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

lunes, 27 de noviembre de 2017


   The mask Arnold was wearing was very tight around his head. It was a very uncomfortable thing to wear but it was the safest way to cross such a horrible place. The Deadland, as some had named it, was a huge marsh land that had always been there but, all of a sudden, had begun to grow and occupy more and more territory. Of course, this happened after the war, a time in which a faction had used the marshland as a hiding place for themselves and all their weapons, including experimental ones.

 It was rumored that an explosion had occurred a few months before hostilities had ended. The problem was, no one could really tell if such an explosion had happened. Some of the elders from nearby towns, people who used to get in their boats and fish on the canals crossing the marshland, were the ones that told the rest of the world about the explosion. As many satellites had been rendered useless in the fight, there was no way to confirm what they had seen or any detail related to it.

 According to the general story, a roaring sound preceded the actual explosion. Some said it was like a gigantic lion roaring in pain or a panther, about to attack its prey. They all agreed that the earth shook violently afterwards and that the water in the canals rose in the most dangerous manner. Some even said they had fallen of their boats. A mushroom cloud then rose from the marshland and it had a very specific feature to it: it was very elongated and the color of a ripe plum.

 The elders said the cloud rose to the sky for several days, until it apparently dropped back again to the ground. It was very strange that, if that was the case, no one had the idea of taking a picture. A woman on the other side of the marshland tried to show Arnold and his team a picture she had allegedly taken but it was as blurry as those UFO pictures people used to believe were real. The woman was obviously in need of much needed attention, so they left telling her she was right about everything.

 Penetrating into the marshland had not been the first idea of the government but, after testing the air and water, it seemed the place was really changing fast in a chemical way, at the very least. The toxicity had grown so fast, that some people had died when passing by the marshland and not even entering. That was what made the government decide to send the team inside and not only collect proof of how that ecosystem was growing and, at the same time, seemed to be poisoning itself by the minute. It was very important to know what was going on.

 Arnold’s team was made up of only five people. The military had sent their representative, as well as one from the department of National Security and another from the Ministry of the Environment. The other two people were him and his assistant Linda, who had asked repeatedly if she could join the team. She had always had a certain obsession with fungus and mold and every toxic thing in the world and she wanted to be a part of the team that went inside that awful place.

 They did so one morning, after eating a very light breakfast. They all put on their masks and carried a backpack, which was half a tank of oxygen and half scientific equipment. Even the military guy had to carry computers and other things to test plants and, if they found any, animals. He carried a large assault rifle and a gun on his thigh, which was clearly excessive. If he misfired or anything bad happened, guns would not be a match for toxins. But he didn’t seem to mind that detail.

 The place was flooded with water and it was right there when they found the first traces of heavy toxicity: the bodies of several small mammals floated all around them. There were rats and raccoons and also squirrels. Many tiny corpses of little colorful birds floated there too and it was clear the possibility of anything surviving such a catastrophe was not very high. They moved on, trying to find dryer land but they couldn’t. So they took out the inflatable boat and paddles and moved on.

 They had decided against bringing a boat with an engine because of the noise it made and because its movement could cause some unwanted reaction in the water. The best idea was not to disturb the environment, even if it was doomed for a prompt death. The woman from the Department of National Security was one of the two people paddling, slowly through the maze of trees and many other plants. It was her who gasped and made everyone look to the side. The boat stopped.

 There was a tree there, which was not very unusual. But what made them open their mouths in disbelief was that it was twice or maybe three times the size a normal tree was. This wasn’t a red oak forest or anything like it. Most trees in these parts would only grow to three or four meters, at most. But that one was huge and, not only that, it featured some of the brightest colors any of them had ever seen. It was almost as if the tree was glowing right there, during the day, with the sun very high in the sky. But it wasn’t. It was a strange mutation, result of some kind of event.

 Arnold began to realize that all reports about an explosion had to be true. Only a cataclysmic event of that magnitude could explain the strange changes that were now obvious all around them. Because there were not only dead animals and colorful trees, also huge bushes that had once been as tall as a medium sized dog and water that seemed to be colored blue. The scariest part of it all was when, out of nowhere, a bird flew from a tree and flew above their head, making them spent more oxygen that they should have.

 The creature was not only bigger than a normal bird from a swamp; it had also developed new features in its body. As a scientist, both Arnold and Linda knew that any other scientist would be thrilled to visit such a place, once they knew about the change that has been done. Mankind had been the one to blame here, that much was true. No creature evolves from one day to the next. So Arnold proposed a slight change of course, in order to look for the source of the explosion and any remains that could exist.

 After several hours of paddling, in which each person did a shift, they didn’t seem to find anything knew. According to their devices, they were about to hit the northern border of the growing marshland, which wasn’t where they wanted to go at all. They needed to go deeper, to the center of the whole ecosystem in order to see for themselves if there was some kind of remnant of the bomb or whatever it was that caused the explosion. It was essential to find the key to explain the existence of such a place.

 The boat moved around several canals and, finally, they seemed to be where they wanted. However, the sun was beginning to descend and that meant they had little time to go around and look for any evidence. Besides, their oxygen tanks weren’t eternal and there was no way to survive that place without them. Arnold descended from the boat and asked for the military guy to accompany him. His weapons could be of use after all. It was not a place to be taking things lightly.

They had barely started their walk when a roaring sound came from beneath the canal, not the trees. Something resembling a tree branch, but much thicker and mobile, appeared from beneath the boat, knocking it out of the way and sending its passengers flying.

 Linda fell close to the men and the other woman swam fast to the edge of trees where she could be rescued. However, the fifth member of the team was impaled by the branch, after he had landed on a nearby mangrove. They couldn’t scream, just run, hoping that thing wasn’t able to follow them.

viernes, 30 de junio de 2017


   It wasn’t very normal for Truman to be assigned to a special mission. Not that he didn’t deserved to be in one, rather than his superiors had always deemed preferable that he stayed with the troops, helping do what soldiers usually do instead of traveling the globe protecting something or someone. He had never been the bodyguard type and people saw that. Instead, they considered him a mastermind of strategy, a very skilled mind that could solve difficult situations were a lot was at risk.

 However, about a week or so ago, he had been summoned by his superiors and instantly praised and thanked for his service. When they did that, he knew that they wanted something out of him. The only question was what? What did they want him to do that they couldn’t find anyone else to do it? Was he their first choice or had they just decided to send someone that not many people would miss? So many questions amassed in his head in only a few seconds. His muscles were tense.

 After being done with the praising, they explained they needed him to form a team to protect a very special cargo travelling through a very difficult region of the world. A region at war that needed to be crossed by a train carrying very important things for the country. At first, Truman wasn’t very convinced by the aspect of the mission. He was normally given a lot to work with but this time they wanted him to get a team just to ride and protect a train. They wouldn’t say anything else.

 But he couldn’t refuse to help him. In the military, there was no such thing as the word “no”. You can have doubts and you can even express them to your superiors but you cannot, never, say “no” to any of their orders. Maybe one day when you become a superior as well and that may never happen for many reasons people knew very well but preferred not to talk about. The point was the he had no option but to accept the mission, as vague and unclear as his orders could be.

 Truman contacted every single soldier that he knew, the ones that were actually good at what they did. The team he needed to gather had to be very large in order to have a successful trip through deserts and farmlands, as well as devastated cities. Some of the men he contacted were spending some time with their families but they all accept in an instant. Again, there was never a negative word inside of the military; there were just orders and the right way to proceed about them. Besides, they all respected Truman a lot, as they knew him from the field.

 They were given amazing brand new weapons as well as a special suit that would protect them in case of an attack. As there was no time to train, Truman asked the men he had invited to the mission to exercise daily until the day they traveled to the city where the train was stationed. They all obliged, going back to their intense gym routine in the blink of an eye. Most of them loved the pain that exercising brought. They felt more powerful after it and their confidence was easily boosted.

When they got to the train, they were kind of surprised to discover that the train they had to protect was not a cargo train but rather an actual passenger train, with few but too many passengers for them to worry about. Truman expressed his concern to one of his bosses but he just said he had done lots of missions like this one that he didn’t have to worry. But he did, because he had prepared everything to protect a cargo train, not really a place were people had drinks and laughed too.

 Because the train was not exclusive to one person. To ensure that their enemies thought twice about attacking the transport, the government had decide to use passengers as a human shield to protect whatever it was that the government needed to have protected. It was very complicated and not very patriotic to use others in order to defend something that no one knew what it was, but once again, they had to trust the superior and just proceed with everything, no matter where they were.

 The train departed on time, early in the morning, with at least one hundred people seating inside. The team had no idea where what they protecting was in the train but, as they guarded doors and such, they discussed their ideas about what it was and why the government want to protect it like that. Some said it was only a bunch of papers incriminating someone somewhere and others were certain it was some kind of new weapon that they had developed in secret and needed to be moved.

 Any of the guesses could be correct, that was the thing that bothered Truman the most. As he walked outside, in order to guard the last wagon, he realized for the first time in his life that he had no idea why he was in that place. Something didn’t feel right to him and when that happened he did prefer to go with his gut instead than his head. Whenever something was off, he had stomach cramps. By the time he reached the last wagon, he wasn’t feeling especially great either. More like the opposite. He felt a little dizzy and then realized it wasn’t because of his gut.

 Before fainting Truman had realized what was going on: they had used some kind of poison or gas that made people fall asleep. As his eyes closed, he was certain that he had fallen into some kind of trap but he had no idea who the trap was supposed to catch. The other soldiers were not attacked, only him as he was alone and the leader of the bunch. He woke up much later, judging by the night sky outside. Truman knew that he was still inside the train but in some sort of closet.

 He was very cramped in that small space, his head still spinning. He wanted to talk to someone; he wanted his questions answered and his men beside him. But he didn’t get any of his wishes that night. Instead, he go to hear the most awful of noises: a woman’s scream pierced the sky. It was so intense, that Truman felt the voice inside him for a while. The sad thing was that the scream was followed by more screams and they were not only done by the same woman, but by other people too.

 Truman fought the cable they had used to tie him up. But it didn’t move from his wrists for a second. She tried to make every part of the small room to shake in order to cause someone to hear him or at least to be able to open the door but he couldn’t. They must have used some kind of lock for the door and the cable on his wrists seemed to pierce into his skin every time he tried to get rid of it. It was very painful, because he had tried very hard and now his wrists were covered in blood.

 The screaming continued and it was followed by the sound of weapons. Truman’s face was drained of all blood when he heard something he could recognize anywhere: his brand new weapons. He had practiced a bit before boarding the train and had discovered how that new assault weapon was just so much better than existing ones. Apparently they were made only to be used by a special task force that protected the most private secrets of the nation, whenever and wherever necessary.

 The sound of the weapons lasted for at least fifteen minutes. Then, it was silence. A very eerie silence because nothing but the train tracks could be heard. Truman thought that maybe they had been attacked by the enemy and now they had killed everyone on the train.

 But then the door opened and someone pulled him out of the tiny closet. The brightness of the lights were very hard to look at but it was way harder to look at one of his superiors with one of the new weapons on his hand. And on the floor, Truman’s team, all dead. It was the first time he needed someone to explain the situation.

viernes, 26 de mayo de 2017


   I pulled the cape over my head and ventured outside the module. Rainfall was minimal, so I could finally see how this world looked liked. It was kind of beautiful, with tall smooth mountains rising towards the sky and a small like very near the place I had been trapped in for so many hours. Well, I wasn’t really trapped but it did feel like it after everything that had happened. The ground was muddy and it was better to walk slowly. The possibility of falling to the ground was very high.

 When I got to the edge of the lake, I walked a little bit more towards a large boulder that was half in the water, half in the land. For a moment, I thought it wasn’t a good idea to seat by a lake without knowing if any beasts inhabited it. But then I remembered the moon had been surveyed several times and no life forms had ever been found. It was a barren wasteland that happened to be perfect for us at that time. We had landed only a few hours ago but it seemed like forever.

 I sat on the rock and a gust of cold wind moved my cape and my hair. I bowed down to it, trying not to feel that cold in my bones, but the truth was I did want to feel physically bad. Somehow, it eased the pain of what had happened earlier in Kristomo. I would always ask myself why I had gone to that planet instead of just staying put where I had been told to stay. I had never been the best at following rules, especially when I felt something could be done if I broke said rules.

 A single tear came down my face and I cleaned it fast. I didn’t want to feel bad for what had happened because I just couldn’t blame myself for it. It wasn’t my fault that people weren’t loyal anymore, than they preferred to do things differently. Sean had been with the team for a long time, much longer than I had been there. It made no sense that he would leave just like that but that’s exactly what he did. I thought it through several times but couldn’t really understand why.

 The point was that he had betrayed us on Kristomo. He had gone there with us, where we would try to retrieve a powerful mineral that was better away from the hands of any wrongdoers, as its properties made it not only unique and powerful but also extremely dangerous. It was good then that I managed to truck them and the crystal fell several meters and into an open volcano but it was then when Sean turned on us and started firing like crazy. His new friends did the same and we barely survived the attack. Actually, I was the only one who survived.

 Rom, our pilot, also counts of course, but he had been waiting for us the whole time on the ship. He hadn’t come down to retrieve the crystal or fight the band Sean had “suddenly” joined. He didn’t feel bullets coming all over the place, passing over the shoulder, under the feet and even millimeters away from his eyes. I had to live through that and also watching how my team, the people I had chosen to go there, died next to me in a matter of minutes. It was a bloodbath.

 When I entered the ship and yelled Rom to take off, he thought I was crazy or something. Not only because he knew the team was made up of six people but also because when he turned around, he could see that there was blood spattered all over my face and that my skin had turned to the clearest tone of white I could ever turn to. I yelled at him again and he obliged, taking off as our attackers fired on the ship, trying to make it explode or, at least, trying to prevent takeoff.

 But Rom was very skilled and, in minutes, we were able to make the jump towards the headquarters of our organization. I had no time to mourn for the loss of my team or the conversion of Sean. It was better to communicate the mission’s failure to the central command. So I asked Rom, as calmly as I could, to patch me through to them. He did, handing me a white rag too, which I used to clean the blood of my face. I almost cried then but I breathed slowly and avoided it.

 Central command was content with the crystal been destroyed but they were very concerned with Sean betraying all of us. They didn’t say much about the fallen men and women, I guess because it wasn’t that uncommon for them to hear about people not coming back from these sorts of missions.  They were the ones who told me to come to this barren moon in order to wait here, in case Sean and his new friends were chasing us through the stars. Honestly, I couldn’t care less.

 But that was a lie. I did care, I cared a lot. Because Sean was not only one of my go to people in the organization, he was also someone I had started to like more and more, in ways I had only discovered very recently. Not too long ago, we had shared our first kiss. It had been on another rainy place, much like the one I am right now. His lips were so soft and warm that I thought to myself it would be a very nice way to die, to be killed while kissing those beautiful lips. Of course, I was delirious at the time because it was a stupid thing to think, I could see it now.

 Ram put a hand on my shoulder and I almost fell off the rock. He laughed but I didn’t. Feeling nervous was never funny. He told me had had made some repairs to the ship, as some of the shots aimed at making us land had actually hit the right parts of the ship. He had been able to fix it all with patience and time and now he had decided to check on me. He asked about his friends, our team and I couldn’t look at him to the eyes. I was ashamed of how I had handled everything back there.

 They had died because I had taken too long discovering that Sean was a traitor. He had to say it before I realized it and that was a mistake, clearly because I had grown fond of him. Maybe he used that in his advantage, but the point was that he had betrayed us all and we only had a short period of time to run for our lives. Being on a volcano, stones and hot weather had played against us big time. Some of them fell to the ground and then were shot or they were just reached by very good snipers.

 I told Ram I had no idea how it was that I survived and they died. For a moment, I had wished the roles had been reversed. But that didn’t help anyone, seeing myself only as a victim and make people feel sorry for me. I had to pull myself together, even if it meant moving on from such an awful mission. Ram suddenly came closer and hugged me. Only Sean had done that before but this hug seemed different. I could feel he wanted me to feel good, safe in a way, not bad for what had happened.

 A beeping sound was then heard, so we went back to the ship where a call from our headquarters was waiting for us. I answered. They gave us authorization to proceed with our trip towards them, as they had determined that our enemy had stayed in Kristomo. Apparently, they were mining for a new crystal. We all knew it was almost impossible to find another one but they clearly believed they could work at it a little bit more. In any case, they were dangerous.

 As Ram raised the ship towards the sky, I felt confused and very tired. I had not felt like that since escaping the planet and it was just now that my whole body suddenly felt as if it was made from solid lead. I leaned back into my seat and the last thing I saw was Ram looking at me, with a somber expression on his face. I didn’t worry though. I needed to rest.

martes, 20 de diciembre de 2016

Christmas dinner

   As always for that time of the year, Adele had to out on her best clothes when working. It wasn’t really well seen if the hostess of a very prestigious restaurant dressed in any kind of clothing. She had to have some nice dresses for every single type of occasion, as she was the face of the hotel on the evening people had chosen to come. She represented everything for them and was the go to person if anything were to happen during one of the many dinners the hotel hosted all along the year. It was always vey busy, a successful business.

 Christmas time was especially hard on the hotel workers. For example, Adele had to wake up very early in the morning every single day leading to Christmas. For a week or so, she would have to put on her best coat to resist the fierceness of the weather and also because she really needed to get warm as soon as she arrived at the hotel as many things had to be checked. And in Christmas this was done in the most exact way, as everything had to be in line with perfection that night, as they always promised their guests the most lavish dinner ever.

 The kitchen staff consisted of several men and only a few women. There weren’t many women trying to breakout in the business and she was only closely related to everything they did on the actual restaurant. Adele was only a hostess and she would never be able to grow much more than that in her line of work. It all depended on very well paid jobs in certain events and parties, which he had hosted occasionally but not as prolifically as the events held on the hotel. There, she knew she was prepared to resist anything and everything.

 In the days leading to the Christmas dinner, the menu was checked several times and many testing lines were done. It was Adele’s job to taste everything and determine if she needed to change something in order to have some more time or make it a more successful menu. Two days before, she even thought it was going to be necessary to change the dessert because it wasn’t very well achieved but the person in charge of confectionery convinced her that he could make it more attractive with some superficial design.

 The day before Christmas he presented his corrections and he was lucky enough to be congratulated by Adele. The rest of the dishes were done and they only needed to cook them early on Christmas Eve in order for everything to be on point for the dinner. Many cases of wine were ordered from around the world, as well as many other alcoholic beverages. They also bought lots of cheese for after dinner and had to go to the market to buy the best and most fresh products in order to cook everything they needed for the menu.

 The night before the party, Adele was not able to sleep properly. She had gone to bed intentionally early but it didn’t work out at all. Not only was she worried about the dinner and the results the hotel was going to get with it but she also doubted her personal capacity to resist everything she was going to be held against. After all, the dinner was practically her show and if anything went wrong, it was her skill which had to come to work in order to fix whatever that needed to be fixed. All those thoughts did not let her sleep for a minute.

 When she arrived in the hotel, she checked every produce than had arrived and gathered the staff around her in order to tell them a few things before beginning. Not only the kitchen staff was present during the speech but also the rest of the hotel employees, as most guest were going to stay the night after dinner. Adele asked for everyone to do their best, to make it an experience that none of them could be able to replicate anywhere else. They needed to make that night one of the most special nights ever for every single guest.

 Rooms began to be cleaned and final details were being put on all over the hotel as flowers in every floor to make it smell divine. The kitchen went into full gear from very early in the morning, as they also had to cook for the rest of the guests in the hotel that were not going to participate in the dinner. It seemed to be chaos in the kitchens but the chef, and to a lesser extent Adele, knew how to make it all seem so peaceful, to always have a certain order that may not be obvious but with which every single person can work with to achieve the goals.

 Adele also had to check every single bedroom in order to personally see that the other workers had done a good job. She had to check first the ones where people had the intention to arrive earlier and then she moved on to the rest, checking for the bed to be perfectly done and for the furniture not to have a spec of dust. She also checked the bathroom, as that had always been very popular after dinner. People loved to have a bubble bath at some point so it was better to be prepared. Anything people wanted while staying had to become a reality.

 As she was checking the top floor, Adele received word that something had gone wrong with the dessert. Apparently the ingredients had been on a refrigerator that wasn’t working very well and they had become useless. Many melted and others were simply not the quality needed for the dessert. Adele ordered for all of that to be stored away and demanded the pastry chef and the confectionery guy to come up with something very fast as her customers couldn’t go without desert.

 Dinner was scheduled for nine o’clock at night. At seven, some of the guests begun to arrive and the desserts were not really done yet. Adele was very pleased to escort the first couple upstairs and tell them everything about the dinner, the usage of the bathroom and of the rest of the hotels features such as the swimming pool, the steam room and the spa, among others. She was lucky enough to check that room beforehand because she had discover dirty towels in the bathroom, so she changed that before anyone noticed.

 She didn’t join everyone to their room as, at eight o’clock, many more people started to arrive and she certainly didn’t have any time to waste. She used that moment to go back to the kitchen and see what they had come up with for dessert. As expected, they weren’t having many ideas. The people in charge were not as imaginative as they needed to be and they were really relaying on clichés to make a proper dessert. But the same old pastries and ice cream were not nearly goo enough for Christmas dinner. It would be an insult to the guests!

 Adele decided to come up herself with a new dessert. She knew they didn’t have much time, so she decided to reuse some of the ingredients they had from past parties. She decided to reuse the chocolate balls that melted when hot chocolate was poured on top of them. She decided to change the liquid chocolate for caramel and told the staff to come up with some sort of truffle at the center of the ball, in order for people to have a nice surprise when having their last dish. She put everyone to work and told them they had minutes to come up with a tasting plate.

 She decided to visit the lobby as they prepared, in order to let in the first guests. It was decided they should wait at the lounge bar, as she preferred to know first if the dessert was a go or no. She returned to the kitchen briefly to taste her idea and approved it when she realized it was good enough. Half of the kitchen staff had to help do all the desert plates needed for the evening. Adele left them again in order to open the restaurant and let everyone inside. The music had been carefully chosen as well as the design of the menus.

 The dinner started with applause when the guests saw their first plate, which was absolutely gorgeous. Then came the other dishes and finally the dessert. People didn’t say much about it but, when coming out of the restaurant, they praised the idea for being “simple but effective”. As some guests headed towards their beds and other towards the bar, Adele went to the kitchens and declared the night a complete success. She wasn’t going to sleep much that night either but at least she wasn’t going to be worried.