A military convoy moved slowly in a narrow canyon, like a huge, well-fed snake. Military jeeps, guns, armoured troop-carriers, captives—mostly men, but a few women as well. These guys had tried to get rid of the whole squad of kainomorphs a few days ago.
Miri sat in one of jeeps with a couple of other human officers. Their car was third in line; there was a heavy armoured troop-carrier with kainomorphs soldiers and another jeep in front of the column.
The heat was unbearable. The wind blew sizzling hot sand which stuck in the hair, eyes, even clogged under collars. The humans were exhausted and silent; the kainomorphs looked focused, determined, and indifferent to their own safety. The heat, the wind, the lack of water and food didn’t bother them at all. They could survive in much worse conditions. They didn’t complain, they never did, they were not allowed to, and they didn’t even know what it meant.
The wind turned into a furious sandstorm. The visibility was close to zero, and it became almost impossible to move farther.
The howl of the storm drowned in the thundering blast, and Miri saw the troop-carrier in front of the column start to flip upside down. In the same second, machine guns rumbled from all directions. Miri and her fellows-in-arms jumped out of the jeep just in time, because the next moment it was smashed into pieces. A blast wave threw her a few meters away, but she managed to crawl and hide behind a rock, preparing her gun.
The gunfire didn’t stop for a second. Miri witnessed a group of men running to the carrier with the captives as their peers covered them from the rocks around the canyon. The assailants were in a much better position, whereas Miri’s detachment had become trapped at the bottom of the canyon.
She saw two kainomorphs running to the carrier, shooting without a break, and trying to stop the attackers. They managed to kill a couple of them, but the man who ran first broke into the carrier, trying to free the captives. Miri fired and the man fell down, but it was too late. She pointed her gun to the next target, but a sudden punch made her lose her balance, drop the weapon, and fall to the ground.
A female figure dressed in all black, with a black scarf around her head which covered part of the woman’s face, jumped from the rock and picked up Miri’s gun.
‘That’s it.’ The only one thought ran through Miri’s mind. ‘This bitch won’t hesitate.’ She couldn’t see her face, hair or hands, but those eyes… like two massive black holes full of fury stared at her.
‘Protect your officer!’ The loud voice of her commander sounded from afar as he tried to shout down the gunfire and the storm.
One of the kainomorphs jumped on her, pressing her to the ground. Like in a slow-motion video, Miri heard her attacker empty a full magazine at them. The kainomorph’s body jerked in convulsions but continued to squeeze Miri. She screamed, but she didn’t hear herself.
The gunfire stopped, and Miri heard something heavy fall down next to her. She closed her eyes; she didn’t want to know what could happened next. She felt the weight move as somebody pulled the dead body from her, and she finally opened her eyes.
‘Please, Gveret.’ Another kainomorph gave her his hand, helping her to get up and handing her back her gun. In his other hand, he held a piece of a metal bar, covered in blood.
The woman’s head lay next to Miri. Two massive black holes still stared at her…
Miri’s heart sank, she felt out of breath, she tried to scream, but vomited instead…
‘Miri, Miri. Wake up, wake up! It’s only a bad dream.’
She finally broke through the heavy, sticky cover of her nightmare. It was dark in the bedroom. The snowstorm came down from the mountains and had been raging behind the huge chalet’s windows for several hours. Isaac looked at her anxiously. ‘A nightmare again?’
‘Yes. The canyon.’ She got out of bed, putting on her dressing gown.
She stood in front of the window. The peaks had disappeared in the storm; there were no mountains, no ski slopes, no pine trees. The white, snowy haze had swallowed everything.
‘Forget this bitch.’ Isaac waved his hand. ‘She got what she deserved. It was a good lesson for her peers as well.’
‘I don’t bother about the woman. You know my concerns.’
Isaac sighed and leaned back on pillows. ‘They were created to protect us and the country,’ he started, staring at the ceiling. ‘No questions, no hesitations, no mercy. They will never turn against their creators.’
‘Why do you work on this new project?’
‘Miri.’ He got up as well and came to her. ‘You know I can’t discuss it with you, with anybody.’ His explanation was interrupted by a phone call.
‘Who’s that?’ Miri frowned.
‘Maybe it’s somebody from the lab.’
Isaac only shrugged, putting on his clothes and pressing a button on a Surface.
A 3-D hologram appeared that wasn’t very clear, and there were multiple disruptions in the connection, however, Isaac recognized one of the mentor-officers.
‘Hey, Sara, what’s up? How are you doing?’ he started with a smile which covered his worry.
‘Isaac, thank God I got in touch with you.’ Sara started quickly. ‘I’m calling to let you know that the lab has been closed, and all the activities suspended.’
‘What? When? Who’s done it? Does Dr. Levit know?’
‘It is the order of our new Minister of Defence. They did it this long weekend. Just closed all premises, took all samples, tests results, all documents, equipment—everything.’
‘What’s happened to the personnel?’
‘Most of them have been transferred to other bases, a few people have been made redundant and given huge compensation packages.’
‘How can it be possible?’ Despair covered Isaac like the huge cumulus cloud covering the mountains. ‘I’d talked to the Advisor a couple of weeks before my vacation. He promised me to talk to her; he promised me to continue the project at least for another year, maybe longer.’
‘Isaac, please.’ Sara only sighed. ‘He’s not a soldier, not a scientist, he’s a politician. Do you really believe his promises?’
Isaac bowed his head. ‘What about Dr. Levit? Does he know?’
‘The doctor is in a hospital.’
‘He was found in his house a couple of days after the lab’s closure, lying on the floor in the living room unconscious. He’s in a coma now.’
‘God! I need to go back…immediately.’
‘You can’t do it, Isaac. This call may cost me my freedom. I don’t want to go to jail for treason.’ Sara was ready to burst into tears. ‘I’ve done this because I don’t want you to be caught unawares and because I do care about the project. At least you have some time to think it over and decide what to do next.’
‘They’ve chosen the right time.’ Isaac banged the table in helpless anger. ‘I’m on my leave; there was almost nobody at the base.’
‘Stay there till the end of your holiday, don’t show you know anything.’
‘What’s happened to the א-group?’
‘When I arrived at the lab, all rooms have already been emptied. They’ve taken them away.’ Sara bowed her head.
The officer tried to explain something, but her words drowned into interferences. The image began to fade, and the sounds became lower and lower.
‘What did you say? I can’t hear you. There’s a storm here, and the signal is bad,’ Isaac shouted loudly, trying to break through.
‘I need to…need to go…I can’t talk any…long…longeeeeer,’ the sound continued to break and, finally, the call disrupted.
Miri had been witnessing the whole conversation from the sofa. She came to him and embraced his shoulders. He didn’t say a word. Miri sighed heavily. Their long-expected holiday had been ruined.
Release day: July, 8th
Available now on pre-order on Amazon and all major platforms.