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


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Chase vs "them"

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Fantasy,Horror - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2009-10-05 - Updated: 2009-10-05 - 2447 words - Complete

Chase thought more than once about going back, but he knew he wouldn’t.

He had managed to get through the rooms of skeletons without losing it, even as the clacking noises became a more frequent phenomenon, and he was still no closer to figuring out what the hell that was. The last few of those rooms contained piles of bones and partially constructed skeletons, and in the last one, the lights were off, so he had to fumble on the wall for the switch. Of course, he had a couple flashlights stowed in his coat, but given the sheer size of this place, he didn’t want to use the battery power unless he absolutely had to.

In the end, nothing happened, but it was still a spooky experience. Since leaving that section, he had found no forks, unlike before, yet he still didn’t want to double back. Just to move on to whatever lay beyond.

And whatever lay beyond that.

And beyond that.

That was the problem with this place. It was a broken record. A repeat-loop that somehow managed to put a myriad of different faces on the same message.

The Building is hungry…

To think he originally found that spray-painted message amusing when he first saw it. A little dramatic touch, he figured. Most likely added by that weird guy who bet him he and George couldn’t find the exit.

Bastard’s probably laughing all the way to the bank…

Right now, though, he wasn’t so much concerned about blowing the money Kato left him so much as he was bitter about the bastard in question apparently being right. And he was worried about George. Even as the place was getting to him more and more with its eerie depths and unsettling noises, he also found he was starting to nod off at random moments. Beginning to dawn on him just how long it was since last he slept, how long it would likely be until he would get to sleep again.

Sure as hell not in here, though.

He found himself wondering if Kato would ever even find out what happened to him. All the same, he found he was increasingly glad she would never have to find her way into this warped maze. He knew Cyexian chicks were tough, but he himself was having a hard time in here, and he wasn’t so sure she could handle it any better.

Especially since she had come to seem less and less her usual bold self in recent months. Of course, he knew she was about that age all girls seemed to go through where she always worried about looking fat, and what to wear, and if her hair looked good— well, more so than before— and seemed to spend more time on her appearance than she used to, but he always thought Cyexians were immune to that. Over the past year, she had increasingly hid underneath baggy clothes, even though as far as he could tell, she hadn’t gained an ounce. Was afraid to speak of it around her, even accidentally, for fear she would bite his head off about it.

Chase shook his head. Right now he had more urgent matters to worry about; he could do nothing about her girlish adolescent fixations, but keeping her from worrying about himself and George was something he could do. Hopefully.

Earlier, he had gone down some stairs, walked some mostly blank halls that should have led him in a circle, but instead came out here. When he first saw the dimness beyond that lone door, he almost did decide to double back to the skeleton section, but again resolved not to be pushed around by childish fears he felt he should have outgrown by now. Yet this place was proving quite effective at invoking and provoking childhood fears, primal fears; had managed to convince himself the area didn’t look that spooky when he was standing in the doorway.

Now that he had ventured beyond the outer edge of this dimly-lit series of office cubicles and actually walked among them, he armed his sawed-off disrupter again, keeping a flashlight in his free hand, hoping not to have to use either. Found that he just kept thinking, When the lights go out, that’s when the attack’s gonna come, and wondering why he was so sure it would come hard and fast when it finally did…

As Chase wandered among the cubicles, it didn’t take long for him to figure out that it was even more of a maze than he originally thought. Not that the rest of this place wasn’t. He wasn’t ordinarily claustrophobic, but this setup was starting to make him feel that way.

With the skeletons, he kept telling himself that trying to watch all directions at once was just a training exercise, to keep from losing his edge, but here he found himself peering around every corner, wary of every cubicle opening. Edging past another one, he peeked inside, noticing that the computer on the desk was on. Now that he noticed it, he was aware that only a little of this area’s scant lighting came from the handful of guttering fluorescents overhead. The rest from the bluish glow of computer monitors. This bothered him because he wanted to believe that they had been on all along, but another little voice in his mind was pretty sure they had somehow switched on when he wasn’t paying attention.

The screensaver didn’t help things, either. Just a scrolling marquee. And though the words themselves didn’t surprise him too much, they still chilled him just a few degrees.

The building is hungry!…

Over and over.

“Like a broken record…”

Chase really didn’t like this. It was bad enough there seemed to be no end to the Harken Building, but the fact that this message was also in the depths of this place— not just slashed on the wall outside— was much worse. That someone, or something (he may as well be thorough as well as pessimistic), perhaps some other unfortunate soul had lost his mind— he looked at a couple other monitors— and put this disconcerting screensaver on every single computer here?…

More than at any other point in this creepy tour, he wanted out of here.

Maybe the skeletons weren’t so bad after—

So fixated was Chase on those eerie marquees, that he failed to catch sight of something falling headlong out of a door along the edge of the cubicle maze, knocking over a section of the walls. Before his eyes could track what came in, the disrupter was knocked from his hand by a falling section of divider paneling. Though he tried to backpedal out of the way, it still caught his foot, tripping him.

As Chase scrambled to his feet, he saw what looked like a pair of legs scissoring out from underneath one of the panels, a hand reaching out from under it, as well. What really bothered him, though, wasn’t just the eerily sluggish movements of this newcomer, but also its unintelligible grunting that he thought was somehow supposed to be speech.

Again, he was so focused on this spectacle, which was already raising the hairs on his neck, it wasn’t until a second, third, even a fourth, figure stumbled out of the same door, from what appeared to be a dingy alleyway, that he noticed a couple more following them. Walking into the area, muttering and mumbling things Chase couldn’t interpret, and was fast wondering if he really wanted to know. All six of them were garbed in rag-tag grey military uniforms of unknown design.

Chase wheeled around as if shot, liking this less and less by the second as they shuffled his way with their glazed eyes and dazed expressions.

He fumbled for a long moment for something to say before finally coming up with a lame-sounding, “Who… who the hell are you?…”

But at least it did manage to pause the coming onslaught for a moment.

Now that he had a second to look over his assailants more clearly, he wished he hadn’t. Though they had a desperate look about them on the surface, and smelled as if they hadn’t showered in even longer than they had slept, he found he was drawn to their eyes. All had deep circles under them, as if they had set some kind of record for going without sleep. So hollow, so vacant. He figured they had been wandering around in here longer than he cared to know.

It showed.

Chase was increasingly certain these guys had gone beyond reason. Hardcore paranormal freak though he was, he found his desire to know wavering. Had no idea what they had seen, what they had been through. Yet their minds had clearly come unhinged, possibly even broken.

And all he had to fend off these half-dead-looking bastards was an aluminum flashlight. He tried not to think about his fallen disrupter, for fear his eyes might betray him. Dared not draw anything else from his coat of arms, dared not take his eyes off these guys for a second, lest he give them an opening. Hoped in spite of his doubts that they could perhaps still be reasoned with after all as he stared them down.


“I’m not your enemy…”

At his words, they paused again.

“The building is hungry, you know…” one of them said dully, pointing to the screensaver, as if for emphasis.

The others nodded with solemn grunts.

Then, like the others, the first one fell back into mumbling unintelligible gibberish under his breath. Chase braced himself as they started shambling toward him. While his attention was focused on the others, the creepy degenerate on the floor crawled partway out from under the panel, grabbing him by the ankle.

But even with his rifle out of reach, Chase was quick on the defense, giving the gibbering creature a vicious kick to the head, then stomped on one of his hands. Even as he stumbled back from his attacker’s loosened grip, the others, like rabid dogs, tried to rush him. Staggering into one of the stalls, Chase shined his flashlight right in their faces, causing them to draw back. Stuffing the flashlight in his pocket, he took this opportunity, grabbing a chair from the cubicle and swinging it at the first one in line, toppling the others behind him like dominoes.

Chase was about to make a break for it, then wondered where he was going to run to in this random maze of divider walls. Like the rest of this place, he suspected it consisted mostly of dead ends. Slow though these fellows were, he still pictured them catching up with him…

Then he remembered his fallen disrupter rifle, spotting it out of the corner of his eye, even in the gloom. Dodging the fallen one, whose movements were quicker now that he was no longer half-buried under divider paneling, he lunged down and snatched up his weapon. His hat fluttered to the floor as he sprang to his feet.

And those creepy degenerate humans were almost back on theirs. Shambling toward him with a speed greater than he would have attributed to things that looked so much like walking corpses. He felt his ordinarily talkative trigger-finger clam up for a moment, as it dawned him that he could see primeval murder in their otherwise empty eyes. That there would be no reasoning with them.

The Building was hungry, indeed, and it had found itself a little snack.

At the last possible second, breaking his moment of paralysis, he shot them several times before realizing that he was still in stun mode. This forced them back, but didn’t faze them as much as he would have expected. One of them, possibly on some lingering reflex from when they were still themselves, reached down for a sidearm Chase just belatedly noticed was holstered at its side. Its draw was slow, halting, fumbling, but Chase could no longer afford to take any more chances with so many mindless, murderous foes.

Before the creature could firm its grip on the weapon, Chase switched to full power and mowed them all down, lighting the dim chamber with strobes of red-orange fire.

As he watched those sickly creatures collapse into a writhing, groaning tangle on the floor, falling silent in an alarmingly short span of seconds, Chase reflected that what just happened to them was a pathetic end. The more he would think about it, the more he would conclude that he had put them— and himself— out of their misery. He had no idea what happened to those people— if they could be called such anymore— before he met them, but he was damn sure he didn’t want to find out.

Feared he would find out if he stayed in the building long enough.

“Shit!” he hissed. “I’ve gotta get out of here…”

Snatching his hat back, for he felt naked without it anymore, Chase simply stood there, drenched in his own sweat. Realizing now that he had been so freaked out about those creatures he had made the mistake of tensing up the whole time, wasting energy and making his moves more awkward than they should be. The whole experience left him weak in the knees, odd given that he had fought more battles than Kato and George combined. It was a weird fight, but he still felt that was no excuse. Although her help would have been useful, he was glad Kato wasn’t here to see this.

He felt like a damn civilian.

Yet he didn’t linger for long, wanting badly to get away from these freaky corpses. Which he was afraid might… Might what? he asked himself. Get back up and attack him, of course. Had contemplated taking their guns, but unlike in Justin’s case, Chase didn’t trust them to do what the dead should… that is, to stay dead. Pictured a cold, clammy hand clutching his even as he reached for the gun…

They did, after all, look like the living dead even before he “killed” them. Looked way too much like ghouls from the world’s darkest legends for his taste. And those hollow eyes, that seemed somehow sightless yet weren’t, as if something primal and hungry were looking out through them…

Nobody’s home, he thought, wanting to burst into fits of giggling.

After all, a laugh in the dark always helped.
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