A Fracture in Nature
By: David Serra
Regeneration Serum Lost
Gliding like a monstrous behemoth, surrounded only by the stars and void of space, the Greylum starship Terasin traveled through the silence. The starship’s pitch black color was dark enough to almost make it blend in with its surroundings, save for the ship being dotted with countless small lights that glimmered like tiny diamonds on a mound of coal. The Terasinappeared to be misshapen and indented yet spherical and smooth; one would mistake it for a deformed asteroid or a skull-shaped and tailless comet at first glance. But as cold and lifeless as it seemed something unusual was brewing onboard this peculiar starship, something created by one of the Greylum scientists. The secret experiment he was concocting may seem impossible to the skeptical mind but this was a lifelong goal of his. This particular Greylum scientist was bent on achieving his goals no matter what the cost. Soon an event that would forever change the ways of science and medicine for the Greylums was about to unfold.
Miraak knew he was in hot water, he thought about what his superiors had warned him about that day. He quickly headed through the maze-like corridors of the Terasin to his lab, not bothering to stop to greet his fellow Greylums. The other Greylums he past didn’t seem notice him, although he knew they were pretending that he was invisible. He grimaced at the thought that out of all of his associates only one stood by his side through all of the years of creating the experiment. The others had abandoned him over the years, deeming him as a crackpot and a fool. Even his last associate helping him saw him more as a lost dreamer than a serious scientist, he gritted his teeth in annoyance at that thought.
Approaching the doors to his lab quarters he stopped a few inches away in front of the entrance with a huff. This is where his experiment of the regenerating micro-organisms that he had been working on for several years awaited him. Hesitating for a moment, Miraak tightly closed his large eyes in irritation and clenched his fists hard enough that they could bleed. When his subconscious kicked in he listened to it intently, deeply considering the thoughts. What if he abandoned it all and went back to his simpler and safer medical studies? It would save him the pain and trouble he had been going through for years, plus he would no longer be deemed as an insane kook. Stubbornly he ignored the thoughts like a misbehaving child and held his hand up to the scanner-panel, heading through the sliding metal doors in a rush. He settled the best he could behind a hovering cube-like device and gave it a few turns. The holographic-screen activated and allowed Miraak to get a closer look at his experiment in the center of the room. Would this batch fail him like all the others? Had he finally solved the meticulous code in regenerating viable matter from nothing but bones this time?
A life-sized hologram of his superior, Navok, materialized in the center of the room abruptly. The tall Greylum stared down at him; his icy and large black eyes sent a shiver throughout Miraak’s body. When Navok spoke his voice echoed throughout the room like a general ordering his troops into battle.
“Miraak,” Navok commanded, the Greylum language translating to, “You better tell me the experiment won’t fail this time.”
“I’m not giving up.” Miraak answered, trying to sound confident despite being unnerved and visibly shaken. “I will not let you or the medical staff down.”
“You better not, or you are out of this field. You will not only let us down but so many families that you promised to help will ridicule you. You are a failure if this goes awry again.”
Navok’s hologram ended immediately leaving Miraak in an empty and almost darkened room. The experiment had failed him countless times in the past with disastrous results and he sulked at those mistakes. He clenched his fists and pursed his lips, staring out at his experiment with second thoughts crossing his mind. Slowly regaining his composure he let his second thoughts escape with a long and throaty exhale before he reactivated the hologram-monitor. He whirled commands into his computer to start the procedure, making the commands to inject the experiment into the cylinder-like container in the center of the room. He prayed this batch would work for him this time. The bluish-gray serum with the micro-organisms lightly poured into the container.
He watched the hologram, the serum with the micro-organisms seeped into the decaying bones of a small animal skeleton that was sprawled out on the bottom of the container. The holographic images showed the old, worn-out, fractured and yellowish-brown bones mend, heal, strengthen and sprout veins from the inside out. Muscles began to form and overlap around the bones; organs filled in the ribcage with the stomach and intestines forming and filling in the abdomen. A layer of muscles sealed in the organs and white shiny skin grew and stretched across its underside. Finally, the small creature began to take shape and twitch with green and bumpy skin spreading and covering the rest of the exposed bones and muscles. Glossy brownish-black eyes formed in its eye sockets and the creature twitched and gasped with its newly formed lungs. The small and amphibious creature jolted and squirmed around in the container, coming into consciousness.
Miraak’s eyes darted back and forth from the hologram to the container with unyielding focus. He watched the little creature carefully and made sure the life readings continued to improve. The creature, known as a toad on its home planet, hopped and crawled around the container looking for a way out. Miraak studied the toad, making sure that the experiment was successful and that the creature wouldn’t degenerate like the others. He swiftly turned his attention to the hologram to fully study the life readings. Everything from body temperature to the organ functions were fully developed and showed no signs of failing. Miraak closely examined the animal which was still scurrying and let out a few croaks. It crawled up along the sides of the container towards the top and around the inside. He turned the cube-like device a few more times to enlarge the hologram, the life readings were still active and continued to improve and enhance.
Miraak felt a mix of excitement and caution; he activated the speaker next to him on the wall. “Tuteen, the experiment may have been successful. Please report to the lab immediately.”
“Are you sure?” his associate replied over the speaker.
“I believe so, all systems are green.”
“I’ll be down right away.”
Miraak turned and whirled the cube a few more times to order the computer to store a sample of the serum in the containment unit. A robotic arm dropped down from the ceiling of the lab with a large tube-like canister in its mechanical claw. The robotic arm locked the top of the canister onto the bottom of the serum tank and filled it up. The top of the canister automatically sealed itself after the arm unlatched it from the tank.
It was about to place the canister in the containment unit when the ship shook violently. Miraak stumbled to the floor, the mechanical arm swung wildly around in the turbulence. The canister broke free and careened in the air. Miraak struggled to his feet and lunged, catching it in time. He shielded it hitting the floor. The starship steadied, Miraak scrambled to his feet leaning on one of the shelves to catch his breath. The echoing footsteps of the guards in the corridors caught his attention; he also heard voices frantically calling out to one another. He hurried for the wall’s speaker, “Tuteen, come in!”
There was a brief moment of static before his associate’s voice spoke up in panic, “Miraak! They’re here! They’ve come for the experiment! I’ll meet you by the escape pods! Go now!”
Miraak whirled the cube when the ship shook slightly; panic swelling over him. He quickly gave the cube a few final turns and whirls to dispose the experiment in the tanks.
Miraak ran farther down the corridors where he saw the guards hurry towards where the Terasin was attacked, laser-guns at ready. The much larger starship, the Chilopadis, had latched onto the Terasin. The attackers were beginning to bridge onto the airlocks with the tunnels that protruded from the massive hull of their starship. The enemies latched onto the airlocks of the ship, the Greylum guards took position and aimed their laser-guns at each of the airlock’s doors. There was a moment of silence, then the loud creaking sound of metal.
The doors to the airlocks imploded down the corridors and the centipede-like intruders entered through the destroyed hatches. Moving like serpents with their twelve-sectioned bodies the Centhropods blasted the humanoid Greylums with their laser-rifles. The remaining Greylum guards fired back, Miraak continued to sprint down the corridors. Dodging the laser-blasts around him he rushed past the warzone towards the escape pods. Panting feverishly he hurried through the raging battle, turning sharply down the corridors, barely missing the body of a Greylum thrown at him. He yelled out Tuteen’s name several times, Tuteen, laser-gun at ready, ran towards him.
“Go! Go! Save the experiment!” Tuteen cried out.
“Come with me!” Miraak reached out to him but Tuteen pulled away.
“No, I’ll hold them off! You make sure they don’t get the experiment!”
In a split second, Miraak watched him run into battle, firing his laser-gun. Miraak reluctantly turned a corner and tried to head towards the escape pods. He heard an agonized scream that sounded all too familiar but strained to continue forward.
Panic and fear took over Miraak but he pressed on. He was halfway there when he heard a Centhropod shrill monstrously behind him. It pursued him. He ran faster, both of his hearts beating hard; sweat beading on his bald head. It was closing in. He bit his tongue, drew blood. He reached the escape pods and leaped through the doors, locking them behind him. Miraak could hear the Centhropod bang on the doors with its spiny limbs. Too his horror he heard it activate something that buzzed. It was the sound of a laser-knife.
Miraak secured the canister into one of the escape pods and set the coordinates for the nearest planet. He had seconds before his assailant could enter. There was no escape for him but he was not going to let them get the experiment. He shut the hatch, confirmed the destination, and launched the pod into space just as the Centhropod burst into the room.
The pod jetted out farther and farther away until it was out of sight and made a hyper-jump. After several minutes its jets burned out and it quickly came out of hyperspace. It continued to drift out through the darkness when a glassy blue planet came into view. It was close enough to the blue, green, and cloudy planet to be drawn directly towards it like a magnet. The pod burned bright red as it began to descend into the planet’s atmosphere, the planet known as Earth.
A Romantic Evening Gone Wrong
A shooting star streaked across the starry night sky above a woodland cliff, Latoya Lollier was only vaguely aware of it. She was a lean brunette who lay sprawled out on the hood of her boyfriend’s convertible while staring up at the stars lost in her own mind. Her thoughts and emotions battled as a vacant expression crossed her face; she closed her eyes tightly to no avail of easing her pain. What was she doing out here? She let her grip in her fiancés’ hand loosen. She felt him rub her hand affectionately, knowing that he is blissfully unaware of her inner torments. This made her slightly frown; she wished this dreaded feeling would go away.
Another shooting star, a bright and fast one, glided over the two before it disappeared into the night. Dashiell “Dash” Somerset, a burly young man, snuggled closer to her. He gave her a cheerful grin and said, “Make a wish, Lollipop."
He leaned in to kiss her neck but she scooted an inch away from him, letting him miss and nearly kiss the hood of his car.
"Dash, what are we doing out here?" Latoya asked.
"Oh, baby not now." Dash replied with a sigh.
"It was fun the first few times and all but really what’s the point?"
“OK what is it this time?”
Latoya turned to face him, examining his expression with a somber look.
“What do you care?”
“I care now tell me what’s wrong?”
“No.” Latoya turned away from him sharply.
"C’mon, you’re only upset Lollipop. It’ll all be better in the morning."
She scoffed half-heartedly, “You know I don’t go by that nickname anymore.”
"I thought you liked that nickname."
“Not anymore I don’t.”
“Well I thought it suited you.”
“Dash, knock it off.” Her tone raised a notch with those words.
“Oh c’mon I’m just teasing you babe.”
She shook her head disapprovingly. “I don’t like to be teased.”
“Oh where’s your sense of humor?”
“I’m with you right now aren’t I?”
“There it is.”
He snickered but Latoya remained solemn and stone-faced. She flinched a little and could feel herself becoming more unnerved. She did he best to keep calm but it was getting harder by the moment.
“All right what’s bothering you?” He asked.
She knew this was her chance to vent and get it all out of her system. But she hesitated for a moment to let her thoughts settle so she could find the right words. In the end however she decided to be honest and straight with him.
“You… It was always you Dash.”
She went to say more when she noticed him bite the bottom of his lip. Feeling uncertain, Latoya wondered if that was the right thing to say. She was fully aware of his short fuse and was careful not to ignite it.
“OK how about we talk about this later?” Dash’s polite tone failed from not sounding forced to her.
"Well what if I want to move on with my life, without you?"
She slid a little more to the other side of the hood trying not to take note of Dash’s twitching left eye and faltering smile. Not knowing where to look Latoya tried to keep her poker face on. She found it difficult though, Dash’s eyes narrowed and he looked ready to strike.
"Lollipop," he said, Latoya jumped at the sudden sharpness in his tone. “What you need is some time to clear your head. How 'bout I pick you up tomorrow after work and we can go–”
"Rekindle our relationship?" Latoya interrupted.
"Yes, over some beer and dinner." He sounded hopeful for a minute.
"C’mon Dash be serious."
"I am serious honey."
"Sure you are."
Latoya sighed and slid a little bit more off the hood while holding back fountains of tears that were building up.
“If you were serious you would stop being clingy to me and acting like a jerk to other people.”
“Fine I can do that.”
Latoya could tell that he was getting angry again by his increasingly twitching eye and the way he was clenching fists. But she wasn’t going to back down now; she had to do this no matter what. “It has to end here,” she began, “I don’t want to be with you anymore.”
“Latoya, please…” Dash muttered under his breath for the words, “If you want me to behave I’ll do that.”
“If you really meant that you would not say it you would do it.”
She inched farther away from him on high alert. His fists clenched hard enough for the veins to bulge and his eyebrows furrowing together in rage. She tried to ignore the second thoughts that crept into her mind and keep her composure. She stepped off the hood partway trying not to be fazed by Dash’s ominous glare.
“OK I won’t say it anymore I promise.” His voice said but his face told a different story.
Latoya unnervingly started to slide off the hood when Dash took her hand firmly. She yelped but maintained her composure.
"It’s not time to leave yet." Dash ordered.
"Maybe not for you," Latoya answered impassively, “But my bike needs gas and you need to give this to someone else.”
She pulled her hand away from his grip, leaving the engagement ring in the palm of his hand. “I’m sorry Dash,” she said. “But I can’t do this anymore; I have to move on with my life.”
Hurrying behind his car where her motorcycle awaited her she pulled back her long brown hair into a ponytail. Glancing back up at Dash who stared down at the ring with a look on his face that was either anger or anguish, she turned away and got on her motorcycle. Latoya figured now would be the time to leave before Dash’s rage caught up with him. She paused for a moment, feeling both sad yet happy. Should she have broken up with him? Could he change? She thought about these questions, slipped on her helmet, and started up her motorcycle. She looked back at Dash, contemplating on whether or not she should say something else but realizing that she had said enough already. Judging by the way he was staring down at the ring with a grimace she decided it would be best to leave so she took off down the dirt road in a hurry.
Latoya drove in silence, fully aware that Dash may have tossed the ring into his car and sped off in the opposite direction.