Updated: Sep 8
The sky was that eerie hour between dusk and dark where your mind played tricks on your eyes. Shadows came to life, making you see something that didn't exist. The only illumination came from a soft glow of the moon, a soft gleam touching the dense forest of Montana's remote road. At a chilly thirty-three degrees, the night air was crisp enough to freeze your breath. While the winter snow season was over, a last cold blast blew down from Canada as a reminder of the winter past.
Julius and Stephanie Gilham headed back to their quaint hotel in Whitefish, Montana. Being natives from southern California, they didn't like being on the cold Montana roads after dark. Black ice was a common trick for the eye to decipher. But what they left was far more dangerous than black ice.
They simply called it The Facility.
The Facility looked like a large plain warehouse with chain link and razor wire. But in the remote wooded location of northern Montana, stumbling upon the compound by accident was not likely. From the sky, the camouflaged roof prevented it from being noticed from above. And the slim chance someone found this building, they would have guessed it to be a government facility. Even the armed guards gave the same impression.
Julius and Stephanie left The Facility as guests. They came to gather records and data from the scientists on staff. Their job was to collect information from the two remaining locations of The Facilities around the world. They then compiled all the data in their home for their leader, the one they answered to.
Over the past ten years, their compounds came under attack. Seven years ago, their facility in Costa Rica was destroyed, and all their experiments went missing. Two years later, someone ambushed the German facility, and once again, the experiments escaped. Two and a half years after Germany, the compound in Thailand fell. The Facility was systematically being attacked. Someone wanted them shut down for good, and they wanted their experiments.
But the attack that devastated The Facility the most was the flagship facility in Australia ten years ago. Five underground stories were leveled. Their greatest experiment escaped, taking many of their original experiments in the commotion. This attack differed from the rest. This one came from the inside of the compound, which told them Pandora was responsible. Pandora was the only experiment capable of destruction of this magnitude.
The employees and the residents, or experiments, never knew what hit them. When the first blast shook the reinforced concrete walls, it crumbled one floor at a time. Within an hour, charred remains of human bodies, and over a hundred empty cells remained. Walls came down in heaping piles of rubble. Live electrical wires hung from the ceiling sparking with every surge of power. They lost their living samples, the residents, their data and records. This setback was tremendous; it nearly crippled The Facility and their operations.
None of their Archetypes, the purebreds, were ever recovered. The GEN1's, the first-generation births, were created from the Archetypes DNA, were also gone. Now the scientists worked overtime to recreate their data. The impact the Australia Facility had on the program had all but seized their operations. The mistake of keeping such a large quantity of Archetypes and GEN1's in the same location went unrecognized until it was too late.
And as for Pandora, they still searched. But after ten long years, they still had no leads. Yes, Pandora was built to be an incredible creature, more than they ever dreamed.
As they did once a month, Julius and Stephanie traveled from facility to facility, to gather the data for backup at a secondary location, their home. Double-checking the security of each compound was their second purpose of the visit. With only two facilities left standing from the original six, they spent the rest of their time organizing the security and constructing a new facility in the Belize jungle.
Julius navigated the windy road with caution. He looked for hidden areas of shiny patches of road, black ice. He was eager to leave this desolate wilderness. All of The Facilities were in unforgiving, godforsaken regions of the world. At least he thought, this quadrant of Montana was beautiful.
Julius glanced over at Stephanie, who seemed somewhere else. "A trinket for your thoughts, my love."
She smiled, looking out her window. "Hmm… it depends on the trinket, I suppose."
Julius chuckled. "You know," he said tentatively, "there's something about this compound that doesn't sit well with me. Did you get the sense that there was something else going on here?"
Her strawberry blonde head was already nodding in agreement before Julius finished his question. "I'm not sure it's something going on from the inside."
Stephanie exhaled as she stared into the dark wilderness. "I felt as though perhaps someone was watching us when we arrived this afternoon. And… this may seem paranoid, but it felt like there were eyes on us the whole time while we were inside the building. And I'm not talking about the usual sets of eyes."
"Did you do a cloaking spell before we arrived?"
The delicate witch nodded. "Of course, Jules. As I always do."
Keeping his eyes on the blackness ahead of him, he pondered. "Maybe that's what I was feeling. This damn wilderness interferes with my senses. Give me the Sahara Desert, and I can feel crystal clear. It must be these monstrous trees or some shit." Julius was a sixth-generation sorcerer with extraordinary magical powers. While he could do many things, he relied on Stephanie for the spells, a fourth-generation witch. The two together had overwhelming gifts.
His mind wandered, thinking about their twenty-six-year-old daughter Kya back home. They told her they were taking a weekend getaway, which was true. He glanced back over at Stephanie, her gaze transfixed ahead, eyes squinting. "Steph, what is it?"
"Don't you see it? Look up there. Little blue lights about three feet off the ground." She pointed out the windshield.
At that moment, the sky blackened. "Slow down, Jules. Something's not right."
He obeyed, eyes narrowing on the road ahead. Then he saw it; two little blue orbs in the distance, close to the ground. They didn't move in either direction, nor did they move up or down. They stayed close like a set of eyes.
"Jules, those are eyes. Do you suppose it's a wolf?"
"Wolves don't have glowing blue eyes. In fact, nothing has glowing blue eyes." He let up off the gas and let the SUV slow on its own, coming to a complete stop. "No, that's something else."
They sat there, staring at the sapphire eyes that remained unmoving. Slowly, something emerged from the ground. It unfolded, growing in length and height as massive wings came into view. The wings were pitch black, like the night. When the creature stood, it changed its body shape into a human form. Near six and a half feet tall, its wings were nearly twice as wide. It stood motionless.
"Jules, you'd better turn around and get us back to the compound." Stephanie's voice was laced with fear.
"You read my mind. On it." He threw the car in reverse and hit the gas.
The creature cocked its head at the maneuver, a pathetic attempt to escape.
Without warning, Julius slammed into something that blocked his path. They lurched forward, he hit his forehead on the steering wheel, as Stephanie screamed.
She turned to see what they hit as Jules wiped blood from his face. "There's a huge tree in the road."
They sure as hell knew it wasn't there a minute ago. The creature blocked their path with a massive pine tree, pulled out by the roots.
They looked ahead of them at the winged creature. It moved one finger, motioning for them to come forward.
"I see it. There's no way in hell I'm going to comply."
Suddenly, the car advanced on its own. The large tree behind it was pushing the SUV toward the creature. "Oh shit!" Julius yelled as he tried to push the brakes to stop the car. He tried using his powers, yet they proved to be useless. After the tree propelled them about forty feet closer, it came to a stop.
A sigh of relief escaped their lips.
"Well, sweetheart, we can't escape it with the car or on foot. I can try to run it over, but I doubt it will let us get that close. I'll use my powers to deflect whatever it tries next as we hit the gas. But, it has us trapped." Jules shook his head.
"This is it, then," Stephanie said with tear-filled eyes, Julius wiped one that fell.
"Okay, my love, you take the wheel when I hit the gas. This way, I will try to shoot it out of the way with electrical currents or try to stop whatever it has planned. And Steph, I will always love you, even in the afterlife." He gave her a warm smile and then a wink.
She sniffed and nodded. "I know. I love you, too."
He sucked in a deep breath. "Here goes nothing." Julius hit the gas.
A hundred yards away, he watched the Gilham's, cocking his head once more at their bold move. He stood statuesque, watching the car gain speed, studying the occupants. Behind the wheel, the male had his hands out in a defensive gesture. The female held the steering wheel while chanting.
"What do you think you're doing?" He whispered to himself.
Gaining on him, he remained motionless, knowing the car could not harm him. He felt their fear, desperation, and sadness that their existence was over. Yet, he did not pity them. No, they deserved no compassion, not after what they have been a part of for so many years.
They deserved this. Death was earned, and it was his privilege to be the executioner.
The car was about fifty feet from his position. The crisp night air blew his hair, but the coldness didn't affect his skin. He turned his neck to both sides, cracking it, preparing for battle. A futile battle, but one nonetheless.
He lived for this; blood, fighting… death, death to those who deserved the sentence.
When the couple was twenty feet from him, he put out his hands. Balls of electricity emerged from them, hitting the front of the car. Sparks flew as the car jerked on the road. He took two long steps, pushed his hands out, hitting it with an invisible shield. The car hit his force field with such impact it became airborne, flying up over the tips of his wings. His head tilted back and watched the horrified faces of Julius and Stephanie Gilham fly over him.
An ear-splitting crash of metal hit against asphalt, rolling across the ground like tumbleweed. The car flipped four times before it came to a screeching halt on its roof. Steam and smoke poured out from under the hood, the headlights gleamed off into the darkness, lighting up a small patch of the forest.
He turned and walked unhurriedly back to the twisted metal in the middle of the two-lane road. Squatting down, he peered into the vehicle, hoping the Gilham's were not dead yet. No, he wanted to speak to them first. Two sets of pained eyes looked back at him. "Good, that didn't kill you."
"What… do you want?" Julius asked in a labored voice as he dangled upside down. At least the seat belt did its job.
Tilting his head at Julius, "I want you to know why you are about to die." When they didn't even ask why he knew they were guilty as hell. "I'm glad I don't have to go into a lengthy explanation for my actions. A guilty conscience always knows. Am I right, Jules and Steph?"
"How do you know our names?" Stephanie sputtered, blood trickled off her lips.
"I know everything about you. I know about The Facility, and I know who you work for," he paused, "and I know about your daughter, Kya." An evil smile revealed fangs.
Julius released his anger making the car shake. "Don't you dare touch her, or I swear-"
"You'll what, Jules? You'll be dead in a few minutes." His cool composure seemed to frighten them even more. "But you can save Kya if you tell me the name of your leader. Up to you."
"I thought you said you knew." Julius rasped, struggling to get air into his lungs.
"Now is not the time to be a smart-ass, Jules. But I do. I wanted to see where your allegiance lies, with your daughter or your master." He was met with silence. "Very well." He stood and walked away.
"Wait," Julius said, choking out blood. "Who are you?"
He paused, walking back to the car he smelled gas. Crouching to look them in the eye, he answered them. "Well, I suppose it depends on who you ask. I've been called a murderer, a masochist, a disease, and an assassin. And on some occasions, I'm called a savior. The most common name I'm known by to your people is-" he whispered his name in their minds.
He watched the terror erupt in their faces as they realized who and what he was, their prized experiment, which was lost ten years ago. He wanted this to last longer; they needed to suffer as he and many others had inside those damn facilities. A quick death for them showed too much mercy. He should have made them suffer for years, being abused mentally and physically. They deserved nothing less.
Once again, he stood to walk away, turning, he looked back. "And don't worry; I'll take good care of Kya for you as you have the Archetypes and GEN1's."
He heard the Gilham's screaming unintelligible words through the gurgling blood filling their lungs. Two more balls of electric energy formed in his palms, turning he aimed them at the sorcerer and witch. The power ignited the car into a ball of flames; it rocketed off the ground flying high into the air.
He continued walking as he heard the car meet the pavement one final time. And he knew they were dead.
An hour later, he sat atop a mountain watching the fire trucks, ambulances and the police. There wasn't much to do but put the fire out, which had spread into the forest. He rarely hung around to watch the aftermath of the chaos he made. Most of the time they were herding people out of the facility to their teleporting circles.
This was a unique attack, no backup, just him. And really, he liked it that way. It meant that no one else could get hurt. Too many had suffered at the hands of fuckers like the Gilham's. Doing it his way was best. It protected the others. And sometimes he needed this, to be alone. It gave him time to reflect.
Living in a compound with hundreds of others allowed little alone time. Hell, he hid in his bathroom last week to have five minutes of peace and quiet.
Resting his arms on his knees, he watched the tow truck pull away with the crumpled, charred SUV on the flatbed. He smiled, not understanding why he needed to see this thing to the end, but it gave him a little peace knowing they were dead.
He stood, stretching his legs. Flexing his big shoulders, he popped his huge black wings from his back. "I think I'll fly the friendly skies tonight." Looking up into the star-filled sky, he smiled.