The Harvesters are closing in. The beast is about to break free. Angie and Ruggie can’t outrun them. Their only hope is to venture into The Lost, the remains of civilization before the war, and before the collapse of the planet.
Scrappers Part IV continues the sci-fi horror universe that is being developed through short stories. Enjoy the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.
Scrappers Part IV
This couldn’t be happening. I wasn’t trained for this. Neither was Ruggy. He didn’t care though, the hothead wanted to bring the fight to the Harvesters. Those damn gene-freaks were marching towards us. Chances are they knew our location way before we knew theirs. That’s what they did. They were faster, more advanced, and less compassionate.
THWUMP! came pounding from our cruiser as the whole vehicle wobbled. The beast was shredding through the side door. It’d be out in no time. Ruggy’s crazy plan of taking the fight to the Harvesters was truthfully the best we had to work with. We couldn’t outrun them. We couldn’t hide from them. The only advantage we had was that abomination that remained in our cruiser.
ANGIE, THIS WAY, came Ruggy’s message through the interface of my goggles.
I stayed close to my partner, hiding behind a boulder. Our night vision from the goggles let us see clearly in shadowed rocks. It shielded us on both sides as the cruiser door peeled open from razor-sharp claws. The beast sprung out into The Lost and charged towards us on all fours like some enraged great ape.
The Harvesters held their electro-spears, humming with power. Their gunmetal chrome suits shined against the light of their weapons. High-frequency clicking noises came from their being. There were the harvesters I was used to. That Harvester at the crash site – a rarity. They were never vulnerable, only killers.
GET READY TO FIRE AT THE HARVESTERS, Ruggy typed. THAT BEAST IS CLOSING IN FASTER.
I watched the Harvesters as Ruggy watched the beast. We had each other’s backs. Scrappers had to. No one else would help us. We were on our own. Sweat poured down my face, watching the four Harvesters march up the hill. The clicking began to ring in my hear. They were too close. There was nowhere for us to turn either. We were backed into a corner. The only way out was to dash at the opportune moment. This plan better work.
The beast bellowed, leaping into the air, claws extended outward. The Harvesters were a good two dozen paces away from us. They raised their spears in defensive stances, watching the beast. It soared down towards the group.
One Harvester typed something into its wrist, causing the suite to open several holes around its wrist and up the forearm. Pitch black tentacles wiggled out of the holes and towards the beast. They reached the creature before it hit the ground, colliding in midair. The beast hacked at the tentacles, slicing some of them apart. A couple of them snagged its limbs. Another grabbed the neck, immobilizing the beast in the air.
LET’S GO! Ruggy typed, sprinting from the hideout.
That was new. No time to ponder. I joined Ruggy, rushing from the spot back up to the cruiser. A quick glance back – the Harvesters were stabbing the beast with their electro-spears. Each penetration sent a charge pulsating through the creature’s body. It groaned in agony and fell limp. The clicking sound increased in speed.
SHIT, I typed out. I THINK THEY’RE ONTO US.
Ruggy didn’t reply. We only ran. Now, I couldn’t look back. I didn’t want to lose track of Ruggy or stare at those things. Thumping picked up behind us as the clicking continued. They couldn’t be far behind. We could only run deeper into The Lost.
We ducked underneath a metal bar to the other side. I followed every jump, turn, and duck he made. Every obstacle he avoided. Our best bet was to use the terrain and try to lose these bastards. We skidded on a decline until we entered a cavern. Or maybe it was a building. It was man-made at one point in time based on the concrete.
We hurried through the hallway. Large rocks had fallen over, causing the ceiling to cave in. The interior of the cavern was completely covered. The small entrance would give the Harvesters a hell of a time getting in.
Ruggy made a sharp turn left. The clicking sound dissipated. The cavern evolved into an old building the deeper we went. Parts of the floor were destroyed, showing deeper levels below. We carefully avoided falling, stepping around into the next room.
WAIT, Ruggy typed, holding out his hand. There was a window in the next room.
WE SHOULD GO BACK, I SAW ANOTHER WAY, I typed out.
I took the lead, guiding us back to a split in the hallway. Each step we made kicked up dust, disrupting our view. I tried not to breathe in too intensely. The air was stale, particles fell softly to the ground. We probably kicked those up as we jogged in. I did my best not to cough. We couldn’t make any sound for the Harvesters couldn’t be far behind.
Ruggy and I followed an incline. Small holes throughout the building let light in.
WE DON’T WANT TO GO UP, Ruggy typed. WINDOWS.
WHAT THEN? I asked.
WE SHOULD GO DOWN. Ruggy typed.
THAT’S THE BUILDING’S FOUNDATION. WE’D BE TRAPPED.
MAYBE. MAYBE NOT. THERE ARE TUNNELS ALL OVER THE LOST.
A loud crash came from behind us. Then the kicking of rocks. Clicking sounds. The Harvesters.
WE DON’T HAVE A CHOICE. I typed.
NEXT DROP WE’RE TAKING.
There was no time to argue. We had to keep moving. Footsteps picked up behind us. Distant, but growing louder. I hopped over metal wires, rocks, and other rubble. We passed a corridor to a well-preserved hallway. Never had I run this fast before. Our steps reverbed. The air was thick, making me lightheaded. I couldn’t stop. There were no breaks. The light-holes were less frequent. We were making progress.
Once the Same
Crashes erupted from behind. The corridor crumbled as a herculean, gunmetal, being charged towards us. The Harvester kept its head low to avoid the ceiling as it stormed forward.
SPLIT, Ruggy typed as he dashed into a side room. I GOT LEFT.
I took the next right turn I could, leading straight to a large pile of rubble blocking the path.
“No, no, no,” I whined. I spun around a couple of times. The ceiling had no gaps to hop up to. The clicking and footsteps amplified. The rubble in front had a small opening below. I could make it. I had to.
I chucked my gun underneath, letting it skid to the other side. My turn. I took a step back and dashed to the gap, falling onto my side and sliding on the dirty tiles. I stopped about halfway through and pushed with my legs for the remainder of the way.
A large gunmetal hand slammed down as I lifted my foot, dodging it. I got to my feet, snagging my rifle as a hand reached through the gap, attempting to grab the gun. The hand slid back. Through the smaller gaps in the rubble, I watched the Harvester stand upright, slightly hunching, in its full seamless suit. Small circuitry in a liquid substance was just below a translucent layer of the suit, pulsating. The head stared at me through one of the higher openings. There were no eyes. No breathing holes. Only the shiny seamless suit with its complex outer membrane.
I twitched my eye, shutting off the night vision of the goggles to get a naked look at what humanity had become. The moment held. The Harvester stared at me in the poorly lit hall. The clicking stopped.
“Why?” I asked. I wasn’t even sure why I said it. It was kind of a stupid thing to say. This was a Harvester. A gene freak of another world. They left us to die on this rotting planet. They decided that they were better than us and would let Humanity rot.
The Harvester’s head tilted, breathing calmly. It punched the rubble, causing dust to fall. The sound startled me, but I remained still. If I ever made it out of this, it would be one hell of a story to tell back at base. Now, I was even closer to a Harvester than at the crash site – all on the same scrapping mission. The key was I had to get out of here to brag about it.
A humming came from the suit. Small holes appeared on the being’s face.
“No,” I mumbled, taking a step back.
Black tentacles wiggled their way out of the holes, heading for me. Great. I roared, raising my rifle and fired at the approaching appendages, stepping backward. The gun clacked. Shells hit the ground. Bullets pinged off the Harvester’s face. It didn’t flinch. The tentacles approached. I directed my aim. Some bullets shredded through the black things, causing them to fall to the ground.
They didn’t stop. Their torn halves wiggled forward. This was pointless. It was time to run. I lowered my rifle and spun around, sprinting down the hall. The Harvester slammed its fist against the rubble several times, causing pieces to fly out. High-pitched clicking erupted like a sputtering engine.
RUGGY, WHERE ARE YOU? I typed.
I took a left turn in a T intersection and hurried downwards. All light vanished. The Harvester’s sounds faded the deeper I went. Chances were the large being couldn’t make its way through the rubble. A streak of luck. I could only pray – to anything listening – that was the end of it. I navigated through my goggle’s interface to turn on night vision.
ANGIE, came Ruggy’s text. WHERE ARE YOU? DON’T SHARE YOUR LOCATION, JUST TELL ME.
I KNOW THAT. I’M NOT A ROOKIE, I typed back. I’M FINE. I THINK. WHAT ABOUT YOU?
I GOT AWAY. I HEARD IT GO AFTER YOU. THEN THE FIRES. WHAT HAPPENED?
IT TRIED TO GET ME, BUT I SNUCK THROUGH SOME DEBRE. THE FATASS COULDN’T FIT.
YOU LUCKY GAL, Ruggy typed.
NO SHIT. WHAT’S THE PLAN? YOU IN A SAFE SPOT?
THERE’S NO WINDOWS HERE. I WENT DEEPER, BELOW GROUND. IT’S COLD, BUT SILENT.
GOOD, I typed. A wave of relief went over me as I came to a small turn off. Maybe it was a closet at some point in time. A good hideout as any.
YOU? Ruggy typed.
IT’S DARK, I HONESTLY DON’T KNOW. I THINK I DITCHED IT THOUGH, I typed, sliding down to the ground.
ALRIGHT. WE’LL WAIT IT OUT. KEEP STATUS UPDATES. ANYTHING WEIRD YOU SHARE, ALRIGHT?
CONFIRMED, I replied.
WE GOT THIS, KID :-), Ruggy typed.
I lowered my weapon with a sigh. We were both safe. Separated, but we’d get out of here. Harvesters have been known to give up on a hunt. They had better things to do with their time than wait around for a couple of humans. There were bigger hunts.
One Last Attempt
A light touch on my calf caused me to jump. I spun to face the wall. Rifle pointed. Nothing. The sensation moved upward, pricking. It caused me to drop my rifle in a spaz reaction. I twisted my leg to look down. There, a black remnant of the tentacle wiggled its way up to me.
I squealed, covering my mouth as I did. Noise wasn’t my friend. Several deep breaths calmed me down while I watched the thing crawl up my leg. There, on the ground, was a sharp rock. That’d do. I leaned down gradually, keeping my eye on the wiggler.
My hand reached for the rock, as I carefully avoided sudden movement. I snagged the sharp stone and lifted it to the wiggler, ready to sideswipe it. One deep breath in, I swung. The rock slapped the black flesh, knocking it off my leg. It fell onto the floor and squirmed.
I landed on my knees as I guided the rock onto the tentacle, crushing it. That wasn’t enough for me. I raised the rock and continued to smash the wiggler until it was a flat disk. A part of it rose from the mess.
“Die!” I said through my teeth, slamming the rock down several more times, ending with a twist. I paused, waiting for it to make another move. It didn’t. I won. Finally, the chaos was over. Now Ruggy and I waited this out. We’d get out of here.