Monday, December 09, 2013

Following in the crumbs of man.

  When they first brought me in, they kept me very much in the dark. I didn't even know where we were going, only to eventually find myself in a darkened room like the ones you see in police movies, where they are trying to get the perpetrator to talk. I remember the feeling of the place, it was cold, and smelled like a bathroom after just being sanitized. I remember having this strange paranoid feeling as if I was being watched, even though I was the only one in there. Seeing as though this was the military, I basically figured that as true. Soon enough though the door opened without a sound, an in walked this unassuming man dressed in a grey suit, with matching shirt and hat.
"You're a biologist aren't you Mr. Daniels". He asks.
"Yeah, of course I am". I answer." What exactly is going on here anyways. I thought I was here for some job?".
"You are James, may i call you James?". He asks." You are here for a job".
"Well they wouldn't tell me anything, even now I have no idea what they want me to do?".
"First off, did they already go over the confidentiality agreement with you?".
"Yes, yes they did!".
"So I imagine since you are here, you signed it.. an since you seem like a smart guy!, you obviously understood it". He says, rhetorically.
"Of course I did, now can you please tell me what you guys need me for?".
"Of course James, of course. I do realize that this is highly irregular, we do not normally bring someone in in this way. But since you seem to be on top of your field, we all thought you would be best". He pauses, now sitting across from me.
"So I figure I can sit here and tell you everything, but since time is of the essence, maybe its best just to show you.. so please Mr. Daniels, follow me!". He ends up leading me down these long corridors, looking as if I am on some star destroyer, or a futuristic school of some kind. I find that there is not a lot of indication as too where you are, or where everything is. I guess its some tactic they use in case of infiltration or something. So if anybody breaks in, even though it doesn't appear like they could, they would get so confused about where to go it would be an easy catch.
  Eventually we find ourselves taking the elevator, as where we are headed is about four stories down. It seems so out of place though, as if ripped entirely from some cheap hotel downtown. Inside the walls are mostly of the fake wood variety, with an ugly peeled green wallpaper on the top half. The buttons to each floor are as if they're hidden away in plain site, as they blend in so much to the rest of the decor. On the bottom of that though, lies a separate compartment, that has a single keyhole hidden underneath a small locked door. As he sticks his key in he turns it slightly to the left, and I can then begin to feel the rumblings of the elevator come to life, like a sleeping giant. Standing in the elevator in silence, I find myself getting more and more excited the closer we get, like a kid on Christmas morning that wants only to open up his presents. This is all just so weird, like a twilight episode, I almost imagine to find myself suddenly thrown into some parallel universe where everyone doesn't have a face or something. Before we exit, he looks over at me and says." Okay Mr Daniels, just so you know, what you see beyond this doors is something that you may find frightening..". He stops." I just hope your not the queasy type". As the doors begin to open, I can begin to see the room on the other side. It's not like the rest of the place at all, gone are the cold steel walls that are replaced with something you'd see in a hospital somewhere. There are people that are as well dressed in white wandering too and fro, as others preside over random tables throughout. The room is fairly big, with tables and instruments all lined up perpendicular to each other, with nurses in green running back and forth as if in a Marathon." Its just in the back here James". He tells me, making our way through the chaos. He seems to go back and forth from calling me James or Mr Daniels, not that its a big deal but its strange, as if he is not sure if we are on a first name basis, either that or he forgets rather easily.
"What are they doing here anyways?".
"Radiation sickness, that's all... but that doesn't concern us". All the tables are covered over in white clothes, with human shaped objects underneath. They must be seeing the effects of radiation poisoning on the human body. I wonder what was it that gave it to them to begin with, I don't remember hearing anything about the military testing atom bombs lately. An why would they even need to, what with all the testing they did back in the fifties. As we make our way past all the tables, I find the rest of the room cut off by a huge curtain, with two guards standing in front holding rifles. When I see them standing there, I can't help but get a little spooked, as if I at once find myself completely over my head. I begin to feel like maybe this was a mistake. I don't know what it is, maybe its that there are guns involved, as they tend to bring a more serious aspect to every situation.
Behind the curtains, the room is empty, with only one or two people in lab coats. They are both huddled over a waist high table like there performing a scrimmage." Here we are Mr Daniels, please.. take a look". The two people in lab coats now turn around and face me. The one on the left is a older gentleman, maybe mid fifties. His hair is completely grey, but his beard has a bit of brown in it as well. He looks kind of like a mix between Mr fantastic and George Clooney. On the right of him stands a woman of shorter stature, reaching only his shoulders. She has long dark brown hair with thick black glasses, an almost reminds me of Janeane Garofalo, or maybe Marie Louise Parker to a certain extent. Or like two soap actors on the young an the restless. Behind them lies a nondescript table with a white clothe draped over it, with another humanoid shape underneath.
"Why you must be Mr Daniels I presume?". The man says, reaching out his arm. I am Dr. Williams, and this here is Dr. Jones". He says nodding towards the woman.
"Nice to meet you both". I say back, shaking their hands.
"From your expression". Dr. Jones cuts in." I can see you don't exactly know all the details of why you are here!".
"No actually, I do not".
"Well let us show you, please..take a look". Williams now turns towards the table and grabs the corner of the clothe, carefully folding it over to uncover the body underneath. A quite grotesque figure at that, the head is the first thing that comes into view, and is quite humanoid in appearance, almost caveman like. With a sloping jaw and slight forehead. The eyebrows are fairly heavy drooping below the eyes. An as he slowly uncovers the rest of the body, I can see its somewhat covered in a short stubby hair, that seem to surround the chest in patches. This specimen is quite tall, must be at least 7 feet But the one thing that sticks out the most is the elongated arms, almost like a gorillas. The specimen as a whole looks a little like a Neanderthal. His skin is dark, with what appears to be scars over its body, as if it has been burned, or in a fight. The scars aren't over its whole body, just a bit on the right arm and chest. And the nails, are more like claws, but have a brittle look to them. Its quite fascinating, I have never in my life seen such a specimen, an early hominid perhaps, the missing link between humans and apes. Its hard to say without further study.
"Where did you find this exactly?".
"I am sorry Mr Daniels, we cannot divulge that at this juncture. But what you can do!, is take a closer look at the body, an see what you can find?".
"Of course! I would love to".
"Well everything you need is right here, when your done just ask the guards outside, they will contact us for you".
"Thanks". I say, a little taken back. Even the doctors here talk like military men, they're just so too the point, almost robotic. The one thing that really bothers me about all this, is why me, those two seemed smart enough to be able to do something such as this. An even if they weren't able, you would think they would have some one on the base somewhere that could.
  They eventually disappear leaving me inside with the body on my own. I have been in the presence of dead bodies before, but this one gives me the creeps, as if its going to reach up and grab for me. To tell you the truth though, I am not even sure if this is any type of early human, but what else could it be really. I mean the elongated arms are its most distinguishable feature, but I have never seen a Neanderthaloid that has anything close to it. And even if it was something to that order, why would the military have its hands on it, usually its some museum or university or something that does these things. An I am fairly sure there are no military applications when it comes to pre-humans.
  As I dissect the body, little by little, I find that there are small discrepancies on what I expect, and what I find. Nothing big, just certain things that make me wonder, as the deeper and deeper I go, the more curious I become. It almost looks as if this specimen has some type of radiation poisoning. But if this is a Neanderthal, or something to that order, why in the world would it have that, it just doesn't make any sense. After I am done, I stick my head out and speak to the guards, who in turn get a hold of Dr. Williams and Dr. Jones. After about ten minutes or so of waiting, in they walk, with the officer I met earlier.
"So Mr. Daniels". Says the officer." What did you happen to find?".
"Well as far as I can tell, this is no Neanderthal, or any pre-human at all".
"Really?". Jones tells me, as if in shock.
"Are you sure?".
"Well there are certain discrepancies, sure! But all my knowledge points towards the fact that it is, indeed, human..". I pause." Or at least, in a sense, it used to be".
"Used to be?". Asks Dr. Williams." What exactly do you mean by that?".
"Well like I said, it appears as if this specimen has some type of radiation poisoning, but nothing that I have seen before, it also seems, and this is inconclusive, that it might have.. how do you say, deformed him, into the appearance you see before us".
"But your not 100% on that". Asks Dr. Jones.
"No, no I am not. But quite honestly I cannot see what else would cause it". The three of them kind of look off at each other, as if communicating telepathically. But before they can say anything I once again cut in.
"Tell me, if I may. Where exactly did you find him, and was he possibly in contact with anything radioactive after you found him, where ever that was".
"Just give us a second, Mr. Daniels". He says, gesturing towards Dr. Jones an Dr. Williams. They all head outside just past the curtains,to were the two guards stand. I can hear them talking back and forth, sounding as if their voices have been muffled, like trying to scream while being suffocated with a pillow. They seem to be arguing with each other, while whispering, like parents trying to not wake up the children. Soon enough though they all walk back in with Dr. Jones in the forefront.
"So James". She says." We have decided, after much deliberation, to show you exactly were we found him. If you could please follow us".
They end up leading me back the way we came, but instead of heading all the way up the elevator to where we started, we end up going up just one floor. This time when the door opens, it opens to a hallway, much like you would see in a hospital, with a few people here and there roaming throughout. I keep following them down to the left, abruptly turning to the right where this particular hallway ends. Inside is a giant room, like those air traffic controllers you find at the airport. In front, ahead of where I stand, is a big glass window that looks over another room, that instead is about the size of a small warehouse, or those litter bunkers they keep small planes in the movies. There are computers lined up on either side of the room, with about ten or so feet between them and the window, in which a few people stand looking over the other room like a cat perched upon the window sill watching the birds fly by. As I walk up to look out, I see people in lab coats and radiation suits encircling this one object in the middle. Its perched up upon these huge metal slabs that raise it up about five feet, an its so unassuming its seems almost irrelevant. The object in question, is a huge metal ring, with no real markings of any kind, no distinguishable marks whatsoever to signify any importance at all.
"So Mr. Daniels, what do you think?". The officer asks.
"I am not sure, what exactly is it I am looking at".
"You will soon find out James". Dr. Jones smiles." They are about to do a test right now".
"Excuse me sir!". A man says to the officer." But we are ready". The officer just looks over towards this man and nods, who then runs back to his station, to speak into a microphone, warning everyone on the impending test. Down below everyone scrambles off except for a handful of people in radiation suits. An not a moment later I can begin to hear a mechanical squeal, as the metal ring begins to rise upwards into a vertical position. That is soon taken over by a slow rumbling, like the engines of a jetliner starting up.
In a moment a flash of light emanates out, slightly blinding me and the crew. As my eyes begin to focus I can see what could only be described as a portal, like the ripples in a pond after dropping a rock.
"Okay.. this is all a very impressive trick you guys got going on. But.. but what does this have to do with the Neanderthaloid".
"Oh this is no trick James, what you see before you is quite real. It was developed by the Germans quite a few years back, we just..". She pauses to think it over." How do you say, borrowed it".
"Well have you sent anyone across, to see what may be lurking on the other side?".
"We have Mr. Daniels, we have!". Dr. Williams chimes in." An what we found is quite fascinating. We are not sure exactly where in the universe we end up, but we are almost positive it is still our universe".
"Jesus! So your saying that you guys invented a wormhole! Oh man!". I say quite surprised." The energy needed to do such a thing is practically unfathomable. How did the Germans even pull it off?".
"That's really not that important right now, is it Mr Daniels". The officer tells me.
"No, I guess not".
"So as you might have already realized, the planet we end up on, is where we found your so called neanderthaloid".
"Well what was the conditions like, the environmental factors and all?".
"Why don't we talk about this somewhere else, we should have all the info you need down the hall". Says Dr. Jones, motioning towards the door.
"Of course, of course, after you". Dr. Williams and Dr. Jones and I head back out into the hallway, with the officer staying behind. About three doors down we find ourselves in another room, this one very plain, almost like a classroom. Two tables sit in the middle with filing cabinets strewn on the walls next to a chalkboard, the walls are a plain grey that make it appear as if you'd get sent here for detention. On one of the tables Dr. Williams lays down a map of sorts, as well as a few files he grabbed from the cabinet.
"So this is a rough map we made up of the outlaying island we landed on. We have come to name the planet in question Perseua(Per-ce-way), after the Greek hero. As far as we can tell the environment is much like our own, which is why we favor it. From all the studies we have done, it appears as if Persua is about a quarter or so larger than our own planet. Which means the weather is that much more extreme".
"This is wild, I must say. This morning I had no idea if there even habitable planets out there, an now this, not to mention the God damn portal. I am sorry, but its a lot to take in all at once".
"Its okay Mr. Daniels, we understand we're throwing a lot onto you all at once. But please". Dr. Williams tells me." Try to focus".
"Sorry..". I say." Okay so.. what about other factors, like the wildlife, a lot of the environment as we know factors greatly into the evolutionary process".
"Well that's the weird thing, we haven't encountered any, just a handful of the neanderthaloids. The air is breathable as well, although the consistency is more to the liking of the dinosaurs, than us".
"So, the the co2 levels are higher, that could explain the size, but still, it just doesn't all add up".
"What do you mean?".
"Its just, there's too many pieces missing. Aside from a few discrepancies, that.. down there is basically human. An the strange part is, is it appears to have had some contact with radiation, but from where".
"Well couldn't that have happened afterwards, from going through the wormhole".
"That's right, that portal does give it off doesn't it, in fact they were wearing suits down there. Tell me?". I ask." Have you done any studies on the effects of the radiation that emanates from the wormhole?".
"Only to a certain extent". Dr. Jones chimes in." To be honest, we really didn't see any point. Since there was all the testing done in the fifties".
"Yeah, of course, of course".
"So what are you saying?". Ask Dr. Williams." You think that its human, and not from Perseua at all".
"I am not sure, not yet. I just think we need to look at all the angles here. I just need a little more time to make such a informed decision. But If the planet is like our own, as you say, its not completely out of the question that, they couldn't have taken the same basic path we did evolutionary wise, at least to a certain extent".
"Of course, we understand completely. Take all the time you need. If you need any of us, we will be downstairs".
"Thanks". I say, as they close the doors behind them.
Going through the cabinet drawers, I find that there is quite a bit of info on this so called Perseua. Everything from the foliage to the minerals in the dirt. As I sift through all the articles, I find more and more that this planet seems to be an almost match to the conditions back in the Jurassic period. Which could be the reason behind the size of the Neanderthaloid. Even the elongated arms could be some evolutionary trait for survival. But that still doesn't resolve the issue of the apparent radiation burns he had. Although the wounds on the chest and arm, could be attributed to some kind of fight, what appeared to be the same on certain organs and such could not. After a few hours of this, I find myself falling asleep on the desk, until being suddenly awakened by someone opening up the door as if in a startle.
"James?". A voice calls out." Is everything alright". I look up to find Dr. Jones standing over me with a wry smile on her face.
"Yeah, I am fine, just must have dozed off for a bit there".
"Yeah I could hear you from outside".
"Really? Sorry about that Dr. Jones".
"You can call me Mary". She tells me while sitting down next to me. As well as her usual lab coat, I find that she now wears a green dress that reaches down to her knees. Its very formal, as if she is going out for the night on the town, and looks as if its been pulled straight from the 70's or something.
"Do you like my dress". She asks, catching me staring.
"Yes I do, its just so different than what you were wearing previously.
"Well when your in here everyday, you don't have a lot of reason to dress up, so.. I try to do it every so often".
"Makes sense". I tell her, as I am not exactly sure what else to say.
"So". She asks." Anything I can help with?".
"Yeah actually, there is a lot more files in here than I figured. You could give me a hand.. if you want?".
"Of course James. I would like that".  As we both sit there, sifting through papers, I can't help but notice that Mary seems quite different now than when I first met her. Not that I really knew her all too well, but she seemed so calm, and collected. Now though, there appears to be a hint of loneliness in her actions, in her voice. Like the hulk transforming back into Bruce banner. That power she had earlier seems stripped away, as if she is almost unsure of herself, or maybe, I just want to see something that's not really there.
  The next morning I awake to Mary sleeping across from me with her head on the table. But as I get up to wake her, Dr. Williams walks in, surprised to see Mary here along with me." Dr. Jones". He says, as she raises her head from the table." I was wondering where you were last night. I see you found yourself in the company of Mr. Daniels".
"I figured he could use some help, what with all the folders to sift through".
"Well that's good, speed things up. So, does that mean you've found something".
"Yes actually". I cut in." We found this". I say going through the pile of papers on the table.
"Here.. it says that the first group to go in was five people, three men and two woman".
"Yeah that's true". Dr. Williams says." An they never came back either, so what".
"So what! Don't you ever wonder what happened to them. It says here that you found no evidence of there bodies whereabouts at all in subsequent missions".
"Yeah well its a big place, and even now, we have no idea what happened to them".
"Don't you find that weird?".
"I do wonder what happened exactly, but it is just something we have to accept, and to move on from".
"Well I don't think its that easy".
"Maybe not Mr Daniels, maybe not. But without anymore leads, there is not much more we can do, is there".
"I guess so". I sigh." I guess so!".
Later on that day, Mary and I take a break from work and find ourselves in the cafeteria enjoying some lunch. When I first met her, I never figured we would get along, she seemed so cold, and distant. But now she is like a completely different person, as if she evokes a totally different personality when on the job.
"So!". I ask." What do you think about all this?".
"Well its not completely impossible for the Neanderthaloids, if that is what we are calling them now, to be, in a sense, our guys we first sent over".
"I think its a very good chance".
"There is just something missing, I don't fully believe that the radiation from the portal is the primary cause of things".
"How do you mean?".
"There just has to be some other factor, something else we are missing".
"Well, we really don't know a whole lot of this Perseua. An he did say himself that its a 'big place'. But even if there is something else in the works here, like you say, what could it possibly be, an why doesn't it affect the others?".
"I am not sure". She tells me." But I sure would like to find out".
The cafeteria is fairly empty, with only a few people throughout the place. Seems a little strange since it is considered lunch time at the moment. But as we begin to make our way back, we notice quite the commotion outside, as people are running here and there as if in a panic.
"What's going on?". I ask Mary.
"Oh it shouldn't be anything to worry about, probably just a drill or something. Nothing to do with us".  Back upstairs, as we look over the files that cover the table, I can feel a slight feeling of hopelessness sift over me. As most the folders we went through contain mainly dribble, useless information that seem almost trivial to even write down. Its at this moment though that Dr. Williams once again walks in.
"Dr. Jones, you are needed downstairs, right away".
"Of course, right away. Mr. Daniels". She says, as if switching personalities." It was nice working with you".
"Yeah, same Mary". I pause." I mean Dr. Jones". Now that she is gone, its hard to believe that that happened, Mary and I, it almost seems as if it was some strange dream, or acid trip, like she wasn't ever here in the first place. I end up sitting here for about two hours, trying to clean up the mountain of files that we created. Randomly going through them in case I missed anything. Just before I am done, in walks Mary once more. Gone is the green dress, and instead a more business appropriate suit is in its place.
"Mr. Daniels, I am here to inform you that your services are no longer required, but we will be getting in touch at a later date, if needed".
"My services no longer required! What do you mean, no longer required?. We were on the verge of figuring this out, and what! They are just going to throw me out".
"I am sorry, but something came up, in which I cannot divulge at this point. But we appreciate everything you've done".
Appreciate everything I have done, yeah. Well please, if you ever decide to contact me once more, please don't. This whole thing was a real trip you know".
"We are sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused, but you must have realized this was temporary when you started".
"Yeah I know Dr. Jones, I am sorry. It was nice working with you though, it really was".
  As I am leaving, I can begin to hear the sounds of footsteps running up behind me. At first I figure its nothing, just some random drill they tend to do at various intervals, But as I hit the elevator, I turn around and see the officer standing before me.
"Mr Daniels, James! You need to come with me, we have something you may be interested in". He takes me back downstairs, to where the portal is located. Instead though we find ourselves in a small room, like the one I started off in. Dr. Jones and Dr. Williams are both present as well, all staring off through the glass window looking into a even smaller room, in which house a small table with a man sitting at the end of it. An as the officer speaks into a microphone, the man perks up.
"Okay Frank". The officer says." Can you please tell us again what it was you saw over there?". Frank looks up, with his unkempt hair partially obscuring his face, and says.
"There not human you know. I saw them, with my own eyes you know. The officer here told me all about your little theories Daniels. And they aren't human, at least not anymore".
"What do you mean not anymore?". I ask, now speaking into the microphone.
"Well what do you think the Germans were doing with that thing. Remember the Germans Daniels. They did have it before us".
"Okay Frank". The officer says." Can you please tell us what exactly you saw?".
  "Like I said, I saw them, in these underground caves, a whole bunch of 'em. Like the morlocks from that H.G Wells story. I am not a scientist like you guys, but it appears as if the radiation, along with some element on Perseua, has in a sense speed up the mutation process, or almost as if they are DE-evolving, or something".
"So they're a group the Germans sent over before we got a hold of it?".
"I would say so, yes".
"So than?". Dr. Jones asks." What happened to our group we sent over?".
"You mean the ones we lost?.. well, to be honest I don't know, but if I had to manage a guess, from what i saw, I would say what they found, was a fate a lot worse than what the Germans got into".
"Thanks Frank". The officer says." You've been a lot of help".
"So what the hell do we do now?". Says Mary.
"Well how can we be so sure he is right". Dr. Williams cuts in.
"I agree, how does he know".
"I don't think it matters anymore". The officer tells me." But I think our best bet is too shut that thing down".
"Shut it down! We can't do that, there's so much more we can learn, so much more we could do, there has to be something!".
"I am sorry Dr. Williams, but that is not a risk I am willing to take. Do you realize he is the only one to make it back, and its getting more frequent. And with a lot more out there than we previously thought, its just.. too dangerous. I am sorry Mr. Daniels". He says before leaving." For wasting your time". Soon after Williams follows after him, presumably to attempt a reconsider, leaving just me and Mary.
"Well I guess this is really it?".
" Yeah I guess it is". She tells me." I really did have a good time working with you".
"Yeah, it was fun".
"You don't get to meet to many guys around here like yourself".
"Well than". I laugh." At the very least, there is one good thing to come out of this".
"Yeah, there certainly is". She says, smiling.

# The End..

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