Sunset Pt. 2 [By MuffinMantis]

Part One

[I was originally going to make this a spinoff of another series, but decided it’d be better as a standalone.]

Not long ago

“Ian, I know it’s important to you, but can you keep that…thing somewhere else?”

Ian turned the stuffed fluffy over in his hands again. Although he was repulsed by it, especially the botched and amateurish taxidermy job, he couldn’t help but be fascinated by it. He’d known the fluffy in life, although it had been so long ago that he couldn’t remember the creature’s name, no matter how much he wracked his brain. Why had his emotionally distant uncle wanted Ian to have this after his death? The old man had never been one for sentimentality.

“Ian?” Ada asked again, seeming worried.

“Just a minute. I’m thinking.”

“Look, your uncle just wasn’t all there towards the end. You’re overthinking this.”

“But why a stuffed fluffy…?” Ian murmured. Why would his uncle want him to have this? If anything, you’d have expected the man to avoid fluffies in general, to try to cut ties with Hasbio and the project that’d ruined his life, and the life of his then-fiance. So why had he kept the creature, and why had he had it stuffed and bequeathed? Most importantly, why had the lawyer involved, a personal friend of his uncle’s, been so insistent that Ian take it?

It wasn’t as if the fluffy had even been interesting. It’d been no different from any other fluffy that Ian had ever met. Cute, in a derpy sort of way, but nothing remarkable. Hell, the only memorable thing that’d ever happened was the time it’d somehow gotten itself stuck in the tire swing in his uncle’s backyard, back before Aaron’s death and his uncle’s subsequent withdrawal from the family.


He stood up, setting down the fluffy, and began looking for his keys. It was late, but if he started driving now he could be there before it was dark.

“Ian, what are you doing?”

“My uncle wanted to tell me something. I’m going to find out what.”

Ian’s uncle’s house hadn’t changed much since Aaron’s death. The man had become reclusive, focused entirely on his work, shortly before the accident. Some of the less considerate members of the family said that the accident would never have happened if he’d been the one driving. Ian had distanced himself from them; that shit wouldn’t fly in his book.

He’d been to his uncle’s place exactly once since the accident, and had been shocked by how little it’d changed even on the inside. For a reclusive suspected alcoholic, his uncle kept the place very neat. Except for the few things that were intentionally left where they lay, mementos of his lost family. Aaron’s room had been entirely untouched except for infrequent dusting.

Even now, the swing that Ian’s uncle had made back when he and Aaron had been kids, back when they played together a lot, was still hanging up. The rope was new, and the tire had clearly been given some attention, so it looked as new as when he’d been a kid. Just another eccentricity of his uncle’s.

But now he had something more important to do than ponder his childhood. He had to confirm his suspicion. Getting out of his car, walking past the empty house, one bequeathed to a distant relation who had no interest in it, he approached the swing. Looking inside, he saw something. A small, rugged, weather-proof data stick, attached to the inside of the swing. Something his uncle had wanted him to find.

Whatever was going on, it had to be important.

Ian had spent most of his adult life studying, pursuing a higher education in the advanced, and frankly fascinating, field of bio-engineering. It’d been an easy choice to make, after all. His uncle had been extremely generous in paying for his education, even if the stipulations had been rather specific. Major in bio-engineering, minor in pathology. Still, it was something that’d always interested Ian, so he had no complaints there.

Now he was suspecting there was a deeper reason behind this.

Sunset would’ve wailed, would’ve writhed if she’d been able. The horrible feeling, like a blade being twisted inside her stomach, like fire in her veins, like ice in her lungs, was unrelenting, and had been for far too long. But she had a purpose, and so she fought. Desperately holding onto life as everything that was worth living for fled.

“What the fuck’s going on, Ian? You aren’t making any sense today.”

“Ada, something’s wrong. My uncle wouldn’t have left me this if it wasn’t important. I’m sorry, but I need to focus for a minute.”

Ian looked plugged the data stick into his computer, Ada looking over his shoulder in a mixture of curiosity, annoyance, and a little dread. None of the files had actual names, just random strings of numbers and letters, but they were in a clear, specific order. He opened one.

He pushed his laptop away violently as Ada swore, the gagged at the image on the first page. No, not image, this was some sort of embedded video. Video of a fluffy being vivisected. Fortunately without audio.

What the hell? Why would you want me to have this?

He scrolled down, past more videos, into columns of data. Once, it would have been meaningless to him, but with his current education, he could read it, albeit not well. He was still inexperienced and the data was extremely complex, and intentionally vague in many areas. Something strange about it immediately caught his attention. Three columns of neat, typed text and one of hastily handwritten notes.

As he read, horrible realization crept its way into the forefront of his mind. The last column seemed to be only tangentially related to the first three, but…what if it wasn’t? If that was the case, then the heading at the top of the column meant something unthinkable. Human, it read.

“Ada?” he asked, his voice distracted.

“Yes?” she sounded worried.

“How long do fluffies live?”

“About eight years, give or take. Why?”

“How long did they live when they were released?”

“Twelve or so, I think. But that’s just due to a flaw…wait, no, that doesn’t make sense…”

“Have you ever heard of a fluffy going gray?”

“Ian? What are you saying? Ian?”

Ian didn’t answer, as he read the columns of data, horror building. “No, no no no. They wouldn’t…nobody would…why would you…not with a chimaera…”

“Ian,” Ada seemed to have realized what he meant. “How long, Ian?”

“How? How could anyone consider…”

“Ian, how long do we have?”

Ian shook as he reached the bottom of the columns of data. Soap: Achieved obsolescence in 8 years. Microsoap: Achieved obsolescence in 6 years. Cottonsoap: Achieved obsolescence in 24 hours. Scrawled in rough handwriting, as if the writer’s hand had been shaking, the last entry of the last column read Humans: Projected lethality: 100% Estimated incubation period: 20-24 years.

“I don’t know. Less than a year…”

A few weeks prior

Sunset, are you sure?”

“Sunset am suwe. Dewe nu am anoda wae.”

Sunset flinched as she felt the needle enter a vein. The sedative felt cold as it flowed into her blood, and darkness swam at the edges of her vision. Internally she braced herself. This wasn’t going to be pleasant. And it wasn’t going to be something she’d survive.

“I’m sorry, Sunset, I’m so sorry.”

“It otay. Onwy du wut hab tu.”

Oblivion took her.

Part Three


You can only edge a reader for so long.

1 Like