Today I’m sharing a short story that I have started which is set in the ‘Verge’ universe. It has not been edited or any of the usual stuff – and it is not finished. It doesn’t even have a title yet. I just wanted to post it here and get people’s opinions on what I have so far. I’ve not written many short stories and I would like to get some practice in 🙂
Please, tell me what you think of it so far in the comments below.
Thanks – Now here is the story so far!
The look on the doctor’s face only confirmed what John already knew.
He was dying.
He had known for months, he could feel it happening in the marrow of his bones, he thought he could feel his body decaying around him. Now, lying in a hospital bed, he was faced with the confirmation.
John did not listen as the doctor explained the diagnoses. Instead he began to plan. The ‘officialness’ of the news seemed to trigger something in John, something that had been lying dormant inside him for many months – perhaps even years. Something that was hungry for revenge.
John was barely aware of the Doctor leaving the room; his mind was too caught up in the whirling of his thoughts and desires. Being told you are about to die is a very liberating experience. And the one thing that John truly wanted to do now became possible.
He needed to kill a man.
But not just any man. No. John just wanted to eliminate one certain man; the man who had caused this ‘thing’ to happen to him. Anger flared within John as it always did when his thoughts turned in this direction, but now he could direct it; manipulate it to achieve what he truly wanted.
And not worry about the consequences.
But the first thing he needed to do was get back planetside. Get back to true civilisation, to the true heart of University power. That was where his quarry lurked.
Decision made, John acted quickly. He did not want his sub-conscious to talk him out of this.
John threw the covers off and swung himself out of bed. The sterile cold of the room hit him straight away, causing goose bumps to break out over his bare skin. All that clothed him was a pair of silk boxer shorts that a friend had given him years ago. He did not remember putting them on.
Crossing the room, John then opened the stainless steel locker that should have held his clothes and belongings. It did not. All that hung in the locker was a white orderly’s uniform with a pair of white leather lace ups sitting discarded in the back. He must have been moved from his original room while he was still under from the anaesthetic to a recovery room. John’s belongings had not arrived yet to join him. But John could not wait; the beast inside of him urged him to hurry.
The orderly uniform will do. Pulling it off the clothes hook, John quickly dressed. Buttoning up the side of the shirt, he could not help but look at himself in the mirror. The uniform was a size to big but it will do. John looked a little thinner than he remembered and a little greyer but his eyes still stared back at him blue and clear. He rubbed his fingers through the peppered stubble that populated his chin. How long had he been under?
The sound of footsteps echoing along the corridor made John turn from the mirror. Outside he could hear two people and they were in no hurry. He moved to the door and slowly cracked it open as the sound of the footsteps passed him.
John saw the retreating white backs of a male and female nurse. Their heads were close together, talking quietly so as not to disturb their patients. There was no one else in the hallway. This was his chance to get out.
As the two nurses disappeared around the corner, John slipped out of his room and headed in the opposite direction. With his current intentions he did not wish to be seen or recognised or detained as a runaway patient.
John walked quickly down the corridor, passed the empty nurses station and headed towards the elevators. There he saw two patients talking, their biospheres hovering quietly above their heads.
John did not know them so he stepped forward and pressed the button for down. The two old men barely battered an eyelid at him and they continued their quiet conversation. John stood a little away from the two but he kept an eye on them.
As he watched John thought he recognised something in the two old men. One was at least in his nineties and was bent low over his old fashioned cane. His face was wrinkled and pale but he still had a good head of iron-grey hair. The other man looked much older. He too had iron-grey hair and had his share of wrinkles and age spots and had skin that looked not to have seen the sun in years. Around his chest was a hover band that whirred to itself as it kept the man upright and on his feet. There were similarities between the two that made John think they were related to each other. Maybe they were brothers.
Then the elevator doors opened and John stepped quickly inside. He did not see that the eyes of the two old men followed him in. They smiled to his retreating back.
Once inside, he pressed the control pad to take him down to the Hanger level. John felt the falling sensation in his stomach as the lift dropped the five floors to reach the Hanger Docks. This is where things start to get difficult. He shoved his hands in his trouser pockets in an effort to calm himself. His hands unexpectedly came in contact with something hard in the right pocket. John pulled it out and revealed a plain white plastic access card complete with pocket clip. John thought it strange that there was no photo ID impregnated in the plastic. Perhaps it used biometrics instead? John clipped it to his shirt pocket anyway. He could still get a Drop Shuttle without Hospital ID. But he might need it to leave the hospital without alerting his doctor. John wanted no delays. He would have to chance it.
The sinking feeling in his stomach told him that the lift was slowing. The control panel told him that he was nearly on the Hanger Level. John readied himself as the lift came to a stop. The elevator doors opened to reveal yet another corridor, but this one had signs indicating directions. He immediately turned left, following the Drop Shuttle sign without really looking at it. The shock of seeing this design of signs John kept contained within him. He was not in his local hospital – he was in the University facility. How did he get here? This is a problem for him to nut out later on. John gave himself a brief smile, being here just made his task easier.
John moved quickly through the hallways that gradually filled with technicians, hospital staff and numerous other University employees who rushed through the corridors about their own business. He became one in a sea of nameless faces as he came closer to the hanger bay. John now knew exactly where he was and he hoped, as a high-level research technician of the University, had the correct biometrics to gain the security clearance to drop to the surface.
Suddenly the corridor opened into a large service hanger where several drop ships were docked and waiting, their pilots were either talking together or relaxing in the lunchroom that was just off the main hanger. The main hanger itself was a very large open area with its far end open to the sky, an invisible static barrier the only protection for the unwary falling to the earth below. Nested to one side of the passenger bay was a security cubicle where five armed men were either sitting at a desk doing paperwork or quietly observing the chaos around them.
Flowing over the floor of the hanger were the shuttle technicians whose orange jumpsuits seemed to swirl in a constant movement of colour about the docked shuttles and approaches. They were continuously going through the common routine of the shuttles twelve-point checks, refuelling and traffic clearance for the hanger bay.
The stark whiteness of the shuttle bay contrasted sharply with the scrap of night sky that could be seen through the Hanger Gateway, John stood still a moment to stare at it. He felt as if he was viewing the sky for the first time, somehow he could feel it calling to him, encouraging him.
Shaking his head, John quickly marched himself over to the nearest Drop Shuttle and lined up behind the people waiting to board. As the line inched forward John felt a tingle creep up his spine and he felt the small hairs on the back of his neck raise on end.
Nervously, he rubbed a sweaty palm against the rough fabric of the orderlies’ uniform and glanced causally around him. Others had lined up behind him and the people in front of him had their white plastic cards out ready to be authenticated by the Drop Shuttle computer while chatting companionably with each other.
Stepping ahead as the line moved forward, John glanced up at the Drop Shuttle doors and stopped stock still at what he saw. Mounted in the centre of the doors was a Genetic Decoder. John could see the small sphere bob over the head of the next person in line to read the closest bit of genetic material to it as they scanned their card through the reader. He saw both reader and sphere flash green at the same time and the Drop Shuttle attendant ushered them through into the shuttle.
John knew that his DNA and the information stored on the card he held would not match – for a start his card was a photo ident blue which contained a copy of his biometrics. But why this high a level security in a hospital?
John would have to find another way to get planet side.
Quickly stepping out of the shuttle line, John headed back in the direction he came. He needed somewhere quiet to think and he needed to get more information on this place for now, as he really looked carefully around he saw subtle differences to the University Hospital that he remembered. The big difference he now realised was that the view of the bright lights of the Adelaide Hills that could usually be seen on the planet below was missing which implied that this was a different hospital. But the University did not have a different Hospital.
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