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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Microstory 813: There is Sanctuary

I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff in my life, and not all of it since I’ve been on the force. When I was little, life on this rock was pretty normal, but things changed when the bladapods were discovered. As it stands, we’ve only cataloged about a quarter the world’s total species, the majority of which lie in the oceans, many of which are microscopic. Still, scientists twenty-four years ago came across the interesting species in the Amazon rainforest. They quickly discovered that these things breed like tribbles when kept in captivity. Theoretically out of fear of extinction, they multiply rapidly in an attempt to play the odds. Hoping to solve the problem without using genocide, and encourage them to drop back down to more manageable numbers, the bladapods were distributed all over the world. It seemed to have worked, but there was an eerie side effect that we’ve never been able to remedy. They began to release gases into the atmosphere that had a huge impact on our planet. Nothing truly supernatural has occurred yet, but people, animals, and plants began to transform in unexpected, and completely unpredictable ways. It’s no longer strange to find a pair of conjoined twins that look nothing like each other, or to meet a telepathic whale shark, or to find a tree that’ll adjust its branches and leaves to provide you an impenetrable canopy from the rain, at polite request. Some of these are interesting and delightful, but not everything has been dog poop that decomposes in a matter of minutes, or literal unicorns, born from two mules. There are nasty, dangerous things now, causing problems we never thought we would have to deal with. For instance, I’ve been working on this series of killings in the area that screams bladgas-related. They’re all professional and quick. The victims share no defining trait, other than being in some position of power, such as a company executive. Basically, I’ve always assumed these were assassinations, carried out by a hired gun. But I can’t rule out a hyperintelligent pedal-hyena, or luck fungus.

After months of investigation, I finally found a lead; not on who might be doing this, but who their next target might be. I started following him around, and he seemed to be under the same suspicions as me, because he looks agitated, and scared. Traffic gets bad when a firetruck catches on fire—reported as being caused by a contaminated tank of mislabeled ironywater. He gets out of his car, and starts moving off on foot. I get out as well, and stay on him. He finally finds what he’s looking for, in a church known for taking in refugees from the other side of a wall that spontaneously sprung up right down the middle of the District of Columbia, which some now worship as the “foot of God”. They think he put it down, and they’ll do anything to keep people from crossing it. As a law enforcement officer, I’m not technically allowed in, but the choir boy security guard makes an exception when I agree to leave my badge and gun with him, and promise to eat a fistful of sweatsalad if I try to harm anyone inside. Unsurprisingly, if you can believe it, a three-year-old girl comes in after us before too long. She has an assault rifle leaning casually against her shoulder, which is, of course, still entirely legal in this country. She announces to the crowd that she has no interest in any waller, and just needs to clear her contract. I stand between her and her target, hoping to reason with her. It takes a few hours of some circular arguing—and a vow to let her ride on the tail of a titanosaur, which I actually am capable of delivering—but I finally convince her to let this one go. She even assures me that she’ll return the money to her client, and take but a third of what she would have ultimately earned, from me, and a few generous wallers. I’m not sure I can trust her, though, so while she isn’t looking, I search through her bag, and retrieve her contact information, so I can reach out to her parents, and keep my eye on her. We’ll see how this goes.

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