Cubic

June 5th, 1982

I write the following pages with the unsteady hand of a man drowning in confusion. The Fates have placed he in a bizarre land for which there is no escape… will I ever see you, my family, again?

I’m getting ahead of myself. I should explain who I am, perhaps repeating that information will help me keep my sanity. My name is Gerald; I am the captain of the Wanderer, a long-distance cargo vessel built for moving… special good in between Europe and America. At least I was, a terrible storm threw me off course and ran me aground somewhere in the sea, which resulted in my catapulting over the railing and into the freezing sea. After a time, it must have been days at the least, I woke on the shore of a lush island with staggering cliffs. Noting that everything but my bag, the emergency lighter attached to my waist, and this journal had been taken by the sea, I was first filled with despair. However, that agony quickly turned to determination. I am going to survive this, I swear it. Lucy, I will see you again.

My survival instincts took over the prioritization of what needed to be done. After all, there are only three things that a man needs to live, right? Water wouldn’t be a problem, as it seems that fresh, flowing water is commonplace on the island. So that leaves food and shelter, the former being the most important at the moment. After all, being adrift for days tends to leave you famished, no?

It was… horrible, Lucy. I am ashamed to admit to the lengths that I had to go through to obtain food. All of the curious trees were bare, and no bushes were around to pick fruit from. After searching for what I estimated to be an hour I saw what looked like a pig in the distance. As I approached, however, its true form was revealed to me. While it did have the correct coloration and general look of a pig, the dark pink skin was the same all over the creature, with no blemish or crease. It’s as if the creature was painted by the cruel gods of this island. However, I wasn’t able to be picky, as I was starving. Of course, I had no weapons or tools to neatly kill the creature with, so I was forced to… God help me… beat the beast to death with my bare fists. It took a long time, with each strike of my fist drawing blood and sounds of crunching bone. It was so strange, my dear, the beast didn’t try to fight back. It only looked at me with a pathetic, detached look in its eyes until it fell dead.

Tearing it apart, I was able to find a few decent pieces of meat. A few bits went in my bag, and I devoured the rest raw. I’m only a few days away from delightful meals with my ill-fated crew and I’m already feasting like the beast that this meat came from. What will the future hold for me?

Washing myself in a nearby stream and drinking to quench my thirst, I noticed that the sun was moving quickly across the sky. Knowing that night is coming, and the unknown horrors that I expected it to bring, shelter moved to priority one.

Searching around, I figured that I had two options: I could hole up in one of the natural cave formations, or I could attempt to build something rudimentary on the top of one of the many hills. Figuring that the first would be the fastest and easiest, as I was still exhausted, I approached one of the dark caves. However, I froze in the spot after getting close, as a terrible sound was coming out of the darkness. A walking, shuffling sound, which could be indicative of another human on the island!

“Hello! Is anyone there?” I shouted.

The sound that returned was strange, terrifying, and damned familiar at the same time. Do you remember those trashy monster flicks that we always watch? It sounded like the roar of a creature from those films, a primal urge to kill. Needless to say, I ran as quickly as I could.

Thus, the second choice became the only one. First, however, I would need materials. I searched well into the night, looking for any kind of stick that could make a quick wall. However, the fields were strangely barren of materials of any kind. Smashing my fist into a tree in an act of frustration, I met with a shock. I swear upon my mother’s grave, Lucy, the tree cracked, as a thick plane of glass might. Realizing the implication of this, I hammered on the spot again and again, watching the cracks grow larger and larger. Eventually the entire piece slid away, leaving a hole about two feet tall in the tree. I say “hole” because, despite the base being detached, the tree stayed in the air! I was convinced that I had gone insane on the sea, and this was just delusions of my fevered mind. I’m still not sure that I haven’t.

At any rate, I slowly dismantled the tree into pieces, throwing them behind me. At the end of my barrage I had four blocks, about four inches in area. Trying to figure out how solid the pieces were, I gave a swift kick to one of them. Strangely enough, that gave me four different blocks, about the same size as the original, as well as a pain in my foot. It might just be the exhaustion, but this barely surprised me. Perhaps I’m just becoming jaded to the strange magic of the island. Kicking the rest of the blocks, I stacked them in a couple piles of four while I obtained more wood from nearby trees. In all, I ended up with forty blocks or so.

Figuring that they were enough to create a decent shelter, I dragged the lot of them to the top of a hill. Creating the building was surprisingly easy, as the blocks seem to be coated with a sticky residue that is strong enough to adhere to other blocks without a support underneath. It was quickly approaching night by the time I finished building my wooden prison. Thus, I decided to write down today’s bizarre occurrences by the light of my emergency lighter. I must extinguish it soon, however, to conserve the limited supply of oil. Tomorrow I’ll have to figure out a better way to light my way.

But, for now, I must sleep. Goodnight, dear Lucy. I hope you realize that I’m missing before too long.

June 7th, 1982

This date is a only rough estimate, but I am sure that I’ve been unconscious for more than a day due to the growth on my face. But that’s not important right now; there are creatures on this island. My rest was interrupted at one point by scratching on the other side of the rough wall, accompanied by the same moaning that I head out of the cave. However, when I awoke and dug myself out of my hovel, the walls were immaculate and the creatures gone. A feather lying on the ground was the only trace that I could find of anything being there at all. Could I have imagined the entire thing?

In any case, I will have to arm myself. I’m hungry again and I refuse to repeat what occurred the day before. The wood blocks that have formed my home seem to be fairly malleable despite their strength, and I may be able to create some rudimentary tools. We will have to see.

June 7th, later

The crafting worked surprisingly well, much to my surprise. The wood came apart with enough force, and the resulting sticks and a few rocks lying around made a decent crafting bench. After that came a few tools, an axe for chopping up trees was the most obvious choice, a wooden sword for fighting off monsters. Well, “club” might be more appropriate, as I couldn’t get it to hold a blade for all the world, so it’s more a bludgeoning tool. But it’ll keep my hands clean, and that’s enough.

I also managed to create a pickaxe with some measure of success. The landscape is littered with stone, but smashing it like the tree only caused it to shatter. I had to hit the damned rock until my hands bled, though. Perhaps a pick will give some degree of precision to the work. Of course, a wood pick will probably shatter against the rock on the first attempt, but it can’t hurt to try.

Speaking of stone, there appears to be a vein of a sooty material in the rock nearby, much like coal. I may be able to form torches from this material, if I can get it out of the rock. Anything to conserve the dwindling fuel for my lighter.

June 7th, night

My rock venture was successful, the picks worked beautifully. The resulting shards of rock seem to possess the same adhesive properties as the wood, which made making new tools a breeze. It might be possible to create a better stronghold, given enough time… we shall see.

However, I must regretfully return to the subject of the beings on the island. I spend much of my time in utter isolation, with only the rare herd of cattle or pigs to make my company. However, my mining adventure is worth noting.

I was following a vein of coal (I’m now sure that the black substance must be coal) and inadvertently broke through into a cavern. Before I could light another torch, however, an arrow embedded itself by the side of my head! Ducking back into my makeshift hallway, I called out to the shooter to inform him of my humanity. Unfortunately, the arrows simply kept coming. I moved my eyes inch by inch around the corner, but was forced to take flight under a barrage of arrows.

I only caught a glimpse of the man, but I could tell that it was a very thin human with incredibly white skin. Perhaps he was a native of the island that lived in the cave exclusively? I would certainly explain his alabaster pigmentation, much like the albino rats in the sewers. The man certainly wasn’t a “rat”, I would live in a cave if I dared enter one.

Speaking of which, I must figure out how to venture into the caves. Perhaps I should parlay with the man tomorrow, maybe he can advise me on the best methods of spelunking.

I sealed myself in my hovel again, writing tonight by torchlight. The scratching is back again, but it only seems to be coming from the ground floor. Could I open up the top to get some air flowing? It’s awfully stuffy in here.

Again, something for another day. Tonight, I sleep. Goodnight Lucy, my love.

June 8th, 1982

The creatures were back again, scratching at the walls. I resolved to see who it was, as the sound was destroying any hope of sleep that I had. Breaking open a hole in my ceiling and climbing out, I quickly popped a torch on the roof and glanced over the side. Shocked, I fell off the stairway and reflexively sealed the hole back up.

I couldn’t believe it. They were humans, not slavering horrors! Each was dressed in a certain way, with one sporting a leaf-green outfit, one in a lighter-green box, and even the white man from the other day. Masks covered their faces, but I still had the impression that my gopher impersonation took them by surprise.

What terrors of this island could reduce these men to beasts, good for nothing but primal needs to eat? Beings so braindead that they would scratch at a wall for hours because there might be something to eat inside? I’m sorry to speak about myself as a steak, but you must understand that I speak from the perspective of the poor bastards.

I did not sleep well for the rest of the night.

At daybreak, when the scratching stopped (as it always does), I decided to track down the white man. While verbal communication might be impossible, I may be able to solve some of the mystery from the bizarre fellow.

Approaching the tunnel from the day before with my sword in one hand and a torch in the other, I peered around for anyone watching me. There was a  feeling in the back of my mind, one of the ones that you get when passing by dark alleys in the middle of the night. The ones that make your hair stand on end and ears burn. Shuddering, I slowly walked through the tunnel, intensely listening for any sound that would indicate the movement of the man.

However, the chamber was empty. Except for the few arrows that embedded themselves out of reach, the cave was utterly devoid of any indication that the man had been there. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.

Figuring that I was already in the cave, I began digging away for more coal. I was running low, after all. While the torches seemed to last forever at the start, they have been burning down much quicker since the first night. Picking my way though the walls, I collected heaps of the sticky substance. However, my blows were interrupted by another tapping sound. It was almost rhythmic, an even tap-tap tap-tap.

I began to head in that direction, digging straight through the rock. When I was close enough to accurately locate the sound, I paused. It sounded like it was getting closer! As I peeked back over my shoulder, the wall in front of me collapsed into dust suddenly and a pair of arms yanked me forward. Then, just as quickly as it disappeared, the wall was rebuilt and I was plunged into complete darkness.

I was terrified. Being in a dark, narrow tunnel with a hostile creature is not good for one’s sanity. However, I didn’t want to light a torch and give my exact position away. Perhaps I could sneak down the rest of the tunnel, back the way that the monster came! If I could outrun h-

“Hey,” the man said, “one second, let me get us some light”.

A flare flashed and the tunnel was filled with red light, clearly revealing the mask of the white man. Said mask was quickly removed, however, revealing a moderately handsome, tanned face underneath. I was flabbergasted.

“I… but you… how…”

The man put up his arms to stop me. “Yeah, I know that you must be confused. I’m sorry that we must meet under such drastic conditions, but I don’t really have a choice. My friend, you are in terrible danger”.

“Let me introduce myself; my name is Gavril Lutrova. I am a worker here worker of twenty years on this island, where I play the Skeleton Man. Now, it would be difficult to fully explain the depth of your situation without speaking on the history of this place”.

The man gestured to join him in seating, so I did. While I was curious, the simple fact that I was hearing another person’s voice was a wonderful thing, and I felt that I could relax. Replacing the sputtering flare with a torch, I motioned for him to begin.

“Okay. A research time landed on the shores about twenty years ago, as they are wont to do. The reefs around here are treacherous and the storms fierce, so the scientists were stranded for a very long time. They made a discovery of gigantic proportions within a day, however.

The science is fairly foreign to me, but here’s how I understand it: every material on this island is… infected with a kind of touch-based psychic link. Basically, the material is organized into a solid block that is held in a rigid, cubic structure until someone interacts with it. Using some kind of conduit, you can cause the structure to bend and break into whatever you wish. It was a miraculous find, one that the scientists found an endless source of uses”.

Gavril sighed. “Such tales always end the same way, however. When the other scientists set sail with samples, one of the more “eccentric” ones jumped overboard and into the sea, intending to swim back to the island. Well, the rest of them couldn’t turn around and go back for him, as the winds were already picking up and they certainly wouldn’t risk their find for one loon. So, the man got away and the scientists set sail again. But you already know the latter part, no? I expect that the material made a huge difference on the mainland”.

I shifted uneasily. I had never heard of such technology before, despite the earth-shattering ramifications of such a find. “No, I’m afraid not.” I rasped out.

“Then they must have been lost at sea,” Gavril said sorrowfully, “what a loss. Still, the man escaped, and he set about turning this island into his own twisted nightmare. You see, he was tryi-“.

The hidden watch on the man’s wrist beeped loudly, cutting him off. Gavril leaped to his feet, swearing loudly. Replacing his mask and grabbing his hidden bow, he began to run back the way he came. Thinking twice, he briefly stopped to shout a warning.

“Listen, my friend. You must find a way off of this place. Trust me on this, it’s your only way of survival. I won’t be able to help you in the open, I must keep my cover. But you have a friend, trust me”. And he ran off into the darkness.

Confused, I returned to my house. I suppose that I should begin to build a boat, but what if it’s a trick? What if Gavril was the mad scientist? I will mull over it more tonight. For now, rest.

Date not listed

Another restless night. Thoughts flying about my head, I decided that my sleeplessness should be put to constructive use. A few additions to the fort were completed by sunrise, with a small chest for holding tools in one corner and a rudimentary bed in the other. Not that I’ll get much use out of the latter, I fear, but it is worth the attempt. A door is now fitted into the wall, allowing for much easier exit and entry. I doubt that the “monsters”, as I called them before, will try to open it, as they are simple actors.

This confidence has its roots in Gavril’s confession from the day before. A nagging doubt lingered in that the rest of the actors might be more, shall I say, “dedicated” to the farce. However, I can probably rest assured that they will avoid causing me harm if they can.

A man must be prepared, however. An emergency escape route, if you can call it that, was another addition under the cover of night. To be truthful, it is nothing more than a vertical shaft with a ladder attached leading to a hallway, which in turn ends with a hidden hole in the mountainside that I so precariously perch upon. It is well hidden, however, and may serve me in the future.

Attempts to probe deeper into the island have been fairly unsuccessful. While the strange properties that Gavril described seem to be present in all the materials on the surface, there has been little in the way of an underlying infrastructure. It’s as if I am trapped in a child’s pile of blocks, looking for a way out of the toybox. Today will mostly consist of gathering wood and coal for creating torches and ladder, as well as gathering food. You see, I believe that there must be some sort of technology that runs under the island, and I plan to dig as far as I can until I find it. Wish me luck, my love.

Later

Success! I dug for hours, losing picks and torches all the way, but my predictions seem to be correct! There seems to be a massive layer of wiring deep beneath the surface of the island. Moving along the layer eventually bore fruit as I found an access panel, although why a panel would be present in such a place is beyond me. Perhaps for maintenance?

Opening the panel revealed a ladder leading down into the darkness. Steeling myself and taking my sword in hand, I dropped a torch down the hole and slide down the ladder after it.

What I saw when I reached the bottom was only mildly surprising. Then again, I couldn’t be shocked at this point  if a Lovecraftian horror showed up for tea.

The scene around me was filled with various glowing pipes, leading away like veins in the body of the earth. I couldn’t tell what was in the pipe, as each was filled with a mess of colors. A solid mass would bump against the translucent sides on occasion, revealing the small squares being channeled through the system. Said masses were only the size of a grape, and their function utterly escaped me.

Confused and quickly running out of torches, I decided to return to the surface for now. Erasing my tracks and resealing the hatch as I left, I ensured that no one would know of my intrusion. Tomorrow I will set out at first light to explore the underground facility. It will be dangerous, yes, but my choices are limited at this point. Wish me luck, love.

Date unlisted

This will be my final entry in this journal, as I fear that these moments may be my last on this world. I’ve been… permitted to write an entry in this journal; I only hope that someone will get a hold of this.

Following the tubes that I found yesterday resulted in my stumbling into a large, cavernous room with an even larger variety of pipes and silos. It could probably be described by comparing it to a chemist’s workstation, with a million confusing tubes running all over the room. Following the line took quite a while, but I eventually ended up at a brightly lit storage area filled with those tiny blocks from the pipes. The room looked like a swimming pool for a geometry fetishist, with gigantic piles of the bits everywhere.

I suppose my first mistake was walking into a room with a heavy door without checking the surroundings first. Not five minutes of sifting through the piles passed before the entry slammed closed behind me, pitching me into utter blackness. Despite my shaking hands, I managed to start a torch. It didn’t matter, though. I was trapped.

My attempts to break through the walls of the room with my pick were useless, they seemed to be covered with a coating that prevented any contact with the blocky wall behind. The door itself must have been imported, because it looked similar to any iron door that you might find on the mainland. Perhaps off of the scientist’s boat? At any rate, I’ve bloodied my fists and hurt my legs by attempting to break down the door; it still stands at this moment, mocking me.

A hidden speaker, another anomaly of the design, came to life with a screech, followed by a raspy voice. It sounded like an old man, voice gone raw with overuse, but another sound was present in the background. I suppose the only way to describe it is to guess at the origin; it sounded like the voice was being played off a highly damaged audiotape. Of course, this is speculation.

“So, your curiosity finally got the best of you, eh? Good for you, too few of my visitors find their inner explorer, they just opt to starve to death on the surface. Or, if they fail at that, we do have,” he cleared his throat, “‘garbagemen.’ You found your way here, my friend, and you will receive your prize”.

“You see, I’ve discovered the secret to immortality in these blocks. Your little friend was right to call it an infection, yes, we know about him. He’s been dealt with. Anyways, the blocks that you see before you have the ability to convert your cells into living stone, while retaining most of the motor functions that you possess now. You should be glad that you’re one of the brighter ones, a few of my guests tried to eat the leaves off of the trees and turned into non-living rock. As you might guess, the stones must be converted into a usable form in order to avoid instant death”.

“It has taken me years upon years and many more subjects than I can remember, but I’m getting close to perfection. If I can make a flawless stone then I can stave off death until, well, forever! And you can do the same, my friend”.

“I won’t lie, it’s dangerous. There is a very high chance that you will suffer massive mental damage in the process of transformation, leaving you without high-level logic. And even if that doesn’t occur, there are still bugs in the system. For example, the rock-breaking methods that you’ve undoubtedly discovered will work on you, as well as falling from great distances. Having joints and a head makes your body fragile, after all”.

“Also, well, how do I put this?” the voice said, quizzically. After a spell, it started speaking again, slowly. “You know of my workers, correct? It seems that the transformation changes your sight in a strange way, which results in the man seeing my workers as actual monsters. Isn’t that odd? I should have that bug worked out in a few months or so”.

“But think of the advantages! You’ll never die, only deconstruct. I have a device that can pull similar pieces back together, you can never permanently perish. You won’t have to eat, or drink. You’ll be a god! All you have to do is swallow one of those blocks”.

The tape clicked off, leaving me in silence.

Of course, I wasn’t going to swallow a brick, I was rather fond of being human. At first. However, spending hours in that prison cell does tend to make you rather famished, especially since I didn’t bring a lot of food. This was supposed to be a short trip, just a hop down a hallway, and I hadn’t expected the processing plant to be so close to my home. I attempted to figure out whether consuming a small amount of the blocks would nourish me without “changing” me, but I couldn’t chance it.

My silence was broken after a day by the same recorded voice. Clicking to life, the speaker spat out a tone of disgust. “Since my sensors report that you’re still flesh and blood, I take it that you’ve rejected my very generous gift. I tried to be nice, but I can see that you’re not the type for kindness. Well, that’s unfortunate for you. After all, I need my data for this new batch, and you’re the one that is going to give it to me. You are going to swallow that block, and then you will return to the surface, destroying all of your tunnels and structures on the way until you reach the reassembler on the shore. I will observe your movements from then on, and use that data to further perfect my project. That door ahead of you will open when it senses that everything in the room is stone, and not a moment before. Thus, unless you have a strong desire to take up auto-cannibalism, I suggest you follow my orders and swallow a block”.

The speaker squealed off with an angry grunt.

I don’t know what will become of me. If I can’t find my way out of here, I may have to take the chance with the blocks. After all, it has to be better than starving to death, right?

The writing changes as the new paragraph begins, becoming much more shaky and smeared.

I gotta do it. Im so hungry. I ate everything that I could find but I cant help it anymore. The nice doctor said that he would plant his reassembler on the shoreline so that I would never die, I can live forever. Maybe Ill see you again, my love. I might be a monster, but Ill still love you and that is enough.

Its now or never. Wish me luck.

All the remaining pages are blank.

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