Categories > Original > Sci-Fi > Evolve or Die


by Togot 0 reviews

Andrew has survived the night, but the next days gets off on a bad start

Category: Sci-Fi - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2019-08-11 - 2821 words

I didn’t remember falling asleep, only waking up the next morning.

Heather seemed to still be sleeping, so I tried to be quiet as I stoked the fire and checked our surroundings. I spotted the tree that had been knocked down. It was a big one. I went over to look around and found the footprints of our visitor. They were mostly round like an elephants which suggested herbivore. They were also huge. I could have curled up inside on of them with room to spare, and they were a foot deep. All I could really do was thank god the thing hadn’t stepped on us last night.

I made a run to the river to refill the canteen, and placed it on the stove to boil for an hour. Then twenty minutes to cool before taking a drink. Heather still hadn’t woken up and as much as I wanted to let her sleep, we couldn’t just wait here forever. I went to wake her up and give her some water before filling and boiling more, then we would head out.

I knew the second I touched her. Her arm was cold as ice, and stiff. I checked for a pulse, and I felt nothing. She was dead.

You might think I felt horror or sorrow at having someone die right next to me during the night, but what I felt was confusion. Heather hadn’t been bleeding badly enough to have died from her wounds. Infection wouldn’t have set in that fast. She was too fat and too close to the fire to have frozen to death if I hadn’t. We had both eaten the same found, so it hadn’t been that either. So what had killed her?

One possibility occurred to me. Had the creature been venomous?

Whatever the reason, the result was she was dead, and there was nothing I could do for her. A small practical part of me actually thought this was for the best. Taking care of an invalid would have drastically lowered my own chances of survival. I drank the rest of the water myself and headed back to the river to refill it, and to think.

I noted to myself how calm I was. I’ve been to the funerals of two grandmothers, and aunt, and even my own step brother. I never shed a tear for any of them. I’m don’t know what that says about me. It’s not that I don’t feel sadness or loss, I do. It’s just that I don’t feel it overly strongly. There’s a part of me that simply accepts it.

It would take another hour to boil the water, so I used that time to dig a shallow grave for Heather. It was a real pain in the ass, I didn’t even have a shovel, but it seemed wrong to just leave her lying on the ground for predators.

When I was done, I stood over the grave for several minutes trying to think of something to say. In the end all I managed was, “I’m sorry.” With a full canteen and a lighter, I set out hoping to find more of my classmates. I only hoped they had fared better than we had. I used some plant fiber to tie a strap to my wooden spear and sling it over my shoulder. After what had happened, I wanted all the weapons I could get.

I traveled for two hours without encountering anything significant. Occasionally small creatures would dart away into the underbrush before I got close enough to get a good look at them, but from the glimpses I caught I could tell they were just as alien as the thing that killed Heather. Most of them were bipedal with long tailed and short arms, the same body type as that creature, though none were taller than my shin. Some had leather skin, some were covered in feathers. Though they unnerved me, they seemed skittish, more afraid of me than I was of them. Of far greater concern were the insects.

Gnats and flies crawled all over me, drinking my sweat from my exposed skin, and mosquitoes were eating me alive. I’ve heard of cattle dying from anemia due to mosquitos drinking them dry, and armies being wiped out from malaria carried by them. It wasn’t long before my entire body was in itchy hell. What I wouldn’t have given for some bug spray.

I was considering turning back, and not for the first time, when I heard a girl scream. With Heather’s death still fresh in my mind, I took off running, hoping that this time I would make it in time. The river turned to the right up ahead, so I couldn’t see too far, but the scream had been close. As I came around the bend, I spotted another of my classmates being attacked by two of the creatures that had gotten Heather. Unlike Heather, this girl wasn’t fat, wasn’t running away, and was armed.

Jennifer was standing her ground with a large stick she was using like a club to fend the creatures off. The things were hesitant to approach her, but weren’t giving up. I watched as one of them fanned out the skin around its neck like a frilled lizard and it made a weird chirping growl before spitting a black gob at Jennifer’s face. She blocked it with her club, but the creatures seemed undeterred.

There was still time for me to help. Unfortunately for me, they were on the other side of the river. I couldn’t get to them, but maybe I didn’t have to. One of my hobbies was a sport called belegarth. Medieval foam weapn fighting. We make padded swords and the like and beat the crap out each other with them Its one of the only sports in which a scrawny guy like me can beat up someone built like a linebacker because its more about speed and precision than strength. My gear consists of a teardrop shield, and one handed longsword, and a javelin for ranged attacks. Unfortunately I can’t wear my glasses while fighting and without them I’m practically blind. So how does a blind man use a ranged weapon you ask? Lots and lots of practice. I spent hours in my backyard throwing my javali9n at stuffed animals on fence posts, and I became a damn good shot. Now I had my glasses, and two medium sized targets.

Of course there’s a world of difference between a piece of fiberglass covered in camping foam and hockey tape, and a solid metal spear. Luckily the river was pretty narrow here, so I was confident I could at least get the spear to the other side, even if I didn’t hit a creature, Jennifer could use the spear to kill them.

I took aim, shouted, “Jennifer!” And threw as hard as I could.

Due more to blind luck than skill, I actually hit one of the creatures right in the side. It let out a pained cry and collapsed. The other creature let out an odd rattling hiss that sounded very angry and it let out another spit at Jennifer which she dodged as she dashed for the spear. The unharmed creature charged at her, sensing a moment of vulnerability. Jennifer yanked out the spear, turned, and thrust it right into the oncoming creature’s mouth. In a moment, the two stood frozen like a scene from a movie. Jenifer leaning forward in her thrust, the creature with a spear going into its mouth and out the back of its head. Then the creature collapsed to the ground, and Jennifer stepped down on its neck and pulled the pear out.

Jennifer looked at the spear, and then to me. “Andrew?” she asked.

“Yeah. You ok? Did they bite you?”

“Naw, I’m fine. It spit this nasty gunk at me,

So they wre like spitting cobras I thought. “Did any of it get on you. I’m pretty sure that stuff is some ind of venom.”

“I don’t think so,” she said as she lokked herself over.

That was a relief. Until we knew more about it, we should avoid any contact with it.

“Why are you shirtless?” Jennifer asked, “And where did you get this?”

“I had to use it for something, and as for that, I found it in a container, along with a few other things

She nodded, though from her expression it was clear she was confused by my answers.

“Have you seen anyone else?” I asked.

She shook her head. “Only you.” She walked up to the river. “So should I swim over to you, or do you want to swim over to me?”

“Swimming is a bad idea. There are carnivorous fish in the water. I watched them strip one of those spitting things to the bone in minutes/”

Jennifer took a step back away from the river while eyeing it with caution. “So what do we do?”

Good question. “Did you come from up river? Is there a place we could cross?”

“I don’t know. I just reached the river a few minutes ago and then those things attacked me.

I nodded. I’d been following the water all the way from the ocean, and I hadn’t spotted any place to cross, which left us with one option. “Let’s keep heading north then; we might find a place we can get across.”

“OK” she said, and we both started walking.

It was terribly frustrating for me to have finally found someone who was alright, yet still be separated by such a barrier so we’d be unable to help each other should danger appear. But at least I had someone to talk to again.

“So you found a container out here with a spear in it? Was there anything else around like a building or something? Jennifer asked as we walked.

“No, to be honest the container I got it from might have been alien.”

“What do you mean alien?” she asked, though she didn’t sound as surprised as I’d expected.

“Do you have an implant in your arm?” I asked. She was too far away for me to see.

She looked at her left forearm. “Yeah, I take it you do too.”

I nodded, “I met Heather yesterday. She had one as well.”

“You found Heather?” Jennifer said sounding surprised. “Where is she? Why isn’t she with you?”

I hesitated to answer. ‘One of those spitter things got her. She didn’t make it.”

Jennifer stopped in her tracks and stared at me. “What are you saying, that she’s dead?”

I nodded and said, “Sorry,” because I didn’t know what else to say. A long moment of silence passed between us until I broke it by bringing the conversation back to the implants. “I think these things in our arms are tracking devices, possible data collectors as well, like biologists do with wild animals. The implants, our abduction, those strange creatures, and the scifi container I found all point to aliens.”

“Why?” Jennifer asked.

I shook my head. “I don’t know. Experiment of some sort, I guess, though I have no idea what they are testing.”

We both started walking again. “So what exactly are we going to do?”

A fair question. “If you, me, and Heather were here, I’m guessing other members of our class are too, maybe the whole school. We need to try and find them. Much as I hate crowds, there is safety in numbers.”

“Makes sense,” she said. “Do you think any of them have…died?”

“Probably,” I said bluntly. It wasn’t a very reassuring answer, but I’ve never been good at comforting people. I honestly didn’t know how Jennifer made it through the night all alone, the odds of everyone else managing it were pretty slim, especially with dangerous predators running around. “But I’m sure some of them are still alive, and the sooner we get to them the better.”

“I need another drink,” Jennifer said as she approached the water.

“Don’t do that!” I shouted, startling her. “River water can have all kinds of bacteria and parasites. If you drink it without sterilizing it, you can get very sick.

Jennifer’s face went pale. ‘But I already did, when I found the river, before the things showed up.”

That wasn’t good. It wasn’t a guarantee that she would get sick, but it still wasn’t good. “Look, I have a canteen with water I boiled this morning. When we cross over you can drink that, so just endure for now, ok?”

Jennifer nodded. We walked for an hour without saying much. Jennifer didn’t remember any more than I did about being transported here. Had mostly seen the same strange little creatures running about. She hadn’t had as bad a problem with bugs as I had though. We finally found a promising spot around noon. The river was narrow here, and there were a number of large rocks to serve as stepping stones. The only downside was the current was very strong at this choke point, but it was probably the best we were going to get.

“Do you come to me or do I go to you?” Jennifer asked.

I had to think about that one. Despite belegarth, I was not a very athletic person. If I fell I could lose my glasses, and then I’d really be fucked, even if the fish didn’t get me, and frankly, I didn’t want to risk my life. On the other hand, I had no desire to watch Jennifer get eaten alive right in front of my eyes. She wasn’t fat, but she wasn’t exactly skinny either. The best word to describe her would be husky. In the end though it was out gear that was the deciding factor.

“You come to me,” I said. Her metal spear would be far more effective against the flesh eating fish than my wooden one, or the hatchet and knife I had. “Don’t drop the spear.”

“Great,” Jenifer mumbled to herself with a frown. She jumped to the first rock easily enough. The next two were also easy hops, but the forth one was a bit further away, and when she landed she nearly lost her balance. Seeing that made my chest tight with anxiety. I stood as close to the water’s edge as I dared, ready to help her make the last jump. There was only one stone left between her and me, but it was the biggest jump yet. Jennifer took a step and jumped, landed on the rock, and then her feet slipped out from under her.

My eyes went wide as I watched her fall into the water. The rock must have been slick with algae or something. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter now. I ran into the water after her, my wooden spear raised high to skewer any dark forms I say rushing toward her, but the water was so disturbed due to the current I couldn’t see anything. Not only that, but the current slowed me down considerably despite the water only being thigh deep. It felt like moving through molasses. I reached Jennifer and grabbed her arm, helping her up to her feet while also pulling her towards shore. I kept saying,” Move!” over and over as we waded out way to land. I practically threw her onto the bank and quickly crawled up after her. She was sputtering up water, and I was trying to catch my breath, and then I felt something shaking my left foot.

I looked down and screamed, “AWE SHIT!” as I saw a fish as big as my chest biting down on my shoe, flopping on the ground. I took out my hatched and struck the fish on its back just behind its head three times before it stopped moving. I then used the blunt end of my spear to pry its jaws off of my foot. Its large triangular teeth had shredded the rubber soles of my shoe. It it had bitten just a few inches higher, I would have lost my foot.

I gave it another whack, mostly out of anger before examining it. Its body was large, but narrow, and its head, back, and flanks were covered in thick armored plates. Its mouth was bigger than both my fists and was filled with sharp teeth. It looked like a giant piranha from hell.

“What is that?” Jennifer asked.

I thought for a moment, then answered, “Lunch.”
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