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World Rot: Path of the Planet Eating Virus

World Rot

PATH OF THE PLANET EATING VIRUS

Brett P. S.

 

Copyright © 2016 Brett P. S.

Shakespir Edition

All rights reserved.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Table of Contents

 

CHAPTER 1 – FAITH IN PROBABILITY

CHAPTER 2 – THE GOOD DOCTOR

CHAPTER 3 – SECRETS OF THE STATION

CHAPTER 4 – SPREAD OF THE ROT

 

Chapter 1

Faith in Probability

 

During the latter half of the 25th century, at the climax of Terrace exploration into the outer clusters of their home front spiral galaxy, a distressing behavior crept its way inward from the farthest star clusters.

Benjamin Fuller, a young understudy in his early twenties, walked steadily through a set of sliding doors as he made his way from the central corridor of Solus to the primary observation deck. The ceiling stretched from a meter above his head to a looming cavern of titanium rods and tiles that propped up the structure into a hexagonal-tiled amphitheater.

Benjamin held up a metal tray with both of his hands, a cup of juice on one end and a data stick on the other. He took care to transport each with equal care, because he hadn’t a clue what Mr. Mason cared about more. Mr. Mason, the head scientist aboard Solus, stood calmly at the far end of the observation deck, staring out the viewport, his focus fixated on a cold, dead planet that the station had been orbiting for the last twenty cycles. He flicked his hand with a snapping motion and Benjamin jerked, nearly toppling over the man’s beverage.

“Yes sir!” he said.

Benjamin hastily hurried across the observation deck, a barren room, save for a handful of oddly shaped equipment that looked more like trash or alien probes than something useful to Terrace. He rested the tray on Mr. Mason’s workbench, and the good Doctor snatched up the drink. He swiveled the liquid around for a while before he took a swig.

“Well done,” Mr. Mason said. He continued staring out. “Thank you. That will help with the headaches.”

Benjamin could relate. He’d been having sparse migraines since their arrival in this system and he’d taken all manner of painkillers to quiet down the symptoms. The station’s chief medical officer mumbled some choice words in regards to the rare occurrences but assured zero fatalities. From a numbers standpoint, headaches were exceptionally rare, so Benjamin took solace in the fact that he and Mr. Mason actually shared something in common.

Mr. Mason turned and grabbed the data stick wrapping the device in his long fingers. He held it up centimeters ahead of his face and inspected the device, eyeing it as if something had corrupted the data contained inside.

“Do you think it will help?” Benjamin asked.

Mr. Mason dropped his shoulders and sighed. “Doubtful.”

He plugged the data stick into tablet and some code flashed across the screen. Benjamin tried not to look, but the issues at hand had piqued his curiosity. He casually rolled his eyes over to his side, unknown to the good Doctor.

“What exactly is the Rot?” Benjamin said. “Does it pose a threat to Terrace?”

Mr. Mason swiped his fingers across his tablet screen, seemingly ignoring the question from his understudy. However, once he’d crunched some more numbers and a trove of data flowed across the screen, he paused and turned to Benjamin.

“You won’t have to worry,” he said. “The Rot moves at a fraction of Light Speed. By the time it reaches the Core Systems, you’d be dead.” Benjamin swallowed a sizable lump in his throat. “Besides, I scarcely imagine Terrace will sustain itself for that long.”

“You must have more faith in Terrace than that,” Benjamin said.

Mr. Mason frowned. “I have faith in probability. Space faring civilizations can’t ignore the laws of the universe any more than hunter-gatherers. Terrace will end someday. If something like the Rot doesn’t kill us all off, there’s an almost absolute chance we’ll end things on our own.”

“That’s rather grim,” Benjamin said.

Mr. Mason smiled and turned back to his observations. “That’s the truth.” He paused, glancing back at his tablet. “The data my instruments gathered today proved fruitful after all. The magnetosphere for Vexus-9 no longer exists. That explains the lack of atmosphere and the death of plant and animal life.”

“But how?” Benjamin asked. “Why is it happening?”

Mr. Mason frowned. “That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Go get some lunch. It will help with your headaches.”

Benjamin wanted more out of the conversation. He had many more questions ricocheting through his skull, and he almost opened his mouth to ask, but he kept his jaw shut. Mr. Mason had his plate full as it was, and he didn’t need some intern rattling around his cage. Benjamin crossed his arms and walked away.

 

Chapter 2

The Good Doctor

 

Benjamin dipped his spoon into a thick viscus pile of wet noodles with bits of chicken laced into the mix. He dug in and promptly shoved a pile into his mouth, slurping up the trails of pasta that hung down his mouth. It did help somewhat but not much, and it would take at least twenty minutes before he’d feel better. The pulses racked inside his head, piling on with increasing temperament.

He fished out his pill bottle, the one the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Camille, prescribed him. He’d already taken the recommended dosage, four pills today. He’d need to wait at least six hours before he could pop down some more. Without Mr. Mason standing next to him, the kindred feelings he noted earlier had all but vanished.

Four individuals aboard Solus, out of ten thousand, suffered migraines to varying degrees. He was sure he had it worse, but it did appear strange to him that the two people closest in study to the Rot’s progression suffered ill effects. Judging from his previous encounter with her, Dr. Camille appeared equally concerned. She promised to look into it, but Terrace knew so little about the Rot or even how it affected planets.

Mr. Mason had exhibited the most progress toward a solution with his expert analysis, and he just brushed the pain aside. He acted as if the migraines didn’t bother him, as if it were a matter of exposure, but Benjamin suspected a different situation underneath his aloof scowl. It was a challenge to a man such as him. Benjamin nodded silently.

“Ben?” A familiar feminine voice spoke from behind.

Benjamin lifted his chin as the woman sat down beside him with a plate full of beans and rice. Dr. Camille wore a sky blue pants suit with her hair tidied behind her in a longer bowl cut. He glanced across and stuffed his pill bottle back into his pocket before he shoveled another helping into his mouth.

“Hello, Doctor.”

Dr. Camille placed a hand across his shoulder. “Are you doing all right today? Is the medication helping to ease your symptoms?”

“It works a little,” Benjamin said, sighing. “I hardly feel the difference anymore, but then I remember what it felt like before you wrote that nifty note.”

“I’m sorry to hear you’re still in pain,” she said. “I could push for a transfer if this is bothering you. Dr. Mason wouldn’t mind …”

“No,” Benjamin said, cutting her off. “I’m fine. I can put up with it if he can.”

“This isn’t some contest, Ben. This is your physical health.” She paused and drew back her hand. “We don’t even know how the Rot manages to affect people like you the way it does.”

“But you can’t send me off unless I agree to it, right?”

Dr. Camille leveled a stern glare at him. “I can act against your wishes if I determine your life is at risk. Don’t press me, Ben.”

He sighed and shrugged, staring at the food left on his plate. “I apologize, Doctor. It’s just that this is the chance of a lifetime for me. I’m a part of something bigger than I could ever hope for in a century of study. Please don’t take this away from me.”

Dr. Camille cocked her head and paused while she looked past him. He noticed from the bounds of his vision that she seemed to be looking past him. He kept his head down but refused to eat. With the rhythmic pulsing in his forehead and the light sensitivity, he didn’t much feel like eating. It was a wonder he’d made it this far through his plate, noting the scraps of food remaining.

“I’m not trying to,” she said, finally. “Listen, why don’t I give you a more formal evaluation next cycle. Maybe it will help to clear your mind of worries.”

Benjamin smiled. “Thanks.”

He reached down to scoop up some of the last stragglers of chicken and noodles from his plate while Dr. Camille dug in herself, but his hand trembled as he inched toward the plate. He struggled to minimize the shakes as the room brightened and a thick pressure pressed up against his skull from the inside like a puffing balloon made of clay.

He grabbed his wrist with his other hand and Dr. Camille must have seen him fighting because he noted unintelligible chatter in the background and a voice that sounded oddly similar to hers. Jolting arrays of lights swarmed around him in a maelstrom of rhythms and heated strains until he lost himself in the mixture and became one with the Rot.

He felt odd, his body dissolving into a murky mess of saliva, like the cavernous maw of an alien creature he scarcely understood. In a brief instant, he laid eyes on an otherworldly visage, locking eyes with a beast clad in starlight and shadow. He shut his own eyes, but that didn’t keep the image from his perception. Benjamin cried out, but none were there to comfort him.

 

Chapter 3

Secrets of the Station

 

Benjamin’s perception swirled around, a droplet in a fountain. He overheard voices, a familiar one that sounded like Dr. Camille’s. She was arguing with someone, and the discussion seemed heated. The tones faded in and out as volume and pitch modulated, but he recognized the patterns of speech somewhat.

“I can’t condone this, Miles,” Dr. Camille said. “He’s not staying aboard this vessel another cycle.”

“I don’t care if he stays or leaves, but don’t make his decisions for him,” Mr. Mason replied. “He deserves to make the decision in lucidity.”

A brief silence passed. “You’re not telling me something,” Dr. Camille said. “What’s this about?”

Menacing eyes from a shadowy visage appeared in the murky miasma of his vision and locked eyes with him. Benjamin shot up, snapped into consciousness as he jerked himself upright from a lying position. His focus raced around the room in which he lied. The area was small, isolated from the rest of the station, but he did recall the pale eggshell walls and odd smell as somewhere inside the medical bay.

He glanced down. The staff had hooked up a number of instruments to his forearm and chest, the wires crossing off into monitoring machines he barely understood. Gradually, his breathing slowed, and he calmed down to manageable stress. He’d passed out it seemed. More than that, he must have taken a good hit considering how his head felt as if a steel girder had hit him. He ran his fingers through his hair and oddly felt the electrodes stuck to a handful of places along his hairline. He ripped them off and sat up.

He forced thoughts inside his skull to recall what had landed him in the infirmary in the first place. Memories floated around, each less than satisfactorily detailed. He focused, but that focus only brought him more discomfort as he tried in futility against throbbing pulses. He figured he’d try not thinking for a change. Whatever happened, if it sent him here, then he probably needed to lie down for a while.

After removing what little equipment he had, he guessed some nurses would soon barge in, so he’d inquire then. Benjamin eased himself back into a resting position and closed his eyes, but the moment his sights turned to the insides of his eyelids, the imagery returned. He jolted and fell from the table, ripping the electrode tags off and pulling out an IV needle. He winced, clutching his arm, instinctively closing his eyes again.

This time, the imagery seemed more real; the icy stare of the creature’s eyes bewildered him, and he couldn’t help but focus on its misty eyes. It seemed like someone else’s thought projected into his own mind, and he thought he heard some unintelligible jargon, like mumbles from a language he didn’t recognize. Benjamin clutched his head and screamed, or at least he thought he screamed. The noise of something greater drowned out his sorrows and picked him up off his feet.

 

Chapter 4

Spread of the Rot

 

Benjamin Fuller strode past a set of sliding doors and into the primary observation deck. The chamber carried an air of familiarity, as he’d walked the same round a number of times, running errands for Mr. Mason over the few cycles he’d served aboard Solus. The musty air spun around him, and a cold breeze from the vents above blew across his face.

He’d awoken third shift, with the vast majority of the crew either asleep or just waking. He spotted a few custodial staff and some nurses on his way through the central hall. He caught glimpses of wide eyes and hurried shuffled footsteps. Benjamin fought to move his limbs on his own, but in essence, he was doing just that. He couldn’t fight what had now become a part of him, a powerful force of nature that eclipsed his own psyche in ways he barely comprehended.

The part of him that understood knew that this was the Rot that Mr. Mason spoke about, the term for the planet-killing virus. It stopped the core from spinning, hardening the substance and depleting the magnetosphere. Planets across the outer cluster of the Galaxy were falling asleep, dying in earnest from a creature who exists for no other purpose than to quell the noise and discord. If Mr. Mason knew, he’d …

“Benjamin!” Mr. Mason shouted from behind. “Boy, come here!”

Benjamin kept moving. He walked past Mr. Mason’s instruments and over to a viewport spanning two dozen meters across. Benjamin pressed his hand against the liquid screen and stared out, his view fixated on the sleeping giant of a world in the distance. The station orbited the massive planet, but people like Mr. Mason barely understood the mechanics behind the monster. He hadn’t a clue, and the idiocy of it made Benjamin sick to his stomach.

“Ben, step away from there now!” Dr. Camille said.

Benjamin stared out into open space and the starlight behind. A single tear welled up and rolled down his cheek. No, he would fight this. He’d do something, anything, before the monstrous force consumed him. Benjamin reached out with his other hand and inched closer as footsteps clamored in the distance behind him and bolt rifles primed.

He placed a firm grip on his wrist and removed his hand from the viewport screen. Benjamin swung himself in a quick jerking motion to face a fleet of guns aimed at his head, with Mr. Mason and Dr. Camille. Dr. Camille stepped forward, a bit cautiously at first, holding up her hand to motion the gunmen back in line.

“Hold on,” she said. “Let me see him and,” she started, but Mr. Mason stepped out in front of her.

“Wait one second, Doctor,” he said. “We don’t know anything about his condition. You should quarantine this deck, not coddle the boy and risk spreading his affliction.”

Dr. Camille shoved him aside. “My authority takes precedence,” she yelled. “You will not challenge my law aboard this station when it comes to Terrace lives.”

Benjamin stood and watched as a second tear rolled down his cheek, and he sank down, his back pressed against the viewport screen. The Doctor hurried over and placed her hands around his wrist, checking his vitals with a device. She patted his shoulders and worked at a brisk pace while Mr. Mason stood in the background of gunmen, his arms crossed, scoffing.

“You seem well enough,” Dr. Camille said. “Can you hear me?”

“I’m not,” Benjamin said with a pause. He collected his thoughts, what few he could. “I’m not well. Please, do me a solid and end this.”

“Not a chance,” she replied. She hoisted him up in her arms and stepped toward the firing squad. “You people are all fine and brave when it comes to killing a boy. Do any of you feel inclined to stop me?”

Benjamin pleaded her to place him back, let the rot quiet him completely, but his lips barely moved, and he’d run out of mental energy. His thoughts quieted as he dozed off into a restful sleep. The last thing he remembered before the creature flooded his waking mind was a piece of it, a small piece of it, leaping from him and up Dr. Camille’s arm.


World Rot: Path of the Planet Eating Virus

  • Author: Brett P. S.
  • Published: 2016-09-07 23:40:09
  • Words: 2903
World Rot: Path of the Planet Eating Virus World Rot: Path of the Planet Eating Virus