Half-Life: Resonance

Thursday March 27, 2003:

I found something today. Something I can’t tell anyone about or they’ll think I’m nuts. I probably shouldn’t even be writing about it. But I need to get this off my chest.

I got a call from Dr Kleiner, asking me for help. For once he wasn’t locked out., but he did say that he could hear something moving in the ceiling above him. At first he assumed it was either me or Gordon fooling around, but when neither of us poked our heads out to say hello, he got worried.

I grabbed a flashlight and a crowbar and told him not to worry. I assumed it was a rat or something that had made a nest in the vent somewhere. This place is infested with them.

I crawled inside the narrow passage. I heard something moving ahead of me, so I inched myself forward, bit-by-bit, ready to bash something small and squeaky square in the face the second I turned the corner. But instead of a rodent, I found a critter I’ve never seen before. It was only little, about the same size and shape as a horntoad … but weird.

It has bright purple skin, a single red eye cat, like a cat, and a ridge of spikes on its back like some kinda dinosaur. It chittered at me, and licked me right on the end of my nose with a long, blue tongue, like an aardvark’s.

I yelled, expecting it to burn or poison me. But nothing happened. The critter just blinked with its cyclops eye, and chittered again.

“What happened?” I heard Dr Kleiner call out. “Have you found it?”

I was about to tell him that I’d found it, whatever the hell ‘it’ was … but then something made me hesitate. Something Dr Breen told me about ‘discretion.’

“Uh, nothin Doc!” I shouted back. “I’m doing good!”

“You’re doing well Barney!” Kleiner replied, ever the grammarian, “You’re doing well!”

As gently as I could, I reached out and grabbed the critter. It didn’t try and escape at all, and didn’t seem to mind me tucking it into my vest for safekeeping. It was less slimy than I’d been expecting, and squishy like a bean bag.

Taking care not to smush it, or to pierce myself on its spikes, I wriggled out of the vent and dropped down into Kleiner’s office again.

“So Barney?” Kleiner asked, “Did you manage to dispatch that pesky rodent?”

I almost told him what I’d really found. But I stopped myself, and tried to hide the lump hiding under my body armour as best I could.

“Yeah, I scared him off,” I said. “Left some repellent up there. He won’t be bothering ya.”

“Outstanding!” said Kleiner, “Now where did I put that calculator…?”

I made my excuses and left in a hurry, my brain going into overdrive. I took the toad-thing back to the changing room, tore up some newspaper, and made a little bed for it in my locker. I hope it’ll be safe in there for a few hours. I promised Gordon I’d meet him at the range tonight for some shooting practice.

Seriously though: what the hell did I just find?

Published by itshendo

Callum Henderson is a carbon-based life form who graduated with a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing from the University of Strathclyde in 2016.

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