Seventeen Moons ’til Doomsday

Author: Jae Miles, Staff Writer

The young man is wearing a vantablack bodysuit that leaves only his face discernible. Matching cloak, gloves and boots are stacked next to the log he sits on. A sensor-laden facemask lies in his hand as he starts speaking.
“You wanted this. So, no interruptions.”
The video drone settles into a hover. A voice emerges from it: “Whenever you’re ready, Captain Tane. Just tell us when you’re done.”
He nods, then stares into the lens with disturbing intensity.
“Vampires? Werewolves? I wish. Like anyone facing a Kastonen, I wish for the mythical horrors of my youth. I’d even face them in packs.
Their vessels descended on rural Iowa and the Ukok Plateau, the former attracting far more attention than one in the wilds of Siberia. By the time the US military had laid waste to a significant amount of Iowa and still failed, the snow leopard was extinct in the wild, along with most other fauna on the Ukok Plateau, and in adjacent territories.
Kastonen are predatory parasites that grow rapidly from a host by means we don’t fully understand. We daren’t study them because their bodies are made of highly contagious matter. They transform an infected host like high-speed cancer, first bonding to the nervous system – making removal a fatal process – then spawning as many of themselves as the host can support. It’s agonising to endure. Immolation is the only answer as the corpse remains infectious.
Regardless of origin, a Kastonen is sextupedal: an amphibious nightmare centaur of varying size, depending on what it spawned from, and how much it’s managed to consume since then. The only limit on their size seems to be gravity. We know of at least three oceanic Kastonen that are bigger than Blue Whales. It also seems that beyond a certain size, they start to grow armour in addition to their incredibly tough hide.
Strangely, they’re herbivores. They reserve meat as fuel for more Kastonen. Fighting them is difficult because skin-to-skin contact is deadly. Plus, they actively avoid confrontation. It’s their primary defence. They don’t want to fight, despite being very capable. Bite and run is their preferred tactic. Nervous system bonding occurs within seconds. Nascent Kastonen will start to grow within an hour. I can’t properly describe the process, it’s unbelievable to watch. We find infected by the noise they make. Those who aren’t in a condition to scream in pain are where our problems arise. Too many have fallen quietly and the doomsday cults that have sprung up are making it worse.
Which is the reason why this interview was authorised: publicising new measures and information.
From now on, any cult member who espouses ‘donating’ to Kastonen will be treated as a Kastonen. Note that the decision over removal can only be made by military personnel. Vigilantes will receive the usual penalties, regardless of any decisions pertaining to their victims.
Have no doubt: we’re fighting for our survival. The new information only reinforces that: the Kastonen could not have made the vessels they arrived in. They are a bioweapon, and their owners will be here in under eighteen months. Our strategists are working on solutions and our scientists are working on pathogens to exterminate the Kastonen. Until then, do your best. Survive. Live to beat the bastards who loosed them on us.”
He blinks: “End of interview.”
Tane dons his gear in silence. He disappears into the shadows before the interviewer can overcome the shock sufficiently to ask anything.

12 Comments

  1. xdhz8

    Good flash. Love the title, and the last line really lights it up.

  2. djl

    Convinced they will be friendly, just givers of misguided gifts!

  3. M J R

    This little slice of a story has only wet my appetite and made me want more. An extended version of this story would make one hell of a novel or a great horror movie. Very well done.

    • Jae

      Thank you. I’m currently of the opinion this is a standalone, but – given the way I write – I can never say for sure.

  4. Emma Brown

    I could eat an entire novel of this. Loved It.

  5. Hari Navarro

    Yours is an such an immersive style of world building, Jae. Very impressive.

  6. SimonJM

    Talk about putting a crimp in your day! Hopefully they do not suffer high temperatures well and global warming will kill them off ..? 😉

  7. Adam Gerencser

    High-octane apocalypse-building – yum! Thanks for the story, Jae.

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