“Explain what I’m looking at.”
“Timestream 8496775816-AQZ-25.13.4. We pulled it from yesterday’s archives when it was flagged anomolous.”
“Look here. Grid 117, Segment 16, Node 135. See that curvature?”
“Yes. Explain its significance.”
“Timestream curvatures aren’t unusual. We see them when someone passes near a major gravity well. Black holes produce such events. Same with stars and Jovians.”
“So what’s unusual about this curvature?”
“The subject was traversing hard vacuum at the time, no known gravity wells in proximity.”
“There’s more. This is just one branch of this timestream. We sampled other branches. Most, but not all, displayed similar curvatures. Again, no known gravity wells.”
“Unknown at this time.”
“Best guess? A fourth spatial dimension impinging on the subject’s timestream. We don’t have the tools to confirm this hypothesis, of course, but it’s our best guess for now.”
“Honestly? No idea, but it’s probably not good.”
He trudged through the sand, up and over great dunes of the stuff, while the wind blasted him with even more of the fine grains. Visibility was shit, and he walked more by instinct than anything. He’d long ago lost his way. The gale-force storm did nothing to change that.
He was covered head to toe with protective gear, with just enough room to allow for his goggles — not that it mattered. It was impossible to see; he may as well have been blind for all the good it did.
He walked straight into the wind. The fingers of his hand were curled tightly around the reins of his faithful mount, which was also covered completely. This kind of storm was enough to strip the meat off a creature’s bones in short order. The only difference is that his horse actually was blind, at least temporarily, by the rags he’d tied in place to protect the animal’s eyes.
Together they walked, man and mount, as the wind blew, cutting a path through the sand, both beneath their feet and in the air. The storm would pass, in time.
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 email@example.com 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.