Seen And Not Seen

By William Bowden

Sci-Fi, Horror, Thriller


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2 mins


The lush green canopy and bright colors of what presents itself as a most peculiar jungle appear almost black in the still twilight, the giant leaves and fronds of the megaflora sopping wet from the rain cycle just ended. And amidst it all, nothing stirs, no insect, bird or animal—not even the machines tasked with its maintenance.

No animal save for the two of them, that is, their vantage point a clearing of neatly clipped grass glistening with a uniform sheen of water droplets in the fading dusk.

A deceptively young-looking couple, their complexion as much a misdirection as their retro-Edwardian garb, a century-old style reinvented for some supposed modern era, with only the subtlest of tailoring to reflect gender, given the practical trouser style, the hems soaked through from the wet lawn.

“A veritable garden of Eden,” the man says, a chirpiness to his aristocratic English accent. “Creation reimagined?”

“They see, and they do not see,” sighs the woman, her heavy European lilt laboring over the lament. “And I see only the folly of Man.”

“Of Man or of men? It is said that the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

“The species of which we find ourselves part?” asks the woman, raising her eyebrows to counter what she considers to be an attempt at inappropriate jocularity.

“I believe the debate to be still inconclusive—”

“You play with words and sentiment, while all about us conceals a dark horror.”

“The horrors are below us. And we have seen far darker.”

* * *

Possessed of some other intent, the sight that now presents itself garners no interest from either of them, a vast space easily three hundred meters across, enclosed by a gently curving wall dropping away to depths unseen, the walkway clinging to its side having brought them to a vault door sunk into a recess.

As if needing no introduction, the vault yields to them with neither request nor action being required, the cavern within instantly brought from an impenetrable blackness to full illumination, the couple stepping forth into its interior in unison.

The white, boxy machine running the length of the cavern is as equally ignored as the spectacular vista outside. It is the far end of the space that draws them forward, a flawless expanse of obsidian glass reaching from floor to ceiling and spanning the cavern’s full width.

Contemplating the glossy surface, the man sees in its reflection his companion turn away, finding her with shoulders slumped under the weight of some great sorrow.

“We already know what we will find,” he says to her. “And it is you that brought us here.”

She returns her gaze to him, eyes wet, as he gently places the flat palm of his hand on the glass surface.

An outline appears in the material, and a panel sucks inward, sliding to one side, a gentle red glow emanating from within the chamber beyond.

The woman cannot help a muted gasp.

“We can only take the one,” says the man.



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