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

jueves, 13 de octubre de 2016

Movie legend

   The cameras were rolling and everyone was silent on the set. No one dared to speak or even breathe loudly. They all knew how difficult and expensive that scene was, so they wanted to make sure that everything went perfect on the first and, hopefully, only take. Heavy rain was falling, as predicted, and everyone seemed ready to go. The scream of “Action” had to be repeated into walkie-talkie because no one could really hear anything. The first ones to move were the cars, then the extras running from one place to the other. And then, the leading man appeared.

 He walked into the center of the square and waited there, in silence, with a red rose in his hand. Everyone was counting, without making any noise, until ten. Ten seconds was the magic number fro the leading actress to appear on the far end of the square. She would then run into the arms of her lover and they would kiss. That was how the scene should have gone but not how it actually went. They waited ten, fifteen seconds and then a whole minute but no one appeared on the far side of the square. Soddenly someone did appear but it wasn’t her.

 The person was her assistant. She was escorted by the nurse they had on set, as she was bleeding a little from the head. She had a very nasty purple circle and a cut. Production was halted. The woman got nearer and they heard her scream “She’s out, she’s out!”. What she actually meant was that the star of the movie had run away from her trailer by knocking her assistant unconscious. Apparently she had caught her off guard and struck her with some sort of glass bottle she had around. The director couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

 Of course, production was halted for the day. The “money shot” would have to wait as the actress was essential to the success of that scene and of the whole movie. Every single person that worked in the movie had to look for her: around the set and in every single cornet of the city they could think of. What made things harder was the fact that they didn’t really talk the local language so it was very difficult to speak to anyone or make themselves be understood. So they had to cut her face from magazine or other places to make sure they knew who they were looking for.

 But no matter how many people got involved, finding the woman they were looking for proved exceedingly difficult. They had to halt the production for another day and the company that was financing the film was not happy at all. Each day they did not work was a day thrown to the garbage, along with thousands or even millions of dollars. The permit to film on that square had been very hard to get and now they would have to get another one, if they found the actress and if that government allowed to close the square off a second time.

 For the producers the money aspect was a disaster. But it got worse when the magazines and the entertainment industry learned of the disappearance of their leading actress, Valerie Ríos. She had been the face of so many amazing movies, she had even been nominated for several awards as, one of her first ever performances, had captured the hearts and minds of every single person in he world. She was one of those girls whom everyone knew was going somewhere. She had a lot of potential and a charisma that few other girls had.

 In every single magazine article, they wondered about why and how exactly she had escaped. That was a major thing because the production insisted that she hadn’t fled or anything but rather “stepped out” of the set. The media however preferred to say she had run way and they had a very nice way of explaining that by running interviews with her assistant once and again and again. Of course, the woman was fired because she wasn’t supposed to be telling gossip about people on the film, but once she had talked it was much too late.

 After the third day, the production company decided that it was for the best to shut down production and put the movie away for an indeterminate amount of time. As the movie was almost finished, they couldn’t just replace her. And the scenes had to be shot in such a way that people would noticed right away if they used some kind of visual effects aid. They had to shut it down, which was a very hard decision because of all the problems that brought, especially relating to payments and so on.

 Valerie went from being one the promises of the industry to be universally hated all over the globe. Every single person thought it was at least disrespectful to have done what she did, leaving her job out of the blue and hurting someone in the process. There were even some that advocated for her to be sent to jail once she was captured. Yes, they were already considering her a felon, a criminal and there were many voices putting pressure on the police for them to actually look for her as someone who had done something wrong.

 But the thing was that, once the assistant was checked by professional in the police department, they determined that the way she had been struck in the face didn’t really coincide with someone with the strength of Valerie striking her with a glass bottle. Many experts considered all the options but it was the assistant that, after considerable pressure from all sides, decided to confess Valerie hadn’t done any of that. It was her who had done that to herself to make the scene more violent and to ride onto Valerie’s fame and mistakes.

 People’s love for Valerie returned briefly after the assistant’s confession but it didn’t lasted long because there was no one to actually receive all that love. Many people wanted her back. Not only the companies she had something to do with but also many of her peers in the industry. None of them could understand why she had disappeared like that and it was even more of a mystery to imagine where she could be hiding. No one seemed to know anything at all.

 Her family was also harassed for many weeks. Many were sure they knew everything about their daughter’s plan and thought they knew where she had gone. But the truth was her family was devastated. Every time cameras arrived to their home, the mother would start crying because of how hard it was for her to confront her daughter’s disappearance. As far as she knew, her daughter could be dead. They really had no idea and it was a great thing for them when the media stopped dropping by and the hype around the news went down.

 A year passed and the executives in the studio decided they sue Valerie, even if she wasn’t there to pay. It was the only real way they had to try to make up for the huge losses they had because of her disappearance. It wasn’t and exaggeration to say that because of her, the company was having some serious financial problems. Many saw them as too permissive and as the real reason why she had left filming. Some even thought they had mistreated her somehow and that’s why she had decided to leave in such a strange way.

 Suing her, of course, didn’t amount to nothing. The production company decided to actively pursue other projects and the year following Valerie’s mysterious disappearance, they released a movie that was universally loved by the audience and the critics. The movie was so good that it won every major award that season and the studio soon forgot everything that had to do with their past production. They were able to make huge amounts of money, enough to pay the many debts they had acquired with insurance companies and so on.

 Valerie never resurfaced. From time to time, people would say she was alive. Some said they had seen her in a remote beach in Thailand and others claimed she was working as a waitress in a café in Florence. Some men even confessed to have been her lovers but they were soon uncovered as liars. Nobody was ever found and no real account of where or how she managed to escape without being noticed was ever found to be 100% accurate and possible. She became one of those movie legends but for all the wrong reasons.

domingo, 26 de abril de 2015

The secret of the jungle

   The city was deserted. Everyone cleaned the sweat of their heads as they began walking through the empty stone yards that were covered in moss and roots. Most houses were made of solid rock but had crumbled centuries ago due to earthquakes and the growth of plant life. It was a beautiful but eerie sight, to see so many buildings all empty, no sign of life. They were covered in beautifully done “bas reliefs” depicting various images from the people that had apparently built the city.

 Every member of the expedition was now working, no longer trekking through the jungle to get nowhere. They had arrived and this was their price. The camp was built very fast, consisting of sleeping bags for everyone and mosquito nets to prevent people from getting sick during their sleep. They also one tent for meetings only where they held several weird apparatus and various maps of the region.

  When they began really exploring the city, they discovered it was much bigger than anything they had imagined and that they need to have more people in to help them with the cause. They asked one of the younger members of the party to go back to the town on the coast they departed from in order to call for more people to help them. The kid complied and left fast, on one of three donkeys they had brought with them.

 An entire day passed before they realized most of the art in the city depicted a fantastic creature: they were birds, in a flock. But, according to the drawings, the flock could transform into a bigger, gigantic bird that could sleep in the sun or have the power of the sun. That last part wasn’t very clear yet, as there were only images and no alphabet in any of the houses. The whole site was just about the imagining and the architecture, which consisted in at least a hundred houses in a roughly cube like form.

 Meanwhile, others decided to make a map out of the city and discovered the city was even bigger. Maybe it had been a very large city in the past but had shrunk before finally falling to time or some other reason. Some rocks looked older, and more affected by time. The site were they slept, with the houses still holding on in most of their structure, had apparently been abandoned. Some of the members of the team were sure this had happened only a few centuries ago, maybe even only a hundred of years ago. Others were not so sure.

 The more ancient parts of the city were difficult to recognize as the trees and the ground had quickly eroded the stone floor. The specialists did some testing and discovered something strange: the rocks on the “older” part of the city were actually not older than the rest. Tests found out the whole city was only a few hundred years old, at most. So something strange had happened were the center of the old town had not been as affected as the rest of the city.

 Two more days passed and some were already worried about the boy. The trip back to the port should have only taken him a day and he had been away for three. Some thought that maybe something bad had happened to him but the strange thing was that, in their way there, they had not encountered any ferocious animals or difficulties to surpass. They had cut through the jungle and had to stand the mosquitoes and the heat but nothing else. They realized they had never thought about it and decided, the ones that were botanists and biologists, to make a tour around the ancient city to find which species lived there.

 The search was useless as they found only some insects and a couple of bird species. Something was very wrong, as close by regions were known because of their rich fauna and flora. And this place seemed almost dead. Only the trees were really living there. Besides them, only some ants seemed to play a role in the environment. The following day, they decided to widen their range: they would walk a whole kilometer and then circle the city. But again, nothing appeared. There were no mammals or big reptilians, no frogs or big birds. They weren’t even nests in the trees. The botanists took some tree bark and decided to do tests on it to see if they jungle floor was somehow toxic.

 By the fifth day, the team was a little bit hopeless. They had traveled half way around the world and the place they had arrived to seemed dead, with nothing that interesting to see. All the bas-reliefs had been accounted for, not that it made any difference. In every house or building, there were exactly the same drawing of the flock of birds and the one of the gigantic bird attacking people with fire. For all intents and purposes, the people that had lived there had been dead for only a hundred years but had not made any real advancement except for their architecture.

 Some scientists, in the meeting held late at night, thought it was possible that the people that lived there had come from some other region and had quickly left after realizing the area was, somehow, toxic. But the tree bark’s tests didn’t show any massive toxicity. It was very normal although its cells looked strange in the microscope. They looked like the cells of a younger tree and not as big as one of those who grew there. They decided one night to stay only three more nights, in order to arrive at the port at the same time that the boat that took them to the capital city and then to their home.

 The thought of home was interrupted the following day, when one of the few women in the group yelled desperately. Many came to her aid and realized she had discovered something awful: the kid they had sent to the port had been found hanging inside one of the houses of the old city. The woman had woken up early to check the art there again and had found the poor creature. They took him down from there and realized he had a big splinter on each eye, almost used as a stake.

 The child was buried that afternoon but then, something else happened. It rained. But it wasn’t normal rain. It felt cold at the start, like normal rain, but then turned warm and strange. They soon realized it wasn’t water coming down from the sky but blood. Hot, red blood dripped from the trees and onto everything they had around. When it finally ended, all their clothes were tainted red, and so were their faces. Some of the members of the group were really scared, wanting to live the place as soon as possible. But that couldn’t be done just like that because they had to prepare, organize and that would take a while with so much to pack.

 They started the following day, after cleaning the blood of most of the clothes. But then, other people started to feel sick. They vomited and were tainted green. Their face grew even greener as they got worst. They had to delay their journey back as half of the scientists were sick in just a few hours. They had all eaten the same thing and had been careful only to drink water from their personal stash. They could only blame the blood rain, that had maybe poured into their mouths or eyes and then had contaminated them.

 Soon, only the leading expeditionary was fine. The rest were all sick and vomiting. The ones that had become sick first, were the same tone of green than the surrounding forest. That had become sort of paralyzed, unable to move at all. The man that had led them all there was not feeling sick but guilty. He had convinced personally everyone there to come with him to explore this jungle, promising them fame and glory, as well as a best name in the scientific community He had traced every one of them, had asked for the money and had paid many of their expenses with his own savings.

 And now, everyone was dying. It was hard for him to sleep the last night, before leaving, but when he finally did, his sleep was soon filled with nightmares and sweat. He woke up in the middle of the night and realized there were thousands of birds flying over the jungle. They were circling the center of the city. He stood up fast and tried to find his fellow expeditionary men but they were nowhere to be found. Somehow, they had disappeared.

 The man didn’t stood by and decided to run out of the forest, that had become thicker all of a sudden. He felt the presence of the birds and stumbled upon roots and rocks as he ran. When he fell again to the ground, he helped himself up with a tree and then screamed, like no one had screamed in the jungle before. The birds then flew down onto him and formed a bigger creature, or so it seemed. They attacked him viciously and killed him, drinking his blood and the flying away. Where the remaining of the scientist where, there was a young tree and, between the bark, there was the shape of a face, a screaming face.

jueves, 2 de abril de 2015

Dark planet

             - We are able to confirm that the planet is uninhabited. No settlement has been found nor  any signs of intelligent life. No wildlife poses a considerable threat to human          colonization. Pockets of water have been detected on the poles and in small pockets    around the equator. The atmosphere is breathable but the atmospheric pressure takes a big  toll on our bodies. I’ll report again at the end of the week. Chief of mission Okilo, off.

   Carmen stepped away from the communications device and stared at the data. She pressed some buttons and sent the message home, hopefully having an answer by tomorrow morning. She then walked through the corridors of the ship towards her room, where she removed her uniform and laid in bed in her underwear. She was tired but that was normal after so many hours working in the surface of the planet. Carmen had begun feeling sleepy until she suddenly opened her eyes. She then sat on the bed and opened her bedside table drawer. She took out a picture and stared at it.

In the photo, there was a small girl with her parents. They were at Disneyworld, judging for the castle in the back and the character that had joined them for the picture. She caressed the paper and remembered her parents, who had been dead for a long time. Carmen had lost them in an airplane crash just the year after entering the space program. She had suffered alone for a long time but eventually came to be at peace with it by herself. She wasn’t the kind to crumble in front of difficulties. That’s why she had been chosen for leading this mission.

 Carmen put the picture back in the drawer and tried to sleep but that was a waste of time, especially because the speakers in her room carried the voice of her scientist officer to her room.

-               - Carmen. There’s… I need you in the observatory. It’s urgent.

 She detected the worry in his voice and decided to dress with some shorts and a shirt and go to the observatory fast. She was there ten minutes later, yawning and realizing her blouse was stained with chocolate. Norman was there, looking through a machine down to the planet. He hadn’t heard her coming and he almost jumped when she touched him in the back.

 Norman was a short and thin man. He had always looked sick but now he seemed worse, as if he had been informed of the worst news. Without saying a word, he invited Carmen to look through the lens he had been looking on. She leaned forward and realized it was pointed at the planet, somewhere near the Equator.

-                - It’s the region we call Morgana. Desert. Many rocks, no water. Let me put some                  coordinates here.

He pushed some buttons and the telescope aligned. Now, Carmen was looking at a small patch of something black. Or maybe, dark blue. It looked as if the lens was dirty or something but it wasn’t… It couldn’t’ be, out there, in the vacuum of space. Besides, the dark patch seemed to be… to be growing, yes. The edges of the stain seemed to move, like ants when moving in large groups.

-              - What is it? – She asked.
-              - No idea. It appeared only a few hours ago. I thought at first it was a telescope                  malfunction but it clearly isn’t.
-              - Is it life?
-              - Maybe.
-              -But we did a planetary scan… There was nothing big, not like that.

She pulled away from the viewer and went closer to Norman. He appeared to tremble, which was not uncommon in space. It was very cold there and Carmen had just realized she had not put any shoes on. She had to take a decision about the dark stain that seemed to grow. Should they go and investigate or only report the event and wait for instructions on how to engage it? She told Norman to go to bed and that they would discuss it in a meeting with the others. She also decided to send another message to Earth before going to bed, stating the latest events.

 The following day, she met her team. With her, there were seven humans in the ship: two scientific officers, two technical officers, a chief of mission, a navigator and a mechanic. They were all experienced and had been travelling through space for many years. They all trusted each other and knew the risks of the job. But this event was all about what they didn’t know, which visibly scared them. The stain had grown even larger as they slept. Carmen told them of the message she had sent and that she wouldn’t hear anything about an answer for, at least, a whole day. So they needed to make a decision: do or not do.

 Carmen and the two science officers voted for taking their shuttle and landing on the planet to investigate. The technical officers and the mechanic were against it, thinking risking the shuttle was a very dangerous move because they might need it latter in their mission. The decisive vote was the one of the navigator, a young woman that was the least experienced of them all. She loved the stars and planets and was very fond of making calculations and measures but this decision was bigger than her. She finally stated that she had entered the job because she had always been curious about the universe and that this might be a chance to reveal one of its mysteries.

 So later that day, the mechanic made sure the shuttle was just right for a flight over the planet. Carmen had decided she would go with Norman and one technical officer called Sarkar. The three boarded the shuttle in silence and got the instruments ready. Shortly after they had begun their short travel towards the surface. Norman monitored the stain at all moments, being able to do more accurate calculations as he drew closer to it. Sarkar took the ship over the Morgana region and flew over the edge of the stain. It was not a surprise when they all gasped, covering their mouths or just started sweating even more than usual.

 Down there, the dark stain moved. It did. Like soda spilled over a table. But this wasn’t a liquid. Or at least not at first sight. They were thousands, maybe millions of living things down there. Sarkar made the shuttle be still and that way they realized that the creatures were actually gigantic. They weren’t human in form, but rather like insects. They moved tightly, away from a center. Carmen, calm as she could make herself to be, told Sarkar to get the ship over the stain. The creatures seemed to be coming out of somewhere.

 Sarkar started moving the aircraft as Norman took pictures and measures of the creatures. They all knew they had made a big discovery but they still did not understand what it was all about. The planet had been deemed void of any large creatures and, now, there they were, looking down on gigantic insectoid creatures, roaming the desert dunes. After a fifteen minute flyby, they arrived at a point in the desert were mountains had been able to grow. And there, on a small group of peaks, there seemed to be a volcano. Sarkar had to make the ship go up, in order to take a better look.

 Somehow, the volcano was active. There was some smoke and Norman could detect small tremors on the surface. But the volcano wasn’t spilling lava or rocks. It was spilling living creatures, dark as the emptiness of space. And it was then that Carmen covered her mouth. She realized that the creatures emerging from the crater were not all the same. They were smaller ones among the titans. And not all looked like insects. Some even had… had some kind of human form. Not exactly our same biology but so similar. And like their volcano brothers, they were also dark as night.

 Norman took several pictures, Sarkar tried to maintain the shuttle in a good vantage point and Carmen just looked everywhere, amazed. The creatures had not realized or did not care about them. They just came out of the planet and walked, away from it. Then, like coming out of a trance, Carmen ordered Sarkar to flyby again towards any edge of the stain. They did so, faster than the time before and realized the group below had grown by the millions as they watch over them. The creatures kept walking, like under hypnosis.

Carmen decided it was enough and ordered Norman to release a probe and Sarkar to get them back to the ship. They both complied and got to there home minutes later. All the team reunited in the observatory and watched as the planet slowly became invaded by the dark blue stain. The probe sent back images, of every type of creature down there, just walking. Finally, hours later, the whole planet had been covered by the volcano creatures. The probe showed how they all suddenly stopped moving.

 Then, something happened, something that cannot be explained. The planet turned bright, as if it was a sun. It grew brighter and brighter and engulfed everything with its light, even the ship. They all screamed as their heads felt heavy and hurt them. They couldn’t open their eyes. And suddenly it was done. They help themselves up and realized, scared, that the stain had disappeared. The planet was as it had been before. When checking on the volcano, the crater was found to be non-existent.

 Carmen ordered her team to have an early dinner as she reported back to Earth. This event was of a terrific importance. She knew it. Or better yet, she felt it so.

lunes, 9 de febrero de 2015

The Age of the Lammergeyers

   Kotor was what we would call a bearded vulture or lammergeyer. What was special about Kotor was the fact that he had an owner, or at least, a human companion, that used him to his advantage. Did not bother the vulture at all as the human always gave him prizes consisting of dead animals, his preferred meal. The bad thing there was that he would rather hunt than eat an already dead prey, but anything was good as long as he was feeding.

 The human used Kotor to survey the mountains. There were a lot of snowy peaks and deep valleys. Also frozen lakes and cold rivers. Kotor surveyed it all and had been trained, for a long time, to look for humans. This proved hard at the beginning because lammergeyers did not really like humans. Granted, they left food everywhere they went, but many of them hunted or chased him for various reasons and that was not acceptable.

 Kotor, however, had been a very young chick when he saw the first human. He didn’t remember if he had been born in the mountains or elsewhere, but he didn’t feel that mattered. The feeling of wind between the feathers was better than any freshly smashed rabbit. It made him feel powerful over all other creatures in those mountains, the fact that he could see them from above. Of course, the land animals were not very thrilled about this and so they tried never to encounter any lammergeyers when hunting.

 This was silly as Kotor never hunted with another bird. To be honest, he didn’t really have any good relations with other animal, except the humans. He was sure that wasn’t a very good thing but the truth was all other birds were scared of him. They even treated him like a pet, saying he worked for the humans than only wanted to invade their mountains and drive them all out. It wasn’t unheard of that every so often, a man would be hit on the head by rocks or bones thrown by lammergeyers. Of course, human thought this was an innocent action but Kotor knew better.

 His job with the two-legged creatures consisted in helping other humans, locating them if they appeared to be in problems. An image of him was stuck on a post in the nearby human settlement. He understood quite soon that it was there to tell the humans to trust him if they ever saw him flying above them when walking the valleys. He knew that if they had blood on their faces or they seemed unusually loud, more than the humans normally were, he had to help them.

 He would normally take something from them and then fly back to the settlement and alert the human called Karma, who would call others, in order to look for the human in distress. They would follow Kotor through the mountains to help. Then Kotor would get his food and could depart in order to fly, hunt, sleep or simply wander around. He thought the humans must have trained others to do the same because it would have been really stupid to make him do all the work by himself.

 What Kotor did not understand was what made the humans penetrate the mountains. Knowing the terrain like few others, the bird knew humans were not properly equipped to live there. Of course, they never stayed, and that was even more incomprehensible. It was like they wanted to suffer on purpose; they wanted to be deprived of food and sometimes companionship, on purpose. It made no sense.

 Kotor envied that from the humans. They were never truly alone and he didn’t understand the one that tried hard to be it. He was alone every single day and it got to be boring. Of course, having someone besides him to compete him was not a very good idea but sometimes he thought it would have been preferable than flying alone so often, not enjoying the rats or rabbits he ate with another vulture.

 One day though, he got to know another lammergeyer. It was a female and, after a few days of courting, he was able to mate with her. They had several eggs and that made Kotor very proud. Due to this happening, he wasn’t as present as before in the human settlement. When he returned after many days of absence, the human he had known wasn’t there anymore. As a matter of fact, no humans were there.

 After checking his young in a tall peak, he decided to fly farther this time in order to know what had happened. He asked other birds that roamed the mountains if they had noticed the disappearance of the humans but most had not noticed it and thought it was better that way because maybe it meant that had left their mountains for good. But Kotor wasn’t pleased with that. He needed to know.

 He flew over the settlement and then followed the course of a river that grew wider and wilder as the terrain began to flatten. He saw many other human towns and cities from above but no trace of the two-legged creatures. Kotor had always thought they were so many, like rats, coming out of every single place. But now they had vanished or maybe they had fled. But why and where?

 Back in the mountains, he informed of his survey to other lammergeyers and convinced them to tell other creatures about it. Of course, they wouldn’t speak with the lesser animals but they agreed to inform the eagles and hawks, as well as some of the land creatures such as wolves and foxes. Many of them had also noticed the disappearance of the humans, specially those that lived from eating the garbage the explorers always left in the valley.

 They all agreed that it was better if no creature left the mountains, at least for now. The humans were not perceptive animals but maybe they had noticed something was wrong and fled because of it. Although not many believed so, it was possible that those creatures knew things they didn’t know. So they decided to do just that, live their lives like they had always done.

 Kotor was surprisingly pleased with this new life. It was a bit weird not to work for the humans but living for hunting and feeding his young, wasn’t bad at all. Yet, he still flew over the human settlement. He didn’t really know why. He didn’t really miss any of them but he had become so attached to them, it was hard not to think about them. Besides, many animals, especially those that used to be hunted, started coming down the mountains to the settlement. Kotor had not realized there was still food there.

 As the lesser animals had not attended the meeting on the mountains, they didn’t know the humans had disappeared or that it was better not to wander too far from their natural environment. They just wanted to eat the free food and in a matter of days, all the food had been eaten. The rats and similar creatures did most of the job and even some foxes and birds had arrived too.

 Kotor, however, never ate anything from that place. He flew over it every so often, but just to check on the place. Many animals had also moved closer to the biggest lake among the mountains. They did not like it before because every human that came into the mountains arrived to that point and camped there for many days. Noisy creatures they were. But now only the wind and the water made sounds and it was perfect.

 Then, one particularly clear day, Kotor noticed something in the horizon. It looked as if the sun had come out again. It was an orange and red glow but it seemed to be increasing in size and the air suddenly felt a bit hotter that it usually was. Kotor landed on a tree and looked at the colour show, that disappeared some time after. Many other animals saw it, and they too went on with their lives, not even thinking what that glow might have been.

 They had no idea that the age of man had finished. The planet had no ruler anymore.