Photos of the Labyrinth

ADDENDUM 6: PSYCOCHIP OF ANDY RELSHEN

the following data was recovered from the mortem emergency protocol of Excitizen Andy Relshen’s Psycochip. Other data recovered this way showed Relshen to be in remarkably good physical health for his circumstances, but that multiple psychoactive substances were likely in his system.

I pulled out the glass shards. My hands shook so violently it was hard. I just tried to keep breathing. After scavenging through my bag, I wrapped it in gauze. Periodically I would frantically look trough the broken window. Not like there would be anyone watching these ruins, but I was still nervous. I felt like I was being followed. It was probably nothing.

I was just a photographer, and I hated having to break my way in like this.

After a while, I stood up. My leg was sore, but workable. I put my bag back on, and paced around the room I was in: a classroom, elementary, maybe 4th grade. Ceiling tiles had bent and collapsed from rot. Past vandals and shoved and over turned many of the desks, and sprayed wide, stylized messages on the wall: “Fuck You”, An inverted cross, “Anarchy Never Dies”, A floating city with a lightning bolt coming down, “Get High, Stay High”

The musty stench of the room seeped into my nose. It was thick, like the air was slowed by all the rot in the room. Rot. I then realized I took my mask off to bandage myself. I threw down my back and pulled the mask back out. Hopefully, my exposure was still low enough to be harmless.

The plastic white board chipped, and huge fragments had fallen off, but a decent amount still clung to the wall. Dead markers and erasers had been scattered across the damp floor. A name on the top of the board identified the room as Mrs. Walters’ room. At the head of the room, Mrs. Walters’ desk still stood, and by some miracle the now ancient tower under was still on. I shook the mouse. It was a laser mouse, damn it was old. It woke up, and didn’t even ask for a password, it went straight to the desktop, emails still open. I clicked around a bit. I wasn’t familiar with software this old, and got bored of looking at old class rosters and stuff.

I poked my head out into the hall. It wasn’t a school hallway. That’s what made these ruins unique. The foothills of the Last Mountain had grafted the remaining buildings into a strange mega structure. But it was damn near impossible to get clearance for down here. You had to hitch a ride on military vehicles and that’s it’s own mess. I might be stuck down here for weeks. It’s not really a “productive person’s” thing

I walked down the old hospital wing. The floor was waving up and down, like rolls in a piece of paper. Low dips were filled with stagnant water, possibly electrified. The walls varied from peeling to collapsed. As I paced down hilly floor, I noticed name plates adjacent to the doors, well, the doors that were still there. The rooms were filled with antiquated medical equipment and beds dotted with rat droppings, or dead rats.

Occasionally, a bed would host are body sized lump hidden under the covers, sometimes it would only be gnawed bones.

I went into every room. Looking for any sealed pills or food, and for any good photos. There were a bunch here. The weird floor made for interesting shots. Moving the analog iv racks up and down them; spilling expired rotting pills on the floor; reflections off the pools at the bottom, which were indeed electrified; One room had been taken over by a juvenile gigarachnid. The webs, dangerous as they were, were beautiful. Each of the leg thick ropes were woven carefully from the thinnest of spider threads, and then draped over the cliff of a collapsed fire escape.

This of course meant that the gigarachnid in the last mountain was making children. A terrifying, but some how hopeful thought. The way a web catches the light, an intricate weave with dew on it is beautiful, but with a whole mountainside for its canvas, the effect was greater. So gorgeous, but I wouldn’t want to be in one.

The hall abrupt ended in collapsed cinder blocks. I poked around looking for a way past, unsuccessfully. The last room still had a name tag: Paul Baker.

I pushed open the door inside. The mold here was not too bad. The wall paper was peeling, and the florescent lights were burnt out, but the rest of the room was intact. The TV, burned in as it was, was still on. “Did you know that there would be so many mutants?” “We took the best course of action given our circumstances, and there were several unaccounted side effects, but we assure you, that it is all under control.” “Some say that the rapid expansion in your mutant response commission is cause for concern or even suspicion; how do you respond to this” “Our mutant response is top notch and top notch service requires…”

The wall paper was covered with images of demons and woodland monsters, children’s drawings, done in crayon and magic marker. There was a single picture frame, still on the wall. I picture of a father and a son. The father had lots of tubes and wires pulling out of his back. It looked like very early Integrated Vital Support. IVS used to be crazy expensive. I mean it still is but a lot of people already have it now. Well, not really a lot.

The father didn’t look so good. He was hunched over. The weight of the thing didn’t seem to rest well. The kid didn’t look so good either. He was pale, and he has stitches around his face.

I poked through the cabinet for any sealed pills, like I had done in the others. The cabinet’s innards seemed to glow. I blinked and in a moment, it was gone. I was just seeing things. I reached to open the cabinet. My hands were shaking, and my breathing was rushed and shallow; why was I so nervous?

The cabinet flew open with a bang. I jumped back as a screamer swooped at me. I pulled my pistol and shot it. It took three bullets to send it to the ground, and then I drove one of my tent stakes through it for good measure.

My ears rang from the gunshots.

I had become accustomed to dealing with many of the mutants in the Remnants. I had seen at least a dozen screamers on my way here, but this one was huge. I held my arm next to its pitch black skin. Its cape like wings stretched at least 4 feet. Twice the size of the ones from the borderlands.

I took a picture of it. I wouldn’t dare touch a mutant. They always carry the worst bugs, but I always took a picture of them. I wanted to document how common they were. It was a serious offense to get caught with these pictures, but it didn’t feel right not take time to appreciate them.

I was done recuperating. I wanted to get out of this room while I could. I looked through the cabinets. There were a lot of pills here. I shoved them all into my bag to sort later and got moving. There was an emergency exit window here, but it dropped down into a school hallway, which lead back under the hospital wing.

The hall didn’t seem to have an end, or rooms, or a direction. Lockers stretched out continuously, not a classroom in sight. Some were still decorated, some had fallen over from rust, some smelled funny. Occasionally there would be a poster. Clubs advertising their meetings, a literature magazine asking for submissions, stuff typical for a high school.

One poster stopped you. A recruitment poster, for the army. The thought of an army trying to recruit straight out of a school unsettled me. It didn’t feel right. To take set them free and then reel them back. They don’t do that anymore. Army kids get a specialized education. Every piece is designed to be optimal.

I was one of the few people not in the army schools.

A low rumbled A turned around and saw a bull at the end of the hall. Tar boiled in its crimson eyes and thunderstorm seethed behind it. I froze, icy needles of fear shut up my spine and through my face. I couldn’t outrun it, especially not in this long corridor.

The bull started running, flames bellowing from its hooves. I jolted to action, and wedged my foot through a rusting locker.

End of Pyscochip cache