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

lunes, 26 de junio de 2017

Camilla's aunt

   The man closest to the window started screaming, slamming the table with his fists, launching to the floor every single piece of the chess game he was playing with a younger man. That one looked like a younger and saner version of the person that was being carried away to his room by two big men in blue uniforms. The kid looked on in disbelief and fear, as his father kicked the air and screamed nonsense. A minute late, it was as if nothing had happened on the room.

 Camilla turned around and looked at her aunt Matilda. She had always had the most beautiful hair in her family: it was long and silky, jet black like the night sky. Her mother told Camilla that she had gotten her hair color from her aunt but that was everything she had that was similar to her aunt. That poor woman was now on a wheelchair and she drooled often, her mother having to clean it from her mouth and lap every few lines of a conversation that was one sided, as Matilda couldn’t talk.

 Her mother had always told Camilla that no one really understood why her aunt had fallen ill like that. As far as she knew, it had happened overnight or after a night fever or something like that. Camilla’s mother liked to invent new realities every time a subject so touchy came up. It was not as if she didn’t wanted to talk about it but rather, her subconscious had created different versions of what had happened to protect her. Her story kept changing every time she was asked about it.

 They stayed in the hospital for ten more minutes, then a nurse came around to tell everyone to leave as visiting hours had finished. Camilla kissed her aunt on the cheek and it was then, in a second, when she saw a flicker of something, probably life, deep inside her aunt’s eyes. Camilla didn’t have any time to respond or to say a word. Her mother took her hand and Camilla just walked until they reached the parking lot. Once inside the car, on the passenger seat, she wondered looking at the sky.

 Once they got home, rain began to fall from the sky, first kindly and then harder. Camilla sat down in front of her computer and started reading about psychiatric disorders and then about the places people like her aunt were put into when no doctors could point out what was wrong. She saw horrible pictures and read awful essays and articles from all over the place and was only interrupted when her nine-year-old brother came to show her that he had caught a toad outside the house. He had spent his day with their father, playing ball in some park.

 Camille humored her brother for a while but then she started thinking about her aunt again. She wondered if Matilda was curious still about the world around her. Would she be interested on a toad if she saw one through her room window or would she just stare, looking at nothing in particular? Then again, she had no idea if her aunt had a window in her bedroom. It was very likely but the place did look old and people never seemed to care a lot about mental health.

 She came up to this conclusion when one her classmates, a girl called Anna, committed suicide back in high school. They still had two more years to go and the poor girl couldn’t take any of it anymore. Camilla felt awful when it happened, as she felt she had never really cared about that particular girl. She knew she couldn’t be friends with every single person but anyway, guilt is like that. Unexplainable and painful. All the girls went to the burial and they all seemed concerned.

 However, the school never really addressed what had happened. They did tell everyone for a couple of days that, if they needed help, they could always go to the school therapist and tell him whatever they needed to say. A couple of girls did go but their problems were much easier to solve than the one that Anna must have had. Camilla tried hard to learn more about her deceased classmate, but she stopped when the mother yelled at her over the phone, calling her a pervert.

 There were all sorts of rumors: Anna was a closeted lesbian or she was a nihilistic teenager that wanted the world to end. Others said she was always on drugs while others blamed alcohol. Camilla even heard a teacher once saying that the girl must have had a secret pregnancy or, even worse, an abortion. But there was nothing to proof any of those theories. They only knew that a girl had died and all of a sudden a world of stories was born, about someone they had never bothered to really know.

 Camilla wondered all night if Anna and Matilda had anything that connected them, besides probable mental issues. She wanted to know more about the subject and she decided, very late at night, that she had to learn about it, no matter what. So the next day, before class, she decided to spend a couple of hours in the university’s library, where a towering amount of scientific book awaited her. She chose three of the ones that seemed less hard to understand and she started reading. About the brain, about the nervous system and about all kinds of psychological theories.

 By the time she came out of the library, her head felt full of information. A headache haunted her for the rest of the day, at class and even after having a generous launch. Her friend Bastian asked her about what was wrong with her but she decided not to tell anyone about her hunt for answers. She didn’t want everyone to look at her as if she was crazy. Because that’s something recurring she learned from the books: people trying to get answers are always labeled as crazy themselves.

 She blamed the headache for her attitude that day and decided to skip the last class, which was always very boring anyway. She did think about going home but, instead, Camilla decided to walk around a little bit. That way, she could avoid answering annoying questions at home about why she was so early at home. She wandered through some parks, a mall and several streets. She never got lost because she knew her way but aunt Matilda was always in her mind. Then, she knew what to do.

 Some twenty minutes later, she was waiting in the same room she had been the day before with her mother. But this time she was by herself, waiting for a male nurse to come with her aunt. She knew her mother was not going to like this visit but she didn’t care. Somehow, she knew that the answers that she was looking for where there, enclosed in one of the many rooms that had been built specially for people like her aunt, absent almost completely from all reality and sense.

 When the male nurse rolled her aunt in and left, Camilla looked straight to Matilda’s eyes and waited. She wanted to know if that glimmer had being something of one day or if signs of inner life could be seen again. Nothing happened. Camilla grab each of her aunt’s hands with her own and then smile at her. Matilda’s skin was a bit rough but she somehow knew she had being stunningly beautiful when she was younger. Her mother had failed to show her pictures of their past.

 Pushed by something, some strange feeling, Camilla went closer to her aunt. Her lips were a few centimeters away from one of her aunt’s ear. She doubted for a second but then asked the question she wanted answered, or at least one of them: “What happened to you?”

 She pulled back and waited. Her aunt’s eyes seemed dead for a moment, but then she saw that flicker again, a spark of life inside her aunt. Then, one word was spoken by Matilda. Camilla had to get closer to hear properly. And when she did, her world was turned upside down.

sábado, 6 de agosto de 2016

The ninja

   The city below was pretty much silent. It was very dark and lonely and the sun wasn’t going to rise for another four hours. People would be starting their day in some time but in those moments they were sleeping, barely imagining what was happening on their rooftops.

 A group of three people were chasing another one that had a very big lead in their chase. The character they were chasing was wearing a ninja outfit, all the uniform being black and his eyes being the only thing the people that were chasing him could distinguish from the darkness of the night.

 As they jumped from one roof to the other, one of the persecutors slipped on the edge of the building and fell backwards, being caught in the last second by one of his peers. The woman that had gotten hold of his ankle, could barely cope with the weight of her companion. The other man that came with them, the one closest to the ninja, stopped short from jumping to the next building and went back to his companions to help the woman lift their buddy to the rooftop.

 The ninja stopped running when he didn’t hear the sound of steps following him anymore. He turned around and looked on, as the man and the woman pulled their friend towards them, saving their life. The ninja blinked several times, very confused. He started to sweat right then, and not before when he was running.

 The man that had almost fallen realized the ninja was looking at them and attempted to stand up and chase him again but as he tried standing up, he felt terrible pain in his ankle, the one that his companion had grabbed him by. Apparently, in all that chaos, he had hurt himself so bad that he couldn’t walk by himself. His two friends helped him up again and, when he tried to locate the ninja again, he didn’t saw anyone anywhere.

 Hours later, the persecutors were in a hospital. The one in the bed, named Kevin, was asleep and the other two, Martha and Philip, were also asleep but in two armchairs in front of the bed. It was the middle of the day, a warm day outside. As they slept, the ninja appeared out of nowhere, standing in a corner, and just looking at the three of them. He walked, making no noise, towards Kevin in the bed.

 He looked at his leg, which was in a cast and elevated to avoid pain. The ninja looked at it, with the clear intention of doing something, but he didn’t. The movement of his hands, the sweat drops on his forehead, were telling of how nervous he was to be there. Outside, a door was slammed just as he had been looking at Kevin very closely. When the patient opened his eyes, the doctor was there. He had dreamt again about the ninja.

 Many days afterwards, Kevin was recuperating in his house. He had flowers all over the place and had visitors almost every day. He had never felt so popular in the agency and had to make an effort not to look to annoyed by the amount of people coming and going from his home. He knew they all did it out of concern for him but he also knew they came because they wanted to know more about the mysterious ninja figure he almost died because.

 Everyone wanted to know what he had seen about him. The truth was that Kevin had consciously tried to stop recalling those moments because when he fell asleep, he would always relive the moment he fell and it wasn’t something very fun to experience. It felt as if the floor was suddenly removed from beneath his feet and he didn’t thought that was something great to tell anyone.

 But people knew how adamant he had been before the mission to catch the ninja. After all, he had attacked them before, as they tried to infiltrate a chemical plant, several months ago. As security agents, they were tasked with a lot of different mission in order to preserve the order in the world and in the country. The man and women of that agency were just the best of the best, always being very good at handling themselves and their opinions in front of people and under pressure.

 However, with the ninja, Kevin easily lost his mind. After he had seen him kill some people in order to steal some classified documents, Kevin realized the ninja was a persona that had no moral compass and that seemed to work for anyone who paid the price he asked for. He was only a mercenary and those people were sickening to Kevin as they just sold themselves for whatever they asked in order to be able to kill for sport.

 When they met the first time, Kevin fought the ninja for a long time before they had to declare the fight a draw and just run out of the chemical plant before it blew to the sky. From that moment on, Kevin tried to investigate whatever he could about the ninja but he was very unsuccessful. In other encounters, and there were not many, he tried to get some DNA to use a sample for testing but the ninja did not spit and it was very hard to grab his head.

 He even scouted the places of their fights in order to pick up anything he might be able to do but there was nothing or, at least, nothing important enough to pinpoint any particularities about this person. The worst thing was that Kevin had realized some of the moves the ninja used were the ones they learned at the academy. 

 He talked with one of the trainers there who assured him that no one outside the agency knew about many of those moves as they were created specifically for some exact situations and in order to use maximum force if necessary. That was the first real clue Kevin got. But he failed to tell his companions before the rooftop mission and, when he told them in the hospital, they were very mad at him for not revealing something so important to them.

 They decided to launch a full investigation and they had to check every single agent that had deserted the agency. They even did some surveillance work on some of them, discovering how boring people’s lives were when they wanted to be far away from all the chaos of the agency. But none of those guys, none of that people had any similarities or set of skills that resembled the ones of the ninja.

 Frustrated, Kevin returned to proper work after being a full week in the hospital. He had to use a crutch to walk but the pain was much less intense than before. He was assigned some office work in the agency and tried to forget all about the ninja killer. After much thought, it was obvious that person didn’t wanted to be caught and, he had been an agent, he wasn’t going to be so stupid as to leave any single clue around. After all it was a game of intellects to the end, in order to see who survived and who did not.

 As he thought this in his office, Kevin almost fell from his chair because he had realized something: when checking past agents, he had omitted to check on the deceased ones. It was a long shot but he decided to try to find the ninja there. In order not to be reprimanded by his superiors, he took copies of the files and took them home with no one knowing. Each night, he would check some of them and then fall asleep as he read them all.

 Almost a month after the incident in the rooftop, the ninja appeared in his room as he slept. He came closely to the desk and grabbed his file: it had been there all along but Kevin had not wanted to look at it. The ninja read it and then looked at the agent. He left the file back in the desk. As his eyes became watery, he leaned down to kiss Kevin on the cheek. Caught of guard, Kevin grabbed him by the neck and slammed him to the floor. With a fast move of the hand, he removed the ninja’s mask.

 As in a horror movie, Kevin pulled away from the dizzy ninja with wide opened eyes. He was seeing a ghost, one he had not wanted to see. He had a scar on his face and he looked paler than ever. His eyes looked empty and his body seemed to be fitter than he remembered it. But it was him. It was really him, his husband, just back from the dead as if nothing had happened.

jueves, 9 de junio de 2016

Scientific discoveries

   The water was very cold. It wasn’t surprising at all as the lake was located very high into the mountains, far from any real source of heat. Besides, the area was often covered with a thick fog that didn’t really let the sunlight pass. The group camped on the edge of the lake and was careful enough to put everything near them. It wouldn’t be very nice if an animal decided to steal their food or if they lost things that were just in front of their noses. They would stay only one night and then continue their journey.

 Their destination was a high plateau, located on top of a flat mountain. Rumor has it that many species of plants and animals lived there and that most of them had never being registered by science. The five people in the group had the mission of arriving to that area, after climbing completely vertical walls, and do the most thorough job in identifying new species of animals and plants. They had to bring pictures, drawings and even samples if possible.

 The day they arrived at the lake was only the fourth day of their journey. They had already crossed through a deep humid valley where one of them had been bitten by a snake and had to be airlifted out of there. Where they started the mountain section of their trip, they often had problems falling to the ground and hurting their hands and knees. It was a very difficult job, especially for the ones in the group that had never really gone out in a mission like this.

 Two of the camper by the lake, one man and one woman, were teachers and real professionals in biology. They had already travelled to every corner of the world, they had categorized many species and each had discovered quite a few, so they were the visible heads of the expedition as experience was always most appreciated. The rest were four students and interns, five originally, that had decided to enter the ballot to get into the trip.

 The two professors interview several people for the trip. They were essentially looking for people just like them, people that didn’t mind having no food in a day and knew how to walk in a jungle, a forest or the mountains. They rejected many almost immediately. Most of them thought it was going to be a nice little trip with hotels and cars and video cameras and many other nice things. It wasn’t.

 They had only one cellphone that had to be used only for emergencies. Everyone could bring their laptop but, obviously, there wasn’t going to be any Wi-Fi or anything like that. The computers were just for keeping track of their discoveries and have a copy of the pictures they took every single day. It was a useless brick aside from that. No makeup, no artificial elements, nothing like that either.

 The guy that had been bitten by the snake was the one the professors had thought was really one of a kind. He was very brilliant and had actually collaborated with a couple of amazing scientists from other universities. He was very well versed in every single aspect of a mission and was looking forward to the one they were interviewing him for. He was even tested by showing him several pictures of different species and he had answered everything correctly.

 So it was more than a surprise, more like a disappointment, when he had stupidly left the tent to pee in an area that hadn’t been checked yet. According to what he said later, it seemed like he had urinated on the snake and that’s why the animal had reacted so violently, biting him in one of his thighs. He knew the venom of that particular species was not one that acted fast but it was venom all the same. The helicopter arrived soon as they were only a day away from their departure point.

 Secretly, the other four students and interns laughed at what had happened. They hadn’t like him at all when they had met him some days before the journey started. He seemed pretentious and so full of himself, telling them every single part of his experience with other scientists. It got boring very quickly and he probably knew right away that he was going to be talking only to the professors during the trip. But no one would never really know that as he had left so early, in such a particular way.

 By the lake, they decided to check the water with a special machine that was equipped with sonar. They wanted to know what kind of wildlife lived there and if it was possible for them to bathe there. They already smelled very strongly and they had to, at some time, have a bath to clean themselves up or else every animal in the jungle would know they were there.

  The sonar didn’t pick up anything big. So the professors decided to fish for a while, as the four students entered the water and swam just in front of them. The funny thing was that they couldn’t almost see each other. It was very difficult to move without hitting a rock or tripping on some formation no one had seen. In the water it was the same and it felt dangerous too, so they only were there for five minutes, enough time to feel refreshed.

 When they were done, as they dried their bodies on the shore, the professors announced they had capture two fish but none of them was a new species. They were some kind of anchovy related creature, very small and really smelly. They took pictures and returned the animals to the water. Sometimes discoveries took their time to happen.

 The next day they moved away from the lake in order to get to the plateau. As they had already lost some time because of the snake and the lake, they decided to walk two days in a row, without resting or at least only resting for a few hours. No more camping. They walked for three straight days. They descended the mountain on the other side and had arrived to the jungle again, were they discovered a couple of new insects and saw a couple of snakes that resembled the one that had bitten their partner.

 Finally, one afternoon, they arrived to a very tall wall made of rock and dirt. They tested the surface with their climbing gear and discovered that area was not well suited to climb to the top. Several rocks fell once they tried to climb onto the wall. So they had to walk along the wall until they finally camped to wait for sunlight. First thing the following morning, the professors found the perfect area to climb. It was going to be very difficult and they had to get everyone up there so the plan was complex.

 The experienced climbers had to go first. That meant the two professors and one of the students had to climb almost with no instruments or equipment, at least to a certain point. Then, they would help the others with ropes and all the climbing equipment they had carried from their base camp. None of the leaders were nervous about it. They simply began climbing. By midday, the three scientists had climbed at least fifty meters, which was very good. They installed everything there, on a special hard part of the mountain and kept going as the other three just started.

 As expected, nightfall arrived as they were still working on the mountain. Their fingers were numb and some had awful bruises that made it difficult for them to climb. The student that had joined the professors was the first one to arrive and he helped bring his two companions on top. When they were all there, they helped the remaining three. Two of them were bleeding a lot when they came up to the top.

 They decided to form camp not very far from the edge. The idea was to rest, cure their wounds and start real work on top of the plateau. They almost couldn’t sleep as they had arrived to the place they had wanted to visit for a long time. No other human had ever been there and it was certain that they were going to encounter very special creatures. They were about to enter scientific history.

 However, the night did not only bring the best wishes from them. It also brought heavy sleep, provided by a plant they had ignored, just by their camp. The plant released spores that made people extremely sleepy, almost putting them in a coma. This was used by a certain kind of spider, an undiscovered species, to kill all the campers with its powerful poison.

 The bodies wouldn’t take long to decompose. That’s how powerful the venom was. And all the machines and equipment would be destroyed by powerful gusts of wind and other animals, completely erasing any trace the scientists had ever been there.

domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2015


   The ship gently settled on the ground. It made no noise, it lifted no dust. Everything was very quiet and, for a place were rocks floated all around you, there wasn’t a single sense of danger. The crew of the ship, consisting of only three people, were checking the final numbers in order to decided if it was really safe to go outside and take a look.

 The planet was a gas giant and it had been discovered many years ago by traders trying to built faster routes into the worlds of the Core. Actually, according to the charts and many calculations, the planet was located exactly between the center and the edge of the galaxy. It was also a rare system, as the sun was potent and such have been the center of a very active neighborhood but the truth was that no creatures, no matter the type, lived in any of the planets.

 However, and exactly four months ago, a signal had been detected in the gas giant. First, it was thought to be a mistake but the signal persisted. Then it went mute. The traders and even the smugglers told the authorities that they hadn’t lost any ships and no other ships had been lost in the area. So who had activated a very strong signal on a deserted planet?

 The three-person team had been sent to collect data about the planet and check if there was a reason to believe anyone could be stranded on the planet. Upon arrival to its orbit, the team named the planet as Cotton World. It was not an official name of course. It was just a way to identify it and feel more comfortable while talking about it. The name, of course, came from its appearance: the world was covered by huge pink clouds that made the world look like a massive cotton candy. As they descended through the clouds, they realized that the name had been very accurate as the clouds were not only pink in color but were also kind of solid.

 The first to go out was the biologist on the team. Her name was Yarra and she came from a very different world, a world she deemed incredibly boring and that’s why she decided to have many adventures by joining the forces of authority that ruled the galaxy, Besides, she had always been interested in life and in all the shapes and sizes it took all over the galaxy. She had been working for the State for four years and she loved it: she traveled a lot, got to meet lots of people and made good money out of it.

 Yarra was half human but even her other half couldn’t breath on this planet, so she had to use a special suit to be able to walk around without fear. She only took a couple of steps before returning to the ship and telling the other two crew members that the rock seemed stable and that it was urgent that they began the search for the beacon that had been detected. After all, that was the reason they were there.

 The next one to step out was a big, yellowish creature. He wasn’t human at all but had many features that one could identify as human. The only things that really differentiate him were a horn in the center of his forehead, his large tusks, his four arms and tall stature. His name was Gorg and he always seemed menacing at first but he was the most tender and calm being ever to be seen by anyone. He was happy by just helping and had joined the force almost seven years ago. Granted, he was very strong and could fight any kind of danger physically, but he was first and foremost a physicist.

 Gorg was simply in awe of the Cotton World. In all his travels he had never encountered something quite like this place. The fact that sound didn’t seem to function exactly as it did in the rest of the planets, was something he wanted to understand urgently. But Yarra was right and their priority was to explain the origin of a beacon signal that had been detected in far way worlds. In order to do their examinations, Gorg put on his suit and carried a large antenna outside, as well as a special console and computer which they used to detect any electric emissions. No matter the type of beacon, it would leave an imprint in the atmosphere if it existed.

 The third crew member was the captain. He was full human and his name was Ionek. His skin had been burned by many suns so he had patches of red and brown all over. His eyes were yellowish, although they could change color depending on his mood. He was a tall strong man and he had been known many years ago as a military hero all over the galaxy. He had served in the army for many years before having to step out of it due to a scandal that he had to pay for. The only option they gave him was to have his own ship and serve the State with it.

 Ionek did what he had to do but he was always clear that exploration and discovery weren’t his first choices in a world where so many wars and battles were being fought. He wanted carnage and destruction but had to settle to be the pilot of some scientist trying to discover why fire burns. So he just sat down in his captain chair and tried to have a nap as the other two investigated outside.

 After several hours, Gorg and Yarra detected something very weak but still trying to work. It was located directly below them, maybe four or five kilometers. They copied the information on an electronic pad and then packed everything in order to investigate closer. Ionek wasn’t very happy that his nap had been cut short but at least he didn’t have to move too far. The trip downwards was an easy one but it wasn’t deprived of a few scares, mainly because the clouds and the environment got darker as the ship sank into the planet.

 Finally, they detected a rock they could land on and Ionek settled on it, but this time landing wasn’t as soft as it had been the last time. When they came out of the ship to check, they realized one of the landing “legs” had sunk into the rock and was now trapped in there. Captain Ionek wasn’t pleased at all and asked Yarra and Gord to be fast in order to mend the damage to his ship immediately. They then took the electronic pad and walked around the rock, trying to detect the signal again. But what they saw wasn’t a signal or a beacon but something far stranger.

 Below, another kilometer maybe, there was another ship on another rock. But that wasn’t the strange part: the strange part was that the ship looked exactly like the one they had used to get there. Both Yarra and Gord looked below and then their ship and then back again down. They couldn’t believe it at first but then they realized that the model was not that uncommon and that the most important thing was to determine who had entered the planet if it was supposed to be deserted.

 They went back to the ship, where Ionek asked if they could leave at once but they refused, telling him about the ship below and how they had to go down there and check it out from up close. The captain refused to move his ship and clarified that the model was exclusive, or at least that was what the army said when they transferred him from the military. Yarra ignored that last part and told him they were using the jetpacks. Nothing indicated they couldn’t use them and it would be easier for them to investigate that way.

 Minutes later, Gorg and Yarra were floating down to other ship. The jetpacks worked a bit awkwardly, not responding fast enough, but they were good enough to get to the next rock. Once they were close enough to the ship, they started to check for life forms and found out they were three and they were all inside the ship. Gorg turned to Yara and urged her to leave. He had suddenly had a very bad feeling about it all.

 Then two shadows crossed the sky and the whole area became shrouded in darkness. It was as if they had landed on a dream that was about to turn into a nightmare. The team tried to active the jetpacks but they were slow to respond. Gorg’s made him fly but Yarra’s wasn’t working. It was then when she heard a sound coming from the ship and, at the same time, a device in her backpack started to beep. She had found the beacon. It had been put up by…

 She screamed but no one heard it as she was wearing a mask. She did it just as she had seen the crew of the other ship come out of the ship and walk towards her. Her jetpacked suddenly worked and she landed abruptly on the right rock. Gorg helped her up and they both ran to the ship. Ionek used every force the engines had to liberate it from the sink part and he succeeded, only by leave that part on the rock before rushing into space.

As he typed the codes to achieve interstellar flight, he asked them what had happened. His ship was know missing a limb and he wanted to know why. Gorg told him everything he had seen: the other ship and the shadows. But Yarra was shaking and trembling too much. She only said two words “beacon” and “us”.