Aphelion Issue 219, Volume 21
July 2017
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
   

The Exile

by Derrick R. Lafayette




Have I gone mad you ask? Eating alien offal for 1,825 days will do that. Piled on by the silence, the infinite void of all sounds, till the night, where the scrape, scrape, scrape wakes me in a cold sweat. The Brutes! Waiting to drag me away in my sleep, and throw me into the colossal supernova of the sun! Wait, who am I talking to? The voices have multiplied in my head, one in Brutes language, always chattering, mocking me, over and over, teasing me, killing me… Have I accepted insanity…no, not yet.

A whisper, into the loneliness of the vermillion space desert, escaped my mouth. Words ‘Help me,’ encapsulated within the inaudible message. My red sandscape cycled a handful of dust in response, then disappeared. I turned back to my cave, full of small bones, and words written in blood on the walls. It’ s been five years since I heard another person’ s voice.

Five years ago…

“Have you ‘The Learned’ in custody?” a mysterious voice screeched inside the elevator, sounding like a two-way transmitter tossed into a Clawfoot tub.

I looked down, defeated, at the glass floor. A granite rainbow of dying lights whizzing by in all directions. The elevator, traversing vertically and horizontally in light pink and yellow tubes.

“He is in my custody, the last of them,” my captor responded, while stretching his neck.

My captor’ s space suit, which is worn by most Brutes, had a tight neon blue collar squeezing his neck. It’ s used to detect their emotion through color. I don’ t know what blue means, but he had creamy veins pulsating in his neck, like a peeled clementine. The elevator doors opened vertically. Doomsday time.

A massive bio dome made of glass, octagon shaped. At my feet, silver hexagon tiles that breathe color when stepped on. I’ m pushed inside, unkempt, shackled on my hands and feet. A sea of Brutes before me, hurling obscenities.

“Shoot him!”

“We need no human assistance! Destroy the last of them!”

“The key will be found without them!!”

Had we known that these reptilian Neanderthals, with their curved spines, four fingers, dark nails, bodies the size of an Ox, existed, we would’ ve seriously reconsidered terraforming Mars.

“Order! Order! This trail for ‘The Learned’ is our attempt to show civility. The War of Knowledge is over, we have won. The humans have been eradicated,” stated the Judge.

The judge was an anomaly within The Brutes, the only one born with a brain. A nine centimeters long brain, subpar at best. It protrudes outside his skull, and thumps like a heartbeat. I can see him thinking, literally.

“There is no civility here in my eyes! You’ ve poisoned us, sneak attacked with thermal bombs. Magenta mushroom clouds killing us all! Then desecrated not only The Temple of Sages, but the Library of the Astute as well. Literature, maps, gestalts of the universe, supreme tactics in lovemaking, cooking techniques, all whirl winded into a cloud of cinders. Ancient languages never to touch another’ s tongue, or bless another’ s ear. An entire history of genius destroyed in seconds, crumbling faster than the pyramids in 2236!” I shouted back.

“War is war! Human! Be appreciative that we kept you alive. Cowering inside a secret air-lock tunnel, while your colleagues burned in front of you. What a waste that the last living human will be you, known as ‘The Learned,’ but remember as ‘The Coward,” the Judge spewed back.

It’ s true, I didn’t lift a finger in the fight. By this time, 3010, we evolved beyond the use of violence or names. I felt foxlike when they tried to smoke me out.

“Now, coward…where is the KEY!” the Judge screamed, brain throbbing intensely. Thick black hairs rising on his crimson colored neck, textured like that of a rhino, beneath the jiggly jowl of his oblong face.

My last sight before death; I scan every Brute in attendance. Shame they all look the same, all birthed from one entity, the Queen Brute. Red skinned when infants, crimson colored by elderly age.

“You can search all of Mars, and I assure you, you will NEVER find the key!”

A wave of curses, some Brutes even excrete a bright green substance from the corner of their mouths. I believe it means they’ve become irate.

“You stupid sack of meat and bones. I initially planned for a firing squad to kill you, but that isn’t good enough.”

“Do what you will, but without the key, you won’ t be able to terraform your planet, and the precious Queen Brute will die!”

In a sweep of movement, I managed to grasp the de-composition pistol from my captor’ s holster. The absence of fear harpooned a signal to my brain, which relayed to my index finger. Pull the trigger. Farewell, Red Grove. I gladly welcome the pearly gates, despite my doubt of all known religion. Goodbye.

YEAR 1

Isolation introduced itself to me with open arms, stretching into the horizon of crimson plateaus. Red dirt paths, treeless, by all knowledge lifeless, countless dunes. How did they know? My supposed-to-be death became a key to more life, as the de-composition pistol turned out to be an instant-teleportation gun! There I was, 500 miles away from the bio-dome in the empty vermillion space desert.

I quickly patted my person, thinking an organ, limb, digit, may be missing. Upon deducing that all my human facilities were indeed intact, I resorted to basic survival. I walked forward. Strange shaped clumps of dirt appeared to the left and right of my winding red trail. No footsteps ahead or behind, there was only me, I screamed for confirmation. “HELLOO!!!”

Within my view, a small cavity etched into the base of a mountain. Further west, in the rosy sandscape, atoms defied gravity, swirling and mixing ten feet from the surface. I witnessed the early stages of a magnetic dust storm approaching my way. All throughout it, brown clouds with streaks of lightning, circling at tremendous speeds.

Shooting agony conversed from one leg to the other, as I darted down the trail. I was a polymath, not a sprinter, and my legs understood that. Minutes later, I was panting, sitting on the ground, next to those strange clumps of dirt. Strong gusts swept by, ahead of the storm, pushing me in the wrong direction, and removing the top layer of red dirt. Those strange shapes underneath were of human remains. The top half of a skull, half an eye socket exposed. The storms must’ ve erased the footprints. I stood quickly, and the hasty awareness dawned. For every three footsteps, in every direction, there were strange shaped clumps of dirt. A mass grave on the red surface. How many fell for the teleportation trick?

Quickly clutched in my weak hands was the sharpest rock nearest me. I used it to snap off two femurs, the strongest, longest bone in the body. They shall serve as weapons. I do not know what lies in that cave, but my feeble body will have to kill it. By all means, I will also have to ingest it. Directly ahead was the ever-growing wall of brown clouds, removing all visibility behind it. The dust storm mutating into a weather organism I couldn’t identify.

My two feet found their place, standing my body upright, I bit my lip to distract from the pain and sprinted even faster towards the mountain. Faster, faster, against the wind, testing all my athleticism, faster, faster. I must live.

Salvation! My shaking foot penetrated the shallow desert cave. I vaulted my body inside, as the massive storm, which doubled in size, whipped by at top speeds of 100 mph. I was swept in a small whirlwind that catapulted me deeper into the rock shelter. Tumbling, tumbling, spinning, vision blurred, hindered, shadows and the miraculous gray of the cave walls meshing into one kaleidoscopes. Wetness developing from my joints. Tumbling, rolling, finally I crashed, back first into a smooth, flat rock, which stood six feet from the cave ground. I slipped out of consciousness.

Twilight kissed my eyelids, and I awoke to see our brilliant, beautiful, azure sphere, peaking its head halfway over the nearby auburn dune.

That was just a dream…

I woke up for real. Deep inside the cave, with a speckle of light towards the east. I double checked my frame again. I was bruised, but not broken. There was a dampness in my crotch, and I discovered that I was lying in a puddle…a puddle of water. If there’ s water inside this cave…some kind of life can spawn from it. I stretched my neck with great pain and struggled to lift. I let out another curse that I won’ t quote.

That small beacon of light must’ ve been the entrance, or exit, depending on what lied ahead. Suddenly, smaller pulses of light appeared all around me, pupil size, blinking, moving. A cave full of diamond eyes.

Four verdant toes speckled by a slither of light exposed the foreign creature to me. This must be their cave. My hand gathered minor scrapes, blindly scanning the cave floor for that femur bone. IT LEAPT TOWARDS ME! Full force, no bigger than a housecat, long, overarching black whiskers. Soft green fur, tiny claws, and a less than intimidating growl. It sank its teeth into my forearm, too small to break skin. In a moment of barbarism, I sank my teeth into it and ripped off its nape. Flesh tasting reminiscent of crab meat, I knew not of this creature, but I knew I would survive the night.

YEAR 5

Back where you found me, the broken husk of what I once was. What of the bones and blood you ask? Well, it is from the Gols. That’ s what I’ve named the previous inhabitants of this cave. Their blood was just the right consistency of thickness and brightness to not only mark the walls, but read it in the darkness. Over 500,000 words sprawled within, detailing all human life before The Brutes. I shall name it ‘The Exile’ .

By now, the long-term effects of terraforming Mars are beginning to show. The foundation of the ground feels more like paper than rock. Strong smells of sulfur, and magnesium fill the air. The temperature never alters between night and day. Despite the odd warmness, icicles are created at the edge of nearby rock formations. I emerge outside for a scavenger hunt. There is no more Gol to eat, as of 36 hours ago.

My legs, pencil thin, mangled by purple, and blue varicose veins, wild unkempt facial hair, eyes completely sunken from the darkness of the cave. Random scars from nights of lunacy, usually ending with me conversing with a skeleton I created, still, I live.

A toenail bids me farewell, snapping off of the flat surface of a plateau I’ve just scaled. From the view of the highland my eyes water, as I behold a magnificent sight before me. About ten miles east, lies a bio dome. Out in the middle of nowhere? I scurry towards the makeshift greenhouse like a creature from the night. Four shiny gold 8-whelled space rovers, licked by the distant sun, parked within the perimeter of the bio dome. Upon closer inspection, I discover they are all empty. The drivers must be inside. I investigate further. Like a decrepit fly, I find myself a few feet high from the dome’ s bottom, spread forward on the outside glass, peeking in. No eyes upon me, no security detection, whatever or whoever’s inside must be dealing with matters of the covert. I peer through the thick glass.

A clear oval tub of a gelatin-like liquid, three feet deep. Within it, the breaking of a pink spotted egg. Five Brutes standing around with perfect posture, typing frantically on floating tablets. The egg splits open like a blossoming flower. Inside it is a translucent worm-like organism, multi-colored veins splashed on both the worm, and the interior of the egg. Three separate green hearts beating in unison. It slithers out its shell, dragging a bulb like appendage connected to what seems to be its buttocks. One Brute types in a command within the tablet and it morphs the gelatin-like liquid into water. My old brain kicks in, only one Brute is armed, and the other four are advanced like the judge. Bigger brains, throbbing wildly outside the encasing of their skulls. When one exits, I will sneak in, obtain the gun and bargain for the rover.

Twenty minutes pass, and the worm-organism grows stubby arms and legs, while the bulb on it inflates and deflates like lungs. By chance, one Brute heads for the door. I change into stealth mode, skulking, with an optimal strike point. The air pressure shoots out with a low whine, coupled with the smell of chemicals, and to my fortune the door is opened. I bash the Brute in the occipital bone with my aged femur bone from long ago. He collapses instantly, and when I ruffle his pockets I notice a great reduction in Brute weight. Have they evolved so quickly? Regardless, my heart palpitates when my fingers curve the double-trigger mechanism of his instant-teleportation gun. The air from the door continues to whine, without hesitation I step into the air-lock chamber.

“You returned so quickly, did you gather the…” one Brute mumbles without looking at who he’ s talking to. The words came out pleasantly, with a poetic rhythm. Stark contrast from what I remember.

“Yes…I have RETURNED!” I scream, barrel pointed straight at his face.

“A human!” another Brute screeches and hides behind the oval tub.

Every wave of the pistol causes them to duck and grovel. As if it was a paintbrush, changing scenery with each stroke. I’ d never known them to behave this way. My pre-victory submerges into an unshakable feeling of the bizarre.

“Are you Brutes? What thing is that behind you? Growing in the tub?”

“It is an incubator! Please, we are not Brutes anymore, we have learned, evolved into intellectuals we have. We apologize for the War against Knowledge. The extinction of all mankind.”

“Bullshit!”

The bass and volume in my voice sends shivers down their spines. They’ re not lying, perhaps…they have changed…as a people. I shake the notion loose from my head, and inner barbarism surfaces.

“Are you scientists?” I question.

“Yes, we are!”

“You cower like a scientist alright, I believe you.”

I stalk towards the embryonic worm organism, barrel still facing out. A bow in my legs like a space cowboy, jaw hanging open, licking the top row of my blackened gums. The border of the tub reaches to my navel. I look down as a clear, cylinder shaped antenna branches from the worm’ s presumed head.

“This is a Queen Brute!” I realize loudly.

“Yes! Please! We located the key but was unable to terraform our planet. As a result, the original Queen Brute died. We have studied the remains of human technology, and discovered a way to birth another. I beg of you!”

My index finger itches furiously, lightly tapping the double trigger. I release a half grin.

“Well then! Good luck finding it!”

I pull the trigger on the instant-teleportation gun, only to realize it’ s actually the de-composition pistol! The blast evaporates the infant Queen Brute, and a splash of its translucent skin smacks my lips. One of its tiny hearts splashes on a Brutes forehead, and slowly smears down to his brow. My hand shakes from the realization of what I’ve done, and I unleash a sinister laugh loud enough to fill the entire bio dome.

“WELCOME TO MY WORLD!”

THE END


2017 Derrick R. Lafayette

Bio: Mr.Derrick R. Lafayette currently works in the IT field in Midtown Manhattan although his passion lies in writing. Mr. Lafayette is currently working on his third self-published novel.

E-mail: Derrick R. Lafayette

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.