A small recon team of five men combed through the burnt husk that was once Fort Meade, South Dakota, searching for survivors. Each are geared with tactical gear, assault weapons and gas masks.
“LT, you see anything yet?” His voice crackled, muffled by the obstructive mask.
The leader, Lieutenant Colin Smith, was silent for a moment, before responding “Not yet, Snow. Be patient, There must be survivors, someone holded up somewhere. Whatever the hell happened, it wasn’t a bomb. My guess is a terrorist attack. Why they would attack a small base in the middle of South Dakota, I have no idea.” He paused. “ We’ll check the barracks next, stay close.”
The doorway was blocked by a cot, and Pvt. Flemming, the smallest of the team, climbed through a window around back. “Goddamn, it stinks in here, did something d-” He cut himself off. Inside was several corpses, apparently killed in there sleep. Flemming would have vomited on the spot, if it wasn’t for the M40 Gas mask strapped on his head.
Flemming quickly unobstructed the door, ran out and removed his mask, and emptied his stomach.
“Quickly, search the area and drag the bodies outside. We will give them a proper burial soon, but right now, we have our mission.” Lt. Smith choked on the putrid air. “Search the lockers too and see if you can’t find out what happened here.
After about 30 grueling and disgusting minutes, they had seven desiccated corpses outside and covered with sheets. After another 15, they had searched the lockers. Most were mundane belongings such as toothbrushes, watches, and even a teddy bear. Strangely enough, they only found a single letter, signed by Ryan Barnes.
THIS DOCUMENT HAS BEEN ALTERED. MANY GRAMMATICAL AND SPELLING ERRORS HAVE BEEN CORRECTED. PLEASE TALK TO YOUR SUPERIOR FOR ORIGINAL DOCUMENT.
July 11, 2015 Dear [REDACTED], I’ve missed you these past few weeks! Training is hard, and I get few chances to write. Only seven weeks left! I can’t wait to see you again. The worst part is the running. We have to run 3 miles with literally 50 pounds at all times. 50 pounds! I got in a fight with Sam too (You remember him, right? The cliche big black guy?). It wasn’t a fist fight or anything, but we shoved each other around a bit. The worst part is, I honestly can’t remember what started it. Everyone here is constantly exhausted and on edge.
Also, the Drill Sergeant is a total dick. I think his name is Gram. He never lets up. For every small mistake, he screams at us. Well, I guess you can’t say we didn’t ask for it. This is Basic, after all. It’s basically hell at this point, but I’m promising myself that I’ll get through it. I hear the worst is still to come.
Also, I saw something weird in the showers today. I was the last one in there, but I swear I saw a shadow or something. I’m going to blame it on the fatigue for now, ‘cause I can’t think of any other explanation.
With love, Ryan
[REDACTED] Research Facility, Alaska, July 8th 2015
We have started some more experiments with subatomic particles. We believe they might hold the key to Faster Than Light travel. If my theory is correct, ironically, FTL travel might be cheaper and easier than light speed. Our first test was a failure, however, we managed to open a miniscule rift in the space time itself! The team’s hope is high. I can’t believe this might actually work. Our next test will begin immediately. we are going to attempt to open a larger portal. If that succeeds, we will try to get the particles to rematerialize in the base in South Dakota. Fort Meade, was it?
The scouts search the surrounding areas, systematically checking building to building, room to room. with each search, their morale plummets further. Everywhere is the same image: Brutality and rot. Death seems infinite.
“Goddamnitgoddamnitgodfuckingdamnit I can’t take this anymore,” Pope’s endless mantra. “They're all dead, they’re all fucking dead, man.”
“Shut up, Joshua! Keep it to yourself, were all thinking the same thing,” retorted James.
“Everyone shut your traps and follow me. We don’t know if whoever did this is still out there,” the LT. reasoned.
They worked their way to a large garage, housing several military grade trucks. Inside were a few small rooms that they began to systematically check. In the last room, they discovered several mundane documents about the condition of the vehicles. They nearly left when Snow tripped on a corpse and landed face to face with a folded letter stained with blood on the ground. Snow coughed and then weakly stated that he had found something
“Ryan Barnes,” Smith noted. “That the same guy from that letter before?”
“Yeah, think so. What does it say, sir?”
“There’s so much crap on it that I can barely read it. We’ll take it back HQ, see if we can get a professional to decipher it.”
July 12, 2012 Dear [REDACTED], I got in another fight with that Sam asshole. He flipped out on me ‘cause I took his spot next to Ray in the mess. It ended with a fist fight and both of us having to do 100 push ups. I’ve never been so tired in my life, not even after one of the runs. I swear, that guy is crazy. The sergeant, I mean.
Okay, remember that thing I saw in the showers yesterday? Apparently, Ray saw it too. During a training exercise in broad daylight, he says that he saw it just standing there staring at him.. Ray said it just looked like a person-shaped emptiness. Soon after that, it just disappeared. Don’t laugh at me, laugh at the crazy russian, he’s the one who said it. I’m not so sure it was a hallucination now, seeing as Ray spotted it too, though. I haven’t told him that I saw it the other day yet. He looked spooked enough. Even scarier, I heard some rumours that one of the mechanics just up and disappeared. No explanation, no nothing. I’ll finish off there. I’ll write you again soon, hopefully when I’m not pissing myself.
I woke up to the sound of the Sergeant screaming in my ear. I nearly started crying. I got up and made my cot in record time, and was dressed in the mess faster still. When I caught up to Ray, he was chatting with one of the other recruits.
“You hear about that recruit that went missing in one of the other barracks? This morning he just wasn’t in his cot, like he never even slept in it.”
“What? Thats fuckin’ crazy. You think someone would have noticed that he wasn’t in the barracks the night before.”
“Thats the thing. Everyone was accounted for before nightfall.”
I butted in. “Well, he could have just left in the night.”
“Pfft, that takes away the fun in it. Besides, where would he go? The fort is surrounded by an electric fence and an armed guard, remember?”
“Your logic makes too much sense, and my head hurts too much to try to understand,” I laughed. “Now, let’s shut up and get some food.”
As if on cue, a tall menacing nothingness formed on a table, and proceeded to tear a limb off of one of the recruits in slow motion. In the same moment, the alarms sounded before being muted by a incredible deafening silence that seemed to originate from the being, a pure muting of everything that seemed to encompass my very existence.
As fast as it had appeared, it dismembered four other men and vanished. One survivor broke then, babbling like a madman. One took a steak knife and forced it through his eye, apparently unable to live with what he had witnessed. The ensuing violence was almost worse than the initial event.
The men (kids, really) who didn’t snap instantly from the twisting of the laws of physics themselves scattered in a thousand directions like ants. I didn’t realise that I was just standing there, frozen, until Ray grabbed my arm and pulled me after him. At some point, we got separated in the chaos. While I was running, another figure grabbed my arm.
Forte Meade, July 9th, 2015
My god! We did it! The particle traveled from [REDACTED] to here instantaneously! I would have never thought it possible. It’s a shame that this must be kept a government secret. We could win the nobel prize fourteen times over with this breakthrough. The funny part is, because all of our machines obey the laws of physics, we have no idea how fast the particle was traveling, because by the time the device recognized the particle was there, it was already gone. We will do another test with a vastly more accurate timer and see what we can find.
Also, we will be beginning new tests with larger particles. If it holds up, we may have found a way to travel faster than light! Ha, I have never been so excited to go back to work.
“Fuck, how much more of this hell hole do have left to search?” Protested Pope.
“Jesus christ, do you ever stop complaining? Show a little respect for the dead, whatever they went through was much, much worse that what we having to put up with,” Snow finally snapped.
Lt. Smith cut in. “We’ll check the mess hall next, see if there is anyone holed up there,” he sighed. “Stay frosty, stay close. You know the drill.”
“Yes, sir,” the other four responded simultaneously. They moved silently through the remains of the once proud fort. They were the only movement in the base, and the only sound was the imperceptible whirring of the back up generators. The red emergency lights bathed everything in a crimson red, not that the building needed any help. They found the decimated mess hall quite easily. All they had to do was follow the bodies. However, every door of the cafeteria was barred or blocked, and no amount of strength would force them apart. Finally, they gave up using brute strength, and Snow rigged up a grenade to a string and placed it on the door. The small team hid around a corner. Snow pulled the length of twine, pulling the lever on the grenade and removing the pin. After a few more seconds, the doors blasted open along with the rest of the wall.
“Well, that’s one way to knock.”
“You better believe it. It’s how I say hi to my mother in law.”
“Sorry to kill the fun, but we need to search the area and get this over with.”
“Yessir.” “Right away.”
Three of them filed in while Flemming and Elliott stood watch. They were sure that the deafening explosion would have The remaining team scanned the area. Pope spotted two bodies, a large African and a Russian. They quickly searched the bodies, turning pockets out and checking wallets. In the Russian’s front pocket was a napkin, no doubt taken from the mess hall kitchen. The napkin itself was covered in barely legible writing.
As I’m writing this, I think me and Sam are the last survivors, I haven’t seen Ryan since this morning. This morning something attacked, it looked like a shadow, except it had depth. just solid black. its eyes were like purple flames. and so fast. so so fast. nothing can move that fast. it tore off my friends arm like it was paper. I’m trying to write this all down so that if I die people can know what happened. Okay, okay, let me start from the beginning. Me, Ryan, and george where waiting in line in the mess. You know, just joking around and stuff when out of nowhere the shadow thing just appered one second there was nothing at that table, then it just showed up. before anyone could reacted it tore off his fuckin arm! and the sound, the sound, I will never forget that absolute tangible deafness that come from it. one kid just took a knife and stabbed himself in the eye over and over and end the noise. I wish I could of done the same. after that I turned to run and I saw Ryan, just standing there, doing nothing. I grabbed his arm and pulled him along with us. when we were running we got separated in the confusion. soon after I crashed into Sam. We hid in a small room untill the chaos died done, then Sam had the bright idea to run back to the fucking mess hall. We blocked every door and just sat there waiting. waiting for this to end. I hope Ryan is okay.
I sighed in relief, but not before emptying my bladder. It was only Gram. I nearly started balling. My friends were probably all dead, butchered by that beast. Fuckin’ Ray was probably dead. I even felt sadness for that asshat Sam. Sure, he was a dick, but he didn’t deserve to be brutally murdered by some monster.
“You okay, son? I don’t know what the hell that is, but it sure as hell ain’t natural. We need to get out of here.”
“Yessir. Um, where though?”
“We’ll go hide in one of the garages. If there are some cars still in there, we’ll have a way out. If not, it’ll probably be where everyone else is going, so we’ll be able to regroup and see who survived.”
Me and Gram took a roundabout way of leaving, certain that it would be guarding the exits. Gram grabbed a small office chair and smashed the window, making sure to break off the sharp edges. We both climbed through, before sprinting building to building. Gram was middle age, but he was sure as hell fit.
After about 45 minutes of sprinting, hiding, and watching, we had made it to the garage. Gram was right about people heading there first. There were bodies everywhere. Thankfully I didn’t see the face of Ray, or any of the others I recognized. The sun was already doing its work on the mass grave. The place reeked of death. It looked like a medieval battlefield.
The door was wide open, but we practically had to climb over the already rotting corpses. There wasn’t a single truck in sight. Some lucky bastard had gotten away with ‘em. Gram suggested that we wait inside for a day or two ‘till this blew over.
“And if it comes back? You’ve seen how fast it can move. We would never get away.” “All the more reason to hole up. Clearly, the shadow’s main strength is its speed. If we’re in a tight area where it can’t move, then we have an advantage.”
“I understand. Won’t we need some weapons though?”
“Obviously. Nah, I was thinking we could rush it with some rocks. Worked for the cavemen.” Gram’s sarcasm bit deep. He went into one of the back rooms and returned with a coil of wire, a few tire irons, and a few brooms. We used various tools in the garage in the back room to straighten and sharpen the irons, and in a few hours we had makeshift spears.
“We’ll head to the armory tomorrow after we head back to the mess. A gun will hold against a supernatural anorexic better than some scrap spears.”
We wrapped ourselves in the thick tarps to stay warm overnight. I thought I would never sleep again after what I had seen that day. My body disagreed.
Gram shook me awake in the dark. He mumbled something about seeing it. I blubbered something about seeing what, momentarily blissfully forgetting about yesterdays events. He shook me again, this time yelling, and I snapped awake. Yesterday caught up to me after a few seconds.
“Get up, kid. we need to go. I was watching the window and I was two eyes watching back. It’s here. It’s not all bad news though, the sun is rising.”
“Okay, okay. Let’s go, I don’t want to die here.”
“You and me both, kid.”
“Would you stop calling me kid? We might die here and I don’t want to spend my last moments being condescended by a fat oaf who yells at people for a living.” I exclaimed, irrationally. I didn’t even know why it got to me so much. I thought I might be losing it.
“YOU LI- I..I’m sorry…” Gram stammered, surprised. “Lets just get out of here. It definitely knows we’re here now.”
I didn’t reply, just headed for the door, grabbing my spear on the way. I was glad my outburst didn’t escalate further. I didn’t want to get in a fight with probably one of the last survivors. Gram was close behind, and we retraced our steps in the dark, nearly tripping on something. I didn’t want to know. We were paranoid, but rightfully so, checking over our shoulders every other step.
Slowing, we approached the main building and snuck inside. The power was out, but the backup lights had turned on, surrounding everything with a low wattage red light. In the darkness, it was hard to find our way to the mess.
The doors of the mess hall were all blocked off, and my heart sank. Me and the old sergeant pummeled the doors, trying to force our way in, yelling for someone to let us inside. I went to hit the door again, when it opened with my spear still raised. Looking back at me was a face I never thought I would see again.
Ray motioned me inside. I hugged him and hurried inside while Ray barricaded the door. Just as I was sitting down, I noticed Sam. I moaned internally.
We caught up about the past day and what happened to the four of us. After over an hour of discussion, forgetting about the food, my stomach growled.
“We have plenty of food, in the kitchen. This place was stocked for months.”
I followed him into the kitchen, and he pulled open a door to a massive storage area. “Holy shit, you weren't kidding.”
Me and Gram ate as much as we could, wanting to be on a full stomach for our trip to the armory. After we finished, we explained our plan. We were going to find weapons and as many survivors as possible and hole up. After we had found a defendable position, we were gonna kill that fucker.
Sam had other plans, apparently. He argued with me and shot down every other idea I came up with. I was getting sick of his shit. I was going to survive. I wasn’t gonna let this stupid asshole stop us just because he didn’t like my ideas.
I hit him right in the jaw. The next thing I knew, he was right on top of me, fist raised. With no small amount of effort, I rolled him off of me, taking a few hits along the way. While I had the advantage, I forced his head down onto the concrete. It was over before Ray or Gram could try to stop the fight. My nose was bloodied and my ribs stung. I hoped nothing was broken.
I realized something was wrong when Sam didn’t wake up after a few minutes. Ray was screaming at me the whole time, furious.
“Goddamn it! I think you killed him! You motherfucker! You killed him! You killed him and were all gonna d-” I shoved him. Hard.
“Fuck you Ray. You haven’t seen what its like out there. It makes hell look like fucking Disney Land.” I never could keep my mouth shut, could I? I killed Sam, I knew it, but I couldn’t admit it.
“Get. The. Fuck. Out. NOW. You already killed one of us. Who’s next, huh? You gonna kill Gram ‘cause he looked at ya funny? You gonna kill me, too? Leave. You deserve hell. you deserve to die out there.”
[REDACTED] Research facility, Alaska, July 10th 2015
We began live tests today. So far, everything we’ve sent through comes out wrong. The rats came back with no tails, or brains. The cats were inside out. A dog came back with no skin, and died in minutes. Only one mouse came back intact, but it went “insane”. Its memory was wiped completely. It didn’t even know how to walk. The brain’s hypothalamus was severely enlarged. It had replaced over 30% of the existing brain matter. Because of this, it bit and tore apart anything it came across. We had to isolate it because it had already killed three other subjects. Despite this, it is very promising. If we can work out the way this mouse survived, we can make the device safe for human usage.
“You think that’s our Ryan? From the letters?” Questioned Snow.
“More likely than not. Ryan did mention a Ray in his letters. I think he mentioned a Sam too,” replied Flemming, seeming uncertain.
“What else do we have left to search? The armory, right?” Pope choked on the air. The putrid scent of death seemed omnipresent, and even their gas masks did little to stop the stench.
“Thankfully, yes. That and one other small compound. Soon, we can get the hell out of here,” replied Smith, checking the map on the small electronic pad. He marked off one of the buildings, the mess, and checked the route to the armory.
Soon, they had arrived at the medium sized building that seemed indistinguishable from any other, hiding the violent tools inside. The door hung open, and they could see immediately that it was stripped clean of any valuable supplies. They headed further into the compound.
The weapon storage was just as empty as the rest of the building, save a single body. It had only a clean bullet hole through the skull, a stark contrast to the brutality elsewhere. They searched the body, but found nothing of note. It had most likely been looted like everything else. Snow led the way into the next room.
“What the fuck?!?” Snow stumbled backwards knocking Elliot over.
Flemming rushed forward, concerned and alert. “What is i- Motherfucker, what is that?!”
Smith was unnaturally calm. “I think we found what ever attacked the base. I also think that we won’t need to be worried about it attacking us,” gesturing to the creature. Upon closer inspection, it was riddled with bullet wounds, and a single puncture through the chest of the monster, piercing so deep you could see the floor behind it.
It was Pope that noticed the human body, or what was left of it, propped against the wall to their left. He was eviscerated from neck to crotch, entrails barely contained. There was a look of determination permanently frozen on his face. Next to him was a short, jury rigged spear, and an M4 assault rifle. The bloodied patch on his chest read, “Ryan Barnes”.
A small excerpt of a waiver, found in the ruins of the Alaskan research facility. The waiver mentions human testing of Faster Than Light travel. In small print at the bottom, “This facility nor its contractors will be held liable for any deaths or injuries to the persons during or in preparation of testing.”
It was signed by a young scientist. Twenty-four. Testing began the next day, July 11th, 2015.