Title: Paradigm Shift
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm sci-fi, mpreg
He was a little regretful there were no hidden bottles of water, but it had been a far-fetched hope in the first place. There were vacuum packaged clothing and trinkets, keepsakes that he began to suspect had come from dead Family members. The Duadenora weren’t the kind to throw away anything of possible use.
He squeezed the various packages and held them close to the light to examine what was inside. It was mostly useless personal items, though he “Ah ha’d” when he found an old-fashioned pocket knife in his third bin.
He scrabbled at the plasticene, but it refused to tear. He used his teeth to start a rip then tore the package open, wincing at the pain it caused his fingers. He dumped everything onto the floor and scooped up the knife, releasing the four inch blade. It wasn’t the sharpest knife around, but he figured it would be useful enough.
Flipping the knife closed, he slipped it into his pants pocket and went back to digging through the bins.
The sense of encroaching danger had sweat trickling down his back. He began tipping over the bins and sorting through the packages, but other than a penlight that could be charged by snapping the clip straight out and spinning it, there was nothing he thought would be useful.
Gregor grabbed the nearest rack and clenched his teeth as he gave it a hard jerk. He tugged and tugged, twisting the frame until it came part in his hands. He used his foot to knock the extra bits of metal off, then swung the metal bar around with a whistling sound.
He could wish for something sturdier, but as a makeshift weapon it wasn’t that bad. He could tell by smacking it against his palm that it would hurt. He wouldn’t try for a throat jab unless pressed, but whipping the bar across someone’s face would give him the chance to run.
Looking around one last time for anything that caught his interest, he went to the door. His best option was to get out of the building and reach a place of hidden safety.
With the security shield up he wouldn’t be hopping the fence, but there was a whole wide property out there. And he was willing to do a lot to stay alive.
* * *
It seemed natural that he would end up in the Farm, surrounded by the rich scent of growing things. The lights were off, but the safety lighting embedded in the walls a few inches up from the floor let him walk with relative safety. The somewhat stern order of the Farm supervisor that all equipment must be put away properly meant Gregor didn’t have to worry about tripping over something and breaking his neck.
He looked around for a place to hide, quickly deciding against the seed silo as being too dangerous. The last thing he wanted was for his bloated corpse to be discovered in a a few days when it started to stink, lungs full of the seed he’d drowned in. But thinking of drowning gave him a good idea.
He needed someplace to hide where no one would think to look. Somewhere dark and safe where the Scent of his pregnant body wouldn’t be tracked.
He could hear the air recyclers going on and off where he concentrated, a comforting whish-whish of sound. His Scent was being sucked up and dissipated within minutes of him passing through an area. Unfortunately, if he stayed anywhere for too long his Scent would saturate the air around him and even with the recycler he would be easy pickings for anyone that got close enough for a good whiff.
He was covered in sweat and fear, and to any First he’d be a beacon of Third Scent. Being pregnant would only make his Scent richer and more alluring, drawing them in to protect him. Except the Acolytes wouldn’t be looking to keep him safe, and he refused to think what Hanson would do to his pregnant body.
Gregor ran to the door that led into the fishery. It was heavy and hard to move without activating the auto-opener, but the manual latch involved less blinking lights and hydraulic noises. He opened it just enough to squeeze through, sealing it behind him.
The warm-water tank was a large and vaguely intimidating shadow. He didn’t hesitate to climb the short ladder and slip inside.
He’d been running and crawling and fear had kept his blood flowing fast and hot. The water was a temperate 70-degrees. For a few seconds it felt as though he’d plunged into a pool of ice water, one filled with fish that bumped against his sides and legs, curiously seeking food or maybe they were too dumb to get out of the way as he waded deeper into the tank.
He reached the mesh grating and pulled out his knife. He bent down to cut through the grating below the waterline. A few hard slashes and the use of his foot to bend the metal down and tiny wriggling bodies came boiling out to the freedom of a new environment.
Gregor swept his arms around, wincing when the bar he still held clunked against the side of the tank. The bigger fish were gobbling up the newly released fingerlings in hungry delight. All he wanted was for the fat bodies to get out of his way as he drew in a deep breath and plunged beneath the water.
The hole he’d cut in the grating was barely wide enough for his shoulders, but he squeezed through, ignoring the scrape down his left arm.
Once inside the baby tank he settled against the curved wall and sunk down until only his head was exposed. He needed to minimize his Scent signature, which meant covering as much of his body as possible.
He thought about drinking the water, but he wasn’t willing to risk it yet. Cooling down his body had taken away some of the awful thirst. He wanted to wait as long as possible before daring a drink, better to put off the inevitable stomach cramps and diarrhea that came from drinking contaminated water.
I’m sitting in a fish toilet waiting to be murdered, he thought. The sound that escaped him might have been confused for a laugh.
Gregor floated in the murky water, fish bumping up against him like beach balls, and waited. The metal bar was a comforting weight in his hand. The only sound was the faint splash of the gravity pump keeping the water flowing and moving.
Gregor could feel his core temperature dropping, but the warm water tank wasn’t going to kill him. He would survive.