I can’t remember the last time I saw the aurora. It had been one of the few pleasures of
working on the Platform, but these days the sky is a never-ending boiled black,
just like the thick, acid sea that rolls and churns below the gantries,
crashing on and on against the thick metallic legs that sink deep down below
the waves and hook into the sea bed. Here is nowhere – the worst of the worst.
The duty tour was supposed to end three weeks ago, but no one came to liberate
I stand watching the endless ocean raging in
the darkness. The polluted stink is so thick that I cough and spit up the black
tar-like mucous that afflicts those posted here. There is a tangible fear all
around us now – the silence from the rest of the world is gnawing on us all – and
we try to carry on as if nothing’s changed, but the inky midnight sky says differently.
I doubt there is a world out there to return to now – either that or we have
The Platform is the godawful posting nobody asks for: in reality it’s for
those militia they no longer want or can’t control, or a mandatory posting for
new recruits. And so we are a mixture of
young and old, fresh and jaded, sweet and bitter.
I watch the pitch-black sea whirling and
thrashing in its madness, and every now and then there is a hiss and crackle
from the electric netting which spans the underside below. It is the only thing
that keeps the abominations from us. The ocean is full of them, twisting in
their revolting limbs, all razored teeth and claws. They can tear someone apart
in seconds, devouring them in their round, spiked maws. The first time you see
one, it’s enough to make you piss yourself. I know, I did.
“Gruz!” a voice yells above the
slicing wind. I look up and see Skea waving at me and I retreat along the
shaking steel gantry, back to the crew quarters.
“What the hell are you doing out here?” she
screams, spit flying everywhere. I follow her back inside and the thick door
slams shut, muffling the noise. But you can still feel the ocean, battering the
struts and shaking the structure in its constant fury.
“Sometimes I think you’re not right
in the head,” she mutters as we tear off the thick plastic waterproofs.
“Why? Not much point in hanging
around here in the dark,” I reply. I find it depressing inside now; they are
desperate to conserve fuel so now all we have is the sickly- green chemical
lighting. I follow her back to the mess room, a horrible chill in my bones that
makes them rattle hard beneath the skin. Jem, Helst and Cora are sat playing
cards and smoking; how they can see in the dim green light is beyond me. I
reach across and take one of Cora’s cigarettes. She doesn’t complain seeing as
she owes me so many from the old days in the training camp. We are all
conscripts here: service is mandatory from age twenty-one for two years, like
it or not. All of us are from the same class so we tend to stick together.
“Outside again?” Jem askes. He is big and
powerful, maybe twice my size, and a mountain of flesh. Cora is slim, has grey
eyes and long, slim hands. Helst is more like me: scrawny and vulnerable looking,
but looks can be deceiving as he is one hell of a fighter. Then there’s Skea:
tough, hard-eyed and tall. I have lusted after her from our first meeting and constantly
dream of making love to her, even if it is only once. I can’t even tell if she
likes me half the time, but usually she’s first to come looking when trouble
strikes. We are all from Continent One, though from different zones, with different
lives. I know Jem and Cora’s people are rich, while Skea’s and mine are poor,
and as for Helst… well, he never says.
“Better than sitting