Oblivion (16)

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Tenmo Island

Emilio splashed water on his face. Another day just beginning. He sighed almost involuntarily. This never ending nightmare was getting worse. The doctor was hitting on him. Her creations were picking the island clean of ‘test subjects’. His life energy was rapidly depleting. Soon she would have no need of him and then he would go in the genetic mulcher with all the other rejects.

It didn’t matter what she said. He was disposable, like all the rest. No way he could rely on her word or her favor. If it wasn’t another trick, that is. But of course it was. How could it not be? She was the fearsome Dr. Kirke. No way she was falling for him, like she seemed to imply. No, he needed to escape.

There had to be a way. Some way to maintain his energy levels. Just enough that he could get into her lab. It would be well fortified, of course. All of her most terrifying creations guarded the lab’s exterior. What the hell could he expect to fight on the inside? He could scarcely imagine. Her genetic monstrosities boggled the mind. All teeth and claws and hardened armor.

But he didn’t have a choice now. His time had been running out for a while, but now it was down to a matter of days. Desperation drove him more than anything. His will to live had, somehow, clawed its way to the top of the emotional mélange that was his mind. He had to live. He would not die here. Not in a place like this. He would escape her clutches. He would escape this damn fucking island. Better yet, he would burn this fucking place to the fucking ground.

But… what if whatever was in that lab was more than he could handle? If he couldn’t breach the outer walls of the compound, he’d need to escape the island the old fashioned way. The chances of that happening were ball shrinkingly slim, though. And if he earned her hatred, that bitter sting of betrayal, he could kiss not-being-tortured-forever goodbye.

He quickly ate his meat gravy breakfast and downed his “fruit” “juice” before leaving for the westernmost cliff. The one overlooking the jagged sea. As he stared at the open water he realized there was no way to know what was out there beyond the horizon. Nothing could be seen in any direction, even from the tops of the tallest trees. There was no way in hell he was leaving the island without first knowing which direction to shoot for. To do otherwise would be a death sentence. And, if he was being honest, the idea of slowly wasting away on a rinky dink raft in the middle of the ocean sounded like a terrible way to go.

But…

The observatory. Above the lab. If he waited for the sun to be at just the right point in the sky, the shimmer off the water could bend light so that, if he remembered the history program he’d watched as a kid correctly, he could theoretically see beyond the curve of the Earth. Er… beyond the curve of this Earth. If this was Earth. He’d never actually found out what this place was. All he knew was the island. Tenmo. That’s what everyone called it so that’s what he called it.

Tenmo. It was a purgatory of lost souls. People ended up here from all over the place. He’d seen clothing and heard languages and smelled spices and colognes from every conceivable Earth. Many he’d been to. Many many more he hadn’t. The makeshift shelters the men made ranged in style as well. It was a fascinating diversity of souls, but here on this island they were all ground down to base instincts and habits. Eat. Sleep. Fuck. What else was there to do?

“Help! Someone help me!” a man weakly screamed. On his way back from the cliffs, Emilio saw another one of those demon battle maids drag her quarry out of a hut and toward the lab. He decided to keep his distance and tail them from afar, see where this creature was headed.

The man continued to scream and cry ever so faintly, hunger stealing the life out of him. The demon battle maid paid the man no heed and dragged him along with very little effort. Emilio followed, doing a very poor job of hiding his presence. The maid stepped off the path winding past the doctor’s compound and pushed some well placed bushes aside. Emilio gave chase, hoping not to lose them.

The maid stopped before an inconspicuous door on the side of the compound wall. Emilio watched intently. She knocked several times. A code of some kind? Emilio waited. And waited. Then, to his shock and amazement, two massive arms belonging to two massive crocodile headed guards reached out from the wall of the compound and pulled the door open from both sides. They had been camouflaged so well, he had no hope of ever seeing them. Not until it was too late.

The guards opened the door and waited as the maid dragged the weak man inside. They shut the door behind her and returned to a ready stance. They seemed to melt away before his very eyes, becoming an innocuous part of the wall again. A Chameleon skin biohack perhaps? Emilio pondered this new development. Secret doors were good, but giant crocodile guardians were not. What to do about that?

He went back to the village and waited. The day slowly dragged on by. It was kind of morbid, but he was hoping another one of those things would come out and snatch someone else so he could see if they took the same route or had a different way into the lab.

Half a day later, and no new developments on the demon battle maid front. Fuck, Emilio thought to himself. The sun was getting close to its zenith. Not long before he would have to start getting ready for his session with the doctor. He turned his attention to the mansion. He never ventured there when he wasn’t charging the doctor up. He couldn’t stand the place. But there wasn’t a rule saying he couldn’t go there. It wasn’t like she was there. And her monsters only guarded the entrance to the lab. He knew what his next destination was. He just hoped he could handle being there in the day time.

The mansion was constructed of white stone and black iron bars for doors and fences, giving the place a Mediterranean feel. There were windows but no glass to speak of. Its layout was a confusing mess of open hallways, covered courtyards, zigzagging paths that were made with no regard to where rooms began or ended, fountains in the kitchen, sun roofs in the bathrooms, and more crenellations than belonged on a non-castle.

He had no idea where to start. He decided to check out the pantry. There had to be better food here than the food tent.

“Hey.”

“What the?” Emilio looked around. The only other thing in the room was a small bird with very expressive eyes. It tilted its head like birds do.

“You look like you want to escape this place,” the bird said.

“What are you?” Emilio asked.

“I’m a prisoner of this place. You want to get out of here?” the bird asked.

“Why would I tell you?”

“Because I want to get out of here too,” the bird said.

“How do I know you’re not a minion of the doctor’s?” Emilio asked.

“You don’t,” the bird replied.

“Well, for your information I like being here and making love with the doctor gives my life joy and purpose. It’s a paradise here,” said Emilio. The bird thought for a moment.

“That is the correct answer,” it said.

It fell to the ground with a meaty plop. Emilio watched it for a minute. It didn’t move. He felt for its heartbeat. It was stone cold dead.

“Fucking hate this place,” Emilio muttered to himself.

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