Going Berserk

(The following is an excerpt from an upcoming sci-fi/horror novel of mine, the first of a series, which will be called Berserkers.  In this excerpt, we see how people are either taken over or destroyed by an alien entity.  Those taken over will be called ‘Berserkers’, for they will run amok and attack people just like the old Norse warriors; they are named Berserkers also because the Scandinavian countries are among the first to manifest them.)

Slowly approaching Earth’s orbit was a glowing yellow ball of light, no bigger than a peanut.  It went undetected by any of Earth’s satellites, by NASA, or even SETI’s technology, so effective was the alien entity’s ability to infiltrate the civilization of any planet’s life forms.  It entered our atmosphere from space, pushed on by the solar winds, and came in completely unnoticed by us; it was extremely cognizant, however, not only of the life forms it was about to contact.  It also knew which one would be ideal to touch first.

That first contact was a ten-year-old by in Reykjavik, Iceland: Jonas Ericson.

He’d been running down a street in his neighbourhood, crying.

“Jonas!  Get back here this instant!” shouted his mother from the front door of their large, almost palatial house.  “Get back here and do your homework!”

Knowing he’d get worse than a spanking if he returned, he just kept running through the neighbourhood, approaching downtown Reykjavik.

I don’t want to be a businessman, like my mean dad, he thought; I don’t care about good grades at school.  I don’t want to obey anyone’s rules.  Not my parents’, not my teachers’.  I just want my own life!  He just kept on running.

He didn’t see the yellow glowing light any more than anyone else, but it was now hovering a few feet right over his head.  He tripped and fell, cutting his arm near the elbow.

“Oww!” he groaned, lying there on the ground.  Blood came pouring out of the wound, and the little golden ball slipped in, entering his bloodstream, before he’d even seen it.

Sensing the aims of the alien entity, and sympathizing with them, the boy showed no resistance to its presence inside his body.  In fact, Jonas welcomed it.  So when it took him over completely, making his skin turn yellow and his eyes, teeth, and fingernails glow an eerie golden, he felt no pain at all.  In fact, his cut healed instantly, and he felt his strength, speed, and agility grow exponentially.  His body was vibrating with thrilling energy.  His suppressed pain also came out in an explosion of rage.

He quickly got up, started making a kind of growling noise like the sound of scraping on a metallic surface, and looked around for someone to assault.  He saw a somewhat overweight man in an Armani suit, in his forties, walking with a briefcase in hand towards a restaurant, about twenty yards away.  Jonas shot after the man with amazing speed: he was easily running at about forty miles an hour, with no pain or injury to his improved muscles and bones.

A car came in Jonas’s way as he ran across a road, but his new superhuman agility allowed him to jump  onto and over the car effortlessly.  The man barely noticed Jonas when he was just about on top of him.  Kicking him in mid-air, the boy knocked him down onto the concrete.

The man yelled in terror, but all the boy did was scratch the man’s face.  Now, that was all Jonas needed to do, for the entity was already seeping into the man’s blood.

Unlike Jonas, the man wouldn’t accept the alien presence in his body.  Instead of turning yellow, he writhed in pain as he lay on the concrete.  He was screaming.  Jonas had acquired the ability to read minds by the touch of his hand on the man’s forehead; this way, the boy could scan for any information that might have been useful to learn.  He found no such information in the man’s mind, however, and he ran off, in search of more prey.

The man’s agony was just the beginning.  He gazed on his body in horror as he saw the skin on his arms slowly melting; the burning feeling was excruciating, and he just screamed louder and louder.  A crowd of people encircled him and watched in helpless shock.  The area on his face, where the scratch had been, was already melted down to the cheekbone.

“Help me!” he screamed, before his lips and tongue melted away, and he could no longer speak.

The crowd screamed for him, often looking away from the horrific sight.

By now, all his skin had melted off, revealing his now-melting muscle tissue.  He squirmed slightly, using what little life he had left in him.

The crowd groaned in disgust at the sight of his eyeballs melting into a milk-like liquid that poured down his face, now mostly only skull.  His ears melted away, his hair had all fallen out and disintegrated, and his melting brain was now oozing out of his eye sockets, looking like porridge gone bad.

Soon, only his skeleton lay there in his soaking Armani suit; then the skeleton began flaking and turning into an ash-like substance, which began to disintegrate.  The wind blew away the ash that hadn’t disintegrated yet; the ooze that had been his body was evaporating, a steam rising up in the air, and finally all that was left were his clothes and suitcase.  After the evaporation was complete, even the clothes were now dry.

The speechless crowd just stood there, too stunned even to notice the screams of terror in the nearby restaurant, where little Jonas had gone.

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excerpt from ‘Berserkers’, an upcoming horror novel

John and Kay were walking together in a park in Hamilton, Ontario, one night.  They were in their mid-twenties, and in love…or at least she thought she was in love with him.

It was a beautiful night in May, around 9:30 or so, and a gentle breeze caressed their bodies as they, arm in arm, slowly approached a playground.  They sat side by side on the swings.

Behind them was a forest, shadowy as death, though they ignored it.  They didn’t even notice rustling noises back there, the sound of feet quickly shuffling in the grass and bushes.

“I have good news, Kay,” John said softly.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“I got a promotion at the office,” he said.  “I’m in management now, and I’m getting a big raise.”

“That’s great!” she said, grinning and kissing him on the lips.

“No more eating in cheap restaurants together.  We’ll be dining in style.  Also, I have something here.”

“Oh?”  She was feeling a mix of delighted anticipation and worry: if this was an engagement ring, it would thrill her, but also pressure her into a level of commitment she wasn’t sure she was ready for.

There was more rustling of the leaves that the couple ignored, rustling that was coming closer and closer to them.

John fumbled through his jacket.  “Where is it?  Where the hell did I…?” he said angrily.  “I didn’t drop it, did I?  Oh, dammit, this is ruining what I…fuck!”

Uneasy with another of his frequent fits of temper, she said, “Oh, don’t worry, we’ll find it.  Let’s not spoil the mood.”

“Finding it in this fuckin’ darkness?  Not likely.”

“Oh, come on.”

Suddenly, a hand scratched John’s face, giving him a glowing yellow scar, three golden jagged lines on his right cheek.

Kay shrieked, looking over at his attacker.  A woman with glowing golden eyes and shiny yellow skin was grinning malicious glee as she and Kay watched John screaming in pain.

“Join the commune, or die!” the bestial woman said in a growling vocal fry.

Kay, screaming, had no idea what her boyfriend’s attacker meant by that, though he instinctively did.  He would never want to be a part of such rampaging chaos, and his body rejected the yellow substance that had entered his body through the scratch wound and informed his instincts of his attacker’s revolutionary mission.  Therefore, death was his only choice.

And what an excruciating death it was.

His skin began melting off his body, revealing his whole eyeballs, his teeth, and the muscle fibres underneath where his skin had been.  His hair fell out, his ears and nose shrivelled up, and soon his muscle fibres were melting off, revealing his skeleton.  All he could do was scream, until his vocal chords had melted away.

Even his bones flaked, crumpled, and became as ashes, blown away by the breeze; and all that was left of him was his evaporating blood, mixed with the oozing yellow of the substance his killer had put into his now-annihilated body.  His clothes and shoes just lay on the grass in a clump, soaked in the pool of yellow.

Had his attacker noticed any skills of value to her cause, she would have put her hand on his head and absorbed them before he melted away; but there were no such useful abilities.  She now set her fiery eyes on Kay.

“Y-you’re one o-of those ‘Berserkers’ I heard about o-on the TV, aren’t you?” Kay said in almost unintelligible sobs.

“Join the commune, or die,” the Berserker repeated.

Kay ran towards a baseball diamond, screaming hysterically.  At first the Berserker, knowing she could easily catch up to Kay in no time, just stood for a moment and, amused, watched the girl run in terror.  Then she went after Kay like a lightning bolt.

Still running towards the baseball diamond, Kay got to home plate.  The berserker was right behind her, though she didn’t want to scratch her just yet.  She had Kay cornered, with a backstop behind her.  The Berserker made Kay back up into it, then she stopped advancing, toying with Kay, to give her a seeming chance to run away and escape.

Kay, shaking and sobbing with fear, stood there at first, confused and not knowing what to do.  She tried running to the left, but the Berserker stopped her; then she tried going to the right, and was stopped again.

Now the Berserker, grinning and slowly approaching, made Kay back further into the backstop.  Kay just trembled helplessly.

“No, no!” she sobbed.

The Berserker got closer.

“No, please, no!”

Her attacker continued closing in on her, step by gradual step.

“What do you want?”

“Join the commune, or die!” the Berserker hissed.

“What are you–?!” Kay screamed.  “Help me!”

Suddenly, the Berserker’s long fingernails scratched Kay’s face in a long, yellow slash.  She fell to the ground, shaking, groaning and writhing in unendurable pain.

But she wasn’t melting.

She was turning yellow, glowing more and more.  She looked up at her attacker with the same fiery, golden eyes.

Kay now understood.  She knew what had to be done.

Kay the Berserker stood up and smiled at her liberator, who grinned back at her.

“Thank you,” she grunted with the Berserker vocal fry.

The two ran out of the park together, in search of more prey.

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