Keep Calm and Blow Bubbles
Paris burst through the already opened door, then waved a small pistol around, scared. Behind her, three officers appeared, waving pistols around in anticipation.
Jessica Io’s house was silent. And silence meant empty.
“Jessica Io’s house...” the police captain pondered, waving her gun to check the corners of the central hall. “How the hell did we forget to check this place?!”
“Don’t question that,” Paris rebutted. “Let’s focus on the present.”
“Right,” the captain agreed, “but how did your friend know where to find this place?!”
“Too long to explain,” Paris shot, opening the kitchen door and bursting in. Nothing, just silence.
However, the kitchen was messed up, as if a large animal had been fighting with something. Plates were smashed all across the floor, and papers were strewn about like lights on a christmas tree. The kitchen table was in pieces, and one particularly large piece had a footprint, a large circle in the center, and five curving triangles surrounding it.
“What did this?!” the police captain gasped, having never seen a more brutal and chaotic scene.
“Something not human,” Paris replied, noticing an important detail. Like a river cutting through mountains, there were splatters of blood. “Because, humans don’t bleed blue.”
Indeed, across the room were streaks of blue blood, intermixed with occasional streaks of blood red. Neither Caleb Azalea nor whatever had been Jessica Io could be seen.
“Look,” a police officer notified, pointing at a wall, “bullet holes.”
“Did your friend have a gun?” the captain inquired.
“No, he left his gun behind at the prison,” Paris replied, pondering the scene. “Someone else was here.”
“No idea, but tell your men to sweep the house.”
Just as the captain said the order to sweep the house, a voice outside yelled. Accompanied by the scream were several gunshots.
Paris and the captain nodded to each other and sprinted outside, finding a young officer hold up a gun to an unconscious man lying on the floor.
The man was obviously injured, and his uniform was drenched in blood. But the uniform was not from an officer’s uniform, but rather, a military one. What appeared to be sickled claw marks were crossed all over the victim, as well as circular marks that had the most blood leaking out.
“Officer Vuail,” the captain began, addressing the man pointing a gun at the injured man, “what happened?”
“I- you won’t believe me!” Officer Vuail defended.
“Well, I will,” Paris offered, “I’ll believe.”
“I’ll believe anything right now,” the captain mentioned.
“Okay,” Officer Vuail started, “there was this thing- I can’t really explain- it- it just appeared out of nowhere!”
“What thing?” Paris questioned, now with a pen and notebook in hand. As she did, she whispered to the captain to fetch some medics. “Was it Jessica Io?”
“How- it was! It was Jessica Io, now that I think about it- except, it wasn’t. It was more of something escaping out of it!”
“What thing? What did it look like?”
“Her- her spine had been ripped in half and this- this thing was coming out! It was dark limbs just stretched out! Just trailing behind everywhere- there were like six or seven limbs or something with too many joints and one of them- one of them...”
“One of what?” Paris pressured.
“These- the limbs had these claws on them! T-they were all turny and stuff and one of the limbs were gripping this man and- you won’t even believe what happened next!”
“I will,” Paris assured, writing down the new information.
“Okay,” Officer Vuail mumbled. “This- this head came out- a-and the body- just skinny and black and colorless and- I can’t even explain anything. But the head just… it was...”
“What was it?”
“It had so many teeth and… it looked like one of those carnivorous plants, y’know, the Venus one or something. It- it just growled and me and- and I screamed and-”
“You shot the thing and this.”
“Y-yes. I know you won’t believe me. It- it was just unbelievable!”
“Okay, so if this thing, this Venus monster escaped from Jessica’s body… then where is her body now? It can’t have just disappeared!”
“No- you don’t understand! It- the skin was like a part of it!”
“Like it was molting the skin off?”
“Yes- But how did you know that?! It- it was like one of those puppet balloons- but with no air inside! Just slack on the floor.”
“A lucky guess,” Paris answered, though clearly lying. “Continue.”
“The- the skin fell off and the creature- it- it ate it!”
“Describe this… cannibalism.”
“When it was running away from me- it- it took the skin and just ate it as he hopped over the fence! Then it jumped onto the roof and I lost track of it!”
“Dismissed, officer,” the captain ordered. The woman turned to Paris, with an accused look in her eyes. “You aren’t actually believing the officer’s story, right? Because it can’t happen. Anyways, that unconscious guy’s in the hospital in surgery now.”
“I won’t believe him,” Paris lied, knowing full well the story was true. “But we don’t have a clue where Azalea, my friend went. I don’t believe there was enough time for someone to kill and hide him.”
“I agree, but I believe that army man may have something to do with this.”
“True- how long until we can start asking questions?”
“Maybe three hours. The wounds weren’t that bad.”
Three agonizing hours later, Paris and the police captain were at the hospital. At the door, three officers guarded, making sure nobody could interfere with the investigation.
Behind the two investigators was a table, where all the army man’s items lay, untouched and bagged.
“Hello there,” Paris greeted, “welcome back to life.”
“Who are you?! What happened?!” the man yelled.
“Calm down,” the police captain assured, “you’re in the hospital. You are also a suspect to a murder.”
“What?! Never mind, where’s my stuff?!”
“There,” Paris told, pointing at the table with the items.
“Good,” the man said, struggling against the cuffs that tied him to the bed. “Now get me out of here!”
“Not so fast,” the captain rebutted. “We will be getting some answers first.”
“No, no! You wouldn’t understand why we were there anyways.”
“We?” Paris pointed out. “Who’s we?”
“My team,” the man explained. “I’m only authorized to tell you that… we were there to collect… an item.”
Paris walked over to the table and found an object she had been keeping an eye on. It was a small pentagonal pin blue in color, with several words on it.
“An item?!” Paris growled, clearly mad as she examined the pin. “Caleb Azalea was my friend! This was his pin- it says ‘Keep Calm and Blow Bubbles’! Why do you have this!”
“I found it,” the man replied. “Finder keepers.”
“Where!” Paris interrogated, fuming at the seams.
“When I knocked that one guy out. Weird stuff, but finders keepers.”
Paris rubbed her eyes and walked back to the table to find any more items that belonged to Azalea.
Meanwhile, the police captain took the lead. “How are you so calm? You know we’re keeping you here for at least suspicious circumstances?”
“Oh, I don’t care,” the man snarled, “because only Lakise is important.”
“Lakise?” Paris asked, realizing something in her head. “Where have I heard that before?”
“Why did you tell us that?”
“You’ll find it anyway- just check my stuff. A flashdrive is there that contains my mission information.”
True to his word, inside the pockets of the army uniform was a single yellow thumbdrive. The device had a label that read ‘Fort Lakise RM-33’. Paris couldn’t understand, but she had a feeling about this fort.
Paris pulled out a laptop from a bag she had brought. Paris plugged in the thumb drive, and as the man said, there was a single document that contained the information of the ‘mission’.
“Collect the objects,” Paris read out loud. “Bring them to Fort Lakise. -Project SP.”
“Project SP, what’s that?” the captain questioned.
“No idea- I’m just a soldier.”
“Where is… Fort Lakise?” Paris asked.
“That, I really can’t tell-”
“It’s here in Kintain, isn’t it?” Paris cut in, smiling a devious smile. As she said the words, the color began to drain from the man’s face. “Everything so far has happened here in Kintain, except the Fairchild case, which I can’t understand. Now, tell me where it is!”
“I… I can’t. Or, I won’t. I don’t break under any circumstances.”
“I think I know where Fort Lakise is,” the police captain offered. “Let’s just say some of the blueprints of this hospital don’t add up.”
“Can you prove that?” Paris inquired. “And how do you know?”
“Let’s just say… some people want Lakise to be revealed.”
With that, the police captain set a small notepad onto the table where Paris was and strolled out the exit. Too confused to move, the captain disappeared into the crowd before Paris could understand what had just transpired.
“Hey!” Paris called, drawing attention from onlookers as she ran out. “Where are you?! What’s this supposed to mean?!”
Paris returned to the army man’s room, gave the patient an angry look, and opened the notepad.
It wasn’t notes.
A map. It was a map of a hidden base that was underneath the very hospital, enterable by pressing a specific code on the elevator buttons.
And in that very underground fort far below the hospital, Azalea awoke.
It was a room, all white around. Every single wall was a soft white, not bright, but… comforting. One such wall had the way out, a door.
Azalea was sitting on a bed, a soft purple one. Then, he realized he was wearing a hospital gown, rather than his regular clothes. He gazed, and he found a cabinet, which he opened. Inside, were his clothes.
Missing, was his favourite pin.
He thought nothing of it. He had many other pins, and could recreate his favourite one later. First, he needed to escape the mysterious room.
“Hello?!” he called.
No answer was given.
With no options left, Azalea changed into his clothes, then stepped towards the white door at the other end of the room.
He gripped the door’s spherical handle, and turned.
It opened. Revealed, was a busy hallway. A crowd was there, all wearing military uniforms, like an army of camouflage striped trees. It was an amazing sight, but Azalea didn’t waste any time.
He noted that there seemed to be many doctors, as quite a number of people wore white lab coats. Sneaking a peak from his location, he saw a paper describing an unknown organism that had the ability to change color. He was confused but-
“Oh, you’re finally awake,” a voice interjected, just before he could read any more.
“Huh?” Azalea mumbled, turning to face the voice.
“You’re awake,” a doctor repeated. “My name is Doctor Julian Jiao, but you can call me JJ. How do you like our facility? Sorry about what we had to do to get you here. It was necessary, but that thing… we weren’t expecting to find you and that thing at the same time.”
“I… what? Where am I?”
“Oh, no worries,” Doctor Jiao assured. “Caleb Azalea, we’ve been looking for you for quite a while now.”
“No matter. Just follow me,” Jiao deflected, “and just as you say- Keep calm, and blow bubbles.”