Cold Target

The current dragged them down through the warm darkness. They had no lights, but were not drifting blindly. Sophisticated sensors were pointing them towards the chemical trail leaking from their target.

Something large swept through their group, taking many of them with it. They had no warning and no defence to its sudden attack, yet they continued on without fear. They were all expendable, but that did not mean they were suicidal, and the longer they stayed in the open the greater their losses. Reaching the target was their only hope of survival.

As the signal strengthened, a predator smashed through their ranks again. Those remaining made it to the wall and locked themselves into position. The river continued to roar past, but they were safe now. The wall was quickly breached and they poured inside. They released their chemical weapons and DNA fragmented beneath their onslaught. From this first infected cell they had gained a base for viral replication, safely away from the white blood cells.

Jenny sneezed and reached for a tissue.
‘Bless you,’ a passing stranger said with a smile.
‘Thanks,’ she said, returning the smile. ‘Must be something in the air tonight.’

© 2008 Damian Herde

Currently unavailable for purchase

Written for Twisted Tales group Challenge for the word catch.


  • Outdoors2
    Outdoors2over 6 years ago

    Ha Good one,
    Being a former Engineer, I was preparing to blow the damn thing up along with the squad and then holding point.

  • Cheers Outdoors! Glad it wasn’t too obscure. All things going well for the virus, they will blow it up in the end, LOL!

    – Damian

  • Craig Mowat
    Craig Mowatover 6 years ago

    Got me. I was picturing a group of small something, but not that small. Nice twist. Thanks.

  • Cool, thanks Craig.

    – Damian

  • Belinda Potbury
    Belinda Potburyover 6 years ago

    Hmm at first I thought…Ahh a virus, so it must not be good…Then I read on a second time and got it… I hope I did…Is it the human body ?

  • Thanks Sabbath :)
    Yep, trying to imagine what it would be like for a virus trying to cause a disease in a body. I was trying to avoid words that would give everything away, or mislead people unfairly :)

    – Damian

  • deliriousgirl
    deliriousgirlover 6 years ago

    How very funny!!! Love the scientific lingo!!! I thought at first that it was going to be about a sperm breaking into an egg.

  • Thanks Jen! You know, I’d thought of the sperm and egg twist on this one too, LOL! But that only came to me after I’d started down the virus path :)

    – Damian

  • Jen Wahl
    Jen Wahlover 6 years ago

    lol…. I did not see the ending coming at all… I kept thinking “river”? since I’d envisioned the ‘sea’… but, it all made perfect sense in the end. Intriguing. ; )

  • Excellent, thanks Jen! I’d started trying to build to the big ‘reveal’ with river, but I’m now wondering if it was the wrong word choice and maybe too literal?

    – Damian

  • jcmontgomery
    jcmontgomeryover 6 years ago

    For some reason I thought about those schools of fish that are targets for dolphins and whales….I had no clue until the end. Well done!!

  • Good idea Jo, I like the school of fish idea! Thanks :)

    – Damian

  • GarBut
    GarButover 6 years ago

    If they run into a paramecium in there, it will surely be Lovecraftian. Good fun, well twisted.

  • LOL, thanks Gar! That’s a brilliant beast to throw at them. It would fit the flailing tenticled horror of Lovecraft really well, haha!

    – Damian

  • ChainmailChick
    ChainmailChickover 6 years ago

    Superb work, Damian! Very well crafted, and the use of ‘river’ threw me off just a touch, enough to make the ending a surprise.

  • Thanks Gayla, glad you liked it :)
    Did ‘river’ throw you off in a good or bad way? I’m debating its retention, and switching with something like ‘torrent’ instead, that would still fit the flow of blood in the vein without potentially confusing the setting.

    – Damian

  • Bob Fox
    Bob Foxover 6 years ago

    This is a good one. I like the extended sci-fi metaphor throughout the story. Great twist!

  • Thanks Robert, glad you liked it!

    – Damian

  • BethW
    BethWover 6 years ago

    Very nicely done Damian. Have to admit, I did see it coming but that is probably just my nursing background. Really liked the concept though and it was very well put together. Loved the analogy and the interpretation of ‘Catch’ challenge. The ending was great with a ‘panning out’ to the human host. Cool!

  • Thanks Beth! I’m actually glad you were able to see it coming, with your background. Makes me think I’ve found a safe midground in the story detail :)

    – Damian

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