a rust, bytes, drugs, nights, bloody kind of life
get your tetanus shot



	Karl and Will watched Captain James Cook sit in his recliner, seeming
to deliberate. An intravenous line was slung over the armrest from the back of
the chair into Cook's arm and he sat, catatonic, drool dripping past his bottom
lip, eyes wide open. Both of them knew he neither cared about what they said
nor was physically able to hear them. Behind them a small porthole window let
them see into the depths of outer space.
	Will finished his thought and verbalized it. "So, like, what's he
thinking about?"
	Karl: "What?"
	"He's on tranqs or something. Is he thinking about the ship?"
	Karl turned to Will. "Are you new here or something?"
	"What! I'm just asking a question."
	"Did you go to school?"
	"Did you graduate?"
	"Well... no."
	"Yeah." Karl gestured to the thin tube. "That's a drug cocktail of both
stimulants and paralytics. The chair measures his vitals and keeps him alive
while he can use all of his brain to think about what moves to make next."
	Will reexamined the chair from where he stood. "Why can't he just think
	"I just said. He can but this lets him use more of his noggin. The dude
is basically doing six dimensional chess up in there. A good captain will
figure out the next thousand years' moves in advance, I've heard."
	"I don't envy him."

	Captain James Cook stood on a featureless white plane under a black
starless sky, using a rod of wax to mark the ground in red. Taking into account
all of the nearby cosmic entities - the rocks and dust and occasional dwarf -
he charted out the next hundred years' plan, then the hundred after that, then
the hundred after that. The landscape around him turned pink as he marked the
hours to make up the days to make up the months to make up the years.

	An alarm sounded. Karl and Will ran to their respective stations. The
chair began to rouse the Captain for the emergency.

	James had finished year 963 when he started sliding down the smooth
surface. His naked body smeared the red wax on the floor as the floor smeared
it on him and after rolling for a couple seconds he was finally kicked off the
ground into the ether. Floating in space, he assumed the posture of sitting in
a chair so that his carriage back into physicality would be less violent. Then
like a dog pushed off a cliff he was back in his seat, chin wet, looking
through the porthole towards his previous home; outsideness.


	I looked for a moment at a painting above the stairs and their bronze
railing. It had an elaborate painting of a symbol that resembled a Cyrillic "Щ".
	"Alright, let's go." I gestured to the stairs.
	"What? Why?" Aaron walked through one of the dozen or so aisles of
shelves, each packed with books up to the height of his shoulder. The room we
were in encompassed the full third floor of the cylindrical tomb to which we
were tourists, lit brightly by incandescent lamps and only incandescent lamps.
There were no windows nor would there be anything of interest past the glass if
there were.
	"You said there would be one or two people here to meet us." Aaron
raised a hand on which he was raising his index finger but I interrupted him.
"If there's nobody to meet us for what's essentially a distress call, from this
'living vault' which I'd call a crypt, what got to them first? Whatever it was,
I don't wanna meet it."
	"Everything here is visible. There are no places to hide, or hide a
body." At that, I scanned the ceiling but it was just uniform brick. "I don't
know where they went, but we've looked around, and there's nothing here. I
don't see why you'd be so unnerved." I wasn't unnerved – at least I didn't
think I was visibly so. On the other side of the room, which wasn't terribly
big, though it was of a reasonable size for a small library, a hardwood board
under the tightly woven carpet let out a muffled squeak. A cheap bell rattled.
Judging by the look on Aaron's face, I had given him a death glare, but after
he looked down his aisle he relaxed. "It's a cat."
	I slowly stepped over to his aisle of books and there, on the other end
of the row, was a black and white cat with a red collar. I said the first thing
that came to my mind. "Its head is too big."
	Aaron looked at me but I kept looking at the cat. "'Its head is too
big'?" The cat's head kept extending and growing. Whatever reaction I had
caused Aaron to turn back to the cat. "Oh, fuck."
	The cat's fur grew sparse as its skin stretched wide and its head
turned a slow spiral into an upside-down position before its forehead grew
fangs and its former lips fused together. Its eyes widened and became
humanlike. The creature must have been three meters long with a serpentine head
but cat-sized body at the end, away from us. Its fangs were what peeked of a
mouth and that mouth opened its wide jaw and began to speak in a deep rumble of
a voice. "I."
	I slowly reached for and silently unbuttoned the clasp on my knife
while maintaining my stare at the creature. Aaron, probably close enough to the
thing to smell it if it had a smell, trembled slightly but enough that I
noticed. I wished I hadn't gone into this damn grave without my lighter but it
was confiscated by Aaron's parents (also the governing body of this archive –
built to withstand a nuclear blast, so humanity had a "damn fine base from
which to regrow their knowledge" – Aaron's mother's words, not mine). It wasn't
something I didn't understand – I too long for a first edition Origin of
Species sometimes after one or two glasses of wine at night, and have to page
through Sotheby's catalog in order to talk myself out of bidding the next time
one's stolen out of East Germany, but if there was truly some new Dracula or
Frankenstein – aside from the books, that is – hidden in these rows, I'd be
willing to burn down a lot more than some paper or even myself to make sure it
never saw the light of day.
	Aaron finally spoke. "Hello?"
	The creature tore a tentacle underneath the cat's chest and swung it up
above its head, morphing it into a fleshy wreath-like structure, almost like a
set of antlers. Its head and tentacle, I noticed, bent backward as they
stretched up, to keep its center of gravity below its paws. I realized what it
was doing, forming a fractal construct of flesh and the gaps between around its
head, as a second tentacle tore through the fur on the cat's back. "Aaron. Back
away towards me."
	The creature's eyes, bigger now, blue, turned towards me. It rumbled
and finally spoke, something: "Apart from the one fundamental nastiness-" it
made a gargling noise "-nineteenth century suffering from toothache." It thrust
its tentacle towards Aaron and he turned and ran for the stairs, to which I
also started running. The creature began to scream in a cacophony of fifty
voices. Aaron and I got to the end of the stairway and ran across the second
floor (fiction) to its descending stairs. I didn't take the time to look behind
	When we got to the bottom-most level of the vault Aaron ran to the
telephone next to the stone arch exit, currently leading to a brick wall, and
rang the operator as I turned to face his six and saw the monster, with the
body of a cat, the face of a (for lack of better description) werewolf, and the
two tentacles of a void, approaching, by morphing its appendages into some sort
of shape that could grip onto the stone bricks of the ceiling. By the time it
had climbed its way to the center of the room the vault started violently
twisting and the centrifugal force threw me and Aaron against the wall. The
beast staggered but hunkered down, moving its body towards the ceiling. The
black oily tentacles spread out into the bricks like they were Play-Doh shoved
into a fine mesh.
	The door next to us opened up and we made our way across the wall to
which we were pinned and fell through. We yelled to the engineers to keep it
twisting and the portal slid shut behind us.
	Aaron's father, Robert Arsenault, in his signature suit and green tie,
jogged down the freshly painted hall to meet us and the operator of his billion
dollar vault. Aaron and I were smoking, to Robert's chagrin, and against the
advice of Jamie Simon, who was almost as well known as Robert but in different
fields. In fact, the design of the library was officially called the Simon
Machine, and used novel mechanisms to rotate an entire cylindrical building on
its base as an extremely overkill locking mechanism so no unauthorized entities
could get in. I wasn't briefed on the details, or, well, I was, but I didn't
have the three PhDs necessary to understand any of it.
	A vent softly pumped air from the surface. Technically our location
wasn't supposed to be made known to the lackeys but Aaron said it was somewhere
in Peru.
	"What the hell was that?"
	Aaron tapped his cigarette on the previously empty ashtray next to
Jamie's keyboard. "I dunno."
	Robert thrust a pointed finger into Aaron's face. "You don't know? An
animal got into my library and neither of you can even tell what the fuck it
was? Do you even know how many legs it had?"
	Aaron seemed to have the same idea I had; Robert could figure out what
the thing was without our help. He wouldn't believe us if we told him what we

	Unfinished! A shame, too. I think that one could have been pretty good.
Maybe sometime I'll write a middle and ending.


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