The Siren: I

Tobias lay awake that night cycle, as he had for the previous four. His eyes partially glazed over, the young man stared at nothing in particular. Unfocused, they were like two perfectly round pools of stagnant water, a dull blue awash with a dead grey. They had always been the window into his soul, and tonight was no different. Twisted like some shattered oil slicked puddle his inner mind expressed itself without inhibitions.

Fear shone through like some grim gothic portrait, a deep primal thing beyond the petty concerns of most. Perhaps it was reminiscent of some cornered animal, a last ditch dread that could drive man or beast to anything. Beyond that, layers condensed into a thick strata of mental instability. Self loathing glimmered somewhere, deep in those endless dead eyes, complimenting a good dose of restrained savage violence and an unfocused desire. Buried beneath it all, he remained. A stable intellectual's core smashed under tons of excess baggage he could not for certain claim his own.

Young Tobias was conscious of his thoughts as most men typically were, certainly. He was hardly special, the boy was boarder line mundane. Why, even his tedious job as an engineer was a bore. Fix this, purge that, tape that, ad infinitum was his job description. And although requiring a good number of years at a reputable university, he was perhaps the least intelligent member of the small crew which made up the U.S.U.S.V Jericho. Not to paint him challenged, by any means. He was quite capable, but more with his hands than his wit.

However he lived in a sort of perpetual dream these past few days as something nagged at him, a force he could not explain or silence in the back of his head. Neurons blazed a trail of brutally abused grey matter, virtually scorched from the increased activity. His mind was growing too big for his tiny spark of self awareness, and it was easy to get lost. He was growing befuddled within himself, detached. Simply living now was perhaps to be likened to being submerged beneath a number of meters water, his limbs mere mechanical instruments, technological toys and nothing more.

Inhabitating this drowned dreamlike existence his mind was a disorganized type of thing. Colors wailed and assaulted him in the backwash. Refracted every which way, it was like being immersed deep within some broken, full body kaleidoscope of horror and with each passing of the grinding mirrors, he lost a little bit of control. It grew in tiny increments, but now, his ears only vaguely aware of the snores of his shipmates, he could swear he could hear singing.

It was beautiful, disembodied, and child-like. Eager, like a retarded little brother, he focused on the gorgeous song which defied solidification. He strained harder and harder, grunting externally in frustration. Fists clenched against the fabric of his zero gee cocoon, he held onto the tune like it was dear life. Slowly, the last tiny bit of sanity which tethered him to the real world dissolved, and trying with all his might to force the tune into stability, he was aware of it slipping ever further away until it was far too late.

Unblinking he let his big, ropy arms hover in front of him, weightless as he tried to grab the things in his head like they were tangible objects. It was exhilarating and the same time terrifying. He could feel the fragment of self awareness glower and dim, perhaps he was the first man to ever feel himself go insane.

A stronger man would have fought it, but Tobias was weak willed. In all honesty, he was a good man though. He had been chosen for this expedition because of his intellect and adaptive social skills, he was in fact a fine engineer that everyone onboard the Jericho got along with. His powerful hands did wonders out of faulty appliances, and his deep and soothing voice assured him no enemies. But he lacked a certain switch in that complex biological circuitry. He wasn't exactly submissive, but perhaps he just went with the flow too often. Maybe some shyness harbored since childhood was part culprit too, but either way, he was a target to the thing that lay beyond the bulkheads. A weak spot that could be molded to its own ends.

Perhaps if he had fought harder he could have lasted another day or two in the weird detached puppet state but he was so tired, and he didn't have the mental strength to remain fully alert. So it happened, and it snapped, vaulting him into darkness.

He could feel his arms move to release his harnesses but not control them. Through his remaining half deadened senses he could surmise he was moving, passing his many sleeping shipmates. He tried to yawn, but he found himself without a mouth. For some reason, it didn't fully concern him, his mind was too clouded to connect it with a sense of strange discontinuity. Why, it was far more worthwhile to him to try to focus on that wonderful, angelic voice in his head than fight for control.

The Jericho was quiet that time of night, and most of the crew were asleep. So he encountered no curious mates. Soft hisses of opening pressure doors gave him some concept of where he was going, but through perhaps some act of alien mercy, he was allowed to slip into an unconsciousness that would spare him the sensations of what was to occur.

His body, unhindered by being unconscious went about on its course toward the engine room.


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