The Killing Jar

Published by Cogito in the blog Cogito's blog. Views: 279

(This is a short story I am putting together around a character I created for one or the RPGs on the site. I wanted to give a glimpse of him to those who weren't around when the RPG was taking place)

The Killing Jar

Mack Grundy smiled. No one saw the smile, so no one was chilled by it. Down here, among the dregs of a dozen worlds, he was the Hammer of God, chosen to break them and render them harmless.

He was looking forward to breaking the new prisoner. Not yet positively identified, the small, pale man was brought in three hours ago, rounded up near the smoking ruins of a government installation that had been invaded by a small band of mercenaries.

Manacled and with a full tranquilizer load in him, he should have been a rag doll with a pulse. But as two of his guards stepped away so the remaining two could shove him through the narrow doorway into his cell, he attacked. One guard went down, his kneecap shattered by a snap kick, and the other was soon gasping for breath with the prisoner’s manacles around his throat. The remaining two guards rushed him with neural prods. One fell, his larynx crushed by a well-placed kick, but the fourth guard managed to immobilize the prisoner with the prod as the second guard collapsed to the floor, unconscious.

Mack checked the new prisoner’s video monitor, but the view was obscured. He had half expected this, so he stepped silently to the steel door of the cell with the neural prod ready. Snapping the view panel’s cover aside, he jammed the prod against the opening and pressed the trigger, and smiled grimly as he heard a muffled gasp and the sound of a body landing hard on the floor. Only then did Mack look through the opening.

The prisoner was small and wiry, with a pale face marked with several scars that looked like burn marks. Beside him was a small stun gun he must have taken from one of the guards during last night’s struggle. Clearly he had prepared to ambush whoever opened the view panel. But he has never dealt with me, thought Mack.

He opened the cell door and stepped inside. He picked up the stunner, and covered the prisoner with it as he checked the camera. Although it was recessed behind an electrified wire grid, the prisoner had manager to cover the lens with his own feces.

Mack kicked the prisoner hard, and was surprised to see him curl up in pain. He should still have been immobilized by the charge from the prod. The prisoner began to try to stand, so Mack swung the stunner. A bright red gash appeared across the bridge of his nose and crossing his right eyebrow, and the prisoner collapsed to the floor. Mack left the cell and slammed the steel door behind him. He left orders that no one was to enter the cell for any reason without Mack standing by.

Jared struggled to stay conscious, and lost. Beneath the searing pain that invaded even his unconscious mind floated a clear memory.

He was surrounded by brown dust and leathery plants under an unrelenting sun’s glare, poking the dry dirt with a stick. Around him, the occasional hot breath of the desert breeze made the spiny brown plants shiver with a dry hiss.

The dirt erupted at the tip of a stick, and a twig-like grey scorpion fled, seeking a new hiding place. Jared snatched it up by the tail, just below the wicked-looking sting, and examined his catch. It tried to grab his finger with its pincers, but was unable to reach any vulnerable skin.

Jared lifted the cover from the glass jar next to him, dropped the scorpion inside, and covered it again. He wrinkled his nose at the fumes from the wet blotter at the bottom of the jar, and watched as the scorpion’s frantic movements slowed, then ceased.

Then Jared’s dream shifted to the nightmare that visited him every time he closed his eyes to sleep.

(to be continued)
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