The Pod: Part 3

3.

The Bear

Arriving home the other night, I found myself face to face with a swarm of my own conjuring. It was wildly appropriate at the time I began using The Pod, to imagine myself in a battle of wills against a beast of outstanding proportions; A great, grizzly-bear. I am a realist who enjoys the fruits of a realistic imagination. This realism led me to the bear in my dreams. I wished to conquer something of this Earth, not a fantastical creature whose power was mythical and could easily conquer any other living thing. I wanted a challenge– an honorable one. One of man against his better, his maker; nature. So, I dreamed of the bear.

It happened in a clearing on the outskirts of a giant forest. The world, returned to former glory with nary a man nor civilization to exist. From the trees it lumbered, gargantuan, and with a sheen of thick fur whose earthen tones rivaled the most fertile of soil. My own, conscious mind had scarcely realized the proportions of my prey. My ego must be kept in check from now on, for the beast surely could not exist, nor be slain, by any man armed as I had been; with only a large, ceremonial, hunting-knife.

As it met the center of the clearing, it saw me. It reared on its hind legs with a bellowing roar, dropped to all fours, and charged with a ferocity I’ve never seen. I was quick to act. My blade drew, adorned in a virulent poison. The beast neared me. I dodged, rolled away to safety. My feet moved with an agility I have never possessed. This, after all, was my dreamland.

It reared up once more with an anger that it had missed. My mind fought for the quickness to keep pace. I slashed three times at the belly. Blood seeped from the wounds at a pained yelp. It swatted feebly at me, growling. Its mouth dripped blood, its body already encumbered by the debilitating poison.

It was then that I felt my greatest satisfaction with this impossible scenario. Even then, I felt this brute must be released from its misery. It swiped at me, caught me loosely in the belly to leave deep gashes. My adrenaline flared. The wounds stung, angered me with pain. I dodged the next few attempts to catch me, got ’round it. Before it could turn, I lunged. My feet bounded, body lunged through the air. I landed on its back with a precarious motion, clung for dear life as it whipped in all directions with attempts to buck me.

My reserve was strong, its movements more lumbered with each moment the poison coursed through its veins. In a cunning movement, I lunged my blade into the shoulder of the bear, and drew backward to sever the tendon. Such vile hostility; something I’d never thought myself possible of. But even in my dreams, neither blood-lust nor adrenaline could be controlled. I became an animal of my own.

It was felled, one arm disabled. It cried, lashed out in pain. I must finish it now, I thought. I leapt off, spun around to face it once more. It lie in a heap. An angered look upon its face told me it knew it had been bested. I too knew this. With an onerous, but understanding look, it seemed to grant me the permission necessary to end its suffering.

I did.

One never knows their true identity until they confront their primal nature. In my dreamland I had done just that, or so I had believed. In lowering myself to the level of an animal, engaging another for a simple matter of survival, I had gained a confidence in my own cunning. Unfortunately, I had also given myself an unwitting advantage in the battle; I could not die, no matter the risk. It was however, the aforementioned cunning that paid off most when I returned home, and was confronted by the bear.

My mind raced, though time around me stilled: This would be different. The beast could kill me here. Cunning was the only skill I might rely upon, the others of agility and strength non-existant in this realm. I did however, happen to be working on a plan that might destroy these apparitions; a weapon, far from ready. Based on the simple principle of electricity, it was to be the counter-attack of the battle humanity appeared to be facing.

It is a fact that the swarms of miniature robots comprising the apparitions are electrical in nature. They require electricity, generated by the body, in order to form and function within it. This is why the Pods would smoke and explode as the swarms would form. The extra surge of current was required to reform themselves appropriately and in such large numbers. It is a supplementary theory of mine that these creatures kill not solely out of malice, but as a result of the attraction to the electrical charge from our bodies combined the directives of fatal errors in programming. By interacting with us in certain ways, they are able to drain the body of its remaining electrical current. Though it has yet to be proven, it is the best theory any of yet heard. The shapes these beasts take are only a result of memory leaks in programming from the dream-land. In essence, they take the form of our dreams because of imprecise lines of code that tell them to present the challenges and shapes we’ve asked of them. We did create them, after all, and it was usually to fulfill some challenge to our primal, or in some cases, carnal natures. In short, we want to best them and they’re told to allow us to attempt it.

It was my rushing mind, and the perceptive stillness around, that allowed me to deduce a massive amount of electricity was needed to kill this wisp-beast. I searched my memories for a suitable voltage source. The only one within reason, the power-box in my kitchen. If I could make it there, I could surely destroy this beast. But I needed rubber-gloves to insulate my hands; a rubber suit for the rest of me. I would have to be fast. My armors would be in my study where I had last worked with the new weapon.

Only one other thing was certain about this lumbering swarm-beast; it was easily out-maneuvered. So long as I could move fast enough to snatch the suit and dress in it I would stay alive. I would need somewhere to hide while I dressed. The crawlspace, another easy spot, would be sufficient enough.

I moved fast, getting ’round on the beast for a doorway it attempted to block. My feet angled left, legs pumped hard. I snatched my suit and gloves from the desk, dove for the closet beside it, and threw up the hatch. I plunged into darkness, yanked down the hatch behind me. The crawlspace was cramped, but afforded the momentary solace I sought before the swarm could resolve to shape-shift.

I wasted no time, thrust myself into the suit. It was then that I heard the swarm curiously buzzing at the hatch. Slowly but surely, a thick mist of microscopic origins form around the the hatch. It seeped through the minute cracks, pouring in from above. I acted fast. The swarm was preoccupied with its transference between levels.

I sprang up through the hatch, clambered out, rolled away to my feet, and sprinted out for the the kitchen. The swarm reassembled in a flash, barreling after me with reckless abandon. I made my way to the power box as it came within reach. Pure adrenaline fueled me to rip hot power-lines from atop the box. It arced all around me, myself unaffected. The beast lunged. I turned, thrust hot, metal cabling forward and struck it dead-center. Sparks and smoke flew outward in droves. The swarm was stunned mid-lunge, held in place by the current that coursed through it. Flames spit alone arches through the air. Then, little-by-little, the nano-bots burned to dust.

Armed with this new knowledge, and my protective suit, I gathered my things for a colleague’s home. He would have everything needed to end this madness.

 

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