NIMH Unbound

edited March 2013 in Fan Fiction
Here we go again =)
Reposting my stories. Note: I have to say that this word limitation is annoying

NIMH Unbound #1

The storm had passed. The sky was now calm. The sound of thunder became distant as the storm clouds rolled across the plains. But it was still quiet. The creatures of the night remained in their shelters and the ones who didn’t have shelters searched, wet and miserable, for a new home or food.  But there was no sound except for the distant thunder. The only sound that emitted in the area was low, sinister laugh.
The tall rat composed himself, knocking off the clumps of dirt that had stuck to his tunic. Clutching the jagged sword in his hand he turned towards the group of rodents who had watched in silence the carnage that had just unfolded. Although it had seemed like an long ordeal the fight only lasted no more than a minute starting with the assault on the small mouse, who was by now clutching an elder mouse, and ended with the murder of a tall rat in a blue and white tunic who now laid unmoving at the tall rat’s feet. In the distance is another injured rat lying facedown in the mud clutching his bleeding abdomen. The tall rat standing amongst the injured and presumably dead narrowed his eyes at the group of rats, raised his sword so now it was pointing directly at the group as if warn off any attacks, and walked slowly forward. 
“Anyone who opposes me will end up like this two fools”, said Jenner while using his free to wave half-hearted at the two fallen rats. Jenner’s glare now focused on the small mouse who was still clutching the elder mouse. “The stone.” Jenner continued walking forward while outstretching his left hand, expecting the gold amulet that hung around the mouse’s neck to be in it. At first the mouse seemed to be given in to his demands until a group of rats started to surround her and the elder mouse, forming a barrier of protection. Jenner stopped. He gritted his teeth.
“More lambs for the slaughter eh”, he said intimidatingly. “You’ll be fools to try.” This was true. Despite the courage of this group of rats they were at a disadvantage. The moving of mouse’s home, a cement block, was an engineering job and therefore didn’t require the use of weapons. The rats looked at each other and then at the shivering mouse at their feet. They seemed to reach a conclusion without saying a word. They stood their ground.
Jenner’s eyes narrowed further as his breathing increased. His fist clenched with rage and was about to unleash a barrage of verbal insults and threats when out of the corner of his eye something unexpected was happening. The mud surrounding the cement block started bubble and the block tilted sideways and began to sink. The mouse leapt to her feet. “Oh no”, said Mrs. Brisby in low, horrified whisper as her home along with her four children began to disappear into the ground. The elder mouse, Mr. Ages, struggled to get his feet and he too had a look of horror on his face. So did the rats who had gathered around the two mice. 
“There must be a sinkhole”, yelled Mr. Ages as he struggled to move with the plaster cast on his leg. He lost his cane when he was attacked by Jenner while trying to defend Mrs. Brisby. “The block is sinking”, cried a rat as the group began to move toward the impending disaster. Their path was blocked by Jenner.
“No you don’t. Simple choice Mrs. Brisby: give me the stone and I’ll let you save your children.” Mrs. Brisby’s hands moved towards her neck. A fuming Mr. Ages was about say something to Jenner when he was halted by Mrs. Brisby. She gently shook her head at him preventing him from speaking. She turned towards Jenner. She removed the amulet from her neck and with all her might flung it towards the tall rat. It landed at his feet. Jenner’s expression went from pure rage to absolute delight. He laughed as he bent down to retrieve the amulet. As he did so he slowly stepped aside allowing the group access to the sinking block. Mrs. Brisby shot passed the rest, struggling through the swirling mud towards her home and her children. Orders were being barked, rats racing about trying to gather materials that could aid the effort, and ideas being quickly tossed around as the block lifted vertically into the air. 


  • Jenner paid no attention to all of this. He his sole attention was on the gold amulet in hands. Particularly the red stone in the middle. Despite being flung around in the dirt and mud the amulet was surprising clean as Jenner’s reflection could be clearly seen in the stone. “Ahhhh”, Jenner moaned delightfully. “This is it. Ultimate power. Crafted by the old fool himself. Too bad he couldn’t seen his own fate”, he said this last line in mock sympathy while putting a phony sad face. His face immediately shifted back into sinister smile as rolled his fingers around the stone. Now he has access to Nicodemus’ powers. The powers he had gained by meddling in the unknown. At this point Jenner didn’t particularly care how or why Nicodemus gained his powers, all he knew now was that with this amulet he has power over the rats of NIMH. He felt the stone vibrate slightly at the touch of his fingers running around its center. His reflection in the stone disappeared and from within the very center of the stone a light started to grow. It disappeared and then it reappeared. Each time it reappeared the light from within glowed brighter and brighter. 
    “Yes, yes”, said Jenner in an excited whisper. But for a moment he turned his attention to what was happening around him. Nothing. The yelling and chaos had ceased. Jenner turned around facing the group of rats now covered in mud. The block was nearly submerged with Mrs. Brisby and a couple other rats assisting her on top of the block. But they weren’t doing anything. They were all standing still and facing Jenner. But they weren’t looking at Jenner, they were looking at something beyond him. 
    Jenner slowly turned around. Standing before him was Justin, Captain of the Guard. His white tunic and blue vest was now smeared with dirt and blood. His left hand was clutching his abdomen where there was large wound. Blood was trickling out of the wound and onto his hand. His light brown fur was covered in mud and he seemed to be struggling to stand up. His eyes showed pain and seemed to have trouble focusing. They soon focused on Jenner and then his eyes showed rage. Pure rage. Jenner was bewildered at the sight of Justin standing before that he completely forgot about the glowing amulet in his hand and his own sword. His eyes shifted down to Justin’s right hand as it appeared he was clutching something. In that instance Justin using all of his strength leapt forward at Jenner. As he did he raised his right hand revealing what was he was clutching. It was a dagger. 
    Before Jenner could react Justin landed almost on top of him. His left hand had moved away from his wound and was clutched around Jenner’s neck. Justin’s feet landed on Jenner’s tights pushing him backwards. Jenner stumbled backward, dropping his sword but keeping his grip on the amulet. Justin raised the dagger high into the air and brought it down on Jenner’s neck. Jenner screamed in agony as the dagger plunged into his neck. Justin pulled the dagger out and struck again this time missing Jenner’s neck and instead striking his left shoulder. Justin made two quick jabs at Jenner’s shoulder and lower neck. Jenner continued to stumble backwards. They were now in the pool of mud not far from the sinking block. Jenner’s head was hung back in agony. Justin’s left hand wrapped itself around Jenner’s throat, forcing Jenner to look at him. When Jenner did he looked right into Justin’s eyes. Justin clenched his jaw and through gritted teeth finally spoke.
    “Die Jenner. Die.” With those words Justin raised the dagger high into the air and plunged it right into Jenner’s chest. Jenner’s head snapped back in pain and his legs finally could no longer keep balance. Jenner fell backward and with Justin still grasping him by the throat both plunged into the mud and vanished beneath the surface. 
  • There was a long silence. The group of rodents was again in a state of shock. All of their eyes were drawn to spot where the two rats sank. They watched intently, waiting for both of them or one to surface. No one was looking more intently than Mrs. Brisby who was horrified that four rats she had met only a few hours ago were now all gone. She continued to watch the spot hoping in vain that Justin, the kind rat who had saved her life only minutes before, would surface from dark thick mud.
    Mrs. Brisby was suddenly snapped out of this state by a pair of strong hands wrapping themselves around her stomach. She looked down and saw that mud was creeping up her legs. The gray texture of the cement block was gone but she was still standing on it. She quickly looked around and saw that the entire block had submerged into the mud. The other rats who had been helping her get the children out were slowing pulling her towards safety as there was nothing she could do. She felt her feet leave the block as the rat who was holding her made towards safe ground. 
    “No”, Mrs. Brisby cried. She looked around panicking. Looking for any signs of the structure that had been her home. Whatever was left of her home was now covered in mud and making its last plunge into the mud. “No”, yelled Mrs. Brisby, distress in her voice. [i]I can’t give up. I CAN’T! [/i]She struggled to free herself from the rat’s grip. In response the rat tightened his grip on the struggling mouse. Mrs. Brisby continued to kick and scream until they had made it onto dry land. The rat collapsed on the ground but held onto Mrs. Brisby’s shoulders. Tears streaming down her face she looked on in agony as her home and her children vanished from sight. Her heart sank in her chest and she found it hard to breathe. She had lost everything.
    The dark muddy surface suddenly began to glow. Something broke through the surface and gracefully levitated in the air. Mrs. Brisby felt the arms around her shoulders loosen and disappear as the rats backed away in fear. The object appeared to be a dark red orb. The orb descended towards Mrs. Brisby. Mrs. Brisby at first started to back away from it but then stopped. For what reason she didn’t know. The object came closing and she saw it was not an orb it was the amulet. She averted her eyes for light radiating from the stone was too much for her eyes to take. A low, hoarse voice spoke to her. At first she didn’t know it but then it became quite clear whose voice it was. She couldn’t tell where the voice was coming but it seemed like it was right in her ear like the person speaking to her was right next to her. 
    [i]Courage of the heart is very rare. The stone has a power when its there.[/i]
    “The stone”, whispered Mrs. Brisby as if she was reacquainting herself with the object. The amulet hung in the air as if it were waiting for something. Unsure, Mrs. Brisby slowly reach upward to grasp the amulet. As she did she felt a burning sensation in her hands as she struggled to keep a firm hold on the amulet. With a gasp of pain she let go of the amulet. The amulet flew out of her hands and landed in mud in front of her She immediately got to her feet, went over to the amulet, and, bracing herself, picked up the amulet. The amulet shook in her hands and she felt the burning sensation race up her arms, across the her shoulders, up her spine, through her veins, through nerves, into her heart and finally up into her head. She gasps and threw her head back. She became one with the stone. Entering another realm of conscience she walked over to the rope that had been attached to the block. She touched the rope and as easy as she would pluck a blade of grass she began to pull the block from out of the mud. There was low rumbling sound emitting from the sinkhole and then a streak of white light came piercing from under the mud. The mud parted and the light brightened. The area was surrounded by an aura of red and white. The block rose steadily out of the mud and into the air. It hung there for a second and then proceeded to hover the rats’ heads towards its new home. The block stopped and descended behind a large stone, out of the way of Mr. Fitzgibbon’s tractor. 
    Once the block was safely in place Mrs. Brisby felt her energy start to drain. The glow from the stone started to fade. She dropped the rope from her hands. All of the sudden she felt the strength in her legs disappear and her head was pounding. She lowered herself to the ground and lost consciousness.  There was silence for a while and then the slow chirping of crickets began to fill the air. 
  • Mrs. Brisby slowly awoke in her bed six hours later. She took a quick look around her room and started to close her eyes again when realization kicked in and she sat up. She was indeed in her room in her house. She looked around at the state of the place. Objects lay on the floor on their sides and far from where they’re supposed to be. The floors and walls looked dirty but showed signs of being cleaned up or at least an attempt to. She noticed that blanket and pillow on her bed was new as was the ones on the other bed in the room. Timothy lay in his bed silently and peaceful. Mrs. Brisby made an attempt to get out of bed but the soreness in her legs came back.
    “Don’t worry. He’s alright”, said a familiar voice. Mrs. Brisby turned her head and saw Mr. Ages entering the room. “Slept through the whole thing.” Ages picked up an overturned stool and placed it by the side of Mrs. Brisby’s bed. He got up on the stool and began to examine Mrs. Brisby, starting with checking her pulse. “The rats tried their best to clean up your house. But they did have more pressing matters. They collapsed the rosebush colony an hour ago. By now they’re a quarter a mile away, slowly making their way to Thorn Valley.”
    “Who’s leading them”, asked Mrs. Brisby while allowing Ages to listen to heart using a stethoscope. 
    “Philip, the new Captain of the Guard. He was Justin’s Lieutenant. After they get settled into the colony at Thorn Valley I suppose there’ll be many meetings to discuss leadership.”
    “You’re not going with them?”
    Ages sighed. “Thought about it. Then I remembered I have a young patient here to take care of”, he said waving his hand at the other bed where Timothy slept. “Along with yourself and the rest of your children. Besides I didn’t want you to wake up and have no answers to what happened while you were asleep.” Ages finished examing Mrs. Brisby and stepped off the stool. 
    “What about…” Mrs. Brisby began but stopped. The events of last night were so horrific that she didn’t want to bring them up again. “I suppose… Nicodemus…”
    Ages nodded sadly and finished her thought, “We buried him. Sullivan, Jenner’s accomplice, is also dead. There was so much commotion that we rather foolishly neglected him. Died of blood loss. Tried to redeem himself for aligning himself with Jenner and in the end paid for it with his life.”
    “What about Justin,” asked Mr. Brisby, hoping that at least somebody came out of the ordeal alive. 
    Ages shook his head. “No. We tried to find the bodies but had no luck.”
    Mrs. Brisby was silent for a moment and that spotted something on the nightstand. “And what about that?”
    Ages looked at her and then at the nightstand. The amulet lay there. “Frankly Mrs. Brisby I couldn’t tell you. I’ve known Nicodemus for so long but there were some things he never discussed with me. And there things I didn’t want to know about. The amulet was one of them.”
    “Nicodemus told me Jonathan made it.”
    “Jonathan had nothing to do with the creation of the amulet and was just as baffled about it as I was. I suspect Nicodemus told you that so that you felt safe with it.”
    Mrs. Brisby thought about what Ages said and agreed. She would’ve been more hesitant with handling one of Nicodemus’ objects. “How did Jenner know about? He seemed desperate to get it. Did everyone know…”
    “No. Only myself along with Jonathan knew about it. The council didn’t know either. Jenner was a snoop when it came to Nicodemus and the powers he had gained. Must’ve spotted it or heard about it.” Ages was now sitting on the stool, exhausted after a long night. “The stone is yours now. I tried to give to Philip but he didn’t’ want it. Suspect he was suspicious of it. Don’t say I blame him.” Mrs. Brisby didn’t know how to feel about having the stone in her possession. True it had saved the lives of her children but whatever other powers it held were unknown to her. Add in the fact that she was almost killed over it and that two rats died in the process of defending her. 
    Ages got up. “Martin, Teresa and Cynthia are asleep in the other room. I can’t begin to tell how long it took to convince your friend the Shrew to go home. We eventually had to get Brutus to escort her home. The stubborn woman was the reason we lifted the block with your children still inside. She had barricaded the door and refused to let the rats in or the children out.” Ages face switch from annoyance back to a mix of professionalism and tiredness. “I strongly recommend you getting some sleep too. If I’m no longer needed I’ll see myself out.”
    “Mr. Ages,” began Mrs. Brisby, “will you go to Thorn Valley?” 
    Ages thought about it. “Very probably. They need all the help they can get and I’m only one of two people with medical knowledge. I hope that maybe you and your family will also venture to Thorn Valley as well.” 
    Mrs. Brisby thought about this or at least tried to but her head was still swimming with all Ages had told her. “I can’t… can’t really...” She struggled to find the words but couldn’t.
    Ages held up his hand. “Don’t. Just rest. I’ll be back later this afternoon.” He moved to the door. “The rats left you some things for you. Food, supplies and clothing. To show their gratitude.” Before Mrs. Brisby could say anything Ages was making his way up the stairs. “I shall return”, Ages called down before exiting the house. Mrs. Brisby lay back on her bed and tried again to think about all Mr. Ages had told her and everything that had happened last night but her mind rebelled against this. She closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.
  • edited March 2013
    By midday the clouds had drifted off to the east allowing for mostly sunny skies. The storm front that had moved across the plains brought cool temperatures. Beth Fitzgibbons was in the backyard doing laundry while her husband Paul was chatting with the man from NIMH who had arrived an hour before and had dug up the rosebush. They had found nothing and were now further questioning Mr. Fitzgibbons about the rats. 
    The Brisby family spent most of the morning straightening up and cleaning their home. After lunch they spent the afternoon outside much to the annoyance of Timothy who was now more active than he had been for the past couple of days. At one point Mrs. Brisby left her children and made her way to the small creek that ran through the farm. This was the same creek that she jumped in to avoid Dragon. In her hands was the amulet, which she had kept hidden from her children. She held it in front of her and saw her reflection within in it. She turned it around and reread the inscription on the back: You can unlock any door if you only have the key. 
    She turned it around again in her hands and stared at the red stone. She looked at the running water. She took a deep breath and then hurled the stone into the water. It made a small splash and for a moment she could see a glimmer of red under the water’s surface before it was carried off out of sight. Pulling her cape tighter around her she turned and made her way back to her children.
  • NIMH Unbound # 2
    Project Zachariah
    Part 1

    National Institute of Mental Health
    Communiqué from Chicago Office to D.C. Main Office
    June 5, 1977

    To: Dr. Brian Selwood

    URGENT: 20 Rat and 11 Mice subjects have escaped from their cages sometime last night after the night shift clocked out around 10:00 PM (CST). Sweeps are being made of the building at this moment. No trace so far of the subjects. Believe subjects escape via ventilation shaft. 

    Will update you as soon as new information comes in.

    Dr. Robert Schultz
    Chicago, IL

    Communiqué from Chicago Office to D.C. Main Office
    June 6, 1977

    UPDATE: 9 Mice subjects found dead in ventilation shaft. Remaining 2 Mice subjects and the 20 Rat subjects have not been found. The ventilation grate on the roof has been opened. Highly possible Rat and remaining Mice subjects have escaped compound. Search of the outer grounds underway. Request further instructions.

    Message Ends

    Communiqué from D.C. Main Office to Chicago Office

    Additional personnel from Cleveland branch have been dispatched to your location.
    Instructions: Conduct a 5 – 10 mile search of the area outside the compound. Report any findings immediately. 

    Dr. Brian Selwood
    Director of Operations
    District of Columbia

    Communiqué from Chicago Office to D.C. Main Office
    June 20, 1977

    Update: Search of surrounding areas unsuccessful. Local residences and businesses searched. No results. 
    Request additional personnel.

    End of Message

    Communiqué from D.C. Main Office to Chicago Office
    June 20, 2977

    To: Dr. Robert Schultz

    Request Denied.

    Your presence is requested immediately at the D.C. Office. A Lear Jet will be standing by at O’Hare Airport. Bring all materials regarding Project Thoth and the escape of the subjects. 

    Dr. Brian Selwood
    Director of Operations
    District of Columbia 

    Dr. Robert Schultz read the message over and over as he sat in one of the many plastic chairs in the communications room. He got the familiar sinking feeling in his gut and felt a tremendous pressure on his temples. He let the piece of paper fall to the floor and put his head in his hands. Ever since the escape he hadn’t had a decent nights’ sleep. He sat there for a long time, quiet, softly rubbing his head, mentally going through all the scenarios. Termination, suspension, demotion, transfer. He would be lucky to get out of this mess unscathed. The silence was broken by the electric whine of the Teletype message. After about half a minute of electric noises the incoming message had been typed out. Schultz reached over and pulled the piece of paper out of the machine. He read it. It was information about the flight. Schultz stood up and exited the room. He climbed the stairs to his office on the third floor. Twenty minutes later he was pulling out of the compound and headed towards the city.
  • The sun had already set by the time the tiny jet took off from O’Hare Airport, bound for D.C. Schultz wasn’t alone. Sitting across from him was Dr. Dan O’Brien, Director of Midwest Operations, Schultz’s superior and the one was feeling the heat from D.C. O’Brien was out of the country attending a conference when the incident happened and had to fly back immediately when the news reached him. The look on his face as he stormed into Chicago offices was far from pleasant. His boss now sat across from him stirring a martini, not looking at him, his face expressionless. 
    There was a notable difference between the two men. Schultz was in his late 50s with notable age lines on his face. His hair grayed early starting in his early 40s and now was now gray all over. His hair was long, reaching down to his shoulders and covering his ears. It gave him a sort of mad scientist look. This image bothered Valentine at first but eventually he learned to except, even use it to his advantage. His hair was usually unkempt while working but Schultz had managed to comb it before leaving for the airport making himself some what presentable. Schultz didn’t care about his appearance and focused sorely on his work. If he had a social life or any hobbies he didn’t talk about to his colleagues. On a number of occasions he scolded his co-workers for talking about personal matters while on the job. This attitude didn’t earn any friends nor respect but his position and demeanor ensured that his staff were compliant. Apart from his longish grey hair and his rather cold faded blue eyes there was nothing else physically notable about him. Schultz had gotten his medical degree while attending Columbia University in New York and went on to work at the research center at the University of Chicago. It was there almost twenty years ago he met the former head of NIMH’s D.C. Office Michael Dodd and was hired to work for NIMH. Dodd died in 1973 in an automobile accident in Maryland. Selwood was his replacement. 
    O’Brien was the opposite of Schultz. He was five years younger than Schultz and had managed to retain his hair color apart from some patches of grey on the edges of his hairline. His appearance made it seem like he was more of a businessman than a scientist but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. O’Brien had a PHD both in medical science and psychology. Born in England his family immigrated to the U.S. in early 1950s. He attended Harvard University where he got his degree. By his early 30s he was working as a brain surgeon at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was in his mid 40s when he joined NIMH and soon became one of the organizations’ highly valued and respected employees. O’Brien was known for having a calm personality even during his days a surgeon. Although on this occasion it appeared that his patience had been tested and was wearing out. 
    The cabin was quiet apart from the hum of the twin engines. After taking a few sips of his martini O’Brien set his glass down.
    “D.C. is not happy about the situation,” O’Brien said, his eyes looking down at his notes. “A million dollar facility with advanced security measures and equipment and 22 rodents just stroll out of the place.”
    “How was I suppose to know they would figure out a way of getting out of their cage. Or”, Schultz said, his voice rising in irritation, “that they would figure out of a way of opening the ventilation grate and climb up the shaft and escape onto the roof.”
    O’Brien looked up at him, his eyes narrowed. “It was your bloody job to monitor them. You had them in captivity for over three months.” O’Brien leaned slightly forward in his seat. “Are you telling me you didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary?”
    “Nothing,” Schultz said defensively, “Nothing at all. The only thing we noticed is a lack of physical activity. We put a few of them in the maze. Some of them attempted to navigate the maze while others merely rested until we removed them or half-hearted tried to find the cheese.”
    “Was this during the initial tests?”
    “No. We noticed this behavior after a week or two of tests. Its as if” Schultz said, leaning back in his chair, pondering, “they knew how pointless the test was. They simply refused to proceed with the test. We even tried using a bigger piece of cheese but even that didn’t motivate them to participate.”
    “Are you telling me”, began O’Brien, a look of confusion and disbelief on his face, “that the rodents were consciously aware of what they were being put through?”
    “Of course. They knew enough to get out of their cages and make it out of the room. The mice had to have gotten the rats to free them. The mice cages open from the top and its too high for any of them to reach. Either that or the mice piled on top of each other and opened the cage that way.”
    O’Brien leaned back in his chair and took another sip of his martini. He was silent for a while. “So, I guess that means Project Zachariah was a success.”
    Schultz shared O’Brien’s concern. “It appears that way. Although it appears the results were far greater than what we expected. The intelligence of the rodents must’ve doubled or even tripled, far beyond what we were shooting for. An increase in mental activity, memory and intelligence. We examined the dead mice and were able to get some data. Did you get it?”
    O’Brien sighed and tapped the folder on the table. “I did. Frankly it scares me.” The two men were silent again. Schultz took a sip from his own drink, a glass of water. “No progress on the search I gather?”
    “None”, Schultz said flatly. His face showed irritation again. “I was hoping for more personnel to aid in the search. The request was denied and was summoned to D.C. and here I am. Frankly, this is a waste of my time. Right now the only thing I hope is that A) I keep my job and B) what I have to tell them will hopefully convince them to allow further assistance to the search.”
    “If you’re able to truly convince them that this incident was far beyond your control and was unexpected and that the retrieval of the subjects is top priority, you might just walk away with your head still attached to your head. But”, said O’Brien, pointing his finger at Schultz, “don’t expect to get out of this completely unscathed. Even if retrieval is successful, an incident like this stays with you.”
    “And if retrieval isn’t successful”, Schultz asked although he knew what the answer would be.
    O’Brien shook his head, “Well for one thing I doubt you’ll be getting your Christmas bonus this year.” Valentine nodded solemnly. He knew the status of his yearly bonus was the least of the things that were in jeopardy at the moment. It all depended on the big boys in Washington and whether they were out for blood or not. 
  • The jet started its slow descent as it made its way past Cleveland and into West Virginia. Twenty minutes later the pilot announced that they would be landing in D.C. in fifteen minutes. Looking out the window Schultz could see the lights of the houses below and off in the distance the Potomac River. As the jet veered towards D.C. the river got closer. Schultz looked at the lavish homes below where most of D.C.’s elites lived. If anything he was wished he was in one of those homes rather than being flown to his inevitable doom. There was an electric whine as the plane’s landing gear was lowered and the cabin started to bob up and down as the plane dropped altitude. The plane was now following the Potomac to its destination: Washington National Airport. The plane touched down and after a few minutes navigated to a spot on the edge of the airfield. Upon exiting the plane Schultz and O’Brien were met by one of Selwood’s assistants who led them to a black sedan that would take them to the office. 
    It was around 10 o’clock now and the D.C. traffic had long since died down. They reached NIMH headquarters in under twenty minutes. The meeting was taking place in a conference room on the seventh floor. Before going in Schultz turned to O’Brien. “Any last words,” he asked with a sad sigh. O’Brien wasn’t in the mood for any humor. “Look, I’ll try my best to help you out in there but for the most part you’re on your own.” O’Brien straightened his tie. “Look I know you don’t have the greatest respect for Selwood but I advise you to keep your cool. I’ll let you know that Selwood and others have spoken to me about your behavior in past year or so. You’ll do no good if you start ranting and raving and putting blame on others. Understand?” Schultz nodded slightly. “Good,” O’Brien said. Selwood’s assistant came out of the room. “They’re ready for you gentlemen.”
  • NIMH Unbound # 2 
    Project Zachariah 
    Part 2

       The conference room was silent as Schultz finished his briefing on Project Zachariah. The project, started almost three years ago, was a continuation of studies by Schultz of the brain. He hoped to create a drug that could benefit patients who had suffered extensive brain damage as a result of an accident or a birth defect. The subjects who had been brought to the lab were part of phase one to see what effect the drug had on normal rats. The next phase would’ve seen another batch of rodents being brought in. This group would be operated on, damaged applied to the brains and seeing what effects the drug would have. Schultz also hoped that the drug could be successful in treating those with mental disabilities. The effect it had on the subjects who escaped was one that Schultz was not expecting. Frankly it worried him. He remembered being teased by his college friends for his interest in Neurology, some dubbing him Dr. Frankenstein. At the moment he felt a little like Dr. Frankenstein standing beside his creation yelling, “Its alive! Its alive!” But Schultz wasn’t that excited. It was mixture of excitement and horror. Excitement that his drug had changed the DNA structure and expanded the intelligence of a small rodent. Horror at what those rodents could do out there in the wild.

       Schultz stood at a podium at one end of the conference room. By pushing a button the images displayed on the projection screen would change. Among the images were photographs of the lab after the escape including the opened ventilation grates both in the lab room and on the roof. There was a notable reaction of the faces of the men assembled when one of the photographs showed how the subjects made it up the ventilation shaft: a string of yawn. Schultz proceeded to go into detail of his team’s examination of the mice who fell to their deaths. On the projection screen showed two identical photographs: DNA strands through a microscope with being marked ‘Before’ and the other ‘After’. However on the next slide of the same pictures only magnified was there differences. The mouse’s DNA strand in the ‘After’ was different than the one in the ‘Before’ picture. Schultz proved the point further by showing a display of normal rodent DNA strand. The conclusion was obvious. The effect of drug caused a mutation in the rodents’ DNA strands. The result of the mutation will not be completely known but the escape of the subjects plainly shows an increase in intelligence. 

       The slideshow ended and the lights in the room brightened. The men were silent. Schultz glanced around at them. Every important member of the organization was in this room. Not just important, respected. At the head of the table sat Dr. Selwood, chairman of the National Institute of Mental Health. He sat back in his chair staring down at the table, deep in thought, his glasses in hands, his teeth lightly biting at the earpiece.  He was aware that all the eyes in the room were drawn to him but he paid no attention or at least tried not to. Schultz quietly took his seat near the end of the long table next to another colleague, Dr. Branson from San Diego. Schultz noted his tanned skin. Branson worked with aquatic animals. O’Brien sat across from Schultz. They made eye contact. Unlike the other men in the room who clearly showed concern or intrigue at the evidence presented before them, O’Brien displayed none of these emotions. He had already seen the report. The only emotion that was present on his face was weariness. Schultz broke off eye contact with O’Brien and started down at the table, rubbing his hands nervously.
  • edited March 2013
      Selwood sat up in his chair and placed his glasses on the table. Everyone else took notice and sat up in their chairs as well. Selwood took a deep breath before his spoke. “Well, this is quite a development.” Understatement of the year, thought Schultz bitterly. Selwood turned his gaze towards Schultz. “You and your team were oblivious to these developments?”
       Oblivious. Schultz cleared his throat. “No sir. As I mentioned in my report the subjects displayed no signs of intelligence or any other characteristics for that matter. The only thing we did observe was their indifference towards the test we put them through, even when a reward was offered. We assumed this was merely a change in mood. A lasting effect of the drug or because of the change in environment.”
       Selwood nodded and glanced down, in thought again. Schultz shifted in his chair. After a moment Selwood looked up again and this time addressed the whole room. “Well gentlemen this is an extraordinary breakthrough. Although”, he said, dragging the word, “I wish this discovery hadn’t been brought about by a break in containment.” Selwood tried not to stare at Schultz. “Because of this we must focus our efforts on capturing the escaped subjects.”
       A snort came from a man seated three chairs away from Selwood. He was Dr. Atkins of San Fernando. He was portly man with a receding hairline. “Like that’s possible. Even if you captured one that’s still another dozen or so out there. I’m willing to bet as soon as they got out of the compound they spread to the four winds.”
       “I don’t think so,” said O’Brien, leaning forward in his chair to meet the gaze of his colleague, “Although we cannot definitely determine this but it appears that there was some group interaction between the subjects in their escape. Rats are not entirely solitary animals. There’s a good possibility they stayed together after their escape.”
       “Maybe they did”, conceded Atkins, “but that was over two weeks ago. Eventually the group would split apart.”
       Another voice spoke up, this time from Schultz’s side of the table. It was Dr. Guthrie of New Mexico who, despite working in the desert, was not tanned but rather very pale. He was bald and to some was the stereotypical image of a scientist. “But these are no ordinary rodents as we’ve seen from Dr. Schultz’s presentation. What they’re going through is a radically different and even frightening experience for them. Their experience has bonded them together. It was enough of a bond to get them out of the lab. If they were still operating in the selfish or ‘every rodent for himself’ manner they probably wouldn’t have made it out. Keep in mind that as Dr. Schultz said during his presentation that the rats must’ve helped the mice out of their cages as it would’ve been extremely difficult for the mice to do it on their own. Surely if they were acting like mere selfish animals they wouldn’t have stopped and freed their fellow captives.”
       Atkins rolled his eyes. “Oh please. You expect any of this to believe that?” He gestured around the room. “You don’t know what happened in that lab. None of us do. So how can you say for certain that they stuck together?”
       Guthrie adjusted his glasses. He had an annoyed look on his face. “May I remind Dr. Atkins that I work primarily in the field of animal psychology. I have a number of degrees, published works and years of experience under my belt to back my theories thank you very much.”
       Atkins was about to say something and others were about to chime in their thoughts when Selwood cut them off. “Please gentlemen. Let’s keep this discussion civil.” He looked at Schultz. “Dr. Schultz, do you think the escaped subjects pose a threat to the public?” All eyes turned to Schultz. Schultz wanted nothing but to crawl under a rock. He rubbed his hands harder. “I don’t know sir”, he said quietly. “Of course a bite from a rodent or any animal of course poses a risk to human health. We checked the rats when they were brought in. Sadly to say that the company we ordered the rats and mice from must’ve gotten them off the street rather than breed them in a control environment. The ones with diseases we got rid of. The ones we experimented on were clean. I wish now we had postponed the experiment to order new rodents from a more reliable source. I think,” he paused to gather his thoughts, “I think because they had been taken off the street proved to be an incentive to escape. I’ve been in labs before where a rat or mouse got free. They run around for a bit but they didn’t get far. Sometimes they returned to where they escape from and waited to be put back in their cages. These rodents wanted to get out. They made it out. But they have no idea where their home is. They’re on their own now. I must agree with Dr. Guthrie in that they remained together as a group following their escape. Perhaps one or two may have broken off but I believe a majority of them stayed together.” He turned his eyes to Selwood, his expression serious. “Dr. Selwood, I have no idea what the injections did to the subjects. It improved their intelligence. That can be seen in their escape. But what else did it do? How smart are they? They figured out how to get out of their cages. There are two possibilities: 1) they mimicked how my assistants and I opened the cages or 2) they were able to read the words on their cages: to open door lift latch. I don’t think those rats pose a medical risk to the human population beyond the ordinary diseases that animals carry. But if the intelligence of those rats has been increased and expanded beyond the limitations of any other rodent, who knows what their capable of.”
  • The room went quiet again. Selwood stared at Schultz and then lowered his head in thought. The silence was broken by a laugh. It was Atkins. “You guys can’t be taking this seriously! They’re just rats. 20 rats and 2 mice. What are they going to build flying saucers and take over the planet.” There were a couple of chuckles around the room. Selwood was not among those chuckling. He was chewing on his glasses again. The room again lapsed into silence. He turned his gaze to a man seated next to O’Brien who was the youngest of the group with long blonde hair. It was Dr. Timm of Charleston. “Bruce, what do you think we should do as far as containment?”
       Timm moved closer to the table and placed his hands on it. “I think our best course of action is to go to the food source in the areas surrounding the compound. Grocery stores, bakeries, farms. Use standard methods of pest control. Traps, poison, the usual stuff. If the subjects are able to find a steady source of food they’ll stay close to it.”
       “And if the traps don’t work,” inquired Schultz.
       Timm sat back and pondered this. He shrugged. “I don’t know. Will have to think of something.”
       “Yeah”, snorted Atkins sarcastically, “Maybe Schultz and his team can go running around with butterfly nets. Maybe they’ll catch them that way.” There was another round of chuckles around the room. Schultz wasn’t laughing. 
       “Mr. Atkins if you’re going to be a pain then why don’t you just leave and go on back to whatever rinky-dink laboratory you came from,” Schultz said acidly. Atkins stopped chuckling, his face went red. “Rinky-dink laboratory!? May I remind you that we’re all here because of YOUR screw-up.” Atkins jabbed his index finger in Schultz's direction. Schultz was unfazed by Atkin’s comment at least he didn’t show it on his face. “I seem to remember Mr. Atkins that the previous laboratory you worked out was gutted by a fire because of an incident involving the microwave.” Atkins jumped to his feet, his fist clenched. “Who told you that!?”
       Selwood stood up. “Enough! Sit down Dr. Atkins.” Atkins did so while staring at Schultz. “This absolutely petty behavior. If this continues I’m clearing this room. Dr. Atkins if you continue make useless comments I will ask you to leave. Am I clear?” Atkins looked at him and nodded solemnly, looking like a kid who had been yelled at by his parents.  Selwood turned his gaze to Schultz. “Dr. Schultz I will grant you the additional personnel to aid in the search of the escaped subjects. I think we should also follow through with Dr. Timm’s suggestions for exterminated them at possible food sources.” He glanced around the room. “Does anyone have any suggestions?” The other men seated at the table shook their heads or remained silent. “Very well. I don’t think I need to remind you that the information presented in this room as well as our discussion are confidential. They must not leave this room.” Everyone nodded. “Meeting adjourned. “ Everyone got up and began to collect their briefcases and coats. Schultz remained where he was, staring down at his hands. He waited until most of the other men, especially Atkins, were gone. He looked up. O’Brien and Selwood remained. Selwood was packing away his notes.
       “I want you to know I don’t blame you for what happened Robert”, said Selwood without looking up. “Although the security at your installation can be improved.” Schultz nodded. Selwood stood up and met the gaze of the two remaining men. “I share your anxiety about this latest development and I’ve encountered some pretty strange stuff in my time. Most of them I can’t talk about. You probably wouldn’t even believe them if I told you. But this is first time I’ve had to deal with a case where the subject or subjects was out in the open. For now we’ll keep this amongst ourselves. No need getting other agencies involved. But I’ll have no choice if things escalate. But then again things may not escalate. The subjects might just return to the wild and return to their normal behavior.” Selwood put on his coat. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “We’ll do what we can. At this point we can only pray they don’t survive out there.”
    Schultz nodded. “Sir, what about Project Zachariah?” 
    Selwood tucked his glasses into his pocket. “Zachariah is on hold for now. Concentrate your efforts on subject retrieval or extermination, whatever you choose. I’ll send Dr. Timm to aid in your efforts. You can restart your experiments in about a month. I would suggest improving on your facilities security as well as cleaner subjects. Maybe with a new batch in better containment we’ll be able to learn more the ones who escaped.” Selwood nodded to Schultz and O’Brien. “Goodnight gentlemen.”
    “Goodnight sir,” said Schultz and O’Brien as Selwood exited the room. The two men looked at each other. O’Brien breathed a sigh of relief. “You were lucky Rob. Seems you made it out with your head intact.”
    “For now,” said Schultz solemnly. 
    O’Brien put his hand on Schultz’s shoulder. “Come on. I’ll buy you a drink.”
    “But there’s a plane waiting to take me back to Chicago.”
    “It’ll wait for you. It’s a private plane.”
    Schultz glanced at his watch. “Its almost midnight.”
    O’Brien smiled, “I know a place.”
  • Dan O’Brien peered out of the window of the taxicab at the towering skyscrapers above. It was a miserable day in Manhattan as the city was going through its fourth day of continuous rain as a series of storms were making its way up the eastern seaboard. The driver of the cab had the heat cranked up to the maximum or it was broken which made the inside of the cab incredibly stuffy. The driver didn’t say much apart from the occasion grumblings about another driver and a honk of the horn. O’Brien was thankful the cabbie wasn’t in a chatty mood. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts. His thoughts drifted back to the phone call that started this trip. He soon found the article in the Chicago Sun Times.  “Scientist Parishes in Crash on Highway 90.” The article was accompanied by a picture of Robert Schultz taken during happier times. It had been months since he had seen Valentine but they spoke once in a while on the phone. He couldn’t quite recall their last conversation as it mostly chatting about minor things such as the weather. Schultz wanted to avoid talking about NIMH, particularly Zachariah.
    In the months leading up to his death Schultz had been increasing withdrawn, depressed and even neurotic. The Zachariah project went on following the inquiry in D.C. and the results were extraordinary. Of course O’Brien didn’t hear much about it since the project became quite confidential. Whatever he heard came from Schultz himself. Schultz became increasingly annoyed that the drug wasn’t being used in areas that it had been intended for. In fact he didn’t hear much after presenting his research to the heads of the organization. They congratulated him on his achievement of course but he didn’t see his research going to good use. At one point he became increasingly paranoid that the research had been given to the military and threatened to quit. Selwood personally flew out to Chicago to explain to him that wasn’t the case. The reason why the drug wasn’t being used was that the organization was hesitant on using the drug on human subjects after seeing what it did to animal subjects. Schultz managed to persuade them to test it once. There was girl of about the age seven who had suffered trauma to the brain due to a car accident. The result was that her ability to learn and retain information was stunted. Schultz spoke with the parents about an experimental solution. The parents agreed, desperate for a solution. Schultz himself injected the little girl with the Zachariah drug as a team from NIMH observed. Within weeks the little girl was able to regain her memories and was able to function properly. Upon hearing the results from the girl’s doctor and her excited parents, Schultz reportedly sent a memo to Selwood and the other heads of NIMH which read: “Zachariah works. What you decide to do with it is your responsibility. There are people in need. It is in your hands now. I’m done with Zachariah.”
    Though Schultz had stated he was done with Zachariah, he could never get the escaped subjects out of his mind. He thought he came close to catching them five years after their escape. A small farm about 40 miles away from the NIMH compound. O’Brien heard the story from one of Schultz's assistants who was with him that day. They dug up the farmer’s rosebush and found nothing. Schultz climbed into the hole they had dug and searched for any clues of the rat’s existence but found nothing. They searched the whole property but came up with nothing. Schultz didn’t say a word not even to the farmer as they were leaving. From there things only got worse. Months after the strikeout at the farm Schultz believed he had found a possible location of the escaped subjects. The word from the organization heads was to let it go and that further pursuit of the escaped subjects would be a waste of company time and funds. Reportedly Schultz hired a helicopter to fly him over a nature reserve that had a restricted airspace. Naturally they were caught. When questioned Schultz had a difficult time remembering the flight but all he knew was that he found nothing. The pilot got off free but NIMH had to pay the hefty fine brought about by the incident. Schultz didn’t get off so easy. Selwood and others believed that Schultz was suffering from a mental breakdown due to mounting stress. They gave Schultz a couple of months paid leave. But his situation only got worse and those who worked with him believed he was abusing himself with alcohol or other substances, those of which contributed to his car crash late one night a week ago. 
  • The cab deposited O’Brien in front of a small cathedral in Lower Manhattan. The old church with its stone walls and stained glass windows looked out of place amongst the tall, modern looking skyscrapers that surrounded it especially the looming towers of the World Trade Center. Inside the church a decent number of people were assembled. Including himself, O’Brien counted about 25 people. The memorial service lasted about an hour with members of Schultz’s family as well as colleagues taking the opportunity to say a few words about him. O’Brien didn’t speak for he had nothing written. He discovered that he was only member of NIMH at the service. He did note as he passed the coffin near the end of the service a number of flowers and wreaths from various members of NIMH including Dr. Selwood. The casket was closed. He met Dr. Pomeroy, a colleague of Schultz’s during his tenure at the University of Chicago. Pomeroy had been called in to help identify the body following the crash. Pomeroy told him as a result of the accident half of his face was unrecognizable. 

    A man in his late forties approached O’Brien. He introduced himself as William Schultz, Robert’s younger brother. He introduced his wife Felicia, a pretty brunette, and their two children Donald, age 8, and Steve, age 5. Through speaking with his brother O’Brien was able to get some details about Schultz’s upbringing and early life. Schultz didn’t talk much about his family in their conversations. The earliest point in his life he ever talked about was his days at Columbia University. Robert and William had an older sister named Maureen who after starting her first year in college in Boston was struck by a drunk driver. Maureen physically survived the incident but not mentally. Treatments were tried but all failed. She was placed in a hospital that specialized in treating those with mental and emotional disorders. Unfortunately the Schultz family found out too late that the hospital staff’s treatment of patients was far from satisfactory and as a result Maureen died to the actions of a negligent nurse. Upon his acceptance to Columbia William didn’t see much of his brother after that apart from his wedding and occasionally Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings. It was during his tenure at NIMH that William received little contact with his brother apart from the occasional phone call or card. 
    “Certainly wasn’t expecting this,” said William grimly. O’Brien told him that Robert made a breakthrough during his time at NIMH and that many people would benefit because of his research. William smiled. “Well, that’s good. That’s all he ever wanted to do since he started studying medicine.” O’Brien shook hands with Will and Felicia. The burial would be tomorrow but O’Brien would be unable to make it due to a conference in London the following day. O’Brien gave them his card and with a friendly nod William led his family from the church. He didn’t tell Will that in actuality he had no clue what would become of Zachariah. But at least it helped one person. 
  • The last man to speak to O’Brien was John Goldman, the family attorney. “Mr. Schultz didn’t leave a will so I’ve been having trouble in deciding what to do with his possessions. I’ve talked it over with William and he suggested that contents of Robert’s library would be donated to the University of Chicago. Your colleagues at NIMH have already requested Robert’s work-related files. Neither me nor William know what else to do with them so we agree.” O’Brien thought to himself that Robert probably would’ve wanted them burned. “Unless of course if you want them Dr. O’Brien you’re welcomed to them seeing as you are employee of NIMH.”
       O’Brien hesitated but then shook his head. “No, it would be best to let NIMH collect them.” Although he wasn’t quite sure if that was the right decision but he reasoned that if he took the files NIMH would only be knocking at his door for them.
       “By the way,” said Goldman, reaching into his coat pocket. “This was in Robert’s safety deposit box. I have no idea what it is and was hoping you would know.” Goldman pulled his hand out his pocket revealing an object wrapped in paper. He handed to O’Brien. He unwrapped it and in his hands was a very small metal object with a circular base and an arch. The object was bronzed colored and appeared to have been dug up for there were scratches on it and he could feel places were the dirt had roughed up the smooth edges. O’Brien held it closer. He could make a series intricate carvings along the arch as well different colored spheres. He lightly tapped one. Glass. He turned it over and it was the same on the other side except one of the spheres was broken. At the top of the arch and at the bottom were two small cones evidently used to hold something in place in the middle. Whatever it was had been lost or possibly never there. O’Brien turned the object over and over in his hands, trying to figure out the purpose of it. He shrugged and offered it back to Goldman. “I don’t know what it is.”
       “Keep it. One less thing to deal with.”
       The two exchanged goodbyes and Goldman departed, O’Brien did the same a few minutes later. He had some time to kill before going back to the hotel to collect his bags before heading to the airport. Upon exiting the church he headed north through Greenwich Village towards Washington Square Park. The rain had stopped for now. He sat on a bench and reflected on all that happened between now and the meeting in D.C. over five years ago. He got a headache every time he thought of Project Zachariah. He figured that many who worked for NIMH probably felt the same way. Even after five years he still couldn’t make sense of it. He sat back on the bench, sighing heavily. That wasn’t much to really think about. Schultz was dead and NIMH was quiet on whatever future plans they had for Zachariah. If they did, O’Brien doubted he would hear of them and perhaps that was for the best.
  • edited March 2013
       His thoughts turned to the escaped rats. Was it possible that Schultz was right and they had survived? He reminded himself that rodents were survivors. There had to be well over a thousand in Manhattan alone, managing to live in horrid conditions. Then again the environment in New York and in rural Illinois was different in many ways. If it wasn’t humans in the cities that were a threat, it was the assortment of animals in the forests. Schultz was convinced that the rats were at that farm and they had re-settled in a nature reserve. Could he have been right? O’Brien remembered that when questioned Valentine had stated he didn’t find anything. Was there any factual evidence to indicate that the rats had survived all these years or was it all the product of Schultz’s growing paranoia?
       O’Brien looked up towards the sky. A line of dark clouds were moving in. More rain, he thought grimly. He hoped that his flight wouldn’t be postponed or cancelled. He stood up, stretched, and made his way towards the edge of the park. He decided that he wasn’t going to dwell on the issue of the rats anymore. It wasn’t any of his concern. His colleague was gone and that was the end of it. He looked forward to his trip to London and he has his own research to occupy him. He exited the park and made his way westward. On 6th avenue he managed to hail a cab and three hours later he was on a British Airways flight bound for London.
  • I've upped the word length limitation to 80,000. Hopefully that'll be enough for the future. :)
  • I can put this all on Robin's if you like, that way you don't have to post a trillion posts to get out your story.
  • I can put this all on Robin's if you like, that way you don't have to post a trillion posts to get out your story.
    That would be great. Thank you =)
  • edited April 2013


    Its official. I hate this text system. HATE IT. Its so mind boggling that I can't put it into words. I've lost tracked of how many times I've edited this comment over and over again trying to post my new story. You have to hit return twice so that sentences and paragraphs don't stick together, words aren't italicized so I have to go in and italicize them all and then italic icons still show up. Put too much space between the paragraphs and the rest of the text is in this box (almost like quote box) and words are cut off at the end of sentences and...It hurts my head describing this.

  • Okay. First, please keep in mind that I switched text systems after you posted your story, so any old posts you might be editing are in kind of this weird mixed state at the moment. If you use Markdown for your future posts, it will go much more smoothly. This is why you have difficulty with italics in this particular thread; the buttons are outputting HTML instead of markdown.

    Second, yes, you have to hit return twice to do new paragraphs. I will see if I can change it to respect simple line-breaks, but HTML is built around double-spaces between paragraphs and Markdown at its core attempts to generate the cleanest HTML it can.

    Markdown is also designed to handle indentation differently than you are used to--again, this results from it being designed to output HTML and not conform to typographic standards. So, if you indent your paragraphs with 4 spaces

    like this

    you end up with the weird box thing, because that signals to Markdown that you're trying to format something in a monospaced font.

    In short, working with Markdown and not against it will produce the best results. Read the wiki page I linked, take a few deep breaths and I think you'll find things aren't as bad as they seem.

    If I hear more complaints, I can also change it to use bbCode, but given that I really hate bbCode, I'd prefer not to take that option.

  • ChrisS said:

    I can put this all on Robin's if you like, that way you don't have to post a trillion posts to get out your story.

    That would be great. Thank you =)

    Send your stuff to I'll put em up. n.n

  • NIMH Unbound # 3
    Dying Days

    The dream was always the same. At first there was nothing to see except for white. Eventually objects began to appear on the horizon. A series of tall skinny objects lined up on the horizon or what could be called the horizon. As always he was drawn to these objects off in the distance. Despite being far away it only took a few steps until he was close enough to identify what the objects were. Trees. Despite there being leaves on the trees there was no color. The trees were all black. He looked around and suddenly he was surrounded by trees. He was in the middle of a forest except there were no smells, no sounds, nothing. He looked down at his feet but only say white beneath them. He looked up and there they were. Despite knowing subconsciously that they would show up, he was always taken aback by their sudden presence and their physical appearance. They stood before him. About ten of them, standing in the attention position, the expression on their faces (the ones who had still had faces) were blank, emotionless. For the first time since the dream started he saw color: the blue of their tunic vests and the red of the blood that were splattered across them. Each one had their own grotesque injury. The one standing closest to him had slashes across his face and his left eye was missing. Another had an abdomen wound that stained his tunic. Another was missing his arm. Another half his skull was missing. The faces were new and old. One in particular was standing in the back. His tunic was torn to shreds and there were multiple holes punctured in his skin across his body. A chew toy for a large cat one summer many years ago. The more recently faces only four.
    He never knew how long he would stare at them before one of them finally spoke. It was always the same one who spoke. The one whose jaw was broken but yet could still speak perfectly despite the crippling injury.

    I told you. I told you to take the other path. You chose the easy route. Look where it got us. The figure would gesture to the others using his right arm, which was broken.

    I’m sorry…I’m so sorry…I didn’t…It happened so sudden. He would plead his case but it wouldn’t matter. The expression on the faces of the figures never changed. They just stared. Their eyes bore into him. He remembered the expression “If looks could kill.” If that was the case here then there would be nothing left of him.

    Suddenly the sight was too much that he turned and ran into the black and white forest. He used all the energy he could muster to get away from the figures but it would only get him a couple of feet before his legs gave out. He turned around and could see them off in the distance now looking like tiny sticks.


    He jumped and turned around to the source of the harsh words. The figure he saw could’ve been his own reflection but there were subtle differences that allowed him to indentify the figure as someone else. The cold eyes, the scar across his cheek and chest, the chewed up right ear. Unlike the other figures, the figure before him wore no tunic or any clothes for that matter. The figure’s hands were on his hips as he looked down upon his prey. He suddenly became aware how short he had become compared to the figure who stood before him.


    No! I didn’t! I was taken away! It wa…


    Leave me alone!


    I couldn’t! I had no idea where…


    Stop it!


    Leave me alone! You’re not really here.






    He turned and ran.


    By the time he realized in what direction he was running in it was too late. He was now face-to-face again with the group of grotesque figures. They advanced upon him with hatred in their eyes. He turned and ran in the opposite direction. The location change was so dramatic that he lost his bearings for a second. He looked at his surroundings. The forest was gone. He was now standing on the top of a large rock in the middle of a field. In the distance a tractor and further away a house. It was nighttime. He could tell by abrupt sound of crickets chirping. Their chirping gradually grew louder and louder. He looked upwards at the sky and saw that it was red. Everything was red. He looked down and saw at the edge of the rock something wrapped in cloth in a bundle. He moved towards it. The chirping still present and loud. He knelt down by the object and put his hand on the dark blue cloth. Finding an opening he slowly unwrapped the cloth. The crickets were suddenly silent. He drew apart the cloth.
    At first he was confused by what he saw but then recognition set in and his eyes went wide. His stomach turned and his breath caught in his throat at the horrid sight. Inside the small bundle were mashed up remains. Flesh, fur, bone, and blood. Then something moved within the carcass. A head rose slightly and its eyes opened. He immediately recognized who it was and wanted to scream but he couldn’t move. The glowing eyes looked him pleadingly. It spoke in a raspy voice.

    Help me.

    He couldn’t bear the sight and turned to run but was immediately seized by the throat by a powerful hand, which slowly lifted his whole body into the air. He struggled to break free but to no avail. He opened his eyes to see his attacker although he really didn’t want to. The figure was tall, muscled, clothed in dark clothes and a cape. The look on the figure’s face was the purest anger and hatred he had ever seen. The figure’s eyes glowed red giving him a demon-like appearance. The figure raised his other arm revealing a familiar jagged sword in its hand. Its face gave a brief sardonic smile before emitting a loud, deep growl as it plunged the sword into his chest.
    And that was when he always woke up screaming. He clutched at his stomach having felt the sword pierce his skin and ram through his insides. As one hand settled on his stomach the other went to his neck when seconds ago he felt the strong grip. His breathing rapid, sweat running down every part of his body, his eyes searching his surroundings. The room was completely dark. Eventually his eyes adjusted to the darkness and he could make out the walls of the room. He clutched the now sweat-soaked bed sheet to his chest. His breathing slowly returned to normal. He swung his legs off the bed and turned towards the nightstand beside his bed. He felt around until his hand came upon the familiar shape of the glass bottle. He picked it up and shook it. The accompanying sound let him know that there was still liquid inside. He unscrewed the cap, lifted the bottle to his lips and drank some of the bitter liquid. He put the bottle back on the nightstand and swung his legs back onto the bed and under the sheets. He felt the buzz of the drink go to his head. It never truly made the pain go away. It numbed it for a while but it always came back. They always came back. He lowered his head back onto the soft pillow. His body shook with anxiousness and fear. After a long time he hesitantly fell back to sleep.

    Hours later in another room a small clock on a small nightstand emitted a loud buzzing sound. For a moment nothing in the room stirred. Eventually a shape on the bed draped in a bed sheet sat up on its elbows. The female rat brushed her long black-colored hair from her eyes. She looked over at the shape lying next to her. She sat up and using her elbow she nudged the shape on the side of its back. The shape didn’t stir. Annoyed, using a little more force she jabbed her elbow into the same spot. The shape stirred.
    “Get up,” the female rat said, her voice loud but loud not enough to be heard outside the room.The shape emerged from underneath the bed sheets. The male rat opened his eyes slowly. Blindly he moved his hand over to the nightstand and after feeling around for a bit found the small metal clock and thumbed the off switch on the alarm mechanism. He let his hand drop so that it dangled off the side of the bed. He closed his eyes and for a moment he was asleep. Then came the voice of his companion.
    “Don’t fall back asleep.”
    Wearily he opened his eyes and sat up. “I’m up, I’m up.” He ran his hand up his chin, across his mouth, around his nose, over his eyes and forehead, and over his head. He looked over at his companion. She was asleep. He swung his legs off the bed and with some effort managed to get out of bed. He moved sluggishly over to small chair that was set against the wall and reaching down found his robe. He slipped into it and fastened the belt tight around his waist. The nights were starting to get colder now. Eventually pajamas would be necessary sleepwear. He staggered out of the room, into the hallway then turned into the bathroom. His feet disagreed with the cold tile. He walked up to the sink and feeling around on the wall found the light switch. He closed his eyes before turning on the lights.
    William Douglas slowly opened his eyes and stared at himself in the mirror. His grey fur unkempt, large bags under his eyes and the look of weariness in his eyes. Raising a young child will do that to you, Ages had said to him not long ago during his last checkup. No, thought Will, this is something else.

  • Thank you sooo much for your help Simon =) PuppetMaster, I'll send my first two stories to you in a bit.

  • ChrisS said:

    Thank you sooo much for your help Simon =)

    Hey, no problem. Like I said, I'll see if I can't make a few tweaks to the Markdown engine to fix some of the more annoying problems (like double-return paragraphs), so it feels a bit more natural to work with. I might even be able to make it so users can pick what format to use, but I'm less sure about that.

Sign In or Register to comment.