SEEDLINGS ON THE SOLAR WINDS

 

If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably figured out that I really like crazy characters, or at least characters that appear crazy, and you’re right I do.  And of course, this story features another character who is going mad…or is he?  This is also a fairly dark story, even for me.  There’s a corpse in the opening paragraph, and from there, things only go downhill for my poor main character.

This story first appeared in the April 2004 issue of Dark Moon Rising.

 

 

SEEDLINGS ON THE SOLAR WINDS

 

     The blood was just starting to dry when they dragged Edward Verhoeven from his office.  He didn’t go kicking and screaming; he just went.  His last view through his office window showed him the far limb of the LEO station brightening as the Earth below slowly turned into the sunlight.  It was a beautiful sight, one he knew he’d never see again.  Of course, he’d known that before he’d killed the man lying on the floor of his office, slowly staining his beige rug red, but he’d had no choice, or had he?

     The men dragging him, military officers both, were doing it gently.  At least, that’s how it seemed to Edward, but his mind had gone numb hours earlier.  They could have dragged him by his hair and he probably wouldn’t have noticed.  He thought about suggesting to the men that they allow him to walk, but decided not to.  He was enjoying the ride too much.

     The soldiers dragged him past the infirmary.  Edward noted the blood red lettering on the door.  That was when he began to scream.  The guards dropped him, not knowing what else to do.  Edward curled into a fetal ball, refusing to move.  One of the guards finally went into the infirmary and got a gurney.  Together, the guards moved the curled mass of quivering flesh to a hospital bed.  They were supposed to have brought him to a cell, but getting medical attention for him suddenly seemed like a better idea.

*

     Edward awoke to find himself restrained.  He wasn’t sure why.  Had he been on a date with Elizabeth?  No, that wasn’t it.  He looked around.  He was in the infirmary and there were two heavily armed and very dour looking military types glaring at him.  What had he done?

     Just then, an orderly came along.  Edward examined the tight white outfit, noticing it clung to her everywhere he wanted it to.  He quickly forgot about the military men until he noticed the blood red cross on her lapel.  That was when it all came back to him.

     Jenkins had come into his office, demanding to know why there was a discrepancy in the ore rights paperwork.  Jenkins was his subordinate.  He had no right to demand anything of Edward, so Edward…No, he couldn’t have.

     “Mr. Verhoeven,” a voice said, jerking him away from the memory he didn’t want, the memory that couldn’t be.  “I’m Inspector Dergin.”

     Edward examined the man.  He was tall and thin with a smile that made you want to trust him.  Edward didn’t.  If the man was questioning him, then the impossible memory could only be possible, which meant that Edward had killed somebody.  Impossible.

     “Mr. Verhoeven, can you tell me what happened when Mr. Jenkins came into your office yesterday?”

     “I killed him,” Edward was surprised to hear himself say.

     Inspector Dergin also seemed surprised.  Why?  He knew Edward had killed Jenkins.  Why should the truth surprise him?  “Why did you do it, Mr. Verhoeven?”

     “Please, call me Edward,” he responded, trying to offer his hand, forgetting he was restrained.  He shrugged.  “They made me.”

     Inspector Dergin seemed even more surprised.  “Who made you, Edward?”

     “The creatures from the asteroid.”

     Inspector Dergin looked at a tall woman wearing a doctor’s coat.  Edward knew that she must be the shrink analyzing him during the interview.  She must think he was crazy.  If she didn’t, then she was crazy because Edward was sure he was.  “Creatures from the asteroid?” Inspector Dergin asked.  “Could you be a little more specific?”

     Edward laughed.  “Oh, I don’t know if they’re actually from the asteroid.  I just know that’s where they’re living now.”

     “I see. Can you describe them for me?”

     “You can’t see them.”

     Inspector Dergin looked confused.  “Was that a question?”

     Edward laughed again.  “No.  You can’t see them.  I can’t see them.  The shrink over there can’t see them.  I just know they’re there.”

     “And how do you know that?”

     “They talk to me, of course.”

     Inspector Dergin nodded.  “Thank you, Edward.  I’m sure I’ll have more questions for you later.”  The shrink then came forward and stuck a needle in Edward’s arm.  He knew it was sleepy time again.  That was okay.  Sleepy time was when the creatures talked to him.

*

     “You can’t say anymore about us,” the creatures said in his mind.

     “Why not?”

     “No one can know about us.”

     Edward thought about that for several nueronal firings.  A part of his brain wondered who these beings were.  He felt that part of his mind being soothed.  Obviously these creatures could read his mind and control him in whatever way they saw fit.  He felt that part of his mind being gently caressed back into docility.  Finally, he slept.

*

     “Tell me more about these asteroid creatures,” Inspector Dergin said.

     Edward looked at him in confusion.  Was the man mad?  What kind of creature could live on an asteroid?  Certainly no lifeform he could imagine.  “What are you talking about?”

     “You said yesterday that creatures from the asteroid talk to you.”

     Edward laughed.  “That’s crazy.”  He tried to move and found himself restrained.  “Hey, why am I tied down?”

     “For your own safety.”

     Edward didn’t understand.

     Inspector Dergin shook his head.  “Don’t you remember killing Jenkins?”

     “What?”  Edward tried to sit up.  How could he have killed Jenkins?  He just saw him earlier in the day, or maybe that was yesterday.  Suddenly, Edward saw the corpse on his office floor slowly turning his beige carpet red.  Was that Jenkins?  “Oh, my God.”

     “Now, can we talk about the asteroid creatures again?”

     Edward shook his head.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

     Inspector Dergin pushed a button on a recording device.  Edward heard his own voice talking about some sort of invisible creatures that talked to him.  Slowly, his memories of the events began to coalesce, but he quickly felt warm fluid running through his brain.  The memories disappeared.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he finally said.

     Inspector Dergin looked at a tall woman who was clearly the station’s shrink.  She shook her head and Inspector Dergin stood.  Edward watched as Dergin took long powerful strides across the room.  He stood nearly face to face with the tall woman discussing him in voices he couldn’t hope to hear.

     “She thinks it’s some sort of new form of trauma induced amnesia,” a voice said in his head.  Edward didn’t stop to think about what the voice was saying, or even where the voice was coming from.  He just nodded like he understood and waited for someone to give him his shot to send him back to sleepy time.  There was something waiting for him there, and he couldn’t wait to find out what it was.

*

     “You’re fighting us too much,” the creatures said in his head.

     “I’m not trying to,” Edward answered.  “Maybe if you explained yourselves to me, I’d know why I can’t talk to them.”

     “You might see it that way, but from our perspective, that wouldn’t be in our best interests, and probably not in your own either.”

     “Shouldn’t that be for me to decide?”

     “No.”

     Edward was silent.  How could he argue with them when they seemed so convinced they were right?  “You can’t tell me anything?”

     There was a long silence.  Perhaps the entities were discussing their options among themselves.  Perhaps not.  How could he know?  Hell, this was probably nothing more than a figment of his imagination.  It certainly felt like it.  “We are not a figment of your imagination, and we’ve decided to tell you the truth, or at least as much of it as we think you can handle.”

     To say that he was surprised would have been an understatement.  “Why?”

     “Because we will wipe your memory of everything we tell you just after we tell you, but for a few brief seconds, you will understand everything, or at least as much as your limited primate mind is capable of.”

     “Thanks,” Edward muttered in his mind.  He hated being talked down to by a bunch of creatures when he didn’t even know what they looked like.

     For millions of neuronal firings, the asteroid entities told him everything.  They were seed creatures that came to solar systems with promising planets and moons.  There, they left behind some of their kind that had not attained consciousness, their young for lack of a better word.  These creatures were allowed to evolve.  Sometimes it worked, but usually it didn’t.

     “That still doesn’t explain why you contacted me.”

     “We needed you to protect the asteroid we were on until our work was done.”

     “What work?”

     There seemed to be a sigh of exasperation.  “Don’t you understand?  Earth is the only success we’ve had in this system.  Mars and Venus failed miserably.  We’re still waiting for the results from a few other sites, and we can’t leave until we know for sure what happens there.”

     “What other sites?”

     “That’s not for you to know,” Edward heard as he felt a viscous fluid flowing through his mind.

     “What’s not for me to know?”

     There was no response.

*

     Edward awoke from a strange dream he couldn’t remember.  He looked up and saw a tall and thin man with a smile that made you want to trust him.  Edward didn’t.  “Good morning, Edward,” the man said.

     “Hello, do I know you?”  Edward tried to move, but found that he was restrained.  “What’s with the restraints?”

     The other man shook his head.  He turned and looked at a tall woman wearing a doctor’s coat.  For some reason, Edward was sure she was a shrink.  “You don’t know who I am, Edward?” the man asked, turning back to him and trying to smile.  Edward could tell it wasn’t genuine.

     Edward studied the man.  He seemed strangely familiar, but Edward was sure he’d never seen him before, or if he had, they must have just passed in the halls.  “No, sir, should I?”

     “I’m Inspector Dergin.”

     “Inspector,” Edward said, momentarily forgetting about the restraints as he tried to sit up.  “Am I in some kind of trouble?”

     The Inspector shook his head again.  “You don’t remember murdering Mr. Jenkins?”

     Jenkins?  He’d just seen him earlier in the day when he’d come in demanding something.  What was it?  Suddenly, Edward remembered the bleeding body slowly turning his beige office carpet red.  “Oh, my God!  I did kill him, didn’t I?”

     “Yes, you did, Edward.”

     “Why?”

     “Why don’t you tell me about the creatures in the asteroid?” Inspector Dergin said with a smirk.

     Edward thought he was being made fun of, but the man was obviously crazy.  “What creatures?”

     Inspector Dergin shook his head.  He turned to face the tall woman, “Are we going to have to go through this every time he wakes up?”

     “It would seem so,” she said in a dispassionate tone, but her eyes were on fire.  She was obviously thinking about all the papers she could write on her interesting patient.  Edward didn’t like the idea of being a subject in a paper.

     Inspector Dergin played back a recording of Edward talking about creatures that couldn’t be seen, but were living on an asteroid.  A brief thought jumped into his mind, and without thinking about it, he suddenly said, “They’re seed creatures.”  He began to choke as his mind went blank.  Convulsions quickly followed, cut short by a needle sliding under his flesh.  Sleepy time again.

*

     “Why did you say that?” the voice in his head asked.  He knew what it was without really knowing.

     “It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.”  He tried to laugh, but the action was squelched before he could even let out a chuckle.

     “You could have ruined everything for us.  What if the human race found out they were planted here by us and evolved from us.”

     “It might be a good thing for them to know they’re part of a bigger whole.”

     “More likely they’d try to hunt us down and kill us. Your species doesn’t always do what it should.”

     “True, but if you just let me try to explain things to them, you might be surprised.”

     There was a long pause.  Maybe the creatures were talking amongst themselves again.  Edward decided he had more to say.  “If I shared everything I knew, I’m telling you my people would do anything for you.”

     “Too dangerous,” the voice said.  “It would be better to render you catatonic.  That way we’ll be safe.”

     “It would have been better if you’d never contacted me at all.”

     “Perhaps,” the voice said, “but we had to have help.  Now we’ll just have to find someone else.  Too bad we had you kill Jenkins.  He seemed like a good candidate.”  With methodic determination, the creatures began to strip away Edward’s mental and physical faculties.  In no time, he was nothing more than a vegetable with minimal brain activity.  It would be a mystery to the doctors, but humans love mysteries.  This one would keep them busy forever.

     Meanwhile, Edward screamed, but there was no one to hear.  His body wouldn’t make a sound, and the creatures had stopped listening to his mind.  Only Edward could hear the scream.

     If a man screams in his own mind, and there’s no one to hear it, does he make a sound?  Apparently not.

 

 

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