gore

The Orchard

The Orchard

By J.A Scarrott

It was a cloudless morning, golden light showered down upon the small town of Appiton.  Quaint and quiet village folk slowly stirred as they carried out their morning routines. One such person was Marianne Mumford, who skipped her way down one of the winding village streets.

“Good morning Mr Thomas!” She called out joyously, waving a hand in the air.  

An elderly man, who had just stepped out from the local post office, straightened his old, crooked spine as the young girl approached. With a large, leathery smile he replied, “Good morning Miss Mumford. Off to work I see?”

“That’s right!”

“I’ve been reading some of your articles in the Apple Press you know,” The old gentleman waved a copy of the town’s newspaper, before tucking in back under his arm. “Keep up the good work missy.”

“I will Mr Thomas. Have a good day!” Marianne waved her goodbyes to the friendly local and continued on her way.

As she walked, she began to fiddle with a hair bobble, pulling back her rich, chestnut hair and tying it neatly into a bouncy bun. Revealing the soft features of her pale, freckled face.

She beamed with delight as she saw a rustic, red brick building come into view. With the words, ‘Apple Press’ displayed on its exterior in bold, steel, letters.

Marianne pushed the front door open and wiped her shoes on a floor mat. She made her way down a narrow corridor, squeezing past a colleague as they both hurriedly exchanged morning pleasantries. She twirled round a corner and into an intimate room, laden with desks that had an assortment of computers sat proudly upon them.

Marianne pulled out her swivel chair, that she has tucked away neatly the day before, and seated herself upon it. Joining the number of employees who encompassed her, who all sat their desks, hammering away at keyboard keys.

She slid her rucksack from her shoulders and reached out to boot up her computer. But before she had chance a voice called out to her, “I wouldn’t bother booting up this morning.”

Marianne turned to see her manager worming through the maze of desks toward her.

“Good Morning Phil,” She replied with a smile, “Is everything okay?”

He peered over his rectangular glasses, that sat on the tip of his red nose.

“Everything is fine. It’s just that you won’t be in the office much today.”

“Why’s that?”

“I received this yesterday,” Phil sharply presented a small brown envelope to her, which she picked delicately from his hand.

“What is it?” She asked, inspecting the letter.

The Apple Press’s address was written across it in fine, flowing,  handwriting, and large red ink seal had been stamped on its surface, which simply read “The Branch.”

Mariannes eyes widened, before drawing the pale letter from it’s envelope.

“This, is an incredible opportunity, for you.” Phil replied, pushing his thick rimmed glasses to the bridge of his nose.

The letter read:

To whom it may concern,

Dr Dourley and his research team at the The Branch laboratory have made a world changing scientific breakthrough.

We’d like to offer Apple Press full exclusive coverage of our findings and our works, on the condition that you send your junior journalist, Marianne Mumford, to report on them.

Please let us know if this opportunity interests you.

Kind regards,

Dr I. Dourley

 

“Look, I know that you may feel uncomfortable going, on account of Dr Dourley and your father’s disagreement. But this far too good of an opportunity to give up.” Phil continued, as Marianne came to the end of the hand written letter, “People have been wondering what that Dourley guy has been doing in that bloody pyramid of his for years and now we’ve suddenly been given full access!”

Marianne slid the letter back into the brown envelope before placing it on her desk.

“You don’t need to convince Phil, I don’t mind going,” she replied, much to her boss’s surprise, “I haven’t seen Dr Dourley in years, I used to know him quite well when I was younger, I even called him Uncle Ian! That was back when he and my father worked together. It’ll be good to see him.”

“Well thats great then!” Phil replied with a wide delighted smile, “For I’ve already booked the taxi this morning. It should be waiting outside for you. Take your things and I’ll see you tomorrow morning okay?” He swiped the letter off her desk and grinned with delight, before leaving the room.

Marianne wasted no time and quickly checked the contents of her bag, before swinging it back over her shoulder. She left as quickly as she had arrived, filing out into the sunny street where a black taxi promptly pulled up beside the pavement.

After a short drive, into the rural countryside that surrounds Appiton, the taxi came to a stop. “Here we are, the fares already been paid for. Have a good one.”

Marianne peered out of the window, to see a wooden stile in the centre of a long green hedgerow.  

“This can’t be right,” Marianne replied, turning in her seat to see only more hedges on either side of the small country lane, “I’m supposed to be going to The Branch… The large laboratory?”

The taxi driver looked at the girl via the rear view mirror and pointed a finger to the broken wooden stile. “Over that love, the pyramid is located in the centre of a field for one reason or another. I can’t get you any closer than this.”

Marianne slowly reached for the door handle, and awkwardly stepped out. The taxi took no time in waiting and instantly vanish down the country lane. Leaving nothing but a trail of muddy dust in the air.

The young girl hauled herself up the dirt embankment and clambered over the wooden stile into the open, emerald field. Standing majestically in the distance was the pyramidal laboratory itself.

Marianne had heard about the famous building, but had never seen it for herself.  It was enormous in size, it’s four sloping face were made of blue, reflective, glass. It emitted a low glow ever as the morning sun’s ray bounces off it’s smooth, polished surface. The young journalist was overwhelmed by its grandeur.

Despite being a modern piece of architecture, the building blended well with the natural surroundings. It’s shimmer blue casing melted into the soft, cloudless, skies behind it.

Marianne made her way across the emerald field. Gliding through the blades of soft grass until the Pyramids mighty slopes towered above her. The Pyramid section of the building was not actually situated on the ground as it first appeared, but in fact sat upon a solid black box that supported the structure from beneath.

She looked about timidly as she tried to find signs of a door.

“Hello?” She called out softly.

“Miss Mumford?” A gentle female voice replied.

Marianne jumped, and turned on her heels to see a woman approaching her. She wore very smart, well fitted attire. That emphasised the bold, natural curves of her body. Her hair was perfectly straight and cut off sharply at her shoulders.

“Are you Miss Mumford?” The woman reiterated.

“That’s me,” Marianne replied, exchanging a handshake with the woman, “Sorry, I was unable to find the door.”

The woman laughed lightly, “Don’t worry about it Miss Mumford, The Branch has been designed to be… uninviting, so to speak. Would you like to follow me please, and I shall take you to see Dr Dourley.”

Marianne gave a nod and followed the woman to a section of solid, black steel wall. She tapped away at her smartwatch and a section of the wall shot open in front of them. The woman then lead the young journalist inside.

Marianne was greeted with a site of men and women, draped in long, white, lab coats. The atmosphere was a busy one and doused in a heavy chatter. Groups of people march to and fro, frantically attending to errands that their work demanded of them.

The young girl followed closely to her escort as they made their way through the streams of human traffic. They came to a halt beside a balding man who had his back turned to them. He was exchanging a conversation with a younger man and peering into an open folder that he held out in front of him.

“Dr Dourley,” the woman interrupted, “Miss Mumford is here to see you.”

Dourley instantly cut his conversation and issued the man away with a flick of his arm, before turning to Marianne.

“Anny?!” he cried with delight.

“Uncle Ian!” Marianne replied, she leapt forward and embraced the doctor tightly, “It’s been so long!”

“Years in fact!” Dourley rested both hands upon the young girl’s shoulders, “How have you been?”

“I’ve been well thank you!”

“So I hear, Miss Journalist,” Dourley grinned and gave her shoulders a tight squeeze before dropping his hands by his sides, “It’s honestly so good to see you again Anny, you’ve grown so much! Come, let’s continue our talk in my office!”

Dourley thanked the woman for escorting Marianne to him and then the two of them made their way into a lift. With a flick of a button, both Dourly and Marianne were whisked up to the top floor of the pyramid, where Dr Dourley’s office was located.

“This building is grand!” said Marianne beamed, choosing small talk over awkward elevator silence, “Rather inaccessible though… ”

“Thank you,” Dourley replied, “and I know. I designed it that way to deter people from visiting. I don’t want people sticking their noses where it isn’t wanted. Gone are the days that I openly share my research.” Dourley’s words trailed off, leaving a sour sting of bitterness on the air.

Marianne tried to reply, but the doors to the lift threw themselves open revealing a gleaming white corridor that stunk heavily of industrial cleaning chemicals.

Dourley paced off down the hallway, with Marianne close behind. He came to a halt at his office door and fumbled with a set of keys that he drew from a pocket. With a quick, twist of the wrist the door swung open and the pair made their way into the office.

Instantly, Marianne was met with a sight that fouled her eyes. Two rectangular tanks, filled with teal liquid, stood in the centre of the room, set a meter apart from one another. Each tank contained one half of a preserved pig, that had been surgically split directly down its centre. The grotesque cross section displayed the swines multi-coloured organs, the sight of which brought a sour taste to Marianne’s tongue.

“Please, this way,” Dourley invited her into the room, making his way between the two tanks. He strolled off toward a large, metallic desk that sat on the opposite side of the room.

Sheepishly, Marianne followed and made her way between the severed halves of the animal. She glanced up from the floor and caught a glimpse of the creature’s intestines, that were pressed against the glass like a twisted set of sausages.

Marianne involuntarily gagged and snapped her attention to the floor. Keeping her gaze fixed as such until she reached Dourley’s desk.

“Take a seat!” Dourley offered cheerily, pulling a chair from beneath his desk.

The pair sat themselves down and Marianne rested her bag beside her. After which a short silence set in the room.

Dourley avoided eye contact with the young journalist, instead looking awkwardly to his computer screen that glowed on the desk beside him.

“Uncle Ian?” Marianne asked tenderly, “Is everything okay?”

“Yes, yes. Quite fine.”

The girl let out a heavy sigh before continuing, “I think we should get the obvious elephant out of the room…”

Dourley stared aimlessly at the computer monitor for a moment, before turning to the young girl.

“I think that would be a good idea, for both of us.”

Marriage took a deep breath before saying, “I’m sorry that stuff got so messed up between you and dad. It was pretty messed up what he did.”

“You don’t need to apologise to me Anny,” Dourley replied, “You were only a young girl and innocent of it all. Besides, I’ve done alright for myself.”

The pair shared a warming smile.

“My only regret is that I let the affair come between us.”

“But now we’re finally reunited!” Marianne beamed with delight, “And, from what I hear, you’ve made a world changing discovery?”

“Yes! Yes! That is correct and is of course why I invited you here!” Dourley rested his forearms on the table and leaned toward Marianne, “I heard that you had started work as a junior journalist and I thought, what a better way for you to gain some experience, than being able to report on this world exclusive!”

Marianne tugged at the zipper on her bag, and pulled a leather bound notepad out from it’s depth. She gently rested it’s open pages on her folded legs.
“Then let us begin!” Marianne replied, as she clicked the end of a biro. Bringing the ballpoint tip to the lined paper.

“Absolutely,” Dourley leaned back into the depths of his office chair, “I thought I’d begin by giving you some background information about the project, so you can better understand the circumstances that helped lead me up to this moment. After which, I shall personally take you to see the culmination of my works.”

Marianne shuffled in her seat slightly as she prepared herself. Ready to scratch pen across paper.

“As you know, I have had a history of working in biology. My most notable work being the experiments that I carried out with your father, Dr Mumford.”

“Our work together was centred around the idea that we could alter the genetic structure of a pig’s DNA, so that it had the genetic identity of a human. The idea being that if a pig’s DNA were to read as a humans, then a person’s body wouldn’t reject organs sourced from that animal.”

Dourley stretched out a gangly arm and nodded his head towards the split pig that lay on display behind them.  

The sourness returned, flaring up the sides of Marianne’s tongue.

“And as I recall, you both were very successful in achieving that goal?” Marianne added, as she turned back to face him.

“Indeed we were. Your father went on to be well recognised for the work that we did. However, as you know, I did not receive the same recognition he did and my name was left off the research papers.”

Marianne sprawling hand stopped as Dourley finished his sentence. She glanced up to him with a sorrowful stare.

“However!” Dourley beamed loudly, “It was a blessing in disguise. For I have built upon that research since and have created something truly spectacular! A method of growing human organs on demand, free of all ethical implications. Would you like to see?”

Marianne slammed the pages of her notebook together, “Yes! Absolutely!”

Dourley jumped from behind his desk and bounded through the two halves of the preserved pig once again. Marianne threw her notebook back into her bag, before walking swiftly after him. Following the Dourley as he vanished through the office door.

The pair wound through a series of rigid corridors, before making their way into a low lit room. It was featureless, except for a row of full body protection suits that lined one the rooms four walls.

“Please pick one and put it on.” Dourley asked, as he made his way to the suits, “We have to be extremely careful whilst inspecting the work.”

Marianne clambered awkwardly into one of the suits, pulling it over her clothes and securing a large dome helmet over her head.

Dourley then ushered her through a circular doorway and into a thin glass corridor. Jets of compressed steam hissed violently as a steel disk like door shut behind them.  A white misty vapour fogged up the glass hallway.

Marianne looked to Dourley’s hazy figure in the fog and staggered after him.  The scientist came to a standstill as another vault door appeared through the fog. A golden plaque was mounted on its centre with the words, “The Orchard, “ elegantly engraved upon it.

Dourley’s cumbersome fingers punched at a large keypad that was situated below the glossy plaque.

“I hope you’re ready,” he said to her, his voice crackled through an internal communication channel, shared by the suits.

The door rolled open and streams of sunlight bled from the opening. Marianne brought her gloved hand up over her visor, attempting to shield the blinding rays from her eyes.

However after several seconds of exposure, her eyes adjusted and the scene behind the doorway became clear.

Fresh, green grass blanketed the floor and a series of short trees stretched up from the soil. The scene looked as if it belonged to a farm in rural Italy, not a controlled, sterile laboratory.

Marianne staggered into the small ecosystem and cast her view upward to see a refractive glass ceiling spanning the roof above.

“Welcome to the point of the pyramid, home to the orchard,” Dourley announced. He caught sight of the girl staring up at the ceiling and explained, “The roof reflects, and amplifies, the outside sunlight. Which helps feed the trees that stand before you.”

“This is quite impressive,” Marianne replied, “but I’m failing to see what this has to do with organ transplantation?”

“Well why do you take a closer look at the fruits of my labour?” Dourley made his way beside one of trees and gently cupped an apple, that hung from it’s branch, “Look.”

Marianne shuffled toward him, staring intently at the red lump within his hand. Her eyes widened as fruit appeared to pulsate, pumping slowly in his palm.

“Is that…  a heart?!” Marianne exclaimed, snapping her attention to the other branches of the tree.  A collection of fleshly lumps hung from them, each of them wet and pulsating.

“They’re all human hearts. Ripe and ready for harvest,” Dourley’s fingers slipped from beneath the organ, “Each tree has been engineered to produce human hearts that have a human genetic identity. Each heart also acts as a blank slate, meaning two things. The first being that, they can be universally used on any patient and the chances of a body rejecting them is almost completely zero. We’re planning on starting human trials soon.”

Marianne peered up closely to one of the hearts and ran the back of her hand against it’s surface. She cupped it gently, feeling it thump softly between her fingertips.

“This is crazy…” She whispered in disbelief.

“The greatest ideas are. Have you seen enough for your report?”

“More than enough.”

“Good! Then I would recommend returning to my office, where I can explain the science behind it all, ” Dourley suggested, as he made his way back to the circular vault door, “plus I don’t like lingering in here for too long. For risk of contaminating my work.”

Marianne loosened her grip on the frail organ and let it hang gently from it’s tree branch. She turned her back on the magnificent orchard and joined Dourley as the disk door creaked open once again.

They both made there way through the glass hallway and removed their suits. Returning them to their resting place against the wall, after which they promptly returned to the Dourley’s shimmering office.

“So what did you think?” Dourley asked with intrigue, as they both approached his desk once again.

“What do I think? Uncle Ian, that orchard is unlike anything I’ve ever seen!” Marianne exclaimed, as she sat herself down, “It is world changing, there’s no doubt about that! You’re going to save so many lives.”

A smug smile slimed it’s way across Dourley’s face.

“The only thing I’m concerned about is whether my writing will do it justice or not!”

“I’m sure it will. Would you like me to continue by explaining the science behind it all?”

Marianne pulled her leather notebook back out from her rucksack, which was still poised by the side of her chair.

“Of course!”

As she clicked her biro, a knock came from the office door. Marianne turned in her seat to see the straight haired woman who had met her previously, leaning in.

“Dr Dourley, can I borrow you for a moment?” The woman asked, “There’s been an incident.”

Dourley jumped up from his desk, “I’m sorry Anny, you’ll have to excuse me. I shan’t be long.”

“Take your time Uncle Ian,” Mariannae replied with a smile, “I’ll draft up some notes while you’re gone.”

Dourley silently thanked her, before shooting off towards the doorway, bringing it to a close behind him.

The room went silent. So quiet in fact the sound of Marianne’s biro scratching across her notebook paper was  clearly audible. However it was another faint noise that caught her attention.

A low hiss snaked through the air… Marianne raised both her head and eyebrow, as the sound continued. She sniffed the air and found the room to be odorless.

She looked over her shoulder at the office door, which was framed between the two halves of the pig. There was no sign of Dourley or the assistant through the doors clear glass window.

The young journalist got up and nervously paced her way across the office.

“Uncle Ian. There’s a strange hissing noise in here, ” Marianne called out, “I think it could a gas leak. Uncle Ian?”

She tugged at the doors metallic handle, but the door wouldn’t budge. She tried again and again. Frantically lashing at the handle as her palms began to sweat.

“Uncle Ian?!” the girl cried, “Uncle Ian!”

Suddenly, Dourley’s old grey face appeared in the door window.

“Oh thank god! The door is jammed!”

“It’s not jammed. It’s locked.”

“Locked? Well, can you unlock it…? ” Marianne suddenly choked on the end of her sentence. She brought a hand to her throat and began gasping for air. She violently bashed at the door handle as desperation sank in.

“What’s happening!? What’s going on?!” The girl choked harshly, “Uncle Ian please! Open the door!”

“The room is filling with an invisible gas called Halothane. You may find it hard to breathe for a short while,” Dourley replied coldly, as he watched the young girl claw at her throat, “Don’t worry, you’ll be unconscious soon.”

“Why are you doing this! Open the door! Open the door! Please!”

“Do you know why I’m so interested in organ transplantation Anny? I suppose you’re too young to remember.”

“Uncle Ian! Please!”

“I had a daughter myself once. She was just like you, bright, beautiful, full of life.”

Marianne weakly banged her fists against the glass as the energy drained from her body.

“But her heart was not as strong as she was. It was diseased and it failed her,” Dourley stared into Marianne’s blood shot eyes, “I did my best to help her, I tried to find a donor,  I tried to save my baby. But I failed her and she passed.”

“Please! I can’t breath!” Marianne choked harshly.

“After she passed, I dedicated myself to my work. Determined to find a way to help those in need, so they didn’t have to know the pain that I did. Your father joined me in my quest Anny, and he took all of the glory for himself. He insulted my cause, he insulted the very memory of my little girl!”

Dourley slammed a tight fist against the door, and seethed heavily, “But now, I have his!”

“Uncle Ian! Please! Don’t kill me! I don’t want to die!” Marianne begged as she sagged limply against the door, tears streaming down her cheeks, “Please…. Uncle Ian… ”

Her pleads faded away as she slumped to the floor like a tossed ragdoll. Completely cold and unconscious.  

Beep… Beep… Beep….

Marianne’s eyes stirred beneath her eyelids and with great effort she dragged them open. They were heavy and sore, as was the rest of her young frail body.

Beep… Beep… Beep….

“Where am I?” she asked hoarsely, both mouth and throat were completely dry.

Her vision sharpened and a collection of hazy figures came into focus. She tried to lift up a hand, in order to rub the soreness from her crusty eyes, but found herself bound by both wrists, and both legs!

“You’re finally awake!” A familiar voice cried out.

One of the figures came closer, looming over her like a venomous shadow. Dourley’s long grey face came sharply into view.

“What’s going on Uncle Ian….?” Marianne wheezed weakly.

The girl watched as Dourley was handed an object by one of the elusive figures and presented it to her. It was a clear jar, inside which sagged an oozing human heart.

“I don’t understand….” Marianne croaked.

Dourley spun the jar in his hand, revealing a label that had been plastered across it’s curved surface which read ‘Marianne Mumford. Patient Zero’.

“Your father would be so proud of you Tinman.” Dourley said to her warmly. A huge hearty grin spread across his face as he pointed at her chest, “Look.”

Marianne titled her stiff neck forward and looked down upon her exposed chest. Running clean down it’s centre, between her breasts, was a long, surgical incision, which had been bound back together with metal clips.

“The hearts from my Orchard!” Dourley continued with glee, “They compatible!”

Tears started to pour from the girl’s eyes as she watched Dourley laugh with delight. Shakily, she opened her mouth, but her tongue offered no words to her. All the young girl could muster was a shriek of pure, bloodcurdling, horror.

Beep…  Beep… Beep…

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Shellvon Heights

“The offence in hand, was committed with two deadly weapons, one knife and one firearm.” A heavy silence smothered the room: press, public and jury all sat quietly as the judge continued with her closing statement. “The crime was carefully premeditated, fuelled by his bitter, jealous nature, and the defended has shown little to no remorse for his actions.

From the middle of the courtroom, a tall man stood with both hands bound together. He looked up at the judge before him with a vacant stare.

“The court continued to consider the previous convictions held by the defended, which includes aggravated assault and multiple charges of GBH. Not only this, but considerations were made for the emotional harm and grief inflicted on the victims family members as a result of the defences actions Therefore I have come to the decision that, Norval Tunnock, is a violent, remorseless and vicious man who is unfit to ever mix with the civil population again.”

Not even the slightest flicker of emotion showed on Tunnock’s stern face that was set as if it were carved from stone. His eyes watched from the dark sunken hollows they were situated in. His lawyer stood beside him, just beyond the group security that encompassed Tunnock, eager for the judge to finish her words and finally put an end to this un-winnable case.

“The court has unanimously agreed that Norval Tunnock is guilty of two accounts of murder and shall be put to death.”

The faint mumble of hushed chatter emanated around the room. People leaned from ear to ear, carefully and quietly exchanging thoughts and their personal opinions.

Tunnock’s empty gaze lowered to the floor, his expression unmoved and unchanged. Whilst his lawyer brought a hand to his forehand and rubbed one temple gently, relieved that the ordeal was finally over.

“However,” The judge continued suddenly, casting another shroud of silence over the room, “In this rare occasion, an alternate sentence shall be offered.”

The judges words caught Tunnock’s attention once more and he slowly lifted his beady glare.

“The alternate sentence is offered on behalf of Smith Ltd’s mercy. The defended can choose either the death penalty or life imprisonment at their maximum security facility Shellvon heights. There is no chance of parole and the charged must conform with all terms and conditions that the facility asks of you.”

Tunnock’s lawyer spoke up immediately, “What kind of terms!?”

“The information will be disclosed if the defended chooses to accept the sentence and appear at Shellvon Heights.”

“How can my client be expected to accept their terms if he doesn’t even know what they are!?” The lawyer cried out, waving his hands as he talked.

A frown came about the judges winkled face, unimpressed with the man’s tone. “The defended will hold the right to revoke the sentence offered by Smith Ltd at any time he chooses. If he does not agree with their terms, he can be put to death on the site.” The judge hissed, “Can the defended make a decision please?”

The entirety of the room turned to Tunnock and waited with baited breath, as he chose his punishment.

***

The next thing Tunnock knew, he was being thrown into the back of a police van by two huge hulking members of security. Who had brushed him past large groups of press that flocked to the corridors of the crown court building, waiting with microphone and camera in hopes of gaining even the faintest of words from the

convict.

The truck in which found himself was windowless and had only a dim bulb situated on it’s ceiling. There was no seating of any sort and Tunnock found little comfort as he awkwardly situated himself on a wheel arch.

There was a brief moment of stillness, as Tunnock poised himself carefully and stared aimlessly at the floor of the van. Echo’s of faded voices gently whisked through his mind, like fallen autumn leafs on a soft breeze, before melting away.

The van then hummed angrily as the engine started, and Tunnock snapped back to reality, the truck then proceeded to begin it’s slow, long journey.

Tunnock had heard stories about Shellvon Heights, many people had, civilian and inmate alike. Dark rumours circulated about the mysterious place. It was an infamous, high security compound, privately owned and funded by a company called Smith Ltd. The general knowledge was that Smith Ltd received endorsements and money from the government and in return they offered to lock up and detain the harshest criminals that a broken society could spit out.

The location of the prison was mystery to most, including Tunnock. The information was kept private to minimise the chance of rescue attempts or possible revenge attacks from gangs or terrorist organisations.

However Tunnock was well aware that there was no one who would come break him out. He knew he was now completely on his own and Tunnock didn’t care.

The vehicle began to slow down as it tackled a steep incline. Tunnock slid to the back of the truck and was pressed heavily against the back door, unable to brace himself as both hands were still bonded tightly behind his back.

The van shook violently as it went. Throwing Tunnock about like a ragdoll, causing him to bash his head several times off the wall beside him.

Eventually the van came to a halt and the hum of the engine ceased. The doors behind the convict flew open and a hand grabbed the collar of his shirt, dragging him out onto a hard layer of black tarmac.

Tunnock lay on his back looking up at the blue skies above him.

“Make sure you get a good look,” A prison guard said as he leaned over him to obstruct his view, “It’s the last time you’re ever going to see it.” He smirked before grabbing hold of Tunnock and pulling him back onto his feet.

Before him stood the light grey buildings that made up the mysterious prison complex, Shellvon Heights. A series of tall gun towers littered the area,each with hexagonal crows nests situated upon them, rifles were permanently poised and ready to open fire if a situation called for it. Beneath them lay the rest of the bleak prison buildings, which were situated in a large outcrop surrounded by steep rocky hills.

Tunnock was lead to a large rectangular opening that was completely dark and void of light.  He was escorted through the darkness for several seconds before emerging in a small lit grey room. In which a single woman stood, a long rectangular object was poised neatly in her hands. She had short brown hair that had been shaved close to her head, yet it didn’t inhibit on her feminine appearance. For her smooth jaw line and soft eyes brought an unsettling beauty about her.

“Tunnock is it?” She asked sternly.

“Yeah. That’s me.”

She ushered the guards to step back from the convict as she approached him. Looking the criminal up and down as she circled him. “I always get the soft ones,” She scoffed.

“Whatever you say sweet stuff.” Tunnock replied coldly, flexing the muscles in ridged arms.

A fist smashed straight into his face, the force threw him down to the ground. Tunnock tried to retaliate, only to have the object she welded forced into his ribs which dealt a spine ripping electrical shock to his body.

“You will call me Darius,” She continued, withdrawing the stun stick from his body. “I am one of the enforcers at this complex. I shall be escorting you and monitoring you until either you die, or I’m instructed otherwise, got it?”

Tunnock groaned as he attuned himself to the searing pain that afflicted him.

Darius tutted to herself as she look down at the man beneath her, “Get up!” She said to him, “You haven’t even been inducted yet.”

She turned her attention to the guards that still lingered within the room, and flicked her hand to signal them to leave.

Daruis spoke into a small device pinned on her body armour. “Okay Dr Kesh, come in.”

A door opened from the opposite side of the room and a man dressed in a smart pressed suit made his way in, a small silver suitcase held in one hand, and a bundle of grey clothes in the other. He made his way over to a table that stood situated in the small room and placed the items upon it.

“Hello there Norval.” The man said cheerfully, turning as to face him.

“Tunnock, Call me Tunnock.”

The doctor raised a bemused eyebrow, “Okay, Tunnock. I trust you’re eager to hear our terms and conditions relating to the sentence that you’ve wisely accepted.”

Tunnock remained in silence.

“Well, I can tell that if you do continue to accept life imprisonment with us, it will be under the proviso that you are subjected to daily doses of scrinacine.”

“Scrinacine?”

Dr Kesh messed with the combination on the box beside him and flicked the lid open. Revealing a set of syringes, filled with bubbling yellow liquid, housed neatly within a layer of foam.

“It’s a concoction that us scientists at Smith Ltd have created, and we wish to trail it. The scrinacine will be administered to each of your limbs and to your chest. Previous tests on rats have shown the injection to restrict blood flow to the muscles, whilst also drawing water from them. Leaving you in a perpetual state of unrest.”

Tunnock raised an single eyebrow as he looked upon the strange serum. “Why do you want to test something like this? What practical use does it have?”

Dr Kesh held a stare with Tunnock for a moment, before removing his spectacles, “That is something you need not worry about Mr Tunnock. All you need to be concerned with is what sentence you wish to carry out. Remember, if at any point you wish to cease your contract with us you can, you are free at any point to fullfill your alternate sentence. You’re in control.”

Tunnock chuckled lightly, “So my choices are either Death, or, living my life in mild discomfort for the rest of my days?”

Dr Kesh nodded.

“Shoot me up then doc.”

Darius stepped forward and brought her taser into Tunnock back. His muscles seized up and he collapsed to the floor.

“Make even the slightest move and you’ll get get toasted again, got it?”

Tunnock snarled angrily before looking down to see Dr Kesh approaching him with a syringe in hand, a slight smirk upon his face.

He carefully pierced Tunnocks skin and pushed all of the yellow liquid into one of his biceps. Dr Kesh repeated the process, skilfully injecting the scinacine into the flesh of each of the man’s limbs and rchest.

Tunnock remained cool and collected throughout the process, as he felt the drug seep into his veins and muscles.

Dr Kesh gently closed the lid to the suitcase once he had finished and packed the syringes neatly away once more.

“Is that it?” Tunnock asked, as he climbed back onto his feet, looking at each of his limbs curiously.

Dr Kesh made his way back over, and passed a small bundle to Tunnock.

“These are your clothes from now on.” Dr Kesh replied, “Come on, get changed and we’ll show you to your room.”

The convict turned slightly and raised a seductive eyebrow at Darius, who stood behind him. She responded to the gesture with a taser to his gut. He collapsed to the floor once again.

“Do you like being hurt Tunnock?” The enforcer quipped.

Tunnock squirmed on the floor, before reaching for the pile of clothes that lay strewn out before him. Once he had climbed into the plain grey attire he was promptly escorted from the room.

Darius led the convict down an array of bland shadowless corridors. All sense of orientation was lost within the complex. No signs or markers lay on the walls, the hallways were barren and windowless, twisting endlessly like a grey maze. Creating a suffocating feeling of claustrophobia.

They made their way round a curving corridor. Stopping outside a large steel door labelled ‘1-C16’. Darius brought her key card to the scanner beside it and the door slid open, revealing a wall of steel bars behind which sat the prison cell.

Darius proceeded to unlock the steel bar door and drew it open, throwing Tunnock inside before closing it once again.

The cell was tiny no longer than 5 meters in length. It contained a steel toilet, and wash basin. A small desk and chair, made from solid concrete, which was fixed to the floor, and finally one bed that was also fashioned in the same way. Just a solid block of grey, with a thin foam sheet upon it.

“Welcome to your new home!” Darius beamed, “Dr Kesh will visit you once a day to check up on you and administer more scinacine. You’ll get 3 meals delivered here and one hours exercise a day. The other 23 hours, will be spent in this shit hole.” Darius swiftly left after adorning a sarcastic smile, leaving Tunnock alone in his cell, to begin his life sentence.

***

Tunnock couldn’t help but find himself inexplictly drawn to a window that sat at the end of his cell, just above his bed. It was 4 inches wide and about half a meter long he clambered over to it and tried to look out to see if he could catch a glimpse of  the skies above, to no avail.

He slumped onto the bed and feeling the scrinacine slowly pinch through his body. Each of his muscles twitch slightly as the drug rushed through, whilst also feeling stretched and sore.

“This isn’t so bad.” Tunnock muttered to himself, smirking as he lay back against the concrete wall.

He sat in silence until a peculiar noise caught his attention. Tunnock opened an eye and peered round the tiny cell. The noise continued. He got up and  followed the faint noise across the room, leading him to the steel sink basin.

A faint gurgling could be heard coming from down the pipe. Tunnock peered down into the darkness and found himself disgusted as a spray of water shot upward out the sink and into his face.

Tunnock staggered back, grunting as he did so. Whilst wiping the sink water off his face. However to his surprise, he could hear almost inaudible words creeping up through the pipes.

“Use the toilet roll….”

A grimace came about the convicts face, however he did as the unknown voice instructed. He picked up the loo roll that sat beside the toilet, and unravelled the paper leaving only the card tube in his hand.

He looked at the tube, then at the sink hole and crammed one end in, carefully placing his ear upon it.

“Say something if you can here me. Hello?” The voice said to him, the words now clearer.

“Who the hell are you!?” Tunnock yelled down the sink angrily.

A high pitched laugh rattled through the pipes, “Oh man this is exciting, I haven’t talked to anyone in ages! Anyone that isn’t a goon that is! I’m your cell block neighbour. We’ll probably never meet, my names Ashamm by the way!” The man replied in childish excitement.

“Tunnock.”

“Hello there Tunnock my buddy! Go on then, tell us what you’re in here for!?”

“That’s no concern of yours!”

“Wo-o-ah bud, okay then! No worries! What sentence you serving?!”

“Life, no parole, under scrinacine injections.”

“Look at this guy, opting for the goon juice! You’re alternative sentence must have been pretty bad.”

“It was the injection, or death.”

There was a slight pause before Ashamm’s boyish voice echo’d back out of the sink.

“If I was in your shoes… I’d be knocking on heavens door mate! Hello God it’s me, let us in would ya!!”

“Why’s that?” Tunnock replied, with a new found curiosity.

“The peeps that run this joint are pretty relentless, as you’ve probably found out. They’re not going to make your life a skip in the park, if you know what I mean.”

Tunnock scoffed, “I’ll take my chances.”

“Never forget, they own us buddy. The moment we waddled in here we became nothing more than their livestock. You’ll end up in the cellars for sure. ”

“Shut up! No one owns me!”

“Oooooh, we got a hard man here. Guards help! Help! I feel threatened.” Ashammed laughed mockingly through the drain pipes.

“Shut up!”

“What you gunna do Tunnock? Big man Tunnock? Fight the sink?”

Tunnock pulled the cardboard tube from the pole hole and launched it angrily across his cell. Ashamms mocking words slowly faded, “Shellvon gunna break you!”

***

The following night saw Tunnock subjected to the full effects of the scinacine inside him. Twinging his muscles and ligaments, causing periodic spasms throughout his body. He lay flat on the concrete bed, looking straight up at the blackness above him.

The grown man winced as short bursts of pain pinched at him. Forbidding him from succumbing to the gentle state of sleep. Both eyes grew to be dry and heavy, and a headache grew like a thick fog inside his mind.

Eventually the lights flickered on once more, after the sleepless, endless night. His sore eyes ached under the pressure of sudden bright lights. Before he knew it, Darius and a group of scientists entered the cell. Forcing him down and injecting more scrinacine into his veins.

The first week of Tunnock’s stay followed this painful, yet dull routine. Each night was sleepless, each night the scrinacine pulled at him. Each night rolled on to become more hellish than the last.

Slowly Tunnock found himself falling into deteriorating state, as his mind slowly began to pull itself apart. For the hope of sleep was ripped from him. His vision became hazy and unfocused, the world surrounding him blurred out into barely distinguishable shapes. The once overly proud man now found himself jumping in fight at illusions that popped up momentarily around him. Touch became nothing more than a memory as a soft numbness set about his body. The only thing he could feel was the vicious drug within him, a potent virus, keeping him set in a perpetual set of warped awareness.

***

The 6th night brought true terror and fear, unlike anything Tunnock had felt before. He lay there motionless, as he had for the 5 previous nights. Waiting for the lights to flicker on once more.

But something caught his attention. “Footsteps?” he thought… Tip toeing within the darkness.

Tunnock brought his head upward, the world spinning violently as he did so. “Hello…?” He murmured.

Then a force struck him violently in the fore head, throwing him back against the bed. In amidst the panic and darkness Tunnock could just about distinguish a figure, who had jumped upon his chest pressing down on him relentlessness.

He gasped desperately for air, and as he did so the figure brought down a barrage of fists into his face. Crashing hard into his head, shaking his skull beneath his skin.

“Stop! Please stop! Stop!” Tunnock wheezed in horror.

The beating ceased as suddenly as it started, and Tunnock was left quivering, crunched up into a shaky ball for the remainder of the lightless night.

It wasn’t until the lights in his tiny cell came on once more than Tunnock dared to move. He peered out from behind his hands at the cell entrance and watched as Darius entered followed shortly by Dr Kesh and a group of scientists for the routine injections. However the broken Tunnock cried out to them, throwing a hand out wildly.

“No don’t!” He whimpered, “Don’t come any closer! Please!”

Darius looked to the scientists surrounding her, and shrugged. Dr Kesh spoke out, “What’s the matter Tunnock? Is everything okay?”

“Someone, Someone attacked me!”

Kesh looked back to Darius, who responded once again with an unenthusiastic shrug.

“When were you attacked Tunnock?”

“Last night! Last night someone came in and attacked me!”

The doctor cocked his head, issuing the other scientists to restrain the shaking man. Before administer more of the cruel concoction. Tunnock screamed out helplessly.

Once they had finished, the group promptly left the cell with Dr Kesh, followed shortly by Darius, who glanced back at Tunnock with cold grey eyes.

Tunnock remained cowered behind his numb hands. Slowly, thin streams of tears forced their way from the corner of his eyes.

But then, unexpectedly a voice spoke out.

“How can I be your little secret if you’re going to tell everybody about me.”

Tunnock lifted his heavy eyes from behind the safety of his hands to see a nightmarish figure standing before him in the cell.

The hellish creature was a solid shade of harsh black. Towering over Tunnock,  standing on two unnaturally long, thin legs. With a pair of gangly arms to match. It’s eye’s glowed as if they were a pair of blood rubies, their gaze brought with it a nightmarish feeling of dread. All of which was fixated upon Tunnock.

“What the hell is this!?” Tunnock screamed as he desperately tried to shuffle backwards. Despite already being firmly pressed against the wall.

“We’re going to have lots of fun together.” The jagged figure hissed sinisterly in reply.  It lunged forward and brought it’s hulking head besides Tunnocks, whose frighten stare was fixed upon the creatures burning eyes.

A long thin tongue slipped from the monsters razor teeth and slowly licked the side of Tunnock’s face. Revelling in sinister delight as I did so. An icy chill splintered through Tunnock’s spine.

“You skipped school again.”

“W-what?” Tunnock trembled in reply.

“What have I told you back skipping School Norval.”

The nightmare’s black silhouetted body expanded, engulfing the entire cell in a thick blanket of darkness. Tunnock found himself to be standing as the monotone grey of the cell melted away into nothingness.

A burning grew beneath his skin and he desperately clawed at his arms, in hopes of relieving the sudden searing pain. As he did so, an large door sped toward him from a indistinguishable horizon. It paused before him, towering meters above his head.

Tunnock watched as the door crept open. A thick stench of stale cigarette smoke oozed out as the door revealed a large arm chair face away from him. He took tiny steps as he stumbled his way in. Looking about nervously, like a lost lonely child.

“You know the punishment for skipping school Norval.” The voice hissed once more.

The ominous black figure pulled itself from the large arm chair, and had now tripled in size, dwarfing Tunnock as if he were a small boy. It pulled what appeared to be a large cigar from it’s sharp toothy smile and shoved the searing glowing embers into Tunnock’s face.

His screams were muffled beneath the cinders of burning tobacco. He felt his flesh peel from bone.

“You’ve upset daddy very much.”

Tunnock screamed. Then suddenly he tumbled back from out of the darkness into the light grey surroundings of his cell. Beads of sweat poured from his brow as he frantically patted his face with both hands. Finding it to be free of damage.

The terrors continued day and night. The creature would return to torment Tunnock and as his insomnia stretched on, the terrors grew to be more horrific and more frequent.

The mysterious figure would whisper chilling words into his ear. Beat him until he could hardly breath and warp his mind with twisted visions. Painting dark illustrations onto the canvas that was his fragile mind.

Tunnock did all that he could to make the guards and the scientists aware of his ghostly abuser. However each time he brought it up he found himself met with a set of stern, unimpressed faces and silence. As a result he was left alone, with his monster.

Another week passed by, Tunnock lay flat on his bed. The world around him was an incoherent mess of scrambled information. Resulting in a perpetual state of nausea. The light above him faded out and a blackness flooded the room.

There was silence. Tunnock waited for the monster to return. But there was silence. He lifted his foggy head and looked for a pair of glowing eyes in the dark. But there was nothing but silence.

Tunnock slumped backward and let out a deep sigh, perhaps this sleepless night was one free of torture and torment. Then a set of soft footsteps came from beside his bed.

Tunnock began to breath deeply and beads of cold sweat began to run down his face.

“Daddy?” A softly spoken voice called out bedside him.

He gripped his head in anguish, “No… no… no! Please stop!”

“Daddy?”

Tunnock turned his head to see a little girl standing at the bed side. She had curly hair that hung freely from her head and was dressed in a school uniform. However her skin was an icy wash of white and both eyes glowed a faint red.

“No please! This is too much!” Tunnock screamed out helplessly. “Please!”

The small child jumped up onto his chest, forcing the air out of his lungs.

“I’ve got a headache daddy.” The little girl said quietly, “Mom does too.”

“…no, get off, get off!”

He did his best to move the child, but she was fixed in place. Set like a steel anchor upon him, cold to the touch and unmovable.

The small child’s eyes gazed upward as she brought her tender hands to her forehead. Tunnock flailing ceased as he stopped to watch the young girl.

A tiny red circle materlised on her forehead, she began clawed at it gently with her fingers. It slowly grew in size and a thin trickle of red oozed out from it. Sliding down her forehead, into her eyes and down the rest of her face.

Pure horror seeped into the core Tunnock’s bones.

The girl then began to cough and heave heavily, hunching over forward as she did so. A large gush of blood spewed from the girls frothing mouth and poured over Tunnock’s face.

Kicking and screaming, he tried once more to force the girl off of himself. But she wouldn’t move. Madly he wiped the red liquid from his face and eyes. However the small girl brought her hands to his face.

Tunnock struggled, but was over powered by the girls supernatural strength. She slowly prised his mouth wide open and leaned forward. A shower of blood poured from her mouth into his.

The coppery taste raced down to back of his throat as he gargled the thick warm liquid. He couldn’t bring himself to swallow, or to heave. Instead the red liquid bubbled and frothed in his mouth as he desperately tried to clear it from his windpipe. Then the muscles in his throat gave up, and blood poured down his airway straight into his lungs. Just as he felt life leave his body he jolted upward violently, flailing his limbs about in a mad fashion.

The nightmare had vanished, but a coppery taste still lingered on his tongue. Tunnock then let out a defeated a yell. One that signified a man who had been broken, a man who had given up.

The iron door to his cell slid open, and Darius made her way inside. She stared at the killer, who was perched upon his knees, whimpering like a child.

“Keep the noise down Tunnock.” She said bluntly, turning to leave as she did so.

“Kill me.”

“What?”

“Kill me Darius. I want the alternative sentence. Kill me.”

***

Tunnock was pulled from his cell the following morning, by a pair of bulky security guards, instructed by Darius. The felon flopped about weakly as he was dragged out of the grey cell, both feet sliding limply behind him.

He was in a state between the conscience and unconscious, caught in a hellish limbo between rest and unrest. Yet it was the closest thing to sleep he had got since beginning his stay in Shellvon heights.

He felt his feet flop about awkwardly as he was dragged down a flight of circular steel stairs that descended into a dark dingy corridor. Illuminated only by the faint glow of a few dying light bulbs.

Security threw him into a small cubical room. The floors and ceiling were flat, plastic and white. A thin piece of metal ran across the floor at one side of the room, acting as drainage.

Tunnock brought himself up onto his knees weakly and stared up at Darius who towered above him. He raised his hands and brought them together as if in prayer. “Please. Finish it. End it.”

Daruis looked down at the broken man with a smirk. Then took a step backward out of the cell, closing the door behind her.

Tunnock looked up in shock and scuttled frantically across the floor. Peering through the small circular port hole on the door.

“What’s is this!? Whats going on!” The felon cried out loudly. “I thought I was to be put to death!?”

Darius peered at him through the foggy glass. “You are dead Tunnock. Well, as far as the outside world is concerned.”

“…What?”

“We’ve filled out all the documents, death certificate, execution statement and so on. As far as the outside world knows. Norval Tunnock is dead. But you, will actually be spending the rest of your natural life here, in this room. You will be visited by our scientists for 15 minutes a day, to administer more scrinacine.”

“No… No!” Tunnock whimpered, as he began to claw violently at the handle-less door.

“The other 23 hours and 45 minutes. You will spend here, in total darkness, alone. People like you deserve nothing more.”

“No! No! Please you can’t leave me here!

“Goodbye Tunnock.” Darius said with cruel twisted smile, before exiting up the spiral stairway once more.

“Why are you doing this!?”

Darius paused for a second on the stairwell before replying, “We’re just curious.”

“Kill me! Darius please! Kill me!” Tunnock shouted desperately as he heard her footsteps fade away. “Darius!” Seconds after Darius had left, the lights in the small cell flickered out. Drenching the cube in a heavy darkness.

An icy chill shook his bones. He quivered as he turned around to stare at the darkness. Finding a pair of red glowing eyes staring back.

“We’re going to have a lot of fun together Norval.”

Fowl Play Part 3: Flight

 

This is the final part of a 3 part story that I’ve written. If you haven’t read to the first two parts, I shall post links to them below. Hope you enjoy the story!

Fowl Play

Part 1: Run – https://jscarrottblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/fowl-play-part-1-run/

Part 2: Breath – https://jscarrottblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/fowl-play-part-2-breathe/

Fowl Play Part 3: Flight

By J.A Scarrott

Vauhn crashed in a heap onto the cold corridor floor. The jungle-fowl that was latched onto his flesh, let out an ear splitting hiss, beating it’s large grey wings in a frightful display.

Lizelle, Kayla and Logan all instinctively shifted backwards, as the Jungle-fowl squat furiously towards them, However they were violently shoved forward by Roland who shouted “Move! Go!”

They all clumsily piled out of the laboratory and into the corridor. Each of them doing their best to avoid tripping over Vauhn’s lifeless body. The small, blood hungry bird stayed situated on Vauhn, it continued to hiss as the students stumbled past.

“This way to the lift! Quickly!” Roland cried as he dashed down the corridor, slamming his finger on the small call button. They all stood anxiously waiting as the internal mechanics of the lift began to emit a low hum.

Kayla’s stood by the lift with the others, waiting, staring. The hum from the lift began to fade out, as did the rest of the world around her, as she stared at the bird before her. It pecked away at Vauhn’s raw flesh, ripping tendons, and veins violently out of the Vauhn’s slumped body.

Her friend was unrecognisable now. Vauhn’s once handsome face reduced to a pile of ribboned meat, which the jungle-fowl helped itself to. Despite the sorrow that swelled up within her, she couldn’t look away. That was her friend, 5 minutes ago he was living, breathing, talking and now, he was gone. Thin ray of golden light appeared to shine upon Vauhn’s body, she followed the beam with her eyes and was led to an open window that stood on the far end of the corridor.. An open window!? She thought to herself in dismay.

Immediately her senses were brought violently back to life. “We can’t go down yet!” Kayla called out to the others, spinning round as she did so. She pointed down the corridor, “You see that window? It’s open. If we leave it, then that chicken could escape!”

Liz and Logan looked at one another in worry, before turning their attention to Teah and Roland who stood behind them, ready to dive into the open, empty lift. “It’s not a chicken” Roland said coldly, “Besides, that Jungle-fowl seems too interested in eating, to want to escape. Why do you think it hasn’t come for us. It’s preoccupied.”

Kayla brushed through Liz and Logan, who both remained fixated on the small bird, and violently grabbed the cuff of Roland’s shirt before bringing her hand across his cheek, leaving a sore red hand print. “That’s our friend down there, show some respect. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone else, especially on the outside, to die. So I’m shutting that window!”

“We’re with you Kayla.” Logan told her, placing a hand upon her shoulder.

Kayla stared at Roland with heavy eyes, before turning to face the jungle-fowl that sat between them and the open window.

Nervously the three of them began to edge forward. “If there’s any sign of trouble or danger-”

“We’ll let you know, Don’t worry.” Logan replied, cutting her off mid sentence.

Kayla put her hand out when they were only a few meters from Vauhn’s body, signalling Liz and Logan to stop. The Jungle-fowl looked up at the three for a moment, before continuing to tear at the Vauhn’s back muscles.

She bent her knees slightly as she began to silently edge her way round, shifting her focus periodically between the Jungle-fowl and the open window. Her heart beat hard against her rib cage. Each step she took she placed delicately and with the utmost care, as to cause minimum noise or disturbance to the small, carnivorous bird. The fowl looked up at Kayla several times as she shuffled round, but was ultimately more interested in the feast that lay beneath it’s razor like talons.

Kayla let out a small sigh of relief as she finally made her way round to the window. She was greeted by a fresh breeze which poured in from outside the building. For a brief moment she was made to forget all that had happened that day and memories of laying on green park grass with Carole, Vauhn, Jason, Lizelle and Logan, between lectures, were brought to the forefront of her mind. The cool draft also made her aware of how accustomed her nose was to the thick stench of blood, which hung heavy within the university building.

Kayla opened her eyes, after drawing her first breath of fresh air, and glanced down at the multitude of response vehicles scattered in the car park below. Yellow ambulances stood next to white and blue police vans. Response personnel dashed about the scene, helping the lucky few who had managed to escape the building with their lives. She took one last breath of fresh air, before reaching for the window handle pulling it firmly towards herself. As window closed, a loud sudden click echoed through the corridor.

Kayla flinched then froze for a moment, wide eyed. Slowly turned her head to look at the fowl situated behind her. It began to let out a low throaty clucking noise. Logan and Lizelle stared helplessly across at their stranded friend.

However to all of their surprise the fowl didn’t move, it simply turned to face the open door that lead into the I.T suite of Roland’s and Teah’s laboratory. Kayla’s heart dropped and her stomach twisted as two more menacing, grey Jungle-fowls emerged through the doorway. They were brutist and stood taller than the bird already present, they towered over it as they approached Vauhn’s mutilated body.

The birds exchanged a series of clucks and screeches, jerking their heads in a bazaar fashion as they did so. All of the students stood as still like white statues as they watched. Fear gripped them ever tighter, paralysing in a suffocating stranglehold.

The two larger birds looked at Vauhn’s dead body, before looking up to the students that surrounded them. They were fresh meat, and unspoiled.

The two brutish fowls fixed their stare upon Liz, Logan, Teah and Roland, moving forward slowly. One of the fowls leapt across to the other side of the corridor, in an attempt to outflank the small group of students. Who were all backing up slowly, being careful not to make any sudden movements.

Suddenly Kayla shouted “Hey, come and get me! Come and get me!”

The Fowls snapped round instantly, their attention drawn to the rapid movements of Kayla’s arms, as she waved them about in an exaggerated manner. The Jungle-fowls altered their direction and began moving towards Kayla, who was still stood at the window.

“Get the lift down! Get out! Go!” She cried, panicking frantically as the grey birds crept ever closer, their beady eyes fixated on a new prey.

“Kayla! No don’t do this!”

“Go!” Kayla shrieked, forcing a couple of tears to roll out from her watering eyes.

But then something unexpected and unexplainable happened. The two advancing jungle-fowls stopped in their tracks. Kayla watched in bemusement as all three of the grey birds, including the one poised over Vauhn’s body, began to jerk their heads in an odd chaotic fashion. Letting out an array of bellowing howls and squawking in a hellish fashion. Within moments, they had all quickly dashed through the open door and scuttled away into Roland’s lab.

Liz and Logan looked upon the scene, stunned. Kayla looked over at them, sharing the same look of confusion. As she glanced at them, she noticed a very subtle movement of Roland’s arm, seemingly slipping something, small and black, from hand into his lab coat pocket.

“The door!” Liz shouted out loudly.

Kayla was brought back into focus and heavily slammed the door to the lab shut. She clung to the glossy metallic door handle, panting out heavy sighs now that the ordeal was over and they were safe… For now.

Kayla looked down at her shoes, as a pool of red slowly spread across the floor. She dared not look at Vauhn, not in that state. She thrust a hand out towards Teah and Roland. “Coat.” She demanded quietly, still facing the white door.

Teah looked to Roland, confused and anxious. Her arms hanging awkwardly limp by her sides.

“Coat!” Kayla yelled viciously, turning her head this time revealing a fierce expression. Teah jumped slightly, before hastily removing her lab coat. She offer it to Kayla who snatched it angrily from her hands.

She spread the white lab coat across, what was left of, Vauhn’s body. Covering him in a white, makeshift, shroud. A thick sadness bubble up within, hanging heavily deep within her chest like fresh wet tar. Kayla closed both eyes softly and tapped her head, shoulders and chest in succession whilst uttering a silent prayer.

Roland pressed the small lift button once again and it’s door spread open.

Logan made his way over to Kayla who stood quietly, staring at Vauhn’s shrouded body. She turned as Logan brought his arm around her. No words were needed, the silence spoke for everyone.

One by one, they made their way into lift. Kayla took one last look at Vauhn, the white lab coat that lay upon him was slowing turning a deep red. She closed her eyes before moving into the small lift, then pressed the button for the ground floor. The two lift doors drew to a close.

The gentle hum returned as the lift made it’s way down to the ground floor. They watched the number on the control panel change as they descended. A computerised female voice came from a small speaker situated above the lifts control panel, “Ground Floor.”

“Before we exit this lift, can I just ask, Why did the birds flee..?” Lizelle asked, “Kayla didn’t really do much in the way of scaring them.”

Kayla narrowed her eyes into a glare which she subtly aimed at Roland, who stood beside her in the lift. Remembering the small black item that Roland had slipped into his pocket moments after the jungle-fowls had fled.

Roland replied “They must have been called by another Fowl. We’re lucky we all got out of that mess.”

Kayla grit her teeth in frustration. I don’t know what you’re hiding, but I’m going to find out.

She didn’t have the time to say anything however, as the lift doors opened before she had chance. Each of them cowered slightly, in fear of sudden attack. To their relief the doors revealed an empty corridor. Logan stepped out first, glancing to his left, then right, as he made his way into the corridor. On their right stood the bottom of the stairwell, that ran parallel with the lift shaft up the side of the building. To their left ran the rest of corridor, littered with doors, which fed into different meeting rooms and study areas. At the end of the corridor stood a large window.

“It’s clear.” Logan said, turning to face the 4 that remained huddled away within the confines of the lift. Cautiously they made their way out and joined Logan in the corridor. Liz took off her spectacles, breathing on the lenses to fog them up, before wiping them on her t-shirt. She stopped after one lens, as faint scuttling could be heard coming from their right. Liz turned, wide eyed, and stared at the base of the spiral stairway. Not only was the sound increasing, but a set of spine shaking shrieks echoed down the stairwell and throughout the four walls of the narrow corridor.

Lizelle’s heart began to thumb furiously within her chest. “They’re coming… They’re coming!”

They all turned on their heels and ran. Racing their way down the corridor, distancing themselves from the mouth of the stairway and the oncoming danger. 4 of the 5 made a sharp right turn down another corridor, however Logan noticed something just beyond the far window.

“Wait! This way!” He yelled to the others, who all came to an uneasy hault. “There’s people from the fire service on the other side of that window!” Logan pointed with an outstretched hand. “Come on!”

He ran to the glass pane, unwilling to wait for the rest of them to make a decision. However they all followed shortly after him in pursuit.

When Teah, Roland, Kayla and Lizelle reached the large window, a service woman had already been made aware of their presence. The soul shaking shrills increased, echoing within the corridor.

“Open the top latch of the window, We’ll get you out. Stay calm.” The service woman said in a relaxed manner.

Teah and Kayla were at the back of the group, keeping an ever watchful eye upon the stairwell. At the same time, Logan opened the top latch of the window providing a small space which they could all squeeze through to safety, a cool breeze poured in. Lizelle was the first to climb through, the service woman, who stood on the other side of the clear window, took hold of both her arms, pulling her out of the building and onto the soft green grass that lay outside. The fresh midday air filled her lungs, purifying her senses of the thick stench of dried blood that clung to her clothes.

“Hurry… Hurry…” Kayla whispered to herself under her breath, blood pumping ever more furiously as the threat drew closer, still out of sight but definitely not out of mind.

Logan was next and, like Liz, he was quickly pulled through the small opening and brought into the safe, outside world. He was escorted off along with Lizelle to a team of paramedics who were situated in the buildings car park.

“Who’s next?” The service woman asked, but as she did a set of Jungle-Fowls materialised from the stairwell. Instantly they dashed full force down the corridor, blood curling screams bellowed from their throats.

“Shut the window! Shut it!” Kayla cried out, leaping backwards to slam the small opening. Barging Roland out of her way as she did so. The second that the window was shut, the fowls were upon them.

Kayla just managed to ducked out of the way of a bird that swooped down, dodging a pair of blade like talons. The Jungle-fowl collided heavily into the large window pane, the service woman that was out on the other side flinched as a large crack raced across the glass.

Teah, Roland and Kayla did their best to weave their way through the volley of lethal attacks that the fowls threw at them. Roland and Kayla managed to scrap their way through with only a handful of lashes on their arms and legs. Teah was not so fortunate, as she succumb to a set of slashing claws.

Roland and Kayla sped off regardless, not able to spare a second of compassion or sadness, else they too would be subject to the vicious claws of the Jungle-fowls. They bolted into the corridor they had initially tried to flee down before, which was now situated on their left. 2 fowls writhed their way round the tight turn, to find the corridor empty.

In the split second that they had been out of sight of the birds, Roland had managed to find refuge within a small supply cupboard, and had dragged Kayla harshly in with him. The small room barely had enough space to contain the two of them, it was littered with brooms, mops and buckets, cleaning fluids and other miscellaneous items.

The two tried to keep steady and remain on their feet in the tiny, dark cupboard. Grabbing hold onto one another and propping their hands against the walls, trying their best to avoid any items that may be hanging freely, in an effort to keep noise to a minimum.

They remained in complete silence within the cupboard and the two listened for sounds beyond the door. The corridor seemed to be as still as they were.

‘At least it was quick,’ Kayla thought to herself, ‘Rest in peace Teah.’

Kayla’s attention turned to the man who stood close to her in the darkness. The grip she had on him tightened and she pulled herself closer to him angrily. “I know you’ve got something. Tell me what it is!” She said in a harsh, hush voice.

Kayla jumped slightly as Roland clasped his hand heavily over her mouth. Muffling her cries of disapproval.

“Be quiet!” Roland hissed, he shook Kayla’s head slightly as he tightened his grip. Her muffling stopped, and in the moment of silence she could hear faint noises coming from the corridor. The quiet clattering of claws, pacing slowly up and down the hallway, sent a chill into Kayla’s bones. Her blood cooled as the footsteps trailed off and the bliss safe sound of silence set in once more.

She pulled Roland’s hand from her mouth and lent in again. “I don’t know what game you’re playing. But I’m onto you.”

Just as Kayla had finished talking, a phone began vibrating. She looked down to see Roland’s white lab coat pocket light up.

Roland withdrew the small device, the soft white light it emitted highlighted their faces softly within the darkness. The phone screen read “Teah Nicole.”

“She’s alive?” Kayla whispered lowly.

Roland didn’t reply, he brought the phone up to his ear and answered the call in a hush tone.

“Okay, Okay. We’re in the supply cupboard a few door down from you. Okay, Alright.”

With that Roland ended the short call and slipped the small mobile back into his deep lab coat pockets. “She’s in one of the classrooms near us. Two doors down. She managed to slip in unnoticed and killed the chicken that attacked her.” Roland told Kayla, “She said the corridor is clear at this moment, so now is our chance to move. Go.”

Kayla carefully edged the door to the cupboard open. A thin strip of light seeped through and stretched across her face. The band of light increased as Kayla continued to push the door open.

The two of them crept out into the hall way, and closed the cupboard behind them. The door clicked as it shut and their eyes snapped around the corridor wildly. Searching for any sign of danger.

Roland pointed with his finger to one of the classrooms and mouth the silently, “This one.” They edged their way over and wormed into the classroom, remaining as quiet as possible. Sure enough, Teah was sitting inside, blood stains covering her blue t-shirt. A headless chicken slumped on the floor beside her.
Teah flinched as they entered the room. “Oh, you scared me.” She yelped, before getting up to greet them, wiping her trembling, bloodied hands on her black trousers.

“How did you escape!?” Kayla exclaimed, still trying her best to remain as quiet as possible.

“I just got lucky I guess.” Teah replied, as she plunged her shaky hands into her jean pockets.

“You alright? You look shook up.”

“I’ll be fine.”

Roland looked at Teah and gave a simple nod of the head. She returned the gesture with a weak smile.

“We’re nearly out of here, The reception isn’t far from this classroom!” Kayla said, opening the door slightly to peer in the hallway. She turned back round to the other two, bringing the door to a close once again.

“No point hanging around. Let’s get this over with.” Roland replied dully, ushering Teah towards the door. “Lead the way Kayla.”

Kayla couldn’t help the glare that set across her face. However the expression melted away as Teah approached her, the poor girl’s eyes drooped and her hand were still visibly shaking within her pockets, despite her efforts to hide them.

“We’re nearly out of here.” She said to her reassuringly. “We’re nearly out. You’ll be home before you know it.”

Teah nodded her head limping, her eyes still staring at the floor. “Go.”

Kayla pushed the door open, and peered round to inspect the hallway, which still remained empty. “Follow me.” She mouthed silently, as she slipped out of the classroom. They were swift, yet silent and weaved their way to the double doors that lead into the main reception.

Kayla hesitates as she approached the two doors. She took a short breath before flinging them open. They walked slowly into the reception room. Before them sat an arrangement of tables and chairs, beyond that was the large curved reception desk and standing to it’s left, stood the two clear glass doors. Their bid for freedom.

Teah, Kayla and Roland walked across the quiet reception area, the room was unnervingly still. Kayla shifted her gaze constantly, looking for any slight hint of movement.

Teah didn’t share the same alertness or self control, and found herself sprinting towards the double glass doors.

“Teah wait!” Kayla exclaimed.

Just as Teah flung a door open, 3 fowls leapt from behind the large reception desk, letting out a loud terrifying screeched as they did so, landing between them and splitting the group in half. Isolating Kayla and Roland from reaching Teah or the door.

“Clever girls…” Roland said to himself quietly.

They all froze in place, being careful not to make any sudden movements. The 3 birds eyed up the prey that stood before them, they too were being mindful of their movements, waiting for the perfect time to strike.

Over by the door, Teah stood as still as she could. Trying her best to stop the shakes that ran through her body. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a group of service personnel standing at the bottom of the grassy bank, that led up to the reception doors. It wasn’t long before they themselves became aware of Teah, and started to shuffle up the parkway towards her.

As they approached she subtly stuck out her hand up and gave a slight shake of the head. Signalling them to stop their approach. The service group caught wind of her signals, and crouched down, remaining several meters away from the reception entrance.

Teah shifted her gaze to the room once more, only her eyes moved as her head remained perfectly still.

The three birds began to shift their attention from Roland and Kayla, who stood on one side of them, and Teah, who was planted on the other.

One by one the Jungle-fowls all turned to face Teah, sensing her fear through her shaking body and the beat of sweat ran from Teah’s brow.

“Oi! Chickens, come get some!” Kayla shouted, waving her arms about in a frantic fashion. She began to back up slowly. Roland looked at her in bewilderment, then across to Teah, as he was slowly pushed backwards by Kayla.

“Teah, get out! Go! We’ll distract them. Close the door!”

The moment that Kayla had finished her sentence, Roland brought his fist down heavily onto the back of her head. She collapsed in a heap on the floor, a painful throb pulsated within her skull. She looked upwards at Roland who towered above her, he slid a hand into his flowing, lab coat pocket, withdrawing a small black object.

The 3 Jungle-fowls that stood poised a short distance away from them cowered in fear, as they laid their eyes upon the small item, taking a few cautious backward steps. Roland drew a deep breath, readying himself to blow into the small device.

Just as Roland brought his lips to the whistle, Kayla threw a firm kick into the side of his knee. Roland cried out in pain as his leg buckled, he fell to his knees, dropping the small whistle in the process.

As Roland hit the floor, Kayla cried out “Teah! Go! Close the door, please!”

Teah hesitated at the door for a split second, however in her state of anxiousness and fear that fraction of a second felt like a full drawn out minute. The scene before her was still like a painting  as her mind screamed a hundred thoughts at once. Then suddenly it came to silence.

Teah flung herself out of door, but left it open behind her.

Kayla’s heart dropped, as did her jaw as she watched helplessly, heaped on the floor. Roland lunged forward and swept up the whistle in one swift motion, before Kayla had even the slightest chance to react.

With the whistle firmly in hand, he brought to the device to his lips, his cheeks ballooned as he blew into the small black rectangle. No noise could be heard by human ears, but the 3 Jungle-fowls that stood before them hissed loudly in irritation, turned on their heels and fled. Running straight out of the open door and into the vast expansive world.

Kayla lay frozen in place on the floor, staring at the open door. A cold numbness ran throughout her body, as her heart thumped slow, heavy beats. “What have you done…?” Kayla whispered weakly.

“I’ll tell you what we’ve done, we’ve created a new world Kayla.” Roland replied, standing tall above her. His dark wild eyes were set upon open entrance to the reception.

Kayla clambered up onto her unsteady feet, the pain in the back of her head was starting to slowly subside.

“The United Kingdom will now have it’s first true predator. These birds are now the Apex of this island.” Roland said calmly, his long black hair lapped about his face gently as a chilled breeze rolled in through the open door.

“You’re fucking crazy. I expected something like this off you, but not Teah.” Kayla replied as she shook her weary head.

“That is surprising, I suppose it details how dense you are. You met her in the computer lab on the 3rd floor didn’t you?”

Kayla cocked her head slightly in bemusement.

“Don’t you find that a little odd? Considering our lab in on the 2nd floor? You bumped into her shortly after she released the little beauties from their cages up on the 4th. Idiot.” Roland scoffed, as he began to walk to the reception exit.

Kayla stood in place, her arms limping hanging by her sides as she watched Roland slowly walk away from her. Thoughts of Jason, Carole and Vauhn raced through her mind, flashes of their fear and of their deaths burnt brightly.

“Why? Why do this?”

Roland stopped in his tracks and turned back round to face her. “The ideas of great minds are comprehensible to the minds of lesser people, like you and your friends. For so long this country has been docile and weak, nothing challenged the humans that resided upon it except themselves. But Teah and I have added a new player to the game. The whole eco-system is going to be shaken up. Humans aren’t going to be the number one predator here for very long.” Roland rubbed his hands together in delight, a twisted demented smiled swirled across his face. He threw out his hands widely, his crystal white lab coat bellowed calmly in the breeze, and announced proudly “We’re playing god Kayla and we’re holding all the cards!”

Then suddenly his eyes widened in shock. Kayla flinched and stood a cautious step backward.

A small set of white razor sharp fangs materialised above Roland’s shoulder, in a flash the teeth sank into the soft flesh of his neck. In one swift jerk, his jugular was torn straight out. A stream of red dashed upward, showering the ceiling in hot blood. He sank to his knees, wobbled slightly before falling flat on his face. Blood poured out of his neck into a pool on the floor.

Kayla stood a step back as the wash of red spread across the floor, almost enveloping her shoes. She snapped her gaze upwards after jumping backwards, and saw a grey Jungle fowl staring at her. A large vein clasped between it’s teeth. It’s black beady eyes shifted from Kayla to the door, and moments later it was gone.

Kayla stood alone in the reception room in almost complete silence. The soft sound of the outdoor breeze beckoned to her. She walked calmly towards the reception doors, warm sunlight poured across her face. She filled her lungs with fresh air. It’s over… She thought to herself, It’s finally over.

 

The small island of the United Kingdom was never quite the same. The set of Jungle-fowls that escaped from the building quickly bred with the general domestic chicken population. All across the land rural farmers were waking up to find their livestock slaughtered in the fields and each of them was to suffer a similar fate.

Quiet walks in the woods no longer brought the same relaxing feeling they once did, instead a feeling of dread, fear and anxiety brewed within. Fearful of the eyes that may be watching and dreading the fate they brought with them.

Teah was arrested swiftly after the initial incident, on multiple man slaughter charges and all the victims of her honorific crimes finally found peace as their family put them to rest, 6 feet under the ground. Safe from all of the horrors that now prowled the surface of the new, dread filled world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fowl Play – Part 1: Run

It was a quiet and blissful day. A clear blue blanketed the sky above, accompanied with crisp midday sunlight. The golden rays bled through the open shutters of a study room, in which 6 students were present. Each of them sat at a table with a personal laptop and their notes scattered out in front of them.

They were working on their dissertations, in hopes that their efforts over the 4 years at university were not completely wasted. The silence that smothered the room was suddenly broken , when one of the students, Carole Bielby, threw a pen across at another student. She was not one to sit in boredom alone.

The small Biro raced through the air, across the heads of several other students and landed onto a laptop keyboard. Interrupting the focused typing of another student, Vauhn Rogers, much to his annoyance. “I think you lost your pen Carole.” He said, as he picked up the Biro and walked across to her. He placed the pen carefully on the table, next to a pile of notes.

“How’s it coming along anyway?” He asked, leaning over to see her laptop. The screen was filled with thousands of words that made up Carole’s complicated thesis.

“It’s going well I’d say!” She replied, as she stretched her arms above her head, yawning as she did so. “Communications wizard right here.”

Vauhn let out a small laugh. “Confident as always Carole.”

“As confident as I am beautiful, you mean.” She replied as she stared up at Vauhn with a sly grin. Who shook his head gently with a faint smile on his face. However despite her arrogance, one could not deny that Carole was a soft sight on the eyes, with long silver blonde hair, red cheeks and a pair of dazzling crystal blue eyes. She was also fiercely intelligent and found very little that challenged her academically.

On the table to their left sat two more fellow students, Lizelle Grobbelaar and Jason Littleton. They were a quiet couple, Jason more so, and very much kept to themselves. Despite their silence, they were still considered friends by the rest of the group.

However Lizelle sat up from her laptop screen, took off her circular spectacles and rubbed her eyes. “Wish it was that easy for me.” She said across to them, undoing the bobble her hair was in and re-tying it once again. “My brain feels like its about to fall apart.”

“Don’t worry so much Liz, I’ve seen your work, you’re going to do well!” Vauhn replied with a smile strung across his light brown face. “Have some pride in your work. What about you Jason, everything cool with you?”

At first Jason didn’t even register what it was that was said, and continued to furiously tap at the keys on his laptop. He made sure that he didn’t lose his train of thought. After a couple seconds, he looked up sheepishly, pushing his glasses back to the bridge of his nose. “Huh..? Wha.. What was that Vauhn?” He stammered.

“Your dissertation mate, going well?” Vauhn repeated

“Oh, yeah, yep. Quite well thanks.” After that short reply, Jason put his head down once again, to continue thrashing at the keys.

“Don’t take offence Vauhn.” said Liz, as she put her circular spectacles back on. “You know how focused he gets.” She leaned over and gave Jason’s hand a reassuring squeeze. Jason looked up from his work and a little smile grew on his face.

“Don’t worry, I know. I’ll let you guys get back on with it.” said Vauhn as he went to leave. “Oh and before I forget, Carole, try not to loose your pen this time okay?”

“No promises” She replied with a wink.

Vauhn then made his way back to his own table, once again shaking his head whilst chuckling to himself. At the table he was working at sat two more students, Kayla Wampler and Logan Cameron. When he finally reached his seat Kayla turned to him. “Yeah, ours are going fine, thanks for asking.” She snapped, whilst delivering a playful nudge.

” Hey! I didn’t ask because I knew that you two would be getting on just fine!” Vauhn replied calmly.

“I can’t wait for this all to be over.” Logan added dully, leaning back in his chair and staring at the rich blue sky that lay beyond the window. “Tempted to just pack it in now and go buy the biggest cheapest bottle of whiskey I can find and neck it in one.”

Kayla looked over at him. “This is the final stretch of it, you’re going to pass like all of us are. You underestimate yourself.” She said, in an attempt to comfort him.

“We’ll see.” He replied before running his hands through his brown messy hair.

Kayla rolled her eyes, and both herself and Vauhn continued on with their work. The room was then silent once again, except for the faint tapping of computer keys and the occasional scribble of cheap biro on paper.

Until unexpectedly Jason, of all people, spoke out. “I think there’s a chicken in here…”

All 5 of the other students turned to him, stared for a moment, then erupted into laughter.

“Where did that come from!?” Carole replied mockingly.

“I’m being serious, I heard a cluck.”

“I think you’ve been working too hard babe.” Lizelle said quietly to him, trying her best to contain the wild smile that was working across her face.

After a short moment the students had settled down and the silence returned. But Jason was still looking about nervously, trying to find the source of the noise that he swore he heard. Then seemingly out of no where a loud definitive cluck was heard within the small study room.

“Okay… I definitely heard that one…” Vauhn said nervously, as he looked up from his laptop.

All six of the students looked about their surroundings, trying to find the source of the noise, until Lizelle called out from the far end of the room, where she and Jason were sat.”It’s here! It’s a small chicken! Well… It sort of looks like a chicken…”

“How does a chicken just randomly show up here?” Kayla asked inquisitively, as she walked over with Vauhn and Logan.

“Beats me.” Vauhn shrugged.

All 6 of them gathered together in a small group, to look in confusion at thee chicken that had spontaneously appeared. It was unlike that of the domestic kind, the type you would find at your typical farm. It’s feathers were predominately grey, with some of them in its folded wings being blood red. The small bird hobbled about in an uneasy fashion, its body was hunched over forward and its head lacked the bobbing motion usually associated with a chickens walk. The small grey bird seemed to be eyeing up the group of people that towered over it. Then turned its head suddenly to the open door of the classroom that stood several meters away. Another loud set of clucks rang out.

The students all turned round and to their surprise, another grey and red chicken stood idly in the doorway.

“Another one?” Kayla asked, her question trailed off into an uneasy silence.

Carole laughed out loudly before saying “They’re only chickens! Can everyone just calm down!”

Just as Carole had finished her sentence the small bird behind them jumped up and dug its abnormally large claws into Kayla’s back. She screamed out in terror as the small bird began to peck violently at her neck.

The rest of the students jumped back in shock, except for Vauhn who instantly lunged for the small feathered menace, viciously grabbing it with both hands and ripping it off of Kayla. Who now had several lash marks across her back and lower neck.

Without really thinking, Vauhn raced over to a supply cupboard, and forced the bird inside. Locking it shut after the short struggle.

He stared down at his throbbing hands which, much like Kayla, had several deep slash wounds. But before anything could be said the second chicken attacked. This time lunging onto Jason, who fell backwards to the ground in shock as the chicken began to try and tear away at the flesh on his neck.

Carole flung into action, grabbing the chicken by the back of the neck and prising it off her fellow class mate, before slamming its head down hard onto a table. The chickens body twitched and spasmed as it slowly became limp and lifeless.

Liz dropped to the floor. “Jason! Are you okay?” She said, inspecting his neck for any sign of damage.

“I’m good. I’m good.” Jason replied as he was helped up onto his feet. “Thanks for the save Carole.”

“No problem sugar,” She said back calmly, as she dropped the headless chicken carcass to the floor. Carole looked at her tender hands, which were now covered in blood and brains. Then brought her gaze up to see 5 pair of eyes staring at her. She sweetly smiled back at their stunned faces.

“We need to get out of here.” Vauhn said sternly.

No one questioned that, they all fled out of the classroom and into the hallway.

“Who was given the key by Dr Pollum?” Kayla asked nervously.

Logan frantically patted down his body, then plunged a hand into one of his pockets. He produced a key in an open shaky hand to Kayla. Who snatched it straight away and locked the study room, before handing it back to the silent young man.

“What do we do now!?” Logan asked, a distinct look of fear was set in his eyes. “We… We…” Before Kayla could finish her sentence, another chicken slowly walked round the corner of the corridor. Standing idly, about 5 meters from them.

“Run!” Carole blurted out. All 6 of them darted down the corridor away from the new foe, who followed in hot pursuit.

They turned a tight corner, when Kayla noticed a door labelled ‘Women’s WC’. She threw a glance behind her, before waving her hands to the others, signalling them to follow her in. “Come on!” She cried.

One by one, the 6 of them crammed there way into the women’s wash room, closing the door behind them. “What the hell is going on!?” Carole cried out loudly, before making her way over to one of the white sinks that was fixed onto the wall, washing her bloodied hands clean. Vauhn did the same and ran cold water over the lacerations he sustained on his hands after his brief encounter with the first bird.

“I have no idea, But it would seem we have some carnivorousness chickens on our hands.” Kayla replied, clipping back her dark chestnut hair. Allowing for Vauhn to get a better look at the wounds that she also sustained from the brief encounter in the study room.

“These cuts are pretty bad Kayla, you’re going to need to get these properly looked at,” Vauhn told her, whilst dabbing at the fleshy cuts with the sleeve of his white cotton shirt.

“But how are we going to get out of here with those things around!” Logan exclaimed, “They’re going to kill us all!”

“We need to stay calm and collected about this,” Vauhn replied. “We need to get to the stairwell, and make our way to the ground floor in order to get out of here. We’re only on the second floor. So it shouldn’t be too difficult.”

“But we don’t know how many of those, chicken things there are. There could be more out there,” Logan reminded him, whilst picking timidly at his finger nails.

“We can’t stay here regardless.” Kayla Said, “We must keep movi- Liz… What’s that on you?”

Lizelle ran her delicate fingers through her rich ginger hair. She looked at her hands after, to find them covered in white powder. She rubbed the material between her thumb and index finger, before looking up towards the ceiling. As soon as she did a large clawed foot burst through the foam roof panel.

Liz screamed in terror, as this new foe tore the flimsy square board to bits with its large knife like talons. Jason grabbed her hand immediately, and pulled her towards the exit of the washroom. The rest of the group did the same and as they did the chicken flew down from the hole it had created and stood opposite, silently staring at them .

The group of students and the feathery menace were frozen for a moment, both trying to second guess the others next move. Carole took in a long deep breath and unexpectedly lunged forward.

Instantly Kayla threw her hand out to try and stop her, only to be violently shrugged off.

“Go!” Carole cried before launching her a foot towards the small grey bird.

Vauhn flung the door open and ordered everyone to move. The five students made their way out of the small female toilet. Kayla stayed at the door and turned back. “Carole!”

She looked on in horror as the relentless claws of the small bird slashed across Carole’s throat, her lifeless body slumped to the floor which was now glazed with fresh warm blood. Kayla watched in horror as her now lifeless eyes rolled to the back of her head. She slammed the door, and ran to join the others.

“Where’s Carole?!” Lizelle asked, as Kayla caught up with them.

“She’s gone.”

They exchanged a sombre look between one another, before Vauhn shouted back to them, “Quickly, the stairway is down here.”

However it wasn’t long before trouble came their way once again. As they came up to the corner that led to the stairwell they heard the unmistakable clucking noise once again. Without thinking the group split into two halves, which both took shelter in opposing rooms that lay on opposite sides of the corridor.

Vauhn, Logan and Kayla found themselves inside an I.t suite, whereas Lizelle and Jason had found refuge in an open study room, much like the one they had been in to begin with.

The noise from the bird had stopped, much to their surprise. However, the voices of 2 other unknown students could be heard coming from down the corridor.

“Hello… Is anyone out here?” One of the voices asked shyly.

“If anyone’s around, please help us, one of our friends is-” The young man never got finished his sentence and instead let out a cry of terror

Logan winced in fear as the screams continued slowly, until finally both of the unknown students were silent. The only noise that could be heard was the faint sound of moist flesh being torn from dry bone.

Vauhn peer round the doorway that he was crouched within and took a quick glimpse at the scene. Another grey bird had arrived and joined its counterpart in clawing at the two lifeless bodies. Picking at red ribbons of muscle and flesh.

Vauhn turned his attention over to Lizelle and Jason who sat across from them in the corridor, huddled tightly together in the door way of a study room . He ushered the couple to make their way over while silently mouthing the words, “Come now. They’re distracted”

The two of them whispered to each other for a moment, before Lizelle propped herself within the doorway. Ready to make the short leap across.

Kayla, Vauhn and Logan shuffled backwards, making a space for her to land in. Vauhn looked her dead in the eyes and counted down silently. “3… 2… 1..”

In one swift motion, Liz had silently and gracefully flew through the short width of the corridor and in 3 quick steps, had made it to the other side undetected. She let out a deep but quiet sign of relief, and opened her eyes to see Kayla and Logan before her. Vauhn however was still fixated on Jason, who was still to make the short bound.

The two young men poked their heads slightly round their respective door ways in order to observe the two birds that were still feasting a short way down from them. With a gulp, Jason turned his attention back towards Vauhn, who was ushering him over as he did with Liz moments before. He began to count down from 3 again silently, only to have Jason shake his head vigorously.

He put up a hand to tell Vauhn to wait, while he mustered up the courage to make the short bound across. Jason closed his eyes and steadied his restless breath. His heart was racing, he could hear each hounding beat pumping in his ears. Then, he stepped forward. But as he did, one of his eyes opened slightly and caught a faint glimpse of the shredded bodies that lay heaped shortly away from him.

He jumped back into the doorway that he had just stepped from.

Vauhn heart dropped instantly, he peered round once more to see that the two birds were aware of his presence and were scouting the area. Their heads jerked and twisted as they scanned their surroundings with their solid black beady eyes.

Trembles shook Jason’s entire body as he stared at the floor frozen in an icy fear. Jason looked up slowly, to see Vauhn across from him waving his hand. “Come on. Go!” He said silently.

Jason took a final deep breath… then lunged himself out into the corridor. Instantly the two chickens were upon him, he had missed his window for escape. Jason cried out in terror as two sets of deadly talons were sank deeply into his flesh.

“Jason!” Liz called out in horror, lunging forward herself in an attempt to aid her partner. However Vauhn slammed the door shut and flicked the small lock present under the handle. Sealing the two birds outside and leaving Jason to his demise.

Liz slammed her fists weakly on the door, before sobbing slowly, “Jason.. No…”

Kayla wrapped a reassuring arm around her, squeezing her shoulder softly. Before pulling her in completely and enveloping Liz with both arms. The poor girl sobbed heavily into her breast, her tears carrying the heavy anguish that she now felt in her heart. “First Carole, Now Jason,” She whispered.

Vauhn and Logan sat crouched low, looking upon the two embracing girls in silence.

“Liz, I know it’s hard. But we can’t mourn for Jason or Carole here. If we stay here, we’ll …” Kayla let her sentence trail off. “We need to keep moving Liz. Okay. Can you do that?”

Liz weakly nodded in reply, wiping the tears from her red eyes. Kayla brought her arms around her once more. No words needed to be said.

The moment was cut short as, from across the room, a faint sound of shuffling could be heard. Vauhn turned his attention to the rows of black computers that lay before them, attentively listening for the faintest sound…

Then again, a very soft sound of shuffling could be heard coming from somewhere within the room… The exact source of the noise was unknown, they all sat in silence. Petrified once again.

Vauhn stood up slowly, searching for any alternative exits within the I.T suite. One single door stood on the opposite side of the room slightly ajar, a mirror image of the door they had just come through.

The only thing that stood between them and the exit, was the rows of computers, which housed whatever it was making the mysterious noise.

“We have to make our way across” Vauhn told the others, as he crouched down once again. “There’s a door on the opposite side of the room, and it’s our only way out.”

Logan leaned forward slightly and whispered “What do we do about the thing that’s in here with us… Do you think it’s one of those birds?”

“I don’t know.. But I have an idea.”

After a quick briefing the two young men proceeded to put their plan into action. Each had made their way over to opposing ends of one of the long singular desks, that held a collection of desktop computers upon them. Each of them positioned one after another in a long uniform line. Another desk littered with computers sat opposite. The source of the faint ruffling noise was somewhere underneath the two desks, where exactly the boys did not know. But both determined to find out.

Vauhn signalled Logan, who had just appeared at the other end of the desk. Slowly he got up, stopping for a moment as the ruffling noise could be heard briefly once again, before continuing to silently disconnect a keyboard from one of the desktops. He gave a nod back towards Vauhn when he had the keyboard firmly gripped in his hands.

Vauhn suddenly jumped up into the middle of the two rows of computer desks and shouted “Come and get me! You chicken bastard!” In an attempt to provoke whatever may be hiding from them.

Sure enough, something jumped out from under the table and Logan, without thinking, heavily brought down the keyboard onto it.

“Ow!” The creature cried out in pain, “What the hell are you doing!”

Both Logan and Vauhn both froze for a second. Laying on the floor before them was a girl in a white lab coat, who was rubbing her head vigorously. Liz and Kayla crept their way round, to see what was going on.

Logan dropped the keyboard hastily back onto the desk, and went to help the girl. “I’m so sorry!” He stammered nervously, “I didn’t know that-”

“Just back off, you creep!” She replied, pushing him away. “I can get up myself.” The girl climbed back up onto her feet, still rubbing the sore patch on her head, where the keyboard had struck. She re-did the bobble that tied back most of her rich brunette hair. Two wavy strands gently spread from her forehead and flowed to her jaw line, framing her pale brown face in a soft chestnut border.

“We’re sorry for attacking you… We couldn’t be too careful..” Vauhn explained calmly. “Not with these… Chickens around.”

“It’s fine, It’s fine.” The dark hair girl replied, taking a brief moment to calm herself down. “What are you guys doing here?”

“Escaping from the chicken menace… You?” Logan replied, a hint of sarcasm to his voice.

“Likewise. I was going to head out into that opposing corridor. I’m trying to get to the west stairway”

“That way is out of order now.” Vauhn said to the new acquaintance. “We’ve got to head that way.” He pointed to the only other door that stood opposite them.

“Well we can’t head that way either… I ran in here running from a-”

She stopped her sentence midway as she heard the door creak open. They all fell straight to the floor and bolted underneath one of the desks and listened.

A bizarre unnerving noise pierced the room. Whatever the creatures were, they were sounding less like the average chicken. Instead of the usual cluck that the students had heard previously, an unearthly screech rang through their ears. The shrill started out in a low menacing tone, then shot up to an unnervingly high pitch.

Kayla clasped her hands to her ears as an icy shiver shot up her spine. Vauhn reached out for her knee and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

Then came a tense silence, nothing but the faintest of footsteps could be heard. As the bird slowly made its way into the I.T suite.

All five students remained perfectly still, huddled underneath the desk. “We should move,” The newly acquainted girl whispered, as she pointed towards the end of the desk.

Vauhn nodded and cocked his head to signal the others. They all slowly shuffled their way down, being careful to avoid moving chairs that were stood nearby. The slightest sound was made by their un-nerving passage, that of the nylon carpet scraping against their clothes as they crawled.

It took them little time to reach the end of the long white desk and when they did they huddled together once more, remaining out of sight.

Vauhn leaned forward, attempting to look round the corner of the desk but was quickly grabbed by Kayla. “What are you doing?!” She growled in a hush tone.

“We’ve got to find out if the coast is clear at some point!” He shrugged her arm off. “We can’t just sit here Kayla.”

“Will you two be quiet!” The new brown hair girl snapped.

Kayla turned to glare at her. But her mood suddenly shifted, as did everyone else’s, as a clattering sound could be heard coming from above.

Logan turned and stared at Liz, who sat next to him, with wide worried eyes. Liz clasped both hands over her mouth, to subdue a scream of terror she could feel brewing in her throat.

“It’s above us,” The brown haired girl mouthed silently as she pointed upwards.

They sat their hopelessly waiting. Every dread filled moment dragged on endlessly. Each second felt like a minute, every minute an hour. As they sat, listening to the claws scratch back and forth on the hard table top above.

However the clattering of the claws seemingly trailed off and the group were left in an uneasy silence. They all shifted their nervous eyes between one another.

Vauhn pointed at himself, then pointed outwards with one finger. Liz and Kayla both shook their heads in disapproval. Despite this Vauhn began to lean out once more, shaking Kayla’s hand away as she inevitably tried to stop him.

He poked his head out slowly, turning as he did to see the top edge of the desk and half of a computer monitor that sat upon its surface. He edged outwards more, then raised his head up further in order to gain a better view of the desk above.

Out of no where two ferocious set of claws came flying towards his face. Vauhn clasped the two legs of the bird and fell heavily backwards. The giant talons that were thrashing at his face were unlike that of any normal bird he had ever seen.

They were extremely large and sharp and the rest of the feet were covered in large grey scales, of which Vauhn clung onto. Attempting to distance the wild claws from his face.

“Vauhn!” Kayla cried, leaping out from under the desk.

“Go! Now!” He shouted.

Each of them seized the moment and dashed from under the desk towards the door. Logan latched onto Kayla’s arm, dragging her along. The whole time she remained fixated on Vauhn. Who was trying his hardest to prevent one of the deadly talons from reaching his face. The cuts on his hands, that he had sustained previously, re-opened and a wash of red seeped down his arms.

Within moments all of the company, except for Vauhn had made it through the door. Logan was the last one through and instinctively went to slam it shut behind him. However Kayla jumped forward and prevented him from doing so before shouting, “Vauhn! Hurry!”

Vauhn heard her shout from across the room, however it was this brief moment of distraction that allowed one of the might talons to tear its way into the side of his head and cleave a deep gash down his face.

A surge of red gushed from the wound and soaked the collar of his shirt. Vauhn cried out in pain.

“Vauhn please!” Kayla cried out once more, “Hurry!”

He clambered onto his feet, still gripping tightly to the feet of the blood thirsty bird. He proceeded to slam the bird down onto a computer, the pain that pulsed from his fresh wound fuelled his anger and strength. With each repeated blow the bird let out ear splitting screeches, until finally it was silent.

Vauhn looked down at his hands, the deep lacerations oozed out a wash of blood.

“Vauhn!”

He cocked his head up as he heard Kayla call his name again and noticed the bird beginning to twitch upon the desk top. He turned on his heels and ran straight for the others, who were still waiting for him beyond the door way.

“We need to move now,” The unnamed girl said to Vauhn, as he made his way to them, slamming the door shut as he did so. “That bird called for back-up”

“How do you know that?” Kayla asked firmly.

“I’m a zoology student.”

Kayla raised an eyebrow suspiciously, “So do you know what’s going on here?”

The zoology student quickly shifted her eyes between the 4 people coldly staring at her, “I’ll explain later. But right now we need to move. There’s a lab on the floor below us, that one of my friends is in at the moment, he claims its secure.”

Logan looked over to Kayla and Vauhn. Who in turn both looked at each other.

“It’s the best plan we’ve got,” Kayla said quietly, before turning to Vauhn, “we need to get you some medical aid.”

Vauhn just nodded, looking down sombrely at his throbbing hands and feeling his warm blood soaked shirt sticking to his skin.

“Come on then. Follow me.” With that, the young Zoologist turned and ran, her white lab coat billowing up as she went. The rest followed in hot pursuit down the corridor. She lead them into a stair well and they all made there way down a floor. Shortly after which the zoologist led them to the entrance to the lab..

She fumbled in her pocket for her phone, and rapidly punched the keys that appeared upon the small touch screen. Liz, Logan, Kayla and Vauhn looked behind themselves at the stairway, looking for any sign of movement and listening for any slight sound. They all jumped slightly as the latch to the laboratory was unlocked.

The heavy door slowly swung open and one by one, the students all made their way inside.

End of Part 1

Grey Eyed Octopus

I gently lowered the small octopus into a glass tank that I had prepared earlier. As the small sea creature came in contact with the cool water, its long limbs spread out and it glided to the center of the tank. It hovered for a short while, as it surveyed its new surroundings. It caught sight of a collection of rocks in one of the enclosures corners and elegantly swam down to them before hiding itself away in some cover that the rocks provided.
I bent down slightly and looked over to the small rocky cave I had made for it. I could just make out a shy eye staring back at me. I moved my focus to a tank that lay next to it, that contained another one of these amazing creatures. It too was hiding away, taking refuge in shadow. It was now time to begin my experiment.
I had always been obsessed with the sea and all of the creatures within it. It was as if another world lay under those deep blue waves. I didn’t dismiss the idea of alien life coming down one day from outer space, but I always told my friends and family that aliens are going to come from the oceans, a time before they descend from the stars.
I dedicated my life from a young age to understanding these life forms that most people seemed to dismiss. ‘They’re only dumb fish’ People would say to me. Perhaps they are, certainly some of them are, or maybe they seem that way to us purely because we aren’t paying enough attention? Well my experiment was hopefully going to bring light to that fact, one way or another.
It’s no mystery that one of the smartest creatures of the deep is the octopus and I was interested in finding out whether or not this intellect of theirs extended beyond camouflage and trickery. I wanted to see if they possessed a deeper level of thought.
I had created a special box in order to test this. A box that had three openings, a lid that had to be unscrewed, a lid that simply flipped open and finally a lid that was fastened down with a pin, a crab was placed inside as an incentive. The octopus in the left tank before me, knew how to open the box, after being left with it for some time. This octopus I called the Trainee. The octopus in the tank on the right, is fresh out of the ocean and had never seen the box before, this octopus I named Davey. What I wanted to know was, whether Davey could watch the Trainee open the box and remember how it was done in order to do it for himself later.
So I placed a small crab in the three lidded box and lowered it down into the Trainee’s tank. Immediately the trainee sprang from its own hiding place and raced towards the box. Davey also sprang forward and pressed his body up against the glass wall of his own tank and eagerly watched the Trainee.
It wasn’t long before the Trainee had opened the box and consumed the tiny crab within it. He then sank back away to his shelter. Davey did the same once the event was over. I then took a large piece of black card and put it between the two tanks, before preparing another box with another crab.
I took another look at Davey; again I could only just make out a small eye watching me. What are you thinking little guy I thought to myself Not much probably. Then I picked up the box and placed it in his tank. Before I had even got my hand out of the tank Davey had darted at the box and enveloped it with his eight tentacles. In no time at all, he had opened the box the exact same way that the trainee had done so previously and eaten up the small crab within. He then found cover once more within the pile of rocks.
Amazing. I thought to myself. Learning from association. Clearly an octopus’s cognitive capability is greater than we first anticipated. I was suddenly taken out of the awe of the moment when my mobile began to ring in my pocket.
The sudden noise and vibration shocked me slightly as a snapped back into the real world. I held the phone in my hand and looked at the caller I.D. Ashley Smith. He was an old friend of mine, we both found friendship over our mutual love of fishing. There wasn’t much else to do in the small boring town where we grew up both of us made careers out of the mutual hobby, Ash continued to catch bigger and bigger fish and now has his own boat and crew, and earns a decent living by doing so. Whereas I preferred to study them, hoping to unlock the potential secrets that the creatures of the deep may hold.
“Hello mate. Yeah I’m still at my lab why? Yeah I’m still researching octopuses. What? Right now? Why can’t you send a picture? Fine. I’ll head out in a moment.” Ash had told me that one of his men had just caught something peculiar. A type of octopus that they hadn’t seen before and apparently this creature was using its camouflage to avoid having its picture taken clearly. “Well Davey” I said as I put on a coat and checked my pockets for the laboratory keys. “There’s an octopus out there that apparently knows what a camera phone is! That’d make him smarter than you! But don’t get upset buddy, I’ll give you some Sudoku or something, you’ll be even smarter than me in no time!” I thought to myself Now that would be scary. I then promptly left the building.

I took my own personal boat out onto the waters. The weather was fair, the sea was calm and a sharp tang of salt lingered on the fresh morning air. It wasn’t long before I reached Ash’s fishing boat, Falcor. I always thought it was a strange name. It was meant to be a joke, something to do with the idea that his love of fishing is a never ending story? I couldn’t quite remember.
As I arrived he called out happily “Josh man! Over here!” I docked my own boat next to his and an outstretched arm greeted me. With a quick tug, Ash pulled me on board. The stench of dead fish engulfed me and the soles of my boots softly stuck to a thin film of red slime that stretched across the deck. There was a young man who stood across from me, cutting and gutting the freshly caught fish with a large blade and filling up two buckets. One with good fillets, which would later be sold to the fish monger and another that contained fish heads and entails.
“How have you been!?” Ash cried out loudly.
“I’ve been good man, yourself?” I replied calmly.
“Oh yeah same old same old. The sea is rich with life and it’s that life that’s making me rich!”
I grinned tremendously and shook my head at his poor sense of humor. “Come on, I want to see this ‘amazing octopus’ that you claimed to of caught.” I said to him, with a smile still adorned on my face.
Ash stuck out a finger towards me, and raised his eyebrows in a dramatic fashion. “Oh yeah! Course! It’s at the end of the deck by the dredge net, See? In that see through tank there. It’s a strange looking creature, I’ve seen octopus before, but none like that thing.”
I walked over the back end of the ship with Ash. The dredge net was resting out of the water, now that the rest of the crew was occupied with sorting out the mornings catch. I could see a black lump in the small clear plastic container resting on the floor.
“Here he is.” Ash said to me calmly. “Took a hella lot of effort to get him in there. The bugger put up a right fight.”
I knelt down to peer into the tank, and saw a large blob shrunken away in a corner. I could see one sunken sullen grey eye staring at me; the rest of its purple-black body pulsated only very slightly. Apart from that, the creature was still.
“Moody bastard isn’t he.” Ash joked.
“I can’t tell what type of octopus this is… and I won’t be able to tell until it extends its body out a bit. What exactly happened, you say he put up a fight?” I asked Ash, ignoring his previous comment. “I’ve never heard of an octopus putting up any considerable offence. Well not to a human at least.”
“Hang on; I’ll get Adam and Chris to explain it to ya.” Ash shouted out across the boat “Oi Adam, Chris. Come here.”
The young man I saw as I got on board put down his machete and began to walk over the red sticky decking, another boy followed shortly after. “This here is Joshua, he’s a good mate of mine and I want you guys to explain to him how you came about this octopus and everything there on after.”
I observed the two boys, both were young, I estimated between the ages of 16 to 18, although I couldn’t quite tell.
“Well, we were pulling up the dredge net, cause we had just finished this morning’s trawl and we saw it there in amongst the rest of the fish.” Adam told me, he pulled off his gloves before scuffling his bleach blonde hair. “It was squirming uncontrollably, so I lent in there to try and get rid of it. That’s when it attacked me.”
I spoke up instantly “It attacked you?!”
“Yeah…, it wrapped one of its tentacles round my arm and started thrashing about. I called for help, and Ash told Chris here to go get a container and the shock stick.”
Ash butted in quickly “I knew that you would want to see this creature because of your research, hence why I asked for the container.”
Adam turned his head and stared at Ash with an eyebrow raised whilst waiting for him to finish. He cleared his throat and continued. “We then struggled with the octopus for a bit, before Chris managed to stun it with the shock stick. That’s when we got it in the tank.”
I rubbed my stubble chin and stared at the shrunken creature. “This fella’s had quite the morning then.”
Suddenly a voice called out in alarm. “Help! Help!”
I span round to find out where the cry had come from, Ash had already sprinted to the side of the boat. “Chris! Adam! Get down that ladder now and help them!”
The two boys rushed to the side railings of the boat also and one by one they swung themselves over the side and grabbed onto a ladder that descended down into the ocean below. I ran over myself and stood next to Ash, two divers were in the water beneath us. From what I could tell one of them had seemingly passed out.
“Who are they?” I asked.
“Two more of me crew! Quick get them outta there!”
I turned my head back out towards the scene.
Both Chris and Adam kept the unconscious woman afloat, whilst the other diver made his way frantically back up the ladder onto the deck. Ash turned to meet him.
“What the hell has happened Jerry?! Are you alright!?”
“I’m okay! However Jewels got hit pretty hard by a large shark, It’s damaged some of her gear.”
Just as the Jerry had finished his sentence, Adam slung the second diver overboard who slid slightly across the floor of fish blood.
In an instant Ash had left my side and started to begin a rigorous treatment of CPR. He pumped her chest frantically. I was surprised that he didn’t end up killing her himself, due to the sheer force that he exerting down onto her rib cage.
The unconscious diver suddenly threw up an unhealthy amount of sea water, and began to cough harshly as she gasped for fresh air. With that, Ash sank down onto the decking and let out a sigh of relief before panting quietly. “Jesus Jewels. I thought you was a gonna.”
Jerry helped her up onto her feet and slung her arm over his shoulder. The two of them left the scene, presumable to get Jewels some much needed medical aid.
“Never a dull moment on Flacor.”
My comment was met with an uneasy silence.
“Is she going to be okay?” I asked, once I realised that I wasn’t going to be a reply to my previous comment.
“Of course she will. Jerry is a qualified first aider like myself; he’ll sort her out before we head back home to get her some proper medical treatment.” Ash replied in a gruff tone. “We can drop you off at your lab on the way; your boat can be towed.”
I nodded in agreement and threw a glance over towards the container and I noticed that the Octopus inside had moved from its previous spot, and was now at the tank edge closest to us. Strange… I thought to myself. It’s almost like its watching us.
I walked over to the container, and Ash naturally followed.
“Any wiser on what type it is yet mate?” Ash asked.
I crouched down as to get a better look at the evasive creature. I brought my hand up to the side of the glass tank, and moved from one edge to the tank to other and I watched the creature’s reaction in meticulous detail. It would have seemed as if the octopus was following my movements, keeping an ever watchful eye upon me. Upon all of us in fact.
“Haven’t a clue Ash. Like I said I need to see its full body, before I can even have a wild guess at what species this could be. You don’t have any live crabs on board to do? Perhaps we could coax it out more if there was live food for it to eat.”
“Chris, go and get a live crab from the stocks and bring it back here.” Within moments the young man had returned holding a large crab by the back of its shell. Its legs scuttled vigorously and more frantically as Chris approached the clear container. He hovered over it for a moment whilst he fumbled clumsily with the lid. Then it slid off.
I jumped back in horror as the octopus leaped straight out of the tank and wrapped itself round Chris’s face. The crab dropped from his hand, he then starting to claw at the monstrosity that tightly bind his head.
Every person on the deck was frozen in complete shock and all I could do was watch with wide eyes as the massive octopus ramped one of its eight rubbery tentacles down the boys throat.
Chris slowly choked to death.
My heart pounded heavily in my chest, and despite the cold ocean breeze, thick beads of sweat grew on my brow.
Two more of its tentacles wormed their way down Chris’s lifeless body and wrapped round both of his legs, it continued and repeated the same action with both limp arms. Once the creature had finished ensnaring the body, the sight that stood before us was an image ripped straight out of a twisted nightmare.
The boy’s now lifeless body was crudely being manipulated by this terror from the deep. One of its slimy limbs still settled within Chris’s throat, four more constricted each limb, and a 6th tentacle had bound itself to the steel work of the dredge net, keeping the corpse upright. I had never seen such a horrific sight in all of my days.
Ash, Adam and I were standing still, each one of us fixated on the beast that lumbered in front of us.
Slowly the octopus pulled its huge sagging mantle up to the shoulder of the corpse; those same sullen grey eyes peered out at us once again. Seemingly watching for every small detail, nervous twitch or darting glance.
I noticed that the grey eyes had their attention drawn onto something behind us. Ash did too, for he lunged for at the contorted human carcass.
In that brief second we all made our moves as did the slimy sea beast. Who had flung itself directly towards me. As a result Ash’s dart forward to the creature resulted in him colliding his head with the octopus’s previous storage tank as he fell downwards.
I managed to avoid the ghastly mutilation as it jolted forward, although one of the flailing limbs narrowly avoided hitting my face. The octopus’s sheer force ensured the body it had enveloped made its way from the dredge net over to the opposite side of the deck. It began trying to clumsily manipulated Chris’s dead legs, in order to mimic a human walk, albeit an unsettling one. As it reached the other side of the deck it started to lose its balance, and sprawled its two arms out in front of itself and it came crashing down onto a stack of rectangular plastic containers.
Ash managed to grab hold of the stun stick and turned to see Chris’s lifeless body down lay face down. The octopus, which had firmly mounted itself on Chris’s back, was openly exposed. Ash took the opportunity and scrambled towards the creature as fast as he could, thrusting the stun stick towards its exposed mantle.
The creature had other ideas, and managed to maneuver the arms of the body in such a way as to physically throw one of the seal plastic containers at him. The box split open on impact and waste cuts of fish splattered across the already oozy red deck. I felt some of the red mush splash against my face, before a wave of putrid stench flooded my nostrils. I don’t know if it was my mind playing tricks on me, but a foul taste tanged at the back of tongue. I started to gag profusely whistled I clambered onto my hands and knees. Fleshy goo oozed between my fingers, which only caused my already churning stomach to spasm more violently.
I noticed a small wave of red flush towards me, and I turned my head to see that the Octopus had now abandoned its lifeless puppet. Its eight large limbs spread out across the deck and as it made its way forward to Ash who lay sprawled out on the floor.
I looked around frantically for the stun stick that had just been in Ash’s hand and I had noticed to my dismay that it had found its way to the far port side of the boat.
I watched hopelessly as the eight tentacles raced across Ash’s body and the octopus hauled itself onto his chest. Its body was flashing bright vibrant red and jet black in continually moving striped pattern. That’s when Jerry suddenly came back into the scene still fully clad in his diving gear. “I heard a noise is everyone-” He stopped mid-sentence as he caught sight of the beast, instantly Jerry noticed the stun stick down on the deck by him and jumped for it himself.
“NO!” I cried. However, it was too late, the octopus effortlessly shot across the deck before Jerry’s hand managed to grab the stun stick. Its many sporadic limbs wrapped around the diver’s body.
The smell, the heat of the moment left my head spinning. Disoriented I tried to stagger back onto both of my feet again. In my hazy vision I managed to see Jerry trying to fight off the beast. Wrestling with the many suckers that covered slimey tentacles. I then saw that the creature had stretched one of its limbs outwards towards the side of the boat.
“Your mask! Your mask!” I yelled hoarsely!
Jerry wrestled hard with the creature, parrying off every blow that the octopus flung at him, prizing off sucker after sucker from his wetsuit. He managed to give himself a brief moment, in which he quickly pulled his diving mask over his face. Just as he did, the octopus pulled hard on the side of the boat and both itself and Jerry fell into the dark ocean water.
I stumbled across to where the Jerry fell; I felt the world swaying violently, due to the blood curdling fumes that dulled my senses. When I had reached the port side I firmly rested both hands on the railing and peered over to stare into the unforgiving seas, hoping to see where it was that the diver and octopus had gone to. Only to see a diving mask, floating upon the gentle waves, staring back at me. Jerry was never found.

It’s been a few weeks since the incident. I’m once again alone in my lab. Ash had been in hospital for a few days with concussion, Jewels went in with him, in relations to the injuries of her diving accident. I don’t know what happened to Adam, although I have a strong feeling that he’s looking for a new job.
Now I’m back, I find myself rather unsettled whenever I find Davey looking at me from the shelter of his small rocky cave. Every time I see those eyes of his the attack on the boat plays through my mind, like an endless video and each time I try and analyze every frame.
The way is studied the scene. The way it lashed out. The way it seemingly planned it’s every action. I know that octopuses are renowned for their intelligence, but I never dreamed that they’d… think anything like us.
There is no doubt that the octopus that I encountered was intelligent, fiercely intelligent. The two people that are now dead are a reminder of that fact. Not only that, but I’ve been hearing that reports have been coming in from other fishermen, claiming that octopuses are suddenly lashing out and becoming more violent.
Little Davey across from me has shown that the species can learn by association. What if the one I encountered took it a step further and is actually teaching, passing on the knowledge that it knows?
It’s made me realise that we humans take so much pride in our intelligence and our self-appointed superiority that it leaves us ignorant. For if animal had an intellect that was anything like ours, our own selfish egos would be damaged. Ignorance is a veil that blinds us.
As I look back at Davey now, who is still staring at me from his retreat, I find I’m asking myself What are you thinking little guy?
What are you thinking….?