This is a work of fiction and for entertainment purposes. Any names or places used is purely coincidental. There are some things in this work that may be unsettling for those of you so if you don’t like horror at all, I don’t recommend reading this. Thank you.
Year 2098, June 20th
I don’t recall my dreams, yet I can still remember the nightmares.
One of which was me standing in the middle of a street as people walked around me as if I didn’t exist. It was a warm summer day like any I have seen before. Then, slowly, their skin started to melted off their bodies until they were walking skeletons in clothing that hung off of them. They were still walking, talking and living as if they couldn’t see their muscles, organs, and tissue falling off of them like ribbons to the ground. The streets and sidewalks soaked in blood and gore. Yet I could see them and see how doomed they were and when they finally realized what was happening to them, that their bodies were melting away…the screaming was terrible.
Then I woke up.
I could almost smell the putrid scent of warm entrails and blood. It makes my skin crawl.
This same reoccurring nightmare would play over and over again.
This time, finally no nightmares. Just silent darkness.
I was in a void with the sound of people whispering all around me. Telling me things that I couldn’t quite hear. Advice? Warnings? Encouragement? I couldn’t tell. It wasn’t long before the voices faded away only to be replaced with another but more familiar one.
Sitting up quickly my eyes are greeted with a harsh light. My eyes adjusted to the light and I soon realized I was in our transport to the head office for our briefing.
“Did you get enough sleep last night?”
I also remembered that one of my new coworker, Ross was sitting next to me as we drove to the station.
“Not really, I think I’m just anxious to get started” I stretched my arms and cracked the joints in my fingers. My limbs felt sore after sitting in this jeep for the last six hours. The sun was high into the sky and we were pretty far from any civilization at this point.
He laughed, “Well we are going to be there for quite a while so you’ll have plenty of time to get your bearings.”
“Associate Ross is correct, you slept only 4 hours and 27 minutes. You’re sleeping pattern need to be improved while your on this assignment. I have already complied a schedule for you.”
“Way to rat me out CAL to everyone.” The tiny computer was snug in my pocket but I can tell he was smirking. Though he doesn’t actually smirk since he’s no more then the size of a hockey puck and no facial features but his voice has enough personality for both of us to know when he’s trying to be humorous.
When I got my new job, he was handed to me by the recruiter.
This is your new companion, assistant, and life supporter or a CAL as some call it. Its basically a smart device for everything. Really useful thing when you’re too lazy to make your dinner yourself. This model is kind of stoic though unlike the more advanced ones but this is standard for any new overseer so make the most of it.
I never so much been in contact with an AI as we were generally not able to have one and the only things we had back home was a few beat up robots that mostly were used by mob families for protection. The dumping grounds for discarded machines was also a glorified Doctor Frankenstein’s lab where mob bosses and crooks would fashion together robots for all kinds of purposes. Wielding together two types of metal and twisting wires into abominable beings that had a grotesque quality as long cables would hang down from their necks and prosthetic eyeballs would become loose and fall out from the socket on occasion. They were more like monsters then the elegant mechanical beings that I’ve become more familiar with recently. The AI at home were meant to intimidate. At the labs they are polite and in some respects friendly beings with designs so carefully crafted by those who most likely found more joy in being with them then other actual humans. Almost loving putting each piece of finely polished metal into place to watch their bright eyes come to life upon a push of a button and the first pulse of an artificial heartbeat.
CAL was not as sophisticated as those who lived in the lavatories and administrative buildings. Those were reserved for specific staff, not me. He was a simple computer with a no bells or whistles to call his own. Yet, when I first held him in my hands the sudden sound of clicking inside of it felt akin to a beating heart. It was almost comforting if not a little off-putting.
Just press the button on top and it will activate the CAL automatically. You should also be sure to bring it with you wherever you go so it can keep your schedule on track especially as you get used to your home for the next couple of months. See you in a few days for your first day on the job.
I patted my pocket where CAL was and I felt his fan spin as if he felt insulted to be treated like a puppy.
Looking out the window as we skirted along the sandy landscape, I’m still amazed how I managed to get this job. It took so many interviews and background checks but finally I was here. Ready to start a new life with a steady job and maybe a bit of normalcy.
“Dad you know I can never swing a job like this! This is for anyone who is not us. You know I have a record-“
“No you don’t.” He handed me an ID card.
“DAD are you crazy, how did you get this?! These are illegal-“
“Keep it down! I know it is but its worth it. Do you understand what this is? Its a new life, a clean slate.”
“…but this isn’t even my name.” My dad cuffed me on my temple. “Forget your name, you would be stupid to pass this up. I spent almost everything I have to get this. You will take this card and get the hell out of here. Don’t even dream of coming back, because I will be gone by that time.”
He practically threw me out of the apartment and true to his word, when I tried to go back a few days later the place was empty and he was gone.
Now here I am, an Overseer.
VC Labs needed a new one as one of them retired from what the recruiter told me. From what it sounds like its an easy enough job but pays very well. You basically monitor the staff, scientists, and head of the team by keeping an eye on their health both physical and mental. If anyone seems off, send a quick report to HQ and then get the infirmary to look them over. The recruiter said they need people with a “good sense about them and able to read people well enough”. Whatever that means but I guess he liked me enough to know I wasn’t completely unqualified. I got the you’re-hired-call not a day later.
Soon enough I got my uniform (a tacky white jumpsuit and boots) and my new companion CAL. The lab station was several hours from my home, far into the desert. Makes sense if you want to conduct experiments without anyone watching. It wasn’t really my concern what they did, but I couldn’t help but imagine finding out they had aliens in jars or something when I got there.
Around me is a convoy of jeeps. Ross, myself and the driver are the only ones here along with three full cars behind us. The rest of the crew was already at the lab preparing everything.
“I know you’re nervous, but don’t worry being an overseer is super easy. This is my fourth time doing this in one of the isolation labs. Its more boring then anything else” he said with a wide grin.
“How long have you worked with VC?”
“Oh about six years now, my mom works for another lab as one of the scientists but I could never be bothered to run tests all day. Sitting on my butt checking out vital scans every hour or so while being a lazy bum is more of my thing.”
To be honest, I’m not sure if I like Ross. He’s kind of annoying but at least he’s open enough to talk about the job. All in all it sounds like a glorified security job minus actually looking for danger and having weapons. Its almost like gloried babysitting fort adults.
“Anna, it looks like we are close according to our GPS coordinates.”
As the jeep crested another hill, there it was… Lab #165.
“Finally, I need something to eat soon” said Ross.
I couldn’t take my eyes of the Lab, it was this monster building with a huge dome in the center. It could easily fit 100 people and looked like it was two stories high but I was certain most of the complex was underground.
“Yep pretty impressive right? It was just built recently.”
I looked over at Ross, “This is new?”
“Oh yeah, they tore down one of the older labs since it was starting to fall apart. I was here a few years ago. The foundation and walls were almost splintering. At least we don’t have to worry about the walls caving in anymore.”
The jeep drove up to the entrance after the massive concrete doors swung open, obviously our group was expected. Only us and a small supply truck every week was allowed here during the isolation period.
As the jeep stopped, someone was there to greet us. An older man with a long, unkept beard but his eyes showed a sharp intelligence despite his disheveled appearance. I had a strong suspicion this may be the our chief for the next six months.
As we exited the vehicles, the drivers were quick to grab our bags and rush them inside the building.
“Welcome to Lab 165, I’m Dr. Thompson, your superior for this isolation period. You will briefed on your assignments, duties, and other important matters tomorrow morning at 8am in the main atrium behind me. For now, please settle in. We will be having a staff dinner tonight for us all to get better acquainted.”
Then just like that he turned back and scurried away. Leaving us all outside looking at each other awkwardly. Eventually we walked into the building after a few moments.
“He’s pretty…direct.” I said to Ross.
“Chris? Yeah he’s a bit uptight but super friendly once you get to know him. He’s just someone who’s never not working. VC is his whole life pretty much.”
Inside was the massive dome I saw from the outside. The atrium was enormous with the sky able to be seen above us from the massive glass dome. All around me was staff running with paperwork and items on carts. Some looked like standard equipment for a lab I guess. Others…I’m not sure if I wanted to know. Behind me I heard the massive creak and slam of the concrete gates outside closing and then the doors of the entrance way being shut and locked with a loud metallic click.
Oh yeah I almost forgot…isolation but why would they need to lock the doors?
“Come on lets get to our dormitory. I want something to eat at the canteen” said Ross as he pushed me along with the other staff.
Looking behind me I stared at the now locked entrance and all I could think was what have I gotten myself into?