by M. Christian
A short story from Hard Drive: The Best Sci-Fi Erotica by M. Christian
He remembered praying, though he was unsure if he spoke the words out loud or if they’d just been thundering through his mind: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done…
“The human intellect passes from its original state, in which it does not think, to a subsequent state, in which it does”
I don’t know how to start this, so I guess I just have to. I hope you’ll understand that is something I have to do … even though I know it’s wrong.
But I also know that I can’t live with myself until what happened to you will never happen to anyone – ever again. Knowing that they are out there and will come again and possibly take more that they have already taken – I have to do something.
I love you – and until I knew you, I never understood what that word meant, so I can say it in a way I could never say it before to a person who has given me so much.
* * * *
The world – looking out at it through the night vision goggles – was green: the tall, wild grasses where he crouched, and slowly crawled through, was green; the trees on the distant hills, which swayed in a low wind he couldn’t feel, being so close to the ground, were green. The stars in the sky were too bright – a wince there – pinholes of green stuck through a paler green canvas.
And there, between the hills, just below him, were the rolling geometries of what he’d been told they called environs: hexagonal panels joined together into organically rolling blisters. Through the plastic, fragmented by the interference of the structure, were the vividly dancing green of what he guessed were fires – and, moving much more slowly, carefully, purposefully were the green illuminations of people.
No, he corrected himself, squeezing the polycarbonate grip of his father’s gun, feeling the grid pattern even though the material of his gloves. Not people.
There were cameras, which was why he was so low in the tall grass, but he’d learned that there weren’t that many of them – and the ones they did have more than likely wouldn’t be able to pick him up.
So arrogant, he thought, relaxing his grip on the gun. A breath then, to steady himself. With the inhale and subsequent exhale, he momentarily closed his eyes against the green. There were sensors, microphones, and more, but they, too, shouldn’t be able to pick him up, especially against the rustle of the trees, so he allowed himself to move his lips, though he didn’t speak, he prayed: Should we perish in the struggle, may God embrace us and find for us a place in His Kingdom.
The hill he was on rolled down to an access road: an unpaved narrow ribbon that undulated around the edge of the structures. When he reached where the grass ended and it began, he turned and lowered himself down, taking the final inch between his boots and the dirt path cautiously slow. Both feet down, he dropped and lowered himself all the way, scanning left, then right, then left again, looking for any sign he’d been spotted – but all he saw was the road vanishing around one bend and then the other.
In front of him, between the hexagon-paneled roof of the environ and the ground, was a low wall of coarse-surfaced bricks. The wall, the plastic immensity of the structure, the dirt at his feet – everything he could see was still an artificially brilliant green.
When he turned the goggles off, then flipped them away from his eyes, the world was absolutely dark… but only before his eyes adjusted: gradually his memory of the environ – its geometric panels, its organic bulge that now filled half the sky, blocking the intensity of the truly white stars, the bare coarseness of the road, the almost-as-course bricks – was replaced by his actual vision.
A few yards away, he could see a break in the wall: a man-height indentation. Getting closer, he saw the handle.
There’d be an alarm the moment he turned it: five, maybe ten, minutes maximum, before a patrol arrived and gunned him down. His best chance would be to get in and then move as far away from the door as he could – if he was lucky, buying himself an extra few minutes.
Breath in, breath out, right hand on the gun, left hand hovering an inch above the handle. Brave warriors, should fate find us in battle,may our cause be just. May our leaders have clear vision. May our courage not falter –
He closed his eyes, and when he did, he saw again their bodies: the blood, thick and brown on the carpet; their arms and legs turned and twisted clumsily where they fell. The smell of hot copper in the air.
On the wall – painted with the blood of his daughter or his wife – was the Greek letter for alpha, the symbol of the Noos.
Five or ten minutes. Not much time. Turning the handle, pushing the door inwards, he prayed to Jesus Christ that he had enough time to kill at least that many of them.
* * * *
From the door, he found himself on a narrow path, floored by planks: some kind of access way between the rest of the environ and the wall. The wood muffled his steps: a small miracle.
Earthly fertilizer, freshly cut wood, perfumed smoke, sickly-sweet flowers: an arboretum tickled his nose. Vision further adjusting, he saw the wall to his left, and the intertwined branches of trees on his right – bright and raw, where someone had clipped them to keep the path free. Leaves swiped at his eyes, brushed against his uniform, but otherwise he trotted, hand on the butt of his gun, almost silently.
Silently: no alarm, no sirens. They had to know; they had to be on the way. Five minutes, maybe ten … hopefully more.
Then the path turned sharply and vanished. Still being led by it, he was spilled out onto the edge of a small, plowed field. When his boots kicked at one of the furrows, the scent of nature bloomed up his nose. In the distance were the golden glows of the fires that had been the green dancers in his goggles. Flickering in and out of darkness beyond them were more and more trees, but also the further distant forms of what looked like a four-tall step of square windows.
Down the sights of the gun, she was rosy … almost golden … intermittently lit, sporadically revealed by the distant bonfires.
She was older than he was by five years or maybe even ten. Her hair was so red the fire made the curls and tumbles of it look like she was as much alight as the flames. Her face was lined, but each seam and wrinkle looked like the end, or the beginning, of a happy grin. Her eyes were bright, either orange from the far-off flames, or that color under any light. Around her neck was a leather thong, tugged down between her breasts by what looked like stone charms and tiny brass bells. She was plump: a healthy weight in arms and legs that spoke of her nature, a comfort in that what she was … she was.
“There’s no reason to be afraid.”
She was naked: not bare, not stripped, not exposed. She stood, still at the end of his pistol’s sight, rich earth squished up between the toes on her feet; her heavy breasts, dark-nippled and tanned, were also … what she was. Between her heavy thighs was a triangular curl of also-red hair – as wild and unkempt as the curls that flowed and spilled down her back and arms. There was no clumsy dance of seduction, no loud arousal in her: the earth between her toes; the dark, tanned richness of her skin; the freedom of her hair; the naturalness of her body – all of it was simple, honest, and earthy―
And she, or her people, had killed his wife and daughter: slipping in at night and slitting their throats. Brave warriors, should fate find us in battle, may our cause be just. May our leaders have clear vision. May our courage not falter. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior―
“No one is going to hurt you.”
She spread her arms. Down his sights, he saw her smile: a sign of calm, of peace, of welcome.
The shot was thunder, a crack of nightmare loud that matched and then beat the drumming of his heart. In his hands, the pistol bucked, wrenching his wrist and arm.
It fell from his hand, so heavy he felt its impact through the soil even through the soles of his boots. He followed it down, his knees plunging into the thick, soft darkness of the field. Read more “The Subsequent State”