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ForumsShowcase → Wonderland Syndrome (a blind golddigger goes to a different planet, 2,500 words!)
Wonderland Syndrome (a blind golddigger goes to a different planet, 2,500 words!)
2013-07-26, 3:54 PM #1
A very short story. The plot is courtesy of the Warpcore SF plot generator.

Wonderland Syndrome

Larry entered the control room. He didn't need his long-lost eyesight to know that the Storge stared at him in disgust. Three Storge made for twelve eyes; Larry thought that on occasion it was a good thing he was blind as a mole.

The audio implants amplified the beating of the alien hearts. They could stare all they wanted, Larry could hear them live.

The Storge in the center produced a series of gurgling noises.

"Mister Lawrence Cordwainer," Larry's brainsoft translated in its usual monotone into his ear, "Welcome to Gabius Prime."

He was the first human to land on the planet since the peace treaty. The first thing they told him before he left the orbital station was that the Storge murdered their deformed offspring in infancy (as if he didn't know), so only Jah knew what they'd think of the blind Terran mining technician sent to maximize their efforts.

Larry suspected that his bosses back at the Mineral Excavation Corps HQ on Terra finally figured that if he got himself killed, they'd have one less paycheck to worry about.

"Thank you. I take it you are Overseer Khal Sta Rak?" he said.

The Storge gurgled.

"Excuse me?" said the translation.

He could bet Khal hadn't updated his Terran-tech brainsoft since the forced installation after the war. Nobody said that a blind golddigger's life was easy.

"Are you the Overseer?"



"I need to get on site. You're oveworking the drills in most of the tunnels, those things aren't made of adamantium, you know."

"Excuse me?"

"I need to get on site! When will the storm be over?"

No gurgling came this time. Instead, he heard Khal Sta Rak turn back to the control panel (Larry thanked Jah for his audio implants). The Overseer flipped a switch.

The sound of rushing wind flooded the room, assaulting his senses. The storm beat sand against the walls of the fortified control room, screeching like a furious goddess unleashed onto the world. He no longer heard the beating of Khal Sta Rak's heart.

Larry panicked. They'd made him deaf.

He told his brainsoft to shut down all audio. Silence prevailed. The air got thicker. Larry smelled the Storge close in. The three of them were now within a hand's reach. He stepped back on wobbly legs.

"The war is over!" he shouted. He couldn't hear himself and neither could they, but shouting was all he had left. He really was going to die on Gabius Prime. Killed by four eyed aliens. What a ****ing waste.

Larry felt unexpected movement behind him. Another Storge? Somebody grabbed him by the shoulder, pulling him down. Larry landed on his butt and scrambled towards the exit. His back pressed against the closed door. There was no exit.

Hot, sticky liquid sprayed across Larry's face. Tasted like piss. Storge blood. Never tried Storge blood before, he thought through the shock, Never tried piss either. He turned back the audio, succumbing to the storm. Come whatever may, he wouldn't die blind and deaf. The sound raged on for a second more, then ended as abruptly as it began.

With a flip of a switch.

Larry got himself back together. Only one heart beat in the room. A human heart.

"You OK there?" the woman asked.

She grabbed him by the hand, helping him up. She had quite the grip.

"Who are you?"

"Terran Special Forces. Are you Chief Technician Lawrence Cordwainer?"

"Yes, Ma'am" he said, "Larry Cordwainer at your service."

"Well, Larry, we've got a situation on our hands."

"No ****, Ma'am."

"That's putting it lightly. Two hundred hours ago, Command identified that a rogue Storge by the name of Khal Sta Rak occupied the nearby Mineral Excavation Corps dig. Intel says there were at least twenty armed insurgents, and they've got hostages."

"Hostages? In the name of Jah! Why'd they ever let me off the orbital station?"

"That's classified. And besides, how'd you think I got here?"

"You used me as bait?"

"Look on the bright side, Larry."

"What might that be?"

"There's only eighteen of them left."

He wiped Storge blood off his face with his jumpsuit's sleeve.

"Eighteen? Wait, there were three Storge here... And one of them was the guy you're after! What the hell did you do to them?"

"Let's just say they are no longer with us. But this pretty boy here isn't Khal Sta Rak, Larry. Khal's even prettier, got a long scar across his cheek. This one doesn't. That leaves us with seventeen unaugmented insurgents and one crazy mother****ing Storge to go."

"To go? Is that your entire plan, come here and kill them all?"

"Pretty much."

"No wonder I never volunteered for the Special Forces."

"That's too bad, we're way behind on our requirement quota for the blind berserker division. Come on, Larry. Let's get the **** out of here."

She lead him out of the control room and all the way down the staircase. Their steps echoed through the empty underground corridors as they walked. He realized they were heading back towards the landing pad.

"The shuttle's long gone," he said, "And anyway, can't you just let me go or something?"

"We don't need the shuttle. And no, I can't let you go, sorry. I'm going to need your help."

He no longer felt a ceiling above him. They must have reached the landing pad, hidden safely from Gabius Prime's eternal storms in a well of stone and concrete.

"My help with what, exactly?"

His brainsoft analyzed the sound of his voice as it reflected from nearby surfaces. They stood next to something massive. He needed more sound.

"And what should I call you anyway, Miss Terran Special Forces? Do you have a name?"

That thing in front of him was a vehicle. Sound reverberated from its surface, inaudible to the unaugmented ear, but unmistakable in shape: they stood in front of a Storge sand buggy, a machine so powerful that it used not one, but two fission reactors to power its engines. Larry smiled. He must have been blind to have missed it the first time he stepped foot on the planet.

"My name is Kira. Now, please, get in."

She didn't have to ask twice.

Foul smell invaded his nostrils as he tried to make himself comfortable in the oversized passenger's seat.

"What the hell, did half a dozen Storge live and breed in this buggy?"

"Welcome to Gabius Prime, Larry," said his new-found friend. The fission reactors hummed to life.

The hull vibrated as they drove towards the transport elevator (Larry presumed). He kept quiet. What could he say? Once again, he was powerless against the will of the seeing. He didn't mind much. Ever since the chemical explosion blinded him eight years ago, life kicked his sensibilties out of the window. He was lucky. Only last century, he would've been doomed to an early retirement. But not today. Today was the future, the era of brain software, audio implants, energy weapons, interstellar travel and interstellar war.

He pressed his head against the leather headrest. They were planetside.

Larry closed his eyes. The picture hadn't changed much. He could've been back on Terra now, cashing in disability checks and drinking cheap beer. But that wasn't him. He chose this life, nobody forced his hand. He suspected that deep down inside, every man dreamed to prove himself to be the baddest ************ in the world... And he suspected that this was his chance.

"So, Kira, now that you've got me hostage, what is that you want me to do?"

"We're half an hour's drive from the dig. In this half an hour, I need you to tell me everything you know about it."

"I thought you said you're Special Forces. Don't they have maps in Special Forces?"

"They do. It's what's not on the maps that interests me."

"Why did Khal Sta Rak take the dig anyway? He's not going to sit there trading unrefined minerals for food and bottled water for the rest of his days. What's his game plan?"

Kira held a pause.

"Intel says he's planning to bring the dig down. He wants to martyr himself and his crazy fanboys in the name of La Revolucion. He'll probably 'martyr' the poor miners he caught unawares, too. He thinks he'll get the Storge to rise up again. The fool. You know what'll happen if he wins?"


"A ****load of innocent people will die, that's what. And if the Storge will rise up..."

Larry liked her voice. She spoke in the lullabies of silent gunshots, every bullet headed for his heart. He imagined her lips forming an O and breathing out a sound meant for him and him alone. He hadn't felt this good in while. For the second time today, he smiled.

"What then?"

"Then the Terran Special Forces will grind them back into the ground."

Kira told him that Khal Sta Rak likely made his base in the sixth tunnel, the dig's weakest point. Time flew as they talked about the dig's air vents, service tunnels and access hatches. After some deliberations, it was decided that she'd get in through the vents undetected and "waste every last one of them."

Come in, kill everyone really was her plan.

The engines stopped humming.

"Don't tell me you stopped in the middle of a sandstorm?"

"We're in their garage. Time to rock and roll."

"What do I do?"

"Stay in the buggy. Do not leave. I'll be back in an hour."

"And if you're not?"

"Well, I guess you're ****ed then, aren't you?"

The door opened, then clicked shut again. He told his brainsoft to initiate a sixty minute countdown.

He started worrying half an hour later. On the forty fifth minute he was biting his lips. Sixty minutes later, his lips began to swell.

After one hour and twenty minutes of waiting, Larry stepped out of the buggy.

****ed is me, he thought.

The audio amplifiers gave him nothing but silence. They must have parked in the Eastern vehicle pod. Larry told his brainsoft to narrate the dig's schematics in its best imitation of Kira's voice.

"You now are in the Eastern vehicle pod," it said, "The outside corridor leads to Living Quarters A, B, and C to the West, and to the exit to the mining tunnels to the East."

The black market hacks in his head buzzed themselves on. What's the worst that can happen? I'd lose my technician's license? It was a fleeting thought. It was best not to think about such things under the circumstances.

"Scan for lifeforms."

"Running Protocol Three Dash Nine. Connection established. Two brainsoft signals detected in Tunnel Six, one human, one Storge. No additional lifeforms detected. Disconnecting."

Larry tripped over something, barely managing not to fall. A body? He sat down to feel it. A body.

He felt across the dead Storge until his fingers met the much-welcome texture of the plasma rifle. He took it and stumbled out of the hangar. Things were looking bright.

"Echo, echo, echo," he said, the sound relfecting off the floor and the (three!) dead aliens. It wasn't much help. He already knew the vehicle pod had a floor.

Things got easier, if much scarier, when he entered the outside corridor, plasma rifle in hands, going "echo, echo, echo" and praying to Jah the Storge weren't lying in wait. He headed East, running the plasma rifle's barrel along the wall, searching for the air vent through which Kira was supposed to have made her glorious entrance. The barrel hit the ventilation panel; it was exactly where he told her it would be, screwed tightly to the wall.

Kira never made it past the corridor.

He got on one knee and unscrewed the panel with his multitool.

It was a narrow vent, the low ceiling grating against his back as he crawled forward, navigating the branching shafts towards Tunnel Six. When claustrophobia finally started to kick in, when he could barely feel the rifle in his arms, when he seriously considered backtracking and getting back in the buggy and come what may, he heard it: the gurgling language of the Storge.

"You heard that?" translated the brainsoft.


Gurgling, a different Storge this time.

"He's in the walls."

****, ****, ****.

A plasma dcharge brushed past his face, cutting the shaft in two. He fell out, finger on the trigger, plasma bolts flying, no recoil, only heat, shouts, screams. Larry landed on his stomach, firing at the sound.

He rolled, shot again, got up and run, screaming, "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!"

His voice reflected off the aliens; he couldn't count how many Storge there were in the room, many, all of them, he thought in frenzied motion, falling to the ground again, shooting. Sticky blood sprayed in his face. A plasma bolt whizzed above him, frying his hair and taking off somebody's head. Larry fired again, rolled, more sound; the gurgles turned to high pitched whines.

"You are in a gunfight," his hacked brainsoft said, "Remain calm and carry on."

The drill! he thought, its thumping revebrating through Tunnel Six.

He fired. The explosion deafened him; dust and smoke filled his nose and mouth. He hoped the dust cloud was enough to disorientate the ****ers.


Roll, pull the trigger. Roll. Get up. Fire! Fire! Fire!


Nobody was shooting. The fallen Storge screamed in agony around him, but nobody was shooting. Then, another gunshot, right next to him. Then another one. And another one.

Tunnel Six fell silent.


"Kira? Are you alright?"

"Just a flesh wound... I'm OK... Look, eh..."

He struggled to raise himself up from the floor, his unresponsive knees overdozed on adrenaline.

"Physical activity is good for you," commented his maddened brainsoft. He switched it off, orientating towards Kira. He stepped over a pile of bodies and tried to take her by the hand. Instead, his fingers met a catarized stump above her elbow. She recoiled from his touch.

"****!" he said.

She moved in closer.

"That's all right," she whispered in his ear, "If you'd know how many of those I had to regrow, you'd think I was a lizard. Doesn't hurt much, anyway."

Larry smiled. Third time today. He hugged her, as carefully as he could, feeling her warm skin through the torn remains of her clothing. He let go and ran his fingers across Kira's face: hair, cheeks, ears, eyes, nose, lips. Her smiling lips.

"You're beautiful," he said, surprised at the sound of his own voice.

Her lips touched his cheek. A kiss.

"Thank you, Larry."

He said nothing.

"You know, this Gabius Prime turned out to be a real stinker. You... And don't take it the wrong way, Larry... But, do you know that its cherry blossom season on Terra in about a week's time? Em... Want to come along?"

Larry smiled, breathing in the aroma of her hair spiced with the fresh stench of fifteen alien corpses.

"Sounds like a plan," he said.

-- THE END --


PS. The action begins in a stormy fortification. A blind golddigger and an athletic assassin are attracted to each other. Unfortunately she is abducted by a rogue alien. After everything they go to another galaxy together.

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