I looked around the control room at the prone, limp, dead bodies of the scientists. My mouth dropped open as I realized, in a rush of horror, what had happened to them.
“The orbs,” I said softly, staring at the dead men and women.
It didn’t take long to dawn on the rest of my team. They also looked around, faces twisting in revulsion.
“Mon god,” Henry breathed. “And it destroyed them, just like that. It could have done the same to us, if…”
“If it wanted to,” Sergei finished the Frenchman’s thought for him. “But it did not. And why?”
We all turned, guessing at the answer. Sara blinked up at us, thankfully not able to keep up with the thoughts rushing through our heads.
“What?” she asked, looking concerned, as if she might be in some sort of trouble that she didn’t understand. But none of us had an answer for her. When none of us sad anything, she started looking around, her eyes lingering on the scientists. I dreaded the question that I guessed she was about to ask.
A minute later, however, a loud crash interrupted her thoughts and my anticipation of a tough answer about death. We all looked up, hands flying to weapons, but the crashing, destructive noises sounded as though they were coming from another part of the building. They didn’t sound exactly like they were growing louder – but they also sounded far too damaging for my comfort.
“Sounds like bloody trouble,” Jaspers growled, his beard bristling as he echoed my own thoughts.
I nodded. Take control, Brian. Be active, not passive. “Right, it sounds like it’s the opposite direction of the entrance where we came in,” I said, cocking my head slightly to one side as I tried to listen. Errant memories of that red, burning tentacle tried to encroach on my head, but I forced them out. I would deal with those later.
I pointed back towards the door through which we’d entered. “Let’s get out of this enclosed space. Corinne, Feng, can you help get Sara out to the trucks? The rest of us will follow, sweep the building.” What we were looking for, exactly, I couldn’t answer.
I didn’t need to have a more specific answer for my team, at least. The tone of my voice, the conviction of my words, was enough to carry them forward into action. They nodded as one, rising up and shaking off the last of the muscle strain and fatigue from whatever mental challenge we’d just been through.
Even though we were moving away from the sound of the crashing, breaking noises, they still sounded as though they were growing louder as we retreated back towards the entrance to the Blue Diamond facility. That worried me, and I saw the lips tighten on a couple other members of my team. No one spoke, but hands started straying towards weapons, checking slides and seating magazines. I felt everyone tightening and growing more ready, tensing and tightening their mental spring.
Suddenly, Henry reached out to tap my shoulder. “Captain, over there,” he said, pointing as we entered out into the big lobby.
I followed his finger, frowning. “What?”
He indicated a desk, over to one side of the lobby, set back a bit from the front entrance. “Looks like security cameras.”
“Good catch.” Feng, Corinne, and our twelve-year-old charge kept on heading out towards the trucks, but the rest of us changed course towards the security monitors. There was a bank of them, a dozen small six-inch screens installed to face the occupant of the desk. We stopped in front of them, Jaspers pausing on the other side of the desk to stay on alert with his rifle up, and ran our eyes over the screens.
It was immediately apparent to us that something was happening. A good number of the screens showed only flickering static, overlaid with the words “CONNECTION LOST.” Several other screens showed flickering, hazy views of rooms that looked so destroyed that I briefly wondered if some sort of bomb had gone off.
“Looks like a bleeding disaster area,” Henry said, echoing my thoughts aloud.
“Can’t be explosions. It is still happening,” Sergei said, cocking his head slightly to one side as he listened. Indeed, as if to punctuate his words, another crash came from deeper in the building.
“Wait,” Henry said suddenly, stabbing out a finger to point at one of the screens. “There. That looks like an external view, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, but I don’t…” My words died off as I watched the scene on that camera abruptly, dramatically change.
One second, the outer wall of the Blue Diamond facility was intact and undamaged on the small black and white camera. The next second, it exploded outward, as something came lurching out through the cement and concrete as if it was tissue paper. The explosion threw up clouds of dust and smoke, but I caught flashes of some sort of reptilian scales, rippling like a school of fish churning just below the surface of the water.
“What the hell was that?” I exclaimed, leaning in closer to the screen as if I could peer through the static and dust.
“Whatever it is, it’s outside now,” Jaspers said. Hefting his rifle, he took a step closer to the glass walls of the lobby, peering out through the floor to ceiling windows. “And it’s headed away.”
He flicked his gaze over towards the trucks. “Looks like they headed off in the other direction. Doesn’t look like it’s chasing them, although I have no bloody idea what it is or what it might do.”
“Is pretty obvious what it is,” Sergei said quietly. The rest of us turned to look at him. “Is the thing from the spirit vision. The killer.”
“Oh wow, a bloody meta-fucking-physical answer from the mysterious Russian,” Jaspers groaned, turning briefly away from the window to glare over one shoulder at Sergei. “And what the hell is it, actually?”
Sergei didn’t rise to the challenge, thankfully; he just closed his eyes and breathed out slowly. “Evil,” he stated.
I heard Jaspers growling into his beard, but none of us could deny the truth to the Russian’s words. If the others were like me, they still remembered every detail of that out-of-body experience, as if it had been seared into our brains with a branding iron. I remembered the pure malice in that… that thing, huge and massive and rearing up to squash us as if we were nothing more than ants in its way, a simple act of casual cruelty.
“We need to get out of here,” I said. “We can’t do anything more here. The other scientists are dead, and there’s no sign of Sara’s father. This is where something happened, to be clear – the Event started here – but we can’t find more clues now. And I don’t think I’ll feel safe until we’ve got more distance between us and whatever that thing is out there.”
Thankfully, no one challenged this plan. From their nods, they clearly felt the same way about that monster out there. I took the lead, heading for the other truck, and they followed behind.
We’d get back to the town area of Waxahachie, set up camp, talk about what we’d heard and try to figure out how it all came together. And maybe, if we put our heads together, we could come up with some sort of answer for what was happening.
To be continued…