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


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Kato's "A" train

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror - Published: 2009-10-07 - Updated: 2009-10-08 - 1657 words - Complete

Kato was relieved to be blinking away at the daylight outside. Just knowing it was brighter out here, despite the fact that it wasn’t that much brighter. Just knowing she was no longer in there.

But I still am, ain’t I?

Though no longer stumbling among the gloomy halls of the abandoned wing behind her, the fact that this entire courtyard was surrounded by walls on all sides told her she was still in the Building. She wasn’t sure just how long she had run around back there, but she was largely out of breath by the time she made her way out. Was no longer certain whether or not those taunting voices were real, but she feared that, either way, the Building was starting to get to her. Even as she looked up at the block of cloudy sky overhead, that betrayed not a single hint of sun, several stories above, she got the unnerving impression that those long banks of windows may be blank— some even broken— but far from blind.

She seriously didn’t want to go back in there, yet the only other way she could see before her was a kiosk in the middle of the courtyard, with an escalator leading underground.

Resigning herself to the fact that most of the place was going to be like this, Kato plunged deeper into the depths of the Building. Figuring it would continue to mess with her every step of the way. Realizing that her only hope of escape was to keep it at bay long enough to find an exit of some kind.

At the bottom of the escalator was a cavernous chamber. Before her were turnstile gates and an empty booth. Beyond, she made out a broad platform in the gloom. And beyond that, a drop into darkness.

Keeping her power pistol armed, she checked both sides of the landing before passing through the turnstile and entering the platform. This place was as deserted as any of the others she had visited, yet she wondered if a place this impossibly large could ever truly be empty. Farther out, she saw what lay beyond the drop: several feet down were sets of railroad tracks. As she drew nearer, she noticed broad tunnels extending the path in both directions.

And on the other side, the platform resumed.

Though Kato could see few places anyone could hide in here, she still felt watched. It gave her a bit of a jolt when she finally noticed the surveillance cameras mounted in various corners of the chamber, just staring dead sockets, electric eyes that do not sleep. Wondered for a moment if she wasn’t starring in her own silent drama on some bank of monitors somewhere. Then forgot it.

Though the security room was surely empty as most of the rest of this place, wherever it was, she had no doubt the Building was watching.

And though she knew it had been even longer since she’d had a good sleep than it had since her last meal, she was still startled at how heavy her eyelids were becoming. Now that she thought about it, it started not long after raiding the fridge in that kitchen, but her unnerving experience in the elevator, and her harrowing race through the abandoned wing above (?… for this place made a total mockery of her sense of direction, just like that door to Tranz-D) had shaken her awake again. Now it was coming back with a vengeance, despite her gut feeling that if she fell asleep on one of the many benches around her, she would never wake up from this nightmare.

Just found she could see herself sprawled out on one of those benches, as shadowy shapes silently encircled her…

Rubbing her eyes with her free hand, she nearly jammed her knuckle into her eyeballs as she jumped at the faint high-pitched electronic tone as all of the monitors hovering near the ceiling clicked on in near unison.

She stumbled around, gawking at the now-activating screens in bewilderment. But instead of the arrival and departure times she expected, every line displayed the same message: The Building is Hungry! Seeing those words finally pushed her over the edge, and before she knew what she was doing, she screamed and opened fire on one of the clusters of monitors, sending it crashing to the floor, where it shattered in a burst of sparks.

As the last pops and sparks fizzled out, Kato stood in silence, gaping at her own reaction and listening to the lingering echo.

Before she could regain her composure, though, she heard something come roaring down the tunnel, along with a growing light filling up the previously impenetrable darkness, illuminating concrete slabs of wall. The fact that there were tracks made the presence of some manner a train a no-brainer, but as the subway cars thundered through, Kato scrambled behind one of the massive pillars supporting the whole place. For some reason, imagining a great barrage of firepower cutting loose from all those windows.

But when she opened her eyes, everything was still intact.

Shit!” she muttered, barely hearing herself over the fading din of the engine.

Before she could step all the way out from behind the pillar, she ducked back again as a subway train came rumbling in, this time from the other direction. Instead of going past, though, this one came to a stop at the platform. After a moment of hesitation, Kato stepped out of her hiding place. Seeing that all of the cars’ wide stretches of windows revealed them to be empty, she cautiously moved in for a closer look.

At last she stood at the threshold of one of the cars, seeing for herself that it was indeed empty. For a moment she almost stepped aboard, purely on impulse, then jerked her foot back, remembering her fun ride in the elevator not too long ago. Picturing herself being whisked off through fathomless miles of tunnels…

Without pretense, the train lurched back into motion, the door slamming shut, Kato staggering back from the edge of the track as it picked up speed.

Not this time! she thought as it clanked away down the tunnel.

Her sense of victory quickly faded to despair, though, as she realized that she had hit a dead end of sorts. The tunnels, aside from being pitch-dark, also promised a swift death the next time one of those engines roared through. The only other option she could see was going back up to the abandoned section and looking for another way out of it.

At least until she looked across the tracks and saw a white four-panel door on the platform on the other side.

She was about to climb down onto the tracks when she spotted the WARNING – HIGH VOLTAGE! sign and caught a faint whiff of ozone from the tracks themselves. That, and she remembered just how fast those trains came barreling through. Wondering if she could climb up the other side fast enough if one came, assuming she didn’t get fried first trying. And it was definitely too far for her to jump, as well.

That was when she saw the light panels overhead, and grabbed her new laser whip. She snapped out the solid “blade” and lashed out at the panels overhead, finding that she could “lock” it after it wrapped around its mark. Stepping back, she then lunged forward, swinging across the tracks. As she arced out over the other platform, she felt her line go slack, dumping her on the floor.

Kato heard the lights crash to the tracks behind her as she tumbled across the floor.

Feeling a twinge of embarrassment that she broke it. Not to mention that her little stunt didn’t come off as she intended, and for some reason, avoiding electrocution just wasn’t as much of a relief as it should have been. To her eyes, everyone else around her seemed to be moving forward, while she stood still. Max’s display against the Enforcer, for example. Or the way Justin kept surprising her at every turn. Hell, she suspected even that Shades guy would make her look bad, too.

More to him than meets the eye, she reflected glumly.

After stumbling to her feet, she went to the door. When she first noticed the blue “exit” sign above the door, she scowled at it, sure it was just another trick. Still, she could see no other way to go. Even if she wanted to turn back, there was no guarantee that the other light banks would hold long enough for her to swing across, and she was none too enthused about going back to the abandoned wing anyway.

When she heard another of those trains rumbling on its way, and saw no pillar close enough to take cover behind, that made up her mind.

Hauling the door open—

Kato stepped out into the alleyway next to the Harken Building.

Slamming the door behind her, the train fell completely silent. Next to her was that ominous graffito-tag Max had told them of. Beyond were regular streets, the streets of Centralict Island, not part of the Building.

And that was when she stepped in it; for all of Bandit’s efforts, there just wasn’t much dirt to work with.

“Ah shit!”

Looking down and seeing she had guessed correctly. Scraping her boot against a small rock, she looked out at the alley, noting that, whereas it had been noonish when they first entered the Building, it was now evening.

Despite her uncomfortable proximity to the place, she slumped to the ground, leaning against the wall trying to decide if she really wanted to tempt Fate by going back in for her friends again, instead deciding to go see what Justin & Company were up to.

Hoping they hadn’t gone in after her.
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