Four formerly white, rust-stained cement walls still stand in most places, marking the boundaries of what must have once been a storage shed for the power plant. The roof has long rusted away, and the soil that has taken over what was once a concrete floor is blood-red.
The black-robed figures occupying the space are invisible until one of them lights a black torch-candle next to the cement block; what part of the figure’s face is visible under the cowl is somewhat chubby and surprisingly young. Almost instantly, a dozen more candles flicker into life. The faint traces of black smoke they emit are soon lost as blue plumes of incense-smoke curl skyward to catch them.
Once the candles and incense have been lit, the black-robed figures assume their places on either side of the narrow concrete-slab path leading to the cement block in the center of the space - both fixtures stained off-red in patterns that rust could not account for. The one who lit the first candle takes a position behind the block.
A girl clothed in a white nightgown approaches the makeshift altar. Hesitating only briefly, she seats herself delicately upon it, sliding her legs up onto the cement. One of the black-clad ones hands her a metal chalice; she drinks from it, tilting her head back as she finishes it off. A few drops of the liquid it contains slide down her cheek to spatter on the nightgown, leaving little blood-red stains.
She lies back, almost collapses upon the block.
The world around her fades into blackness. A few seconds later, it lights up again, this time with a dusky red ember-glow enmeshed in broad girders of black.
She stands up, looks around and walks a few steps, hesitantly, along the catwalk between the pipes, already beginning to break into a sweat at the jungle-heat and humidity.
A screech of metal on metal echoes through the boiler room, seeming to come from everywhere at once. The girl spins around, trying to pinpoint its source, and ultimately picks a direction seemingly at random. She starts running.
A concentrated form of the red glow flashes behind her, glinting off four invisible blades. The steel itself is late in fading into existence, and the shadows seem to cluster reverently around the figure the claw-knives are attached to. For the moment, all but its weapon is nearly invisible in the darkness.
The girl continues running, spurred on by the sound of footsteps behind her. No matter how much she tries to accelerate, her pursuer's tread only echoes louder. She corners sharply, the grating cutting into her bare feet. She hisses faintly in pain, hopping a few steps before halting to examine the wounds.
She snaps her head up when she realizes that the boiler room has gone eerily silent; trying to mute the ragged gasps of her own breathing, she stands perfectly still, hoping for her pursuer to betray himself with some sound.
For several seconds, no noise comes. Panting, the girl glances around her, searching for movement amid the shadows. She finds nothing.
She startles violently at a noise behind her, whipping around to try and pinpoint its source. She springs back when her eyes catch the movement, relaxing slightly as she recognizes that it's just a rat.
She takes a few steps along the walkway, leaving traces of blood on the metal grating. She begins to try to rationalize her situation, figuring there has to be an exit to this place somewhere...
She turns, finding herself facing another path that definitely wasn't there before - it's short, but bolted to the brick wall between the pipes is a metal ladder. She turns, glancing back the way she came, and finds herself staring at an even shorter path with a brick wall at the end.
The screech of metal on metal pierces the boiler room again, echoing off the pipes at earsplitting volumes. She doubles over, hands flying to cover her ears until the hellish din ends.
She glances up, sees the razor-tipped shadows gathering a few feet further down the corridor. And she darts.
The girl flings herself at the ladder and begins desperately clawing her way up it. Her feet slip repeatedly as the rungs become slick with blood, but she manages to hang on. The ladder is much taller than it seemed from the catwalk - impossibly tall. She continues struggling upward as the ladder ascends through void-blackness where even the pipes are barely visible; there's nothing else she can do now.
Finally, the top of the ladder comes into view, resting against the edge of a rectangular hole in the metal platform above her. She scrabbles through it and kneels, panting, on the platform for a moment. When she stands up and turns around, the ladder has vanished. For the moment, there seems to be no way off the platform - pipes twist past it back into the darkness on three sides, and the fourth is a blank wall. Above her, though, is a grate through which blue sky is visible.
She steps backward, examining the grate, only to hit what feels like a mass of tight-strung wires. She tries to pull away, but finds herself stuck. Too late, she examines her surroundings a little more carefully.
She's caught in a giant spiderweb.
Shadows pour onto the platform, taking a humanoid shape. The darkness peels back over the right hand to reveal four six-inch blades mounted in a rough gauntlet.
As she watches, the shadows pull back just enough to reveal burned features, amid which a pair of aluminum-gray eyes glint with an unnatural light. Barely visible, the corners of his mouth twitch upward into a malicious smile.
Suddenly, the entity standing before her is no longer a man, but a giant red-and-green-striped spider.
She screams once, piercingly.
· Mon Aug 15, 2005 @ 10:07pm · 2 Comments