Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 09 - "The Building is Hungry!"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Shades hits a dead end

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-03-11 - Updated: 2009-03-11 - 1826 words - Complete

After all these convoluted hallways Shades had passed through in here, it seemed to be a common— or, as his old friend Arthur used to say, monotonous— phenomenon. There was an aura about this place that lost didn’t even begin to describe. Made it hard to concentrate on what he was doing. Dazed and inexplicably drowsy in spite of his nerves, he had to keep reminding himself what he was doing here.

Originally, to help find Kato’s friends, of course, though rescue them was starting to sound more like it. He found it easier to focus on his friends, just to take the edge off. Especially Kato.

On one hand, she seemed pretty up-front about the whole Tri-Medal business. He would be lying to himself if he said he wasn’t excited about the chance to finally find out what that strange medallion he had worn since he was a kid really was. Yet he was not entirely sure he could trust her.

He kept telling Max not to be so hasty to judge, in spite of the earful he had gotten about Cyexians for it, still he felt he would have to keep an even sharper eye on her once she had her friends to back her up. Max could be fairly naïve, but he felt he could count on his friend to do so as well, yet Justin worried him. And not because they had such a harsh argument; Justin apparently had his own share of troubles with Cyexians, but right now Max’s friend definitely had dollar-signs in his eyes. Especially when looking at his own, and Max’s, Tri-Medals.

I’ll definitely have to keep an eye on both…

For all his efforts, though, he was never able to keep his mind off this place for very long. And he was starting to wonder if maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Now that he was used to the hum of the lights in most places, he found that the building made odd sounds from time to time. He was never able to pin down a direction, and that only made it harder to deal with.

Always indistinct. Mumbling? Coughing? Laughing? Crying?

Despite being alone every step of the way, there were parts of this building that felt far from empty.

It all put him in mind of something he hadn’t thought about in years. Something that happened to him in the eighth grade. Though he had been digging up tales of the Unknown since he was in grade school, he had only a handful of experiences that even resembled those accounts, and this one was the most unsettling.

Mostly because it might actually have been real.

In the double-wide trailer his family had lived in since he was in the third grade, his mother’s room was at one end, his own at the other. Though he actually slept on a fold-up couch in the dining room, he did have a desk in the room itself. Kid-size, but suitable for his purposes.

On the night in question, he was working on a mock term paper, the Bermuda Triangle Mythos one, quietly listening to one of his mix tapes. Mom kept complaining, in spite of being at the other end of the place, so he kept turning it down until he could barely hear it himself. By then it was after midnight, and he could barely keep his eyes open, but he pressed on, deadlines looming perilously close on the horizon.

It was in the midst of this work that he heard it. Someone stomping on the other side of the trailer. At first wondering what Mom could possibly be mad about now, but as those heavy steps advanced across the length of the house, he was increasingly certain they did not belong to his mother.

Gripped by an inexplicable urge to hide in the closet, he managed to hold his ground as those footfalls drew nearer. Those steps were so hard, he kept expecting whoever made them to knock things down, but it didn’t. It just got louder and louder, closer and closer…

When that tide of rage actually reached his room, he honestly expected it to knock the door right off its hinges, but it just stopped. It took an effort of will not to huddle in the corner, for some reason picturing himself as a little four-year-old boy, but he waited. And waited. For how long he stood there, he had no idea.

Eventually, he summoned the nerve to go open the door. Sure that Mom would have knocked, even if she was upset. But when he opened the door, he found that the short hall leading to the dining room was dark, yet empty.

After that, he locked the door for the rest of the night.

Later, he remembered something one of the neighbor kids had told him years ago. About how the last man to live in that trailer was an alcoholic, and one prone to violent outbursts when intoxicated. This Shades didn’t doubt, recalling as he did that half the pictures and wallhangings in the place were simply there to hide holes that had been punched in the walls and doors before they even moved in.

And that a little boy— the man’s son— used to sleep in that room.

Thinking about that experience could give him a chill even in broad daylight, but in this place… He didn’t have to think about it for long to decide that this was neither the time nor the place to be thinking about such things. A real-life spook story that might have been fun to tell Amy.

If I ever see her again…

If he was going to have any chance of seeing her again, he understood, he would first have to overcome this obstacle.

When he came upon a vending machine around the next corner, he decided to take advantage of the situation. There was enough food in his pack for nearly a week-long expedition into Tranz-D, yet he figured he might as well see if anything was edible in here; as enormous as this place was, he might need every morsel he packed before he got out of this twisted maze. He wasn’t completely sure he trusted the food in this place, yet he knew he couldn’t keep up his strength for too long without something to eat.

Shades was just about to plunk in some spare change when it dawned on him that this entire place was empty. It presented him with an opportunity to do something he had never done before. After years of paying ever-escalating prices, he wondered if he would ever again get the chance to sack a vending machine without anyone coming down on him.

Carefully aiming Max’s power pistol at the lock, he blew it off with a couple clean shots. Still surprised at how energy weapons had no “kick” like firearms did.

He was about to give the drink machine next to it the same treatment, then thought better of it. Max didn’t give that to you to break into vending machines. He gave it to you to defend yourself. That, and even Max wasn’t sure how much juice was left in the power clip. So far, he had encountered no one and nothing threatening, but he feared he might yet need every shot to get out of here.

Instead, noticing that this machine had an older lock on it, he decided to try a different approach. Remembering something he read in a magazine back at the Mall, he decided to put it to the test. He dug in part of his homemade lockpicking kit, producing a ballpoint pen with the tip removed. According to the article, many locks on older model vending machines were changed because of a design weakness that allowed them to be cracked by the very implement he currently held his hand.

Sure enough, it took very little effort to open the lock and grab himself a can of Cam’s Cola. It was one of those “otherworld” brands he had come across in the Mall, and much like certain brand names back on Earth, he found he just wasn’t that terribly shocked to see it in here, either. Everything turned out to be fresher than he would have suspected, and nothing tasted unusual, so he decided that it was safe.

After grabbing some grub, Shades continued on his way, munching on this and that, and wondering why he was beginning to feel so sleepy. While this delectable surprise helped take the edge off this place a little, it left him with an unsettling insight into just how thoroughly conditioned he had been back on Earth.

As he made his way, he continued to puzzle out why he felt so guilty about scoring free food in a place where there was no one around to “steal” from. He reminded himself that there were presently plenty of people wandering around here with energy weapons. But do they all have candy bars in their backpacks? Thinking of Justin, and Kato, at least, he was sure he wasn’t the only one.

Of course, it was strange being left completely to his own devices after a lifetime of being herded around by society at large; he suspected he was going to have to re-evaluate a lot of his ideas in order to survive in this world.

But before he could do that, he would have to find a different path to take, for the room he entered was a dead end. Even as he turned to try a different hall, though, the door clicked shut behind him. And it only took him a moment to figure out that his troubles were just beginning.

Much to his dismay, the door he had entered through had no handle on this side.

No other doors, no windows. Only a tiny vent that seemed to mock him with its rabbit-size opening. And of course, the door itself wouldn’t budge, no matter how hard he tried to pry at it.

“Shit. Dead end.”

As he stood there, trying to figure out what to do next, even with his experience with the Mall he was sure he had never fully appreciated simply being able to walk in and out of a building the same way until now.

He had no intention of sitting and rotting in this room. A thought he didn’t particularly relish without ever having seen Justin’s closet-dwelling friends back in Tranz-D. And he had it on good authority that this Sixth Dimension was full of exceptions to the rules he was familiar with; all he had to do was find one. Again, he reminded himself that this business was supposed to be risky.

After all, that’s what makes it an adventure…
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