Run Man Run Chapter Two
Chapter One: Monsters and Ghosts.
Oh my girl…my angel… my devil…the voice inside my head…the number of names I have for you is endless. I’ve hated you, spited you, loved you, and resented you through these long years. Ahhh a long time ago, you walked away from me, sent me to walk another path alone, a darker path. But all along, I kept hearing your voice, that angelic voice, guiding me in the dark. Or so I thought. Now I wonder. When I turned away, all that time ago, the memory still seems so fresh, so vivid, so TRUE! But do I really remember that fateful day like it was yesterday? Are my memories real? Because now… looking back…I don’t think I’ve heard your voice guiding me in my head for some time. The girl I knew, my angel, would never have said the things you say. I think that day, when I turned away from the light; your voice stopped talking to me! My ANGEL…you haven’t spoken to me since that day, have you? But then who…I’m scared to ask…or what…has been talking to me all these years? Who are YOU?!!!!!
I awaken with a shudder on something cold and hard. Something I’m intimately familiar with. I remember that feeling, the cold hard feeling. My memory is shot like a man who has walked into enemy fire. It’s riddled with holes bigger than bullets. My head hurts. It aches. Throbs horribly, but I don’t have the luxury of waiting this hangover out. There’s a terrifying noise in the air.
I bolt upright, lances of pain ignored in my brain. It’s a hardwired reflex, not my conscious decision. The noise is ungodly, a putrid sound which should not be. Where am I? Who am I? My hand automatically reaches down. It seeks comfort. It closes upon cool metal. Ah…that’s where I remember the feeling from. It’s from my pistols at my waist, and when I stand unsteadily to my feet, it’s also from the long straight blade at my back. I stare down at myself, looking for clues, anything which might trigger my shattered memories. Nothing arises. I find myself wishing for a mirror. I don’t even remember what the hell I look like. Who did this to me? How? Why?
That noise again. It’s hell. Whatever it is, it’s hell. It stabs straight into your brain, something which you should run from it screams out! SCHREEEEEEE!! I cannot describe it better than that. It’s enough to make anyone break out into cold hives and sweat. I can’t gather my thoughts with it so close.
It’s closer now. A lot closer… too close. Whatever it is, it’s also fast as hell. A rush of adrenaline, crystal clarity itself rushes through me. Suddenly, I’m whole, connected, one being with only one thought. Kill, or be killed. I draw a pistol, my hand automatically taking off the safety with a will of its own. I think I’ve heard this noise before, but when?
It’s even closer now. My mind whirls, the adrenaline is intense. The world slows down, an infinite cycle of that hideous sound scraping across the too soft flesh of my ears. Each moment, each thunderous heartbeat feels like forever.
SCHREEEE!! SCHREEE!!! SCHREEE!!
I turn away from wherever the damn noise is coming from. I don’t even have time to assess my surroundings. Where am I? Who knows? No time to check. Gotta run!
Some part of me knows. Knows this sound, wants me to stop and fight this sound. Was I trained for this? Because there is no way anyone who wasn’t trained would want to stop. The noise is too terrifying; no one would want to fight it naturally. I can hear something else now. Heavy steps pounding on the ground. Whatever’s making that noise is big. So big, I can barely hear my own footsteps over that pounding. It’s so damn FAST! I can’t pull away. I’m not sure where I am. I see a path ahead that splits off from the main one. The opening is small. Some sort of old service corridor made to fit people. Not whatever is behind me. I decide in an instant that it’s my only chance. I run through with a huge breath, stuffing myself as deep as I can inside. The corridor tightens quickly, I have to fight to hold in my breath as the narrow walls press against my chest. One hand plugs my nose and I stuff the other into my mouth desperately fighting the urge to gasp for air. My monstrous pursuer passes by without stopping.
I hold my breath for as long as I can as the screams fade into the distance. When I can hold no longer, the spent air rushes out on its own and suddenly my gasps fill the corridor. I try to keep my breaths as small as possible, quiet, safe. That thing might be gone, but I have no idea if there’s more, or if it will come back. I slowly ease out when my breath returns and reenter the main corridor. It’s gone. I listen closely, I scan every shadow, every nook, and every cranny until I’m as sure as I can be that I’m alone. Finally, a moment to myself to figure out where the hell I am…
I’m wrangling this problem over and over in my head. But it’s so slippery I can’t get a hold of it no matter how hard I try. It would be one thing if I felt like I could almost get it and then it slipped away, but I don’t even feel like I have the slightest clue what’s going on. Still, there’s something, of that much I’m sure. Something I need to remember, some purpose for why I’m here. As I try to puzzle it out, somehow, my pulse slows and I drift away into sleep. That’s when the dream came.
There’s no words, only that hideous screeching noise, but not just one, more, many, many screeches. Everything feels so real, almost too real. I’m wholly convinced that I’m really awake. There’s a figure in front of me. I look closely, it’s a girl in a uniform, a scanner at her side and a rifle in hand. She looks over at me and I can tell she’s smiling for sure. But her features feel fuzzy, like I’d know the face if I saw it, but I couldn’t picture it if you asked. She’s yelling at me, and suddenly this hideous beast comes. Then another and another, twisted tangles of limbs meshed together, outlines blurred and intertwined with each other. The colors drain out of my dream, now it’s all bleached greys and blacks.
“Get going! You still have things to do!” The girl in the uniform is still smiling. But now it’s a strained and sad smile. She knows what she has to do. She tosses me the scanner and starts shooting. I think there should be loud noises, terrifying shrieks, but even the screeches have stopped. Instead all I hear is my heart pounding and an all-encompassing feeling of regret. It fills my lungs, my heart, it fills ME. I turn and run though I want to fight. As I go, I snatch a last look back over my shoulder and I see that she’s looking over as well, her gun shooting blindly into the massed horde of beasts. Then suddenly she’s gone, the beasts are gone, I’m gone, everything turns to brilliant sparkling crimson red. Just like that I wake up, and for a second all I remember is that face and then the monsters which I need to run from.
For the second time, I bolt upright. Or rather, I try to I’m already in a sort of sitting position head laying atop my shoulders, back propped against the narrow corridor walls. My body is twisted as deep as I can back into a narrow recess, trying to stay away from the open path, but my arms oddly are tensed out straight forward, as if I was trying to claw my way back from whence I came as my body tried to run away at the same time. I straighten myself and stretch everything I can, freezing when my own spine pops off several loud cracks as the beleaguered joints relieve themselves.
Pop Pop Pop
I stare down the long corridor into the darkness expecting to hear a hideous screech at any moment, but there’s nothing, just darkness and quiet. I slowly relax and am about to resume stretching when my fears are answered.
Steady, purposeful clacks make their way to me. Instantly I am a ghost, sinking deep back into my little side alleyway. One with the wall, one with the night, my breath turns fast. But while my body shrinks back, there’s a part of me that almost doesn’t want to turn back. This part of me is the one which is reaching with both hands to the pistols at my side. It wants me to step out while the enemy is still afar, draw, and…I don’t know. I’m not listening to that part of me. That part of me wants to die.
My body is shaking so hard. My heartbeat is devastating, each pulse pumping hot blood to every extremity. Time is slowing down, but the steps make their way closer all too fast.
Now they’re right in front of me and I am about to shut my eyes. A voice in my head, faint yet utterly forceful stops me from shutting them though, “Don’t ever close your eyes to the enemy” it says. My eyelids don’t obey the voice though, they’re too scared. I clench them shut and listen…just listen in the dark.
Tap. Tap. Ta---
The steps are so close I’m sure I’m dead. Suddenly I realize my hands have somehow drawn both the pistols at my side and raised them to head level. They are rock steady unlike the rest of me, trained, deadly. My eye’s snap open when I realize what I’m doing, and I expect to meet my nightmares in the flesh. What greets me instead of the twisted monster I expect is a pair of iridescent blue eyes. Then a shriek but not the one I expect once again. It’s a human shriek.
“Ahhhhhhh! What the hell! Don’t shoot!”
The voice comes from a girl right in front of me. She’s wearing a lab coat and has an Omni wrench in her hand frozen mid-swing. I am currently leveling two guns at her wide eyes. I’m so shocked at the sight of another human being that I freeze just like her and simply stare into those scared eyes.
“Are you going to shoot? It looks like you’re getting tired, how about you put the gun…guns down?”
Her eyes are slowly crossing and dilating as she tries to keep track of both gun barrels. I realize what I’m doing and how hard I’m shaking. My body that is, somehow my arms are still rock steady. I try to lower my guns but it’s like they’re locked at eye level. It takes a huge effort to get them to slowly come down, eventually they reholster themselves and I shove my hands into pockets to keep them from unconsciously redrawing again. Why the hell can I draw a gun so fast? Who the hell am I to have this kind of instinct? The answers don’t appear and I’m starting to realize that they probably aren’t simple. I’m scared as hell that they aren’t simple.
“Thanks…I guess. For not shooting me.” The girl is staring into my eyes, and as she backs up a step I get a better look at her. She has wispy brown hair, those wide startled blue eyes, and she’s a little bit shorter than me. I have no idea exactly how tall as I don’t know how tall I am. She looks at my hands safely stowed in their pockets, and seems to assume that I won’t shoot her. The wrench in her right hand begins to smack ominously into her left palm.
“Now explain what the hell you’re doing in the engine block, and why I shouldn’t radio for Enforcers right now?”
The smacking grows louder and more pointed. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything close to a good answer to her questions. I’m going to have to try the truth. I get the feeling this is not going to end well.
“Would you believe me if I told you that I forgot?”
I eek out something resembling a smile, at least I hope it does. My facial muscles are so stiff and there’s so much adrenaline in me that I probably look like I want to eat her. Then I remember.
“It doesn’t matter what I’m doing here, do you know the way out?!! There’s a…creature here, it was chasing me. It went that way, but it could come back at any time, we need to leave now! Do you know where the exit is?” I point the way it went, and I motion that we should leave frantically. I can’t believe I forgot about that thing, no matter how much memory loss someone has that thing will definitely stick around. Hopefully she knows how to get out of here. But despite my urgent manner and my obvious desire to leave, she just looks at me like I’m crazy. The wrench taps a fast beat on her hands and she smiles.
“Good one, a creature in the engine block, who put you up to this, was it Marc?” She definitely does not believe me and I do my best to impress on her the urgency of the situation.
“Miss, I’m serious!” She just chuckles wryly.
“Seriously man just give it up, I admit, those guns are a nice touch, and the…is that a sword?” She’s taking a second look at me now and I can see confusion starting to bloom on her face as she realizes somethings not right.
“The creature went that way, I swear to god, can we please just leave and I’ll explain how I got here later?” I motion frantically, but instead of going the way I want, she starts walking towards the direction I motion. “What are you doing! I told you it went that way! If you want to die, be my guest, I’m going the other way!” She however, completely ignores me and keeps going. Then she says the words which stop me cold in my tracks.
“This creature of yours, is it a ghost?” She raises her omniwrench and the built in flashlight flicks on. I stare in disbelief at the long “corridor” I thought the beast went down. It’s a dead end. There’s nothing there except a couple hydraulics pipes and some machinery.
“What the hell…?”
I look around, I stare into the walls, I peer so deeply into the steel that I almost feel like I’d pass through it as well if I looked any closer. Nothing, I even rap the walls to make sure they’re solid. There was no way anything passed through here. I try to think it over, but my memory distinctly remembers the shrieks passing this way and then fading off into the distance. How can this be? Did I imagine it all? My brain hurts trying to make sense of it all. For now, I give up and start dealing with the more important question. What do I tell this girl?
“I…I’m confused, I don’t remember how I got here. Where exactly am I?” My words evoke a thoughtful look on her face, I’m anxious that she won’t believe me but there’s less doubt in those features than I expect. She’s surprisingly trusting, I definitely wouldn’t believe myself. She’s looking at me hard and I try my hardest to look innocent. Then she says,
“Don’t worry, I don’t normally believe people who point guns in my face and ask me to trust them, but I have to admit, you don’t look like you know where you are.” She walks up and raises her omniwrench. Instantly my hands slide out of their pockets ready to defend or grab the tool from her hands. She stops and looks at my hands which I’ve frozen mid grab with a cocked brow.
“Interesting…relax I at least don’t hurt people I’ve just met. You’re bleeding.” She points with the wrench to my temple, “a lot.” I’m not entirely sure what she means so I wrestle one hand away from its seemingly habitual combative stance and touch my temple where she points. It comes away with a mixture of semi congealed blood and sweat that dribbles out in a long clumpy line. A few splotches hit the floor and I look at the black blood in my hand as if it’s not my own. I don’t remember why I’m bleeding at all. The spikes of pain in my head certainly make more sense now though.
“Damn, you should get that checked out. Questions can wait until you get to a Medbay. You can’t answer my questions if you’re passed out.” She turns around and looks at me expectantly. I realize that though my hands are rock steady as always, the rest of me is starting to shake and I’m getting slightly nauseated. I follow without a fuss. She’s finally leading me away from this dark tunnel. Away from that damn monster. Even if it’s not real, I’m reassured to put some space between it and me. As we walk away I can’t resist the urge to look over my shoulder one last time. All I see without the light of the ominwrench is black. No monster, just a whole lot of black.