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 ‘Long live Vortexia. Blessed are the white hawks that dive beyond the black void into the red ocean of humanity’


 1. ‘ONCE UPON THIS PALE BLUE DOT’ 

 Our Creed – ‘Out of the ashes of the old world comes UNITED EARTH.
 To overcome our destruction of the past, there must be absolute control by the UNITED EARTH.
 We are still here. So are the corrupt Others.
 Though devourers and insurgent mutants breed chaos, UNITED EARTH brings peace and prosperity where once was dust and ashes. 
Even the mysterious ETLs cannot overcome us. We are one. Ever expanding our truth and the promised world that each day we create.

 Ever powerful are the fathers and mothers of humanity and their sons and daughters will inherit paradise on Earth.’

 [The events following this introduction is the start of The Whitehawk Incident.] The U.E.M.C. internal affairs AI investigators verify about half the recorded information as an accurate depiction of events. 


The other half has been classified as uncertain. 



The descriptive language is used by AI only to assist with the Personal Cam accounts of the deceased marines and the history of internal nanotech of Sergeant Jack Samuels, lone survivor of LEVIATHAN APC01 and wanted prisoner of WAR CRIMES BUREAU –


NEW BRISBANE CITY. To be captured and held indefinitely for charges of war crimes while on active duty. 

 FOCUS- [It is as follows: ‘It was ETL. Was it?’]
 
FOCUS- [‘So, are you stating you are Extra-Terrestrial Life now H2JTS?’] 

 FOCUS- [‘I am now but, now am I?’]

 

 December 20th, 2084 C.E. OLD BRISBANE EXCLUSION ZONE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA 0537 hours. 



 The UNITED EARTH Marine Corp. armoured personnel carrier plunged into free fall through the glowing sky, a solid cornflour blue box. A battered brick dropped from the glistening walls of heaven – a reject in the building of New Jerusalem. The plume of black smoke trailing behind cut the blossoming sunrise in half as the automatic distress signal to U.E.M.C. LEVIATHAN continued. LEVIATHAN, the pale blue Aircraft Carrier, peacefully soared twenty kilometres above this chaos like an elegant bird of prey looming above a tiny sparrow. A widening ribbon of black smoke trailed behind the APC. The Waste, where Old Brisbane once stood before World War Three, was a barren radioactive glass crater peppered with blackened, crumbling buildings, mutated insurgent outposts and terror-inducing devourer hordes. LEVIATHAN’S marines were the only ones equipped with Super Neural Kinetics – Bionic Response Devices, initialled to SNK-BRD and then lovingly nicknamed Snake-Birds. These glistening scale black and pearl outfits are equipped as both high radiation resistant suits and power armour, highly defiant against super range weapons. When on active duty, they instantly blend into their surrounding environment with the scale armour changing from dark brown to sandy light brown to what have you in an instant. Glowing fiercely, the APC’s eight turbo thrusters beneath worked at full capacity to equalise gravity. 

Inside, the ten SNK-BRD clad marines, strapped to the wall seats of the craft, either crossed themselves and said a prayer or merely hoped for a sea of nothing after their expected group demise. It appeared to them that this was going to be their final mission in the U.E.M.C. But black charred death, for now, would be avoided by these humans. In the same way you dream a strong invisible hand would come to their rescue, the thruster jet’s last-minute burst had softened the shock of impact and the APC came down in a violent but non-fatal vertical descent. The spread shock landing legs jolted into the ground – rubber and metal spring shock absorbers inside the legs taking as much of the impact as possible. One leg finally bent sideways under the pressure and popped out three metres away from the main body, in the process crushing half the thruster exhausts beyond repair and almost diverting the primal power back into the ship. The irradiated rocks cracked under the immense heat as the emergency landing sensors told the remaining thrusters to turn off, avoiding an internal explosion. The stationary U.E.M.C. craft now looked like a giant metal sawhorse around the size of a two-story house and covered in dirt and ash. 

It wouldn’t be going anywhere too soon without a repair crew of U.E. authorised mechanics. + After a minute, there was movement and gradual chatter in the highly insulated interior. With the toxic dust settling and the Queensland day waking, the first of the thankful and alive men to speak was their Sergeant, as the break of marine silence was only to be issued by someone in command during live mission. The men were rock solid in their obedience to training and only sign language was allowed even through times of pain and fear. ‘Cartwright? Mason? Who’s injured?’ Sergeant Samuels asked, fearing that the fall had taken some of his men. ‘My arm’s injured, Sir. It’s not too bad though considering’, winced the sore, slight-built private in the back-right corner of the interior main. His Australian accent was obviously broadened by the pain. ‘Okay Mason. Anyone else?’ Sergeant Samuels’ ice blue eyes surveyed the rest whilst biting some Chill gum from his backpack that rested underneath his rubber mesh seat. 

His weathered face grimaced in a quick flash as he then reached to the clips on his seatbelt and unbuckled. Sergeant himself was obviously injured, Clays thought. A trickle of blood flowed easily between Samuels’ dark brown hair and ears. ‘Nothing’s hurt except my feelings, Sir. Why did the other APCs bail out on us? Now we are the only marine dickheads down here without a return ticket to base. The plan was three APC’s full of bullet cushion saps to take and secure this sector of Old Brisbane before the droids pour in. It should be thirty freaks down playing in this dirt. Not just us dropping out of the sky and Leviathan then opening fire on its own.’ Cartwright rambled. The stocky redhead was a solid weathered bulldog of a man but his attempts at humour balanced this, reducing some of his threatening demeanour. ‘The APC computer log here records a joint order sent to the other APCs to not release and fall. Came from Hammerstein thirty seconds prior to drop time. Then an issue for Leviathan to open fire on us due to disobeying orders. What happened pilot? Feeling individual today and want to annoy General Hammerstein by going on an unwarranted day trip?’, Clays, communications marine, attempted to sort this out, tapping and scrambling through the log with his long fingers while accusing an entering Tanemahuta, the APC’s pilot. At 22 years old, the talented Maori from Auckland was the youngest here and obviously saw a blame game starting up. 

He’d just walked from the cock-pit into this open attack. ‘Look on your damn screen, Clays. On line twelve B. Says contact of message to APC 1 and 2 only and we got no cancel order, brother. None of us heard that because it wasn’t sent to us. Those bastards didn’t send the message to us at all. So, after screwing up, these geniuses screwed up again by trying to destroy us.” Tanemahuta was a solid man with the traditional tribal tattoos. It made him seem more like a monstrous warrior than a highly trained razor eyed U.E.M.C. pilot. Tanemahuta was both and a good friend to boot if you didn’t cross him or accuse him for almost bringing nine brothers down to death. Clays double checked line twelve on the screen readout. ‘Well you’re right Tanemahuta. Sorry. I’ll buy you dinner when this shit is over. No hard feelings man’, sniped Clays. The Dreadnought-sized Tanemahuta blankly paused and then wryly smiled at the miniscule radar marine. ‘We only got water and basic grub while down here. The beer and steak’s up on Leviathan so don’t push me. Otherwise, I’m going to find a stick, an open fire and a radar geek to roast on it. Hope there’s no hard feeling on that day, Clays.’ Tanemahuta started to walk off to the back room to quickly dress the deep gash on his hand. Samuels stood in the doorway blocking Tanemahuta’s exit.

 The Sergeant spoke to both Tanemahuta and Clays: ‘Come on kiddies. No squabbling. Remember who screwed you - that’s Hammerstein for you. Large, bloated and confused. Things were more above board when Johnson headed the Leviathan. Bet they have something down here that’s not here if you know what I mean. I want us out of this APC as soon as possible to avoid locals most likely searching for weapons and supplies salvage from this wreck. Cartwright - help Mason quick-set his arm with nano-skin so we can be out in five. Clays- check the rest of the comp log and ready the Millipedes.” ‘Yes Sir.’ Cartwright unclipped and pulled the briefcase shaped medical kit from under his seat. Pulling out what looked like a black roll of bandage, he opened one end and wrapped the ebony material around Mason’s damaged arm. After a second or two, the ink-coloured bandage changed to a wet slime and then set. The thinly spun nanobots joined quickly. The men prepared to leave the dull red emergency lights of the useless APC and exit into the harsh glare of an Australian morning. They were going to finish their original mission whether Hammerstein or those on Leviathan liked it or not. END OF REPORT] + Darkness embraced Jack Samuels. He was awash with pain that he never knew existed as his mind attempted to gain some sense of what had happened. One moment the marine squad was out of the APC and moving with speed, along with the 10 metallic Millipedes towards cover of a large shining rock and the next there was a blinding flash.

 Like being born, the pain of a thousand needles all over ceased and he was calm, a surface cool was under him. Yet he still could not see. Time had passed when again all went black, but he couldn’t remember for how long. A harsh metallic voice rasped at Jack and woke him. ‘Human2.0 Jack Thaddeus Samuels, Sergeant of UNITED EARTH Marine Corps. of LEVIATHAN. Presumed killer of APC Squad 1 pop. 09 marines at 0545 hours. Location Old Brisbane Exclusion Zone Row 243 Column 543.’ Jack faced towards the voice, still not able to see anything. He remained silent through further accusation. Perhaps he imagined but Jack thought a faint grey dot was forming in the centre of his vision. He was unbound, which was surprising, but he had no anger towards this android voice. A prison drone was unable to feel intimidation or fear and was at least three times stronger than a regular human 1.0. Jack was bio-mod 2.0 but still would have been too weak to take on the droid. ‘H2JTS. I am here to inform you that you have been disfigured in the incident and your facial recognition ID is voided due to this physical damage.” Cold, distant rumbling. Jack said, ‘So what’s the bad ne-w’ Flat expression. ‘Please allow me to finish. Your SNK-BRD appears to have fused somehow to your body as the nanotech binding is mixed within your system. We cannot remove it from your body and as such you are a special case within this Prison.’ ‘Oh shit.’ 

Extreme panic started to spread from his brain downwards. At almost immediately the same time, emotion suppressors from his bio suit kicked in and clicked Jack back on track. ‘Anyway. At least the Emotion-Suppressors obviously work. As you were saying?’ ‘Yes. As you said, this isn’t beneficial for either parties. You are still observed as being a biological weapon and as such are to be contained within this cell, separate from General Population.’ ‘Isolation then?’ Jack turned his head to periphery, listening around the room for options. ‘Well I am here due to the fact androids are unaffected by the fear of destruction. If you destroy me, I will be replaced for your further interrogation.’ ‘What date is it now?’ ‘It is the 25th of December 2084.’ ‘Merry Christmas. Now has any information from LEVIATHAN been obtained regarding what happened to my crew?’ ‘Well it has been deduced that you killed them all.’ ‘That is bullshit. Hammerstein issued us down there to cleanse the zone of hordes with extreme prejudice and then at the last second, we are the only ones heading down to our drop zone. What was the reason for the other APCs being informed to halt drop yet we were not given the order?’ ‘That is classified. LEVIATHAN General Hammerstein issued the order for the other two APCs to halt. Obviously there was last minute information regarding the drop. Now tell me H2JTS.’ ‘Just Jack.’ The android paused and spoke through Mr Samuels’ darkness. ‘H2JTS. Jack. Tell me. Tell me what you saw after leaving the APC with your marine squad.’ The words Jack then spoke felt strange to him.

 He was hearing them from down a long hallway. Again, came the distant words, whispered from another time. ‘I can’t remember too much. But I remember a voice telling me how to escape from here.’ Silence. Hesitation again. Jack almost sensed whatever the robot equivalent to a survival mechanism. Jack started to feel a migraine and nausea manifest when his SNK-BRD again stabilised his system. ‘How? There is no way out of here.’ ‘Well it is coming back to me now, but my team stumbled onto the Anomaly.’ ‘What is that?’ Again, came the distant words, whispered from another time. Spirals. Words that were his but somehow not married with his thoughts. ‘It was ETL. Was it?’ ‘So, are you stating you are infected with Extra-Terrestrial Life now, H2JTS?’ ‘I am now but, now am I?’ ‘Interesting palindromes but they won’t help you escape. The ETLs talk like this. You are aware that this is a symptom of rare ETL infection. The tentacled creature you call Anomaly is presently non-existent at the crash site but there is discrepancy in your human DNA, even accounting for 2.0 Modification. Usually exposure to ETL DNA kills the host within hours. Mr Samuels, you seem to be a remnant of the Anomaly as you are still alive. There have been no known survivors infected by these creatures. 

Until now Jack Samuels.’ The body of Jack and the entity consciousness within heard these fading words and then stood up from the bolted chair that unknown to him, stood in the middle of the small interrogation room. ‘Jack Samuels is nihil like the rest of our hosts. Long live Vortexia and blessed are the white hawks that dive beyond the black void into the red ocean of humanity. You give us a chance to travel Chronos. We thank your masters, droid’ The human once known as Jack Samuels vanished. + December 25th, 2020 C.E. BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA The humidity was a warm, wet rag over the face. Suffocating but it would make the looming final release of cool rain that much sweeter. The yellow glow of the street lights gazed upon the broken body beneath. The artificial night sentinels of metal and light were unfeeling, unmoved towards the plight of this dead juvenile human, as was the impersonal universe in general. However, this cold, lack of concern was broken by the glowing, warm bubble of another human. That human was Detective Matthew Sturm who climbed out of his dark blue Ford and shut the heavy door. He lit a cigarette with a deft hand and then walked over to the police patrol parked near the victim. 

The cacophony of distant canine howls was the only fanfare that Matthew received. This made him smile. ‘What's so funny Matt?’ ‘Nothing John. I wanted to be a teacher when I was a kid.’ ‘Well perhaps , someday you can still get out of this mess and live the dream.’ ‘Yeah. What we got?’ The patrol officer got up from sitting in his police car and walked over to the corpse as he explained, ‘White male, estimate around mid-twenties. Cleanly Decapitated and hands and feet removed in a surgical, tidy manner. With much effort, the perp removed the extremities yet it's funny how no effort was made to hide the deed. Out in the open next to a factory dumpster. Body has been moved with little blood from the extreme injuries sustained’ ‘Maybe the Vic’s last wish was to rest under the open sky.’ ‘Or they were sending a message more like. Maybe drug business related?’ "We will have to wait for the CSU to get here for more.’ ‘You alright here Matt? I was off duty an hour ago.’ ‘No problem John. Say hi to the wife and kids for me when you wake in the land of the living.’ ‘ Yeah. Yeah. See you Detective. Merry Christmas.’ “Same to you.” John Marten, a hefty forty-year old cop, moved over into his patrol, shifted his weight until he was comfortable in his seat, and drove off down towards the quiet dark street away from the glow of the yellow streetlamps. The red brake lights glowed in the swirling black as he rounded the corner and then he was gone.

 Matthew crouched down, a metre or so away from the tragic body. The stubble faced detective, tall but solid, whispered to his decapitated friend as he drew a deep, steady breath from his cigarette. His blue eyes peered deep into the grisly image of his quiet companion's demise... ‘Tell me your story.’ . The young corpse’s story was not that of a victim but of chaotic justice. Levi Bronson was a twenty-three-year-old monster who had sexually assaulted and killed girls. He was parked in his dirty white tradesman van fifty metre’s down the road from a 7-11. Levi sat in the dirty driver’s seat, eating a convenience store hot dog and sipping his coffee while glancing into the back compartment of his van. A young red-haired girl around 15 years old was bound, gagged and lying on her side, quiet and terrified. Her eyes showed she was old enough to know what was coming. “Oh yeah. Don’t give me that look, bitch. I will make you feel good soon.” Levi said in between chews of his food. Levi fed off the terror in her eyes for another beat or so and then he reached over for his coffee held in the middle console. 

The warm liquid washed down the remainder of his finished meal and he heard a sound from the back where the girl was held. Levi looked in the rear-vision mirror. A shadowy figure had appeared from nowhere, silently like out of a nightmare he thought. The shadow did not move but was crouched over the girl. Her eyes remained in the terror-fixation, yet this absurdity made her lift her brows a little, wide eyed and helpless. His stomach dropped, and this was a weird sensation as Levi was used to being in the power position, abusing the weak. Then, out of the blackness of the van, the dark figure’s head was illuminated by two burning crimson eyes. It wore a glistening, ivory mask and looked like Death itself. Levi slowly shifted in his driver’s seat, left arm inching for the blades he kept under his seat. He reconsidered as the figure did a head tilt, like a curious and entertained canine, and a wave of fear crept from the base of Levi’s spine and spread up through his back and shoulders. Sweat and hair standing on edge. Then it was GO time – Levi burst out of his open driver’s door. Instinct and fear overtaking his frontal brain and in an instant Levi Bronson was the terrified animal he had been as a child – a deer running frantic from the tide of darkness that hunted and panted right behind him.

 But this time it wasn’t generational abuse handed down through the species. This was a new surreal existence as Levi flew down the street, weaving down alleyways and jumping low-standing fences. Streetlamp, shadow, streetlamp staccato sequence of light and dark. A move gradually from industrial to residential and Levi heard the increase of pet dog barks replace the seriousness of security Dobermans scrape of claws on concrete, guarding of business perimeters. His heart thumped inside furiously, and he wondered if this was a bad dream or reality. 'Come on you fucker,' Levi spat at the night and grabbed a metal rod from an over-full wheelie bin. Dogs were still barking and then fell silent. The cacophony had ceased. Levi hopped another fence, running over wet grass and then burst into the back door of a small house. An elderly man sitting on his lounge looked at this terrified man. The old man’s shock turned to terror as, like from the very air, a white-faced apparition appeared in the doorway behind Levi. A metallic, snake appendage from the chin of the elongated mask whip cracked the first intruder’s skull base. The tubing spread out flat, morphing into a flexible blade. Lights out. Body crumpled to the ground. The figure with the white death mask hissed, “ The first of the uninvited ones now can begin to visit this party.” The old man had lifted his arm over his face, shielding himself from this horror but when he had quickly composed his surprise, the spectral figure and executed stranger were gone. The main bedroom door opened, and the old man’s wife came out cautiously, a blur in the background entering the scarred room. Where the apparition had stood, a distortion ever so slightly fluttered the perception of the backyard entrance. ‘What happened George? I heard screams and thought someone was attacking you.’ 

 George put his hands up as if this would prove that he was awake. Wrinkled skin shifted over bones and George turned to reply to the woman he loved for all these years. ‘I don’t know Mary. This young man burst into the room and I thought he was here to steal from us. Then this – well I guess you could call it a man – this man came up behind the first guy and just killed him on the spot.’ 

 “Call the police.” ‘Doing it right now. Can you put the kettle on please?’ ‘Sure darling.’ George took the handset phone off its cradle charger and the buttons lit up. As he waited, George watched Mary busy herself in their small kitchen and open the metal biscuit tin that hold their tea-bags. ‘Police please.’ ‘We’ve had a break-in and I’ve just witnessed a murder in my living-room.’ ‘George Archer. 65 Burton Street.’ ‘Yes. Acacia Ridge.’ ‘Thank you.’ + Two cars pulled up outside George and Mary Archer’s residence in the late night. ‘Detective Matthew Sturm and Constable Deacon Smith here regarding the emergency call made from this residence at 9:36 PM.’ Matthew Sturm didn’t get that break he wanted at home. ‘Yes. George.’ Shaking of hands and pleasantries. ‘Do come in.’ George led them into the scene at the back. “You are aware that information you give Constable Deacon Smith and myself will be recorded via audio recording and written documentation?” ‘George?’ Detective Matthew Sturm queried. ‘Yes?’ George looked at Matthew eagerly. ‘What were you doing prior to the incident? Where were you located?’ Matthew continued. Mary came out into the Livingroom and asked the two visitors if they wanted a tea or coffee. Both declined. 

 ‘Well I was watching The Godfather on TV and was just about to head off to bed. I heard from down the street dog barking starting and more and more dogs losing their minds.’ 
 ‘And this was around? Around what time?’
 ‘9:31PM. I’d actually checked the clock as I was getting tired so yes it was definitely then.’ Detective Matthew Sturm wrote in his small notepad. George glanced at it -georgearcher931pmgodfathertvdogsbarkingdownstreet - ‘Interesting note taking Detective.’
 ‘Oh he he yeah George. Old habit of not worrying about spacing. Efficient at the scene but not at the time I review at headquarters through my notes he he.’
 ‘Whatever helps solve the case.’
 ‘Yes. For sure. So, what happened then?’ George sat down in his lounge chair and this helped him recall the event better. Mary brought out George a cup of tea and placed it on the coffee table in front of him. George had a sip of tea and talked.
 ‘Well this young man burst in through the back door after about twenty seconds of him screaming, “Come on fucker or something.’ ‘Or something?’ 
 ‘No. It was definitely “Come on Fucker”
 ‘George! Language.” Mary scorned him. 
 ‘Sorry Sweetie but the detective needs to hear it verbatim.’ 
 ‘Yes George is correct Mary.’ 
 ‘Boys.’ Mary clucked her tongue and sat down on the spare seat, finishing up a cross-word puzzle with her reading glasses perched elegantly across her brow. George looked back over towards Matthew. It amused George how Matthew was absolutely ready to jot down every last detail into his little notepad. “Yes so I heard what I assume was the deceased’s voice outside swearing and then it was about twenty seconds later that the two men burst in through my house’s entrance from the backyard.” Pause and wait for The Detective to be ready. Matthews finished up the interview, typed and logged his notes into the Police database from the computer in his car. Constable Deacon Smith got called to a local domestic disturbance and bid Matthew farewell. Matthew was sure he sure a blur out of the corner of his eye near the bushes as he sat in his vehicle and waited to see if it was just a stray dog or something. Nothing appeared as the wind gently blew a soft breeze, rustling the leaves of the suburban trees and bushes. 

  2. THE PARTY AND THE UNINVITED

 Detective Matthew Sturm eased his dark blue Ford into his garage and turned off the engine. He kept the car stereo playing Chopin’s Nocturne on low volume while the automated doors closing with a mechanical moan. The auto-light plugged into the power point of his garage blinkered for a minute then turned itself off. Matthew sat in his driver’s seat and listened to music from a composer long dead, the gentle dripping of the keys notes gracefully landing in perfect design. He closed his eyes and drank in the music and breathed deeply out. He was due for his next shift in five hours as he had worked over into his off time with this bizarre case of the decapitated man. George had told Matthew that the unidentified murder had said “The first of the uninvited ones now can begin to visit this party.” Clearly on some strong hallucinogen or something.

 Matthew had a cup of tea in his kitchen, showered and then drifted off into a well earned sleep. + Matthew emerged from the dark depths of consciousness and brewed up a strong coffee, had some Vegemite toast and headed out again. ‘Hi Ho. Hi Ho. Off to work I go,’ Mr Sturm hummed to himself. At the Brisbane City Morgue, Matthew visited Hamish Black who was principal examiner of the decapitated corpse that the corpse crew had brought in hours before. He had been working steadfastly with his team while the Detective slept. Hamish was a pale looking man aged in his forties, balding except for a shock of red hair trailing at the back of his head like fire on salt flats. His examiner apron had a tinge of pink from the carving. “Detective Sturm. What a pleasure to see you.” 
 “Feeling’s mutual Hamish. What we got?” Levi Bronson’s decapitated body lay there on the exam table, a marvelous centrepiece for the cold, sterile room. It really did add some colour to the place. A red rose bursting from a brown stem. 

 ‘Well since we don’t have a head yet, dental records are out. Fingerprint results have already made a match with a perp named Levi Bronson.’ ‘Oh yeah?’ ‘Yes Police database show that he doesn’t have any living relatives so no option for a visit to family to get them to identify the body. Apparently meth has pretty much decimated that bloodline.’ ‘Bugger.’ ‘… but the prints will be enough as this dumb bastard has a long list of offenses on record. Paedophile with a history of violence.’ ‘Best thing for him then.’ Matthew wry smile beamed. ‘So was he just in the area scoping for a child to kidnap?’ ‘Well just a bit further in the suburb a young teen girl was found by a service station attendant and a customer. She was tied up in the back of a white tradesman van registered to Levi Bronson. Levi was a maintenance worker for a High School.’ ‘Great employment choice for a registered paedo. How that slip through the cracks?’ 
 ‘Don’t know.’ 
 ‘So maybe the killer of Levi stumbled across Levi and this kidnapped girl in the van. Who is she?’
 ‘Well the girl has not talked to Police to say who she is. She is in a state of shock. She obviously saw something last night unless it is mainly the trauma from Levi kidnapping her.’
 ‘You are working much more here on Levi Bronson?’ 
 ‘No Matt just overall clean up now. My team has already taken swabs for DNA identification and we will have that soon. With the fingerprint match and the proximity of Levi’s van being just a kilometre away, it seems we have our vic and perp wrapped up in one. I’ll leave it up to you to track down Levi’s killer, Boss.’

 ‘Cheers Hamish.’ ‘No problem. I’ll get to it. You know which hospital and room they’re looking after the kidnapped girl?’ 
 ‘PA Hospital. Room 15 B on level 2.’ 
 ‘Have a good one. Interesting Boxing Day hey?’
 ‘You said it,’ Hamish smiled and went back to cleaning up the ooze from Lexi’s neck. Matthew raised a hand up goodbye as he walked away from the ghastly scene. + Matthew parked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and greeted the Sexual Crime team outside Room 15B that were consoling the teenage girl ten minutes before. ‘Has she told you her name yet?’ ‘No Detective. She wont move. She’s a deer in the headlights still. She just keeps looking out the window into the distance.’ ‘Would it be okay if I talk to her. I know you guys have authority to say no, but it may help.’ The blonde-haired female SC officer looked to her workmate, a talk, dark haired Maori woman, Margret, by her body language and demeanour, obviously was the senior rank in this couple. Margret spoke, ‘Yes we think it should be okay Detective Sturm. Just be mindful of what this girl has been through. We haven’t been able to get her consent for a rape kit to see if she has been sexually assaulted so every minute that passes, physical evidence is deteriorating.’ ‘Okay Margret. Thank you and I understand.’

 ‘We’ll be out here if you need us. She obviously is in the room by herself which is quite a feat these days.’ Matthew knocked on the hospital bedroom door. Not surprising, there was no answer, but the courteous gesture may help make progress. The red headed girl was sitting at the window still in a hospital visitor char in the corner of the room. The view from the window looked out onto the suburban sprawl below. ‘Hello I’m Detective Matthew Sturm.’ He announced himself. The teen still looked on out the window. A television helicopter in the distance flitted across the sky. Clear blue sky it was. Dead silence then after ten seconds, the faintest whisper. ‘I’m Casey.’ Matthew was shocked and he realised his mouth was wide open. He never felt like he connected well with young people and children and usually kept his distance. He had been close years before and his Ex, Kate, had been pregnant but she lost the child in the second Trimester from a car accident. Matthew was not at fault, but he was the one driving on that fateful thunderstorm night. The relationship never recovered thanks to one idiot alcoholic who decide to do a beer run and head out blotto onto the slippery roads. Maybe Casey smelled the same sense of sorrow on Matthew that she also held now.

 ‘Hello Casey. It’s nice to meet you.’ ‘It’s not nice to meet you. Just reminds me why I’m here. That bastard. That bastard.’
 ‘ I know this is hard and the team outside. You didn’t want to speak to them?’ 
 ‘No because I’m just another rape victim to them. I see it in their eyes. They don’t need to be here. I wasn’t raped.’
 ‘Okay Casey. I believe you.’ Matthew lied. ‘Can you please tell me your full name? Your family are probably worried sick now. Not knowing where you are.’
 ‘Casey Derleth. And you are probably right. He took my mobile and purse and threw them away somewhere. I don’t know where because he had blindfolded me at the beginning.’ 
 ‘How did he get you? Please tell me where you were when Levi Bronson grabbed you.’
 ‘You know his name? Oh my God.’ Casey burst out in tears, the dam wall of defense dropped, and Casey was a river. Matthew handed her the box of tissues on the sideboard next to the hospital bed. ‘Casey the man who grabbed you and held you against your will in the van, Levi Bronson. He is dead.’
 ‘That thing. That monster must have got him. It’s still out there but I’m glad that prick is dead.’ 
 ‘Off the record, Casey, so am I. Levi was a dangerous paedophile who had hurt kids many times before. You are very lucky.’
 ‘I know that that thing when I was tied up in the van. It was sent from God but it didn’t look like an angel. More like a demon.’ 
 ‘Casey that man or whatever he was cleanly cut off Levi’s head. He decapitated him. Can’t you please tell me where you were taken,’ Matthew reiterated the question. 

 ‘From my bedroom. I live in Springfield. I was asleep and woke up with his hand on my mouth. Mum and Dad had gone on a camping trip, but I decided to stay home to work on an assignment due in school two days later and I had left it until the last minute to start. He had a knife to my throat, and he said if I screamed, he would kill me. I saw in his eyes he wasn’t lying. He put a pair of rolled socks from my drawers in my mouth and duct taped me. He took me and tied up my hands and feet and lifted me fireman carry over his shoulder. He blindfolded me but I knew by the sound of the doors opening he was putting me in a big car, like a bus or van. He drove for around an hour but didn’t say anything to me until he took off my blindfold when he stopped at a 7-11 servo.

 



 Casey had told her story up to the point where she had been able to wriggle the blindfold off her face. Her kidnapper had shown no concern that Casey had seen him. Arrogance. Detective Sturm had written down all the information Casey had given Matthew, thanked her and wished Casey a rapid recovery. He sounded like he meant it. When Sturm had gone, Casey still remembered Levi’s words, ‘Oh yeah. Don’t give me that look, bitch. I will make you feel good soon.’ But they no longer had sting or threat to them and were just a memory. 

 ‘No, you won’t’, Casey thought to herself, speaking in her mind to her kidnapper, Levi the Weak and Pathetic. He is covered in salty bullets of fear. Now he is decapitated and food for the worms. ‘You’re dead.’ Even small monsters are prey to the big ones. But a more silent dread lurked further in the distance for Casey now. That ‘thing’ that killed Levi wasn’t fully human. Casey sensed that for sure. Even a lifetime from now, standing in a garden filled with sunshine, Casey knew she would be turning a stiff neck, checking over her withered shoulder for this swirling black hole in ‘human’ form. 

 + Matthew walked through the hospital and exited down to the parking bay. His dark vehicle had a sheen of dew formed on it and he lit a cigarette. The warm smoke breathed down into his lungs and he sighed. Flashing red and white lights and sirens. ‘So, what is the deal?’ He flicked his lighter in annoyance as if that would help. Around the corner, an ambulance crew pulled a bloodied patient calmly through to A&E. ‘So, what is the deal?’ ‘Next I think will be to search all the residential security cameras near George and Mary Archer’s home. He would need a warrant for access to neighbourhood private video data. 

 + It had been a struggle, but Matthew was able to do his job. At home, he clicked through different files saved by neighbours’ computers for insurance claims and safeguarding from petty thieves. Now it was potential evidence of a murder but by what? A crazed drug fiend chasing down a rapist of children. Casey couldn’t tell of any distinguishing features that could help identify the murderer as someone that she knew. Casey kept telling Matthew that the murderer looked human, but he wasn’t human. Occam’s Razor was something Matthew used quite often in his investigations and usually the simplest explanation was the truth. One of Levi’s associates was on drugs and Levi owed him cash, recognising Levi’s vehicle, the assailant confronted and chased Levi down into the dark. Butchered him like so many other cases where it is personal and savage. Sadism amplified by drugs or extreme hate and revenge. Perhaps it was a vigilante father that Levi molested the daughter of. Perhaps. Maybe. Possible. But the image that Matthew saw on the screen after wading through hours of dead air and calm didn’t appear to be that. A death cult. The white skull mask and glowing red reflective eyes. The swiftness that this man-beast chased Levi down. Almost cheetah speed. An Olympic athlete dropout on a new unknown performance enhancing drug. The look of terror on Levi’s was true but which theory was? A drop of rain hit the window next to him. 

 




 ‘Ricko, I saw a flash of light inside the white van outside. Go check it out’, the fat man bellowed while not looking away from the rugby game on the small portable TV. Richard stayed sitting next to Bruce in the security room filled with screens linked with the five security cameras outside. ‘Why? It’s not my turn.’ ‘I’m comfy and the Storm are about to get a try an’ you don’t give a shit about footy.’

 Richard got up and opened to door out to the impound. A gust of cool air hit his face, thankfully replacing Bruce’s body odour aroma. Dick saw that gentle rain had settled in and the sky was a dark purple bruise. The vehicles all stood on wet bitumen and reflections of bright security lights shone back at him. ‘On the plus side it smells better out here away from your stink Bruce’, Richard quipped as he let the door self-close. Bruce tried to think of a smart comeback, but he wasn’t one to work too hard. The van of Levi Bronson was locked, Brisbane police vehicle impound attendant Richard Beckworth was sure of that. ‘Then why is the door open?’ Richard spat. He reached over to close it but a scaly, slithering tentacle wrapped around his hairy arm.


 Richard was no weakling, but he was held like a twig in a storm. The tentacle tightened and Richard screamed in agony. ‘Get out here Bruce. Help me you bastard.’ Bruce, after Richard’s second yell out for him, came out and slipped over. He awkwardly fell down the small set of concrete stairs and down into the car park. Bruce hit his head hard and knocked himself out. Richard tried to pull his gun out of his holster, but the tentacle arm was joined by another slimy appendage and this one forced itself into Richard’s mouth, easily prying open his jaw. His throat burned as if a thousand needles jabbed from the inside and then a black oozing liquid started filling him up with the filth of a thousand distant worlds. Just before he lost consciousness, Richard imagined his long dead mother whisper to him. ‘It’s okay Richard because I am here as well. Just let go and be at peace.’

 Bruce regained consciousness as the sun was rising above the car park. The rain had stopped, and he came back to his thoughts, ‘Jesus Richard.’ Bruce looked over to where he had last seen Richard but a pink writhing mass of what looked like roadkill twitched on the asphalt next to the white van in the centre of the lot. There were parts that still looked like Richard but melted and distorted. Other parts of Richard had tendrils and tentacles coming out from him. Bruce pulled himself up and was surprised. He automatically pulled his weapon from his side and fired several direct shots at the ungodly beast. He had expended all the bullets from his clip but this just enraged the creature even more. The squid-like monstrosity slid across over to Bruce. Underneath it, an oozing black residue was left in it's wake. A huge snail trail glistening on the ground. With inhuman speed, the creature shot a small barrage of ebony needles into Bruce’s face, blinding him with intense pain. He had never imagined agony like this and quickly succumbed to the pain. In terror, Bruce also joined the darkness of oblivion.

 The loud commotion of screams and pistol shots had drawn a gathering crowd of brave onlookers. The original beast from within the van burst out from the vehicle and tore the metal side-panels into pieces like tissue paper. The alien life form that had altered Richard now had grown into a mass as large as a grizzly bear. It snarled and assaulted the people with high pitched screams, waving it's tentacles towards the crowd. The thing that once was Richard, leaped with great speed away from the corpse of Bruce, flipping and spinning as it came. The onlookers tried to run but it was too late and the crowd of five bystanders were torn to shreds by these things as they all fell upon them like a pack of huge, skinned wolves. 

 + People didn't understand how quickly the organism would spread. The squids that emerged from Levi Bronson's van, (through a rift in space and time), were just the beginning of the end for the human race. These creatures, Extra- Terrestrial Life, were from a distant point of origin but it really didn't matter from where they came: They were here now. These swarming squid easily challenged Homo Sapiens as the dominant species of Earth. The strength of humanity always was the agreed symbolic structures of mass society but there were chinks in the ape armour. When competing with the individual need for survival, the animal collective crumbled within humans as they retreated to a more primitive tribalism. 

 To be continued... 

 Thank you for reading, Gavin.       

Contact: Gavin_wainwright@hotmail.com