Children of the Entity: the Blurred Man

This particular short was inspired by this word prompt. It introduces the origins of the Blurred Man. Look out for him in Memories of Steel. For even if you don’t see him. He sees you.

*

My siblings all have their story. The Lifetaker watched his mother burn at the stake for being a witch. The Wanderer witnessed the death of his beloved at the hands of our brother, Laech. Laech himself witnessed his first wife become dust. A dust that contained a gem of immortality. It turns out she was more than just your ordinary human. I’m not exactly sure about the other three and how they came to be. We’ve never been a close family. Can you even call us that? You see, this isn’t how I died but rather how I was reborn.

In the shadow of the First Trade War, my squad and I were aiming for the heart of the I/Sect. Its existence and connections had allowed Europe to bypass Russia altogether in the world of commodity. Such an alliance would turn the Soviet Unity into a cornered rat if the Chinese ever decided to work with them. A preemptive show of force was decided upon if only to seize the oil fields and give new life to the Unity’s war machine.

This story however, is not about the war. But it helps to understand my current predicament. The war itself was an insignificance compared to what happened to me. Foresight isn’t something that just happens. I developed it as a child. I remember my father coming home one day with a strange bronze coloured ball. That’s where it began. I could experience premonitions everytime I interacted with that strange device. I would be see events yet to happen. My father being a man of science used my experiences to study the nature of the sphere. When I asked if he had experienced this gift of foresight. He denied it. From that point forward we ran tests ranging from coin flips to gambling. He stopped before it became suspicious. The predictions were always right. There was no doubt about it. The technology he later told me was not of this earth but recovered from a race of beings long since passed.

You might ask how I ended up in the military. When my father passed, his will made mention of the Future Sphere (the name he gave it). It was to be my sole inheritance. The rest of the family inheritance went to my many brothers and sisters. While you can do a lot with money and wealth. I possessed a means to shape the future. To set the Unity on course to great things. At least that was the idea.

The sphere is not only how I ended up with a gun to the back of my head. It led to my eternal torment in the Expanse. You see the Future Sphere’s ability to see forward in time was just one of its many tricks. I now understand the device was a communicator used by the fallen Arbor over long distances. My adoptive mother explained everything. To be honest looking back on it. It all sounds so absurd.

*

As the main divisions of the Unitys army swept through the I/Sect I was tasked with keeping the newly founded civilian insurgents from shooting us in the back. This led to my patrol in one of the many forgettable towns we had to occupy. We were a squad of five, and I was its Captain. We were tasked with scouting ahead from any signs of insurgent activity. When a loud knock came from the nearby building. I had instinctively touched the Future Sphere as it hung from my belt. It only showed me flashes of the future.

An open door. An empty hallway covered in sand. A living room with a television showing static and finally a garden. A dead tree. Foot steps. Gun shots. They shook me back to my senses.

At the time the vision was confusing. I had to assume the damned thing had just shown me my future. That was also when I saw her for the first time. No one else in my squad did. I can be sure of that. A woman covered in white from head to toe. Untouched by the world around her just watching me. All I could make out was her eyes. Empty of anything close to emotion. As if the reaper itself had come to collect my soul. I had no way of knowing if they killed me. The vision showed everything from my perspective. But it ended with gunfire. Would they really betray me?

“Captain, maybe we should check the building. There could be insurgents inside.”

I agreed but still had my doubts. “If there were wouldn’t they have attacked by now?”

My squad looked visibly nervous as if the question alone put fear in their minds. It can’t be them. Why? I’ve served with them for most of my life. Why betray me here?

“True, are you saying we should leave it.”

“No,” I answer approaching the door made of wood. It opens with little resistance. “Privates Yerohkin and Zherdev I want you lead this one. Scout the downstairs. The two privates entered with little complaint. That just left me with Sergeants Balakin and Garin. “You two check upstairs.”

“And what about you, Captain?”

“I will guard the front.”

The two men look at each other before following the order. I can avoid my fate if I stay here. Should I check? Am I to live in fear from this point forward. Is my fate unavoidable or is the Future Sphere a constant. My heart thundered against my chest as sweat rolled down my cheeks.

I should just kill them… I heard a noise and cry from inside and natural instinct took over. I had already set my future in motion. I moved to the living room and found nothing but a static television. “Someone report!”

Nothing. I return to the hall way and look to what appeared to be a cluttered kitchen. The back door was open. I touch the Sphere. Nothing. Bastard.

With one hand on my rifle I approach the back door and enter the back garden. In the centre is the dead tree from my vision. Gun fire, I close my eyes. I’m still alive. I turn around to see Garin standing over an insurgent.

“You okay, Captain. Has the heat got to you.”

“No…”

I see the bastard out of the corner of my eye. The cheeky private had hidden behind the tree. The insurgent had been used to distract. To focus my attention on Garin. I heard the gunshot. The world tilted and I hit the ground with a thud, the life crept away from me.

*

To this day I have no clue why they did it. I can only think they intended to desert and couldn’t trust me. Maybe they had a deal with the insurgents? I didn’t know and would never find out. When they left. I was now alone with her.

“Abusing such power led you to me. The Sphere calls to me. To the Expanse. An existence beyond what you consider to be mortality.”

At this point she was talking to a corpse.

“Though the body dies. A mind like yours is ripe for the picking. How many does that make now? Seven. Seven humans to influence the future of all humankind. You will be my champion. We will not know you. But first you must wait my dear child.”

She kneels down in front of me and strokes my cheek. Her hand rests on the Sphere. And from there I don’t know what happened. One minute I was dead. The next I stood on a plain of existence that was entirely surreal. It stretched for an eternity. She was at my side. Only she wore grey and not white. I was confused.

The grey figure sighs, “That’s just what we need. Another pawn. But who do you belong to? Which version of me manifested this time. Fine. You can stay here but I am not obligated to acknowledge a lower specie.”

The grey figure turned and marched purposefully into the fog. I was alone. I was alive in spirit. But my body. I had a second chance now. But the one that gave me it. I still don’t understand what they want from me. But when the time comes. I think I’ll know. For now I watch the world through mirrors shaping it as the unseen one.

I think they call me the Blurred Man now? Whatever that means.

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The Fall Years – The Roswell Incident

In 1947, the Lazarus city on the Moon goes dark. Hours later pieces of a UFO were observed entering Earth’s atmosphere. Some of those pieces would later crash in Roswell, New Mexico. Amongst the wreckage is a single transport. Inside is a survivor. Not human but alien. And it brings news of a coming fleet.

***

The Pentagon’s staff hurried back and forth as events on the Moon reached a tragic conclusion. Now chatter turned to the apparent vessel observed over Lazarus. The notion that aliens existed wasn’t new for humanity. The last few centuries had led to the discovery of great spheres that could have only come from elsewhere in the universe. This ultimately meant that meeting life beyond the Earth was all a matter of time. The Secretary of Navy, James Forrestal was joined by a senior adviser. The man’s flushed face showed all he needed to know. No one had an ounce of an idea on how to deal with this prospective threat. The President’s reasoning was that since Forrestal headed the navy as it travelled overseas. Why should space be any different?
“What’s the timeline we’re working with?” Forrestal asked leaning on the railing.
“A few hours ago our satellites over North America picked up an object in close proximity to the moon and followed its trajectory to its current point. We have grainy images, sir. But they at one point show the vessel breaking into pieces. We tracked most of the pieces to ground zero, Roswell, New Mexico. It can be assumed that whatever has occurred on Lazarus may well have had an impact on this vessel.”
“Are there casualties? In or around Roswell.”
“The crash site is outside most population centres, sir. A lot of people likely saw the crash. Our containment teams are already mobilised to secure the wreckage. And newsprint is being closely observed. I’m a little concerned that the other nations will jump to conclusions. Some might think this is an alien invasion or worse, that we’ve been attacked by a foreign power.”
“For all we know, it could be,” Forrestal said. “Relay what we know so far to President Truman. Now is not the time for preemptive action. The rest of the world is probably just as in the dark as we are. I can’t help but wonder what the hell happened to Lazarus though. Open up a channel to Grey or James. See if they can help us.”
“And if they won’t?”
“Well we’ll have to cross that bridge when we come to it,” said Forrestal as the massive circular table projected the alien craft and then transitioned into showing the parts that broke away, “Also have some engineers see if we can piece together what led to the ship’s demise. I have a feeling it was self-inflicted.
“Understood, sir. I’ll get on it right away.”

***

A few hours earlier

The alarms blaring in his ears drowned out his thoughts until it all fell silent with a heavy thud as his bloodied grey fist met the door button. For Kor, everything about this had been hell. The discovery of a Gaia world and life on it was incredible. Finding the Primor or as Terrans called them ‘Mort’s’ was worse. The Outreach’s self destruct had been triggered at some point. He had only minutes if that to get off the damned vessel. His still smoking plasma rifle made a loud clang as it landed at his side. He hurried over to the ships main console and keyed in the take-off codes when he caught a glimpse of a crew member blocking his transport. There were waving their arms frantically.
“Ship engage-” the words barely had escaped his lips as a black creature burst from the shadows, writhing tendrils included and overwhelmed the crew member. “Fire! Fire! FIRE!”
The plasma turrets left smouldering ruin in their wake as they cut the dark Primor to pieces. Kor’s heart reached fever pitch as he heard more noise on top of his ship.
“Tracking multiple hostiles on the hull.”
“Don’t just tell me. Deal with them.”
The ship obliged and shredded whatever resided on the top of the transport. Black congealed blood drifted down the front viewport as Kor took his seat and engaged lift-off procedure. It wasn’t long before he was in the vast darkness of space. Behind him the Outreach exploded, his outer hull fragmented outward. The debris and the energy from the blast catapulted Kor ‘s transport towards the Earth. It took a few moments for the gyros to orientated the ship and he soon sank into the chair. At least for the now the worst was behind him.
He spent the first few minutes calculating the best landing area. Earth may have been large but it was also covered by Terrans. He didn’t quite like the idea of dropping into a major city or town. The risk to his life would be too great. In the end, he put his faith in the automated system and decided to rest his eyes.

When he came too, he heard clanking and grinding behind him. Out the corner of his eye, something tall and black lowered itself from the ceiling. It must have been hiding among on the tubes and like him chose to rest. Its claws tapped the metal floor and the creature slivered toward him. Kor still had his plasma pistol but in the time would take for him to leave his chair. The foul Primor would be upon him. Without moving too much he keyed in commands for the ship to shift direction. The sudden tilt caught the Primor by surprise and it fell toward him before hitting the glass screen. Realising the danger it was now in, bladed tendrils attempted to strike Kor but he was narrowly out of reach. Kor sighed and fired off a few plasma shots. This was enough to shatter the glass and send the Primor hurtling out of the ship. “Ship, lower the visor!”
The transport’s visors were just metal screens. They slammed down into the place and a series of holographic images created a rough idea of what was in front of him. “Captain.”
“Ship, what is it?”
“I had engaged auto evasion subroutines but by switching to manual, I need to make you aware. Missiles are inbound.”
“You tell me that only after I switch to manual.”
“I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Using the controls in front of him he pulled the ship up from its nosedive and took caution to evade the inbound threat from the Terrans. He managed to use the onboard turrets to destroy most of the missiles.
“I’ve marked a landing area.”
“Anyway, can we open communications with the Terrans?
“Attempting that now.”
The next few seconds were spent approaching the landing area as the onboard turrets continued to keep the missiles at bay. “Engage landing procedure.”
“But, Captain?”
“Do it.”
The final set of missiles were harder to hit and broke through the line of fire from the turrets. The transport shuddered violently as Kor lifted the front of the ship up before it met with the ground. The sudden impact and jolt gave his senses a shock, knocking him out. He sat in the chair passed out. The last thing he heard was the ship’s voice slur before fading away as darkness clouded his vision.

The Man Who Sold the World

Can you guess what inspired me to write this short piece of fiction during three years at university? 

I stand on uneven ground, the cracks of time show, but under shallow moonlight, I see the old world. Skyscrapers, tower blocks, a once bustling city of activity. It died a long time ago. Yet it feels like this happened only yesterday.

Weather the storm. Who said that again. I vaguely recall my old life, the only memory of it I have… is Him.  

He stands beside me, prying at my mind, he is the curious, the innocent, and the megalomaniac all rolled into one single package. Yet despite this facade, I see a calm, resolute figure. We stare at each other briefly.

He should be dead, and so should I. I laugh and he joins. It ends as quickly as it began.

I like to think I run away from him simply because he is the man who sold the world. There is this air of hostility between us, for am I the one born in that fire.  Fire still raw and burning in my mind.

What have I become? two centuries have passed and I am still no closer to that answer.

As if seeing my thoughts he says, “Regret, I am the match, and you are the regret. You are the light that blanketed this planet. Before the silence fell.”

The man who regrets. It seems fitting when I think about it.

“I am a man forged in atomic fire,” I answer.

“And you will burn for all of the time,” he adds.

I merely nod, not wishing to speak further. He disappears from my vision, like a magician at the end of a magic act. Two hundred years of suspension and this gets no easier, each time I see what it was before. Memories I can’t begin to suppress, as much as I’d rather forget. It is sad, I still see Humanity as it was and as it is currently. I see us still locked in the cruel snare that one day will leave this world empty. All because I sold the world. All because I made the choice and caused the end of many a life. Finality. It will never come. For I know even now. I am not done.

I am the man who sold the world, and I have been reborn.