Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 07 - "Away From Home"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

waking nightmare

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2008-12-10 - Updated: 2008-12-11 - 1174 words - Complete

The sound of tracks had returned, and with it, all peace of mind fled in their wake.

Justin was immediately jolted awake by the ominously recognizable sound. He sprang bolt upright in his corner of the closet, fumbling for his fallen guns, which he had dropped from his hands in his sleep. Even as he tried to ready himself, his own mind kept trying to reassure him about his position.

If those damn robots can’t figure it out, why would that fucking rust-bucket be able to? It can’t it can’t it can’t it can’t…

His guns feeling strangely awkward as he picked them up, he knew something was wrong. Horribly wrong. Guns had always felt right at home in his hands.

And before he could aim either of them at the door controls, NK-525 burst in, guns blazing.


It would be the last terrifying thing he would ever see—

Justin snapped awake, this time for real.

To find that he was still slumped against the wall in the very same closet he had fallen asleep in. Though for a moment, that didn’t seem very reassuring. The only thing that brought him any relief, yet also a measure of chagrin, was the realization that he hadn’t dropped his guns, but had been clutching them in a white-knuckle grip.

“I’m still alive!” His voice so hoarse it was practically a whisper. He unclutched one of his guns and tried not to drink all of what was left of his water. A part of his mind still certain that he had died, died and gone to hell, as the TSA guards so often recommended him.

Then again, if there was such a place, he would not be too surprised if Hell bore at least a passing resemblance to Tranz-D.

Though for now, he was still alive. Soaked in cold sweat, but still very much alive. He shivered for a moment, bitterly pondering the fact that in this sterile environment, the only thing he could smell was his own sweat and fear.

And he was becoming increasingly certain that the Enforcer could smell the latter, if not the former. Sleep had done him good, but he still kept hearing the sound of those tracks anytime his mind got too quiet. Paranoid ears hear all too well. That dream had shaken him up even worse than he thought, and now he felt less and less safe, even in this place.

Jangled by his own dark visions, his mind was flooded with insane doubts. NK had passed by him once in here, but reassurance was in short supply, fast becoming a dream beyond a dream in this waking nightmare. The mere thought of this relentless foe he could not destroy paralyzed him with an unknown terror, both in mind and in body.

Gotta do something… Gotta get outta here… GOTTA GO!

With that, he finally found his mobility again, deciding with what decisiveness he could muster, to get the hell out of here. Yet even as he carved open the vent grill with his laser staff, ruefully wishing he had thought to do so before he fell asleep, he felt as if he was moving underwater. And issuing from the back of his mind, this soothing, hypnotically soothing, voice assuring him that it was all a dream, of course NK-525 couldn’t find him in here, after all it hadn’t found him last time…

Even as he waded through the motions, Justin recognized the voice for what it really was. In some other corner of the universe, that insidiously rational voice might have told him that the guy who’s followed him for the last block-and-a-half isn’t a mugger, just as it had sometimes back in the Triangle State that obeying the guards really was the Right Thing To Do. That the soldiers locking the whole neighborhood down really were acting in his best interests…

Just as he was removing the grill, he heard it.

At first he thought he was losing it again, but the sound didn’t go away. Instead, it was coming closer. Its seemingly random patrols were back in the neighborhood again, and he feared his nightmare from moments ago was about to come true.

Hearing that NK-525 was nearly upon him, Justin freaked out, blasting the control panel and diving into the shaft.

And nearly got stuck.

“Oh shit!” Justin muttered as he struggled to get in. As small as he was, the vent opening was also small and narrow. His efforts becoming more and more frantic as the mechanical monster drew near.


Finally, Justin realized that he was hung up on the water bottle he was carrying. With no time left to feel sheepish, he worked his way the rest of the way in. He had no way of knowing whether or not the Enforcer was going to check this particular closet, but it was too late now. There was only one way left to go.


By the time he was around the corner, he could hear NK’s harsh, electronic voice blaring its usual drill about how there was no escape. Punctuated by repeated laser blasts. He just kept crawling, and nearly screamed when the closet door finally crashed in.

All the while, he couldn’t help but wonder if that jarring nightmare he’d just had hadn’t somehow saved his life.

And so Justin crawled back into the darkness of the ventilation grid, trying to put his mind back together. Between almost thinking he was dead, and NK’s seemingly impossible appearance, he had very nearly lost it all. When he felt a side passage to his right, he actually rolled over, unzipping his mine camp coveralls and taking a much needed piss.

He had once again come within inches of losing his life, wondering what would have happened if he had obeyed that eerie voice and stuck around. As his mind calmed down, he wondered if he had somehow alerted the damn thing by shooting the controls or something. But all he knew for sure was that there was only one truly safe place, and he was in it.

Though part of him wondered if there really was such a thing, if even this place truly offered any real shelter.

He shook his head, trying to keep the voice of total paranoia at bay. It didn’t take him long to figure out that he was going to be spending a lot more time down here than he wanted to believe. For now he would also be sleeping in here, as well.

With grim resolve, he crawled forward, contemplating the new strategic implications of his situation. On his way, he crawled right past an ancient monitoring device, originally designed to detect obstructions in the ventilation system, now adapted by the System to detect Intruders in its paranoid efforts to exterminate them. Justin didn’t even notice the unobstructive sensors as he passed.
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