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There were bodies all over the floor in the large television lounge. All of them had been dead close to a week, dying at precisely the same time. The stink of Human decomposition in the warm room was brutal, and it was clearly the right time to use a respirator mask.
He moved through the room, looking at the bodies, kicking several of them over when necessary to look at the faces. He had gotten through more than twenty of more than thirty bodies in the room when he found himself near the television. He couldn't hear the static from the speaker but he could see the random patterns of a null broadcast on the screen. It would never display another image again, for all time.
Certainly his agent had chosen to avoid the fatal signal and had survived. Yet, he had never reported after his last mission. This was the first time he'd ever had an agent go completely unaccounted for on a mission like this. It was relatively low-risk, as he faced little danger if he maintained his cover and avoided excessive contact with the locals.
The mission had been two-fold: infiltrate local society and determine the best native media by which to transmit the Doomsong signal, killing the majority of the population effortlessly if they indeed made widespread use of said media; also, signal to him, the handler, the best time to transmit the Doomsong, in order to eliminate the maximum possible number of locals, leaving himself sufficient time to escape the effect.
Everything had gone off with no discernible problem. So, where was his agent now?
As he searched the last of the prone corpses near the television, he noticed one of the carcasses nearby had a different scent. Somehow, it was unpleasantly familiar; it should not be found here, of all places -
There he was, his agent, in his cover identity and yet lying here dead with all of his immediate victims. How could this be? He had known he needed to move out of range and had plenty of time, had transmitted the sign to begin the operation himself...
The handler noticed that his agent's hand was entwined with that of one of the locals, who lay right beside him on the couch, directly in front of the television.
What could this mean? Here, he had an agent who had possibly deliberately immolated himself along with the enemy - and, apparently, had been fraternizing with them.
The handler looked closer at his subjects. The dead companion local was apparently a female. Ah, that explained everything. The experience of such intensive physical bonding was something denied to such as he. When in deep cover among the enemy, some agents succumbed to the biological desires; intense sensory experience, whether the stimulus be external or internal, was difficult to resist. As a handler he rarely had significant contact with locals but he knew how it happened.
His agent had found someone to love.
He also had chosen death rather than to return to his people, yet had also faithfully completed his mission. He was no traitor.
He would be eaten in honor, with his alien mate. His faithfulness to his love object was nothing to hold against him. The handler wondered what the female would have thought had she discovered that her new partner reproduced by massive cellular subdivision.
He opened the agent's carcass and extracted the remains of his true form from the chest cavity. Similarly, he extracted the portions of the female known to be her heart and brain.
Consumed by his peers as a hero, the agent would be memorialized with his alien mate as a celebratory dinner. They would be remembered in their own right as two who died for loyalty and love.

What species could not appreciate the poetry in such a pyhrric union? All were the same in the void-like darkness of eternal death.

The Alienist

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The following comments are for "A Dark Vignette: 'Universal Themes'"
by The Alienist

Interesting concept
Could probably run with the idea, flesh it out into a full story. You've already outlined the tragic flaw of what must eventually come to be seen as the antagonist.

I find your use of "he" to be overwhelming, and confusing at times. A little variation would go a long way to improving the clarity, and maintaining interest.

"He had gotten through more than twenty of more than thirty bodies in the room..."

This line pokes me. Maybe something more like "He'd gone through over more than twenty of the at least thirty bodies in the room..."

Or something that drops the he even, but at the very least dropping the double "more than".

Plus I have a problem with the smell factor. If the stench of human decay is so overwhelming, and he has a respirator mask on, I'd find it difficult to believe he'd detect his agent by smell. Might want to find another vehicle to discover the agent with.

Overall, very promising, just needs to be cooked a little longer.

( Posted by: Capulet [Member] On: November 15, 2004 )

You're a much better critic of fiction than you are of poetry. THIS critique I accept.

( Posted by: the alienist [Member] On: November 15, 2004 )

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