“Will you just do your job!” Theod yelled emphasizing the word ‘just.’ “Why does everything have to be so God-damned difficult?”
Her eyebrows raised as she stared right through the person yelling, her apathy apparent. This was just another day in paradise.
Theod reflected with ’oh, that’s right, little fucking brat doesn’t care at all.’ Anger was detected as the color of his skin turned a few more shades of red.
He was short for a male, late twenties in age, buggy eyes, and reddish blonde curly hair. He was unfortunate in his stature, which he tried to make up for with authority. As everyone else saw it, one big problem was that he stepped on other people to boost himself up.
Dahria was seventeen, pretty, even with messy hair and patches of dirt on her clothes and some on her skin. Dirty blonde hair, literally, and a somewhat petite build yet had solid muscle which gave her an athletic look. One that most young men would call attractive, she radiated it, yet she had a sophistication inside her. She wasn’t just a thing to look at, but a capable young woman who loved to help others. Being five foot five inches tall in stature, she still looked up to most of the men, except Theod, the arrogant little prick.
She was late in arriving today. Her strange and unexplained grogginess had helped her mix up wrong ingredients while she was preparing food. A few weeks ago, the grogginess came and went. Dahria thought it was just a bad cold, but it lasted unusually long. The job wasn’t hard, but it was important to keep the population healthy.
“There’s not enough supplies here for you to fuck it up!” Theod accused. “People depend on us, without food….”
“I know, I know,” she interrupted lifting her hand to push on her temple, some pain in her head distorted her concentration, “without food everyone will starve and die,” she finished Theod’s sentence. She rubbed her head...why am I so groggy again? And a dull pain in my head for days. Last week was...was...can’t remember.
Theod sighed not wanting to show any sympathy. “Throw it out, start again and get it done!” he turned and left to get his own work started.
Dahria went back to her mixing and tried to get her head to clear.
A slightly shorter girl with brown hair strolled over to Dahria.
“Hey girl,” Alexa said. “He’s such a dick isn’t he? Probably because no one has ever found it,” she snickered while crinkling her nose.
Dahria couldn’t help but laugh at her candid demeanor.
Alexa continued. “Don’t worry about him, he’s just mad because he has to look up to you, making him feel less like a man.”
Dahria gazed at her and smiled and couldn’t help noticing her nose small and slightly upturned at the end. Most boys would think cute. She was jealous.
“He’s got a point though,” Dahria hated to take Theod’s side in anything, “Without us doing our job right, everyone’ll starve.” Dahria accepted the blame. “You know what’s funny?” she asked changing the subject. “I woke up so groggy again. Headache too. I can’t seem to remember last month...or much before. Can you?”
Alexa shifted her eyes back and forth as she thought then said, “I remember some things. The memories are there, but hard to detail.” She shrugged. “Whatever. I’m sure I had fun! And so will we.” Alexa finished seemingly not bothered by it.
Dahria looked at her confused. She sure is in such a good mood. Happy and cheerful for a nasty place like this...that’s interesting. I would love some of that juice.
They continued to work with the rest of the staff preparing for chow time. Bob, the department head, helping in the final preparation of rations.
Dahria was excited. She knew she would be able to see Tommy soon.
There was favorable love between them, she could sense it. Memories of him were there, but fuzzy. He was different than most boys she had met. Tommy was polite, hard working, and treated her well. A slim build, but strong, and a little gruff. His deep blue eyes fluttered her heart every time he stared at hers. Their relationship was exceptional, even before the memory of this complex.
She pondered for a minute, what was this place?
Dahria remembered explosions, earth shattering explosions. There was a small amount of people in a room somewhere. Someone told her there had been some kind of catastrophic event. No one knew what, but the above ground became uninhabitable. She assumed it was a nuclear fallout situation. They moved small populations into underground bunkers around the world.
She tried to think of more information but the rooms in her brain came up blank. Her life before was hazy in her mind, but she remembered Tommy. Memories might be unclear, but there were strong emotions. Love, caring, companionship.
She smiled staring into dreamland.
The shower area looked like an old gym locker room. The space was open with shower heads popping out of the walls. Tiles were dirty, many were cracked and broken, some missing. It looked well used, or even abandoned for an extensive period of time. Cleaning it was not a priority, survival was. However, maintaining a useable resource was a must, so it got the occasional maintenance.
Using the shower, being a limited resource, followed the directive of showering every two or three days. Dirty water took time to recycle. The amount used must never exceed what was recycled. Simple math. The time allowed to shower was also limited. However, it was understood that certain situations called for washing. This was one of those times.
Tommys back, arms, and legs were wet, yet he could feel some of the sludge dry and some of the crust fell off. He stood under the shower head, dropped his clothes behind him and stepped forward. Pushing the button, the timed water soaked him for twenty seconds, then shut off. Tommy stepped on the wet clothes behind him. He took the soap and lathered his body up and pushed the button again to rinse off most of the grime and dirt. As he finished, he looked down at the sludge flowing into the drain. There was some red mixed in with the grime and dirt.
Hmm, I must have cut myself a little worse than I thought. He felt his elbows again and they hurt, but there wasn’t any blood. Must be iron rich dirt from the corroded pipes, He concluded solving the mystery.
Tommy watched the bubbles and sludge run down the drain, I wonder where that goes?
After the shower, Tommy rung out and hung up his wet clothes. He dressed into the next set of clothes that were in his room. They were worn, but at least they were dry.
Tommy’s next thought was to get the report back to Townsend, but he had to see Dahria first. It was almost on the way to the command center, the detour would be worth it.
Tommy knew it was strange how there were lots of memories with her, but they were unclear. He knew he loved her, and she loved him, the intensity of the feelings were clear.
Leaving the shower area, he weaved his way down a long tunnel, through a junction hall, an airlock, and sauntered up to the cafeteria. As he passed the conference hall, he noticed several people going about their business doing different things, talking.
The cafeteria hall was large, able to fit a couple hundred people. Being only thirty people in this complex, Tommy didn’t think it was odd because of how quickly everyone was pulled in. The memories were hazy, but he could remember everything happening fast.
There she was, her beauty entranced him. It wasn’t just her beauty either, Dahria was vivacious, and had a good heart. He observed her in several situations where she went out of her way to help someone else. It was a virtue Tommy was attracted to since as long as he could remember.
Tommy noticed she was focused on preparing food as he snuck up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist, and picked her up off the ground.
She squeaked and almost spilled a drink as she tried to look behind her, but Tommy let her fall into his arms in a cradle position. Before she could react he planted a big kiss on her lips. At first she resisted in shock, but her wide eyes took in the site of Tommy. She relaxed. They broke after a few seconds of lip massaging. “Urgh, damn you!” she smiled playfully.
“Hi baby,” he responded giggling. He let her down but kept his arms around her, pulled her close for another delicate kiss.
She stroked his semi-wet hair accepting it. Thankful for the moments of holding each other, they released.
“How are you this morning?” he asked.
“Much better now,” she replied, although he could sense something behind her eyes bothering her.
“Dickhead again?” he wondered even though Tommy had a good idea it was Theod.
Silence was the response, which Tommy took as answering the question. Theod was the head of many departments, the rations hall and cafeteria was one of them. It was tough enough to live down here, but even tougher when someone made the job more difficult.
“Forget him, he doesn’t matter. What matters is what you do. Hey,” he continued changing the subject, “I checked out the station two area this morning, and I had such a weird feeling in there.”
She looked at him curiously, “What do you mean?”
He paused not knowing whether to waste time with it. “Ah, nevermind.” Shaking his head he said, “this place just plays tricks on me sometimes. I’m just about to give Townsend the report that everything checked out okay, but I thought this would be a nice detour.”
“You’re right,” she smiled looking into his youthful eyes. There was passion there, intensity. She felt safe around him.
He knew they both had jobs to do, but she was irresistible, like the sweet girl next door, but he said a quick goodbye with regret and departed.
She watched him walk away and thought of the next time she could see him. Dahria felt refreshed and went back to her duties mixing and preparing food.
Alexa walked out from the back room with a sly smile on her face. It was like she held a secret. She could see Dahria picked up on it right away. Alexa giggled.
“Shut up,” Dahria said.
“I didn’t say anything,” Alexa’s smile never floundered, poking fun silently at her. She started singing a love song.
Tommy met up with Townsend at the command center. There were several other people working on various matters that needed attention.
Eager to receive the report, Townsend acknowledged him. Tommy handed the checklist to him. Townsend perused it with care as Tommy stood wondering what was next. He had questions, but this wasn’t a proper time to ask. Someday, maybe he could.
“I noticed the oxygen level went up when you were in station two, so I assumed you fixed it.” He looked at the report continuing to read, “but your report says you found nothing wrong,” Townsend stated.
“Yes sir, I double checked everything.”
“Good, but not good,” Townsend shook his head. “I was hoping there was a problem with the grid or just dirty filters.”
Tommy contorted his face in confusion.
Townsend continued, “We may have a nitrogen leak,” he avoided the technical jargon. “That might explain why the oxygen’s fluctuating. The nitrogen may be pumping into the chamber at a higher rate than normal. This would cause a lower O2 reading, then the O2 sensors are probably reading the extra nitrogen and kick on harder producing more O2. That would suggest why the ratio is fluctuating.”
Tommy now understood. He had an aptitude for science. In here, everyone learned about science, whether they wanted to or not. This station depended on people knowing something about how to stay alive using only the resources available.
“Uh-huh,” Tommy had some nervousness as he formulated a conclusion. “If the Nitrogen leak gets worse or bursts, the O2 cannot keep up,” Tommy observed Townsend nodding. “Everyone will suffocate,” he concluded. Tommy didn’t mention the possible new water leak, the O2 situation was far more important.
“Very good.” Townsend gave an unusual compliment and continued, “So now our job is to find this gas leak as quick as we can before it spreads to areas we inhabit. We’ve sealed off the area that has the highest nitrogen content, but I was hoping it could be found on that grid in station two. Now we know that’s not the case.” His brow furrowed and he paused. “Get Gebriel and Jones. You might need help with extra hands. Go to Jen and get any equipment you need. Find that leak and crank the pipe before the leak. Then you can repair it with a pipe sealer.” He looked at Tommy for confirmation, eyes had a cold hard stare.
“Understood, Sir,” Tommy nodded and headed off to talk to Jones.
Jones was working on some contraption. Skilled at taking things apart to find out how they worked, he learned a great deal and it gave him a superior set of skills.
“Hey, man, we’ve been assigned a job,” Tommy walked up interrupting.
Jones, like always, strained to pull his mind off of what he was working on. His tenacity was unparalleled, except for John, his department head.
“Hey,” he said as he stopped what he was doing and looked at him. “What’s this? An assignment?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty good too.”
“Anything’s good when you get to work with me,” his white teeth were bright with a smile.
Tommy played along, “Okay, Mr. special,” pausing for a moment, then added, “ed.”
Jones snickered, “duh, huh, good one, kid who doesn’t have a mother who loved him,” finishing with sarcasm. He stood.
“We have to check a nitrogen leak to make sure it doesn’t suffocate us,” Tommy added like it didn’t matter.
Jones’s eyebrows raised and looked in wonder of adventure. “Sweet,” he smiled nodding his head. “Finally,” he raised his hands in the air and clenched his fists in triumph. “Yes! I finally get to do something important around here.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it, we could die at anytime in here,” Tommy joked, but part of him knew the joke wasn’t funny.
Agreeing with him, Jones nodded and laughed. “Yeah, this is bitter man. I assume we need to find Gebriel?”
“You got it.” Tommy changed the subject. “One thing I don’t get when I think about this place,” Tommy said as he looked around, “Why the hell don’t we have radios or walkie talkies or something? It sure would make it easier to locate someone or coordinate things. We have all this other technology like 3d projectors and image screens but not those?” Tommy asked.
“Yeah no shit,” Jones replied as if he never thought about it before. “Doesn’t really make sense. It could be the radio signals can’t work through the walls, but an intercom system would’ve done the trick. Strange how no-one seems to know what’s going on. It’s like everyone just got here or something. We’ve been here…” He stopped and thought for a second. “How long have we been down here?” He looked around confused.
Tommy shrugged. “I don’t know man, but it sure is strange. I can only remember a few weeks clearly. Before then..” His face morphed into I don’t know.
Jones knew what he meant, he was feeling it too. He nodded with him and gave him a knowing smile. “I hear ya. We can talk more about that later. We’ve got business to do. Let’s go.”
They found Gebriel. He was sitting at a table drinking coffee. He was about twenty five, shorter than Tommy and Jones. Tommy met him a few times and thought he was a likeable good guy. He did his work without complaint when given orders from Townsend. His short hair reminded Tommy of a person who served in the military. He had a certain aura around him that Tommy respected. A leadership quality. Gebriel carried himself high, no matter what was going on. He was capable, but not too personable or overly friendly.
Tommy and Jones conveyed the task at hand, and Gebriel came without question.
The three navigated the dark spaces, humid tunnels, and halls to get to the storage cell. As they trekked with purpose, Tommy and Jones talked like friends, and Gebriel added comments on occasion. Tommy and Jones had the best bond, but Gebriel was fitting in well, even though he was a little older. Being down to earth, Gebriel was easy to relate to.
“...Because the middle finger is what sees things clearly,” Jones finished the joke laughing. The other two joined in the humor.
They stepped into the equipment chamber and all three smiles faded. Something was unusual. Jen wasn’t there.
“Jen?” Gebriel’s voice was loud, but it seemed only the walls were listening. He scanned around the hall but saw no one.
Without many places to hide, the sound could certainly be heard throughout the hall. The equipment chamber was about eighty feet in diameter and had a large metal cage in the center. The hall had two zones. There was a center cage, zone two, that had a table and chair, nothing more. It looked like no one had used it for years. The outer zone cage had general equipment items such as pliers, socket wrenches, and other common tools. The hall looked like a carved out cave with a dirt floor and natural rock walls.
“Well shit,” Tommy said. “This makes our job impossible until we can get into…”
“Seriously?” replied Jones looking at Tommy chin down and eyebrows raised, “You think I can’t get into that cell?”
He had a confidence about him, that’s for sure. It made sense. Picking a lock was one of many mechanical talents Jones possessed. He got to work on it.
Under a minute and Jones had the lock open. Tommy scoffed. Jones had an arrogant half smile on his face but it was half for himself. “Shopping lane two is open on self serve,” he mused.
Tommy looked at him and then at Gebriel and rolled his eyes and said, “Okay, nice work. Let’s do it. When we get this job done we can ask about Jen.”
They got their gear and walked through a maze of tunnels, down a set of steel stairs, and to the sealed contaminated chamber.
“All right, let’s gear up,” said Gebriel. Donning an oxygen mask each, flashlight, oxygen sensing gadget, and some other general tools to fix the leak, they stared at the sealed door.
When Tommy glanced at the other two, they nodded to signify they were ready. He unscrewed the wheel and opened the door.
A giant hiss of gases rushed out equalizing pressure. They all jumped back in reflex from the surprise. Looking through the open door, three lights illuminated beams of dust as they disappeared into the chamber.
“Geez, glad you guys are here to protect me,” Jones injected, his mask muffling his voice, but it was understandable. “Go on, you first.”
Tommy glanced at Jones who gave him a smile. Tommy was even more amused by the way the mask made him appear goofy, like he was underwater.
“Aren’t you a hero,” Tommy returned. Entering the large chamber, Tommy kept his eyes open. Even with two other guys with him, it still wasn’t easy. He bent down and stepped through.
Gebriel was next, then Jones.
Tommy closed the door.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Jones squealed through the mask.
Gebriel laughed. “Take it easy man, we’ll be alright.” He put his hand on his shoulder.
“Let’s get this done and get out,” Tommy added.
They scouted for the imbalance of gases. After some spot checking with temperature and gas sensors, they found the leak. It turned out to be a loose roll screw fitting.
“That’s strange,” said Gebriel inspecting it, “This fitting requires force and leverage to loosen. There’s no way this could’ve come apart by itself.”
“There are no vibrations to rattle it,” Jones reinforced. He looked at Tommy and Jones with a serious face. “Someone must have tampered with it.”
He looked into her eyes, fear.
Her eyebrows furrowed, a tear slid down her cheek like a stream carving its route for the first time. Her eyes were illustrious and deep. Sparkling. Deep containing a hidden universe of thoughts, knowledge, and emotions. Her arms stretched out, bound to the sides by rope holding her in a Christ-type configuration. Her light red hair fell on her shoulders like a waterfall pouring into a crystal blue lagoon.
His eyes pounded into hers penetrating her thoughts. It felt like he owned them. He looked at her with admiration.
She sank back as he studied her. It was like his vile essence flooded into her like roots of a tree and captivated. Terrified, her mind exploded with thoughts of the unknown and left her with exhaustion. She never saw the knife until it rested against her shoulder. Cold steel. Her eyes widened, an extra supply of terror developed and she pleaded with more tears.
“Shhhh,” He whispered.
Tape covered her mouth to prevent excess noise. Sometimes the screams were too piercing and ruined his enjoyment. He gained that knowledge a long time ago.
The knife hovered along her shoulder and glided it into the crook of her underarm. Still looking into her blue eyes, the corner of his mouth curved upward. He slipped the knife precisely into her sleeve and sliced through her shirt, revealing her bra strap. The brachial artery exposed.
His member stiffened. Moving his knife to the front of her shirt, he cut away, letting her shirt open.
Sobbing, she battled the urge to move. Tears kept running down her face, mixing with sweat, and stung her eyes. She tried to scream, but it only hummed out her nose.
Her bra exposed, he slipped the knife behind the front strap careful not to cut her. With a little force he pulled his knife toward himself and lifted it to saw through the clothing.
“Come on now,”
It severed and snapped apart and hung there, partly open.
“There we go,” he said.
She jittered as a draft entered from the exposure to the air. It was like icy hands feeling her up. An openness for the world to see.
The new sight pulled his stare from her eyes down to her bra. The man in shadow observed the soft smooth skin between her breasts, cleavage, but the full mounds were still covered by the clothing. Raising his knife he used the point to gently move the bra aside, exposing part of her breast.
“Wow, honey,” he said, his heart pounding. Excited from the view he glanced into her eyes and said, “don’t worry, before we have any fun you’re going to give me a heart attack!” He laughed.
Her breasts were round, elegant. Inviting.
He moved her bra further and exposed the red nipple, like a golden medallion. The back of his knifeless hand pressed up underneath her breast sliding smoothly under it, supporting some weight. The touch was sweet adrenaline. It was soft and smooth and the backs of his fingers slid over her nipple, involuntarily hard and erect from the open chill air.
She cringed as she felt the unpleasant sensation, like electric shocks jolting her body. She struggled, but the web of bonds held her tight. Closing her eyes, she tried to escape the reality of the situation, teleporting her body and mind to a beautiful place. Somewhere. Somewhere else. A sandy beach with rolling waves caressing her ears. Soft cool wind moving over the warm skin heated from the sun. Time slowed.
A sudden thrusting jolted her back to the lustful scene. Her body jerking with each forceful push, her groin being forced apart by his manhood. He pounded again and again, skin slapping irritatingly loud. Pain radiated from the area as she gritted her teeth. His grunting became louder and the force of the thrust increased. Her mind turned into wet disgust, muddy, from the explosive hot sludge from his ejaculation. She had no choice, all she could do was let it happen. A few God awful minutes of eternity. It was done. He took her body, there was nothing left but raging dirtiness.
After the ravaging and still inside, he kissed her forehead and rubbed his wet cheek against hers. He was breathing hard in her ear. In and out. Hot breath like a whirlwind slapped her neck. It felt like hot ice picks.
She was limp, drained of all energy, numb. In all her life she would have never thought something like this would happen, but this world was harsh. She stopped sobbing, drained of tears, like a river that has dried. After another moment the numbness gave way to a small glimmer of pain between her legs. She could feel something wet running down from her groin area. His nasty aftermath of the rape. She began to feel lazy as if she couldn’t stay awake.
So tired. What was happening?
“Are you okay?” he asked sounding genuinely concerned. “Tired? I know.” He nodded his head. “You wore me out too. Oh, look at that,” he said as he stared at the blood running down her legs.
She was tired, but the shock still showed on her face.
He gasped. “Are you a virgin?” He laughed. “I’m so proud to be your first.” His smile faded. “You look like you’re in pain. I know, it hurts. Here, let me kiss it for you.” He slid down with grace to her thigh and licked it like she was a wounded animal. His tongue wrestled with the folds of her groin then gathered blood in his mouth, moved up to her face, and released it on her neck. Like he was making out with a high school girl, he couldn’t get enough. The blood trickled down her naked body, over her breasts, down her stomach. He peeled the tape off her mouth and cut the ropes. With no strength left to fight or stand, he laid her down on the ground with care as the life slowly exited her body. He put her arms over her stomach in a resting position and moved her legs together and crossed them at the feet demurely. He kissed and sucked the wound down on her leg for more blood. Her eyes became slits as if she was falling asleep. He watched with pleasure, then, her life was gone. He spit some blood into his hand and traced the areas around her breasts, then drew on her body with it. He admired his work. It made her more beautiful. He worked with hands of precision, tongue, and nose roaming all over the front of her body. He kissed her nipples with blood. Breathing in to a full lung capacity, a smile came to his face again in pure joy. The fragrance was like summer orange blossoms. The artwork was a masterpiece. Refreshing. He was in an ocean of ecstasy.
The entertainment was real, and he enjoyed the perks of lust. He is the hunter. The killer.
The first one was free, he thought, then he laughed remembering. The dumb kid slipped in it and didn’t even know it. However, along with a moment of humor came anger. Disgusted his painting was messed up, he couldn’t wait to play games with that kid.
Another wonderful painting completed. This one they can’t miss. Let the fun begin.