Seven Days: Part One of Seven
Posted By: SeverianofUrth<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 1 March 2005, 4:50 PM
Seven Days: Part One of Seven
When I first died, Ben, I went through a brief stage of denial, then grief. Then, after weeping for a day or two, I realized that I had grown wings.
They are white, glowing, covered with clean, pure feathers. I first noticed them when I tried to scratch my back- funny, how even when you're long dead, you still sometimes get a little itchy- and I ended up pulling out a few feathers. I screamed, then; the pain is excruciating. It is like having your finger nails pulled out with pliers.
I was annoyed with the wings for a few days. Then, I accepted them; now, I love them. It's not that I always think of them, and hold them in my mind: I love them as you would love your hands. You have good feelings for them, but you don't neccesarily think about them.
I started to fly, then. I flew for quite a while, watching the once-pure seas get scorched and finally dry up with the constant bombings. I saw the imported Terran dolphins go belly-up in the oceans. And finally, I watched as the native sea squids, whose thousand tentacles often stretch out for miles and are visible from the sky, died away, their flesh and skin simply melting away.
I got pretty sad about all that, Ben. And that was when I finally had enough of flying. But I had nothing to return to; the world was dead, and no one knew about it. The dream that was New Hawaii was gone.
All I have left are stories. Mine, actually. About how I died- and perhaps, Ben, you might hear this from your bed in Reach. Maybe in your dreams you might hear the echoes of my story. I don't know if this will simply get lost in the winds, or if it will drift through space, echoing from star to star until it slowly disappears. All I have is hope. Hope that someone will remember it. And sing the song, Ben, sing it til' it's on everyone's lips, of how the dream fell. Dreams of heaven on earth.
I get an urge, sometimes, to simply fly and fly upwards, you know that? But I can't. Not yet, until I tell my story. Maybe it's a way to empty myself, so that I can prepare for whatever lies ahead. The story anchors me down, Ben.
Remember grandfather, Ben? How he always used to tell of his stories in the army? He always started with "and so it began..."
A killer is loose.
It is noon, and the sands are grimy with dried blood. Chunks of rotting corpses, an arm here and a leg there, dot the beach. And the sun shines over them all, scattering hot light over them like an oven, cooking the pieces slowly, until the air smells of crackling pork.
My first thought was that there had been an accident. A fuel leak, perhaps. Oil is plentiful here in New Hawaii, and as this is outside UNSC jurisdiction, people use it liberally- pollution is a long-gone memory for settlers, used to living inside cramped asteroids and underground bio-domes.
But when Jimmy and I got there, I realized something eerie about the whole thing: all the bodies had been severed by something wickedly sharp. Something so sharp that the bodies, as ruined as they were, were parted cleanly- it looked as if God had taken an giant scalpel and had dissected the poor bastards.
"Someone ran them over with a fucking chainsaw," Jimmy said. He sounded choked.
My own mouth tasted like bad vodka. "Nah," I said. I tried to keep my voice steady, and level. "Too neat for that."
"What about lasers?"
It was possible, but very unlikely. There must have been about thirty or so people here, judging from all the scattered limbs lying about. A laser weapon is incredibly heavy, and unwieldy. To have killed these people with the lasers would not only require a squad of soldiers to do it, but it would also have to require the victims lying about like a pack of sheep, docile and ready to die.
That left only one explanation.
"Occam's Razor," I said. "Some psycho shot them down, and then ruined the bodies for fun."
"A psychopath?" He sounded skeptical. "Dude, Dave, we don't have any psychos here. Remember? The colony consuls ran psyche-checks on all of us, to watch out for these kind of things."
"It's the most likely explanation."
Jimmy looked unconvinced, but he nodded, and then pointed towards the bodies. "Wanna start loading them up?"
I said yes, and so we got our gloves on. The latex clung to my fingers as we started hauling arms and torsos and sliced-open skulls to the 'hog.
There were hundreds of small and large pieces, but we only collected the parts we felt were the most important. But even then, it was tedious work, so we stayed there til' about four o'clock. Once we were done, we got on the 'hog exhausted and badly sunburned. I was still very pale, and so was Jimmy, from our stay inside the asteroid camp. The back of my shoulders were peeling off as I drove.
Roads were still unpaved, but nonetheless, as we cut through carefully planned-out jungles, I could see slowly the towers of New Honolulu rise above the clouds. They shone in the now-moderate sunlight, their black-glass surfaces wrapping the scenery around them and distorting them like some crazed Van Gogh painting.
It was our dream, Ben. New Honolulu. Clear waters, good people, lovely world...
After about an hour, we passed the checkpoints, and, badly sunburned and nearly retching with the stink that rose from the corpses, we got off the 'hog and stumbled inside the lab.
The doors parted open for us, the lights on them turning red to green; there was an automated welcome from the servitors, and we stumbled in, stinking of burns and rot. The white hallways, sterile and sparkling clean, beckoned cold comfort for us. Forgetting about the carcasses aboard the 'hog, we went in to our quarters, stripped down, and took a shower.
Of course, when I had washed and dressed in clean clothes, I immediately regretted leaving the bodies in the warthog. We had bagged them up, of course, but the 'hog was going to need a wash pretty quick. And after hauling the stinking load into the lab's freezer, I would need another quick wash, too. I tried to get Jimmy, but he was still washing up, so I got on
some fresh gloves, and went outside to the 'hog.
I could smell the bodies from ten feet away. I stopped and took a deep breath- then, holding my breath, I sprinted towards the car, hauled the limb-filled bag up, and ran towards the lab.
My air ran out before I reached the lab. I had to take a deep breath- and I gagged. I threw up onto the concrete, bile burning up past my throat and spilling out onto the ground. I retched and vomited until my stomach was empty. Then, still tasting the vomit in my mouth, I picked the bag up and went inside.
My arms and shoulders were cramping by the time I reached the freezers. About thirty dead people equal about three tons- and even though we only managed to find and recover maybe about one-fifth of their body parts, that was still alot of weight. The freezer door slid open on command, and I tossed the bag in.
Let me explain this, Ben.
I know I've been lax in sending letters to you- and now, I can't send anymore, now that I'm dead. But know that I've been working for what passes as the police force among the settlers, and that I've been assigned with Jimmy, my short-time friend, to CSI.
It all sounds terribly important, doesn't it? But it isn't. To tell you the truth, I don't think anyone expected murder of this magnitude and mystery here. We are a naive bunch, I think- we have all the innocence of early-day socialists. I think the Consuls believed that by escaping the reaches of UNSC, we would also escape the evils that plague mankind.
And because we didn't expect much in way of mysterious murders, two very inexperienced individuals were sent to solve it.
That's us, by the way.
Night came, and with it the New Hawaiian chill. I sent for some fried shrimps done spicy over the comm. channels, and kicked back with Jimmy with some beer. The beer was new and awful, more like brown piss then anything else, but we drank it all down anyways. After today, we needed the intoxication.
The stars were new, and strange. It's like that every time I travel- the sky changes. I had been born at first on Earth, and grew accustomed to the constant sight of the huge, beautiful moon hanging over me at night. Then, at Reach, I started gazing at the stars.
In the prison camps and the asteroid colonies, there were no stars to gaze at.
Now, at New Hawaii, the stars were strange, their positions wrong.
"Great." Jimmy seemed pensive. Or drunk. The small, white light we kept on painted shadows on his face, which was long and sharp. And he was now frowning, and grimacing, and making strange faces at no one in particular. He took a drink. "Great."
"A psychopath, man. A fucking psychopath." He took another drink, and shuddered. "Horrid booze, by the way. But a fucking psychopath!"
"I'm as surprised as you are." I should have expected something like this. No colony made with human will and human hands is perfect- there is always a small, malignant individual in every group, a cancer who, at times, bursts out and disrupts the entire scheme of things.
"I thought it'd be different, here." He was starting to slur his words. The only good thing about the beer we were drinking was that it had lots of alcohol. "A blank check, man. Goddamn beautiful thing I thought we built here. No fuckin' murders. But now we got this' shithead runnin' loose, and it's all gone, dude. No more goddamn heaven here." He shuddered again. "So mcuh fr a drim..."
When the food came, steaming and smelling delicious, Jimmy had fallen asleep. I dragged him to his room, and managed to lift his limp, drunk body up to his bed, and left him sprawled there, his arms and legs tangled at odd angles. We all look so ignomious when drunk; and even worse, I've found, when we fall asleep that way.
The shrimp was good, the chiles were old, and all of it was made so spicy as to disguise all flavor. I loved it.
Johnny Reb we're comin' for ya,
down south we come marchin' for ya.
Johnny Reb we're comin' for ya,
to hell we'll come marchin' for ya.
That's based off an old song from Earth, Ben. It's what the UNSC played through the comm. channels when they routed us at Apotrops.
Remember Jonathan Severn, Ben? The guy who took us on our first trip across space? When the UNSC came, he killed himself before they could take him. I watched him die, his mouth filling with blood as he chomped away on his tongue.
Remember Lini, Ben? She died in the prison revolt. She was
moaning and naked, Ben, bloody and screaming.
Memories haunt me right now, Ben. When I started to tell you the story, all these things started coming back. But I have to do it.