This Short Story is set before the events of EPISODE 2


The new kid was nervous, swallowing again his mouth was dry and his palms were clammy. He struggled to regulate his breathing and quieten the hammering of his heart threatening to leap from his chest. Dr Rycroft had asked to see him personally and that was the primary source of his anxiety. He knew he was good at what he did but had heard when Dr Rycroft called on you personally it was either good news or very, very bad news. He gathered up all his documents and took another look at his watch. He took a quick sip of his cold coffee before taking off at high speed, didn't want to be late for the boss man.

Although he was referred to by most as 'The new kid' he'd been working here on the Earth Orbital Lab for almost a year now but couldn't seem to shake the nickname. His speciality was facial recognition software, he wrote algorithms and custom software to search through images and video feeds using various complex techniques. The power Dr Rycroft had put at the new kids fingertips was phenomenal. The super computers he had access to were simply too powerful for him to fully comprehend. Then again the task Dr Rycroft had assigned him was quite a unique one. He had been given one photo of a person, an average looking man, wouldn't stand out in a crowd. He had then been instructed to search every image and video in recent history for this unremarkable man. At the time he thought this had got to be a joke and Dr Rycroft picked up on his disbelief stating that 'It is a great honour for someone so young to be given such an important task. Perform it well and you will be rewarded, failure is not an option.'

The new kid had been using the almost limitless power of the super computers to create new and exciting search algorithms using advanced geometric facial measurements, 3D photometrics, dynamic link matching and various other statistical comparison solutions. All these biometric methods combined to form an awesomely powerful piece of software that could literally find needles in haystacks. The thing that had surprised the new kid initially and forced him to re-check his work was that this person, this 'Being' as Dr Rycroft referred to him was turning up in the background of hundreds of images and videos over the last fifty years. He was in different countries and in different roles but it was clearly the same man. This 'Being' had not aged at all throughout all these images and that's what had made it easy to find his image in so many places. Science was only recently performing lifespan extension therapy and even that was only for the likes of trillionaire Weston Carnodyne so who or what the hell was this Being?

He knocked on Dr Rycroft's door. Folder tucked under his arm, he straightened himself up quickly and waited as patiently as he could. The door opened and Dr Rycroft filled the doorway, he stared at the new kid for a few seconds before saying 'Let's take a stroll?' to which the new kid simply nodded, backed up and fell into step alongside but slightly behind Dr Rycroft as they headed off down the corridor. There was no-one about which was odd as this place was normally a hive of activity. Dr Rycroft quietly asked him to present his findings as they walked, perhaps he wasn't such an ogre after all?

As they walked Dr Rycroft stopped periodically at the viewports and took in the view of Earth. The new kid would never get used to that view, it never ceased to be anything but breathtakingly beautiful. He began by talking about the details of his facial recognition software and Dr Rycroft had quickly interjected 'I am not interested in the details, just give me the results!' So he did, as they walked and talked he explained about all the appearances he had found of this 'Being' throughout recent history.

The new kid showed Dr Rycroft a series of photos of various military operations in multiple countries throughout the last 50 years and the 'Being' was in all of them. He was always in the background and he seemed to blend in, almost insignificant, just another grunt. The news write-ups detailed various heroics that had been performed by his units and documents he had uncovered backed up these stories, though none included the name of the subject himself. The most interesting one was a battered old photo taken in 1950, a photo of several soldiers that had the faces scrubbed out. With the resources that Dr Rycroft provided the new kid was able to find the original and upon it was the subject alongside several other secret members of the fledgling SAS situated in North Africa. There were literally hundreds of photos of this guy all over the world involved with various fighting forces, security forces and bodyguard services, how could that be? To be in such dangerous places and situations and yet still be alive was simply impossible.

Dr Rycroft listened patiently as the new kid explained his next set of pictures. This series were quite different, similarly they were from the last 50 years or so but these were worldwide disasters. Photographs of airplane crashes, explosions, car crashes, shootings and various natural disasters. In all these pictures the Being was featured dead, among the casualties, among the wreckages, he was dead. The kid seemed to let this statement hang in the air but Dr Rycroft showed no signs of enquiring how it was possible that he was dead and yet alive in photos taken long after some of these events.

As they walked along the new kid realised he wasn't quite sure where they were, they had walked through several security doors and used two lifts whilst he was talking. He had never been to this part of the station, there were locked rooms along each side of the corridor and muffled screaming sounds coming from within the rooms. Dr Rycroft seemed to notice his confusion and distracted him by asking a question. 'What else can you tell me about the Being?' The new kid had been formulating his own crazy ideas about this 'thing' but decided to just say 'I'm not sure, but I know one thing, the face recognition software had a relatively easy time picking this guy out simply because he hasn't aged or changed significantly over the last 50 years!' He paused then added 'I don't think he's human...'

Dr Rycroft approached an open door up ahead and ever the gentleman motioned the kid to enter first. He took the folder of pictures from the new kid as he entered the room but Dr Rycroft didn't follow. He stood on the threshold and said 'You are right! He's definitely not human!' The door slammed shut and the new kid was plunged into darkness. He stood there for a few seconds before calling out 'Dr Rycroft?' He shouted again and after receiving no reply he started to get even more nervous than he usually was. A noise behind him made him spin instinctively and stare into the darkness. 'Hello? Is there someone in here?' He got no reply. Something scratched to his right and again he turned to face it but even though his eyes were slowly adjusting to the gloom he saw nothing. This was getting weird. Another noise off to his left this time and it was close. He thought he heard ragged breathing but wasn't sure if it was just his own. He scrabbled in his pocket for his phone and activated its screen to use as a torch. What he saw made him jump back against the door with terror. A creature had been standing right in front of him about to attack, its long fangs and pale bloody face snarling with hunger. Its white body was thin and bones protruded as if starved for weeks, its fingernails were dirty black, long and sharp. A smell of rancid flesh filled the room. It edged forwards, rolling its head around its neck cracked and it opened and closed its mouth as if making sure it was ready to bite. The new kid was backed into the corner now whimpering 'What are you? What the hell are you? Help me?' in the short silence that followed the new kid heard the creature's sibilant whisper 'Vampire!' before it launched at him and plunged its teeth deep into his throat. He gurgled and struggled but for all this thing looked weak it was not, it held him firm and drank its fill. The new kid fell unconscious as the vampire let his limp form fall to the floor, it didn't want to finish this feast in one sitting.

The infra-red security camera in the corner of the room captured it all. Dr Rycroft stood in another room, a wall full of monitors showing various disturbing feeds. His reflection showed a look of smug satisfaction as he nodded his head saying 'Good job new kid. Your reward is immortality!'

Copyright - Psionic Games 2011

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