Mikey had been Holding D’s greatest failure.
His father had been the brainchild behind the Holdings program and it had been in his son that he had pinned his best and most ambitious hopes. Unfortunately, as is often the case with fathers and sons, the weight of expectation would prove to be too heavy for either to bear. Genetically speaking Mikey was a dud; powerless, human and completely uninteresting. After his mother, an aide worker had disappeared in the first wave of the creatures evolution and his father had committed suicide, his lifes’ work reaching a dead end with his only son, Mikey had been locked away. Now, 17 years old, he sat, observed around the clock in the event of his sudden and instantaneous combustion. Mikey was possessed of cells which had been tested, prodded, irradiated and manipulated more than could be conceived of. Yet, there he remained; a genetic dead end.
We had all met Mikey during our group therapy sessions, when the walls would be lined with armed guards and sedatives in case one of us were to become irate and suck the whole country into another reality. They were fun sessions and everyone always liked Mikey because he was quiet and good looking and people always construe quiet and good looking people as being strong and knowledgeable. I didn’t particularly like Mikey because no one had ever thought that I was strong or knowledgeable or good looking.
“What are you kids doing here? What’s going on?”
Mikey was behind the opaque glass walls of his observation quarters, the interior sterile and white. The observation cells were located in the furthest wing from the carnage that was occurring and were so quiet, you could almost believe that the devil was still chained. We had all spent time here, but no one had lived here as long as Mikey. This was his home and any sympathy I felt for him at the time was quashed by my petty and childish jealousies. I have never made any apologies for who I am.
“Some among us think that we are being judged and that we’re getting what we deserve.” Lauren said, humourlessly, “I think it has something to do with a jihad of some description. Either way, everyone is either dead or dying and we don’t know what to do.”
“Well, who the hell is doing this?” Mikey asked, bright and assured, “Have you guys seen them?”
“Norris has seen them. Burned them with his thoughts.” I replied. “I’ve only seen them in my dreams.”
My brilliantly dramatic line ignored, Mikey directed his questioning toward Norris.
“Norris? Norris, what did they look like? You saw them… who are they?”
“Why bother asking him?” I snorted, “He can’t tell you who…”
“They looked like serpents.” Norris’ voice was smooth and clear. “They moved like them, their fangs bared as razors. I saw mouths in mouths in mouths, shining like death and dripping the blood of all those yet to die from their lips. They were not human. They were fear. Pure, endless fear made into the form of the serpent.”
Silence hung in the air.
“Any… anything else, Norris.” Mikey asked, breathless.
“I wish they all could be…” Norris wheezed, staring past us and choking back tears, “California girls…”
And as Lauren and I turned, we saw a serpent rise out of the shadows behind us.
* * *