Image created from existing images:
The Scream by Edvard Munch (1863–1944)
Terror Firma logos: Created for Terror Firma by “the Deranged Artisan”, not for public use
“Wakey, wakey Mogul!” Came the booming voice of Colonel Gregory Masters.
The Stranger was woken abruptly by the noise. He was in a small cell, a pane of glass between him and the Colonel. The escape, Malum, Astarte; had it all been a dream? He was wearing the plain white shirt, white pants and white shoes he had been wearing previously. The Colonel was dressed in his full military uniform with a pair of sunglasses covering his eyes.
“Rise and shine boy, I’ve got a big day planned for you.” He continued more calmly.
Two soldiers opened the cell door and pulled him to his feet handcuffing his hands behind his back. There was something wrong with the appearance of the soldiers though. They both appeared bald in fact they seemed to not have a single hair follicle, their skin a pale mucky yellow with brushes of orange, their bodies were slender unhealthily so, their eyes only blended in with their skin with small black dots for pupils, they had raven black lips and long clawed fingers. They seemed to be perpetually screaming but made no sound instead seeming to radiate visible distortions in the area directly around them making colours seem oily and grim with a pastel and tempera-like effect.
“What are they?” The Stranger inquired confused and a little freaked out.
“I am the one asking the questions here.” The Colonel responds adamantly.
“Take him to the theatre.” The Colonel ordered the two Screamer soldiers.
They took him in a room which appeared to be an old-style operating theatre, a chair with straps was in the centre of the room. They placed him down in the seat and strapped his hands and arms in place. The Colonel marched in the room and got right into the Stranger’s face.
“We’ve been through this so many times and you till will not explain what happened at event one.”
“You really going to keep on calling the crash ‘event one’, do you think that’s cool or something?”
“Mogul I don’t really need you; your blood is more than enough to unlock the code it will just take some time. Since you will not give me answers I will simply take them from you one drop at a time.”
The Colonel picks up a nearby syringe and sticks it into the Stranger’s arm, siphoning his blood.
“You are nothing!” Mocked the Colonel.
“You answer me one thing, why are you wearing sunglasses?” Asked the Stranger.
“You are a joke. I could drain you dry, you don’t matter anymore. You understand me?”
The Stranger kicks out at the Colonel causing his sunglasses to fall off onto the floor. He regains his balance and goes up into the Stranger’s face again.
“Fine you want to know why? Look into my eyes.”
His eyes were not human eyes instead they were the same eyes the Screamers had.
“I knew it!” He declared triumphantly.
“Come on Mogul you were right, so what? You are a joke; you don’t even know what’s happening.”
He looked down and thought for a moment.
“You are right, I don’t know everything in fact there’s a lot I don’t know.”
The Colonel reached under his eyes and grabbed at his skin peeling it off to reveal he was one the Screamers underneath, the same aura the others had exhibited became visible once the Colonel cover had been removed. The Screamer placed its hands on the sides of its head and its scream became audible, painfully audible; it caused the aura to expand and consume the whole of the Stranger’s visible world. The Stranger fell backwards onto the ground losing consciousness.
“Why isn’t he dead already?” Came the voice of Samantha’s father.
“Leave him alone, he needs our help.” Retorted Samantha.
“He’s no good, that’s what he is.”
The Stranger’s eyes slowly flicker open and he begins to regain his senses. Samantha and her father were stood by the sofa they had laid the Stranger on. The father and daughter were wearing hats to cover their eyes.
“Wha-what happened? Samantha?” He asked.
“You will be ok you just a bit of a fall.” Samantha replied.
“Wait the Colonel he was…”
“No, no, no, something is happening.”
The Stranger jolted up from where he was laid and started running towards the door. He was running up and down the street looking for people but finding only more of those Screamers.
“Calm down please! You are going to do yourself an injury.” She called running after him.
He walked back over to her and grabbed her hat taking it off her head; revealing the Screamer eyes.
“Enough games, I want to know what is going on.”
Oily tears ran from her painting-esque eyes as the black dots that were pupils took his form in.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” She replied solemnly.
“You helped me when no one else would.” He affirmed.
“But I’m not really her, you know that.”
“I never thanked you, I never even had a chance to say goodbye.”
She tears off her skin just as the Colonel did revealing the Screamer underneath, she strokes his hair and slowly lowers him to the ground. She places a finger on each eyelid and slowly lowers them both down.
He woke up in a burning pyre unharmed though tied up. It was clearly the town centre of Malum, old Malum. Stood in front him was Mary and Anders Annalee, behind them was a town full of Screamers. Neither of the Annalee’s were attempting to hide their Screamer eyes.
“So, what is this all some kind of test?” He inquired trying to free himself from his bounds.
“We cannot possibly suffer you to live. Now shut up and die.” Mary declared.
He closed his eyes and with one hard pull the rope that had him tied tore freeing him from his bounds. He jumped down from the pyre. Anders grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and punched him in the face.
“Why don’t you just die?!” He hissed spitting in the Stranger’s face.
“I wouldn’t give you that satisfaction. Now get off me!”
Anders punched him again, harder than the last time.
“I said get off me!” The Stranger growled pushing Anders back.
Anders falls backwards, knocking his wife down, causing them both to collapse to the floor. The Stranger took out the flaming sword, extending its blade. He held out the blade towards the downed pair.
“Go on! Do it! End our lives!” Mary called.
“No. I already decided on your fate. Hallucination or not, your fate is your fate.” The Stranger declared though obviously tempted.
“You are weak! Call yourself a warrior?”
“No, I don’t.”
“But you did once.”
“Not people like you.”
“I have shown you mercy.”
“In time you will learn if it was the right decision.”
The Screamer villagers moved forward from their watching positions and surrounded the Annalee’s, they faded into the group. He retracted his sword and put it away.
“So, what now?” The Stranger asked of the Screamers.
A ripple moved through the crowd, each seemed to melt into the world around, turning the whole world into an oil painting. The world was empty but suddenly a single figure appeared in this void, not a Screamer, at least not blatantly.
“I know you. You were working in the shop I was in.” He affirmed walking towards her.
“What is this place? What’s going on?” The woman asked.
“I believe this is my mind.”
“I’m trapped in your mind? How is that possible?”
“Did you have something to do with my loss of consciousness?”
“Yes, I suppose I did.”
“What did you do?”
She dropped the Veil hiding her true form revealing herself in body at least to be dead. She brazened her fangs at him, unlike the typical movie vampire, her front two teeth were the sharp ones used for penetration of the skin.
“I take it you are a vampire.”
“That’s right. The real question is what are you?”
“I lost my memory; I’ve been trying to work out who I am ever since.”
“You are someone powerful that’s for sure. If your brain can do this, I’m assuming as a defence mechanism then what else could you do?”
“You mean your REAL consciousness is trapped inside my mind? It is true that you don’t have the Screamer eyes.”
“Yeah and I can tell you I thought my brain was fucked up.”
“Well how do we get out of this?”
“This is your mind, not mine.”
“Some of the people I’ve met since losing my memory have appeared here, I believe each representing something about myself.”
“Do you think I could represent something too?”
“It’s possible. Tell me where you planning to kill me?”
“No, I don’t kill when I feed at least not normally.”
“And yet you seemed determined to rip out my jugular.”
“Look I know what I’m doing here, this isn’t my first rodeo.”
“Fine but I got no money and I really need these clothes.”
“What? Vampires need money too! Ugh fine but I better never see you again after this is all over.”
“Right so… what could I represent? As your attacker, I could be like your wrath or something.”
“No, I think the Annalee’s were wrath.”
“Perhaps I am representing your weakness?”
“My weakness? That’s not a bad suggestion. So how do I overcome my weakness?”
“Hopefully nothing involving any wooden stakes. We don’t know how our conditions here are connected to our bodies.”
“I don’t plan to kill, unless you give me a reason to.”
“I think I know what to do. Close your eyes.”
Unsure he closed his eyes and she walked slowly around him, coming up behind him. She sunk her fangs into his neck, and he jolted to attention. He reached his arms back and pushed her away from him. The world began to convulse, the ‘paint’ started to run and explode in small pockets. The effects of the world’s destruction became quickly larger and more apparent until both the Stranger and the vampire awakened in the real world.
“Take the clothes for free I don’t care! Just leave!” The vampire proclaimed.
The Stranger got to his senses and headed towards the door not saying a word.
At the same time at Area 51, the Colonel was tracking the Stranger from an implant they had placed in him while they had him captured. He had ditched his camouflage in favour of a black suit like his men but was wearing all his military medals over the top. He had a single man in charge of tracking the Stranger.
“So where is he now?” He asks.
“Malum, it’s a small town, fortunately it is in the state.” Replied the man in charge of the tracker.
“He and his associate may be planning to run for the border. We do not have the resources to cover up following him to Mexico. We cannot risk exposure.”
“So, it is finally time sir? To go in?”
“Yes, I rather think it is. We go in tomorrow at six hundred hours.”