Leviathan: Part One of The Cambrian Project

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man wakes with no memory of himself or his past in the middle of a place that shouldn't exist. As he struggle to understand the nature of his circumstances, he begins to discover something sinister at work. An endeavor set in motion by a catalyst of his own making.

Submitted: September 11, 2012

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Submitted: September 11, 2012

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I was spurred awake by the ringing of my cell phone.

Wait..what? I have a cell-phone? I couldn’t..I can’t remember. All I remember is that..I’m…well I’m human..and male, and for some reason my head won’t stop hurting. I tried to stand but as soon as I arose my legs quickly gave way. This was due in part to the fact that there was virtually no feeling in them (there was virtually no feeling in any part of my body except for my head), the fact that I was standing in a small wooden row boat that shook as soon as I started to clumsily stand, and the fact that what I saw would have made anyone weak-kneed.

I was in the middle of a silver sea.

From the depths of my hazy memory I could pull certain facts. I knew that a boat was a vessel for traversing large bodies of water. I knew that the largest bodies of water were oceans and seas. I knew that large bodies of water reflected the image of the sky like a mirror. Frankly speaking I wasn’t an idiot, so I knew enough to tell that this was no ordinary body of water. There was indeed a monochromatic sky filled with grey clouds, but this ocean or sea did not reflect the chalky complexion of the sky. Instead it set like steel. It was if I was surrounded by a sea of pure liquid steel, but that was ridiculous. I knew that steel had to be incredibly hot to liquefy and that would destroy my small unassuming vessel. Not to mention it would feel hot. Instead it felt cold..like..quicksilver…I quickly came to the assumption that I was in a sea of mercury, but the nature of my liquid host was not the most pressing of concerns at the moment.

I was alone.

There were no land masses as far as my eyes could see, although I was uncertain of the dimensions of any place that could house a sea of mercury. So I decided to yell.

“HELLOOOOO!”

I yelled as loud and as hard as I could and I ended up coughing heavily. My voice seemed to echo into infinity. I sat with my back arched and my hand against my throat wondering why I thought it would be a good idea to scream when I had no recollection of using my body before now. I sat in silence for a few more seconds when I heard something coming towards me. I didn’t feel the presence of an object but the sound of pure inertia, pure momentum, and then it hit me.

HELLOOOO!”

It came with such a force as to knock me on my side and rock the small vessel I sat in. I wondered where the sound could have originated from in such a baron place. It didn’t take long for me to recall where I had originally heard the voice from and to say I was disappointed would be to understate the realization of the existence of the planet. It was me. It was my own voice. I was in a place so entirely barren that my own scream rebounded at me. Entirely alone. I lay on my side in the boat for a while absorbed in my own thought, when I heard it. Again. My phone. It was a small smart phone that sat motionless while playing a generic sounding tune. A Falsetto? An Adagio? It didn’t take me long to realize that I knew nothing about musical terms. I looked at the phone for a caller ID but found none. The screen did not betray the identity of the caller, instead it simply had a flashing green icon with the words “Touch to answer”. I hesitated. As much as I wanted to know, its only human nature to have reservations about the unknown. I think.

I touched the button and the screen turned completely black except for a line that ran straight across the middle horizontally and the word “Chthonic” in small red letters at the bottom of the screen.

“Chthonic…?” I said

“Salutations Subject Zero.” said a voice from the phone.

“Subject Zero?” I asked

The voice was female. Her voice reminded me of that of a secretary or a concierge.

“Yes. You are Subject Zero of The Cambrian Project. Name: Milo Hernandez. Age: 27 years old. Ethnicity: Asian/Hispanic. Birthplace: Evansville, Indiana. Deceased.” she said

Suddenly it came back to me. My name is Milo. I’m mixed. I’m from Indiana. And I’m..

“DECEASED?!” I yelled at the phone

“Yes. Time of death 23:59, February 13th.”

I could feel it coming back slowly but a part of me refused to face the memory of my death. The thought of me being dead was like a brewing rebellion. It was impossible to not see the signs or understand the implications but something, be it pride or feigned ignorance or even arrogance prevented you from believing it to be possible.

I woke up on a rowboat, in the middle of a sea of mercury, completely alone, with no memory of who I was, and a cell phone with a concierge that seemed to have all of the answers. And I had a lot of questions.

“Where am I?” I asked

“Isolation.” said the phone.

“Isolation?” I asked

“The subject is to remain in Isolation until they are processed.” said the phone

“Processed? By what?” I asked

That was the first time I had heard it. It was a bellow that shook the very foundation of existence itself, or whatever existed in Isolation. It was so loud that I found myself clutching at both of my ears, not out of pain but simply to block it out. I tried to think of where the sound could be coming from. I looked at the phone and on the screen was a flashing arrow pointing downwards. I touched the screen and the screen changed again. It took me a while to realize what I was looking at. I think I knew immediately, but I wanted to not believe it. It was a bird’s-eye view of me in my boat, as if being viewed from some distant helicopter. What shocked me was the fact that this phone somehow had the ability to view me from different perspectives in this odd dimension. What horrified me was the massive shadow I saw gliding under my boat.

“Synchronization complete.” said the phone

“Who exactly is synchronizing what with what? And what the hell is that?!” I asked with the phone pressed against my head

“The subject is to be synchronized with the Mass Data Storage System, Leviathan.”

“Leviathan? What like a whale?” 

“If you choose to refer to the data storage system as such, yes, a whale.”

“And by processed you mean…”

“The subject will be processed and stored in the Leviathan.”

“Wait..so you’re saying…”

At this point I was holding the phone away from my face with my hand shaking as I looked at the screen. The words on the screen were bright red and glowed as they were repeated by the voice from the phone.

YOU WILL BE DEVOURED.” 

“Who are you…?” I asked, completely terrified

“I am Charon, Field Supervisor of the Cambrian Project.” she said

“What is the Cambrian Project?”  

“An endeavor undertaken by the Seven Chthonic Princes to better understand humanity by observing the base instincts that motivates human beings. These base instincts are Greed, Pride, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, and Wrath.”

“Hey wait, those are the Seven Deadly Sins!” 

“They are known as such by humans, yes. They are what the Chthonic Princes believe to be the driving motivators of humanity.”

“That’s bullshit! People are motivated by more than just selfish desires! I wasn’t..” I started

“Envy.” said Charon, cutting me off

“What..”

“At 7:50, February 13th 2014 Subject Zero awoke to prepare for work.”

February 13th 2014. I remembered everything now. February 13th 2014 was the day my life ended.

“At 8:50, February 13th 2014 Subject Zero observers a co-worker driving to work in a Bentley Continental and remarks “If only…”. At 9:50, February 13th 2014 Subject Zero arrives at the Failles Fatales office parking deck and observes that the co-worker has left the keys to his Bentley Continental in his car.” she said

“Stop…”I said, shaking

“At 9:53, February 13th 2014 Subject Zero took the keys to return them to their original owner…” she continued

“I SAID SHUT THE HELL UP!”

I knew how this ended. I grabbed the keys and I was going to take them to Cameron, but…I couldn’t find him anywhere. I kept looking around the office until someone I’ve never seen before with a bright green tie said he thought he saw him headed toward the break room a minute ago, and that’s where I found him, right on top of my girlfriend of two years, Lulu. As I held the door open for a split second, there was a moment where I considered every single possible explanation and implication of what I was looking at. As soon as that moment passed, and it passed sooner than you would think, I realized something.

I wasn’t nearly as angry as I should have been.

I closed the door, walked back to the parking deck, took Cameron’s Bentley, and drove it off a cliff into a lake.

I drove down a straight clearing as fast as I could get the heavy car to go. It’s not that I wasn’t angry. I had every right to be but I was more…jealous. I had always been jealous of Cameron. He had the job I always wanted, he had a much nicer car than I had, and he had my girl. That was it. I could have run through the entire spectrum of human emotions until shock set in but instead I felt insanely jealous, and because of that I saw my life as it was, pathetic. 

As I reached the end of the clearing and the edge of the cliff, the car was preparing for it confrontation with gravity. In its last attempt to recreate the  Roadrunner Physics I had always seen on TV as a child, it heroically dived from the edge. But gravity was not a force to be trifled with. It had crushed mountains, leveled plains, and pulled stars from the sky, and it was not about to be defeated by a mere Bentley. Not today. It did give reprieve to the man behind the wheel, allowing time for a quick escape and the possibility for a last chance at self preservation.

But I wasn’t about to take the chance.

The clash between the Bentley and the crashing waves below was a short but dramatic one. The waves reached up to claim the intrepid vehicle like the jaws of a mighty whale engulfing its prey. The force of the impact hit me like a cannonball and the water surrounding me was slowly reliving me of my consciousness. I believe the very last thing I remember was the color of the hood of the car. A cold steely quicksilver color…

“It was the base instinct of Envy that ultimately drove you to your death. That’s why you were selected for the Cambrian Project, so that the base instinct may be studied.” said Charon finally

I looked around at the sea surrounding me and chuckled under my breath.

“But..I’m more than that right?” I asked

“You are according to the Cambrian Project and the Chthonic Princes, only what led to your death. Nothing more.” she replied

I sat there thinking about it in silence for a long time before anything else was said.

“If it makes you feel any better,” Charon said “You were the first to be selected.”

“Thanks.” I said. For some reason that attempt to give me some solace actually made me feel better. I would honestly take anything I could get at the moment. The Princes or whatever, had the perfect setup. They sat people that no one to blame but themselves for their deaths in isolation to pick their brains without them knowing then they upload them into their massive whale hard-drive. “Your bosses sound like pricks.” 

“They simply wish to gain a better understanding of human nature.” said Charon

“I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that they aren’t human themselves. Well this is sure one hell of a way to do it. Who even designed this place?” I asked

“Prince Leviathan.” she said

“The thing that’s going to eat me?” I asked

“No.” She seemed rather amused despite herself. “One of the seven, one of my bosses. The mass data storage system ‘Leviathan’ is named after him.”

“Now I know they aren’t human. But why all this though? Why wipe my memory? Why put me seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and why feed me to a whale?!” I asked

It was a while before Charon answered. “I am merely the Field Supervisor of The Cambrian Project. The Princes do not make me aware of their design plans. I am here to report my findings and interactions with the subjects.” she said

“Well report this, there are much better ways to view some kind of base instinct or whatever.” I said 

“Such as?” she asked. This was the first time she has asked me a question. I felt in control of my life for the first time, ironic considering that my life had ended. I didn’t have much time, I could feel the Leviathan getting closer.

“For one you could not completely brain wipe them…” I continued like this for some time. Talking about how best to observe subjects post-mortem. As I continued, I thought about my life. I thought about how I had lived, everything I had wanted for my life, everything I had planned, every dream, every aspiration, every goal, and every way I had ultimately destroyed it all.

“And if the subjects could have some sort of interaction with The Princes then it would give them a much better visual of what they’re looking for.” I said

“I’m sure The Princes will take this into consideration.” said Charon

“They better. I’m jealous that these other subjects will be getting a better time of this than I am.” I said

“You don’t know that for sure, but I believe that that is why you were selected.” she said

“Screw you.” I said halfheartedly

Then it came again, the wail of the Leviathan. The waters of the silver sea moved in front of me as a large silver form appeared from beneath. The beast was massive with a maw as wide as a school bus was long. It was completely faceless, with no eyes but looking at it I could see the life that had passed me by, and all of the other lives that went on without me.

“The other subjects? It doesn’t matter now I guess.” I said with a heavy sigh

“Are you ready Milo Hernandez, Subject-Zero of The Cambrian Project?” asked Charon

“Yes.”

“Processing Preparations complete. Beginning upload.” 

The great beast opened its mouth and consumed the sky above me. Everything else followed in the jaws of the Leviathan as I heard the last words that I would ever hear.

Prepare the next subject.

 


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