This is a story I’ve planned on writing as part 4 in the fan fiction story, however after much thinking and writing the story I thought it would be a great as a special. It’s set years ago pre Apocalypse that focuses on one of the four protagonist in the Post Apocalyptic Saga.
1994, Melbourne, in a forest nearby
A dark shape was tumbling down the slope of an overgrown, secluded forest with bushes, sticks, branches and brittle plants tangling in the way of the falling object. Cloaked in dark robes that stuck out like a rolling shadow in contrast to the green and brown forest, it kept rolling and rolling down the slope. Finally the object was stopped as it hit a tree stump in its direction with a loud thump sound.
A yelp of compliant came out of the dark robed person as it tried to recover from its fall. Looking up and blinking back into awareness, Keith had only realised that he had trip from a great slope down the forest. He was alone, the only sound was nature that came from all around him. The sun was coming down as Night was drawing in.
‘I need to find my friends before nighttime’, thought Keith, as the forest started become very quite.
Going back up the big slope was a waste of time as getting up it would take too long to attempt. Keith needed to find the end of the slope that would be easy to climb, up towards a road or a house he can visit to call his friends. He walked on through the forest wrapping his cloak around him to keep warm. The night can get very cold as the chill was in the air as the sun became weaker and weaker.
Before Keith’s accident, he was playing with Luke, Waz, Glenn, Dexton, Flexton and Fenton. They were playing Star Wars dressing up in cloths that looked just barely recognisable to the characters in the films. Glenn was Luke Skywalker, Waz was Han Solo, Luke was Chewie, Dexton was Darth Vader, Flexton was a Boba Fett and Fenton was Princess Leila.
They were all playing at the local park pretending it was a space station from one of the films. Sometimes they would play tig, bad guys vs good guys game or hide and seek. Keith was the Emperor, he and the bad guys were hiding from the good guys. It was then that Keith had gone too far from the others and accidentally tripped on his robes and fallen down the slope.
Now he was walking alone in the cold with bruises and cuts on his face and arms, the fall was bad but at least he made it in one piece. From where he came down he would’ve broken an arm or leg, or worse………
Minutes passed in the fading light Keith was getting hungry and cold, the long stretch of the forest seemed to never end. Was he ever going to get home, see his friends or even his family? He heard stories of monsters in the night that took children away never to be seen again. Were the monsters out here now? Were they following him?
He was starting to get scared, imagination flared with ghosts with no heads, ugly monsters with glowing red eyes and big teeth, zombies coming up from the ground to tear him alive. Keith whimpered as he started to run through the woods, he wanted to go back home now. His fears grew as he kept running faster and faster as the monsters tried to grab him, they wanted to eat him alive like all the other children they caught.
Then suddenly Keith tripped over on a tree root that stuck out from the ground, catching his foot and tripping him over onto the ground. He cried out in pain as he twisted his ankle, pain flared like a sharp needle poking his leg. He was crying from fear and pain as he was alone in the dark to die alone, the monsters were close now laughing and wailing in joy and malice. Keith closed his eyes tight waiting for the inevitable end to his short life on this world. But then nothing happened. The monsters were quiet like nothing happened. He slowly opens his eye to peek around to see if anyone was there. Nothing in sight.
He looked down to see his ankle which started to flare in pain, it wasn’t broken but he’d twisted it badly. As he unloosened his foot from the root he looked up to see a barely visible man kneeling right in front of him, smiling as he looked at Keith straight in the eye. He was cloaked by the darkness obscuring his appearance.
The monster was here……
“Don’t be afraid Keith, I’m a friend of yours remember?” Said the oddly jolly man as he held out his hand but Keith didn’t take it for fearing of the unknown. He moved away backwards as he tried to scrabble away from the man, keeping his eyes on the stranger. “Why are you afraid Keith? Don’t you remember me?” He said with a concerned tone with that smile still on his face.
“No! Get away from me you creep, my mom said not to talk to strangers!!!” Keith protested as he did what his mother taught him at a young age. He was sure help would come if he was loud and clear. But no one came, his protest came unheard of. The man saw Keith’s frightened appearance so he put his hands up in a peaceful sign, he sat down and crossed his legs.
“Don’t be frightened Keith, it’s okay I won’t hurt you. I’m just here to talk to you, don’t you remember me?”. Keith wasn’t sure why the man kept asking him if he remembered him, he couldn’t tell because it was too dark to see the mans face in detail. But he recognised him from somewhere before.
Keith said with some effort of confidence “No I don’t know you. Who are you and why were you chasing me?”. The man chuckled as clapped his hands like he was giving Keith a riddle. Then water came up out of nowhere in a thick sludge of dark substance, which grew into a calm river that stretched for miles all around them. Where did this water come from? And why’s the man so happy? Keith tried to move but the flood trapped him like quick sand keeping him still. No amount of effort can free him from its grasp.
Then from under the flood the stranger came out of the water and walked slowly towards Keith as he chuckled. His face was still hidden by the darkness, so he got close to Keith by arms length and got out his lighter from his pocket and flicked it. The flames orange glow sparked into life revealing his face. He said with giggling joy in his breast “it’s me Keith, your imaginary friend Sammy Simple”.
Keith screamed his lungs out in terror as he saw a man with a face that looked like a child’s drawing mould like clay into a garish and horrific form. It’s eyes oddly shaped and pulsing in its moist stare, bright blue and sharp. It’s mouth was a squiggly line that might look like a smile, but when it opened it was a nightmare of raw gums, broken teeth and sharp fangs sinking into its own flesh. It’s head was oddly shaped like a badly drawn circle, it was like a pumpkin with its forehead larger on the right hand side and shrunk on the left. Sammy’s body was a gross proportion of a mutant with one arm bigger than the other, spine twisted at a wrong angle and legs the size of a chair leg.
Sammy came close to Keith as the boy turned pale with utter fear screaming and scrabbling madly to get away.
“Don’t you remember me Keith?” It said smiling with malicious thrill as he grabbed Keith’s tiny head……….all that remained was a skull which was then crushed into a million particles of dust that drifted down into the deep sea of dark water.
Keith woke up startled as he awoke from his nightmare. He was scared and sweating from what he saw. Then he realised he was at the same spot where it happened, he wanted to run away from here and get back home. He noticed that his ankle had recovered miraculously as though it was never twisted, he could move it without issue. On the ground in front of him was a lighter left on the ground, the same one that monster used to show it’s hideous face.
He needed to get away now, or the monsters would find him.
As he went further he saw a log cabin, finally he found life out in the forest! He came up to the cabin and decided he’d listen in from the side of the closed wooden window, he needed to be sure these were good people and not the strangers that his mother warned him about. He crept up to the side of the cabin and listened in, he heard two people talking as though they were in a heated debate. He wasn’t sure wether to knock on the door just yet, so her listened in to hear what the commotion was about.
“Bruce don’t f* with me, do you have the results or not? Do you realise how impatient my boss is about delays? Or has your indulgences gone too far for your scientific mind to erode away?”. The man complaining was a smart looking man with tanned skin wearing black boots with a brown suit and trousers with a black tie. He was wearing black rimmed spectacles which made his lean features more defined, his hair was long and curly and was sporting a moustache.
“Oh you’ll get your results when I’ve got what I wanted Jackson, I’m not a charity you know. I’ve got a life to live”. Said Bruce who was very pale and frail with grey hair and sunken features. He was wearing a lab coat that was bloody smeared, his gloves were drenched in thick stains of blood.
“The test results be yours once I have what was promised, or has your boss finally changed the agreement that we agreed on?”. Jackson shook his head in frustration and rubbed his eyelids and took a deep breath “No Bruce, we’ve not changed the agreement. But for god sake just give us the result that we need and we’ll deliver your ‘essential’ indulgences”. Bruce laughed to himself and took off his gloves and put them on his desk.
His cabin was small enough for him to do off the grid work that would help him deal with unique clients. The underworld relied on Bruce to produce certain research and developments that not many people would see as moral standards. He was protected by Jacksons boss as a ghost, an off grid asset who can’t mingle with society anymore. The government has no idea he’s still alive, thanks to the organisation that made it all possible. So long as his research proved to be reliable and successful, he’d recive his side of the deal and assurance that he’ll be able to work on without issue.
His line of work involved testing chemicals in the human body and seeing what effects it may have on a person. In his cabin he had a patient on a cart who was quite certainly dead judging by her pale skin and glossy eyes. Her guts were opened a few hours ago for testing a chemical Bruce had introduced to her for her last meal.
He looked at Jackson as he took a seat near his desk. “Do you know what your boss is trying to accomplish? If you do, I think your just as barmy as the rest of them”. Jackson looked less humorous as Bruce “Yes to an extent I know what the goal is or else I wouldn’t be here now out of the trust of my boss. This project means a lot to us for the future of humanity than some utopian dream these politicians are pulling out of their asses. They only see the end goal as a profitable number, to see themselves written in the history books as the ‘greatest minds of our time’ or ‘our finest leader since x and y’. No, we care more about our species than any world leader would if they gave a minute of their time to see those from the ground. Humanity will reach a point in the future where a great catastrophe will occur, when our species will need to improve and adapt to an unstable world that is radically different from today’s climate. Wether by WWIII, climate change, natural disaster or even…….”
“A mid life crisis looking ugly and wasted like me? Hahahaha!!” added Bruce who interrupted Jackson’s great speech. He got up from his desk and walked towards Jackson and said “kids like you think the same as those in power who are In the rat race to the top. You believe what your boss says because you believe whatever s* comes out of their mouths so long as you get that promotion or privilege of being the hero. Facts, evidence, history and results? They can be altered or taken out of context just to serve their agenda, all that’s needed is the mindless masses to persuade and enlist towards their cause. Do you think altering everyone into the next form of human evolution will go down well? What if they become mindless, easily manipulated into the perfect army by your boss? You act like your the clear thinker and the future is easy to map out once things go your way. Truth is, you may think your doing the right thing, but in reality your just as much of a threat as the things your fighting against. I’ve lost interest in politics and the people when I realised we were going around in circles endlessly like a revolving cage wheel”.
Bruce lit his cigarette with his lighter and puffed out smoke from his cracked lips. “I go where I please, I’m my own master, my own boss, my life is mine. Moral or immoral I can die knowing I’m not a piece in a complex web of political bs. So long as I get my due from my clients I’m free from the war” he pokes Jackson in the chest to emphasise his statement “Unlike you kid” he laughs as he walks back to his chair whilst coughing from his smoking.
Jackson cursed at Bruce’s statement and pulls out his revolver gun and shoots at Bruce’s direction with a loud bang. Keith jumped from the loud noise and caught his mouth before he could scream from his hiding spot below the closed wooden windows. Bruce looked stone cold pale and the shock made him leak from the sudden shot, his trousers were soaking wet. The shot just nearly caught him from his sitting position on the chair, a smoking hole in the leather seat drifted near his crotch.
“Thing is Bruce your just another cog in the system, your not your own master, your a deluded lonely hedonist who’s life hangs in the balance from my bosses strings. You belong to us, you can only do what you do because we allow you to. The results of the mutagen to evolve mankind is of great important to us. Fail to deliver and we’ll deal with you like you never existed. Oh wait, you don’t exist now do you? You were officially pronounced dead years ago from a freak road collision, a coverup for your work to continue without interruption”.
Bruce spat on the floor in a foul mood like he couldn’t give a damn about this project. But he needed the support for his ongoing science project, and his addictions…….
He gives Jackson his results paper in a brown envelope and walked to the door “I think it’s time you were leaving Jackson”. Striding through the room Jackson reaches up to the door and looks back at the horrifying display of surgery, chemical testing lab full of canisters and silo chambers and his recent patients bloody remains. “I wondered why the boss gave you the nickname the ‘Butcher’. Now I know why”. Jackson leaves the cabin out into the forest.
Keith crept around the cabin and peaked from the side to see the man wall off towards his car. He didn’t know what went on in the cabin, but he was sure that these people were the types his mother warned him about. As he turned away he snapped a twig by accident, his heart skipped a beat as he realised his mistake. Jackson heard the twig snapped and turned towards Keith’s direction. “Bruce, is that you?” He said as he took out his revolver and aimed it whilst walking back.
Keith didn’t know what to do in this situation. Either run back into the dark forest or reveal himself to the man. Surely he wouldn’t shoot him for he was only a teenager. If he ran the chances are he wouldn’t get far as the man could take down Keith. Even if he escapes he’d be back to where he started where the monster was lurking. Sammy Simple or a stranger with a loaded gun, none were any better.
Keith spoke out to assure the man he was a teenager lost in the forest “Hi sir, I’m lost and I needed to get back home”. Jackson kept his aim up “show yourself, then I’ll know if your real”. Keith took the risk and slowly came around the corner with his hands up shaking. His face was covered in scratches with his Emperor makeup all ruined by tear lines and his cloak dirty and ripped by his fall down the slope.
The man kept his gun out and spoke to Keith with an urgent tone “Are you part of ‘them’? They can be disguised as anyone, I can’t risk you revealing our secrets and causing the Final Apocalypse”. Keith started to shake in fear and started crying “I just want to get home, I swear I didn’t know what you were talking about”.
Jackson came up to Keith slowly, making sure he didn’t suddenly cause a flood to appear from where he was standing. Nothing appeared, this kid wasn’t part of ‘them’. Jackson knelt down and put away his gun and took out a wallet and revealed his badge to Keith. “Sorry kid, I had to be sure you weren’t the perpetrator I was looking for, I’m a private investigator. What’s your name?”
“Keith” relived that he wasn’t going to die. “I fell down the big slope back over the distance, I was lost and needed to find someone to take me home. Then this monster tried to find me…..”. Jackson cut through Keith’s explanation “What monster? Did it cause a flood?”. Keith was surprised that the man guessed about the flood “yeah, my imaginary friend found me and……he……..”. Keith started to whimper as he remembered the traumatic moment in his life that’ll scar him for life. Jackson became very agitated and picked Keith up on his feet. “S*, they know Bruce is here! Keith get in my car now!”
It was too late, the flood appeared like an otherworldly phenomenon that grew into an endless sea of darkness. Out came Sammy Simple who crept awkwardly out of the water to seek out Keith.
“There you are!!!!!!” Said Sammy as he opened his mouth with an almighty roar and charged towards Jackson and Keith like an insane berserker on chemicals. He lounged up to strike at them with his mutated claws, but he fell and shrivelled as he sunk back into the flood. Bruce had a shotgun on him as he closed the cabin door.
“There here” said Bruce who was wearing a black gas mask with eye lenses that gleaned bloody crimson. It was true, he was a butcher. No, he was the Butcher. He grabbed Keith by the shoulder and took him to the car “run down the woods from here, don’t look back or else it will trap you in its flood. It’s temporarily lost its influence on you and Jackson” he was silent for a few moments as he observed Keith’s face as if he recognised him. “Your that kids friend, Luke? I knew his pa from the war……”
He got sidetracked and pushed Keith away “Go kid, get away from here whilst we deal with this thing. If not I’ll have a new patient to add to my collection” he laughed with such menacing delight that it made Keith run away towards civilised life.
“You sick b*, why say that to the kid? He’s already traumatised by the whole situation. Also what was you babbling on about a ‘war’?” Jackson got his gun out and prepared himself for the fight of his life. Bruce, the Butcher, just laughed like he couldn’t care who he was talking to “The kid knows someone who’s father I met back during my days in the war, I’m surprised he’s not working with us anymore”.
Sammy woke up, but his form changed into two different identities for both Jackson and Bruce’s perspectives. The Dark Mind.
Keith was found walking down a silent road by his family as they tried searching for him. Shaken and traumatised he was taken home where he tried to recover, he tore all reference to Sammy Simple from drawings to diary notes on his imaginary friend.
The next day he asked his parents to take him back to the cabin he found that night. Reluctantly they took him to the road they’ve found him and walked into the forest for some time until they found the site. All that remained was a burnt down cabin, no remains were found on site as a fire crew were putting out the smoking fire.