Friday, November 14, 2014

Eve Novella - The Vaaralen Strain

Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!

My third novella set in New Eden is complete. Twenty thousand words of geekiness. Thanks to Shahai Shintaro and Azis Troyanov for proofreading and Rixx Javix at Eveoganda for the awesome cover artwork!

The PDF is available for download here as a PDF. I've copied the prologue below to give you a taste.


Six months ago…

Gazak slowly started to come round. His senses were dull and his head felt heavy. He slowly opened his eyes and looked around, he was somewhere unfamiliar. It appeared to be an old abandoned factory. The windows were mostly broken and the floor was littered with debris, old machinery, and broken glass. He sniffed the air, he was somewhere on the very lower decks of the space-station. After years of living in space, Garak could tell where he was on a ship or station simply by the smell and taste of the air. He'd only ever been up to the upper decks a few times but he remembered the air: clean, crisp, fragrant. The lower down in the station you were, the worse the air was. A combination of cheaper atmosphere processors, basic scrubbers and limited maintenance by poorly qualified and underpaid staff who didn’t care about their jobs.

He took in more of his surroundings. He was sat on a filthy mattress and next to him was an unconscious, emaciated female. Gazak shook his head to try and clear the fog and was rewarded with a splitting pain. He stayed still for a few seconds waiting for the pain to pass. “Mindflood”, that's what he must have been doing last night he thought. Only that narcotic gave him headaches like this the morning after. But who was the girl? What happened last night? He looked around the immediate vicinity and saw the small bottle laying on top of a filthy rag, "Yup" he thought, "Mindflood." He then saw a strange double syringe applicator. He recalled something from the night before. Some sort of new designer drug, the Matari girl had wanted that. It started to come back to him. He'd gotten paid with a good bonus. The factory order had shipped before schedule and they'd got an extra payment. He'd gone straight down to one of the illegal bars on deck 6. He'd partied hard and met the girl hanging about outside. The bouncers wouldn't let her in, it was clear she didn't have any money. She had offered herself to him if he hit her up. He had been wasted and wasn't thinking straight. He'd agreed and bought himself the Mindflood and that other stuff for her from his dealer. They'd found this abandoned factory and..... Gazak held his head in shame. What was he becoming? He struggled to his feet, glass broke under his boots. This was all 'her' fault!

He staggered over to one of the vents in the wall on unsteady feet and lent forward with his palms on the wall either side of the vent. The gentle breeze washed over him. He needed to sort his life out, things had spiralled out of control since 'she' had left. Gazak fought back a tear. It had been six months since she walked out. He couldn't blame her. His drug use was out of control and it finally caught up with him. He had owed a dealer a substantial amount of money. Eventually the dealer visited his apartment on the station and threatened his wife. That brought it all out into the open. She'd given him a chance to clean up and get on the straight and narrow, and he'd blown it. The next time his dealer visited the apartment it hadn't been for a 'chat'. Garak arrived back home from work to find his apartment trashed and his wife furiously packing a bag. When she looked up at him, he saw the black eye and a look of complete and utter loathing in her eyes. She had stormed out of the apartment and he'd just stood there, paralysed with shame. He'd not seen her since.

There was a slight groan from behind him. The girl was waking up. Garak stood up straight and watched as she slowly pushed herself up. She looked sick, however he doubted she could look healthy even on the best of mornings. She was painfully skinny and dressed in soiled rags. He started to worry about what they'd done together the night before. He'd needed to get himself checked out at the clinic. He hated clinics.

"I don't feel too good," She whined.

"Neither do I," Gazak grumbled.

"No, it’s not the come-down its something else. I... I..."

Suddenly the girl started to convulse. Gazak rushed over to her. She was thrashing on the mattress having some sort of fit. He saw strange movements within her arms, as if the muscles were trying to burst out.

"Red! Give... me... red!" the girl gasped as she continued to convulse.

Gazak wondered what she meant, then he glimpsed the applicator. One side was marked red. He grabbed it and jabbed her in the arm with it. It appeared to make no difference. She continued to thrash and the bulges under her skin grew. He leaned over her not knowing what to do. There was a sickening crack and her left forearm bent in the centre to ninety degrees. Gazak looked in horror as blood pumped from the wound where the white, splintered bone broke through the skin. The woman was screaming now and thrashing harder. Her foot came up and caught Gazak square in the chest. It sent him flying backwards. He landed in a pile of rubble and an incredible pain lanced through his body. He looked down in horror to see a two foot shard of rusting scrap metal sticking out the front of his chest, dripping with his blood. As his vision started to darken all he could hear was her screams, and the sharp crack of snapping of bones.

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