Planetkill: un-used

Right after college, I went through a dramatic period of apocalyptic dreams.  At the time, they seemed to be really screaming some sort of message to me and I had no idea to this day what any of them were about.  I used them in a submission to a writing contest for the Black Library.  My submission wasn’t used, but I had been holding on to the draft for some time to use later.

Well,  I think its come to the point where I cannot use this portion for anything, but I really do like it and will endeavor to finish it at some point and put the rest of it up here.  Here’s the open:


As the water rose higher and started to flow faster, he struggled to keep the infants’ heads afloat.  He cradled as many as possible, while trying to forget the many he left behind. His motions became restricted and panicked.  The wet, rubber soles of his shoes slipped on the chalcedonic river bed and he nearly fell into the murky stream.  The water now at his neck, he looked down at the faces of the children to tell them how he failed, but instead became shocked to see ghastly, fetal horrors now held tight to his body.  Instead of cherub cheeks and sandy hair, he saw deep bruises and folded, purple skin.  Their bodies were almost embryonic in comparison to their heads, but their helpless appearance belied their intelligence as each in turn fixed predatory eyes on him and bared tiny, piranha fangs.



He floated in cold, dark space.  Although blind and muffled, he felt at ease, as though the lack of control freed him.  The feeling was exhilarating, he could travel great distances on his own whim and enjoy the fluid sensation of flowing through the ether.  Something cold and insubstantial pressed against his side and burst, covering him in moisture.  His reflexes deadened.  Something else brushed against his other side and feet, this time hard and scaly.  With glacial effort, he managed to open one eye.  Horrific creatures resembling oceanic cephalopods surrounded him to every side.  Their mass and many limbs pushed him through the ether, corralling him.  Then without warning, he was thrown from their clutch.  The numbing sensation gone, all he felt was pitch terror as he began to burn in atmosphere.



The overcast sky burned behind the clouds, slowly turning the light from common grey to ashen night and then dirty orange.  The air changed and the wind simply died.  Everyone stood dead still, just for a moment.  In the troposphere, hazy spinnerets of cloud began to wind downwards until the darkest sections of the sky became like volcanoes turned upside down.  What started as a trickle of light through clouds gave way to a conflagration of liquid flame pouring downwards onto the planet.  After the deluge, a menacing sentinel of shadow stood behind a wall of smoke just beyond eyesight.  Behind the crisp of burning air it could be heard breathing.  Or laughing.

Tobin Sypes’s alarm went off at 0700 like it did every day, the high-pitched yowl removing him from his nightmares. He rose, slammed the alarm clock off and shuffled into the bathroom of his cramped, piddling apartment.

Tobin didn’t bother with the light, better to not look at the grimy, pale green tiles and tainted, yellowing porcelain.  The water smelled of river-waste and tasted like copper as he splashed it on his face.  He wished he could get cold water out of his faucet instead of the tepid, impassive liquid that dripped off of his chin.  At least cold water might have shocked him into the day and out of the night.  Now he was just wet.

Dressed in a loose, grey undershirt and pressed chinos, he prepared breakfast while listening to the morning public vox.  The announcer was talking about some election results from off-world with local economic consequences, but he wasn’t listening. Tobin Sypes was busy staring at the heating elements in his toaster as they went from dull grey to fierce orange.

“- -leaving no survivors.  In other news, the heat wave on the Southern coast will remain for the rest of the week, so citizens are advised to try and remain indoors and consume rationed liquids.  As for the western plain regions – -“

The orange coils burned brightly and left lasting ghosts on Tobin’s retinas.  He tried to remember something about color change and coils of light when he suddenly jumped at the sound of his toast popping.

Sitting on the shabby, tweed couch eating dry toast, Tobin stared out at the hard sunlight glaring into his 53rd level hab.  Something was bothering him and he hadn’t had enough caffeine yet to identify what it was.

“- -with today marking the three hundredth anniversary of the triumph at Tesse Domina, citizens  are encouraged to partake in the festivities downtown.  The parade begins at 0930 and will block traffic across Capricia Avenue from 0800 until sundown- -“

Focusing in on the words in the air for just a moment, Tobin appreciated the fact that everyone would be at that gaudy parade and not bothering him while he was at work.  The celebration was ridiculous, he thought.  It wasn’t as if this world’s Imperial Guard had played a major part in the victory.  No, they had to be saved by a great Astartes chapter.  That reminded Tobin, today he had his meeting with Commissar Vasquez about recruitment levels.

What had he been thinking about earlier?  Something had bothered him, he could remember that.  Was it the color orange?  Putting his half-eaten breakfast down, Tobin Sypes began to tie on his boots.

“- -leaving them totally without power or water for several hours.  Should you experience these same circumstances, authorities encourage you to be patient as the root problem is being sorted out.  That brings this news program to an end.  Stay tuned for live coverage of today’s parade.  Today, Tobin Sypes, is the last day of this world.”

The wet thud of chewed toast on carpet preceded trumpets and drums.  The march melody blared out in the hollow confines of Tobin Sypes’ apartment for some time while   Tobin sat on his couch with one shoe on, one shoe off, refusing to turn around and face the vox playing behind him.  Slowly, he swiveled his head over his shoulder.  The vox sat there, immobile, like it did every day, music still yammering out of its one speaker.  He looked at this appliance every morning, but today was the first day he was afraid of it.  Today, for the first time, it looked sinister.


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About recalcitrant041

Andrew Babcock has manifest destiny on his mind. The road west is paved with basketball, psychic dreams, passable egg-toast, Dungeons & Dragons, and haiku.

One response to “Planetkill: un-used”

  1. Your mother says :

    Not my usual reading material subject matter, but well-written.

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