gas was everywhere worming its burning fingers through the pale girl’s
ready Penelope?” said Chimera tucking the figure in her arms closer
against her body armour.
winced as her sister croaked back.
should be running whilst you can. They’ll be here soon.”
decide what to do with my time.”
stared into her frail sibling’s soft rose-coloured eyes. They were
growing misty now, the light in them finally fading into darkness.
fingers traced the taught, bony, face above her.
the stubborn one. Even when they were trying to teach us. No
need to hand them the whole group dead.”
looked like she wanted to say more, but you could see what it was
taking her to talk at all. Chimera brushed a single white hair off her cheek
where sweat had plastered it flat. They were different in so many respects. But
their pigmentation, or lack of it, was one thing they shared. The scientists
had never got that right.
breathe … please? For me?”
began to stream down Chimera’s face as the scarlet beam of
gunsights cut through the smoke. But her sister was right. Already the bodies
around them were twitching as rounds slammed into their sides. It looked like
it was a straightforward job then, no prisoners, no survivors, everything the
wrong end of a gunsight destined for a body bag. Chimera nodded grimly. She was
used to that; nobody had much room for loving the products of where she came
on, we have to leave.”
will after … ,” Chimera closed her eyes as her sister’s words were
lost in a bout of coughing. When Penelope could speak again her voice was small
and weak like a new-born still wet from bio bag fluid. “You got any more
of the good stuff?” Penelope
gestured weakly at the med kit her sister was clutching. “I don’t think I can
do it else.”
a moment Chimera thought of the other option, the one she could feel
dragging at her hip as she watched her sister’s ruined body.
haven’t sis, I’m sorry. I used the last syrette trying to help the
others.” Chimera’s breath hitched in her throat. She looked away. “Then you got
was still staring at the corpses trying to ignore the shadows she
saw growing in their eyes when Penelope made her choice. Her sister would try
to remember that when she was alone, and the night wrapped itself about her
until it was hard to breathe. She’d fail. It was her fault, always would be. The
gun was out of her waist band and in Penelope’s mouth before she could react. Chimera
never forgot the look on her sibling’s face as the bullet took the back of her head
was one name on Chimera’s lips when she let what was left of
Penelope fall to the floor.
finished listening to the echoes of her story bounce around the deserted
building site’s canteen. It still hurt, it probably always would. From the facility
she and her siblings had been grown in, to the pain of losing the only person
she’d ever really loved, her life seemed to be one long shout of agony.
that why you came to me?”
glittered in the weak light from the single obsolete filament bulb
before they were hidden again in the owner’s pockets.
hog her, she came to … .”
… us,” said the second of the overweight twins in shiny blue tracksuits.
decided to interrupt, “It is, they found the lot. All our
support, all our safe houses, and resources. The whole thing’s got Garett’s
fingerprints on it. I think they’d been at it for a while, gathering
information, sniffing round the survivors of that lab they had us in.”
don’t know what you expect us to do. Under normal circumstances it
would be easy. But someone with your … .”
you, ‘condition,’ is going to stand out a mile no matter what we
surprised you weren’t caught years back,” said Terrance. At least Chimera
thought it was Terrance. She’d never been able to work out which was which.
too good, that’s why. My ‘condition’ as you call it, has its
the gloom Chimera’s eyes glowed red as she tossed her long white hair
over one shoulder.
don’t worry too much over whether we can … .’
… see your point of view.”
a paying customer, and the customer is always … .”
have to admit she’d be doing us a favour, Solomon,” said Terrance
with a glance at his brother.
good point. The authorities have been sniffing far too close to us
recently. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if your operation to release your
friends isn’t the reason for us still being at large.”
large?’ I like it Solomon.”
you might, Terrance.” The twins returned their attention to
their visitor. “You’ve taken the heat off, for a little while at least. I think
they thought our kind were all … .”
right Terrance. Dead.”
waited for the twins to finish laughing, but there was still a
look on their fat boiled faces that said that despite their good humour anyone
that made them angry would regret it.
be fun watching you get massacred again. You know he’s killed
everyone who’s tried to end him.”
because Garret’s more vicious than a hanging judge, and twice as
corrupt,” said Chimera.
as mean as me and … .”
we’re in the mood … .”
… of course.”
is a lot. We’ll get you up and running, and when you have him we
want his head. That’s the deal. He’s caused us more than a few little problems
in life. His head should make up for that.”
howled round the isolated porta cabin chasing empty lunch wrappers
across the floor.
give me what I need to do it with then?”
we’ll even put you up.”
month and Chimera had it worked out. She had a team, a plan, and
enough firepower to obliterate an army.
she just needed to find her target.
leant back and spread his arms.
sea, and lager. He’d timed it perfectly. The last little band of failed
experiments had been wiped out just before he was due some serious rest and recreation.
government’s best Counter Terrorism Officer watched an attractive
blonde stroll past.
fumbled through the bags at his feet.
it go? Oh yeah … hola guappa.”
blonde looked over one graceful shoulder, and slowly extended her
bitch, probably a dyke.”
eased his sunburnt carcass back into his chair. Maybe that was
the problem. He’d fallen asleep beneath the veranda on the first day out and
even with the fake tan he’d plastered over himself the stripes were still
gave the crowd a contemplative look and tried to relax. The weekend was
going to be over too quick.
to the missus and kids. You can’t keep telling her you’re doing
sighed. It was getting harder and harder to return to Belinda.
She’d been a looker once, but these days. Well, it didn’t bear thinking about.
Particularly when the world was so full of gems like that little blonde tart.
gagging for a bit of Metropolitan, aren’t you?”
gave the girl a wave where she’d sat down with her friends and tried
not to imagine Britain in the rain. He was doing a pretty good job too right up
until his phone rang.
You know these little breaks are special to me. I was told I was
going to be left in peace.”
had instantly recognised the number flashing on the screen. There
was only ever one reason why they called him from that department.
would have done, sir. But you’re going to want to hear this.”
is it then?”
no easy way to say it so I’ll give it to you straight. Your father’s
dead. Someone kicked him out of a moving car in the middle of rush hour. He’d
had heard his colleagues talk about loss and how it felt. Of
course, he didn’t have any real friends, so it hadn’t meant much. His breed of
unpleasantness made empathy difficult. But now he began to understand as a vast
empty space unrolled inside him.
they think did it?”
I’m sorry, but with the amount of enemies you have it could be
anyone couldn’t it?”
me on the next flight back.”
done, you’re leaving first thing tomorrow.”
put the phone down and stared at the horizon. He was still
staring as night drew in.
had enjoyed killing the cop’s father. She’d taken her time
savouring the feel of his windpipe collapsing beneath the garrotte’s fist, and
the frightened look in the face that was so like his son’s. But this was even
better. She leaned closer to the two-way mirror and watched the shadows her
breath made cloud its surface.
we getting worried yet? I think we are, aren’t we Doctor?”
man in the observation room wore a white jacket and thin wire specs
that he could have been born with. She peered closer before stretching out a
hand for the microphone. For a moment she’d thought she’d seen the track of old
scars on his wrists.
I need to talk to you. Stay seated, please.”
man jumped nervously, glancing at the mirror. When Chimera entered he
didn’t waste time.
phone this number,” he said with an admirable attempt at staying
calm. “The person on the other end will tell you who I am, and that I’m to be
let the sliver of paper hang in the air until he dropped his
arm. She was still wearing the same grim smile, the one that hadn’t left her
since she’d first entered the room.
do you think you are Doctor?”
don’t know some containment unit for another department, I expect. People
are always getting their wires crossed, aren’t they? You know, stepping on each
other’s toes. You’ve got this all wrong. I work for the company too.”
if I told you that didn’t matter seeing as we’re nothing to do
with your superiors, and haven’t been for a long while?”
watched his shoulders sag.
who are you?”
she told him she watched the rest of the colour drain from his
experiments? A survivor? That can’t be … there was an operation.”
got all of us, except me.”
face grew a little paler. Considering some of the stuff he and his
friends had produced for the conflict she’d been created to end he wasn’t
surprised. Corpses had been just the tip of the iceberg.
how I feel about that Doctor.”
it was all shut down years ago.”
room slid into darkness as Chimera leant forwards with both arms on
already know what I see Doctor; what I was designed to spread. But
have you ever experienced it yourself?”
gloom had become so thick the Doctor’s face floated in it like the
belly of a dead fish. Only Chimera’s eye’s provided illumination as they began
to blaze red.
the decision was overturned. There was no telling how f-far
something like that could spread. People need hope o-or the whole system
reminded Chimera of a plague victim now, sitting their sweating as he
waited for the verdict on his life.
still sent us though, didn’t they Doctor? Just like they said they
would, and we did our job very well.”
you were the ones that were supposed to … .”
… to infect the enemy’s children. You were supposed to be the clean
alternative to a virus. The final answer to the region’s problems. If even one
of you were to let loose what’s hidden inside you in a major population centre,
that’s it.” He clapped his hands together and the sound was loud and final in
the tiny room. “The fight ends when the next generation are so full of despair
they can’t lift a finger. If you bring what we spliced into you to an island as
small as this everyone will be affected."
already brought it though haven’t I Doctor? It’s in me, isn’t it?
And I see it every day. For me the world is an unfriendly place.”
just let me go, please? I’ll give you money. They paid me well,
all I want is to be gone when it starts to spread. They’ll kill me for this.”
if I don’t.”
felt the cold rush of air before drizzle slapped him in the face and
the airport’s doors closed behind him.
to Britain,” he muttered and for a moment he felt like turning
and heading back inside. They’d taken his wife last night. Some uniforms had
gone round to see why she wasn’t answering the phone and found her hanging from
the bannisters by her neck.
even use her handwriting in the note,” spat Garret. “Some fucker’s
going to pay for this.”
what resources have we got?”
made it a level one breach after they found what was in that
girl’s blood at the massacre they’re trying to pull off as a success story. We’re
still in possession of the body, barely scratched the other one though.”
sir, she’s one of the early variants. The ones whose alteration
thought they’d been destroyed?”
did everyone, it was the previous administration as usual sir, a doctor
got involved with the dead girl. He left a door open so to speak.”
is he now?”
almighty how did that happen? It was supposed to be a secure
it matter, sir? It’s too late now.”
better not be too late. We’ve got a lunatic after my family, or
what’s left of them.”
PC gave him a commiserating look as he opened his car door and
handed Garret a printout.
the PM, sir.’
barely needed to glance at it to know what it was.
arch lunatic of them all’s final bloody solution. I knew that mad
witch should have been put out of her misery before she won another term. I
expect she’ll want to evacuate if it gets out of hand, and the killing spreads.”
is not to reason why, ey sir?”
the humour for your own time officer. I need to get to my mother’s.
I want to check she’s still breathing.”
the screams started Chimera briefly entertained the notion that she
should feel pity. It didn’t last long. Once you peeled the laminate from these
people’s ID’s and got inside their heads they were all the same.
have known you’d have to pay eventually, Doctor. We aren’t all
noise of her sister’s former lover and some of the programs earliest
creations getting acquainted grew louder. When it finally died away a man with
tattoos over his face and eyes that had been sewed shut stepped from the
copper you want? He’s gone to see what’s left of his family.”
about time he turned up. Let’s go explain to him the error of his
ways,” said Chimera.
journey only took a few hours; the curfew the current administration
had imposed as they began to suspect what was really at stake began at ten and
lasted until dawn. That meant empty roads, empty that is except for the burnt-out
wrecks of those stupid enough to try and break out.
see anybody you don’t wait, car, or cop. Shoot first and we’ll
worry about the consequences later.”
could smell the sea before she saw it. There was nothing like
that back where she’d been fighting just dust, sand, and the scuttling things
that lived there.
sure this is the right place?”
no other port nearby left open. We took them out last month.
They still haven’t recovered.”
the car then.”
got out grimacing into the wind and blinking sudden stubborn
tears away. The lights from the inflatable looked about five minutes out.
of time,” muttered Chimera.
course, she’d seen his photograph before. But he still came as a
shock. Chimera had been expecting a Godzilla, every day since her sister’s
death and Garret had grown. But what stepped from the vessel’s side was a
wreck, a failed throwback to the status quo Chimera and her kind were busy dismantling.
watched as he took a drag on a cigarette that dissolved into
coughing and cocked her gun.
first shot hit his escort between the eyes, and she watched with satisfaction
as he dropped.
the rest,” Chimera didn’t bother to hide the blood lust in her
tattooed man smiled as he pulled the trigger. They’d paid him well,
but this he’d do for free.
are your parents Garret?” called Chimera. “You enjoyed your visit
know how they are bitch.”
target was rolling, flying, spitting out bullets that hit her companion
in the shoulder and face. Chimera stepped across his body and calmly finished
the skipper first before he could radio for help.
love your country don’t you Garret? You’d do anything to protect it,
kill you that’s for sure, just like your sister.”
let him take a good look at the machine pistol in her hand as he
fumbled bullets into his gun.
take this as a favour. You won’t live to see what we’ll do to it.”
course, mad as hell Garret.”
let loose, chewing through the soil with her bullets, but the
cop was quick. The soles of his feet disappeared over the dockside faster than
she could draw a bead.
not going to work Garret. I’ll hunt you till I hear you scream.”
tasted blood from the lip she’d bitten in her excitement as
distant splashing reached her ears.
found him eventually, although it took her a year. He’d run to
America like most of the countries ex-administration once fires and looting had
broken out back home.
said Chimera quietly.
reg she’d been given matched the car on the service station
money I ever spent. Looks like I’ve got you, doesn’t it copper?”
had appeared from the station mini mart’s depths. Outlined in the
white neon light spilling from the windows he looked as skinny as a wraith. Both
his hands were full of bags and bottles.
room for a gun then, good. I don’t want you getting confused about
how dead you are.”
car door clicked shut behind her and Chimera let her voice carry, “You
didn’t swim far enough Garret.”
ex-cop busily searching for his keys looked up, shock written all
over his face.
took his hands from him first. Then she made his legs follow suite,
smiling as he crumpled to the ground. He was screaming when she got the rope
out of the car. Evidently the shock hadn’t been enough to take the pain away.
Chimera had bothered to pay attention there were probably words in
the garbled sounds coming from the policeman’s mouth. But the tape soon shut that
up before she began to saw.
made sure to pack her trophy up tight before she let the car do the
least you’ll be useful up there Garret: vultures always need feeding.”
glanced at the station’s sign where it sat like a searchlight
scything through the night. The body spread-eagled across it reminded her of an
icon in a church.
hope you enjoy the experience.”
gunned the car’s engine. It would have been better if the rear-view
mirror had been bigger. She wanted to enjoy the sight a lot longer than the
time it had taken to finish her work.
always more of you I suppose. The world doesn’t have any
shortage of bastards.”
Garret disappeared behind the red flare of her tail-lights Chimera
began to dial the twin’s number.
Kilmo writes. He brought it from squatting
to a pub car park, to Dark Fire Magazine, CC&D Magazine, Feed Your Monster
Magazine, Blood Moon Rising, Aphelion, The Wyrd, Sirens Call, and The Chamber
Magazine. He also has a story published in the anthology One Hundred Voices