We only realized the magnitude of shit we were in when things were over.
Nothing like this had ever happened in my country. Sure, there had been A-Class incidents before, but things had never gone that out of hand.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d fucked up before, sure things had escalated that day at the daycare. But this was by far the worst thing I’d ever been a part of.
I knew this wasn’t something that headquarters could simply sweep under the carpet. No, this time they were in deep shit.
They did the usual damage control, of course. People were paid off, the media was bought, and they sent an adjudicator to mediate with the higher-ups. Still, this entire failure of an operation would haunt them for a long, long time.
The moment the clean-up crews and supports squads had made it to our location, they escorted us from the premise and provided immediate medical care.
Theodor and I were hurt, badly hurt, but once again, Sandra had gotten the blunt of it. She was a bloody wreck and her body was shredded and torn to pieces. I couldn’t even look at her body.
The medical unit did all they could, but she’s still in a coma and there’s no telling if she’s ever going to wake up. Or if she’s going to even make it.
And even if she does, there’s no saying what state she’ll be in. Sure, her body’s in a terrible state, but her mind must’ve suffered far more. She’d gone all out and pushed her powers far beyond her limit.
Headquarters transformed one room in the apartment into some sort of medical station. The entire room is filled to the brim with complicated machines and advanced gadgets, all to keep Sandra alive.
During our entire trip back, Theodor was still out of it. Even hours after the incident, all he did was mumble to himself and clutch onto his body. I do not know what he’s experienced, what he’d seen, and as terrible as it sounds, I’m thankful I didn’t.
For now, we’re on leave and restricted to the apartment. There’s no going out and no doing anything.
Until we’re back on track, headquarters told me that the support squads would keep a tight surveillance of the city and do their best to take care of any stragglers that are still on the loose.
Honestly, I couldn’t give a shit about any of it. For now, I was done.
Headquarters of course wasn’t, and they lost no time to get in contact with me. They informed me we’d handled the situation well enough, given the circumstances.
If I’d had any energy left, I’d have screamed at them and told them to go fuck themselves.
What they told me was simple. It was regrettable what happened to Exterminator 4B98344, and they’d provide any means possible to restore her back to health.
Yeah, and I’m sure you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart and not because she’s a valuable asset.
The next thing they told me was that they’d sent over additional personnel. The exterminator’s in question would take over until we were back on track, but they wouldn’t leave. No, they’d stay and assist us in case similar incidents were to occur.
Great, more new faces. Well, whatever.
Before they cut the call, I hit them up about Theodor and what he’d seen. They listened and assured me they’d analyze all the data regarding the incident and they’d take any action the situation demanded.
I’d have argued that their actions had caused the shitshow we were in right now, but I didn’t. No, I gave them an okay and with that the call ended.
For the next days, I didn’t leave Sandra’s side. It felt strange to sit in this small, cramped room, listening to the beeping of the medical equipment. Sandra just lay there as if dead, her arms in casts, her hands and what remained of her fingers bandaged. There were so many tubes entering her body it made me shudder.
When the silence grew too oppressive, I talked to her. I talked about my life, about nonsense, about the things we’d been through together, about anything. I didn’t know if it would do a thing, but I couldn’t bear just sitting there.
Every once in a while, there was a hint of something on her face. A frown or a grimace, but I knew she wasn’t reacting to me. It was her broke mind and her memories tormenting her. Whenever it happened, I injected her with some sort of specialized medicine headquarters had provided.
I walked through the apartment like a zombie. It wasn’t just my drained energy; it was the state I was in. My body was still bruised mess and all my limbs had taken on a sickly mixture of green and blue.
As for Theodor, he’d locked himself in his room. There he sat, brooding in darkness and fighting his own demons.
The memory of the A class creature was still fresh on my mind and it almost felt like it was more than just memories. It felt almost like an afterimage, as if the visions and images it had shown me had been burned into my mind to remain there forever.
It was worst during the night. My dreams were haunted by visions of destroyed cities, of dead and twisted people, of terrible creatures entering our world, and at times, I caught glimpses of some terrible other place.
Those dreams, they reminded me of the time after I’d touched that orb, when the creature had invaded my mind. Whenever I thought about it, I shuddered.
When I couldn’t bear sitting with Sandra anymore, I went back to the computers. I tried to familiarize myself with the software Sandra had been using. I sent out drones here and there to get a feel for it. Yet, there were no signatures and the few I’d noticed after our scruff had been taken care of by headquarters’ support squads.
For all I knew, I had time to rest, and I knew I needed it. Yet, whenever I closed my eyes and tried to relax, something came to my mind. It was only a hint, the smallest of breezes blowing through my mind. That last emotion I’d felt before the creature was destroyed. It hadn’t been rage. It hadn’t been fear. No, it had been something different.
Whenever I thought about it, I thought about Theodor, his warning and his freak-out. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was right, and if so, what it meant. He’d said something worse was going to happen.
Before long, I decided to confront him.
When I entered his room, he didn’t look up. Instead, he was brooding over the various books in front of him.
The moment I faced him, I saw how terrible he looked. His face wore a dark expression, he had bags under his eyes and he looked endlessly tired.
“Jesus dude, you need to get some rest,” I said.
He gave me a frustrated laugh. “You don’t get it, do you, Dylan? We don’t have time to fucking rest!”
“All right, Theodor, what the hell did you see?”
“The end of the world,” he said, grinning, but there was no hint of his usual sarcasm to it.
No, he said it in a bleak, matter-of-factly way.
“All right, dude, what the hell did you see?”
“You really want to know?”
I gave him a nod.
“It was hell, Dylan. No, not the Christian type. I think I caught a glimpse of where this thing was coming from. I, I don’t think I can describe it. Our laws of physics don’t apply there. I saw mountains growing from the sky, a dark twisted wasteland, space nebula and galaxies spinning around it. There was a monument so strange and twisted, I couldn’t understand it. It was created from entire cultures, civilizations, entire realities. There was such a terrible, otherworldly beauty there, and it was all destroyed, destroyed and fused together to create this monument. It was a thing of such insane magnitude, it made no sense.”
He shuddered, clutching onto himself, and stared ahead at nothing.
“Theodor, calm down, you’re not there, all right, it might have been nothing but some sort of vision, a memory of that-“
“No! There were more of the creatures we fought, many more, but they were like nothing in front of the thing that had created the monument. It was a thing that defies reality itself. And you know what the worst of it all was? You know what the fucking worst was?”
I didn’t say a thing.
“There was no hate, no rage coming from it. All I felt from this ghastly, undefinable thing was indifference, indifference at a cosmic level. This thing, whatever it is, it doesn’t long for destruction, it doesn’t want to eradicate, it wants order. It wants to order and tame reality itself at a level that goes beyond anything. This thing, it’s,” but he broke up, shaking his head.
I felt cold as I listened to him before my eyes wandered to the compendium in front of him.
“You found anything in there? Anything about that… thing you saw?”
He laughed and threw the compendium aside.
“Not in there, but in this one,” he said and picked up one of the books Sandra had brought with her.
It was a theoretical thesis on creatures, different realities and their connections.
He leafed through the pages before he found what he’d been looking for.
When I looked at the page and read the title, my eyes grew wide. When he saw my reaction, he laughed. It sounded manic.
“Theodor, that’s not possible. There’s been no incidents of this magnitude. It’s only theoretical. Hell, it’s stated that if they exist, there’s no way for them to even travel to a different reality.”
He began laughing again.
“No, Dylan. Oh no, they can and this thing, whatever it is, it’s coming here. That’s what the creature we fought was preparing for. What we’ve got on our hand is an E-Class. Eldritch. And if we don’t find a way to stop it from coming here, we’re all done for, we and this entire reality.”
I opened my mouth to say something, but this was insane. He was insane. There was no way any of this was true. And even if, why here? Why in an unimportant city like this one?
“Fucking hell,” I cursed and made my way back outside.
The moment I’d left, I went to check up on Sandra. I didn’t want to think about what Theodor had said. Something like an E-Class being didn’t even exist. Yet, as much as I told myself this, as much as I tried to convince myself, I couldn’t.
As I sat there, shuddering, I noticed how hard I was pressing Sandra’s hand.
“Shit, sorry,” I brought out.
When I turned to her, I suddenly saw that her eyes were open.
“Sandra!” I brought it shocked.
“You’re awake! How are you feeling? Do you need anything? Do you recognize me?”
Instead of answering, Sandra stared at me with hard eyes.
“Shit, are you all right? Are you in pain? Do you need me to-?”
She opened her mouth, but no words came out. Then I felt a slight pressure inside my head. I saw Sandra frowning, saw her face contorted by pain, and I knew she was trying to communicate with me.
“Sandra, what are you doing? Stop! You’re going to-“
But it was too late. I felt her push into my mind. Her effort was rough, jagged as she tore through it. For a moment I winced in pain. Then a name appeared, the name Marcia.
“Yes, Marcia. But who’s that?”
Suddenly my head felt hot, almost burning.
“What are you trying to do Sandra, what are you trying to say?”
I saw her grimacing, saw her body twitching and straining under the effort, and finally two more words appeared in my mind.
I stared at her. For a moment she continued staring at me before her eyes closed again and she sunk back onto the bed. Right away the surrounding machines gave out warnings, and I was quick to inject her with more of headquarters medicine.
“Shit, Sandra, what the hell are you doing!?” I cursed at her, but knew very well that she didn’t hear me anymore.
Then it hit me. Marcia. The Inquisitor. Headquarters had said they were going to send additional personnel here, and I remembered Sandra’s freak-out from before.
What Sandra had given me was a warning. She’d used what little energy she had to convey it to me.
Fucking hell, don’t tell me headquarters was going to send HER.
Every European exterminator had heard of the infamous Inquisitor. She was some sort of self-righteous zealot who followed headquarters doctrine to the point and who went against anyone who even dared to question headquarters’ orders.
But they only ever sent her to areas that were under investigation for breach of protocol, didn’t they?
And suddenly it all made sense. Those bastards, those fucked up bastards. There could only be one reason for them to send her here, to clean house.
I already knew they weren’t happy about what had happened here, and I guess they needed someone to blame. Who else, but some low class investigator and some freak of nature like Theodor?
We’d be the perfect scapegoats, wouldn’t we?
This entire thing was their fault, their fucking fault, and now… Shit, I needed time to think, needed time to prepare. I had to talk to Theodor, I had to-
My outrage was cut short when my phone notified me about an incoming call from headquarters.
“Exterminator 7D11087, we’re calling to inform you that from now on, you’ll be working under new command. From now on, all activities in your city will be taken over by Exterminator 5A00114. She and her partner are on the way to your location as we speak. Please proceed with your normal operations and share any data regarding the last incidents with her. That is all.”
With that the call was cut and I stood there, staring at the phone, knowing that things had just gotten worse, a lot worse.
Fuck monsters and fuck The Inquisitor.