Friday, August 8, 2014

Choices - Part 1

Fiction Friday. Escape pod here if Eve Online fiction is not your thing. I know nothing about wormholes but sounds like CCP are going to upset a lot of those people who do.

I've been reading some good old school horror novels over the last few weeks....

Choices - Part 1
"So, do you think they lived happily ever after?"

Deltes chuckled as he drove down the deserted city road. It was sunset on rest-day and the city was quiet. The odd shuttle and transport could be seen overhead as darkness started taking hold against the bright green of the Gallente nebula that dominated the night sky.

"What are you laughing at?" his girlfriend asked playfully slapping his thigh.

"It was an action movie. The good guy kills the baddies, causes a lot of explosions and saves the hot chick. The majority of the audience don't want to see the action hero sat down after the finale with a wedding planner choosing a colour scheme and dress material!" he laughed.

His girlfriend folded her arms in a mock sulk.

"Next time we're going to see a good old Gallente rom-com!" she moaned "These Matari action movies are all the same! Big guy, with big muscles and a big gun on a big starship, blowing big things up!".

Deltes glanced over at her and smiled. They'd been going out together for almost 6 months and she'd recently moved into his apartment. He lived planet-side on Botane VI and worked for one of the Gallente TV channels as a senior tech. Not the greatest paying job in New Eden but it was enough for a nice apartment and a decent lifestyle. Josvis was a personal assistant to a legal big shot who worked in an advocates firm down-town. They'd met in a bar where both works were having a night out and had bonded over a few vodka and Quafes.

"OK, a chick-flick next time, I promise." he said reaching over and giving her knee a squeeze. A beeping sound drew his attention back to the road.

"What is it?" Josvis asked.

"The vehicle has detected an obstruction in the road ahead. There!" he pointed through the wind-shield.

As they neared the vehicle automatically slowed. Small pin-pricks of light in the distance soon grew to flames as they reached the scene. Two passenger vehicles had collided and were both resting on their roofs. Small fires had broken out on both vehicles and there appeared to be no movement from any of the passengers. The surrounding street was deserted.

"Call the emergency services!" Deltes said to Josvis as he jumped out of his vehicle. He ran to one of the upturned cars and crouched down. He could see two people inside. They appeared to be unconscious. He tried opening the door but the buckled frame of the vehicle made it difficult to open. He pulled harder and the metal started to bend slowly. He could smell the burning electrics.


He glanced up and saw his girlfriend had got out of the vehicle. She was looking over nervously but staying by their vehicle.

"Stay back!" he shouted. He knew either vehicle could blow at any time. The liquid-hydrogen fuel-cells used on the planet's vehicles were great sources of clean energy but everyone knew it wasn't the best gas to have leaking near a naked flame. He yanked the door again and it gave way with a screech of grinding metal. He dropped to his knees and pulled out the first occupant. A man who looked like he was in his late 60's. He dragged the unconscious body away before going back to drag the other occupant, a woman in her 30's clear. No sooner had he pulled the woman clear, than the vehicle erupted in flames. The hydrogen gas igniting and sending a roaring plume of blue flame 20 metres into the air. The ignition of the gas knocked Deltes off his feet. He pulled the woman back to the safety of his vehicle and laid her down next to the man. He rose and started to jog towards the other car. There was a loud hiss before that vehicle too erupted into flames. He stopped as the blast wave washed over him and then ran to see if he could rescue the occupants. He couldn't get near due to the heat of the flame. He held a hand up to shield his eyes from the roaring fire but could not see any signs of life or anyway to get near the burning vehicle. Circling around the wreck, he realised it was futile, whoever were in that vehicle, they were gone. He return to his own vehicle where Josvis was checking the old man and the woman. The sounds of sirens in the distance started to get louder.


Eight months later......
Josvis retrieved the large bottle of green juice from the fridge and started to drink from the bottle.

"I don't know how you can drink that!" Deltes said pulling a face, he was leaning in the doorway of the kitchen in just his pyjama bottoms.

"Hey, its good for me and for junior!" she replied patting her bulging stomach. Her heavily pregnant belly stuck out from her white stretched crop-top.

Deltes brushed past her and gave her a kiss on the cheek before grabbing a carton of milk and drinking the contents. He knocked the fridge door closed with his elbow. On the fridge door, the 12" screen showed a letter of commendation from the planetary governor for his actions that night eight months ago. He flicked the screen with his finger and the letter vanished. It was replaced by a news program detailing the latest Gallente Militia victories in Black Rise. Josvis kept putting the letter back on the screen but Deltes would rather forget that night.

It was in the aftermath of that accident that Deltes had really thought about things. The other vehicle, the one he couldn't save, had contained a mother and son. They had been burnt to death in the wreck. The man he had managed to rescued was a wealthy director of a Creodron subsidiary and his trophy wife who was about half his age. Even with a nice reward, Deltes always thought back to the mother and child he hadn't been able to save. The ease at which life could be snuffed out had hit him hard. He'd asked Josvis to marry him the week after the crash and she'd said yes. They'd married two months later before she'd started to show. Junior was a product of some serious love-making in the days following the crash. He'd seen on documentaries about the connection, where there was death, there was also life.

Deltes quickly got showered and changed and gave Josvis a quick kiss as he left the house. He looked back as he climbed into his car at the detached house in the leafy suburb, still not believing it was his. The man he'd saved was both rich and thankful. Whilst Deltes had refused any reward initially, the rich old man was persistent and did not give up. In the end the house had been bought for them and transferred into their names. The deeds were sent as a wedding present. It had been clear, either live in it, or leave it empty. The thankful man was not going to take it back.

As he drove nearer the city centre he was soon stuck in heavy traffic. The only thing he missed about his old apartment was that it was in the centre and a short walk from the speed-shuttle, the underground tram system that connected the city. Now he was stuck with a ninety-minute commute each morning. In a time when starships flew at several times the speed of light and jump drives allowed massive "cities" in space to cross interstellar distances in seconds he was always puzzled why so many cities still relied on wheeled vehicles and roads to get about. The traffic was certainly a pain. However that was the only downside and the new house was a much better location to raise a family.

There was a crunch from behind and the car lurched forward.

"Fracking great!" he thought looking in the rear-view mirror. The driver behind was waving apologetically and pointing to an adjacent off-ramp. Deltes held up a hand to acknowledge and took the exit. It wasn't a proper exit, it appeared to access a small roads maintenance depot, however it would stop them blocking the main road whilst they swapped details. He stop his vehicle at the locked gate at the bottom of the ramp and got out. As he rose he realised the other driver was already at his door. He turned and found a can in his face. A mist sprayed into his nose and mouth and his world went dark.


"Deltes. Wake up Deltes! It is time."

Deltes slowly came around as the voice boomed around him. His head hurt and he felt sick. He struggled to his feet and took in his surroundings. He appeared to be in an old abandoned office. It was dusty and clearly hadn't been used in some time. There were no windows and only a single door. Old computers and yellowed paper covered the filthy desks. A red blinking light high in one corner caught his eye. A security camera was mounted on the wall and tracked him as he moved. It looked new and had probably been installed recently.

"Welcome back. Don't worry, the effects of the drugs will wear off shortly and we can begin." the voice appeared to be coming from speakers near the camera. Again they looked new and recently installed.

"Who are you? Where am I?" Deltes shouted.

"Me? I am nobody. Just a lonely man who wants a question answering. However we'll get onto that shortly. Where are you? You are in an abandoned factory in industrial area B12 on the outskirts of the city."

Deltes concentrated on the voice, he couldn't remember hearing it before.

"A question? What question?" he called out now knowing there was a microphone on the camera.

"Oh the question itself is easy. Why do you make the choices you make? What drives you to chose this over that? A over B or C? Why do you do this when you could do that? Its the answer that is difficult. I doubt even you know yourself, so we have some experiments to try and work out why. I could ask questions but I think scientific experimentation is much better don't you?"

Deltes was now worried. This was no prank, no cheesy game-show. For some reason he'd been grabbed by a lunatic. He tried the door and found it unlocked, he opened it gingerly and found a corridor. White arrows had been recently painted on the floor. He started to follow them down the corridor until they vanished under a closed door. He looked around and saw more cameras pointed at him. Whoever had grabbed him was watching. He opened the door where the arrows vanished under and stepped inside. He couldn't believe what he saw. Two metal bath tubs were located in the middle of the small room. In one was his brother, Agencourt. In the other an unknown man. They were both gagged and chained. Heavy cables snaked into each tub which were half filled with water. A solid white line was drawn in a big circle around the two tubs.

"If you step inside the circle they both die!" the voice boomed from the speakers. Deltes stopped his advance.

"To your left is a console. Go to it.". Deltes walked over to the console. A timer was ticking down, 45 seconds appeared to be left. A large three-way switch was located in the centre and was set in the central position.

"I thought we'd start easy. Obviously you know your own brother so no introduction needed. The other man is a known drug dealer for the Serpentis Syndicate. He is infected with Riccard's Disease and has about a year left to live. However he is happy to keep having unprotected sex with his female Clients who cannot pay any other way, infecting these desperate women with the disease. A thoroughly nasty little man really. When the timer reaches zero the power to those cables will flow and someone will die. Flick the switch to the left, and all the power will be diverted to your brother, flick it to the right and the dealer will get all the power. Don't do anything and they'll both fry. So completely up to you. Make a choice."

Deltes looked first to his brother and then to the man. Both were struggling in their bonds and screaming through the gags. The chains that bound them were securely fixed to the sides of the tubs, there was no way to escape. All they did was slosh the filthy water about. He glanced at the countdown, 15 seconds left. It was not a difficult choice as he flicked the switch.

As the counter reached zero there was a buzzing and the lights in the room dimmed. The man convulsed in the bath sending water splashing everywhere. Sparks and arcs of electricity visibly danced between the chains, the tub and his body. After a couple of seconds the power died. The man lay still, smoke rising from his life-less body.

"Well done, thats the first one complete. This was just a base-line test. You're brother will remain here until you have completed the other experiments. Please follow the arrows and do not step inside the circle, I can still fry your brother if you break the rules!"

Deltes looked again at the body of the man he'd just killed and back to his brother's pleading eyes. He left the room by the back door, following the white arrows.


The next room Deltes entered was similar to the first. This time he found two of his best friends tied to sturdy chairs. Again there was a circle painted on the floor and a control panel set up.

"Now we are getting harder Deltes. I haven't been able to tell which of these two you like the most. I've been watching you and you have tended to treat each of these guys equally. Do you have a favourite Deltes?"

Deltes looked around the room for anything that may save his friends.

"Frack you asshole!" he snarled as he tried to think of a way out of this. His two friends screamed for help behind their gags with eyes wide with terror.

"Same routine here Deltes. Take no action and they both die, and I assure you its a rather horrible death waiting for them. Otherwise flip the switch towards the one you want to save. 20 seconds."

Deltes looked at his friends. He couldn't possibly choose between them. However, if he didn't take action they'd both die. How could he choose? He'd known Muvinare and Orvalone since school. They'd grown up together through junior and senior school and gone to college together. He'd had his first drink with them, they'd both been in the hideout when he had his first kiss with Janninck Jeartlait. His first time off planet and to a space-station was with them. The counter showed five seconds. Deltes screamed and slammed his hands down on top of the switch not intending to push it one way or the other, just to make sure it did move. The switch clicked to the right. A mechanical motor sounded. Deltes looked on in horror as a silver spike started to rise from the floor under Muvinare's chair. It vanished into the bottom of the chair but there was no sound, Deltes assumed the chair had a hole cut in it for this purpose. Muvinare's screams suddenly raised in pitch and he started to struggle. He began to thrash in his chair as much as the tight restraints allowed. After a few seconds his breathing became erratic. Foaming blood bubbled around the gag. Then he convulsed violently, shook for a few seconds and then went still. Deltes watched in horror as Muvinare 's neck bulged and his head flopped backwards. His mouth opened and the gag snapped and fell as the metal spike, covered in gore, emerged from his mouth. Deltes turned and threw up.

"Interesting! That appears you tried to make that choice completely random. Very interesting." the voice came through the speakers.

"Frack you, you sick bastard!" Deltes cried.

"Oh don't be like that Deltes. We have a few more experiments to go yet! Please move to the exit, we must continue!"

To be concluded.......

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