'd drop
four stories to get away from this thing. Gabby goes next. She jumps down so Marcus can catch
her. The Cronakill is a foot away, it is about to swing at me but I'm already out of the window
falling onto my back. I am dazed for a second unable to breathe. The cold rain hits my face and
my vision is blurry. When my vision comes back to me, I look back up to the window to see that
the Cronakill is gone.
Marcus and Gabby run to me. "What the fuck is going on?" yells Marcus. "I don't know.
I don't even think any of this has hit me," I say. "Seeing Jenna Liberman killed in front of me
should've did something for you," he tells me. "Stop it! Not helping right now," Gabby tells us.
She's right. Me and Marcus are friends, but we butt heads a lot when it comes to right and wrong.
Don't mean we aren't cool with each other, it's more like a brotherly thing. But right now is not
the time for him to come up with this.
"We need to call everyone and meet at my apartment. Now," I tell them. "How many are
those things that you've seen Gabby? From the scar I take it you've been attacked before all of
this?" Marcus says. "Only the one, but I see tons in my dreams," says Gabby. "Me too," I say
agreeing with her. Marcus starts becoming standoffish until I catch on. "What's up man?" I ask
him. "You guys aren't the only ones having bad dreams. I've had them too," he tells me. "They
attack you too?" Gabby asks him. "No. Not till now," he says.
Twenty minutes later, the three of us including Andrea and Preston are sitting around my
living room discussing the situation. "Jenna Lieberman is dead? You saw this?" asks Andrea.
"Yeah. And I don't wanna think about it okay?" says Gabby. Preston hands me some papers.
"What's this?" I ask. "Notes on the drug you guys took. This is a chemical that is only found
in government and military labs. It is so soldiers can hunt their victims in their sleep. Added on
to the THC, the hallucinogenic properties and the advanced technology, you're opening
wormholes to dimensions that shouldn't exist. But from what you're saying, it is happening," says
This is what I get for wanting the ultimate 'high' and from a complete stranger at that.
"So this thing is never going to stop then?" says Andrea. No one has the right answer to tell her.
Each one of us is in stuck mode and it doesn't look like we're getting out of it.
There is a knock on the door. I quickly get up, looking through the peephole. Nothing is
outside. "Who is it?" asks Marcus. "I don't see anyone," I tell him. A minute later there is
banging on the door. This time I look in the peephole to see Bryan knocking like a crazy man. I
unlock the door letting him in. He runs in trying to catch his breath.
Marcus storms to Bryan, slamming him against the wall to get info out of him. "What the
fuck did you do? Where'd you get this shit?" Marcus asks Bryan. Bryan pulls away. "I can't
tell you that," says Bryan. "You've given them drugs that have been created for soldiers. Some
next level shit. The side effects are very real from what I am hearing," Preston says to Bryan.
"Where'd you get it Bryan?" I ask him.
Bryan looks to all of us with a worried look on his face. The look you give when you are
in a lot of trouble. I start to believe that he knew what it was, but didn't realize the side effects just
like us.
"I owe this guy a whole lot of money for losing a stash of blow and some E pills at a rave
I went to. So he told me to push this drug that he said needed to be put out. To change the world
and open their eyes to what needs to be done. But it needed to be done quickly because people
were looking for him. I tried it once by myself and the time with you guys. But it's all bad I
already know," says Bryan. "Yeah no shit," says Marcus.
Andrea walks over to Bryan. He sees that he's sweaty and somewhat shaking. "McCall,
what happened?" asks Andrea. "Nothing. I didn't see anything," says Bryan now starting to show
signs of complete fear. "You've seen them haven't you?" I ask him. Bryan tears up. He lights a
joint, taking a seat in a chair trying to piece everything together.
"Whose the guy you owe money to?" Gabby asks Bryan. "A guy who used to work for
my father. Ex-Military. Gulf War Vet. He went AWOL and changed his identity. He got a job
with my father doing security, he found it he went AWOL and dude took off without saying a
word. I ran into him again when I needed E for a party I was going to. That's when it happened.
Instead of beating the shit out of me, he told me he needed to get out of the country but couldn't
show his face. So he had me sell the interactive shit. But I never saw monsters before now, And
that's no bullshit," says Bryan.
"It's because you put the demo for Connor's game into the computer when you guys took
the drugs that night," Preston tells Bryan. "Way to go asshole," says Andrea. "Don't put this on
me! I didn't know what the shit was. I just knew that it blew my mind and needed to make quick
money," says Bryan. "That's great Bryan. Way to kill us all," says Gabby. "This isn't on me.
You're all grown ups. You could've said no," Bryan tells us. "He's right though. But this isn't
what we're suppose to do. I gotta figure out a way to kill those things," I tell everyone. "I kept
going in because I was looking at it like the game. You have to fight them off, then get the potion
to get back to the real world. How do we do that since we're in the real world and they are here
now too?" asks Gabby.
My brain can't even think at that point. "The military guy is our best bet if we want to
know what the hell is really going on" says Preston. "He's right. He knows exactly what this stuff
is capable of. We are going just by what we've seen," I say. "So where do we find him Bryan?"
says Gabby.
"He's downtown near X Street. He stays in an old abandoned warehouse where he
conducts experiments and shit. He's not going to let us in. I tell you that now," Bryan says. "Well,
he's gonna have to. Come on," I tell everyone.
As we all head for the front door, there is a rumbling beneath us. The feeling is like a
small earthquake. "What is that?" asks Preston. Andrea points to the window in the living room. "I
know exactly what that is," she says with complete fear in her voice.
Two Cronakills jump through the window, standing up in my apartment. "Go!" I yell to
everyone. We all head for the front door, but Preston isn't so lucky. One of the Cronakills jams his
claw into Preston's back, raising him high in the air. He is shaking with fear and pain, unable to
move at all. Blood hits my carpet, but not as much as the blood coming out of his mouth. "Run," he
manages to say until the two Cronakills rip him in two. I don't look after that. I just put one foot in
front of the other and run.
The five of us manage to fit into Bryan's Suburban. The car ride down the freeway is
silent. Andrea and Gabby are both in tears. Marcus is visibly upset because he is talking to himself
in the back. Bryan and I are upfront trying to figure out what to do.
"Don't think I'm putting this all on you Bryan. I'm not," I tell him. "I appreciate that. Still
doesn't change the bullshit we're dealing with. We gotta stop this," says Bryan. I couldn't agree
with him more.
Fifteen minutes later, we are in the bad part of Downtown Sacramento. Derelicts and
drug addicts roam the streets. The visions of all these people only make me think of what I would
have become if my addiction to pills had gotten any worse. Through the horror of the situation, this
is a real wake up call.
The warehouse's windows are boarded up, the door is on a slant so Bryan leads us to a
window where the board is loose, the five of us go in through that way. The inside is damp and
five years past needing to be condemned and destroyed.
"Who would live in here?" asks Andrea. "He would," says Bryan. A large growling sound
and crash is heard behind us. We look to see three dark shadows passing where we came in.
"Shit. They're here guys. We gotta go now!" I yell to them.
We turn to see a rigid staircase ahead. The distance is about twenty feet. We begin
running to it, with five Cronakills right behind us. As we head up the flimsy stairs, Marcus falls
through, impaling his leg on a broken board. He screams in pain as the Cronakills move in on him.
Andrea grabs a piece of broken shrap metal. She jumps down to where Marcus is to get him up.
Although in pain and barely able to stand, he pulls himself up the stairs where he had fallen with
help from Bryan and I. Andrea goes to jump up as well. I take the shrap metal and begin pulling
her up. The Cronakills grab her by the leg. "Don't let me go!" she screams at us. Gabby comes
over to help me pull her up. The Cronakills begins ripping at her flesh, digging their claws, deep
into her lower body. Blood pours down her eyes and mouth from the Cronakills devouring her
flesh. "Help," is the last thing she says before the Cronakills pull her down to continue feasting on
Gabby buries her face into my shoulder as she cries out. Marcus is saddened by this as
well. "We need to keep moving guys," yells Bryan. We begin up the stairs again. A Cronakill
jumps up behind us growling. I take the shrap metal, stabbing the evil beast with it. It growls loudly
before turning into what looks like static, vanishing into nothingness. The shrap metal falls to the
staircase. I grab it, running off with my friends into whatever is waiting for us next.
Bryan leads us to a hallway, it is also the final story of the warehouse. Down the hall
there is a door with a little bit of light coming through from the bottom of the door. Bryan knocks
on the door until a raspy voice is heard from the inside. "Who the hell is it?" the voice says. "It's
Bryan man. We've got big problems," says Bryan.
The door unlocks, revealing to us a man in his early 50's, dressed in military fatigues and
in dire need of a shave. "Who the fuck are they?" asks the man. "They're cool Steel. These are
the guys who took the drug," says Bryan. The man we now know as Steel begins laughing
hysterically when Bryan tells him that. Steel's 'home' or whatever you would like to call it consists
of a ratty old mattress in the corner, a table where a whole bunch of high tech computer stuff is
located and his medals from the military.
"What the hell is so funny? We've lost some of our friends today because of this so-called
interactive drug you gave us. Now these things from a video game I created are after us, and we
don't know what to do," I tell him. Steel lights a cigarette and looks at us.
"You know why people tell you not to believe the things you see in movies, because it's
real. Our lovely government and military has been behind everything unexplainable in our world as
far back as I can remember. They want to put us all in one spot to keep an eye on us. Control
us. Not me. I worked for the science department where I was totally against everything they
were feeding us. The drug you took, called GH-150, was so soldiers could see the location of their
targets, and bring them to them," says Steel. "How is that even possible?" asks Gabby.
Steel walks to a bag, throwing down notes to us. "These are the plans that the NSA and
the military had for the drug. They want to use it on everyone in the world within twenty years, to
control everyone on the planet. I didn't want to be a part of it, so I left and never looked back,"
says Steel. "You're a junkie too aren't you?" asks Marcus. "I call myself a drug enthusiast. Read
up on it," Steel tells Marcus. "Well what can we do now? These things aren't going to stop until
they kill us," I tell Steel. "Why aren't they going after anyone else?" Gabby asks him. "They were
drawn through you. So their instinct is to kill what they know. You. If a soldier takes it, and a
Taliban is brought through the meta physical world into ours, they're going after what drew them
there. It's like a sixth sense to anyone it happens to. We must not play with things God doesn't
want us to. People need to wake up and realize that. And our government, sorry to say, is against
us. We're Peppermints in the candy bin, getting ready to get picked off. How do you stop those
things you say? You kill um or run," says Steel.
The growls indicate they have arrived to Steel's room. Steel is packing up all of his
computer tools in a large briefcase and gathering his clothes. "The fire escape if you want to
live," screams Steel. Bryan and I help Marcus get to the window. The door bursts open revealing
over a dozen Cronakills, claws out ready to pounce.
"Move your asses come on!" screams Steel as he climbs out of his window onto the fire
escape. Gabby climbs out next, Bryan follows after that. "Go next!" I tell Marcus. Marcus grabs
the shrap metal from me. "No, you go next. I got this!" says Marcus. Marcus runs towards one of
the Cronakills stabbing it in the chest. It vanishes like the one I killed. He ends up killing two more
until they surround him. He smiles at me one more time until they begin ripping him to pieces,
devouring his bloody mutilated flesh and chewing his bones like a full course meal. My best friend
is no more.
Bryan pulls me out of the warehouse and onto the fire escape. "We gotta go man, come
on!" screams Bryan. Steel is already to the ground heading towards a van. Gabby, Bryan and I
run as fast as we can down the fire escape. Cronakills are coming from the top window down
after us. Their growls put our feet in motion a lot quicker than we can even imagine. As we hit
the ground to join Steel, a dozen more Cronakills come out of the woodwork surrounding the four
of us in the street.
"Oh, shit," says Steel. All four of our hearts beating together sound like a drum. The
hungry creatures continue growling at us, knowing their next meal is seconds away. Gabby takes
my hand, much like she did back at my apartment the night we took the drug that literally ended
our lives. For being twenty years old, I did accomplish a lot. But not enough.
Just as the Cronakills are about to make their move and end our existence, each of the
Cronakills are shot, turn to static and vanish into nothingness. Before we have time to sink in what
has just happened, a helicopter and over two dozen armed military officers appear from the tops
of the buildings surrounding the street and the helicopter itself.
"What the hell is going on?" says Bryan. "I'm in deep shit," says Steel. A tall, by the books
looking soldier in his early forties walks over to us. "Sgt. Steel, I think you have something that
belongs to us," says the man with the patch 'General' on the breast pocket of his fatigues.
"General, you don't understand," says Steel. "I do. You're looking at forty years in a government
correctional facility for theft of military equipment, absent without leave, and resisting arrest. The
helicopter will take you back to The Inc. Sgt. Steel," says the General.
"Don't let them manipulate you! Don't let them!" Steel screams to us. A soldier knocks
Steel out with his rifle. Two other soldiers begin dragging Steel over to the helicopter where they
handcuff him and throw him on board.
"You know, we lost a lot of friends because of that drug he stole from you," I tell the
General. "It wasn't suppose to leave the premises. It was experimental, never meant to leave our
base," says the General. "That's not what he told us," says Gabby. "The man was a junkie from
jump street. He had drug issues before he came into the army. He gravitates towards others in
the drug world. We've been tracking him since he left, watching him, seeing what his plan was
and what he was doing," says the General. "That's how you knew where he would be. You saw
the monsters. You saw the Cronakills?" I ask the General. "We did. We saw what you created
and how powerful those things would be against enemies invading this country, and how perfect
you would be, creating more things that we could use against the war on terror, and the things in
the lab we have, to bring you're greatest fantasies, to real life," says the General sounding like an
insurance salesman.
I am so confused at this point. Everything the General has just told me has gone in one
ear and out of the other. But the big words have stuck with me all the way through. Bryan and
Gabby look to me to see what I'm going to say. "Wait, what are you asking me?" I say to the
General. "To come work for us. I need you to tell me more about your video games and what you
can do," says the General. Well, I guess being twenty and into video games can benefit me
because the US Military just asked me to create monsters and other weapons to help kill our
enemies worldwide. Only in America right?
The End.

© Copyright 2019 Randall Rydell Russell. All rights reserved.

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