science

The Collapsar Directive – It’s almost here!

Twenty one science fiction short stories from authors all around the universe.

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I bring this news with utter excitement! The anthology that I’m going to make my first published debut in is almost here. Pre-orders are already available for the E-book format, with pre-orders coming soon for the paperback editions! Take some time to read the story bios that I’ve posted above and soon you’ll be as excited as I am!

Preorder your ebook here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071KDJHMF
Preorders for paperbacks available soon.

 

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The Collapsar Directive!

Unfortunately, I have been very quiet lately and have had little time to indulge in my writing. However the end of the university year is drawing to a close and as I surpass this new horizon, I’ll be able to eagerly delve straight back into my story writing!

However there is news! I’m going to make my published debut in a Sci-Fi anthology book coming out later this years in august, THE COLLAPSAR DIRECTIVE.

The anthology will feature my short story SLEEPLESS, as well as countless other short stories by a variety of different authors from across the globe. It will be avaiable in paperback and E-book format from amazon, I’ll keep you all updated on it’s progress.

THE COLLAPSAR DIRECTIVE Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/THECOLLAPSARDIRECTIVE/

Author List

 

 

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…

The First Signs of Rain

The First Sign of Rain

Jacob ran up to the window and pressed both palms flat against the cool, curved glass. He peered up at the stormy skies that danced angrily above. Moody clouds danced with one another as a majestic roar of thunder clapped across the black, inky heavens.

“Excited?” Jacob’s mother asked, as she crouched down behind him, “They say it’ll be safe to go outside once the rain starts falling.”

A pair of warm, loving arms embraced the small boy. However Jacob was silent, unable to reply, as his imagination was captivated by the scene outside. The sky growled lowly and thunder zapped dramatically throughout the clouds. So great was the sense of awe instilled within young Jacob, that he found words were unable to roll from his knotted, twisted, tongue.

However Jacob was not the only one to feel this way. For the other citizens of Capital One had waited months for this very moment to finally arrive. All eagerly anticipated for the atmosphere to lash out and shower down the first, historical, bout of rain. A rainfall which would soak the ancient, arid desert that encompassed them and bring the people of Capital One fresh, natural air to fill their lungs.

Jacob suddenly fell backward, cushioned by his Mother’s embrace, as a bolt of lightning screeched across the heavy, blackened skies. A  moment of silence proceeded the strike. Then, a low patter began to echo throughout the dome as clear drops of rain started to fall on its exterior.

Jacob watched, mouth ajar, as fat droplets of water rolled their way down the curvature of the glass. “Go on!” His Mother whispered to him softly, “Go!”

She watched as her son slid effortlessly from her arms. The small boy raced across the small, cosy living room and came to a stop before a pair of large, hexagonal blast doors. Designed so that the once toxic atmosphere remained separate from the artificial, yet breathable, air produced within.

Jacob glanced over his shoulder, sharing a look that was both filled with uncertainty, and excitement. His hand hovering steadily above the glowing control panel.

“Go on Jacob, open it. ” His mother  smiled, “I’ll be right behind you.”

The blast doors slowly opened, like large, steel, jaws, as Jacob brought his hand down on the controls. The moment that there was enough space to squeeze his small body, Jacob was gone. He continued to dash through a short corridor and then through another pair of slowly, sliding blast doors.

Air! Fresh, natural, air filled Jacobs lungs, inducing a sense of refreshment and well being within his body. Then came the icy chill, that nibbled at his skin, as newborn rain continued to be rinsed from the clouds above, like water from a sponge.

The boy buried both his bare feet into the drenched, red soil beneath him and he heard his mother laugh as she joined him. Her clothes drenched in an instance.

“Isn’t this wonderful!?” She exclaimed joyously, as she ran wet fingers through her crisp curly hair, “No more suits! No more confinement!”

Jacob wiped the water from his eyes, and turned to face his mother who knelt down on the soggy, crimson, soil. He ran to her with open arms and hugged her tightly.

“It’s amazing,” he whispered, burying his head into the warmth of his mother’s chest, “is this what the rain on earth is like?”

“It certainly is.”

“I love it!” Jacob exclaimed with glee, “So wet and cold!” He pulled himself from his mother, in order to dance freely beneath the alien storm. With the wonder and the joy, only a boy born of Mars could ever hope to understand. 

Beyond the Windowpane

Jak brought a soap sudded sponge across a dinner plate, whilst staring aimlessly out of the kitchen window, paying little attention to the task at hand. Limply, he passed the plate over to Vikram who stood beside him, tea towel hanging from his fingers.

“You haven’t cleaned this one properly! Look!” Vikram exclaimed, thrusting the dirty plate back into the stainless steel wash basin, “Quit star gazing and get on with it properly!”

Vikram’s bitter words however did not draw Jak from his aimless stare. He found himself spell bound by the scene beyond the windowpane.  An enormous purple planet captivated him, it was poised steadily in the starry canvas of deep space, like a festive ornament hung from a Christmas tree. Gaseous storms violently danced about within its atmosphere. However from the distance that Jak looked upon it, the spheres surface appeared as if it were a swirling water colour painting, with different shades of violet melting softly into one another.

“Hey? Jak? Are you even listening to me?!” Vikram barked in annoyance.

“…How long do you think it’ll be before we’re picked up?” Jak replied as he brought his attention to the soiled plate within the sink, wiping away the remaining tomato sauce that was plastered across it. He passed the crockery to Vikram once more, who snatched it from him with a scowl.

“Please, for the love of god stop asking me that!” Vikram cried as he chucked the plate carelessly into a cupboard, “How am I supposed to know!?”

Jak turned a tap, and rinsed the sink out gently, before whipping up a spare tea towel to dry his hands. Then turned  to face the cold, tiny kitchen. It consisted of one dining table, two very basic dining chairs and a multitude of battery powered heaters that were sparsely dotted about. Two, thin piles of cloth and clothing had been placed on the floor, used as make shift beds until help arrived.

A frown sank heavily into Jaks  features.

Vikram sat himself down onto one of the dining chairs, and opened up a book that lay on the dining table. “Just accept the fact that we’re going to be floating about in deep space, until someone decides to show up and save us.” Vikram looked over the pages of his book at Jak, who was leaning against the kitchen side, both arms folded tightly across his chest.

“There’s no point sulking. You’ve only got yourself to blame.”

“Me to blame!?” Jak exclaimed pushing himself up from the work surfaces, “How is this my fault!?”

“You’re the so called pilot of this ship!” Vikram snapped back in reply, “What kind of pilot flies directly into a solar storm!?”

Jak darted a finger toward his crew mate, and leered at him with searing eyes as an anger bubbled away inside him, “Don’t leacture me on how to pilot my ship! The gravitional flux of that storm should have allowed us to fold space so we arrived back in earth’s solar system!”

“And yet it actual fact it cut the power, damaged the engines and left us a drift in deep space! Good job!”

Jak’s leg flew out as he brought his booted foot into the kitchen side. Blood pulsated violently through his body as his rage continued to boil. He thumped both hands heavily onto the work surface as he stared back out of the window into the depths of space. “How, pray tell, was I supposed to know that there was a fault with the Origamion processor?” Jak span round to face Vikram once more, who was looking blankly into the contents of his book, “I’m sorry that I don’t know everything, unlike you, Oh great Dr Omniscient!”

The book was slammed onto the dining table, and Vikram cut through the intense atmosphere with a razor sharp glare, “Without me, you would have frozen to death! So cut it!”

“Death would come as a blessed release right about now!”

“I’m more than happy to shoot you out of a bloody airlock if you like!”

“I relish the idea, if it spares me from playing another fucking game of chess with you!”

Jak’s final sentence brought with it an unsteady silence that infected the room. Both men exhaled deeply though their noses, making sure no eye contact was found between them.

Jak turned to face the picturesque star studded landscape beyond the frosted windowpane once again. Letting heavy sighs roll out from his lungs, as the fury began to quell inside of him. His boiling blood soothed and the familiar chill of the room pinched at his skin. The isolating cold of confinement returned.

“I know it’s hard Jak.” Vikram spoke out in a low sombre tone, looking up from the bland table, “Being trapped in a room like this for so long isn’t easy… But we’ve got to keep it together, we’ve got to stop ourselves from losing it completely.”

Jak remained silent, his back still turned to his crew mate, as he stared at the purple orb.

“I don’t think it’ll be too long before we’re picked up,” Vikram continued, ”Remember I set up that distress signal? It’s crude but you got to remember this system is the main shipping route to Trappist-1. We’re bound to be picked up sooner or later.”

Jak remained unmoved and Vikram sighed heavily, “Besides, We’ve got enough food and water to last us for another week and these heaters will keep us warm until help arrives… Look I’m sorry alright. For snapping at you like I did.”

Jak turned his head, and ended his muteness by asking, “Do you think we’re going to die out here?”

Vikram was silent for a moment and slumped back heavily onto the chair. He rested his head into one of his hands and squeezed the bridge of his nose tightly. Then repled after a long drawn out sigh, “Possibly… I don’t know.”

Jak walked away from the windowpane to the dining table and pulled out the only remaining chair, planting himself upon it. He fiddled with a small electronic device that lay on the table in front of him and after a few moments a holographic chess board buzzed into existence.  The individual pieces rose up from the chequered tiles and arranged themselves in position.

Jak looked over at Vikram and said calmly, “You can go first.”

Vikram chuckled to himself lightly before moving a pawn on the board. Thus instigating another game of chess between the two, as they waited for rescue. Confined to a floating kitchen in the middle of deep space.

Wide awake, Daniel paced aimlessly along the meandering alley ways of Tullbury. Only the sombre glow, and the smell of a cigarette accompanied him. As he mulled over thoughts of his daughter.
Daniel came to a stop, staring at a piece of graffiti that was plastered on a redbrick wall. It was a large bloodshot eye, which stared at him. Lidless, with a wide, diluted pupil. Scribbled underneath the picture, in aggressive white letters were two words. ‘Wake up!!’ 

Working on a new short story! It’s coming along really well, hopefully you guys will enjoy it as much as I have writing it. Coming soon!

It’d also be a big help to me if you could give my Facebook page a like! I’d really appreciate the support!

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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.”