NOVELS I’LL NEVER WRITE: Volume 1
THE MUTANTS OF ALBATEGNIUS
20XX: Earth has become dangerously overpopulated and resources are becoming scarce, threatening to spark a global war. The United States builds thousands of nuclear power plants to address the energy crisis–as well as refine material for hydrogen weapons–resulting in millions of tons of nuclear waste. Terrorists begin targeting the ubiquitous waste sites with conventional explosives, creating makeshift dirty bombs. With chaos erupting across the country, a plan is introduced to launch the entire stockpile of radioactive sludge into the sun, carried on a massive rocket. The plan goes awry when Cape Canaveral is attacked, causing the rocket to veer wildly off-course after launch.
Instead of safely boiling away in the sun, the waste-laden rocket collides with the moon, obliterating a large chunk of a pioneer colony established on the Albategnius crater. Thousands of colonists die instantly from the impact but the ordeal is far from over. Automated systems repair the breached dome and restore life-support systems, but fail to contain the nuclear waste. Radiation seeps continuously from damaged casks, contaminating the artificial atmosphere and devastating crops and livestock across the colony.
The colony’s survivors are driven below the surface into emergency bunkers. Because of escalating global tensions on Earth, they know a rescue is unlikely. Making matters worse, Albategnius’ only remaining escape shuttle is completely inaccessible, buried in debris from the rocket crash. Even more disconcerting are the inexplicable thumps and scratches coming from the other side of the steel door. With little options remaining, the colonists hunker down and survive on a finite amount of stockpiled rations.
The colonists hopes of escape fade with each passing day in the lead-lined bunker. After nearly a year, the horrible scratching outside the door still hasn’t stopped. With food and water dwindling, a brave team of twenty men and women leave the safety of the bunker. Their mission is to clear debris from the escape ship and repair the atmosphere scrubbers so the other colonists can escape. The squad-mates are aware the high levels of radiation within the dome will likely claim their lives before the artificial atmosphere is restored, but they remain undeterred.
The suicide squad is besieged by horrors before they can get to the crash site. They discover mutated livestock roaming the dome, subsisting on nothing but the rotting flesh of dead colonists. The beasts attack without warning, driven wild by instincts run amok. Cows swollen with jagged tumors stampede across the lunar plain on clawed hooves. Goats charge with malformed heads, their hides covered in seeping boils and curling spikes. A clutch of oversized chickens give chase, their corrupted genetic code having returned their prehistoric talons and teeth. The animals have adapted to zero gravity, leaping and pouncing with surprising speed and almost comical efficiency. Half of the rescue team is torn to shreds in the ensuing carnage.
The remaining men and women flee, finding shelter within a construction bay. They retaliate against the horde with pneumatic rivet guns collected from the build site, sending steel bolts exploding through the swollen beasts. Geysers of yellow pus and crimson gore gush against the walls of the great dome.
The squad-mates resume their mission and manage to clear the debris from the escape ship and prepare it for launch. Repairing the dome’s atmosphere scrubbers drains the remaining power banks, but maintaining life-support systems won’t be necessary once the remaining colonists are Earth-bound. Their task complete, the heroes contact the families in the bunker and instruct them to make their way to the craft.
Beginning to wither from radiation poisoning, the squad-mates sit together on the edge of the dome to look out on the Earth one last time. While staring at the blue orb, they witness a series of orange glows spreading across the continents–explosions that quickly envelop the globe. In mere moments, the planet is reduced to nothing but a barren rock choking on black storms of smoke and fallout. Thermonuclear war has no winners.
The heroes of the colony die, knowing their compatriots heading for the escape craft will have nowhere to escape to.