Today, we are going to try something different. Instead of using a normal writing prompt, I'm going to use a random word generator to inspire whatever comes next. I'm using the RWG from Text Fixer, linked below.
If you don't like the words I choose, go and get your own. Try for 10, but eventually we're going to be doing this with fewer and fewer.
Let's roll the dice and see what we get.
CADAVER - MONEY - PROTECT - HABIT - VILLAIN - EVIL - REGIONAL - ALCOHOLIC - POLAR - GEAR
Hmmmmm. Nice words. Okay. So, first thing we'll do is match some of these words together.
Villain and Evil go together well. So do Habit and Alcoholic. Polar Gear...we can set this in the Arctic, like The Thing. Regional...let's put that in with Polar. Protect Money...there's a motivation. And Cadaver? Well, I do love a zombie short.
Shall we begin?
The Dead of Winter
Damien awoke to the gunshot crack of ice overhead. Fingers of frost crept inside the mouth of his thermal sleeping kit, melting into rivers that pooled down near his toes. He clenched his teeth and shivered, and the outer layer of his shelter crunched in response. For a moment he toyed with the idea of tucking back in, closing his eyes, and letting the day pass a little longer. It wouldn't do anything for the cold; Antarctica was brutal even in the summer months. Still, he had work to do. With a groan, he carefully pushed himself to a seated position and waited for his hammock to settle.
His shelter hung off the side of a sheer cliff, a dozen feet underneath a rocky overhand. Damien stole a glance at the vertigo-inducing drop back down to his entry point. A single black stone marked the berth for his SDV, the one-man submarine that carried him through the icy waters. Wind howled above him, spraying a mist of snow off the ledge that showed down in sheets.
He dressed quickly, donning layers of insulated clothing and a camouflage overcoat. The crossing to the Boreas Research Facility was undoubtedly monitored, but less likely manned. With the relentless winds and freezing temperatures, it was a suicidal approach. Perfect for Damien.
The climb took another ten minutes and then Damien was on top of the cliff. In one direction, the endless expanse of blue swallowed the horizon. In the other, the blank canvas of the Antarctic beckoned. Damien shouldered his white-and-gray pack, checked the safety on his pistol, and set off.
It was another six hours until the base, so he busied himself rehashing the intel briefing from a week earlier. Damien pulled out his SATcell and plugged in an earpiece. He selected the recording from Colonel Khan and hit play.
* * * * *
Damien, this is going to sound like a lot of science-fiction, but I need you to listen close.
The man on your screen is Doctor Franklin Enzo Steiner, formerly of the Center for Disease Control. We've been monitoring him for a few months after one of our informants fingered him as a DOM Operative. It looks like that intel paid off. Dr. Steiner dropped off the grid a few weeks ago, and reappeared this week on the Boreas Research Facility on Antarctica.
Our team in Austria searched through Dr. Steiner's apartment, and they located evidence pointing toward his involvement in something called "Project Lazarus." It's something you may have heard before, but the gist is this: Take dead bodies and turn them into super-soldiers through the use of incredible technology.
As I said, science-fiction.
The Boreas facility is nearly impregnable. Three sides are sheer cliffs dropping down into the ocean. The only land approach is heavily guarded and monitored every hour of the day. They've recently installed advanced air warning devices, so a HALO approach is out of the question. That's actually why we're bringing you in.
The Arctic isn't your normal haunt, Damien, but we're desperate. The Regional Team was dispatched last week, and they never reported back. At this point, we fear the worst. You have a gift for these impossible missions, and we need that right now.
Dr. Steiner has sided with a devious enemy, but we still don't know the full extent of his involvement. Your mission is to infiltrate the base, extract Dr. Steiner, and obtain any intelligence you can on Project Lazarus. If the operations inside are deemed a threat to global security, you are authorized to terminate the facility.
Your rules of engagement are unchanged: Extreme Prejudice is authorized.
* * * * *
Damien crouched in a small ditch and slowly removed his coat. The cold latched onto him immediately, clawing inside his clothing and wrapping itself around his chest. He shivered and his teeth chattered, but his eyes remained locked on the target: The Boreas Research Facility.
The building was unimpressive. Built low to the ground, with rounded edges to weather the bitter wind, the facility ran in a large cross, a hundred feet at the longest. A large generator rumbled on the far side, away from the rest of the base.
Damien was surprised to see a solitary watch tower. The small square room sat atop four spindly legs and swayed back and forth with the wind. He couldn't make out anything through the opaque tinted glass, but he imagined at least two guards inside. He noted that the tower wasn't connected to the electric grid.
Can't spare the wattage. Damien grinned. A small advantage, but he'd take it. Anyone inside would be focused on the cold, not the surroundings. And they certainly wouldn't think the threat would come from behind.
He made his way through the low ground, hugging the berms of fresh snow, until at last he arrived at an outer building. Damien hesitated at one of the main doors, running scenarios in his head.
It's possible they have a guard posted, but more likely they monitor the seals for environmental control. If I open this door, someone will notice. Going in hot won't work; I've only brought three magazines for the pistol. Best we take this slow.
He circled around the facility, avoiding sight lines, and ended up at the base of the watchtower. In seconds, he was at the door to the square room, pistol in hand. Damien counted silently in his head, took a breath, and opened the door.
Three guards looked up at once. They sat around a small portable heater, clustered tight to conserve the warmth. Their rifles were neatly placed against the wall, several feet away. Not one attempted to move.
Now Damien paused. He had rope in his kit, back where he'd stored his coat. But time was of the essence. And his orders were clear: Extreme prejudice. He pointed the pistol. The sound of the silenced weapon was like a whip over a dry log. The gun bucked two times and then all was quiet again. Damien aimed at the remaining guard.
The man complied quickly, only whimpering once. When he was down to just his thermals, Damien dispatched him with a quick shot. Five minutes later, dressed in a BRF uniform, Damien approached the main doors again.
"Everything okay?" the intercom squawked.
Damien held up a radio and shook it in front of the triple-pane glass window.
"Damn things break all the time. Hold on."
The door buzzed and yawned open, revealing a bored guard and a small room. Damien entered quickly, brushing snow off his shoulders. "Thanks. Freezing my tits off out there."
"I hear that."
Damien tapped the radio against his palm. "Just gotta swap this out. Be right back."
The guard called after him. "Don't forget to sign the log. Major Stone'll throw a fit."
Damien nodded and kept walking. He must be Archibald Stone. Shit. That's a complication. He followed the corridor until he found the main security room. It was a large rectangle, encompassing a full wing of the building. Inside, a large technician hunched before an array of monitors. The dozen or so screens showed various locations throughout the base, and far more than a single level could hold. There's more than one floor! Makes sense.
"You need a battery replaced?"
"Yeah," Damien said. He handed the radio over. "Just you in here?"
The technician snorted. "Like every day. Nobody comes in here unless there's a problem. Just the way I like it."
Damien noted the sagging cot in the corner, the pile of dirty laundry, and the trashcan overflowing with candy wrappers. "Lonely life."
"Eh, could be worse."
"Yep." Damien's hand moved in a blur, bringing the pistol to bear. He fired a single round through the back of the technician's head, splattering the monitors in red and pink. He worked quickly, securing the room from the outside and disabling the handle. It wouldn't hold against anyone really trying to get in, but a passerby wouldn't think twice.
The ladder to the lower level was marked and unguarded. Damien descended into a dim hallway, lit ominously with red light. That's when the smell hit him.
Harsh and acrid. A piercing, pungent stench that invaded his nostrils and charged down his throat. Ammonia and something else. Blood? He gagged, but suppressed his rising breakfast.
Covering his mouth with one hand, Damien stalked down a long, dark corridor. Up ahead, metal clinked and soft-tissue squished. The putrid smell grew stronger with each step, overwhelming his senses. A light at the end of the tunnel beckoned, brighter and brighter as he drew closer. In moments he arrived, dizzy but alert. A thick glass separated him from the room--and the horror--beyond.
Dr. Steiner stood over an operating table, his back to the door. On the flat surface, a bloated cadaver spilled its guts to the floor. The good doctor grunted and cursed. It took Damien a moment to realize just what was happening.
The doctor was systematically removing organs. He would pull out a length of intestine and let it slip unceremoniously to the floor. Then, after a beat, he would attack a kidney. Then the bladder. Then a lung. Each time, the glistening meat would flop down onto the splattered linoleum, landing in a sickening pile.
Then Damien saw the corpse move. Not just move: Resist. The dead thing on the table was restrained, strapped down with thick leather cuffs. It was split from neck to nethers, yet still strained against its bonds in an attempt to attack the doctor.
Damien swallowed, reached for the door, and froze. A cold sensation had alighted on his neck, in the pocket of soft flesh between his skull and spine. Based on the size of the feeling, he estimated its source was the barrel of a .45 semi-automatic pistol. He hardly dared to breathe.
"Major Stone, I presume?"
A gruff, hardened voice answered. "You ought to know better, Damien. Didn't you think it was a little easy getting past the guards?"
"Had to kill a few."
Heavy hands landed on Damien's shoulder and spun him around. He looked up and up until he reached to chiseled jaw of the Marine veteran. Stone earned his name, taking the shape and temperament of a gargoyle. Now he smiled down at the operative, keeping his pistol level with Damien's eye.
"You killed a few of our experiments." The hammer clicked back. "Now, why don't we go inside so you can meet the doctor?"
* * * * *
Want to continue the story? Post your ideas for the next scene below!