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


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Chase's creepy tour

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-03-15 - Updated: 2009-03-15 - 1871 words - Complete

Chase Spencer had seen a few things in his wanderings, but this was completely outside his experience.

According to his own chronograph, he had been inside the Harken Building for almost twelve hours, yet it somehow felt like more. He had stopped and rested at several benches along the way, but didn’t like it when he found himself starting to nod off, so he always got back up again. When he first got bored waiting for Kato to finish screwing around in the Centralict Library, he would never have suspected he would find a place like Obscura Antiques in this mundane town. Then again, he wouldn’t have guessed this sleepy island concealed anything like this, either. In his peculiar conversation at the shop, he was told that this building housed some ancient and secret treasure that even the wizened old shopkeep knew little about. Later, when he met the stranger outside, the one with whom he made the bet about the building’s dirty secret, he figured there had to be some kind of trick, and so he came in ready for action.

Kato had done a pretty fair job describing him to Justin and party, nailing the important details perfectly. Medium-height, medium-build, average and nondescript in aspect. It was his taste in clothes that stood out. Decked out in the same long coat Kato had described, his reddish-brown hair mostly concealed by the wide-brim hat he had picked up somewhere along the way, and had never really let go of.

What would likely hold most people’s attention, though, would be the sawed-off double-barrel disrupter rifle he now carried as he strode through yet another corridor.

After all, when told that no one ever came back out of the Harken Building (the Never-Ending Building, the man called it, as if imparting some great secret), combined with what the shopkeep had told him about a hidden secret, he figured something was up. Had originally expected the stranger to have a few friends lying in wait or something, but in all these hours, every place he went was completely deserted. Had hunted and prowled around for a while, but after a couple hours, had begun to wonder if that stranger wasn’t on to something about the never-ending part.

By now he knew something was afoot.

Even going upstairs, or, for that matter, downstairs to multiple basement levels, let alone staying on one floor, he had long since exhausted this place’s apparent floorspace. The architecture of that last section was very convoluted and repetitive, and Chase had wandered in circles for a couple hours before he finally found a side passage leading out. Before that, he had toured what appeared to be a gallery or museum of weapons from many places, mostly ancient and primitive.

Even so, that hardly stopped him from equipping himself with an exotic-looking knife whose listed name he could not pronounce, adding it to his coat of arms. And had certainly contemplated adding more if he wasn’t already outfitted with a full arsenal. As Kato noted, he found guns fascinating, and weapons in general, especially ancient ones.

Though he honestly never would have guessed it would take nearly this long to explore; this was even more bizarre than he expected.

He still remembered standing out in front of the building. She can hang out in the goddam library all she wants, but I’m going to find something real, he had told George. As far as he was concerned, Kato had gotten entirely too scholarly in her approach to their search lately. With all due honesty to himself, he had to admit he had been looking for a little action. That was the main reason, he supposed, he had checked this place out, Tri-Medal research aside. After all, a normal building wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

Now he wondered if he hadn’t gotten more than he bargained for. Was frequently haunted by the feeling that he was being followed, but he never found anyone. Earlier, Chase thought he’d seen a little boy in a striped shirt wandering around the section ahead of him, but by the time he could get to that section, there was no one. The kid had somehow given him the slip, assuming he had been there in the first place.

He liked the atmosphere of this building less and less the more he wandered around. At first he thought it was just that perpetually itchy trigger-finger of his. Had originally gone in carrying his disrupter in case that guy he made the bet with was up to some kind of shenanigans, and later kept it handy as a training exercise. Now he realized that, at some point that was lost on him, he had starting thinking of it as more than just a precaution. For some reason, that strange kid gave him the creeps, and so he kept telling himself he only thought he saw the kid. Telling himself that kids— especially dumb-looking little kids— don’t stalk people.

At least he was fairly sure they didn’t.

Speaking of dumb little kids, he had told George not to wander too far, but at some point in his browsings, the little bastard had ambled off somewhere. What he really needed to do was find him, he decided, increasingly bothered by just how easily he had allowed himself and George to get separated. No telling what kind of trouble that mindless, overgrown child of a hacker may have gotten himself into. A few times, he had called out to his friend at some junctions, yet he got the strange, inexplicable impression that no one would hear him beyond his immediate area.

Though he originally set out to kill a few hours, hopefully until Kato grew bored with book research, now he couldn’t even find his way back to the beginning of the gallery where he left George, let alone the main entrance. This place was just too weird and convoluted to let him do that. No matter which way he went, he seemed to just end up deeper inside.

As far as he was concerned, the Harken Building was beyond paranormal, the word barely seemed to describe it.

Occasionally, he reached into his pocket and examined the silvery key the shopkeep had sold him. It was an old-fashioned skeleton key, a little over two inches long, with an oval-shaped ring for a handle. The old geezer said he’d give him a discount on it because he seemed the type who could use a thing like this. At first he wasn’t sure what that meant, but now he was starting to think that guy was better at gauging people than he would have guessed. Combined with the nature of that mysterious shop, he was starting to get an idea of what this little trinket might do, and was now about half certain he might end up using it before he got out of here.

Still, based on all he had heard and read along the way, such items were said to be very rare in most realms, and he was loathe to part with it too easily. Making up his mind to use it only if he had no other choice, he moved on.

Around the next corner, Chase found himself in another large room. This one was filled with glass displays containing fully constructed skeletons. Some human, some animal. Some he could not identify by their frames alone.

At first Chase didn’t think much of it, as there were also a few skulls and such in that weapons gallery earlier, but once he stood completely in the midst of this skeletal host, he found he didn’t like having all those empty, not to mention unblinking, eye sockets gazing upon him.

Quickening his pace, but trying not to look like he was in any hurry, he moved on to the next room. With every step wondering why even skeletons would make him this uneasy. The only answer he could come up with was that it was just the atmosphere; he had seen a few eerie places along the way, but this one was utterly unlike any of the others. And it was starting to get to him.

The next room was also an extension of the bone gallery, and somehow he wasn’t overly surprised, given the last section he passed through. Even as he thought about the fact that he was now surrounded by the damn things, he heard a strange clacking sound, and snapped his disrupter to bear purely on reflex. He just about squeezed the trigger before seeing that the skeleton on the far side of the room really wasn’t about to attack him.

Some joker had rigged one of its arms so that it was raised in a jaunty gesture. A look around revealed that the same prankster had messed with most of the skeletons in this room. One looked like it was scratching its head, another held its hands behind its back. Three more sat side by side in an almost comical see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil pose. Some manner of quadruped cocked its head at him in a way that might have been cute if it still wore its skin and fur. From its glass prison, a monkey flipped him off while sitting on a branch. Chase returned the gesture with his free hand, just as George had done to that stuck-up waiter back at the café, before he spotted something out of the corner of his eye.

Another skeleton, something reptilian by the look of it, standing on hind legs, with sharp fangs and claws, standing almost his height. Underdweller, the label read. Lurking right next to the door, and he had walked right past it.

He kicked the thing, sundering it to a jumbled pile of bones, then pressed on to the next room. This one contained bigger skeletons, one of which looked to him to be the remains of a warthog. The room was arranged with tables and chairs, centered around the warthog display. Wondering what else he would find on this creepy tour, he skirted the table and moved on.

Clack, clack.

Chase yelped in spite of himself, nearly pulling the trigger yet again. He then froze, listening. A couple seconds later, he spun on his heels, turning back to the other room. Everything was still.

He let his eyes go partway out of focus, looking at nothing in particular. An old trick he had learned for spotting things, but nothing appeared to be amiss. Still he wondered what was making him so goddam edgy.

As he pushed open the door to the next room, he figured it out. Part of it, at least. It wasn’t just the skeletons, it was the stillness. The fact that they just stood there.

Like they were waiting for something.

Still a little spooked, but resolving not to let a bunch of bones get to him, not to rush his pace unless something actually happened, Chase pressed on. Wanting to get the hell out of here, the sooner the better.
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