The Age of Freaks

Ahh, the good old days.

Once upon a time some friends and I had the grand idea to make a totally no budget movie with stuff we could find, make, or get inexpensively. It would be a grand sci fi epic full of cheese and lasers. I wrote a treatment for the first part of the story, and this, friends, is that treatment.

The Age of Freaks – prologue

Prologue –

Since the beginning of time there had been stories of the end of the world, and how it would come. Would it be fire? Ice? Pestilence? Famine? No one would ever have guessed it would come in the form that it did, but perhaps that is because it was the most inevitable.

Following a brutal third world war in which the skies were set ablaze and the gulf coast of America was turned to ash, as well as much of the Middle East, it seemed that the end times were near. But, seeing the devastation that a nuclear war would bring, treaties were signed and the race for atomic superiority ended. But not the race for dominance of the earth.

And so it was that in the year 2214 that the first volley was fired in the Gene War. Scientists had, after two hundred years of research, found the master key to unlock the secrets of the human gene and could now create life, in whatever image they wished, and as soon as that last, great secret was found, Man, the species, was doomed. For it was the Gene War, waged on the poor of the world, commanded from war rooms, and set in action via food rations, that would finally bring Man to its knees and set about the last days. These are those last days.

The dark figure entered the room hunched, a black shape amidst the darkness. There was a sound in a distant corner that echoed in the vast room and the figure paused, hand sliding down to its waist, but when it realized that the sound was from a robotic assistant it let its breath out and moved deeper into the room. The sound of the shape’s footsteps echo as it moves, denoting a room of considerable size, and the flickering of lights fills the room with an eerie glow. The figure moves to a glowing green rod that is planted deeply into a wall and it moves its hand over the end of the shaft and the great room is slowly lit from giant globes that hang in mid-air, seeming to be suspended by nothing some twenty feet above. The room is a lab that has been carved into a cave and there are signs of failed progress.

Of frustration.

There are shattered test tubes, spilled fluids, and across a chalkboard are more scribbles than formulas.

The stranger saw all this and laughed to itself. It stood in the shape of a man, with a man’s hands, but over its head there was a loose sack tied at the base of the neck with two eyeholes cut out in it. It looked like a man, and walked like a man, but the eyes are strange, as if it is no man.

The stranger moved towards the only robotic assistant still active and ran its hand over the things head. It turns its attention away from the experiment it was working on and turne to the figure.

“How can I assist you?”

“I need the Master Code. I need it now.” The stranger spoke softly but with great authority.

“I am afraid there is no such product or experiment listed in my database, perhaps…”

“Omega – Alpha – Zero, Zero, Zero.”

“Processing…The Master Code was created by Doctor Ian Ashmoore on the seventeenth day of November, 2214. It was created under the supervision of the League of Nine, nine scientists brought together to find a cure to the problem created by the mutant strain found in the human race. Master Code will be implemented in an isolated area where it will create a new strain of the human genetic code, essentially re-starting the human race from day one. The mutant strain will be weeded out via a virus implanted into the food supply and then the survivors will be killed in Coalition lead hunts. Estimated end of mutant strain – ninety days from this day.”

“When will the Master Code be implemented?”

“It will be implemented three days from this day. The clock is already running.”

“Where is the Code?”

“That information is listed as code double niner security…”

“The code sequence is Arizona – Roanoke – Omega. Where is the Master Code?”

“Processing…Code is within the Gamma Orange Ray. Human hands cannot withstand the heat. I will acquire the Master Code and give it to you myself, doctor.”

The robot rose from the floor and several spider-like legs emerged from its sides and in a moment it was off and across the room, moving with unnerving speed and grace, its cylindrical body smooth and silver and beautiful against so much rock and rusted metal. This was a laboratory, that was true, but it was one of a dying race, and that was abundantly clear. The stranger doubled over in pain as several harsh coughs erupted from its mouth and spattered blood onto the floor. It fell to one knee and felt something like fire burning in its chest. Time was running out.

“Here is the Master Code doctor, please do be careful as this is a very unstable…”

The stranger could still move quick as well and pulled a black cylinder from the waist of its tunic and plunged it into the wiry guts of the assistant. Without a word or sound the assistant was silenced and dead. The stranger stood and waited to see if the other robotic assistants would wake but none did. The stranger smiled beneath the hood and picked up the blue ball that fit snugly into the palm and marveled at how small the Master Code was and how destructive such a slight thing could be. Down the far corridor there was the sound of machinery coming to life and around the hooded stranger the robotic assistants came to life and returned to the duties they had been assigned. And out in the corridor came the sound of voices and cold electric voice of the Director and with her was Dr. Ashmoore.

The stranger dropped the blue ball into the gunnysack it wore and moved as quickly as it could, though the pain was building in its chest and it could feel the faint trickle as it ran down the throat. The stranger was almost to the door when one of the robotic guards rose from its post and hovered into the area between the stranger and the door.

“Doctor Ashmoore and the Director are looking for you Doctor Fairchilde, shall I alert them to your presence?”

The stranger, still moving, smiled again as it moved past the guard.

“Oh, they’ll know I’ve been here soon enough, believe me.”

And the stranger was down the corridor and gone.

The robotic voice of the Director echoed through the corridors of the underground network and hearing her, all robots halted, all humans stopped what they were doing, and any mutants left in the tunnels as they made their way to the Outworld and their settlement stopped a moment, their blood running cold at the sound of her metallic rage. Dr. Ashmoore clenched his teeth at the sound but was used to her rages and bore them as an adult bears a spoiled child. Her scream loosed, she turned her mind towards the doctor and a solution. And as he turned to face her, he had to stop himself from taking a step backwards at seeing her. This once beautiful woman that had ruled the last kingdoms of Man who was no reduced to a series of electronic pulses and the remains of her face as it floated in pink liquid, grafted onto a robotic skull. She was a mind, a soul, a rage, and little else.

“Director, I…”

No. I want nothing more from you than results. This was not supposed to happen. Dr. Fairchilde was to have been removed from the program the instant he contracted the mutant strain. This is your mistake, and as such, you will fix it. I will not suffer a failure. Not now. The race is failing, the mutant strain has infected almost fifty percent of the population and that number is on the rise. The end of our species is coming doctor, so what are you going to do to make sure the future of our pure race is secure?”

It took not a moment for the doctor to speak, and as soon as he did, the doom of his words rang through all of the kingdom of Man.

“Release the giants!”

Dr. Fairchilde looked behind himself and saw the other four he had brought with him struggling in the heat of the desert. They were only three hours from the First Kingdom of Man, the capital city of the dying race, and he knew that they weren’t far enough yet. He hadn’t anticipated Ashmoore finding out he had been into the lab and had retrieved the formula, not this quickly. They were in a dangerous spot.

“Fairchilde…”

“What is it Roog, you might be best served conserving your energy. We have to make it to the mountains by nightfall and then must find a safe place to sleep until dawn. The mountains are filled with failed experiments.”

“I know, I know, but, but what we have been wondering, the four of us, is how you managed to get the experiment? Are, well, what we are asking is, are you sure you really have it? I mean, how do you know?”

“I know because it was my experiment. I created the Phoenix program and in fact created the Alpha code, which became called the Master code.”

“But…”

“But nothing. While working on the code, as Ashmoore labored on his precious robots, I also happened upon the origin of the strain that creates the mutations – it’s due to our diet, and the diet of the labor class. The food grown outside of the gates of the Kingdom is poisoned, the soil is bad, and unfortunately I contracted the disease when I discovered it. Ashmoore found out, having had one of his damned metal men spying on me, and I was removed from the program and placed in a cell until they could decide what to do with me. What they hadn’t realized is that I had put my own code into the system, and, at the precise moment, having said the sequence of words, I was freed and able to take the code.”

“But, but why? Can’t you stop the mutation?”

“No Cravix, it’s too late. The Director, against my wishes, has been bringing in food from outside the Kingdom’s walls, the gardens having been ruined within them, and so the strain will only spread. There is no stopping it.”

“But then isn’t it better to let this strain die and to use your code to start again?”

“We are on the cusp of evolution. We are meant to become what we are. The strain changes us, mutates us, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Man has had its time, and look what we did to this world. It is time for a rebirth, that is true, but it shall not be a rebirth of Mankind but of us, and our kind. It is time for the death of Man.”

And with that there was silence as the moon began to rise. They were at the mountains and the air turned frigid as they entered their long shadows. The five travelers stopped and four of them stretched themselves and huddled together to decide where to camp. One stood separate, muttering to itself, and if you looked closely, you might have seen a brief silver shimmer, though none saw this. There was something far more pressing. As the five stood at the base of the mountains, planning their course of action, there was the sound of something moving, and around them fell stones as something shifted high above them. Fairchilde had feared this and pulled the glowing rod from the gunnysack. Their journey could be over before it even began, and all he could hope was that the Master Code would be destroyed as well.

“All of you, all of you behind me…behind me.” He cried.

“What is it?”

“They’ve summoned their monsters…they’ve released the giants.”

END PART ONE.

…c…

Author: Chris Ringler

Writer, blogger, reviewer, artist, arts and cultural events coordinator, and semi-professional weirdo. Author of a heap of books from horror to fairy tale to kid's.

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