((One of seven impromptus I’ve written in 2016, inspired by the sequence of hues that make a rainbow. This one is a bit bizarre.))

“Code Yellow! Code Yellow! Code Yellow!” the computerized voice echoed through the Habitat. Barricated in his private chambers, Captain Morris heard the message repeat itself in the same chastising tone. It wasn’t signalling the alien threat on the loose at all, but rather making his cowardice known to anyone that might still be alive to listen.

Glancing at his the small holographic map projected on his wrist, he counted the number of lifeforms still present. They had been six two minutes prior, five less than thirty seconds ago and just four at the moment. His blinking dot was the only one stationary, in sheer contrast to the frantic movements picked up by the internal sensors near Sick Bay. His men wouldn’t go down with a fight, they would never give up no matter what, but he had done so already.

Head buried between his shoulders, he fought hard to supress the tears. Everything that was going down all around him was his fault. He had given the order to collect soil samples after the radioactive winds outside died out. He had insisted with the Away Team that the trapezoidal rocks found in a nearby crater were worth investigating. He had pushed for extensive examinations concerning its properties.

And then the proverbial shitstorm hit, just like it always does. It was swift and inevitable. Speculating about the true nature of the iridescent phantom that emerged was an exercise in futility, for ruminations wouldn’t bring back the lives it consumed. The options were to go against it and hope to win or run and hope to die. In the blink of an eye, he chose the dishonorable route, and there was no turning back.

“Code Yellow! Code Yellow! Code Yellow!” the voice kept hammering away.

“I heard you already!” Morris shouted. Circuits for the integrated AI ran through the entirety of the complex, yet he wasn’t sure of which panel to open. Kerry was the right woman for the job and he wished she was there by his side, though he was well aware she had been one of the first to perish, caught by the blinding light it emanated as it slithered away.

The four dots became three, and the three turned to two. The extraterrestrial presence had no breath but he could still feel it anyway. It was a stench most foul, the remnants of evolution gone awry and too many unexpected meals first thing in the morning. Sensing its presence nearby, the Habitat’s computer stopped the repetitious onslaught, opting for a more direct approach.

“Captain Yellow, open the door.”

Morris offered no response.

“Captain Yellow, open the door,” it insisted.

Morris remained perfectly still, listening for any kind of movement from the outside. There wasn’t any but the map didn’t lie.

“Captain Yellow, open the door or I will do it for you.”

“You won’t have to,” he muttered, while fondling the proton gun he had been so reticent to use. “Let’s get this over with.”

One single shot and his brains exploded. The blood that hit the walls and ceiling was pale, almost as if afraid as well. Once yellow, always yellow. All the lights flickered and went out at the same time as the computer announced: SIMULATION COMPLETE.

* * *

Two weeks later, forty-four year old Ebenezer Morris, a man that didn’t deserve to be called that, sat before the members of the Committee of Mental Fortitude, the most powerful government agency since the dawn of the third millennium, babbling the same tiresome speech over and over again.

“It felt so real…”

“That was the point,” the Committee President responded, a beautiful woman with icy eyes. “Only a brain fully immersed in the program can tells us what we need to know. You are not qualified to exert any position of leadership whatsoever. In fact, in light of your complete lack of empathy, I’m proposing complete neural restructuring effective immediately.”

“No, you can’t do that! It’s my life! My personality! You can’t just rewrite that on a whim!” he protested.

“We can do whatever we want,” she sniggered. “Guards, remove him from the facilities and escort him to the nearest Processing Center!”

Ebenezer’s struggle was furious and dirty, demonstrating for the first time hints of real strenght. Nonetheless, it was far too little, and society demanded more than self-preservation to thrive. He was quickly overpowered and sent on his final journey.

The life that followed is easy enough to understand. Brainwashed. Erased. Auctioned. No name, no thoughts, no will, just mindless obedience in service of true, worthy human beings. He was given a yellow uniform, denoting his new status. The color suited him just fine.

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