Pine Gap Teaser 06(d) – An Inescapable Conclusion

This is the final episode in Pine Gap Teaser 06 and I promise today to be more considerate of your stomach. However, if you are a glutton for punishment feel free to check out part one , part two or part three once more.

Again they rode in silence, both officers mentally digesting the impossible horrors they had just witnessed and preparing themselves to inspect the final piece of the puzzle.

Thankfully there were no rigor-mortised remains to punish the senses on level seventy-two, only the twisted metal, shattered electrics and concrete destruction wrought by the fury of the invader. Katana shook her head in disbelief at the damage.

“Was it a bomb?”

“Nope. Stone Gollum.”

“You mean one creature did all this?”

“A Stone Gollum is a pretty big creature Major.”

Katana had never seen such a beast and she momentarily pondered on its destructive power. Finally she asked the question that had been burning on her mind since hurling on her commander’s boots.

“So what is the pattern Colonel?”

Drax kicked a small chunk of cement sending it skipping across the rubble and off into the darkness. When the echos ceased he answered her.

“Ok, the wriggling heap of maggots on level thirty was discovered fresh five days ago.”

“Right.”

“The half-man, half-prison cell on level forty-four appeared three days ago.”

“Gotcha.”

“The hanging nudist was heard screaming two days ago.”

“Ye-es”

Katana was starting to understand the sequence that would lead to Gabriel’s ultimate conclusion.

“And today a Stone Gollum magically emerged from thin air.”

“Our invaders are getting better at this aren’t they sir.”

“Damn straight Major.”

Drax looked back at the destroyed remnants of level seventy-two one last time, lost in his own musings. They only fly in the ointment was the Nat he found this morning. It was half buried in the floor yet, if it had followed the pattern he just showed Major May, it should have been running around on all six legs spitting poison at everyone.

“All I can think is that because level sixteen is such a larger space than the rest, they screwed up their coordinates.”

He had spoken that last thought out loud and Katana had heard him.

“What do you mean by ‘coordinates’ Colonel?”

“Just mulling over some ideas Major. Lets go chat to some of the inmates and see what they know.”

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Teaser 06(c) – The Horror

Bacon and eggs for breakfast? I wouldn’t 😉 Here’s part three and if you really want to avoid the fried food, check out part one and part two again.

The two officers traveled in silence until they reached level fifty-eight. As they embarked the car Gabriel commented to Katana,

“Do you have your handkerchief handy Major?”

Without a second thought she placed the scented cloth against her nose. As soon as she rounded the southern corner of the elevator shaft she saw what they had come to find. Hanging from the ceiling by his head was a naked man. His body was twisted and contorted in agony, but otherwise he was anatomically perfect. Five twos on either foot, two legs, male genitalia, hips, stomach, fingers, hands, arms, shoulders and neck were all exactly where they should be. His chiseled chin jutted forward from a jaw full of white teeth and his nose was straight. But that’s where the man ended and the roof began. The bridge of his nose, his eyes, the top of his ears, his forehead and cranium were encased in the ceiling cement. Blood had trickled from his nostrils, dribbled onto his chest and congealed. In death he had vacuated his bowels leaving a disgusting pool of excrement on the floor and dried faeces clinging to the hair on his legs. Drax leaned forwards to examine his fingers. The nails on each hand had been torn and his fingertips were raw and bloody.

“What do you think happened to his hands Colonel?”

Drax pulled a small, high-powered torch from his pocket and shone it at the ceiling. The concrete in the roof around the victim’s head had scratch marks on it. He spoke more to himself than to Major May when he replied.

“Looks like he tried to dig his face out of the roof before he died.”

Katana was absolutely perplexed.

“This is getting ridiculous Colonel. How the hell can this happen to a person?”

“I’m not sure Major but I think I see a pattern emerging.”

“What sort of pattern sir?”

“One more level to inspect and I’ll tell you.”

Coming soon Pine Gap Teaser 06(d) – An Inescapable Conclusion

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Teaser 06(b) – Cadaver Glue

Sorry about ruining your breakfast last week. Perhaps you should read this before eating 😉

Colonel Gabriel Drax and his queasy companion, Major Katana May, headed back to the elevator shaft and plunged deeper into the bowels of Pine Gap.

As they past the thirty-first floor Gabriel’s forehead tingled with a strange sensation that was vaguely familiar, but the pins and needles in his brain were only short-lived. By level thirty-five Katana’s nausea had subsided and the two officers were in a reasonable mood.

“Is it like this all the way to the bottom Colonel? Swapping every five floors?”

“Yep. Tedious isn’t it.”

The pair shared a smile.

Gabriel stopped the car on level forty-four and turned south. A miasmal stench made the air heavy like thick, transparent smog and Katana raised her hand to her throat as if choking on the noxious fumes.

“Am I going to be sick again Colonel?”

“Probably.”

A short distance from the elevators he found what he was looking for. The naked body of another humanoid was welded into the back wall of an empty prison cell. The creature’s entire left hand side protruded from the smooth concrete surface whilst the right was lost from existence and presumably part of the mortar. The only clue to the fact that it had been alive upon arrival at Pine Gap was the look of horror and intense pain, permanently etched on its dead face. What the poor being must have experienced in its last moments could only be imagined.

The severely bloated corpse was well into the second stages of decomposition. Its swollen tongue poked grotesquely from decaying lips like a zombie blowing a raspberry while greedy, fat larvae crawled in the vacant eye sockets. The carcass was so distended that it threatened to explode at any moment, covering the officers in vile putrefaction.

“Hold the torch please Major. I want a closer look at where this thing has come from.”

Katana shone the light where instructed, her hands quivering slightly as she fought off the almost overwhelming desire to regurgitate. There was no damage to the structure. No evidence of a hidden passage. No visible hint as to the origin of this nightmare. Gabriel took out his knife and cut the skin nearest to the cement. A rancid gas that smelled like a mixture of methane and rotten eggs hissed from the open wound enveloping the officers in a cloud of malodorous fragrance.

“Look at that Major. The body doesn’t go into the wall. It just stops. Have you ever seen anything like that before?”

Katana could contain herself no longer and began vomiting profusely, splashing Gabriel’s boots in the process. So much for the spit polish shine. When she had finished retching he handed her his handkerchief. It had been dipped in Eucalyptus oil and offered her a more pleasant alternative to the fetid reek of the wall-mounted remains. Eventually she was able to speak.

“How can this be Colonel?”

“I wish I knew Major. Lets get out of here.”

Coming soon Pine Gap Teaser 06(c) – The Horror

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Teaser 06(a) – Maggoty Goodness.

It’s been ages since I shared anything from my novel, but now that the cowardly critic has crawled back under his or her rock, here’s teaser number six. In this four-part episode, Colonel Gabriel Drax and Major Katana May are investigating some of the horrors lurking in the depths of Pine Gap. Better switch the nightlight on guys 😉

The elevator doors opened onto level thirty and the two officers exited the car. Katana began heading toward the southern end of the complex but was called back by her superior officer.

“There’s nothing nasty over there Major. Come with me instead.”

He led her down the silent corridor past the rows of empty cells. There was a faint smell of rotting meat in the air that began to get stronger the further north they walked. Katana noticed movement on the floor in front of them and drew her pistol.

“Relax Major. Its already dead.”

The erratic motion that Katana saw was in fact the writhing bodies of a million maggots, squirming and feasting on the bloodied remains lying in the corner of the floor and the northern wall. Involuntary peristalsis made her gag before speaking.

“Oh yuck! That’s disgusting. What died here Colonel?”

“No one is exactly sure Major. A Tullimbar patrol reported finding a lump of flesh, which was later identified as the back of a bipedal humanoid, lodged in the wall here five days ago.”

Gabriel scraped some of the worms away from the wriggling pile and exposed the white bones of a spinal column. The smell was indescribable and Katana was forced to swallow the bile rising in her throat.

“Who was it Colonel?”

“No one from here Major.”

“Where did it come from?”

Drax just shook his head.

“Lets move on.”

“Yes please.”

Coming soon Pine Gap Teaser 06(b) – Cadaver Glue

Pine Gap © Matthew Green 2004

Pine Gap Teaser 05 – Sex, Blood and Rump Steak

Its been a while since I shared any of my novel with you all, so here’s teaser number 5. In this scene are Colonel Gabriel Drax – Head of Security and resident hero, Admiral Silas Dargan – main protagonist and nasty little herbivore, Chief Science Officer Lilakoi Paige – Gabriel’s love interest, Major Katana May – family friend of the Admiral who is now doubting said friendship, and Lieutenant Nicholas Schiffiletti – Head of Communications.

Enjoy!

Seven hundred and ninety eight million two hundred and forty two thousand nine hundred and thirteen calculations later, Chief Science Officer Lilakoi Paige had done it. Her program had finally learned how to reassemble life by studying how not to; and she was aching to test it out. Mathematically the theory was flawless but common sense called it absurd. Only a proper test would provide the answer so she contacted the Admiral for approval.

“Well done my dear, well done. I really didn’t think you would get this far so soon. Your parents would be proud.”

A backwards compliment kept her in her place and the reference to her parents reminded Lilakoi who was the boss. She hated the Admiral more than any other being she had ever known. All she wanted now was to complete her job and get out of this godforsaken place.

“When can we test it Admiral?”

“Right now of course. When else would you like?”

He always spoke down to her, treating her like a slave instead of giving her the respect she deserved. She had completed a task on her own that has taken teams of scientists decades to get nowhere. Lilakoi reflected on the different management styles of the Commanding Officers she had served under since arriving at Pine Gap. Admiral Silas Dargan was rude and callous, never caring for anyone’s opinion but his own and always treating his charges with contempt. His methods of motivation were through intimidation, fear and the threat of recriminations. There was no respect in the camp for this creature, nor was there any loyalty. Only obedience expressed under duress.

Colonel Gabriel Drax on the other hand had earned the reverence of his peers within hours of his arrival. He only exerted his authority if he perceived the situation to be getting out of hand and he always spoke kindly to Lilakoi no matter how she addressed him. He had united the troops, brought fairness and equity to the duties and effectively encouraged the sharing of skills amongst the diverse range of military experiences.

Reflecting on the handsome Colonel brought a pain to her chest and she began to wonder whether she had handled the situation this morning poorly. Gabriel was a leader, someone that they could all turn to in a crisis, and if Lilakoi wanted to be with him she would have to share him with everyone else.

Now she had identified her problem! She wanted to be with him so badly that sharing was out of the question. And she was jealous. Her irrational outburst at breakfast was due entirely to her own anxiety and the sudden arrival of the green-eyed monster. Lilakoi was ashamed at her behaviour and was at a loss as to how she would salvage a situation that may already be broken beyond repair.

The monster was screaming at her.

“Are you there? What are you doing you stupid woman? I’m giving you an order damn it and you better follow it to the letter. Insubordination is a serious charge you know.”

Lilakoi shook off the sad fog of regret.

“I’m sorry Admiral, there was a problem with the communicator. I can hear you clearly now. What do you need me to do?”

It was a nice save, if he believed it.

He did.

“One more time for the idiot in the room. Go and find Major May, Lieutenant Schiffiletti and a side of beef. I will meet all four of you at the elevators in ten minutes and please place the carcass in charge. Its undoubtedly the most intelligent of you all.”

The belligerent beast switched off the communication without another word and Lilakoi sat seething in the silence for several seconds. When she had calmed herself down she started the process of establishing a direct link between the secure terminal in the converted master bedroom of her terrace and the offline mainframe on level ninety-nine. As the two computers negotiated the encrypted passwords she called Major Katana May over the radio and relayed what the Admiral’s instructions were, down to the point of placing the dead animal in charge.

“I take it you’re learning a few new lessons about my old ‘uncle’ too then?”

“I’m sorry Major, I know he’s a long-standing family friend, but I find the man to be a bellicose bully.”

“He was my father’s associate Lily, not mine. Personally I feel that there are people here at Pine Gap who are more balanced, sensible and pragmatic than the Admiral ever was. Plenty of better choices for a friend I would think.”

Lilakoi knew what Katana was alluding to but she chose not to acknowledge her. Coming to terms with being a jealous troll was one thing, admitting it to others was another.

“Do you know where Nick is?”

“He went to see the prisoner Katarg with the Colonel. I’m not sure if they have returned as yet.”

“Ok, I’ll go find him could you please arrange for the test subject.”

“No problem, see you in ten. May out.”

Lilakoi attempted to raise Lieutenant Nicholas Schiffiletti on the communicator and found him in the process of changing cars on level thirty. She knew if Gabriel were with him he would be going through the psychic torment of the Mombaly madness so she asked after his condition.

“The Colonel? He’s fine. I mean he looks like he’s gone five rounds with a heavyweight champion but otherwise he’s ok.”

Gabriel listened to the conversation and daydreamed about the night he had spent with Lily. In his hand he held the metallic splinter that Katarg had used to identify the destination of the shredders. As his fists clenched in a vain attempt to stave off the violent, extra-sensory assault of the Mombaly convicts the blast-honed edges punctured his palm and he knew he would need more stitches before lunchtime.

By level twenty-eight Gabriel was fine and Lilakoi was gone. He placed his hand in his pocket to hide the injury and remained silent until they all got out on level sixteen. Standing outside the doors were Admiral Dargan, CSO Paige and Major May carrying a rump roast.

Lilakoi was shocked at Gabriel’s appearance. Nick had lied to her and he didn’t look fine at all.

“Your face! What did you do?”

Drax countenance was caked in blood, with black polyester knots holding his cheek together and reddish-brown butterfly clips keeping his eye open. His shirt collar and sleeve were stained a dark vermillion and his neck had long stripes of black coagulate that resembled knife wounds. Even Silas gave a brief look of concern. Lilakoi reached up to touch him but he intercepted her hand with his own, depositing a fresh scarlet river onto her forearm.

“Don’t worry about me I can look after myself. Where are you people going?”

If Silas was ever concerned for the welfare of the Head of Security, it dissipated immediately.

“None of your business Colonel. Come along ladies, you too Nick.”

The Admiral found his path to the elevator blocked by a blood-soaked behemoth, brandishing a loaded pulse rifle and bearing a look on his face that would have scared Satan. Silas, who had only taken one step forward, took two quick steps back as Nick shuffled sideways to get out of the way. Lilakoi placed her hands to her mouth in shock and sorrow. She’d set out this morning to destroy Gabriel’s character, regretfully she may have succeeded.

The nasty little herbivore was taken aback for only a moment. He had been in situations like this before and he knew how to handle them.

“Get out of the way you oaf or I’ll have you arrested.”

“On the contrary Admiral. If you choose not to obey the lawful commands of the Head of Security during a declaration of Sovereign Law, it is you who will be arrested.”

The squad behind Drax took his lead and immediately aimed their weapons at the Admiral. It was a standoff between the indomitable force and the immovable object, the outcome of which would determine the balance of power at Pine Gap once and for all. Unfortunately for Silas the Colonel was technically correct, even though there was no real precedence for detaining a man of his rank or stature during a time when Sovereign Law was proclaimed. Silas was also keen to test out his latest toy, so he backed down.

“My apologies Colonel, you are of course correct. I am simply taking my team here on a little tour of the prison levels to get some exercise and feed the Yowie.”

Admiral Dargan tried to smile after his little fib to give it more credence but he only managed an obsequious sneer. Drax knew he was lying and Katana grimaced at the obvious nature of the Admiral’s untruth. Yet in spite of the evident falsehood Gabriel let him go.

“Thank you Admiral. My squad will accompany you on your tour.”

That was the last straw for Dargan. He had been held up long enough and as his impatience reached critical mass he let his feelings spill out.

“Now you listen to me boy. I will not be dictated to by you or any of the miscreant morons residing at this facility. I will decide if and when I need to use any of your pathetic soldiers and then I will personally choose who I take. Do I make myself clear?”

Drax still barred the path to the elevator and as blood dripped from his hand onto his boot he delivered a cool, calm and calculated reply.

“The only thing clear to me is your ignorant stupidity. My orders demand that all groups travel with a minimum contingent of four armed personnel. Major May is the only member of your team who has a weapon but you have her carrying an armful of steak.”

Both Nick and Lilakoi had retreated behind Silas at this point so he couldn’t see the expressions on their faces. Katana and the other soldiers remained stoic, yet reveling in Gabriel’s admonishment of the Admiral. The Colonel paused only long enough to take a breath and then he continued.

“I will also add for the record that I am utterly sick and tired of your continued criticism toward the staff. Personally I have found all of the inhabitants here to be resourceful and highly skilled soldiers. They work well together without any sign of racial or inter-special schism and they learn from each other. You on the other hand are a diseased dinosaur. An ancient twisted relic, perpetuating a war the cause of which has been long forgotten. So, if you dare to cast aspersions against these people that I have grown fond of, I will charge you with insubordination and incarcerate you in the dankest, dingiest most uncomfortable cell I can find. Do you understand?”

The Admiral was fuming, but Drax had won. It was time to concede defeat.

“Yes, yes I understand.”

“Yes WHAT!”

“Yes sir.”

“Yes Colonel! I’m a Colonel and you are an Admiral remember? Even though we are under Sovereign Law you do not refer to me as sir.”

“Yes Colonel.”

“We have reached an accord then. My troopers will escort you on your tour. Good day.”

Drax watched the lift door close before he allowed himself to laugh. The confrontation had greatly elevated his mood and raised his spirits out of the dark pit from which four trips to Starca had dragged him. He smelled like sex, blood and body odour. It was time for a shower and a change of clothes.