An excerpt from Anarkand: Origins.
'Look, John...it's opening!'
John looked up towards the spiral that had appeared an hour earlier in the night sky. Its appearance was semi-transparent, and bluey-green, with a delightful tinge of orange. This most omnipotent object had all the markings of Fibonacci's famous code. It was truly mesmerizing, not only to new arrivals, but to seasoned islanders who would view this phenomenon countless times over.
'Eva, Benji!' John shouted at the top of his voice. 'Get ready'
'On it!' Eva cried back.
They moved into position behind the barricade they had created for just such an event. Eva fixated here eyes upon the spiral in the sky, and watched on in silence, anticipation, and fear. The spiral grew in size, reaching its peak after only a few moments. They was accustomed to the process and at that moment closed her eyes gently, whilst covering her ears as tightly as she could.
The spiral threw out an immense light, comfortably illuminating everything around it within a hundred foot radius. Within seconds, a wail of exceptional magnitude bellowed across the land. The wail wasn't dissimilar in sound to a deep Tibetan horn; it was both terrifying and calming at the same time. The rather godly sound it produced was eerie, yet reassuring for the soul.
As the sound dampened and faded out, Eva opened her eyes slowly. Her pupils exploded at the image that now caressed them. Two males, she deduced quickly. Both had been flung out from the spiral above and were now, less than gracefully, hurtling forty feet towards the ground below.
The men tumbled towards the Earth below them, there was little to no time to contemplate what was happening before landing with a crash on the sandy ground. One of the men appeared lifeless, but the smaller of the two men was still moving. He raised his head slightly and looked left and right. It was at this moment he first laid eyes on Eva, who raced towards him.
'COME ON, HURRY!' Eva commanded, as she grabbed him by the arm, pulling him upwards and then towards her. His eyes had adjusted to the more natural light of his environment and he realised where he was.
'Eva?' He said, blood trickling down from his mouth.
'Eric? Oh my god, Eric, what happened?'
'There's no time Eva, we gotta save him, you gotta save him.'
'Eric? Shit! your legs man!' Benji called whilst grimacing at the sight.
'Look, Benji we don't have time for that. Grab him, get him to safety, Eva, please hurry before-.'
The roar that interrupted Eric was so loud it comfortably swallowed up the relatively peaceful ambiance. The sound was astonishing. The ground began to vibrate underneath them as they came to terms with their current predicament.
'NOW BENJI, GET HIM OUTTA HERE!' Eric bawled.
Benjamin Adams checked the other male for a pulse. He was definitely still alive, although his breathing was very laboured. With a little help from Eric he lifted up the other male and threw him over his shoulder. As he did so, he caught a shadow in his peripheral and as he focussed centrally on it, his eyes burst open in fear, shock, and awe.
'Uh, guys...it's here...' He added.
Eva and Eric turned around to see the huge hulking beast that was no more than a hundred fifty yards away. It had emerged from the inside of a hollowed out cave structure to the side of one of several tall mountains that seemed to circle the land.
'We gotta go, we gotta go now!' Eric called, prompting all three of them to run as quickly as possible across the dust-ravaged land towards the direction of the makeshift barricade. Another roar would blanket the land and the beast was on the move.
The devilish beast was advancing on them, thirsting for flesh, thirsting for death. Its physique was hardly discernible in the shadowy twilight of the sky above. It moved slowly, belying the speed it was capable of, all the time gnashing and snarling, as saliva oozed from its exceptionally large jaws.
'Quickly, in here!' Eva shouted, as she dragged Eric into a small inlet of a mountainous rock. Her breathing was extremely anxious and she noticed Eric's was too.
'No matter what Benji, you need to get him-'
'Shhhhhh' Eva interrupted with a gentle whisper, placing her right hand over Eric's mouth, and her left index finger on her lips. She motioned with her eyes that the beast was right outside the inlet. She leaned into Eric, forcing him against the rough stone interior wall, feeling his heart pound through his chest. She nearly matched him, beat for beat.
'How we gonna do this?' Benji whispered as quietly as he could.
'You'll follow my lead. Run towards the trees, over there by the stream of water.' Eva pointed to what looked like a mini waterfall. 'Don't look back, don't scream, don't panic; just run, okay?'
Eva took in a long, deep breath through her nostrils. 'On the count of three. Okay...one...two...three!'
Eva turned quickly from the inlet and darted towards the south. Benji made haste from his position and followed her, dashing left and right as she had done. Monkey see, monkey do. Eric was last to start running, and due to his injuries he was struggling to match the speed required to keep up with Benji, let alone Eva.
The beast of magnificent strength and size let out a huge roar as it raised itself up onto its hind legs. It locked its small reptilian eyes on Eric who had presented himself as the easiest target, and began dashing towards him with the grace of a thousand charging rhinos.
'Keep running Eric!' Eva blared, in between short sharp breaths.
'I... I Can't...keep...up' He bawled back.
'We're nearly there come on!'
The beast was gaining on them. Fear and panic took over as the adrenaline kicked in. Eva was testament to the human need for self-preservation at all costs. She had built quite the distance between her and Eric, but didn't look back to know this for herself.
'Only another thirty or so feet to the trees' She reckoned.
Eric was struggling to breathe, let alone keep a distance between him and the terrible lizard. His legs ached from the fall, and he felt an agonising pain in his lower back which caused him to wince with every step he took. The gnashing and gnarling grew louder. With every step, this magnificent beast displaced huge chunks of land around him.
'I'm not gonna...Oh my God...I'm not gonna make it!' spoke the voice in his head. With that thought, he lost the feeling of the ground beneath him. The beast had ripped him up in its immense jaws and launched him into the air, forty or so feet. He felt like he was floating, albeit briefly. Somewhere inside he marvelled at what he saw around him, as his body spun in ways it never had before.
'Eric!' Screamed Eva.
He couldn't hear anything other than the roar of the beast as he came crashing back to the land.
'Come on Eric, please...run!'
He didn't have time to survey his current situation. The pain he felt prior had gone, as his body slammed into immediate shock. He picked himself up, realising there were no broken bones. In fact, there were no real aches or pains at all. As he slowly got to his feet and pulled up his head he realized that he stood no less than fifteen feet from this ghastly being. It stared deep into his eyes, never losing focus; never blinking, not once flinching.
'Okay, nice and slow' He told himself. He turned his body ninety degrees to half face the direction of Eva, who was, by his estimate, twenty five feet away. She had stopped running, her face awash with anguish, and terror. He could see her concern; hell, he could feel it.
'Keep going, Eric, keep going' They both whispered to themselves in complete synchronicity. 'You can make it.' Eric took a few small steps back as slowly as he could. He remained focused on the beast, and it, remained focused on him. The beast arched its neck downwards. Eva knew what this meant. It was preparing to pounce.
'RUN!' she cried, 'START RUNNING!'
He wasn't quick enough. As he turned on his heels, the beast launched at him with lightning speed and agility. Within seconds, he screamed out in anguish. The jaws of the beast had ripped him up from the soil beneath him for a second time and swung him round in a figure of eight motion.
His body was locked tightly between the vice-like jaws of the beast. With one horrifying crunch after another it had torn Eric to shreds. His upper body was airborne. He watched as his legs glided through the air behind him, unattached to his body. They no longer belonged to him. Screams of terror filled the space around him.
'Help!' He wailed as he flew through the air, before crashing down in the dirt right in front of Eva; who immediately dropped to the ground, visibly startled, and shaken to her core. The beast was now crunching through the limbs of Eric Cassells, some forty feet away. Small splatters of blood flickered onto the ground in front of Eva like paint from a paintbrush.
By now, Eric's torso was a horrible mess of intestines, and bodily fluid. His insides plopped out of him like they had never belonged to him. His eyes rolled back and forth in the back of his head as consciousness appeared to be leaving him.
'I, I'm sorry Eric. I'm so...sorry'. Eva kissed her middle and index fingers and placed them on her chest then on Eric's head as his eyes continued to roll around inside his skull. She quickly picked herself back up onto her feet, and continued heading south towards the caves.
'Eva.' Eric spluttered,' his mouth now a trough of blood. Eva didn't reply, and didn't look back. Not even as she reached the trees; to moderate safety, where Benji was now waiting. It was incredibly painful to admit, but she had to, Eric was gone.
'Let's go Eva' John said as he gently tried to put his arm around her.
'Don't' she muttered under her breath, slapping his arm away.
'You tried to help him. There was nothing you could do' he soothed, seeing she was upset. 'Eva, look, I-'
'What! John?' Eva snapped. 'What is it?' Eva's face had become one of unyielding anger. 'Of course there was nothing I could do. There's nothing any of us can do is there? This is all your fault!'
'Look, Eva, I'm sorry, I-'
'No, John. You aren't sorry. If you were sorry for any of this, you would have found a better way to...' Before she could finish, John Abbot wrapped his arms around her in a genuinely warming clinch.
He cared about Eva in a big way, she was the one he took most interest in, more so for her intelligence than her looks, but he still appreciated her magnetic-like beauty.
'We will find a way, Eva. I promise you. We will find a way.'
Eva gripped onto Abbot with both hands and whispered her own apology. He allowed the short embrace to continue for a few more seconds before it was interrupted by the enormous roar of the beast.
'Eva' he whispered, 'We gotta go.'
John took Eva's hand and began the journey through the forest-like terrain, with Benji still carrying the other male over his shoulder. The night sky had long replaced the energy-giving light of the sun above, and a chilling fog-like mist had now blanketed the darkened forest floor. After a good few hundred feet, they were approaching the institute entrance.
Abbot glanced at Eva every so often. He'd always thought that Eva was beautiful. She had those big blue eyes, the high cheekbones, the glowing silk-blonde hair that was just below shoulder-length; and those voluptuous big lips that framed an immaculate set of sparkling white teeth.
The beast let out another roar. This time it was distant. This time it was less intense. The monstrous animal didn't pursue them through the forest. It never did. As long as there were newcomers, there wouldn't be a food shortage, and the beast knew it.
'You okay?' John prodded.
'Yeah, I'm okay. Look I'm sorry about before. I just...'
'Eva.' John spoke gently. 'We've been doing this a long time, and you know-'
'Before you even say it. Yes, I know. I know how close we are, but it doesn't make it any easier. People are dying and we've made no effort to save them.'
'Eva, look. There is nothing we can do to stop it. What happens out there...what happens out there we can't influence. This place; whatever its plan; we cannot stand in its way. No matter how hard we try, but we both know, we're near the end. All of this is nearly over'
'You really believe that John?'
'I don't just believe it, Eva. I feel it. I know it.'
'Is this the part where I get the destiny speech? Or the one where “each of us is special”?' She replied, a bit more softly than her anger wanted to convey.
'Of course not. That's not, look, let's just discuss this tomorrow.' John Abbot entered the institute and signalled for Benji and Eva to follow quickly. As soon as they entered, the door closed itself off to the outside world.
'Yo, Abbot!' A strong Manhattan accent smothered the air like a dense fog.
'Yeah, Benji?' John replied with a small nod.
'In case you haven't noticed, I got a guy on my shoulder. What do I do with him?'
'Take him up to Stensaas, we can arrange for burial.'
'Burial? You might wanna rethink that John, this guy's still alive.'
John Abbot's face changed immediately from one of sombre contemplation, to one of delightful surprise. He rushed over to Benji and helped him lay the injured man down on the small seating area to his right.
'Eva, call Alana. We need to get him over to the infirmary right away.'
'On it'. She replied quickly, reaching for her walkie talkie.
'Well done Benji. You might have just saved this man's life.'
'Well ain't that something John, but it changes nothing.'
Benjamin Adams waved his hand in the air, shaking his head in both anger and frustration.
'No John. You listen. I'm tiring of this bullshit now, man' Benjamin's tone was a little cracked, and quite raspy. 'We got lucky. Nothing more, nothing less. This shit is still outta control man. How many more people have to die out there for us to grow a pair of balls and do something about it?'
'Benji', Abbot said, in as pacifying a tone as he could muster. 'Let's not discuss this right now, okay?' Abbot nodded his head gently in the direction of Eva, who was still a little delicate from what she had just witnessed. 'Please?'
'I'm just saying John, they keep on dying. Every time someone new falls out of the damn sky, and onto this God-forsaken place-'
'Benji!' John exploded. 'Please. Not now. We can talk about this in the morning, alright?'
Benjamin Adams took a deep breath, sighing heavily, as he rolled his eyes upward, and his head downwards within the same motion. 'I'm sure we will, lord Abbot' he said, scoffing sarcastically. 'Like all the other times you've said we will.' He threw his hand up in the air, tutting and murmuring whilst doing so, before pulling up a chair next to an electric heater.
The inside of the institute was as clinical as it was beautiful in areas. It had lavish furnishings, from paintings, and oil canvasses, to books, chairs, cushions, tables, workbenches and metallic walls and floors.
On the other hand, a lot of the institute consisted of metallic silvers and whites. No one was here long enough to know who crafted it, and fewer still, knew why. The institute was as mysterious as the world around them.
'I'm fine, John.' Eva interrupted, as she joined Benji by the heater. 'I mean, I've been doing this a long time, remember?'
'I didn't mean it like that, Eva. You know I didn't.'
'Sure felt like it John.'
He took a few moments to gather his thoughts. 'Look, Eva, I'm sorry okay. I, I just don't know what to do, it's not like we can kill it.'
Benji turned to face him. There was a glint in his eye as he laughed at Abbot. 'Have you lost your damn mind?' Abbot didn't respond. 'Look around you, my friend. We are living in a metal cave. We are nothing more than glorified cavemen.'
Abbot opened his mouth to speak but was clamped immediately.
'The biggest enemy of the caveman was what? Mr. Abbot, huh?'
'Well, we don't know ex-'
'Lemme enlighten you. It was the dinosaur. Right now, we are the cavemen, and that thing out there, that big nasty reptilian looking motherfucker, that looks just like a dinosaur, is the God-damn dinosaur!'
Abbot managed a half-arsed snigger. 'I don't think cavemen co-existed with dinosaurs Benji.'
'Always the smart-ass, you, huh?' Benji blasted back. 'Something needs to be done about that thing. I'm telling you right now, I'm gonna find a way, and you won't be stopping me.
Abbot adopted a more serious tone and demeanour. 'Look, you know I can't let you do that. It's suicide. We can't kill it, that's the rules.'
'Yeah, and you know what they say about rules right?'
'Look Benji, I am genuinely sorry.'
Benji glanced at him with a look of disdain. He'd heard all of this before. He couldn't understand or even begin to comprehend why they weren't prepared to tackle the beast. 'Words and actions John. Remember that. Haven't you learned anything?'
There was a brief moment of quiet between them, almost a silence, as they contemplated their current situation.
'Anyway, the guy out there, Eric, how'd you know him?' Benji asked Eva, breaking the momentary calm.
Eva Asenath sighed a huge sigh. She looked to John for some comfort in the words she was about to speak, but he didn't offer anything up.
'He was one of our own.' She said.