A/N: This is nothing but sheer AWP (action without plot) and a terrible cliffhanger to boot. Still, I thought it was worth posting for the lovely suspense and violence, and especially because I haven't written anything in this realm for a while. I missed it. :P
His ears were ringing, his head full of cotton as he rolled out of his defensive crouch and ignored the numerous glass shards that had burrowed into his back as a result. Alec Trenton was hearing his chaotic surroundings through a blanket, muted and distant. Somehow though, above the white noise that assaulted his eardrums, he picked up the jingling clatter of discarded bullet cases and looked down.
He'd emptied the cartridge himself, automatically, and his skilled hands were responding to his heady rush of adrenaline. Swiftly, deftly, he slammed a second cartridge into the breech of his simple handgun, while carefully taking count of how much ammunition remained in the rough belt at his waist. Four reloads. That was twenty-four shots, disregarding what he'd just loaded into the battered weapon in his dizzying confusion. He'd have to make it last.
Coughing smoke and gritty particles of ash, Alec crouched and skittered for the nearest cover, which happened to be a concrete pillar wide enough to conceal him. He cocked his handgun and remained silent and cautious, lifting the small firearm to one shoulder casually as he pressed his back to his temporary shield and listened. In an instant he'd decided against the action, hissing in pain as he felt the glass shards dig deeper into his wounded flesh as he leaned on the cold surface. The back of his flimsy green T-shirt was sopping with blood, and he could smell it. He was sure the enemy could smell it too.
He stepped away from the pillar, stealthily. In a sudden move of desperation, he flung himself around the column and lunged forward, arms out straight, both sweaty hands trembling with anticipation. His right forefinger hovered over the trigger. Nothing to his front, but now he was in the open.
One lightning-quick step. Two. He whirled, checking the entire perimeter of his surroundings. Nothing. The warehouse smoldered around him on all sides – sputtering flames that ate away at empty wooden crates, while the bright bulbs on tracks above his head sizzled and flickered sporadically, a result of the short-circuited electricity. To his left, a burst pipe dripped fluids, creating a puddle of acrid smelling liquid in the center of the dusty concrete. A stray forklift lay toppled on its side to his right.
Alec Trenton brought his weapon slowly up to a neutral position, taking a moment to allow himself a ragged breath. Where was his opponent? Were there traps? More explosives?
He fought his urge to panic, the nausea that rippled through his stomach likely just a side effect of his recklessness and his untended injuries. There would be time for first aid later. Now, he had the element of surprise working with him, because his enemy wasn't in the direct vicinity. Or so he feverishly hoped. At least, whatever he was fighting was nowhere in sight at that particular instant. Whatever he was fighting… was decidedly inhuman.
He was not afraid. No - never afraid - merely shocked, outraged, and feeling particularly murderous after the bomb had gone off so close to his body. He looked down. His thigh was still bleeding. He'd managed to dive for cover in time to avoid the eruption of the shell, but a talented round of machine gun fire had caught him nonetheless. Alec curled his weary hands into fists. One enemy – that was all he was fighting. One single adversary, and yet he'd already suffered this much damage. Perhaps it was pride that forced him free of his momentary reprieve and made him toss his head in determination, but the movement alerted him to a slow moving bulk in his peripheral vision.
No time to play the angst-ridden hero. Alec sprinted for the opposite end of the long, empty warehouse, deeming it useless to check over his shoulder to affirm the frightful presence of his pursuer. It was there, as sure as he was gasping out his own ragged breaths. He knew he was being followed; he could feel the sensation on the back of his neck. As he dodged an unseen projectile and ran for a stack of heavy boxes, he cursed himself for hesitating even briefly, for thinking he'd had time to pause for rest. There was no time for reflection.
"Allleeeec," called a slightly amused voice from behind him, and Alec shivered in response as the sensation spread from his neck to his toes. He thundered forward even harder.
"Alec, I think you should stop running now." The voice let out a fond sort of hum, as if chiding him. "I'll still catch you, you know."
The pursued man gritted his teeth in aggravation, then squinted his eyes to better penetrate the fog of smoke and debris that clouded his path of retreat. Then he saw it – another destroyed forklift, listing to an odd slant and emitting a series of creaks as the bent metal wailed in protest at the strange angle of its parts. Alec took a running leap and landed square atop its highest point, bracing himself as his weight pushed the unbalanced device to its side in defeat. He wobbled, but turned to face the opponent that drew nearer.
He fired. Once, twice. Three times. His bullets ricocheted away into the smog, for he could not see what he was aiming at in his blind rush. He blinked, an attempt at retrieving his fleeing senses, and then he remembered he had next to no ammunition left.
Suddenly he didn't have time to worry. Out came his enemy, furious and looming, a man but at the same time, not quite a man at all.
There came a shriek of metal against metal, and Alec leapt to one side, narrowly avoiding the clawed limb that shot at him from behind the screen of gray smog. The forklift shuddered. Alec furiously unloaded his last three shots, praying that he'd hit the beastly arm that had nearly grazed him.
The bullets connected. He'd known they would. After all, Alec Trenton was a terrific shot. But terrific meant little when it came to this type of monstrosity, and the bullets simply buried themselves into thick, tar-like flesh and sizzled, hardly serving to immobilize his attacker. Knowing that the beast's surprise at getting hit would last for a limited number of seconds only, Alec flung his empty cartridge aside and snatched up another, keeping count subconsciously in his head.
From then on it was a whirlwind of destruction. Alec dodged as his laughing adversary lashed out at him, too fast for him to avoid, yet slow enough for him to block with his forearms and the butt of his handgun when possible. The ruined machinery beneath his feet gave way when the enemy charged, wild and aggressive, and he slid to the concrete in a mess of dented metal parts that shrieked and clanged on all sides of his assaulted body. He picked up a crooked rod out of instinct and forced it before him, as a blur of muscle came falling down atop of his head. The pole snapped in two like a popsicle stick, and Alec only shakily managed to roll out of the way before the huge fist struck ground and created a gaping crater where he had previously been situated.
His lungs were being pierced with needles. He needed a breath of clean air and a cease of action to heal his abused respiratory system, to recall the oxygen to his blood and the feeling to his wrecked nerves. He picked himself up, sensitive to the sound of thudding footsteps that drew ever closer to him, monitoring with a certain helplessness the way his quarry was trying to box him in. His green eyes darted to and fro, seeking an exit. There had to be one. He needed a plan.
There. A space left open. But he'd have to first…
He fired, as rapidly as his trigger finger would allow, letting loose a barrage of bullets into the barrel-sized chest of his attacker and growing hopeful as the creature shuffled backward. He gripped tightly the empty clip, making sure to utilize it now that he only had three others left. He hurled it at the snarling face above him, striking at the eye region, then watched in horror as it bounced harmlessly off. He reloaded, twisting to avoid a well-aimed kick at his torso. Rapid fire again, this time at the weak points – the knees. In satisfaction he grunted in exertion, while sidestepping to escape his towering pursuer as the thing folded, momentarily halted. The bullet seared his enemy's skin and destroyed the kneecap, maiming one leg as had been the goal. Alec wheezed and assessed himself in the few aching seconds that followed.
The open spot. He took it, brushing off the hideous roar of frustration that sounded from the lips of his would-be murderer as a result of his sudden flight. Alec stumbled. Caught himself. Tripped again. He dodged a falling beam from above as the charred warehouse collapsed over his head, and he reloaded as he ran. This was it. He had this cartridge and one more. The bullets did little, and he knew it. His adrenaline fired the synapses in his brain, and he wracked his memory for a clue, a hint – anything that would allow him to survive and still take down what was following him. Finally he saw it.
A red lever on the wall, surrounded by a square of black and yellow striped warning tape and a control panel beside it. He heard his pursuer closing in on him despite the damage it had taken to the knee; he heard the mocking call.
"Allleeeec, if you keep running, I'll have to use guns on you again to make you stay still." A sinister snicker. "Would you rather I did that, or do you want to stop moving and face me so I can tear you open with my hands?"
There was no time to examine the control panel. He was backed against the wall, and his enemy was twelve… eleven… ten yards away from him and closing fast. His eyes followed the course of the chains that rose into the depths of the ceiling, and he could not see what had been attached to the other end and hoisted up. He eyed the red lever once more. Nine yards, eight yards…
If he pulled the lever, it didn't guarantee a victory. What if it activated a self-destruct sequence, and wasn't rigged to those chains after all? What if all it did was open those rippling, thin aluminum garage doors to his left instead? Escaping outside would do him little good.
Each stride seemed to carry the creature a further yard and then some. He had no time. At once his gaze strayed from the feet of his quarry to a spot just ahead of the great thing on the floor. A painted X. An X where the cargo on the other end of those chains was likely to land if the red lever was released.
"Alec, here I come," squealed the thing in glee.
Alec fired off a hazard of rounds, vaguely attempting to hinder his chaser for a few more moments. Time. He needed time. Red lever, red lever… What would happen?
Five yards melted into four. One more would land his opponent on the scrawled X. He had to try. He had to do something. With a dizzy sort of resolution, Alec Trenton let his hand close over the high red lever, and then he pulled.
The lever made a clunking noise, resisting him. He pulled harder. The beast on his tail paused suddenly, unsure of what to expect and neglecting to realize it had stopped directly on the X. Alec heaved with all his might.
And the red lever clicked into position.