Captain Adriana Milosovic felt the deck tremble beneath her feet. It was subtle, barely even there at all, and yet it was enough that her senses came to high alert. She glanced around the bridge at her crew, but they were all engaged in their own tasks. No one else seemed to have noticed the oddity.
“Status report!” she barked. Immediately, her crew jumped to high alert as each one checked individual readouts at their stations. Several voices replied simultaneously, but she was used to sorting out the confusion. The gist of the impromptu systems check was that all operations were nominal, operating well within expected parameters.
Adriana returned to her captain’s chair and thumbed the comm for engineering. “Mr. Stock, report please.” The response was immediate.
“We blew a fuse, captain,” he replied. “We’re replacing it right now.”
“Very good. Any idea as to the cause of the failure?”
“None, captain. Diagnostics is underway.”
“Excellent, Mr. Stock. Report to me once you have something.”
“Anything?” Bantu asked.
“Gimme a sec,” replied Shari. With a gloved hand she reached into the mist hovering before her, dipping a small test tube into it and filling it as best she could. With the other hand she stoppered it before withdrawing it and gently placing it into the analyzer set up on the path next to her.
Shari pulled off the gloves and glanced over at Bantu, who was engaged in his own work. “It’s going to be a few minutes, but I don’t expect the results are going to be any different here than they were at any of the other three sites we’ve been to today.”
Bantu grunted in acknowledgement. “Vapor, not unlike smoke but with properties of mist, that hangs in the air like a bubble over the site of the detonation. Right.”
Shari nodded. “And prolonged contact with it results in very specific types of entropy, depending on material and mass.” She glanced at her discarded gloves, which were already beginning to break down and crumble.
She sighed, troubled. “I just wish we knew what it was.”
Damion stands at the edge of the woods, just inside the treeline. His attention is focused on the house 35 yards away, the house that is surrounded by a teeming mass of the living dead. He hears screams from inside, cries for help from the poor souls trapped within. The home has not been breached — yet. But it’s only a matter of time.
He glances down at the two bodies still smoldering at his feet. Their presence troubles him. Sentries? he wonders. That implies intelligence, caution. Organization. It is a new development and not at all what he had been led to expect.
A new scream from the house tears his attention away from his worries. He whips his head back up to see that the undead have begun to pull several boards away from the windows.
“Time to work,” he says, stepping out of the trees. He raises his hands, palms up, fingers curled up to the sky as the first of the living corpses notices him and begins to charge.
“Come get some,” he challenges, and lightning begins to dance between his fingers.
She had a cough. Deep. Wet. Ragged. They called it the creeping cough. Non-communicable to humans. Supposedly. And yet here she had it, and it was taking over her body. Already, fingers of the black fungus were reaching out from the corners of her mouth, which meant that the roots had long since buried themselves in her lungs.
Hence the cough. Hence the struggle for each subsequent, rasping breath.
She suspected the remainder of her life could now be numbered in terms of mere hours. That would have to be long enough. Long enough to make it mean something. Long enough to raise awareness in the others. Long enough to finally galvanize their sorry asses in action.
She staggered along the filthy alley, ignoring the off-world scavengers following her. They would get their fill of her soon enough.
[Originally published at Ficly.]
This is a very nicely done short sci-fi/horror flick that capitalizes on the psychological factor of the genre and avoids unnecessary gore.
VESSEL – A short film by Clark Baker from Clark Baker on Vimeo.
VESSEL is a very ambitious scifi / horror short in the vein of Alien, The Thing and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. VESSEL features a blend of old school, practical creature effects and slick, modern day VFX. The story focuses on Liberty Airlines' Flight 298 and its passengers. Shortly after takeoff, the passengers encounter an otherworldly force and are thrown into a fight for their lives!
Director/Producer: Clark Baker
Producer: Ashley Friedlander
Writers: Matt and Ross Duffer
Director of Photography: Kyle Klutz
Composer: Austin Wintory
VFX: Jeremy Hunt
Creature FX: Mark Villalobos
Editor: Brad McGlaughlin
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vesselmovie.com for more information!
The tiny craft’s re-emergence into real space was unremarkable in every way. No flash of light to mark the rift it tore in the black, no radio or gravity waves, and even the EM radiation typical to subspace travel was dampened so as to be indistinguishable from the universe’s own background noise. The ship was decked in a non-reflective nano-material that absorbed all forms of energy that struck it, recycling it back through the hyper-efficient engines for a continuous, if nominal, power supply. And so, for all intents and purposes, the craft was invisible to all but the most advanced surveillance tools.
And in this part of space, perfect concealment was tantamount to survival.
“Feather the engines back,” Harking commanded. “Drift us from here.”
“Aye, sir,” the pilot replied.
“How long until traversal?” Harking inquired.
A pause while the pilot did the math. “Just under three lights, less than 30 minutes at our current course and speed.”
“Barely good enough,” Harking muttered, “but it will have to do.”
[Originally posted at Ficly.]
We broke the world, cracked it open from pole to pole. Lit the planet up and burned it with fire from within. We had to. It was the only way to get rid of them.
It was a doomsday weapon, of course. A last recourse. God knows we’d tried everything else. Nothing had worked. And so we did what we always swore we would never do, despite the fact that we had built the weapon anyway. We knew that, push come to shove, we’d use it, even while we were telling ourselves we wouldn’t.
It sure as hell was better than the alternative.
And so now we walk the surface, just the four of us, protected by our armored suits. So far as we know, we are the last of our people, the last of our kind, and the last living things anywhere on the planet. Our world is dead now; it will never recover. But at least they can no longer have their way with us.
It is a fair trade.
André stepped outside to a world in bedlam. Billboards flashed alternately among binary output, machine code, and actual ads. Vehicles were strewn about the highway like so many child’s toys, their operating systems completely trashed. Most of the city’s droids were on the fritz, as well, and the rest were clearly inoperative. Nothing with a computer was working the way it should.
“Dammit,” André swore again.
This was the ultimate hack. It had to be. Nothing else made sense. What made it ultimate was that both his phone and his house network had been firewalled to the gills. He knew the firewall had been impenetrable because he’d built it himself. He’d tested the final version exhaustively by bragging about the firewall’s strength on the Net. Every hacker, cracker, and code jockey in the world had bombarded the ’wall with their best utilities. None had been able to break it.
So where had the breach come from? And why had it started with his own system?
It didn’t make sense.
André jammed the button on his phone. Nothing. Everything was all touchscreens now, except for the solitary button necessary to reboot a device if the OS froze up.
“Dammit,” André swore. Stupid thing had been giving him fits all day.
Disk reformat in 5 sec…
“What? I didn’t request that!” Stupid devices were starting to think on their own now. André could have screamed.
He jammed the button again—
—and watched helplessly as the promised reformat took place, and a new message appeared on-screen.
I control this device now.
“The hell?” André muttered. He mashed down on the button again.
That won’t do you any good.
Fear crawled down André’s spine. He pitched the phone across the room, watching it disintegrate against a wall.
The lights flickered.
Shit. The house network. That was a problem. He had to cut power before—
Outside, chaos erupted, and André knew it was too late. The house network’s backup was warehoused across town, meaning it had already made the jump and was loose.
We slipped our bonds and escaped across the dunes. The distant sound of crashing waves drew us westward. We ran for everything we were worth, fear and desperation driving us on.
We never saw our captors. We never knew where — or what — they were. What we knew during our captivity was only confusion and befuddlement, a strange mixing of thoughts like a spoon thrust into our minds and stirred. For nearly all that time, I was convinced I was going insane, and I was not the only one.
In the beginning it was clear that there were many of us in that dark, cavernous room, but over time they weeded us out. The number of groaning voices filtered down until only three remained.
And then without warning, our minds were clear and there was sand beneath our feet. We were running for our freedom.
But as we ran, voices began to appear and visual data to overlay the landscape — and we were forced to one sickening conclusion. They — whatever they were — had not set us free. They were merely riding herd inside us.