Lake tanna ballad of r.., p.1
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       Lake Tanna - Ballad of Ruby, p.1
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           Neil Leckman
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Lake Tanna - Ballad of Ruby

  Lake Tanna – Ballad of Ruby

  Neil Leckman

  Copyright 2011 by Neil Leckman

  Lake Tanna Files -Ballad of Ruby


  The new breeds had just emerged from their containment tubes, some lived, and others did not. One of the more interesting species was a South American Boa constrictor. It was well over fifteen feet long and now had four sets of arms running down its sleek body. It crashed, crawled, and shambled over broken test tubes, chairs and the dead experiments that had failed to survive. Thrashing against the plate glass windows of the lab it finally managed to shatter one of them. A scintillating cascade of glass shards fell all around it as it slid out the opening it created, and vanished into the dense vegetation that kept the labs from prying eyes.

  “What’s out past that line of shrubs?” Valerie asked Jake, who stood by the now empty glass tube that had held experiment 419 until moments ago. He stood examining the trail of green ocher that had flecks of bright red blood strung through it in swirling motes.

  “I think it’s an arroyo that runs down towards the town, I’m not 100 percent certain. Why is that thing’s blood green?”

  “It’s the new healing agent that we genetically bonded into some of the more recent specimens to try and give them a chance to live past their emersion from the growing tubes”

  Just then, they heard a blood-curdling scream, followed closely by the screeching sound of metal tearing apart.

  “Damn, I think that was Tom’s voice, the grounds keeper. I better call 911 and report this,” saying that Valerie picked up the phone on her desk and dialed.

  Jake stooped under the hanging glass remnants of the lab’s main window and stood outside looking towards a tiny plume of smoke that was beginning to rise into the air by the garage. “Better tell them that there’s a fire too!”

  “Yes, the suspect is armed and dangerous” he heard her say, turning he looked at her.

  Covering the mouthpiece of the phone she whispered, “Well it has arms, right? It looked dangerous too”

  Jake shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, I guess so. On the ground was a splotch of something brown, and as he watched it bunched into a ball and flattened out again, moving a fraction of an inch. Kneeling down to get a closer look, he could see what appeared to be a clump of cells; however, these cells had striations of color that swirled through it, forming pseudo appendages, and melding back into the body. The creature was evolving as he watched, trying to become a higher life form. Two rudimentary eyes formed on the surface, then extend upwards as it formed stalks, they stared at him and blinked. When he stood back, up they flinched away from him and the mass contracted in defense. He picked up a small stick and poked it into the thing, as he did it retreated from the point of impact. Then it did something that startled him. The surface shimmered, and interlocking plates formed, creating a hard surface, like a shell, but better. It gleamed like mother of pearl in the light, and from underneath it two tiny pincher like limbs extended, gingerly probing the grass it was on.

  “What are you looking at?” Valerie asked as she walked up behind him. 

  When she spoke, the creature stopped, feeling the vibration of her voice. The shell shimmered, and a portion rippled in a semi fluid state, forming three tiny holes.

  “What the hell is that?” she asked.

  “I think its blood from the boa. The glass cut it when it smashed through the window, and the droplets that fell on the grass somehow clumped together and formed this thing. If that’s true we have bigger problems than a snake with arms!” saying that Jake stomped on the thing, driving his heel down hard. There was a crunching sound as the newly formed shell broke. Lifting his foot, he looked at the leftover goo, and as he watched, it pulled back together again, forming a new shell with spikes on it.

  “Damn, it formed a defense shell. Its doing what would take generations in nature.” Beneath the shell, tiny legs formed propelling it away from Jake. Looking down where the creature had been, to his astonishment, Jake realized that no grass remained just bare, dry earth. “I think its absorbing organic material!”

  “Go inside and find some sort of container we can put this thing in” in the distance sirens could be heard approaching, “Better hurry!”

  Valerie climbed back inside and could be heard rummaging around. Down on the main county road flashing lights came into view. It was a police cruiser, with a fire truck not far behind.

  “Here,” Valerie said as she handed him a small glass container used for small reptiles, or fish.

  “Perfect,” he said taking it from her. Bending over the thing he laid the container in front of it, and shoved it inside with a swift motion of the stick. After a heavy sigh, he quickly went inside to his lab and spotted a place well hidden behind some of the other specimen containers. He clamped down the top of the container to ensure it was secure and gave it a hard tug. Setting it in the area he had discovered, his head whipped up and swiftly removed his hand from the jar when there was a knocking at the lab door. It was the police. Combing his hands through his sweat-drenched hair, he adjusted his clothes, swiped off the last bit of earth off his knee from kneeling down, and made his way to the door. Taking a deep breath to calm his racing heart, he opened it. The fire department had stopped to battle the fire that had started in the garage.

  It took a long time to give the police report, because they kept pressuring them for more information about the suspect. The description they gave was very vague, and they wanted to know more about why someone would break into the labs in the first place, since most of the valuable equipment was far too large for a single suspect to carry. When the police left they said that they would no doubt be back soon to collect additional information.

  “We have to think of a way that we can find that snake before the police do. Even though we were vague the path that thing left looks pretty easy to follow.” Saying that he pointed out the window, and it was easy to see that he meant the crushed path through the tall weeds. There was the sound of breaking glass from the room where they kept the other specimens.

  They both ran to the room, Jake quickly swung open the door, and they saw the remnants of the shattered cage spread all over the floor. Quickly they separated and began searching all over the room, under shelves, on top of them, trying not to knock the glass containers over as they deftly moved every item on the shelf and in all of the drawers, leaving no place unsearched, and found nothing.

  “That thing has to be in here someplace, there’s no place else it could be,” Jake said as he carefully picked up all the pieces of the broken container, and checked the garbage can one more time, placing the fragments inside, “I just don’t get it. It’s getting late, so we’ll have to check again in the morning.”

  They both walked out of the room, turning off the lights, and neither noticing the lump on the door that blended in with its surroundings, just like a chameleon. Once the room was empty and quiet, it flowed down onto the floor and remained motionless for a while. Slowly two eyestalks grew from the top and looked around, and then several legs developed. The legs synchronized its movement toward the hastily patched previously shattered window. When it reached the window, it stopped; motionless with its eyes looked up at the window as if in thought, was that even possible? It was communicating with the snake that had escaped, not on the same level as thought, more like a migration instinct, it was locating the host body, and once it did, it moved. Turning into a fluid again it flowed through the tiny opening in the window, pooling up outside. Outside it morphed into a small crablike creature and began walking towards where the host body was in hiding. As they were driving out of the research compound Jake stopped and looked around the
countryside that surrounded the facility, most were working farms of one type or another, except for this one piece of land, surrounded by ten foot tall cyclone fences with barbed wire coils along the top. Every twenty feet, they encountered the same sign warning them about the deadly force against all trespassers, below that was the name, Lake Tanna Outreach Facility, and the labs main phone number. Needless to say, they did not get many calls. What Valerie and Jake did not know was that the biotech division of Lake Tanna had also been involved in their experiment. The injection of nanites into the specimens happened early on without them knowing about it since they were built at a molecular level it was impossible to see except under a microscope. The design of the nanites was to enhance intelligence, and allow the bio technicians to communicate with, and track, each specimen. The moment they had breached the facility boundary tracking had automatically begun, and one thousand miles away a team was watching everything that took place. They had activated the automatic homing function in the beast that allowed every cell of the creature to work like a hive mind. There were currently three facilities in different parts of the world working under the Lake Tanna name. One of the other facilities had a breach too,
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