Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 31)

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 7.33.06 PM.png“What the actual fuck…” I said

Two people dressed in biohazard suits appeared from a side room. I tensed up as they approached.

They took Caleb Mark II gently by the elbows and led him away. Not-quite-Mercedes waited till they left before continuing down the rows of suspended clones.

“I’m … I’m just a clone?”

Not-quite-Mercedes stopped to look at me, “No,” he replied turning back around.

I took my chance and grabbed his revolver that was tucked into his belt.

Pointing the gun at the row upon row of glass tubes, “Tell me what the fuck is going on, or I pull the trigger. Do you know how many of these tubes will explode before the bullets velocity diminishes? Shall we find out?” I cocked the pistol.

“Caleb. Please don’t,” a voice said to my left.

A woman in a lab coat walked closer, her hands held in front of her, “If you pull that trigger it will be akin to killing your own children. After all, you are the original DNA donor. You are, the real Caleb.”

My hand wavered, “I am? How?”

“Yes. Lila. She gave us a few strands of your hair,” she said stepping closer. Her eyes was an amazing green, her hair was fiery red, pulled back in a high ponytail.

“Why me?” I asked.

“Because you were the perfect subject. American passport, so you could travel freely, but most importantly, you had an illness similar to the Senator’s wife. Stage three Glioma. Yes you are the original, but you were also just a guinea pig.”

“Huh…” was all I got out before her hand snaked out like lightning, hitting my wrist. My fingers went numb and the gun fell out of my hands where she grabbed it mid-air and handed it back to Not-quite-Mercedes behind her without even looking at him.

“Sorry about that, but I can’t have you killing our babies.”

Not-quite-Mercedes moved behind me this time, he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice.

“Our babies?” I ask moving forward as Not-quite-Mercedes gave me shove in the back.

“The clones need male and female DNA, just like real old fashioned procreation to work. I used mine,” she said.

“Well, what now?”

“Now we stick you in a PET scanner and see what those nanintes have been up to,” she said.

With very little choice in the matter I followed Doctor Red. She stopped in front of a pressure sealed door and entered a code into a keypad. The door slid open with a hiss and we entered what pretty much looked like a hospital emergency room.

There were more people in white coats and biohazard suits walking around checking clones in beds doing various eye and reflex tests.

Screens adorned the walls with rapidly flashing images, it looked like they were teaching the clones various rudimental skills.

Languages, geography and hand to hand combat.

Some of the workers stopped and stared as we walked past.

We entered a smaller room where the PET scan machine was held, a smaller glass room was adjacent to it, rows of high definition screens against the wall connected to computers that would analyze the scan.

“Do I need to take my clothes off?” I asked slightly concerned, it was cold in here.

“Don’t flatter yourself. Just lie down on the bed and don’t move,” Doctor Red said.

I obeyed and stretched out on the bed. It was surprisingly comfortable. I heard a buzz and the bed slid into the scanner.

The lights dimmed and music started playing, Enya? Haven’t heard Enya in ages … was she still alive?

The bed and the music relaxed me, I was shattered. The entire night had been one cluster fuck after another. It all seemed like a mad dream lying here. I nearly dozed off when the music stopped and the bed slid out of the scanner.

Doctor Red was waiting at the foot of the bed.

“Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news,” She said.

“Of course you do,” I replied.

“The good news is, your tumor is gone.”

My jaw hit the floor.

“The bad news is, there are still a few nanite stragglers in your body. The must have rebooted when you got electrocuted and didn’t respond to their commands.”

“Great, now what?” I said.

PART 32

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 30)

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.55.55 AM.pngI barely understood as we entered the sub-level floor. A flashlight switched on, revealing the corridor of metal in front of him. Not five meters ahead was a chamber filled with dense, milky fluids, in which a young woman was suspended, her throat covered in a sort of foundation, a feeding tube running in through her throat, nutrients absorbed through a sterile tracheostomy. I wondered who she was, and kept walking.

Only a few more steps and we passed into a larger room, a basement but very cold, and we could hear heavy panicked footsteps shuffling around above us, surely wondering how we made it out. Any minute, we thought, continuing to look at each chamber we passed; each filled with what looked like amniotic fluid, making them steam-punk wombs, born doppelgangers and given the machinery to mimic.

How long had this facility been here? How many clones had been born? I then realized, suddenly, how much one could do with the ability to print people. Each person you encounter, you could kill them and leave the body alive, bringing the other one to this — this chamber, injecting them with these machines, and using them to reprogram them, to repurpose them as labor or entertainment, robotics with blood, unfeeling eyes seeing nothing in mirrors in which the only hint of a real human being in the reflection is the uncanny lie of that unnatural alchemy. Only absolute power could have approved an operation such as this.

My panic was interrupted when just up ahead, just out of sight, I heard the sound of breaking glass, and large glass too, not a falling plate or cup, but something that buckled, like an orb, shattering in unnumbered pieces. And then stumbling, a horrified groan, and the glowing arm lit the scene before him on the floor. I rushed to help the person to their feet, looked down, and saw my own face looking back at me. I didn’t think before speaking, asking the naked man, covered in the viscous liquid, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”

The man looked at me just as strangely, “I’m Caleb, are you another one of the clones?”

I was standing in my birthplace, suddenly not quite sure of the memories I had and the life I thought I had lived as I stared at Not-Quite-Caleb.

PART 31

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 29)

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.55.35 AM.pngI grabbed the keys and looked into the darkness. The mysterious figure adjusted his position, then I saw his face.

It was Not-quite-Mercedes.

“You were … how did you get here?” I asked. The last time I saw him, a piece of glass had ripped open his throat.

“I work for the good side … we work for the good side,” said Not-quite-Mercedes.

“You work for the Senator.”

“We close deals,” he said. “We pay the price of freedom. We are raised for one purpose. Both sides have had cloning technology for sixty years. All the great patsies of modern times have been poorly constructed clones. Lee Harvey Oswald was the Russian prototype. Your girlfriend Lila was one.”

“A clone?”

“She blended into society pretty well but even she understood we are bred for one purpose,” he said, pausing to swallow and look into my eyes. “We are in a war that goes far deeper than the Russians.”

I shook my head. “Why?”

“Come back to New York and you’ll be told everything. Do you still have the nanotechnology injected in you?”

“Gone.”

“Shit.”

“What do we do now?”

“I have a mission to complete. We have to blow up the facility.”

“What?”

“We are sitting over a cloning facility. It’s time to end this illicit line. The shit batch is made here. Slimy Euro quality crap if you ask me. Your girlfriend and your saviors in Zurich were all made here. Lila was working the other side, but we turned her as a double agent when she hit the States. She agreed to transport the nanotechnology back to us. It took four operatives to seize and transport that technology from Moscow to Zurich.”

Why?

“She wanted out of the game. She only wanted to be left alone to live life with you. Instead, she injected it to you.”

“How do you know all this?

He tapped his ear. “Nothing we say goes unheard. A comm link is implanted. Welcome to the future.”

“What now?” I asked. There was a sudden sound of the Russians closing in.

Not-quite-Mercedes put his finger to his mouth and shushed me. He peered over the window and looked down. “Time to make a choice. Do you want to be American?”

“I am American.”

He raised his eyebrows and then turned to shoot out the window. The gunfight was over in eight seconds. He was born to kill.

“Come. It’s the sub-level access door is over here.” I followed him not knowing if he could be trusted. The last time I was with his clone, it didn’t end so well.

PART 30

 

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 28)

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The gunshots frightened me… I was frightened!

The realization that something which not so long ago would have been pedestrian in my nanite form made my heart race with anxiety. My fight or flight instincts were in overdrive and I realized I was hyperventilating. I tried to focus my thoughts and control my breathing, not only to calm myself but also to keep my position secret from the woman in red heels and whomever else was in here with us.

My mind raced in a thousand different directions as I slowly brought my breath under control and strained my ears for any sign of the other shooter in the building. The light was low and shadows draped every angle and surface making it hard to see anything.

I had heard the gunshots then the sounds of bodies hitting the ground. From where I was hiding I couldn’t make out anything but I did hear breathing. Actually it was more like gasping, the struggling last breaths of someone clinging to life. I dared to peek around the corner of the stack of pallets I hid behind and saw the woman splayed out on the ground, her chest slowly rising and falling in ragged breaths.

She was clearly very badly injured and near death. She stared straight up at the ceiling, her legs and arms splayed from an awkward fall after being hit. I couldn’t tell how many bullets she had taken but one is usually enough. Scanning the area for any sign of the other shooter I found nothing but glimpsed her handgun loosely grasped in her hand. I made the decision to act and scrambled towards her.

It wasn’t the most stealthy maneuver in the history of stealthy maneuvers but I was relatively quiet and nobody shot be from the shadows so I assumed it had worked. As I crawled up beside the woman her eyes darted to my face and a weak smile crossed her lips. A small trickle of blood meandered out of the corner of her mouth dripping to the oil stained concrete floor beneath her.

I grabbed the handgun and inspected it quickly making sure there were at least a few rounds in the clip. I didn’t know much about guns but it sure felt good to be armed while preparing to fight for my life.

“Do yourself a favor…” The woman whispered to me, clearly in a great deal of pain. “Use it on yourself. It will… hurt less than…”

She let out a last gasp and her body went limp, all tension and life fading away before my eyes. How many people had I seen die since this all began!

A sound! A clicking, shoes on concrete. I had started to think that I might have been alone after all but no such luck. There was nothing I could do for the woman now so I hastily shuffled to the cover of another stack of pallets a few feet away. The layout of the place made sound travel strangely and the echoes of the footfalls bounced around confusingly. I needed to find somewhere to hide until I could figure out what to do next.

As I scanned the huge space I caught sight of a crane across the warehouse floor extending like a skeletal arm from its base. It must have been used to load transports at one point but now looked as derelict and decrepit as the rest of the building around it. Seeing nowhere else that offered the same degree of cover I decided to make for it.

Taking a deep breath I started along the line of pallets that took me in the most direct route towards the crane. Crouching low I stopped periodically to scan my surroundings and listen for the footfalls of the other or others in the warehouse with me. I occasionally heard a footfall but never too close to my position. Soon I was a mere ten feet away from the safety of the cranes cab, with only a few feet of open space between me and the steps leading into it.

Taking one last look to make sure I was clear I ran across the open space and dove behind the crane’s base as a figure emerged from behind a stack of pallets. I froze in place with my back to the wall, holding the gun I had taken from the woman close to my chest. No shots rang out and after a few moments the footsteps continued on to the pallets beyond the crane.

I scrambled up the steps as quietly as I could and slipped into the cab gently pulling the door closed behind me. I stayed there for what felt like an eternity before peeking over the rim of the cabs window ledge. I had a pretty good view of the shadowy space and the stacks of pallets that lined the place like the walls of a maze. I squinted and strained to spot the one that hunted me and finally saw a dark garbed figure lurking through the darkness with a sub machine gun at the ready.

I knew that my hiding spot would only work for so long to conceal me and that I needed to decide my best move. Before I could collect my thoughts, however, I saw from across the warehouse three more figures enter the building dressed and armed much the same as the man who hunted me this far.

I felt the panic start to return. How could one man with a half empty handgun possibly take on four heavily armed professional murderers in an enclosed space like this?

Then I noticed that the key was still in the ignition of the crane.

PART 29

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 27)

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“I hope you enjoy travelling.” Those were the last words I heard before everything went black. When I woke again, I struggled to open my eyes but my vision was obscured. There was something over my head, a hood that felt heavier than necessary. I could tell that I was in a moving vehicle, but I couldn’t know where I was going. The sound and feel of the asphalt underneath the vehicle’s tires was oddly comforting, but that feeling of comfort wouldn’t last. Trying to speak felt impossible. My throat was dry and I half-croaked instead, “Where am I?”

A cold, calculating laugh was the answer I received. “Caleb, Caleb, Caleb…” It was a woman’s voice, rough from years of smoking. “Why would I tell you where you are? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the blindfold? The question you should be asking is, ‘How long will they let me live?'” There was a darkness and sick pleasure that she took from her last question that made a bitter, cold feeling travel up my spine. She laughed at my fear. Out of the very corner of the hood I was wearing, I could see blood red stiletto heels with sharp metal points. Shoes that could kill.

My feet and hands were bound. I tried to struggle, but the zip ties were too tight. Where was I going to go anyway? The woman’s laughter stopped long enough to let my mind clear. It suddenly hit me, “Where’s Juli–” Before the words fully formed, my body slammed against the back of the driver’s seat. The tires squealed and I could smell acrid fumes and smoke. The car rolled like we were in the spin cycle of my Grandma’s old dryer. My hood came loose and I couldn’t see the woman in heels anymore. The driver’s face was smashed in; blood was everywhere.

Crawling out of the car, the ties that held my feet got caught on the mangled metal of the car. Shit. This is the only chance I’ve got to escape. But someone was fast on my trail. Click. Click. Click. It had to be the woman in heels. The adrenaline pumping through my veins helped me get my feet free. Looking about frantically for an escape path, there were plenty of options but what would work? There was enough wreckage that maybe I could hide for long enough to get my hands free but there was no time. I ducked into a warehouse building.

A dark and sinister laugh followed me into the warehouse. Click. Click. Click. The sounds of her stilettos on the concrete would haunt me for the rest of my life, however long I might have left. There were dozens of pallets and crates lining the walls and forming a maze. Peering around a crate, I caught a glimpse of her heels

“Caleb, dear…You didn’t think you could get rid of me that easy now, did you?” The sound of her gun being cocked made me stop in my tracks. Closing my eyes tightly, I braced myself. This is it. It’s all over now.

Guns fired. Bodies fell, but they weren’t mine.

PART 28

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 26)

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I gathered my thoughts and exited with Julia, who communicated with me through her thoughts.  The bio-nanites are melting your synapses. You must not stay in this unnatural state too long. If you do, no scientist in the world can bring you back. The hatch protected the location of some secret place I couldn’t fathom. We journeyed down another corridor. We moved silently and swiftly to a new door with a triple set of bolts. We unlatched the lever, opened the door, and a man in a white coat with thick black glasses awaited us.

He held some piece of equipment with a nozzle pointed at us and a hose hooked up to a large machine bolted to the floor. A couple examination beds were behind him.

Before we could react, he blasted electricity at us. I did everything I could to protect her and with everything I had I cloaked her in a bio-nanite shield. I blacked out and didn’t know if I was dead or alive or in a form of bio-nanite hell.

I didn’t understand until I awoke.

The apartment was fortified for a reason. It protected a secret lab and we had walked into a trap.

When I awoke again I sat in a new facility dressed in a grey shirt and grey sweatpants. It could have been a basement or prison or torture room. The room was enclosed with wet and grungy concrete walls. Liquid pooled on the floor where water dripped from the ceiling It smelled like burned metal. There was a toilet in the corner with a ripped off seat. Not-Exactly-Lila aka Julie was nowhere to be seen.

It wasn’t until the scientist in the white coat entered the room that I understood.

“Caleb Gregory, very nice to meet you. I’m Sergei Valenkov. You’ve had a rough few days.” He had a thick Russian accent.

“Where am I?”

“In safe hands.”

“You shot me.”

“Oh no, I had to keep you alive,” said Sergei. “I saved you.”

“Where is she?”

“The girl? In a coma. She hasn’t woken in three days.”

I attempted to turn into my smoke form but couldn’t summon anything. Sergei turned his head and shot me a confusing look. I squinted and punched my arm in the air but it didn’t change shape and extend to grab his throat. “What did you do to me?”

“I corrected mistakes.”

“You stole it!”

“We are reacquiring it,” said Sergei. “Who do you think invented it? American ethics surely doesn’t allow for such experiments.”

“It’s a weapon.”

“It has the potential to be a lot of things to a lot of people. You understand this, no?”

“You don’t understand, I have cancer.”

“This isn’t our problem.”

“The Senator wants it.”

“Senator Porter Goldsmith,” said Sergei. “Yes. He has committed a considerable amount of influence and resources to get it. But believe me, the body count is much higher on his side.”

“I saw something … I saw space time ripping apart. I saw other beings from other dimensions.”

“You saw it? Or the bio-nanites had you see it? Did the bio-nanites transfer you the knowledge from their first host? It turned Kersei Palikoff’s mind into a vegetable state. She is in a mental hospital in Moscow. It was really sad to see such a brilliant mind evaporate as if she had a lobotomy. Her secret to inventing the bio-nanites rests inside her dilapidated mind.”

“When will you kill me?”

Sergei laughed. “My employers won’t let me kill you despite my advice. They will be using you as bait Mr.Gregory. While the nanotechnology is being shipped to an undisclosed location for transfer, we will use you as a beacon to draw our enemies off our scent. I hope you enjoy traveling.”

PART 27

Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 25)

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 11.33.23 AM.pngTaken by unknown creatures here we stood. Never doubting my old teachers I knew, in front of aliens we stood.  Captured by my will it was strangest feeling ever. You cannot move or speak. Your power over your will was broken. It was like a broken link. You know its there but you cannot get it online.  At one point we thought that the worst was behind us but here we were standing in the most absurd moment of all. We could hear the scanners scanning but what?  Who else was in that dark room? Where were are?

Why is everything so obsolete?  

The picture became clear. We have been transferred to another place possibly another reality where time and matter are much more different and our known physical laws do not apply much. At the time realizing this I felt a strange device in my neck that allowed me to breath whatever substance I was breathing. It surely was not air as we know it. 

So what just happened to me? It’s strange to explain how I felt but I’m sure that I’m far away from anything known by humans. It was clear that I am somewhere I didn’t belong. I could feel it in my bones. 

What exactly those creatures were doing right now and for what I was needed there were the questions troubling my mind but none of them mattered much as I started to identify something new in my mind something that I have never thought I have. I saw my conscience and I dived deep into it. I knew all that is and at the same time I did not know anything.  

All answers were in front of me.  

Everything seemed so clear and simple.  There was only calmness and peace. All that is and will be it was part of me and I was part of it. 

This state overtook my whole being. I was no longer bound to my physical body. With a matter of milliseconds I was where I wanted to be. Believe me this way the world seemed such a small place to live in.

I wandered. 

A Dream? 

Taken prisoner by your own dreams? Is that possible?

I woke up still in that hatch something happened. My head hurts like hell.

Darkness.

I now know what to do. I had to get out of there. Something was not right and I was lucky to still be alive.

That much is for sure.

PART 26