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


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Max vs "them"

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2009-10-06 - Updated: 2009-10-07 - 1995 words - Complete

Max knelt atop the rusty blue car, panting for breath, unsure how much longer he could keep this up.

He had lost track of how long he had been fighting, but his results hardly seemed proportionate to the effort he was exerting. Though he had stunned several of them into twitching heaps, and the others had been slowed noticeably, there were still about a dozen more or less still on their feet. And even if they weren’t as fast on those feet as they used to be, they were still every bit as inexorable as before, bruises, scrapes and all.

This is crazy, Max thought as he lashed out at another one. Every move taking its toll. Don’t they feel that at all?

If these were ordinary people, they would all be done by now. And if this kept up, he doubted he would last more than a couple more minutes before he collapsed. Or made a fatal mistake. Then again, if he unleashed the full power of his energy blade, they would all be finished by now…

Max immediately shunned that line of thinking. Even as he worried about his own life, he was haunted by images of Ron losing his all those years ago. No matter how inhuman his assailants seemed, he found he just couldn’t do that to anyone else. Yet he feared he might, just as he had come frighteningly close to doing to that Security guard who tried to kill Shades the other day.

At least that NK-525 thing was a machine…

And the thought of machines reminded him that his laser blade, though a pulse weapon whose power regenerated when not in use, would only run for twenty to thirty minutes at a time, depending on the power setting. He had lost track of how long he had fought, still he knew time was running out. And when the juice ran out, he would be reduced to hand-to-hand combat against these foes, a grim prospect even starting out fresh.

Even with an energy weapon, he knew he wouldn’t last much longer like this, exerting himself more than all of them put together, his body beginning to feel strangely heavy…

As Max dealt another round of punishment, wondering how much longer he could keep it up, his eye lit on a stack of boxes. Right underneath what appeared to be a metal stairway. Leading up the side of the building.

Seeing his only chance, he turned to make a break for it, but just then a hand grabbed his ankle, causing him to fall on his face on top of the car. Much to his horror, one of the sluggish adversaries had crept across the trunk while he wasn’t looking. Max started kicking at the thing’s withered, crazed face, only to find his assailant unyielding, wouldn’t even loosen its grip no matter how hard it was hit. Still he struggled, even as some of the others started back to their feet, while he remained pinned down.

Drawing closer. Closer.

And that was when the thing actually tried to take a bite out of his ankle. Feeling those teeth clamp on to his boot, Max’s exhaustion vanished in a blast of adrenaline, and he found the strength to struggle with even greater vigor, smashing the thing’s nose with a shriek of pain and raw horror. It only let go for a moment, then chomped down again, a little higher, and this time he could feel those teeth sink into his ankle, piercing the fabric of his boot, pressing against his flesh. Then, switching tactics, and hoping it wasn’t too late to think of it, Max started hitting its arms over and over with his stun blade, until that deathgrip finally slackened.

One last blow to the face caused those jaws to snap open, and with a final kick that made the creature’s neck pop in a way Max couldn’t help but wince at, he finally freed himself. Unfortunately, he also struck his leg with the stun blade, making it go numb, all pins and needles.

Rolling off the top of the car, Max landed on his feet just in time to meet the others on this side, as they were nearly upon him. And nearly fell on his face again as his stunned leg tried to buckle. Lunging from one foe to the next to knock them back, he made his way over to the stairs. Limping, and trying hard not to wonder how he was even staying on his feet, he reached the boxes and started climbing, then grabbed the lowest part of the railing, a whole level above the ground.

As he pulled himself up, the whole thing swung down, turning it into a stairway leading up and down. Max crawled up the steps as fast as he could, thinking only of escape. The steps started to swing back up as he reached the upper stretch.

At least until they started sinking back to the ground again.

Max looked over his shoulder as he climbed around the corner to see one of them clinging to the bottom steps. For a moment, he thought of firing up his laser blade to attack, but he could see that still others would reach the steps before he could force that one off. And without the cooperation of his leg, it would be too dangerous to chop down the stairway below, to risk falling back down into their murderous midst…

The only option left was to keep climbing.

His leg was still numb, so it was awkward going. On top of that, that first freak on the steps held it down long enough for others to start climbing as well, just as he feared. Reduced to moving at their pace, by the time he had ascended three levels, there was a growing line climbing up after him. He risked a glance below to see that even the ones he had succeeded in stunning earlier were stirring once again.

Max now worried that even making it to the roof wouldn’t offer much chance of escape; just being able to jump or climb one level would probably allow him to lose them altogether, but with his leg, he wasn’t sure if he could run, even on level ground.

He wasn’t sure how much longer he could stay ahead of them, when he found an open window. After hauling himself through, Max leaned against the wall and slammed it shut behind him for good measure. The place he found himself in was a long hallway. Having no time to take further stock of his surroundings, he set out staggering, hoping to find another obstacle to throw at them. To stall for time, at least.

Such was his haste, he didn’t even see the figure that stepped out of the nearby doorway until it was already upon him.

“Who the hell are you?” demanded the young man as he fumbled his broom. “What are you doing here?”

He completely lost his grip on the broom when Max fired up his laser sword.

“Dude!” the young man managed. Wearing baggy cargo jeans, an untucked t-shirt, and a cap that read Harken Facilities Services, his headphones dangled around his neck, playing loud enough that he could surely hear his music without them on. The foot-and-a-half of chain dangling from his belt, right next to a flashlight on a strap, swung sharply with his abrupt movement, the knot of keys on the end jangling. Eyes goggling, the wad of bubblegum he was previously chewing plopped to the floor as he remarked, “I thought those things only existed in the movies!”

Max relaxed as he realized that this one, at least, was not an enemy. Still, he said, “We can save the introductions for later. Now’s not the—”

Max’s need to finish became redundant at the crash of breaking glass behind him. As the first one crawled through, Max noted, with growing dismay, that these adversaries didn’t even notice the shards of glass still stuck in their hands, or the blood oozing from those wounds. When Max tried to resume his flight, he nearly stumbled over his gimp leg, which still wasn’t responding right.

Guess I should be glad I didn’t use the full blade, or I’d have cut off my own foot…

“Um, man…” Max told the custodian as he backed up, blade held before him.

“Damn drunks…” the custodian muttered, bubblegum forgotten, grabbing Max’s arm and drawing him farther down the hall. “I wish those lazy assholes wouldn’t leave the damn windows open after hours…”

About halfway down the hall was a double-door. Once the two of them were past those doors, the custodian hauled one side shut. Max followed suit, taking the other one. By then, the two closest pursuers were over halfway there.

Max leaned against both doors at the middle while the custodian dug around in his pocket for the keys he kept on that silvery chain, chewing furiously on a fresh piece of gum all the while. Even as one, then another of those things started pounding and scraping against the doors, Max wondered if he might yet be forced to kill them after all. Held his laser sword, thinking about how he could have kept them at a distance with his power pistol, but he had given it to Shades. And refused to regret it.

No matter what happens to me, at least he has a weapon.

Thinking about his friend reminded him that he had also lost Bandit in the thick of things, and he had no idea how many of them were shambling around that maze of alleys. The number on the other side of the door had grown to the point that he could barely hold them back, and he feared he wouldn’t be able to hold much longer. Soon it would no longer matter if his leg was injured or not, there would simply be more than he could stop even with his full strength.

As Max continued his stark ruminations, the custodian wedged a doorstop under one of the doors, buying Max some time. At last his face brightened as he found the key he was looking for, rammed it home and locked the door.

“God, they can be pushy,” the custodian muttered. “Fortunately, those other doors are locked, so at least they can’t hurt anything…”

Now that they were locked, the doors seemed pretty solid, and were hardly even budging against those pressing on the other side.

“Those guys…”

“I’ll have to report this later, though I doubt anyone will do anything,” said the custodian, “and technically you’re not supposed to be here either.”

“Sorry,” Max replied, and even the custodian seemed taken aback by his sheepishness. Then, even as he was trying to figure out how to explain himself, he again remembered what it was he was most worried about to begin with. “Bandit!”


“My friend…” Max paused for a moment, then, “Have you seen a big black-and-white cat anywhere?… Of course you haven’t… He’s still down there… somewhere…”

“I see…” the custodian replied. “I’m afraid I haven’t. If I see him, I’ll do what I can…”

Max wasn’t really sure what else the custodian may have said. In addition to fighting the longest nonstop battle of his life, on top of NK-525 and Mall Security in the same two days, with hardly any rest in between… He knew it was too dangerous to rest here, no telling if enough of them might somehow break the door down, yet now that he was slumped against that door, his body refused to rise under its own power…

That, and he had been feeling a little drowsy even before he entered the alleys…
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