A post-apoc journey through a land filled with malfunctioned robots clinging to protocols.
"Willkommen in der Maschine"
Chapter 1: Walk in the Rain
Somewhere in mid-Europe
Exact date unknown
Around 15 years after The Monsoon
Following of the path of Frederick Irving, age 27
The rain rustling through the leaves above my head made the sound as it always has, a sound that I have familiarized myself with years and years ago by this point. It was the same every day. The same sound of rain, the same light breeze, the same fog that covered the area like a blanket. This journey I take upon myself is different though. Instead of wasting my life in the same settlement I've called my abode for quite some time now, I'm heading to a new location. A town stationed near a hill nicknamed "Bullet Hill" for its semblance to a bullet. The town itself near it is nothing special from what I've heard. I'd be surprised if the place was even standing by this point due to the constant flooding. It's the hill that garners the attention to wanderers like me. Though it may appear to be just a simple hill, from my experience around this world tells me that everyone knows the same thing about it. Apparently from all this crazy speculation... something is in that hill, that's why it has the peculiar shape of a bullet. Personally I didn't believe all this nonsense, but why not check out the hill I've got nothing better to do than rot in a shack somewhere in the wilderness. So here I am, a man wandering on some road through the forest, hoping my compass is pointing North and not to my eventual demise. For all I knew it was pointing it both. Who knows with this world. The light sounds of my footsteps in each puddle that comes in my way and the aforementioned rain have become my only friends on this pilgrimage to a place that may not even exist for all I know. Though the rain always left me in a constant state of ambivalence, I felt somewhat relieved that I'm on this journey. The place I called my home had gotten old enough that I feel as if the rats that took shelter in the place got fed up with how plain it was and left. While I'm here, listening to each minute and simple sound and hoping a boon would finally arrive, one does, but not how I'd expect it. The forest cleared to reveal my location. Atop a hill, with the road winding down this behemoth of a hill to reach a small town, possibly a hamlet of some sort in what appeared to be in a valley of a mountain.
I didn't care for the town itself, considering the whole place looked like it aged horribly, cars were abandoned in the streets from what I could see, not a single soul had dwelled in this area for quite some time it seemed. There was nothing alive in this town which was shown by the fact that there was an apparent overgrowth of plants coating the pavement and creeping up the cars. Nothing was there to stop it. Taking this sight of the town as a gift, I decided to head down the road to it, hoping to scrounge out a proper map from anywhere at this point. This journey wasn't well thought out, thinking this to myself as I try to spy any tourist center. From what I remember from "expertise" for lack of a better word, was that places like this were hotspots for people before the Monsoon. Anywhere that had a nice view of a forest or any flora and fauna were popular in Europe when I was in my youth... for some reason. Not that I remembered much from back then. Possibly because of all the new tech introduced to them? This question lingered in my head for a moment until I reached the town itself. Then, this is where my brain switched from unneeded philosophy to survival. Trying to think of what I needed and what could be tossed away. Searching the small town wasn't that difficult, finding anything useful was the difficult part. I finally convinced myself that the town was as barren as the forest I walked through, if not more. Barren enough that the street signs were even gone. The cars remained oddly untouched, which was against my whole idea of car parts being fairly hard to come by. Besides, the overgrowth had already claimed the vehicle, the vines looked as if they had a vice grip on any car I passed by.
All the distractions were keeping my mind off something looming overhead. Well not exactly overhead, but it was most likely watching me from a distance, at that, the whole town. There was something just out of my periphery. Looking up to the skyline I noticed something in the fog. A silhouette cast upon the fog. From my estimate, it was about fifteen meters tall, give or take a few. I idly observed the... thing, from a distance. I stood in an odd sense awe for a moment. It was moving, yes, but not seeming to be able to move properly. From what I observed through the fog, it was a tall and gave off a dull-metallic luster through what appeared to be a dark green moss-like coating covering a good majority of the figure. Various locations on it protruded off of it slightly, as if a ripped moss blanket that was draped over it. The only way I truly noticed it and didn't try to play it off as a simple transmission tower was a blue light emanating from small dome structure on the metallic creature's body. I assumed it to be the head, considering the three lights covering said dome were shining the blue light at me. I wanted to play it off as a coincidence, but something deep inside of me were screaming "It's looking at you". I desperately tried to vacant the thought out of my mind. Before I could shake the thought, the creature had let out a sound. A sound I could only explain as a mechanical humming. The tone it let off soon shifted in pitch to what I could only comprehend as a song. I wasn't exactly sure what this tone meant, some odd pre-Monsoon signal or just the metal on the transmission towers weathering away. This tone was an omen of what to come.
Suddenly a sound was impending from the forest from which I arrived in this town from. Thud. Thud. The thuds had gotten closer and closer until I could make out what they were. Mechanical in nature, the sound radiated throughout the area echoing off houses and alleyways. It was steadily getting closer, and I couldn't possibly see what it was charging through the dense thicket. Then I heard the sound that I will never forget. Whatever was rushing through the forest let out a noise much like metal being bended combined with the a louder version of it's constant engine-like whirring. The only visual I had on its location was the birds that it had caused to flee. Before I knew it the "beast" had emerged from the forest. It was about four meters tall, but still seemed to be more threatening than the creature caught in transmission tower wires. It stood on 2 bird-like mechanical legs almost caked in rust. The two legs were connected to a cube-like structure on it where I were to assume all the inner workings of this mechanical creature were working furiously to comply to the call of the other. The cube wasn't exactly huge either, taking up only about twenty-five percent of the mechanical creature's height. Most of it was giving off the same dull-metallic luster as the larger one did, instead it wasn't exactly covered in the moss the other was. The box atop it was cracked open in some areas, where intestine-like... vines, from what I could tell, seemed to hang out of. Possibly some damage from running through the trees, I guessed. In the front of it was two blue, glowing lens, one atop the other, the bottom one smaller. I spied out the numbers "0-391" painted onto the side of it, seeming to be faded from all the rain and weathering this creature would have been through. All this observing of the wretched thing threw off the fact that those lenses on it had turned red, and the thing was almost sprinting straight towards me. Damn! I thought, who knew someone with the so-called "expertise" would let something charge at them as if they were blind! Getting my wits suddenly shot back into my head as if I was a deer in the headlights realizing I could move. I moved, moved as fast as I possibly could into one of the many run down brick houses that this town was filled with. With a quick pull, I flung the door open, and then slammed it shut right behind me.
Outside, muffled from the door, I could hear the sound of the heavy footsteps upon the pavement, I heard every small detail about that thing's footsteps. The rocks it crushed, where it stopped, the mechanical roar it gave out as it chased me, a... heartbeat.The heartbeat was mine but it was loud enough for me to hear it. Another mechanical roar sounded as I stood in my silent victory against this beast. The windows rattled, the floorboards shook, and the door nearly fell off the hinges from the vibration coming from the cacophony given off. I had won this battle, but barely scratched the surface of the war that had begun between us. My head and ears were ringing from the constant and unending barrage of sound. Though it was difficult, I needed to, and did, keep a solemn vigil to this assault of sound. I wasn't getting out of this situation easily, that much was made abundantly assured by this thing. I couldn't run, if I tried I'd probably be trampled by it. Hearing the artificial roar of this creature made me feel in a constant state of unease, I had to deal with it soon or I'll have more of them after me.
At this point, I was scrounging the house for anything. Now, I was never exactly a gambling man, but Lady Luck had given me her "grace" as someone I knew would say often. The said someone wasn't the brightest when it came to all these games formed around gambling, just bet your highest and hope you see the cash flow in. Instead of getting cash, I'd get to walk out of this town in one piece. I found a chair of all things, yes, a chair would help me in this scenario, I thought. That thing was still outside, waiting for me like a cat waiting for a mouse to come out from hiding to only swoop down and kill it. And so, I took ahold of the back of the chair, hoping to do one thing and one thing only. With all the hope I could muster, I wanted to bring the chair down on the intestine-like vines that hard been dangling off of it. Approaching the door, it had to be done. With all my might, I kicked the door open, brought the chair down from the air above me, and closed my eyes as hard as I could. All I heard was the sound of ripping, and the constant roar abruptly end. This was my last push to end this war between us, and I had stomped the enemy, but the enemy had a plan for itself posthumously. I opened my eyes to only see... the creature was static in movement, besides the fact that it was going to crush me if I didn't move! No time to actively celebrate this, or to look at these odd vines (Or whatever in god's name they were) that had snagged onto my "makeshift weapon" that I held onto so dearly now. And once again, luck was on my side. In spite of petty panic, throwing myself to the side of where it was going to fall and hoping, hoping for the best. The creature toppled onto the house that I had taken very temporary residence in, destroying a good fraction of the house with it's fall. Discarding the chair by tossing it to my side. I had done it, I had killed or deactivated the damned thing. I didn't bother looking at the chair I had used to slaughter this beast, I was in too much of an ecstatic mood. I wanted to deliver a kick to the heap of junk now, but I needed to keep my wits about me. Thus, this started my true journey to find whatever wherever. Though my hollow victory was only a taste of what was to come. Onward to Bullet Hill.