Primordial Soup

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Chapter 20

The Chiefs of staff of the armed forces were sat around the table, all talking at the same time. The door opened and the Secretary of State for Defence, Charles Burbridge, made his way to the head of the table.

‘Sorry to have kept you waiting, pressing business elsewhere. Let’s get straight onto the matter in hand. Have we looked at the possibility that these things may be of extra-terrestrial origin?’

‘We can’t be sure yet,’ the Chief of the Defence Staff said. ‘Professor Stanton’s team are working on it. He should be arriving soon for the briefing.’

‘And how is the containment going?’

‘It’s progressing, secretary, but erecting not one, but two barriers around a whole county is not an easy task, and we are stretched for manpower. It will be our last defence if we can’t contain them.’

‘And what of the evacuation?’

‘We have every available transport on it. We should have the containment area evacuated by late evening.’

The doors opened and Professor Stanton walked in. ‘Sorry I’m late.’ He took a seat, putting his briefcase on the floor by his chair.

‘One question before you begin, Professor,’ Burbridge said. ‘Are these creatures extra-terrestrial?’

‘No secretary. We don’t believe they are.’

He leant down and took some folders from his briefcase and placed them on the table.

’Would you pass these along please?

The man sitting next to him handed them round. Everyone at the table put their file in front of them.

‘I’ll bring you up to speed as much as I can. In the file in front of you, if you would open them, are maps showing the spread of the creatures. On the first map you’ll see that the original outbreak came from a research facility just outside the town of Stourbridge. Owned by an American consortium, A.M.C.O. Industries, they supposedly carry out agricultural and genetically modified crop research. We estimate the time of the outbreak to be in the early hours of Saturday morning.’

The secretary interrupted him. ‘How have you arrived at this time?’

‘We’ve been able to put together a time line based on information from a porter that worked there, and a milkman on his way to deliver to the facility. The porter finished his shift at 02:00 he reports that everything was normal at that time. On his way to his home, a twenty minute cycle ride from the research facility, he reports being pursued by a number of creatures. That puts the time of the outbreak shortly after he left the facility. The creatures had reached Silvers End, where he lived, at around 02:30. He arrived home to find that the creatures had killed his wife and were attacking the people in the neighbouring properties. He eventually left the house and after escaping the creatures, that he says were in large numbers in the high street, he made his way across farm land to the bypass.

At 05:30 a milkman came across a car on the bridge just outside Stourbridge. The remains of the driver were still inside. The victim also worked at the facility. The milkman phoned the emergency services at 05:40, so we know that at that time Stourbridge had not yet fallen. The police officers that attended the scene were all killed by the creatures; the milkman managed to escape. We know that Stourbridge was over-run by the creatures between these times as he reports that Stourbridge had already fallen when he arrived at 06:30.

The milkman stated that Stourbridge was deserted. The scene he described was of burning buildings, wrecked vehicles and bones littering the cars and streets. Finding his parents had been killed by the creatures he rescued his sister who was the only survivor of the attack on the town. They took a vehicle and drove to the bypass.

When he and his sister reached the slip road to the bypass the morning traffic had already been overrun by the creatures. No one on the bypass survived the onslaught. By that time the Armed Forces had been mobilised and were already fighting the creatures.

The milkman and his sister were eventually picked up at 09.55 by a helicopter. As you can see by the map, the first line of defence that was set up was overrun by 10:45, this allows us to gauge the spread of the creatures. The scenario I’m about to show you is not good. I’ll put this on the big screen?’

The professor got up and put a disc into a player under a large plasma screen on the wall. He resumed his seat and pressed the remote.

An overhead image of the research facility at Stourbridge filled the screen. As the scene pulled back, a red circle encompassed Stourbridge and the surrounding area, with times superimposed over the images. The professor paused at this point.

‘When the nuclear device was dropped on Stourbridge, it wiped everything out within this red circle, essentially cleansing the area, but the creatures had already spread beyond the blast area.’

He pressed play. The image continued to zoom out slowly.

‘From the initial outbreak at the research station, to Stourbridge and the surrounding villages and farms, to the neighbouring small towns, the spread of the creatures is phenomenal. If we can’t contain them within the proposed area, the whole of Britain could be lost within a matter of weeks.’

‘My God! You can’t be serious,’ exclaimed Burbridge.

‘I’m afraid I am secretary. If we can’t stop them here, I don’t hold out much hope for Britain, or possibly the world if this spreads to the continents.’

Stanton pressed the remote. Everyone in the room looked at the screen. Images of the creatures, all different types, all nightmares from Hell, brought gasps of horror. Everyone at the table began talking at the same time.

Burbridge banged his hand on the table. ‘Can we have quiet please?’

The room quietened down.

‘Please continue professor.’

‘The creatures are certainly unstoppable by any conventional means at our disposal. When one is killed, its body breaks down into a rudimentary mixture of protoplasm and proteins. It then becomes hundreds, or depending on its size, thousands, through a process known as asexual reproduction. The cells regroup into a rudimentary form, mainly the slug like creature that you saw. This then goes on to feed. Having the ability to absorb and utilise the DNA of its victim, it mutates into what you saw on the screen.’

‘Where did they come from? Are you sure they’re not extra-terrestrial?’

‘As sure as we can be, secretary. Although we haven’t managed to capture a whole living creature yet. The tests we’ve run on the slug like creatures that they revert to, match rudimentary DNA discovered from very early life, long before the dinosaurs.’

‘If they’re of this planet where did they come from?’ asked Burbridge.

‘Those questions remain unanswered at this time. When a creature is killed, it reverts back to a Primordial Soup, and then begins to evolve again. Our best guess is that the origin of the initial infection is from a time before life existed on this planet.’

’You’re suggesting that someone reached back through time and brought this ‘Primordial Soup’ back to our time.’

‘I believe that experiments were being carried out into time travel at the research station, and that they brought back an amount of Primordial substance that all life on this planet originated from. Since the research station was completely destroyed by the nuclear device, we can never be certain. I think that we’re witnessing the re-birth of life on this planet, except the first time around there wasn’t the multitude of DNA available to accelerate their evolution. The creatures absorb the DNA of their victims and mutate into various life forms. The more diverse DNA they absorb the greater the mutations and the rate at which they mutate into larger creatures. One thing they all have in common is their voracious appetite for flesh, human or animal. What we’re faced with is a threat to our very existence on this planet. If we can’t stop the creatures here and they reach the seas, they will kill every marine life form in it and spread to every continent on the planet.’

’Silence descended upon the room as they all took in the gravity of the situation. Everyone was looking at the screen, which was now filled with a map of mainland Britain that was completely covered with red. The time frame showed a date two months ahead.

Burbridge broke the silence. He turned to his Chiefs of Staff.

’I want every resource we have put into containing these creatures. I need to speak with the Prime Minister. He’s called an emergency COBRA meeting before the cabinet sits. Setting off a nuclear device, ‘however small,’ on home soil is going to take a lot of explaining to the global community, let alone the news that the world could be facing extinction. Professor would you accompany me?’

‘Before we go,’ Stanton said. ‘I have one piece of information that may be good news. There is one possible weapon we can use against them. The primordial substance infected a soldier. Diesel fuel was poured over his remains as the rudimentary life-forms emerged. It is very effective in destroying the gastropod like creatures that evolved from his body, before they had a chance to mutate. Though it has no effect on the larger evolved creatures, we believe it may be effective in stopping the spread once a creature is killed. We’re still testing it. Full details of our findings to date and possible measures of eradication are in the folders in front of you.’

Professor Stanton got up and left the room with the Secretary.

The Chiefs of Staff all reached for phones and the room became a hive of activity, with voices shouting orders into telephones.

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