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Running Scared

This Page written by: Man Machine

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Enter the Predator

My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.

The glow of the monitor was the same colour as Byron Joseph's eyes: the palest blue. Security station N-557 was bristling with monitors, row after row after row; in the Tyrell Pyramid, the walls had eyes and ears. Byron Joseph was only interested in one of them, though, the one over-looking his own office.

He watched the screen intensely, seated in a comfortable office chair, the black throne of the chief of security on floor 101. Joseph was alone in the spacious control room, though - he had decided that the night officer needed a late meal in the cantina, and he had complied, of course. Except for the metallic murmur on the internal channels, the control room was silent.

Joseph's eyes wandered over the office on the screen. It bathed in shadows: the voice-commanded dimmer was set low. The brightly coloured, animoid fish moved slowly in their closed universe, a warm and silent paradise. The aquarium wall sent green reflexes all over the office, dancing like evil spirits over the Corporate Empire furniture, a futuristic blend of Napoleonic and Mayan aesthetics.

The evil spirits made the stuffed eagle with the impressive wingspan, a gift from Van Effen Industries, almost look alive where it sat on its metal bar under the ceiling. They made the oak bonsai, another gift from Miller-Matsudaira Corporation, dance on his desk, which was vast as a football arena and heavy as an interstellar freighter.

Joseph studied the plasma screens on the walls thoroughly. They didn't seem to display any critical information: DNA structures for some Nexus-6 model. Probably his recent, official project: space probe models modified to sustain minor solar radiation.

No, the treasure, the electronic gold, was to be found in Joseph's quantum computer, a closed unit surrounded by dense security. Unfortunately, Mironova was seated in front of Joseph's powerful esper, a state-of-the-art Dai-Shugenja v. 4.0. Unfortunately, Mironova excelled in computers. Unfortunately, he would find the carefully hidden files on 'Autumn Mist'. It was to be expected, but that was indeed a poor comfort.

Nervously, Joseph drummed a crude tune on the control panel with his slender fingers.

Grimes, where the fuck are you?!

The Devil heard his prayers: Mironova froze in the middle of a verbal command and looked at the closed door. He had heard something outside in the corridor. There was a flash of fear in his dark eyes, and for good reasons: he was about to die.

A moment of hesitation, then he quickly killed the esper and searched with his eyes for a place to hide. In panic, he dived in under the desk. A fraction of a second later, the door opened with a sigh. A bulky, tall silhouette filled the doorway.

That's about fucking time, Grimes.

Grimes took a wary step into the office. It looked like his black, faux-leather uniform was alive, like it was a second skin. He scanned the dim room with his callous eyes, while grabbing a jointed rubber truncheon in his belt. Slowly, he closed the door behind him: fireproof, bulletproof and, most importantly, soundproof.

Grimes started to prowl round the office, his back slightly bent and his eyes completely focused. The black truncheon dangled in his hand like a stiff, dead snake. There was something predatory about him, something not quite human. Something primitive, perverted, distorted, pre-historic.

You're an animal, Joseph thought coldly. As soon as this whole business is over, I'll let someone shoot you like a mad dog.

He approached Joseph's desk slowly, just as if he could catch Mironova's scent. The muscles in his scarred hand hardened as he tightened the grip around the truncheon handle.

I'm sorry, Glenn. It's time to go. You're simply too clever.

Mironova rolled out from his hiding place, coming to his feet in an instant, and quickly threw the bonsai -

Not the bonsai, you stupid fuck!

Grimes' arm flashed, the Japanese pot shattered against a plasma screen.

Aw, shit!

Mironova halfway to the door, Grimes moving quickly like a reptile. The jointed truncheon landed behind Mironova's right ear, a loud crack - he went down like a cut off marionette.

Ouch! Gotta hurt!

Mironova didn't move, although the reflections from the aquarium wall danced over his body and rendered it an illusion of movement. Grimes conjured a string of barbed wire -

Whatta f...?

- and put it around Mironova's neck. He pulled and his victim came alive with choked shrieks of pain and horror on his lips, hands spasmodically reaching for the throat. Grimes held him down with his knee, growling like an animal.


"Audio off!" Joseph commanded the monitor system, barely able to control his voice: he couldn't stand those unhuman sounds. Then he saw it: Grimes' obscene, froglike tongue appeared for a fraction of a second, licking his scarred lips in delight. Joseph felt a taste of metal in his mouth, like sucking on an old copper coin - the taste of fear.

he's a monster he's a monster he's a monster

Mercifully, Mironova's struggle soon ended. That bloody string of barbed wire around Mironova's neck would always haunt Joseph's dreams; he knew it instinctively.

A gun appeared in Grimes' bloodstained hand: a dull, grey, bulky monster. Without any ceremony, he put the weapon to Mironova's neck and pulled the trigger. The gun jerked like a disobedient dog in Grimes' hand and Joseph closed his eyes.


When he opened them again after a lesser eternity, he looked at Grimes' flat face, filling the whole screen. His unfeeling shark eyes stared straight into the camera, straight at Joseph.

shit shit shit

"Visual off!" he commanded the monitor system, his voice cracking mid-sentence. The screen went black. Joseph gazed at his own reflection: he had serious problems recognising his own face.

"End recording." Binary murmur. He hesitated. "Erase recording." More binary murmur and the electronic witness of the vicious murder died in an electric flash.

I think I need a Moodie, Joseph thought. Then he threw up his expensive dinner on his expensive shoes.



Option 1 - Byron Joseph

Option 2 - Grimy Dreams

Option 3 - Something else

Pages in white continue the story. Pages in yellow are yet to be written. Note that the unwritten options are just suggestions for how the story might continue - you can add something completely different if you like.

Each page in the story ends in a five letter code. If you want to return to this page in the future, make a note of the page code and you will then be able to change your URL to take you straight back to that page.

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Date: 2002-10-22 13:05