A peaceful morning in the air, high above the petty worries and troubles of the ground below. Clouds streamed by like long strands of gaseous sugar, beautiful and blinding like the sun. A small plane soared through this paradise, cutting through the cumulus and nimbus, stratus and cirrus alike. A small line of smoke appeared rather suddenly off its port wing and another off its starboard. A beautiful blossom of flame grew instantly on a wing, and for a split second decorated the plane with a horrible corsage. The moment ended and the wing hung at an impossible angle, and the plane spewed smoke as it descended into the clouds.
If a human had flown over the scene of the accident at that moment, they would have seen the jungle roiling like an impossible animal, teeming with life in a way impossible to fathom. Every inch of ground covered by tiny plants and toiling animals, almost seeming, as whole, to breathe, everything moving to the massive, all-consuming heartbeat of the land.
The miraculous flying human, being as morbidly curious as every other person, would naturally leave off watching this miraculous landscape to see the scene of the accident. He would fly over the gaping scar, the open wound bleeding leaves and birds until he was over the pit in the flesh of the Earth, where the small plane lay among its own wreckage, wings awry, and insufficient knife broken in an attempt to stab the heart, instead of only scraping the skin. A plume of smoke rises from this wreckage like a dissolving snake trailing in the wind.
A small figure struggled surprisingly out of the body of the broken bird, dressed simply and neatly in clothes too nondescript to describe. He appeared to be slightly ragged but nowhere near as bad as would be expected by our flying human. He was middle-aged, in shape but not his best. He looked like someone who really enjoyed high school. He fled the smoking cockpit, jogging at a decent pace, but not fast enough since the blast from the plane knocked him on his face. A cloud of birds rose into the air, uttering harsh, uncompassionate cries to the lone figure that turns around slowly with a look of pure despair on his face. The plane smolders.
Muttering to himself, the man tallies his resources.
“Let’s see… no food no water no first aid no light no weapons but hey!” He looks at the plane. “At least I’ve got a fire!” He laughs hollowly.
He stands alone amid the destruction, a perfect product of modern society without his precious technology or the innovation he was born with to help him. A paper pusher in a world where the paper still reaches for the sky and anchors to the ground. Helpless, alone, frightened he stands… and something clicks. Something primal, something red, something dripping, something sticky, something moist, something absolutely delicious…
Running, jumping, hurtling, tackling, chewing, tearing, shredding, eating, oh the moist warm lovely guts of the wild the viscera dripping off his chin the squirming squealing creature dead under his jaw and claws and full, full maw…
He awoke amid a vision of hell. A small grass hut, the walls strewn haphazardly with mangled intestines and stomach and kidneys and so much blood that his stomach churned just looking at it. In fact, it kept churning like a cement mixer, churning and churning and churnin until he spewed his meal with such force that it hit the wall four feet away, like Jackson Pollock at his most disgusting. His food… how could he have eaten? There were no rations at the place, no source of precious substinence he could remember obtaining… and where did this hut come from? His head spun from the effort of understanding what was happening, and he forces his again-churning stomach to quiet down. He stepped outside
into a nightmare. The clearing his hut sat in was occupied by several other huts, which were splintered and collapsed, but still easily recognizable. The inhabitants, however, were so mutilated and torn that he had to look closely to see if they were truly human at all. Many of them weren’t. Chests were torn open, visceral cavities were emptied, limbs were torn asunder and twisted into shapes and postions that could have been imagined and carried out by no human mind. Every face, black as the darkest night in this darkest jungle of a dark, dark world, from the tiniest baby to the oldest sage, was twisted into a look of such horror that it hurt the eyes and the mind merely to see it. The white man, the alien, the odd man out found himself alone amid this carnage and destruction. His head spun, his stomach churned—he wished it’d stop doing that—and tried to evacuate its own emptiness and he was hungry again. So very, very hungry…
Running running running see the fleeing man who has such respect for the power bringing him down knocking him down tearing out his throat and listening to his gurgled screams screams screams…
He awoke again and immediately felt a sense of unavoidable deja-vu. He was in a hut, all the walls covered in blood, with corpses dismembered and twisted into crudely artistic shapes hung from crude hooks. He felt sick, and tried to remember why this all felt so oddly, grotesquely familiar. The last thing he could remember was standing outside the burning plane. From then on—blank. Strangely, when he tried to remember, everything went red…
Closing his eyes tight, he made his way out of the village, knowing instinctively that he did not want to see what surrounded him. He put his hand on something, though, something hard and soft with a hole in it, filled with something squishy and moist, and lined with sharp little rocks. His eyes snapped open involuntarily. He was looking straight into the glazed vision of a severed head, stringy bits hanging down from the stump and mouth hanging wide in stark, unadulterated terror. He screamed, a crude impersonation of what his hand was now covered in. His eyes snapped shut again resolutely, his lip tremoring slightly as he sprinted, hands in front of him, out of the village. He didn’t open his eyes, even when he tripped and fell face first into a pile of what he was sure were intestines. He gagged and kept running until he ran into a tree. He rubbed the gore out of his eyes and struggled forward. At this point his sense of time went totally apeshit. The days melted together like chocolate, he ate fruit and raw meat, he washed in cold rivers, he even had a sense once of a fight with a big cat, but he wasn’t totally sure. One night, abruptly, something felt wrong. With the light. He scanned the sky. One slice of the heavens glowed—glowed! He was saved, for it wasn’t the light of a fire, but the harsh, artificial light of civilization. When had he last eaten, he couldn’t remember, but he pressed on anyways. An hour or say later, he suddenly felt very, very hungry…
Jumping leaping slashing gnashing he ranranran through the narrow streets bullets couldn’t touch him he was invincible invincible reality is a dream and he is the dream and he ate and ate and ate until the world was dissolved and he slept and dreamed.
He woke up in the apartment, in a bed, under sheets and covers. He stretched luxuriously, and touched a warm body lying next to him. He kept his eyes closed, just in case this was a dream. He ran his hands along the body which was very, very female, and warm to the touch. Incapable of helping himself, he opened one eye but a crack and started screaming. The body was female but the face—o, God, the face—the face was completely missing. Form and feature were gone, splintered at the edges, leaving nothing, nothing left but the back of the brain case and scraps of the torn brain.
He found himself vomiting—déjà vu!—and, with a morbid fascination every human has with their own refuse, he perused his mess. It was as red as blood and scattered with chunks of, as he realized with growing horror, were half-digested grey matter. Another persons memories, intellect, love and hate, reduced to calories and proteins and shit in his rotten stomach. Burned, dissolved, and thrown out like it was an apple instead of someone’s entire existence. He found himself sobbing, crying like a child as he knelt over his own reeking refuse and gasped as the smell of rotten blood and bile made his stomach rumble in desire…
NO! Not this time. He would not give in. He ran to the small refrigerator and opened it. Empty. He groaned aloud and felt himself grow yet hungrier. He… would… not… give… in…! He controlled himself, scanned the room with a keen eye and desperate mind, and settled his eyes on the corpse—was he so desperate? Ready to sacrifice his very soul for his ragged humanity? His body answered before he did, as he rushed to the body and tore chunks out of her thoughs, her calves, repeating the horrid mantra to himself in a drone, I am human, I am human, I am human…
The chopper settled slowly into the bloody courtyard of the hotel. Blood rippled away from it, driven by the wind, stricken bodies tumbled away. Men with guns jumped out and set up a rough perimeter around the bird. Flamethrowers sterilized the area in beautiful bursts of red, and a man stepped out of the ‘copter. He was grizzled, dark-skinned, grim, cliché. He looked like someone who’d seen far too many bad American movies. He turned towards the nearest soldier and said in a dark, grim, grizzled, badly accented, and very fake voice,
“The target is occupying the premises?”
The soldier nodded curtly. “Yes, sir, he’s inside the building now. We’re not sure what he’s doing, though.”
The grim man looked up at the windows and narrowed his eyes. A flicker of movement—a blurred, wild face in one of the blood-smeared windows. It was gone in a heartbeat, but too slowly to avoid detection.
“There! In that room, there!—go, now, before he gets away!” said the grim man.
A group of soldiers carrying black, evil-looking guns, trotted into the building. Minutes passed. Gunfire. A window opened and a harsh voice shouted something utterly incomprehensible. A torso landed with a sticky “plop,” the face more startled than anything, eyes bulging, mouth open mid-shout. The legs followed seconds later, followed by a rain of shredded flesh and blood and viscera. The man succeeded in looking even grimmer.
“Set up a net,” he said, pointing his solders in the right positions. “Open fire when you see that bastard.” He lit a cigarette and stepped back.
The soldiers arranged themselves in the prescribed arc and waited. Guns were trained and triggers were pressured and nerves tensed.
A window opened and it was instantly blast into shards and chip of metal and rock and glass. A frightened voice yelled out, “Oh, God, please, just give me some food!” He was answered with lead and fire and nothing else was said.
An hour passed. The guns remained trained, but nerves calmed and eyes closed for seconds at a time. The day grew muggy, and shifts were set up. Grumbling. Dissention. Alternate plans discussed by those without the power to implement them. Bright, intelligent ideas like “Why don’t we just nuke the fucker?” Eventually, unfortunately, the shifts were down to three men with guns on the ground nearby and one watching the door. A red blur flew from the building to the tree nearby.
The three men on shift had joined the army together in order to pay for college. One was engaged, one was married, one was gay, but his friends didn’t know it. He had thought about coming out, but decided it would interfere with his friendships. Now he decided to tell them.
“Guys, I’ve got something to tell you.” They paused. “For year now—” A spray of blood burst from his neck. His eyes snapped wide open in surprise. He gagged and grabbed his throat, or at least where it should have been. Where it actually happened to be was in the claw-like hand of the thing about five feet away.
It stood about six foot, naked as a lark, with bright blue eyes that looked into a soul and devoured essence. His skin seemed to be dyed red from the layers and layers of blood that had stained and dried on him. His hand dripped and clenched the larynx of the now-dead soldier. He crouched on the ground, grinning like a mad demon. He took a long, luxurious bite out of the ragged meat in his hand, still grinning. The horrible thing wasn’t that he looked inhuman, or like a perversion of humanity, but that he seemed a filtered humanity, humanity’s purest form. The soldier gawked in horror, and one thought to raise his gun, but too late, too late. The red man plunged his fingers into the faces, eyes of the soldiers, up the last knuckle. They screamed, and he tore his fingers out, dripping blood and eye fluid, and jumped high into the air. One fired randomly, tearing the other into shreds with the powerful bullets. The red man dropped behind him and breathed into his ear. The soldier moaned, and the red man plunged his hand into the guts of the man, no, boy, who was at his mercy. He held the boy’s spine and pulled it out through his gut. The soldier shuddered, fell, died.
By now the other soldiers were beginning to organize and fire volleys, but the redman ran and jumped and dodged and twisted and he couldn’t be hit and he yelled and shrieked and laughed as he tore apart the men and he ate. Men fell like chaff with fists through their chests and their guts spilled and their heads smashed and their weak, weak bodies penetrated by the bullets fired by their best, best friends. Finally the redman stood alone, gorged and full, among his brotherhood of bloody corpses and howled, howled, howled.
Clap. Clap. Clap. The redman whirled around and shrieked. The grim man stood alone, with nothing but a handgun and his grim, grim eyes. The redman narrowed his eyes and ran at grimman, his throat, his gun, his lifeblood. Suddenly, redman stopped and screamed. Screamed like his soul had died and shriveled yet his body lived on. Screamed like his world had ended. Screamed like all his hopes and fears and desires had proven meaningless, temporary, unfortunate blemishes on the perfect fabric of the universe. Screamed as if realizing he could live, die, love, hate, fuck, loathe, rescue or destroy, and it would never, never, never matter in an ultimately uncaring existence. The grimman smiled as if the scream was not the destruction of a man’s tortured soul but a beloved childhood nursery rhyme. He spake, “The experiment has proven successful, sir, and you have shown that the drug tested on you can turn a normal human being into a bloodthirsty killer. Controlled, of course, only by this.” He raised a small hand speaker playing a deadly noise at an incredibly high frequency.
“Thanks to your random and, I’m afraid, unwilling support, I am now in a perfect position to make my bid for power. Beforehand, however,” he drew his gun, “I’m afraid we need to tie up some loose ends.”
He aimed at the struggling redman’s head, his screaming, shrieking head, and fired. For a split second the gunshot blocked the debilitating noise, just long enough for redman to slam his hand through grimman’s sternum and crush his merciless heart. The bullet tore through redman’s skull and scattered gray matter and boneshard to cover the ground behind him. As they died, they looked eachother in the face, their eyes and expressions shouting “Why me? Why me? How can I end here, this is not my destiny!” as they toppled over together, two more corpses in a dead and bloodstained city on a dying, gasping world.