Morning. I can feel it, but I don’t want to wake up. It’s nice to sleep, helps me forget the ugliness that’s out there, in the real world. Funny how we can simply escape the brutal reality by just laying down and closing our eyes, well... not me... I know that when I fall asleep and when I wake up that I’ll just be the same ugly monster. I try to forget... I really do, but what’s the point. My dreams are black, empty, ugly... no reminiscing of the past, of my parents, of my childhood friends... no hopeful look into the future... just a black ever present night that surrounds me, never to disappear.
As I think, a light shove hits my arm and a voice says, “Ay, York! Come on man, time to get up!”
Marko’s voice, whose else would it be. I slowly open my eyes and rub them with my fingers as I take a deep breath.
“Time to move, our pickup will be here any moment.” Marko says, crouched beside me.
“Yeah... yeah, I hear you.”
“This equipment isn’t going to pack itself up you know.” He stands up and makes his way to one of the empty boxes that we use for carrying stuff like this tent in.
I lazily make my way onto my feet, taking as long as humanly possible. I’m not really a morning person per say, and besides once Captain and Ray make their way down here they’ll be able to lend us a hand with packing up.
Marko and I spend an hour or so putting everything back into travelling cases. The weather has gotten significantly better, no more wind, meaning no more storms, the ability to see further than 3 or 4 feet has been restored to us all, thank God. It’s a bit more chilly, I can almost see my breath as I exhale but that’s to be expected here, unlike that damn storm. I take a few steps away from the place we camped and scan the area for any danger, but thankfully nothing worthy to note apart from a small pack of Split Fangs a good distance away, not dangerous enough to raise any alarm.
Right around the time that we finish packing up Marko waves as Captain and Ray make their way towards us.
“I hope you boys didn’t have a rowdy night out here.” Captain speaks out.
“Nah, it was all good! As much as I hate to admit it, I think this storm helped get rid of any hungry animals.” Marko replies with a big grin on his face.
“What about you two? Any more Split Fangs bother you?” I ask Ray as she approaches for a handshake.
“Nope, all goon on our end.” She says.
“It took us about an hour to fix up the whole mess with the radio, but we got it working as you’re well aware of. If I’m not mistaken our ride should be getting here in a few minutes.” Captain says, looking at his watch and then out, roughly towards the direction our pickup will appear from. “That reminds me,” He continues, turning to Marko. “There’s still some stuff back up in the cave, it would have been difficult for Ray to carry it and I’m not as fit as I used to be. Come with me and let’s take down the rest of our gear.”
“Ah, sure thing! York, can you put the body on ice for me while I’m gone?” Marko says.
“Yeah no problem.” I say.
As they head back to the cave I rub my eyes... I can still feel the slight migraine from yesterday. I disregard the temporary annoyance and head to the body to finish up our work. Lucky for me, Marko already took out pretty much all the necessary tools for this. Just have to move the body into the container and connect it to the little generator and voila, a portable body fridge.
“Why didn’t you just put the body in there from the get-go?” Ray asks as she stands over me while I struggle to get everything in order, especially the moving of the body.
“Well... the generator can only work for so long... so we turn it on just as we’re leaving to make sure it survives by the time we get back to camp. It’s sort of a special order Marko gets from time to time... my guess, it’s because some users are maybe more vital than others... but I got no clue,” I say in between sluggishly moving the body into its resting space. “How about you lend me a hand yeah?”
She sighs and helps by grabbing the target’s legs and moving them into the container. After a back and forth struggle we manage to set everything up, afterwards the two of us just sit down on the ground, sharing the moment of silence as we relax after some tough manual labour.
“Hey,” She says without looking at me. “What did you think of the target?”
That question again. Why is she asking me the exact question that Captain did? “What?” I say in confusion.
She lets out a heavy sigh, “Last night, Captain asked me that... I don’t know why, it just came out of the blue.”
That can’t be a coincidence, can it?
“I asked him what he meant by that and he said that he just wanted my honest thoughts on the target,” She continued. “I said that she was a nice enough looking girl, that it’s unfortunate for her that she became our target... That’s a pretty odd question to be asked right? Especially by Captain of all people.”
“Yeah... and what did he say?” I ask while I keep looking forward and thinking what this could all mean.
“He said I should forget it. Pretty weird think to ask, I mean he’s the last person I would expect to think twice about putting down Users, let alone to question us about what we think of them.” She says, clearly questioning the whole scenario as she recalls it. “I don’t know, maybe he’s just getting old you know? Don’t old people get the tendency to question the morality of everything they do?”
“Probably.” I say, still looking ahead.
“He hasn’t been in good graces with the higher ups lately right? Not after the last mission anyway. I’m still pissed that I had to sit that one out, those damn injuries... what happened exactly?” She asks. “I mean you hear all kinds of stories about it back at camp, but I never asked any of you about what exactly went down.”
I sigh and look down as I recall what happened. “We had a mission to take down two Users and to bring them back alive. One of them got a jump on Marko before we were ready and Captain reacted just like any leader would... he pulled out his handgun and blasted a hole straight through the Users head.” I say with a monotone voice. “The other one, seeing it’s partner get killed went into a rage of some sorts and went for us. Long story short, both of them died.”
I remember that night very well. Captain, Marko and I were sent to capture two Users that were hiding in some outback shanty town. It was to be a quick mission, maybe one or two days, but... everything just seemed to go by in a flash. It was pouring rain, there was mud everywhere we were barely able to walk without slipping and catching ourselves. I didn’t mind it, I like the rain... it reminds me of home, it’s probably the only thing I can remember from back home, but this rain was different, it smelled of death and ruin, I could feel that something was going to go wrong. It didn’t take us long to find them, they were staying in a little shack that was surrounded by bigger homes if you can even call them that. As we started to set up our camp and get ready for nightfall when we would take them both out, the rain started falling even harder, it started turning into a full blown thunderstorm making our job more quiet but also a bit more tedious due to the wind and lack of visibility.
It was then while Marko was setting up the radio that they struck, they managed to get a drop on us while we were setting up and one of the two Users jumped Marko, embedding a short knife straight down his right shoulder. It was the male User who attacked first, both the male and the female User we were tasked to capture were in their thirties, whether they were related I don’t know but the resemblance was striking between them, leads me to think they might have been siblings of some kind... Captain, who was loading his sniper rifle at the time, immediately stood up and drew his sidearm, and not willing to let the User strike Marko again, he pointed the end of the barrel straight at the male Users head and pulled the trigger. With a shattering bang and a flash reminiscent of a lightning strike, the User was dead on the spot... his body slumped down and landed face first into the deep mud. I barely moved from my sitting position, everything happened so fast that I was still in the process of figuring out what happened. Captain quickly looked all around us to make sure we were clear but when he looked right above us where the previous User came from there stood another, the female, motionless staring at the dead corpse of the male.
The rain continued even stronger now, angrier, hateful... revengeful. Another shot rang out but flew right past her, or did she dodge it? I couldn’t say. She turned her gaze towards us now, scanning each and every one. Marko slowly recovered with the knife still lodged in his shoulder and Captain steadied himself for an attack, I had slowly gotten to my feet and made my way towards the wall right under her to lose her line of sight. As I get into my position and look around I hear what sounds like words, softly being said, coming from above me and a second later she descends onto Marko with incredible speed. They engage in hand to hand combat as Marko pulls the knife out of his shoulder and begins using it to his advantage, but it wouldn’t help as it seems as though the User was far beyond the speed that Marko could keep up with, so far beyond anything I’ve ever seen. She charged him relentlessly with attack after attack, there was something feral at play, a raw strength that couldn’t have been possible for someone of her build and size, no... there was something else, something much deeper at play... I was scared.
She quickly overpowered Marko without many issues and as Marko was going to go down Captain charged in to engage her and make it a two on one fight. It was ugly, I always though both Marko and Captain were skilled hand to hand fighters, and I witnessed it on many occasions, but they didn’t stand a chance here... one after another they both fell, beaten and bloody, covered in mud and rain, and she just stood there, in between the two men who were sent to kill her now on their knees. Captain got to his feet barely standing in one place as he pulled out his handgun now fully coated in mud, and as he pulled the trigger... nothing, the gun was far beyond filthy and in no shape to operate, noticing that he had no options left he just grinned and chuckled as he accepted the result of the battle, the failure of the mission. The female turned towards him, and I saw what I think were tears streaking down her muddied face, she let out a mixture of a mournful and rageful scream and in that moment something in me moved. By this point I was paralyzed with fear, I’ve never witnessed such feral emotions and drive in a person, let alone a User, but as I realized that this fight is going to end with us being slaughtered my body took over and moved on its own. I dashed towards Captains big sniper rifle as she screamed into the black sky, I slid on the mud and scrambled to pick up the bullets and the magazine to be able to fire, noticing my movements and plan both Captain and Marko charged her at the same time with what little fight they had left within them distracting her just enough for me to be able to pull off a shot.
Both of them were handled with ease, and as the User was charging to deal the final blow to Captain a thunderous crack and a raging fireball came out of the rifle as the bullet charged straight towards her head. To be honest I never fired Captain’s gun, I’ve seen him fire it countless times but a behemoth like that was not something I could handle, but at that moment time itself seemed to stop, as I pulled up the gun to my shoulder and set the barrel on my knee all in a fluid motion, I closed my left eye as I felt a pulse from my right eye, for the first time ever activating on its own as if it knew I needed it, and bang... As she was inches from piercing Captain with a knife of her own, a .50 calibre bullet takes off her entire lower jaw in one smooth motion as her entire body takes flight and spins once before falling on the mud, motionless, facing away from us in the pouring rain, and silence.
Captain stood there without moving a single inch, eyes focused straight ahead, Marko was on the ground barely conscious, but with multiple broken bones he was in no shape or form going to get up. I sat there in the mud, I didn’t feel the gun whatsoever, surprisingly, with my finger still on the trigger I didn’t move my eye off of her presumably dead body. A moment passed, then two, then three... every moment felt like an eternity but my body and mind were calm, I knew that I had to save them and that’s exactly what I intended to do, after a few seconds on stillness Captain finally lets out a deep exhale as he composes himself cleaning his gun with his eyes closed, breathing heavily. But our fight was far from over, I wanted to believe that my shot was the final nail in the coffin but I was wrong, against all odds she started moving and slowly getting to her feet, her face was mangled, blood poured from the entire bottom section of her face and her tongue almost ripped right in half still dangled there, drenched in blood. Whatever force gave her strength to overpower both Captain and Marko is clearly keeping her alive far beyond her mortal limits, perhaps beyond death itself. With a guttural scream she charged like a feral beast towards Captain who is calmly standing with his eyes closed cleaning his gun, I steadied myself for another shot as she leapt into the air for the final blow I slowly squeezed the trigger but in a surprising display of fluidity, Captain steps to the side causing her to completely miss and with one motion he grabs her by the neck and puts the handgun to the side of her head... As the final shot rings out and as the second and final User drops to the muddied floor I find myself hip deep in mud, scope pointed straight at the body, contemplating whether or not I should put another bullet into her just for good measures, Captain walks in front of my view. I look up to see him holding his hand up to signal me to ‘hold’, I let the gun rest on the ground as I catch my breath and shortly after I hear Captain say, “Go help Marko. I’ll take care of the bodies.”
Killing Users isn’t an issue for me, I’ve done it a couple of times but this... I can’t even begin to describe the terror I felt. If my body hadn’t shifted into autopilot then we all would have been dead, I was feeling a mix of terror and calmness, I don’t understand why but for the first time ever I feel as though my eye decided to finally help me and save my life for a change, I still don’t know how to feel about it.
It was no easy task patching Marko back up, sure we get supplied with top grade medical equipment but his body was nothing short of a glorified shopping bag of human bone and blood, but eventually I managed to stabilize him, thankfully the rain died down to a light trickle which was a nice change of pace. By the time I was finishing up Captain had returned from his body disposal task and has gotten to work on the radio to call for a pickup.
We didn’t say much, if anything, for the remainder of the mission and our trip back to base camp, though there was one thing worth pointing out. A couple of hours before our pickup was to arrive, Captain told Marko and me to go on ahead without him, and said he needed to take care of something but that he would make his way to base shortly after us, which he did, arriving a day after we did. I decided not to question what he did, considering what we just went through. I just thought he needed some time to compose himself at his own pace, away from the Organization. After his return we spent a couple of weeks at base before being called up to take a new job tracking and capturing a female User who fled into the mountains. Captain was obviously warned by the higher ups for not keeping the Users alive and disobeying protocol and even when I tried to explain what happened Captain told me to keep it to myself and that it wouldn’t change anything.
Suddenly the snapping of fingers in front of my face snap me back to the present, “Yo!” Ray says, “Where the fuck did you go man?”
I shake my head and blink several times to regain my consciousness, “I’m here... sorry, I was just thinking of something.” I mumble as I put my hands on my face.
“You and your zoning out, you really need to fix that stupid habit of yours otherwise you’re not getting any chicks, just saying.” Ray says, sounding a bit annoyed, I was probably out for a little while.
“Yeah I’m working on it.”
“If it weren’t for Captain I would have just slapped you right out of it! Come on hurry your ass up, you’re making our ride wait!” She says as she picks up her bag and begins walking behind me and probably towards our ride.
After taking a second to shake myself off I get up onto my feet and turn around to find our pickup in the last stages of packing up. The best part of the job is our ride to and back from it, this RV looking thing is like a full on house on wheels, every one of us gets their own room, the shower that unfortunately we share is still pretty damn good, and the best part is that we have our own room! After looking around in hopes to find my stuff but ultimately failing, Captain walks up behind me and puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “If you’re looking for your stuff then you’ll find them in your room, now come on it’s time to head back.”
Diary entry 1:
So this is the first night on our way back to base. We basically just went to our own rooms and slept for a good while and after that we had dinner as usual. It’s strange, it’s not like all of us aren’t the talkative types, there’s always something we find to talk about, but Captain seemed quiet for some reason... somethings off about him I can tell, the whole mission he was in his thoughts and I’ve never seen him like that. Not even after our last mission... something is wrong.
I guess I can ask him when we make it back to camp, whatever he’s going through I don’t want it fucking up our next mission in any way, otherwise we might die for real next time...
I can’t say if Marko or Ray noticed, I mean Captain did ask Ray the exact same question he asked me, and he even dismissed it in the same way, ‘What did you think of the target?’ What’s that supposed to mean? I’ve never seen him be this locked up in his own head before...
I would assume it’s safe to say that he asked Marko the same thing, but there’s no point in asking so I’ll just let it go for now, seems like the best thing to do.
I’m still not sure of the Organization.
I know I write about that a lot, and if they were to find this diary they would probably burn it and put a bullet through my head... but if my guess is right then they would want nothing more than an excuse to put me down. I haven’t seen anyone like me in any other base I’ve visited, or hell, anywhere else on this fucking earth! That leaves me with two possible answers, either I’m really sick and infected with some ‘one of a kind’ virus and that the Organization is the only thing that can help me and I’m being way to paranoid for no reason at all, or... it’s because of that reason alone that I’m still hear, alive and breathing. The theory I have is that they are keeping me here either to study me and use me because of my freak abilities, or they see me for the monster that I am and want to keep me on a tight chain to make sure I don’t go off and start killing people.
Whichever way it is, they are still keeping me here, against my will essentially and I can’t do anything about it. They never let me get in touch with my parents, it’s been so long that I forgot their faces... or did I? For some odd reason I can’t recall much of my younger life, I can still say where I was born albeit not the exact town or village but just the rough area. The only real thing I can recall is the feeling I had and the love I felt as I walked on the outskirts of my town in the pouring rain, but that’s it. It’s weird, almost like I forgot the majority of my past over this year or so... maybe the side effect of this eye that I have... maybe.