An Excerpt from my WIP “Hereafter”

Chapter One

            Lights flickered to life as long dormant computers activated in the darkness, their dust-covered screens spitting out gigabytes of data that scrolled away into the blackness accompanied by the sound of power humming through dormant circuitry.

            The flickering bulbs ran down the corridor, branching into different directions, some to end only in darkness, others to end in a variety of rooms, all covered in the dust of ages.

            Riley awoke slowly, the fog in her slowing all thoughts and feelings accept one.  To get whatever was down her throat out before she suffocated.  She gagged and raised her hands to her face, pulling the silver metallic mask from her face, dragging the tubes from her nose and mouth at the same time.  She dropped the slime-coated apparatus to the side and wretched, coughing up more of the strange material that filled her mouth and chest.

            When she could breathe, she wiped a hand over her eyes and looked around.  She was in a steel cocoon with a glass door.  The door was partially open letting in stale air and the coppery scent of blood.  To her right was a control panel that she recognized as some sort of life signs monitor.  She didn’t know much about medicine but as far as she could tell she was alive and she was healthy.  Beyond that, she didn’t have a clue.

            She looked down and found herself to be wearing some kind of rubberized body suit with tubes she didn’t think it was a good idea to speculate about. 

            What she didn’t know was where she was, or how she had gotten there.

            She reached out to push the door open further and stepped out into the chamber beyond, her bare feet slapping on the steel floor.

            There were three other cocoons similar to hers, all with their doors covered in what looked like a thick layer of dust.  She ran a hand over the first to reveal the name “Captain Benjamin Briggs” followed by a series of letters in an alien script.  Her touch activated a series of lights inside the cocoon.  A scream caught in her throat at the sight of Captain Brigg’s skeleton leaning against the glass, his skeletal fist pressed against it in silent hope of breaking through.

            Reluctantly she checked the other two chambers, confirming that the people inside both were also long dead, though neither appeared to have been awakened and trapped inside their cocoon.  They simply died, either of old age or lack of oxygen.

            The blonde woman turned and walked towards the room’s only door, wincing as the chill of the steel floor seeped through her feet.  The door opened at her approach and she stepped through into another circular chamber, this one containing four large lockers and a single exit,  There were names on the lockers, as well as matching strings of unfamiliar script, as of the names were written in both English and some other language she didn’t recognize.

            In order, the lockers were labeled Captain Benjamin Briggs, Captain James William Boyd, Sarah Elizabeth Briggs, and Riley Nicole Steele.  Out of curiosity, Riley opened the other lockers first.  After all, the owners of whatever was inside were obviously long dead, it couldn’t hurt to take a peek.

            In the first locker was a set of masculine clothing as befit a sea captain of the late 1800’s, updated in a variety of ways to match the modern technology all around her.  The coat, for instance, had a concealed zipper rather than buttons and was made of some synthetic material similar to leather, though much more supple and breathable.

            The second locker was similar to the first, though the uniform inside was unmistakably a take on a soldier’s uniform from the American Civil War, right down to the cap and Rebel insignia, though again efforts had been made to make the garments out of more modern and durable material.

            Where the hell am I? Riley asked herself.

            Curious as to how her own clothing may have been changed, she opened the locker marked Riley Steele.  Inside was a one-piece jumpsuit of sorts, made of the same black leathery material as the Captain’s coat.  What looked like armored plates had been sewn into the thighs, forearms, upper arms and chest, and an empty holster hung low on the left thigh.

            In the bottom of the locker was a pair of stiletto-heeled boots of matching material and what looked like her purse.

            Of course, she thought.  I was Cat Woman at a costume party when… when… what happened?  So naturally my host made me a version of that uniform.  Great!

            She couldn’t remember.  The last thing she could remember was boarding World is Not Enough as Senator Jacob Warner’s bodyguard on Halloween night, the next thing she was waking up in this nightmare.

            Riley sighed and began wriggling out of the bodysuit she currently wore, pulling tubes and hoses out as she went until she stood nude in front of the locker.  Reluctantly she then wriggled into the costume inside the locker, deciding it would be better to wear that and some shoes than nothing at all.

            She found the outfit to be surprisingly comfortable, though the armored breastplate would take some getting used to.

            The heels, as befit the costume she had been wearing, were quite high, however when she put them on and zipped them up, they felt no higher than the combat boots she had worn in the Airforce.  Puzzled, she used her hand to measure the length of the heels and guessed they were at least six inches, but somehow felt almost like flats on the inside.

            Nothing else has made any sense around here, she thought.  Why should my shoes be any different?

            Dressed and feeling warmer, she checked the contents of her purse.  Everything she had brought onboard the yacht was inside, though the paper money and cosmetics had long since rotted to uselessness.  In the bottom, however, rested her Glock C20 and she gratefully hefted the pistol.  She knew by weight that the magazine was still fully loaded and the polymer didn’t appear to have aged a day. 

            Feeling somehow comforted to be armed, she slipped the pistol into her suit’s holster and moved towards the obvious exit, her footfalls noiseless on the steel floor.

Copyright 2013 Skye Knizley

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