From the Story Arc: The Essence of Life

Previous Story in the Arc: Playback: Malfunction by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Next Story in the Arc: Turn Your Head and Cough by Krasnaya Zvezda (Sunday, March 28, 2010)

(posted Sunday, March 21, 2010)

Bruised and worn-out, Murdock reached out to accept the offered hand with a wry smile and a look of gratitude - which quickly turned into one of alarm.

Seeing the warning, he began to move, to spin away from Murdock but it was too late, far too late.

There was a dull whump of a sound and then something caressed his back and then everything else faded out as pain became the sum of his existence. Overwhelmed by the desire to fight back, to reach out for help, to run, to scream, to do anything to stop the hurt, he welcomed the darkness as it slowly covered him, soothing away all the pain and hurt and leaving only blessed peace in its wake.


He stirred fitfully as he began to awake; the vivid memories of dreams holding onto him, attempting to hold him close and unwilling to let him go. People he'd never met talked to him like they known each other for years; he stood in underground cities, fighting an ancient order of mages and flew in a flame coloured sky, battling against minions of an ancient God. He was hurt, he was healed and he felt relief at being reunited with a family he'd never met but who meant more to him than he could ever say.

Gradually, the awareness of a bright light intruded enough for him to become aware of the sound of urgent, panicked voices, and he forced himself to move.

"..back on! Turn it on!" a voice shouted.

"I can't! It's not engaging!" another responded. It sounded like they were in trouble.

He raised a hand up and held it before his eyes, attempted to reduce the glare from the lights and, as he did so, found he was standing in a wardrobe. Shaking his head - which felt worse than when he'd drunk the swill those Cossack farmers called vodka - and attempting to work out what the hell was going on, he staggered forward.

"Please to not be quite so much shoutink, comrades. What is beink problem?" Alex asked, squinting in the light and looking around the room. He was stood in a room filled with lots of computers and other equipment, wires were trailing everywhere but mostly from the - well, it looked like cross between a wardrobe and casket that had been designed by a mad scientist - he'd just exited.

"oh God, it's awake!" abject terror filled the voice.

Alex turned towards the voice and saw two men in labcoats stood bent over a workstation and they were frozen, staring at him with fear in their eyes.

Alex looked at them, awaiting a response as his eyes fully adjusted to the light. Seconds passed and as he opened his mouth again, the younger of the men screamed and ran towards the door. The older man ran the other way towards a wall of monitors.

Right, should have known - it seems I am the problem. Alex thought, pushing aside the headache and pain from the lights. Taking another step forward he looked down at his left hand and clenched it into a fist, Now how did this work again... Ah yes.

The younger scientist was struggling to open the door, the lack of composure he showed made him not an immediate threat. The older man was a different matter and when he pulled something off his desk, Alex was ready.

The scientist whirled around, a short-lived cry of triumph was on his lips as a bolt of black energy impacted on his chest hurling him backwards and shattering half the monitors on the wall.

The younger man looked towards the body of his colleague, which was lying amid the ruin of a workbench, sparks from the broken monitors arcing overhead, then turned to face Alex, his face a mask of terror.

"Oops." said Alex, deadpan, and began walking towards the man. "Now, comrade, you are to have some explainink to do..."

The only response Mr Fullerton could manage was a whimper of fear as his legs lost their strength and he slid to the floor.