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Self-Termination Apparatus

By whoeverfightsmonster All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Horror

Self-Termination Apparatus

It feels like he's been crawling forever. Although the air gets colder as he descends, drops of sweat fall on his self-term. He manically wipes it dry. His hands are raw from the rocky ground, and dust fills his lungs.

Through his earpiece he hears:

--Come in, Jack. How you doing?--

“Peachy.”

He'd never complain about the tunnels. None of them would. Burrowing is life. That's what they teach the kids when they learn that there's nothing above their underground warren but scorched, uninhabitable earth.

He rechecks his equipment: gun with two precious, specially-made bullets; headlamp; self-term. Good.

He crawls on.

That stupid Olsen kid. It was his own damn fault, exploring old tunnels, Jack thinks. I shouldn't be here, alone and afraid, my knees and back aching. I should be with my wife.

He's sorry then, remembering the child's death. Grisly. The balance must be kept. A life for a life, or those things will venture closer to the occupied tunnels, hungry.

From his earpiece:

--We've detected it. Directly ahead. Keep moving forward and shoot on command.--

“Copy.”

His headlamp flickers. He carefully adjusts it. He won't let himself think about what would happen if he loses his light.

His earpiece shrieks:

--Stop!--

Startled, Jack bumps his head on the ceiling. His headlamp dies.

--We've lost the signal.--

“What? Jesus! My light's out.”

--Quiet. It hears you. Just listen. Move forward.--

Jack crawls through absolute darkness. There is no sound except his ragged breathing and the relentless dragging of his hands and knees, left, right, left, right, through dirt and rubble.

A whisper from his earpiece:

--It's behind you now. Turn slowly.--

He stops. He's hyperventilating. He forces himself to turn around.

--Shoot. Now.--

Jack fires twice.

Silence.

Then:

--You missed. We're so sorry. Self-term.--

Hands shaking, Jack unhooks his self-term, unlatches the safety. But he hesitates. He wants a moment to remember his wife.

-- Please, Jack, self-term. It's less painful…--

He's a terrified old man, crouching in the dark with a monster. Is a moment too much to ask?

--Jack, if it…gets you, we'll owe them two deaths.--

He activates self-term. Nothing happens.

Something scratches the ground, a few feet away.

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Dinzy: OMG!! I bloody loved this story and to be honest I want more like maybe a part II... It was so scary that I will be sleeping with a night light because I was so scared. I literally am holding my teddy bear. That is how good this story is. It started out mellow like any normal story would; but in ...

harry142018: This story was gripping and very professionally written. With lots of twists and slight of hand tricks, the author deceives the reader until finally showing their cards at the end. With several subplots all intertwining to create the main plot, this really is an interesting and engaging read.

Steve Lang: I thought this story was imaginative, and well thought out. I also think it was an original piece, and not a rehash of previous scifi stories I've read in the past.Thank you for the effort put into this tale, and I look forward to reading more of your work!

cassandrab: Delightful SciFi (for a change)! I am not a SciFi fan: mostly the genre is far too dystopic for me. This book (written by a high-school friend) is, on the other hand, generally upbeat. Yes, Earth's future is threatened. But Earth has a chance to plan a response. And (spoiler alert) ultimately win...

Evelyn Alonzo: I was up till three in the morning just so I could finish the story! It just really grabs your attention and you can't stop reading it at all! Lol great job, Nick! Can't wait to read your other stories!

Jasmine Chow: As I read this story, I was reminded some what of Terry Pratchett, especially some descriptions of politics and economics. The sci-fic setting is quite intriguing. Writing style is quite lovely and grew on me slowly. I was also slightly reminded of Mark Twain, especially his book A Connecticut Ya...

Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...

Deleted User: This is a very clever story in the style of 19th century (and turn of the century) Gothic writing, very reminiscent of Stevenson's The Body Snatchers or even of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (less so of Frankenstein itself, since the author is more minimalist than Shelley's florid, Romantic rhetoric). ...

C J Lawson: Nicely done. Good story with good characters, as well. I was very entertained by the story line, from beginning to end. I would definitely read more of this author's work.

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DennisT: This is an excellent story by an author who writes very well. the only problem areas that I see relate to proofreading and editing. All of the stories by Vanessa are excellent, and I have read them all more than once. I had hoped that they would be better edited and proofread on this site, but it...

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