Prototype

A John Garrison Novel

By: Kurt Kyre

Static. White noise. Pain.

A modulated electronic voice began bleating. SYSTEM REBOOT COMPLETE. SYSTEMS ONLINE IN: 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. WARNING. WARNING. SEVERE SYSTEM DAMAGE. OPERATIONAL EFFECIENCY 1.7%. SEVERE MUSCULAR AND SKELETAL DAMAGE. SEVERE INTERNAL DAMAGE. SEVERE INTERNAL HEMMORAGING. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY 1.3%. SEVERE EXTERNAL HEMMORAGING. VISUAL SYSTEMS OFFLINE. SEVERE RESPIRATORY SYSTEM DAMAGE. SATELLITE UPLINK AND GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEMS FUNCTIONING. TRANSMITTING LOCATION TO COMMAND CONTROL.

The cold voice began to repeat. WARNING. WARNING. SEVERE SYSTEM DAMAGE. OPERATIONAL EFFIC- "Shut. Up." Lieutenant John Garrison wheezed. Each syllable was an excruciating experience in pain.

The words stopped. The sudden silence inside his head was deafening. He attempted to move, but system feedback told him that his arms and legs were broken, and several ribs. He had a punctured lung, and he could barely breathe. Tasted the coppery tang of fresh blood.

The attempt caused lancing pain through his entire body. He couldn't see, but he could feel the cold, dusty press of the concrete slab and rubble that trapped him. He smelled his own singed hair, and the sickly sweet smell of burned flesh.

He lay there for 00:02:37 since his system reboot. He drifted in and out of consciousness. He dreamed. He dreamed of a young girl standing in a shimmery blue place with crudely drawn cartoon fish swimming in the air. She stood in that place, holding the hand of a soldier in uniform. They watched the fish that swam by them in a rainbow of bright colors.

He turned around to follow a school of iridescent sea-horses, flitting through the azure silence of the dream. He looked for the little girl, but she was gone. In front of him rested a stainless steel casket on a raised platform. He stepped cautiously forward. The casket was closed. He reached out to touch the cool, brushed surface and touched it with a hand that was not his own. It make a metallic 'tink' sound as it contacted the surface of the casket.

He reflexively drew the hand back and held it up to his face. The hand, and the arm attached to it was robotic, made of some dark, grey metal. There were bundles of yellow and red filaments that seemed to contract and relax like musculature as he turned and flexed the strange appendage., there were even tinier bundles of wires and other filaments that looked like wires, but might have been veins. Was this his hand? He wondered. He eyed the strange appendage with fear and uncertainty, then began to look down at himself.

A sudden sound drew his attention up again. A deep metallic clang echoed in the blue place. He looked around. It was coming from the casket. As he watched, another loud clang came from the casket, and this time, a fist-sized dent convexed out from the smooth surface. There was another, and another. The dents warping the casket lid until the seam around the edge began to separate.

As he watched. The top half of the casket lid flew into the air with a tremendous wrenching sound of torn metal, and slammed down to the floor several yards away. Inside the casket, there was a soldier. Stepping forward, he looked down at the casket's occupant. He looked familiar somehow. Brown hair, nearly shaved. Strong features with a lean, heavily muscled frame. He wore black combat dress utilities, with no name or insignia. As he scanned the soldier's face, trying to figure out where he has seen the soldier before, the soldier's eyes opened.

The soldier's arm shot out of the casket, grasping Garrison's throat in a vice-like grip. He struck at the soldier's black-clad arm in a futile attempt to break free, but the soldier merely sat up, and with his other arm, tore away the bottom half of the casket lid, casually flinging it away like it were made of plastic. The soldier maintained his grip, and his piercing gaze as he lifted one leg out of the casket, then the other, and pushed himself up with his free left hand. He stepped forward off of that raised platform, pushing Garrison back with him. "You stay away from her, you goddamn MONSTER!" The voice that came out of the soldier's mouth was cold and machine-like.

The scene suddenly flashed to a young woman dressed like a whore lying dead in a pool of her own blood. Garrison knelt in the spreading pool of gore, crimson soaking into his pants and spattering his face.

"Amy!" Garrison jerked awake, screaming out a name he didn't remember, and causing another grinding flash of pain to shoot through his body. The slab of concrete crushing him shifted, and he felt more bones breaking. The cold voice resumed the digital litany inside his head.

WARNING. WARNING. SEVERE SYSTEM DAMAGE. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY .08% TERMINAL SYSTEM SHUTDOWN IMMINENT. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY .05% TERMINAL SYSTEM SHUTDOWN IMMINENT. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY .02% TERMINAL SYSTEM SHUTDOWN IMMINENT. TERMINAL SYSTEM SHUTDOWN. SYSTEM OFFLINE.

The static that filled his field of vision shrunk to a small dot, and everything went dark.