Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta burn. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta burn. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 28 de abril de 2016

The cube

   Jessica walked carefully over the edge, barely having enough room for her feet to move around. The mountain that she was in dominated the jungle below and, in any other context, she would have been able to appreciate. But being just millimeters away from death, the least of her interests were the magnificent views. She grabbed herself to the dirt and the rock of the mountain and could finally pass the tricky section in a matter of minutes. She decided to rest a bit after that, and she only had a small space to do so as the mountain was not kind to any visitors.

 As she rested, she noticed a big bird-like creature raising from the jungle. It appeared to be fighting something off but the other creature, or whatever it was fighting, could not be seen. After a couple of minutes, the bird appeared to be toppled from the ground and disappeared from sight. Jessica knew right then that this planet was definitely not a good one for life in general but she had no choice in the matter of visiting it. After all, her mission was there.

 A couple of days earlier, a skinny man going by the name of Renzo Uto, contacted with her team in order to ask for an extraction. Normally, that meant rescuing someone from some horrible place, most often jails or some kind of internment camps. There were lots of both of those in the galaxy and they had a vast experience getting people out of both. But instead, Uto wanted them to rescue an object.

 They almost had to torture him in order to get a basic drawing of the object he wanted to retrieve. Well, torture is a bit extreme. But Jessica’s companion Jimmy, a very big and tall Glafarian (species with the appearance of a dog) was asked to make the client talk fast or to expel him immediately from the ship, by any means.

 Of course, Uto was so scared he did a drawing in less than thirty seconds but he clarified that the object could change form whenever someone attempted to grab it by force. The drawing he had made showed a very simple cube but he said it only looked like that when at rest. If someone when near it, the object would change into any type of thing that would lure the person into a false sense of security and then it would kill them.

 They really wanted to ask Uto why someone would want that type of object. But their motto was “We don’t ask questions” and they couldn’t just violate that. Bounty hunters had to keep a little bit of their dignity and, if that meant seeking for an object hey didn’t really know existed, they had to do it. But Yera, the ship’s pilot, reminded Uto that the team only worked for days. So depending on his pay, they would determine the number of days they would look for his weird cube.

 Uto, of course, had no tons of money. So he was able to pay them for only three days worth of work. The team then agreed on setting course for the jungle planet, which didn’t really have a name and now Jessica was on her second day looking for the damn object. According to Uto, she wasn’t that far away now. After the dangerous mountain pass, she had to go through a razor sharp field of rocks between that mountain and the next one and then descend a bit to find a cave. The cube was supposed to be there.

 The razor sharp field of rocks, a straight line that united two summits well above the jungle level, was easier than the pass but still a horrible experience, mainly because some sorts of animals paraded around the site and launched themselves at Jessica. She had to use her ray gun several times but the little creatures were very fast and attacked with some sort of liquid that smelled really bad. It didn’t hurt or anything, just smell really awful. She crossed the field just before nightfall.

 At the other end, she found a suitable place to sleep and decided to pull out her sleeping bad and protective shield from her special belt. The belt had been an old gift from her mother, a former bounty hunter herself. Now she lived at peace in a farming colony where she could just relax and not worry about someone blowing her head off. Her mom was a legend among the people Jessica knew and she was proud of her.

 The belt had been created by the most advanced civilization in the galaxy. They were able to construct things like that, were size and space and even time did not matter. She could fit an endless amount of things in there and only had to press a button and think really hard about whatever she wanted from her belt. So that night she was protected from the creatures by the shield and slept warmly in her sleeping bag.

 The next day she woke up screaming. Her face hurt, as well as her arms and some of her chest. The stinky liquid had transformed, somehow, into something that had apparently burned her skin and was now penetrating more and more into it. She felt a horrible burning sensation and tried to pour water over herself to feel better or look for something else in her belt, but it was useless. It hurt and she could barely move.

 It was the last day for Uto and could have been the last day for her if she hadn’t decided that the liquid might actually be the best weapon she could ever have. To put it simple, the cube supposedly transformed into something false, in order to kill the person that wanted it. So it would transform into a cure for the liquid if Jessica showed up. But then, it would be obvious to her that the cube was there and she would just fire away.

 Thinking the plan was far simpler than doing it. Her body really hurt, as if she had been very badly burnt by the sun. Her legs though, had been left untouched by the creatures, so they still had their agility intact. She started trembling halfway down the mountain but she focused on the prize, which was something she could have never imagined. Although Uto had almost no money to pay them for their days of work, he did offer something else if they actually gave him the cube he wanted.

 There was an information network called the Omen. It was a very big and important piece of information as it had records on every single living creature in the galaxy intelligent enough to do stupid things. It was like a criminal record center for the entire galaxy and, of course, Jessica and her group were in there. What Uto had told them was that he could be able to remove every single one of their names from he list permanently. Not even erase the crimes but their names altogether.

 At first, they didn’t believe what he was saying. Jimmy threatened to eat his hand and Yera told him it was impossible. But then he simply asked of them to look for his name in the Omen. Everybody could access the network so it was easy for them to see that Renzo Uto did not appear in any part of the Omen. They even scanned his head to look for him, but it just wouldn’t work. He wasn’t there and that was more than enough proof that what he said was real.

 The cave was only a few meters away when Jessica collapsed. She was trembling too much in her upper body and felt really sick. Not even her healthy legs could get her away from danger or from the pain. She stayed down for a good while and, once again, she gazed at the jungle and saw the trees moving and what looked like tentacles rising above the treetops. She only thought about how insane that planet was before she fainted.

 She woke up hours later in a nice room. A beautiful nurse came to her bed and asked her if she was ok. Her face and body didn’t hurt anymore. She touched her skin and every single centimeter was normal. Then, the nurse smiled and told her she was going to be all right. Se turned around but Jessica had recognized her. And the only thing she could do was pull out her gun and shoot right in the center of her body.


 The illusion fell to the ground like a house of cards and so did the cube, a rather normal transparent cube that fell to the ground and Jessica put inside her belt. Her face still hurt horribly and she was sure she was in a worse state than before. She turned to the jungle one last time, watching the tentacles and the moving trees, as she pressed another button for her ride to come pick her up.

domingo, 18 de enero de 2015

Wasteland

   They had been walking for at least two hours, without taking a break or dropping the rhythm of their movement. They were only four people, all dirty on the faces, their clothes a bit ragged, their shoes all broken. The group kept on walking until they reached a group of large rocks, enough for them to hide from anyone coming from any direction. Inside the rock group there was sort of a clearing and a soft surface. They finally stopped walking, dropping their bodies hard against the rock.

They were two men, both around thirty years old, a woman of the same age and a child about ten years old. They all rested, laying down like starfish on the hard surface. It was late in the afternoon, so the shadow made by the rocks was perfect to avoid being toasted by the sunlight. One the men opened a backpack he had being holding. He extracted a water bottle and took a sip. He gave it to the others, who drank hastily, as if thy knew they wouldn’t have the chance to drink any liquids again

No one spoke, maybe because they wanted to keep their few energies to use them on something more worth it or maybe because there was nothing to be talking about. The truth was both reasons were accurate. What could you say when you’ve seen so many people killed, when you’ve escaped death by nothing more than a few seconds? Nothing, that’s what. The group lay down and didn’t move until it was almost night. It was the two men who got out of the small clearing, into the terrain outside.

It was clear they were in a desert or at least near one. The rocky surface on which they stood was covered, in some parts, by a thin layer of sand and other bright particles. One of the men, the taller one, went to the edge of the rock formation and stared at the horizon: he couldn’t see any light except the first stars appearing on the sky. He sighed in relief as that meant no one had followed them. The reason was of no interest; as long as they were safe the reasons could wait to be known.

The other man, some centimeters shorter, climbed the rocks steadily but making a sort of a grin as he did it. It was clear he was in pain, as with each step he let some air out. When he reached the top of that smooth hill, he was suddenly victim of a cough attack, in part because of what he had seen. He hit his chest a bit to clear his throat as he raises his head and so a never-ending desert past the hill. It wasn’t far at all and seemed to be larger than any ocean that the man had ever seen. This was good and bad, as it was a safe escape route but only because they exchanged a few dangers for other ones.

He turned around and joined the taller man. As he neared him, he realized the other one was crying. He wasn’t bothering to swipe the tears out of his face. He just crouched in the spot and cried in silence, staring at the horizon, which was now pitch black. The shorter one kneeled besides him and hugged him and kissed him on the cheek. Again, they didn’t say a word. This time too it was highly unnecessary to talk as everything they had gone through was beyond any word invented by men.

Some time afterwards, they penetrated the big boulders and found the woman and child sleeping. They looked at each other once and decided to join the others in the floor for a sleep. It took them almost an hour to feel the drowsy and to finally fall asleep. When they woke up the next morning, it seemed to be early still, as a cold wind blew over them. The shorter man stepped out of the boulders and took another look at their surroundings. Then, the first words spoken in that place for many years were heard:

Hunter! TO THE DESERT!

It took them only a couple of seconds to wake up and run out. They all stared at the horizon, were a cloud of dust could be seen, nearing the rocky hill they were standing in. It was clear their pursuers were still after them, restless. The shorter man turned around and walked uphill. They all followed fast. When they reached the top, they had to run down the other side. This had to be careful as many small rocks covered the hill. The woman actually fell and was helped up fast.

Once they reached the sandy bottom of the hill, they started to run, straight to the heart of the desert. It was difficult to run on sand, as it didn’t allow them to progress a lot. Nevertheless, they did it as if their lives depended on it and, actually, that was precisely true. As they ran more and more into the desert, they were all thinking exactly the same: they knew the hunters had no intention of entering that place as they knew people always died in there, never coming out on any side of the gigantic sea of sand.

But that was precisely the advantage they thought they had over the hunters. They were too busy hunting easier targets and chasing someone through a desert was not really worth it if they thought the desert and its lack of everything could kill them faster than they could. So when an hour had passed and the small group was already exhausted, they looked back for a moment: the hunters were at the edge of the desert, on a jeep, and appeared to be thinking what to do. Then, they did something no one thought they would ever do: they got out a missile launcher and pointed in their direction. Now, it was the tall guy who yelled:

RUN! RUN!

And they did but the missile had already been launched. It hit the soft desert surface and blew sand everywhere, forming a small storm in the spot. They were all thrown forward, over some small dunes and hitting the sand hard. The jeep turned around and the hunters left, as the small group began to regroup. The short guy had been spared of any injury but as he ran to the tall one, he realized he had been lucky. The other man lied in the ground, panting. His right arm had been burned, from elbow to shoulder.

The kid was crying, not far. He looked good, not injured besides some scratches. But it was the woman that did not seem very well. She was panting too but wasn’t sitting or standing up. She coughed and the kid screamed. The short guy neared him and realized the woman was very badly injured: one arm and one leg were broken. Her face had been badly burned and, as they look at her, she stopped breathing. The kid had stopped his crying but resumed it once he realized what had happened. The thing here was she wasn’t his mother but had acted like one for many days.

The tall guy had crawled next to them, just as the other one had closed the woman’s eyes. Again, he spoke very softly, as if he didn’t want to disturb the woman’s peace.

We have to bury her beneath the sand. Vultures won’t be long.

And he was right because, as they excavated the sand and put the body in there, several shadows began to circle them from above. When they finished, the birds landed close by, as if they needed to verify if there was a dead body among them. They had covered her in a lot of sand and hoped no storm would uncover the body. They didn’t mind the birds as they started walking through the desert, now slower than before.

When night fell, they sat close from one another and tried to light a fire with a lighter and some paper they had on the backpack but they weren’t successful at all. The cold was awful and only the kid fell asleep fast, surely because he was so tired. The short man decided to clean the other’s wound with a bit of water and told him, whispering to his ear, that he would need to get the burnt skin scraped of to let new skin grow. He agreed and stood up instantly. The kid didn’t felt as they walked away, behind a dune. The short guy moistened the paper he had tried to set on fire and advised the tall guy to bite something. He took of a shoe and put it in his mouth.

The screams could have woken a whole town, or so it seemed. But no one was near to hear it. The kid woke up but didn’t move, deciding to stare at the stars and remembering his family and all that had happened before then. As he heard the disheartening screams, he realized he didn’t remember his mother nor is father or any other relatives. He felt he had been running for years but realized that couldn’t be true. He fell asleep realizing he heard nothing anymore and feeling alone and hopeless.

Behind the dune, the two men were hugging. The arm had been properly scraped and it bled a bit. The man held it high as he had his nose in the other man’s hair. Then, in a raspy and sad voice, he said:

What are we going to do? – He sighed. Tears filling his eyes – I’m tired…

The other one gave him a gentle kiss on the lips and cleaned his eyes of tears.

We’ll keep living. They won’t finish us. We’re not dead yet.

And then they hugged tighter and the pain on the man’s arm wasn’t as strong as the one in his heart and soul.