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CHROMOZONE - Flesh and Blood, Book One - Prologue

 

On the South coast of England, a flock of seagulls flourished in the blue sky circling, like sharks, above the chalky white cliffs. The sun shone brightly, but the chill in the air was an indicator of the impending cold winter. It was just after dawn and groups of men, kitted out in warm clothing and hard hats, had gathered by the shoreline and were making their way down the wet rocky beach, careful not to stumble on the algae infested rocks. The seagulls, undeterred, swooped down scavenging for sea life for their early morning meal and many targeted large sea animals that had been mysteriously washed up on the shore when the tide had retreated.

 

An iron-like giant lay in its slumber, a colossal cargo ship was sunk, tilted on its side but it remained locked into the watery black mud, the rust on the bottom of it indicated that it had been dormant for many months. The vessel stood silent like it was stuck in time, a shadow of its former self sailing the seas with a bustling crew. It was in disrepair and the large steel containers it had been carrying on its last voyage had been thrown from its deck and were scattered around the beach and rocks. It had all remained untouched and apart from the bending and creaking of the ships metal foundations, it felt eerily like a mysterious ghost ship. 

 

Since the ship had collided there had been an instant uproar from marine biologists and environmentalists about the pollution and the danger it would cause to the sea’s ecosystem. Many had staged a protest and a petition had been circulating around for some time. The head of marine biology was in the process of going through the courts to gain access to the site to find out just how many sea creatures had been affected by the potentially damaging disaster. The media had covered the stories both in the newspaper and on the television. No one understood or knew why the shipwreck hadn’t been dealt with but the government officials had issued a notice declaring that the crash site was a hazardous area. They had installed a regular security team to patrol it twenty four hours a day and it was near impossible to reach the ship, although many had tried and regrettably failed. 

 

The men, with exclusive access, climbed aboard the ship with flash lights and navigated their way through the dark maze-like corridors. The man in charge with a clipboard surveyed his notes and sent the men off on their own missions to locate various containers. Each container was opened and checked and accounted for. It was cold and damp on the ship and the smell of the sea lingered in the air as the tide was slowly making its way back to shore. From the deck of the ship the man caught a glimpse of two of his workers waving their arms frantically and pointing to a container that had been tossed out to sea when the vessel had collided with land. The man summoned the workers on the deck to accompany him down on the beach and went to investigate the orange container.

 

As they approached they could see the container, it was in poor condition compared to the rest and had been subjected to many poundings as the sea had crashed against the rocks. The doors were ajar and it was covered in a thick layer of rust where it had been drenched from the salty sea water. The man located the container I.D, Container – ODI-2-615113-29. The letters and numbers were barely visible as seaweed had webbed its thick bodied shell. The doors were dented and two burly men from the group attempted to pry open the mangled doors. With one big heave the doors surrendered and opened and a swarm of rats rushed out bringing several decaying boxes with them. The men jumped back out of their path as they scurried off across the beach. Seaweed and molluscs had set up home on the cardboard boxes that sat inside as they had been abandoned and forgotten. The container was slanted and sand and puddles of water carpeted the bottom. The men got to work and promptly attempted to transport the sodden boxes from their watery grave to the safety of their vans.

 

The man with the clipboard ordered a group of five men to continue searching through the vast array of containers that were scattered in a mismatched fashion and capsized along the shore line. The men worked fast as they trudged through the wet ground that gave way beneath their heavy boots. It was as though they were searching for something of importance.

 

They worked throughout the day until evening set in and slowly the containers were being cleared and marked off of the checklist. A crowd had gathered along the sea wall with people eager and curious to know what was happening and a few reporters could be seen fishing for information from the men who were still tirelessly loading up the vans. No one had a clue what was actually happening and the man in charge wasn’t giving anything away leading everyone to believe that something suspicious was occurring.

 

Back on board the freighter the men continued to investigate the state of the ship whilst others carried on searching through more of the containers. One man decided to separate from his team and followed a web of seaweed that stretched out through one of the corridors, puddles of salt water rippled with each step he took. The floor creaked beneath him as he shone his torch forward into the distant darkness. He paused as he heard a sound coming from further down the corridor. He called out for his friends, his voice echoed through the abandoned cabins as his pulse increased and beads of sweat began to form on his forehead. He wiped at them with his jacket sleeve and attempted to make radio contact on his walkie-talkie. He jolted as something whizzed past his legs and he tripped over a metal pipe and dropped his walkie-talkie onto the ground. Cursing, he tried to get himself to his feet. He reached for his torch which was blinding him and stopped as he noticed a small hole next to him. He cautiously reached for his flashlight and directed it down the dark hole, that noise he previously heard grew louder, deafening in fact. He put his face closer and glanced down the hole and gasped and jumped to his feet. There were rats, so many substantially sized rats, more than he had ever seen before. He panicked and went to run in the opposite direction but the rotten floor gave way beneath his weight. He clung on for dear life to the metal pipe that had caused him to trip and shouted for help as loud as he could. He gained the courage to look down, the room was bigger than he had first anticipated and there were hundreds more rats scuttling around. His walkie-talkie crackled and he could hear his workmates searching for him. He screamed out trying to reach for it, the floor started to creak all around him and water poured over his face. He looked down at the rats and squinted, in between them was a hand, a human hand in an upright position like someone was under the huge pile of vermin. He heard footsteps racing through the body of the ship and the beams of torch lights got closer to him as he screamed for help. He began to lose his grip, he wasn’t sure how long he could hold on for. His heavy duty clothes were pulling and his hands were wet. He heard a voice from the end of the corridor and heavy footsteps as his friends were moments away from rescuing him. He looked down at his fate and closed his eyes as his grip gave way and he tumbled down into the nest. The rats pounced on their much awaited treat and tore at his flesh as his screams echoed through the supposedly lifeless ship.

 

No one knew exactly what happened on the day the men came to clear the cargo ship that had sat abandoned for many months. They had carried on their work until every container had been logged and cleared. Not one man gave the slightest hint of their mission that day.

 

 

 

Several months had passed and an elderly couple were wandering along the vast stretch of pebbled beach watching their young grandson run along with his kite blowing in the sea breeze. They stopped by the ship, now a lifeless lump of metal, but it still stood proudly in the mud in its final resting place. Abandoned and forgotten. The loose containers had been cleared and the ship had been sealed off and chained up. Vandals had adorned the rusted sides with spray paint defacing its majestic beauty. The breeze increased and took the boys kite towards the ship jamming itself in a hole that had eroded in its side. The boy reached over to try and free his kite, but he heard a groaning noise coming from inside. He carefully freed his kite as his grandparents called out to him to come back. The boy, curious, stepped over the uneven wet rocks and glanced through the hole. He froze as he saw a lifeless white eye glaring back at him. Whatever it was its shadowed skin seemed rotten. His grandfather reached him and pulled him from the ship to the safety of the beach and they proceed back the way they came. The boy looked back, but said nothing to his grandparents as he followed them back up the shore wondering what remained hidden inside the body of the ship.

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