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Monday, 31 August 2015

Where it all started - Episode 11

Episode 11 from The Eden Paradox - where we discover Blake's dark secret...



Kurana Bay

Ten years earlier…

Zack heard the shouting voices, including his own, screaming at Blake.

"Pull the trigger; take him out for Christ’s sake!" Zack saw the ghoster leaping from man to man, ripping out their throats like they were paper soldiers on a daisy chain. Only Blake had a clear shot. But he wouldn’t take it. The screeching of the ghoster was mind-numbing, but Zack fought against it. Ted and Abe fell as the ghoster smashed their skulls together, ignoring the two commando knives they had both buried half-way into its thorax. 

            "Blake! Shoot! For fuck’s sake shoot!" Zack knew why he didn’t. Sons of bitches! He limped, blood pissing from a gaping wound in his left leg, his left arm already broken, a machete in his right hand. Shots rang out but only Blake had the Slow Gun, the ghoster killer that embedded a delayed pulse charge inside the body, exploding it from the inside. Archie and Kalim were grappling with it but it was triple jointed and soon it had them, snapping both their necks with a dual, sickening crunch. Only three of them remained. Charlie pinned himself against the wall, terrified.

            "Charlie, high and low, you high!" Charlie glared, knowing it meant his death, but he bit his lip and screamed like a madman, flinging himself high in the air, two razor sharp machetes raised to strike it, while a fraction of a second later, Zack dropped onto his back, pushed off from the wall with his good leg, and slid in the blood-soaked floor. The ghoster caught both Charlie’s wrists and was about to bite through his jugular when beneath him Zack slashed six inches through the ghoster’s groin. It couldn’t raise a foot to crush Zack’s skull because Charlie’s weight was still on him. It spun Charlie’s left wrist, breaking it, and drove one of the machetes through Charlie’s neck, decapitating him. Blood sprayed the walls. Zack chopped the left leg of the ghoster clean off at the calf. It somehow kept its balance, threw Charlie’s slack body away, and hopped to face Zack, Charlie’s machete in its claw. Zack gazed into those hooded eyes he had once known so well. There was a dull popping sound and a flash of light. The ghoster looked down at the hole in its stomach, then it exploded, flinging parcels of flesh and clay-coloured blood over the entire room. Blake had fired the weapon.

            Zack crawled over towards Blake, past the open-mouthed head of the ghoster, finally silent. Blake sagged against a wall, bleeding from a chest wound caused in the first seconds when they’d encountered the ghoster, only a minute ago, after having destroyed most of the ghoster complex and set free a dozen captives, and killed four more ghosters already transformed but not activated. Once transformed, there was no way back.

Zack leaned against the wall too, next to Blake, surveying the carnage. They both looked inevitably towards the ghoster’s head: the trace of curly black hair still apparent if you knew where to look; a scar on the cheek from a farming accident two years ago; the mottled Caucasian skin. Zack noticed Blake’s right hand trembling. It had never done so before, not in nearly three years of battle. But Zack knew why it did now. It was the hand that had pulled the trigger.

They’d come to Kurana Bay, deep behind enemy lines, because they’d captured and interrogated a ghoster scientist to find out the location of the processing centre. They’d heard a rumour they were using POWs as ghosters. After the questioning, they were going to send the man back to base for further interrogation. The scientist had known he would be tortured by Chorazin there, so he’d taunted Blake with terrible information, and it had worked. Blake had slit the man’s throat from ear to ear and watched him bleed to death, convulsing for a full minute. It seemed too lenient now, as Zack gazed at the head of the boy he’d been godfather to.

Zack studied Blake’s ashen face, as he stared at the ghoster’s – the boy’s – head. And when he spoke, it was not the voice of his captain Zack heard, but of a man distraught, chopped up inside, who would never be whole again. He turned to Zack, tears streaming down his face, mixing with the bloodstains of his offspring.

            "They took my son, Zack! They took Robert and they stole his soul!"     

            There was nothing Zack could say. He gathered up the dog tags of their dead platoon members, got the released captives – young boys Robert’s age – and Blake, outside, then torched everything. A heli-jet picked them up minutes before the enemy’s reinforcements arrived. They had to leave the burning bodies of their men behind, to give room for the half-drugged captives they’d saved. Zack gave Blake a heavy dose trimorph shot. It seemed the best thing to do. Robert was listed as Missing in Action. No one ever found out he’d been at Kurana Bay. Blake and Zack made sure no one ever would.

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