Introduction to Nudov Pt. 2

Introduction to Nudov Pt. 2

Ch. 2

 

Feast

WOLFGANG MEIER RIPPED THE SIHTASO SCOUT 11 HEADSET OFF OF HIS HEAD.

His eyes were just as wild as in Nudov, but his full beard and long hair were still intact. He was wearing a filthy vest, boots, and duster instead of the nice, clean suit. 

Wolfgang unplugged his headset from the stack of servers and glanced at his watch. The robot cleaning crew was going to come through here any second. 

He looked down the endless aisle of server banks. There was still time to get out before the cleaners activated the alarm. 

Wolfgang slipped outside through the rectangular hole in the wall. He quickly grabbed the metal panel off the ground where he left it and screwed it back into the wall with the screwdriver head on his Swiss Army knife. 

Wolfgang moved methodically in a zigzag pattern to avoid the security cameras on the giant warehouses holding all the Nudov servers. 

He reached the edge of the server compound and crawled through the hole he had cut into the fence. 

As he passed the cooling tower of the nuclear power plant that was powering all those servers, Wolfgang pulled a can of red spray paint out of his bag. He spray-painted an “HI” onto the cooling tower over the “IH” in “SIHTASO” so that it now read “SHITASO.” 

He chuckled to himself as he admired his handiwork. Before The Great Migration, Wolfgang enjoyed high-brow intellectual humor and turned up his nose at toilet humor. But now a simple Shit-aso made him laugh. He just wished there was someone else there to laugh with him.

Wolfgang reached his car and looked around. He remembered in the early days post-Great Migration when security around server compounds was tight; he couldn’t just leave his car parked out in the open. But now that all the people were gone, the security system of cameras and robots is mostly just to make sure the rats don’t get in and gnaw through the wires.

His Toyota Sun SUV’s roof was outfitted with a vertical rack of extra solar panels. Attached to the tow hitch behind the SUV was a seven feet long, three feet wide, six feet high trailer. 

Wolfgang slid in to the driver’s seat and checked the power meter on the dashboard. Considering the time and the sun’s position in the sky, he could drive a few more miles before he had to stop for the night. Wolfgang needed to leave enough power to power the trailer through the night until the sun came up again to replenish the power supply.

Wolfgang drove north on Las Vegas Boulevard into the Strip, or what remained of it anyway. The Red Rain and the ensuing carnage had done a lot of damage. 

There were massive holes in the Luxor pyramid, but it was still standing somehow. 

There was a mountain of rubble where the MGM towers had been. Wolfgang had noticed their collapse was eerily similar to the Twin Towers on 9/11. First, something had flown into them, then fire on the upper floors, then demolition-style collapse.  

Wolfgang remembered the crowds of tourists, the gamblers, the packed nightclubs, full shows… people everywhere. 

Now it was just him. One man amidst an empty, decaying ghost town formerly known as Sin City. 

Wolfgang glanced at his power meter on the dash. It had reached the line he had marked STOP. 

Wolfgang pulled off into a former casino parking lot. He didn’t notice until he got out of the car that he was parked at the Sahara. He smirked. Of course. 

Wolfgang had brought Diane to the Sahara for their first wedding anniversary. She had wanted to stay at the Cosmopolitan, but he insisted they stay at a classic Vegas hotel. He didn’t bother to do any online research and was surprised upon arrival to discover that the Sahara had recently undergone a 415 million-dollar renovation. It was not the classic Vegas hotel he was expecting. 

Diane acted surprised, but he was pretty sure she had known beforehand. They still had a classic Vegas experience… gambling, a couple shows, day drinking by the pool. 

But in this moment, he remembered the night they danced the night away at the Sahara Nightclub. The music thumping, amidst a sea of sweaty people, Wolfgang and Diane were like two gummy bears stuck together, moving in sync, so in love, so in lust—

Wolfgang snapped out of his daydream. He had to find something to eat before it got dark.

Fortunately, food was fairly easy to find by just following the smell. Unfortunately, it was the worst smell on Earth. 

When he got close enough to see it, Wolfgang plugged up his nose and covered his nose and mouth with a red handkerchief tied around his head, like bank robbers in the old movies he used to watch as a kid. 

Wolfgang thought of the old lady’s handkerchief in Nudov. That whole cold storage robbery had taken too long. He needed to figure out a quicker way to get Vèvèman to show up.

As he approached the hole in the ground, Wolfgang braced himself. He thought he’d get used to it eventually, but it didn’t seem to get any easier. 

Seeing thousands of decaying dead bodies stacked up made his stomach turn. He wanted to vomit but couldn’t afford to lose the nutrients. 

Wolfgang took a deep breath to calm himself. Unfortunately, that brought more of the death stench into his nostrils along with the air. 

He pushed on toward the hole. There were all kinds of bodies –  adults, kids, fat, skinny, light, dark. At least most of their faces were covered by Scout headsets. That made it a little easier. He shuddered thinking of what might be under the masks – thousands of rotting eyes staring at him. 

It reminded him of mass graves in war footage from the Holocaust. But these people weren’t murdered. They had willingly left their bodies, and they were still alive – sort of – in Nudov. 

Wolfgang had tried to warn the President. He was her National Security Advisor. She was supposed to listen to him. 

“This is not a matter of National Security,” she had said. The Secretary of Defense and The Secretary of Homeland Security had sided with the President, against Wolfgang. 

They said a digital metaverse was under the Secretary of Commerce’s domain, and that nincompoop thought it was great for the economy. Of course they would monitor it for any illegal or terrorist activity, but–

That’s not what Wolfgang was trying to warn them against. He was trying to warn them that Sihtaso’s plans for his metaverse were not benevolent. 

And then Sihtaso rolled out the ability for people to upload their consciousnesses to Nudov and leave their bodies behind. “Live forever” was the simple but effective tagline. 

Wolfgang tried to get the President to shut down Nudov, but he was called paranoid. Then he was fired. 

Wolfgang spoke out publicly in interviews and on social media. He was called a conspiracy theorist and banned from all centralized social media platforms. 

He was lumped in with all the anti-government, anti-corporation nuts, like the sociopath “Captain” Jack Benzinger, his mad dog sidekick Tomex Slammershield, and their domestic terrorist militia The Unitauros. This association only served to further discredit Wolfgang. 

But he continued to speak out, and so they called him a traitor. 

Diane gave him an ultimatum – stop or she’s gone. 

If he stopped, if he let Sihtaso finish his plan, she’d be gone anyway. 

“There is no evil plan. If you don’t want to go to Nudov, you don’t have to,” Diane argued. 

Sihtaso’s promise of everlasting life had enticed millions of people to fully migrate to Nudov and leave their physical bodies behind. But with the ever-developing life-extension technologies, the majority of people had been content to stay in their physical bodies and enter Nudov temporarily whenever they wished. 

“Not yet,” Wolfgang replied, “not yet.” 

Diane shook her head and stomped out the door. She got into the Uber and didn’t even look back once as it drove away. 

That was the last time he saw her alive.

Perched on the edge of the body dump, Wolfgang scanned the piles of rotting bodies for movement. He had lost his appetite but knew he needed to eat. 

He saw a fat white boy’s body shake. Wolfgang aimed his crossbow at the boy. He waited. 

Wolfgang saw its nose first and then the rest of its body emerged…

This wasn’t like the rats Wolfgang used to see in the subway pre-Great Migration. Feeding on an endless supply of human flesh, this rat was around four feet long, two feet tall, and probably weighed close to 200 pounds. It was the size of a pig. Not as tasty of course, but beggars can’t be choosers.

As Wolfgang pulled the trigger, his bowstring snapped, causing the arrow to misfire. Shit. He was going to have to get up-close and personal. 

Wolfgang pulled out his Bowie knife and ran across the piles of bodies, the sound of organs splattering and bones crunching under his boots. 

He slipped and fell forwards onto a slim black woman’s body. Wolfgang looked at the Bowie knife inches from his face. What is this, amateur hour? I could have killed myself, running with the knife in my hand.

Wolfgang re-sheathed his knife and climbed to his feet. 

Startled, the rat retreated back into the sea of bodies. 

Oh, no you don’t. Wolfgang sprinted across the bodies and dove after the rat, catching it by its tail. He yanked the squealing giant rat by its tail back out of the body pile. 

Now Wolfgang unsheathed his knife. He grabbed the top of the rat’s head with his free hand and slit the rat’s throat with his knife in one fluid motion. The rat was dead within two seconds.     

Back by his car, Wolfgang had a fire going in a trash can. As he sliced open the rat’s underside to remove its organs, Wolfgang recalled that the first reports of meteor showers came from the Strip. 

Tourists shuffling between casinos saw the round objects streaking through the sky and thought they were meteors. It wasn’t until the uproar at Area 51 that people started calling them aliens.

Wolfgang skinned the rat with a smaller knife, and then began to slice the meat off the bones. 

Wolfgang had only gone hunting once pre-Great Migration, with his (at the time, future) father-in-law. Wolfgang wanted Barry’s approval before he proposed to Diane. Wolfgang hadn’t come close to shooting anything, but Barry had killed a deer. While Barry was gutting the deer, Wolfgang had vomited. 

If only Barry could see me now.

Soon after the meteor sightings, the reports came out that the meteors were actually aliens headed to Area 51. They had attacked Area 51 to take back their ships and fellow aliens who were being held captive there. 

And now the aliens were attacking humans – for either revenge or conquest. 

The conspiracy theorists on the dark web quickly rang the “false flag” warning bell. Some accused the US government; many said this was the globalists aka the New World Order. 

But Wolfgang was sure it was Sihtaso. 

The “aliens” flew their ships out of Area 51 and started dropping red crystals from the sky that released a lethal gas. “The Red Rain” blanketed the planet with the killer crystals.

The militaries of the world united to fight the alien invaders. Operation Save Earth was successful in annihilating the aliens, and the world celebrated the unprecedented victory. 

But only for a moment. For the crystals remained… and the lethal gas they were emitting didn’t stop.

All the militaries’ biodefense units proved useless.

Masks, lockdowns, and vaccines proved useless.

Thousands of people were being killed daily by the gas from the red crystals.

Only one man had a way to ensure survival. “Leave your human body and come to Nudov. The gas cannot harm you if you migrate to Nudov.” 

And so they went. Billions of people lined up and willingly gave their minds and souls to Sihtaso. It was called “The Great Migration.” 

Wolfgang went to the lines at the upload stations and shouted at the people through a megaphone to “Stop!” and “Turn back!” until the military dragged him away and locked him up. He was a threat to national security, they said. 

The Unitauros tried to bomb the upload stations, but they were foiled by an informant. 

Wolfgang wondered if Jack, Tomex, and the rest of the Unitauros were still alive, if they had survived the Red Rain and avoided The Great Migration. Maybe they were living in a bunker somewhere. They were probably Wolfgang’s last choice for people he would want to see again, but the last choice was better than no one.

Wolfgang had escaped when they took him to forcibly migrate him to Nudov. He had made a fake crystal from soap and colored it red with his own blood. When they got out of the Humvee at the upload station, Wolfgang stealthily pulled his red soap creation out of its hiding place in his asshole. He tossed the “red crystal” in the air and screamed. 

During the ensuing fracas with the guards, Wolfgang was able to get the keys to the Humvee and drive away. He hid in a basement till The Great Migration was over. 

As he expected, as soon as The Great Migration completed, the red crystals stopped emitting the lethal gas. What a strange coincidence. Not.

Wolfgang grilled his rat-steak over the trash can fire. He used to prefer his steak medium rare, but rat-steak tasted best when cooked well-done. Very well-done. 

Wolfgang filled up his tin mug with water from his atmospheric water generator. He sat down on the pavement, using the trailer as a backrest, and prepared to eat the rat-steak on the plate in front of him.

Wolfgang actually wished he could have kept the rat as a pet so he could have some company, but he needed to eat. The Red Rain had killed all of the animals. Well, almost all of the animals. The animals were not given a chance to be part of The Great Migration. Only the rats survived. The rats and me. 

Tomorrow, onward to Area 51. Tonight, feast. Wolfgang chowed down on his perfectly cooked well-done rat-steak.

Wolfgang wrapped the leftover rat meat in some brown paper. He opened the door to the trailer. The blast of cold air from the refrigerated ice transport trailer felt good in the Vegas heat. 

Wolfgang stuck the package of rat meat next to the left leg of the trailer’s main cargo. Then he blew a goodnight kiss to his ex-wife.

After The Great Migration, Wolfgang had searched the body dump in D.C. closest to his ex-wife’s house. For 52 hours straight, he ransacked thousands of bodies, looking for Diane. Luckily he found her before the rats did.      

Wolfgang blew up his air-mat and laid out his sleeping bag. He would get to Area 51 in about a week. Even though it was only 150 miles from where he was now, he could only drive about 25 miles a day because of needing the rest of the available solar power to power the trailer. 

Wolfgang didn’t know exactly what he would find in Area 51, but he was sure he would find the evidence he needed to prove that the Red Rain was a false flag operation orchestrated by Sihtaso to force everyone to migrate to Nudov. 

Wolfgang would be able to prove to Diane that he wasn’t crazy, that he wasn’t a traitor, that he was right all along, and that she never should have left him. She’ll feel guilty and remorseful and apologize, and he’ll forgive her, and they’ll have incredible make-up sex over and over and–

But first Wolfgang needed to bring Diane back to life. He needed to move her consciousness and her soul out of Nudov and back into her body. 

He needed Vèvèman

Sihtaso’s migration was a one-way trip. There was no reverse button. 

But Vèvèman had magical powers – some kind of Voodoo, according to the rumors. Wolfgang had heard Vèvèman could move from the real world to Nudov and back without a headset.

And he could bring Diane back to life, back to Wolfgang.   

Wolfgang zipped his sleeping bag up tight around him and laid his head back on his coat aka tonight’s pillow. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was the big *S* on the Sahara sign. 

Wolfgang dreamt of the night he danced all night with Diane at the Sahara nightclub on their first anniversary trip. 

In real life, they had been stuck together, dancing in each other’s arms all night. 

But in his dream, every time Wolfgang got close to Diane, she slipped away into the dancing crowd. He chased her around the dance floor, reaching for her again and again, but no matter how close he got, he couldn’t reach her. 

He just couldn’t reach her.

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