Author: Sarisaria PM
The worst that could happen is that I could be spotted by one of the monsters below, and they could storm the keep, killing everyone hiding here until they find me in this tower and kill me where I stand. Maybe I should be more optimistic.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Supernatural - Chapters: 15 - Words: 24,257 - Reviews: 6 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 08-18-12 - Published: 08-08-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3048948
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When I get back to the keep, it's buzzing like it's the ten minutes before twilight, though it's still four hours away. People are rushing back and forth, some panicking, others curled up on the floor, rocking slowly and muttering to themselves. I see Daniel rush across the room, his whole left side covered in bright red blood. My stomach heaves slightly, and I swallow back the bile that rises in my throat. Despite my best instincts I follow Daniel across the room. He appears to be heading towards our sleeping quarters, but just before we enter the room he veers off sideways, towards a rickety old door that leads down towards the tunnels. Blood is slicked on the door handle, though this doesn't seem to faze Daniel as he whips the door open and goes down the stairs two at a time. I follow, tripping over my feet and the stairs as I go, and sending me into a flailing rush all the way down the stairs until I finally reach the bottom and run for about ten feet to regain my balance. Daniel turns towards me for just a second, eyes wide. His attempts to mask his panic have nearly all failed. Rather than telling me what's going on, he makes some noise between a grunt and a shout and hurls himself through a narrow doorway and into the main underground section we call the hull. The hull is a low open area in the center of the keep, with tunnels branching away from it on each side. Three of them are blocked off, but the fourth remains curiously open.
But this is not the first thing I see.
Instead I see red. Lots of it, on the floor, on the walls. Red people surround a roiling mass of red on the floor. I see a flash of blond on the ground, stained with blood. Clay screams.
It is not like any human scream I have ever heard. Rather, it is a screeching, trumpeting noise, one that I associate with darkness- and fear.
The screaming stops. Clay lies still on the floor, eyes wide open and facing the stone ceiling. His pupils are gone. He stares blindly into the air, until finally his head falls to the side, facing me. The white of his eyes are startling against the blood that still trickles down his face, dripping from the lacerations that have opened across his face, his neck, his chest-
I don't realize I've been holding my breath until it all escapes me at once in a strangled sob. The noise startles the men crouched around Clay's body. One stumbles backwards, away from the mess, and slips in the blood of his friend. I recognize him as one of the Americans, but can't remember his name. I see Anthony, crouched on the floor, arms red stained up to his shoulders. He reaches forward slightly, hand moving across Clay's face. I can't tear my eyes away from Clay's- cold, unblinking, dead things. I have seen death before. We all have. But unlike those around me, I rarely witnessed the deaths of those I knew. Most were just dragged away, screaming, and even those I didn't know well. The few who died in the beginning were dead when we found them.
Death is a strange thing to watch. I don't think the human brain can process it correctly. At least not at first. The transition from life to death is too quick. Which is why I find myself wondering, even though I know his is dead, that his body is no more than memories and flesh and bone, why won't he wake up.
Anthony's hand moves over Clay's eyes, and when he moves his hand again Clay's unseeing eyes have finally shut.
I fall backwards against the wall, finally able to move. I feel I have been standing still for ages, though it has been less than a minute. I jump when Daniel speaks.
"Well," he says, "Now we know not to get scratched."
"Scratched?" One of the men says, drawing back from Clay's body like he's afraid he'll catch it. "The scratch did this to him?" He takes quicker steps backwards, tripping over an ancient stool in the process. He flails, struggling to regain his balance before falling down onto the stool and crushing it. One of the wooden legs skid across the floor and lands at my feet.
Scratched. Clay got scratched? By one of the things outside? But how was that even possible? No one was allowed to go outside when those things were roaming around. It was suicide. Something flashed in my mind, a snippet of conversation I had overheard. They were hiding something from the rest of us.
"You brought one inside." I say.
Anthony straightens up, wiping his bloody palms against his shirt. "Yeah."
I would draw back farther, but my back is already pressed against the wall. I can feel the dampness of the stone seeping into my shirt. "Where?"
Anthony nods towards the opened tunnel.
I stare down it. There is a light at the end, glowing faintly, and flickering like fire. Someone has been down there recently. If they had a body, it would have to be the one Maura shot this morning. There's no other explanation. Thousands of questions tumble into my head. Simultaneously, I want to know everything and nothing about the creatures. We have an opportunity here, to know what they are up close, when they aren't about to kill us. At the same time I wouldn't want to come too close to anything that, even nearing death, could scratch a man and give him an infection so bad that he died within the same day.
My feet have already started towards the tunnel. I don't even realize I have headed that way until Daniel steps before me, blocking my path.
"I just want to see it." I say, staring up at him. Daniel looks a mess. Beside the blood streaked down his body, his face is pale and his eyes are wide. He is panicked, but is trying his damndest not to show it. He's one of the leaders here, after all. If the leader gets worried, chaos ensues. We've had enough of that already.
"I don't think that would be wise," Daniel says, "Considering your state."
"It's better than yours," I say, and though I may not look it, it's true. The shock from Clay's death is already started to fade into the background, replaced with a need to know the truth about what the monsters are, why they're here, what kind of madness they're made out of. This body is the closest think I have to understanding some part of that.
He says nothing, but his dark brown eyes bore into mine, testing my resolve. Finally he nods. "We'll go together."