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I may have got the dates and times wrong, and I'm sure there are plotholes a mile wide, but I think it's probably still readable and enjoyable.
You tell me.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 1: 06 pm. 12/11/2021
The second chamber collapsed yesterday. God only knows what did for it this time, but I heard the screams of the dying even from my own remote hole. I think the lieutenant was in there somewhere Ė for all that rank matters now. Soon he will just be another frozen cadaver, joining the legions of dead already lining the halls.
In the dark, I can hear things moving.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 6:12 am. 12/11/2021
Itís morning now, I think. There are pale white shards of light breaking through, slicing through the darkness and illuminating ghostly bands of dust, drifting gently. Somewhere outside, the sun is shining balefully down again. Every so often something crosses the top, and a shadow cuts off each beam of light as it passes over. I remember how I once froze in terror as things skittered above, sitting so quietly that even the thump of my heart sounded like a drumbeat in the darkness. Now it is a daily, nay hourly occurrence, and a day will rarely go by without some activity. As I shift my weight slightly, my foot slips out from beneath the tattered blanket, and instantly cold bites into the exposes flesh. I slide it back into my cocoon, and draw my limbs in closer. Another shadow passes across the top, flickering its image across the walls.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James.12:14 pm 12/11/2021
I have to move eventually. I slide my arm reluctantly out, and pull my boots and gear towards myself. A clip slips out and the clang on the metal floor is shockingly loud, such is the silence to which I have become accustomed. I donít even remember the last time I spoke aloud, never mind to another human being. The first few days were full of fake hope, singing and general ďchin up ladsĒ mentality, some idiot pulling out a guitar and dragging everyone through a dreadful rendition of a half remembered song. The paltry alcohol ration went quickly to, taken in with the desperation of men doing everything in their power to avoid and forget their situation. That night They got in, as half the regiment lay in a drunken stupor. The few that survived the initial onslaught scattered hopelessly, taking refuge in the honeycomb of chambers that filled the complex. The beginning of the end, I suppose is the relevant clichť, for all the good it is to think about it.
Iím going out now, I need food. This could well be my last entry, the last remnant of what happened here. Itís a sobering thought.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 3: 04 pm. 12/11/2021
I imagine I should probably at least explain things. Someday somebody will dig up this, and I imagine they will need warning. Thatís what happens in films, right? Iím probably saving the human race, or some bullshit.
Anyway. I suppose as good a place as any to start is on the ship, itís when we first found out our destination; the place that we would, in all likelihood, die. We knew that at the time, of course, drilled in as it was by the tutelage machines and the instructors alike. The logic was that anybody going in expecting to die would fight all the harder to prevent it, some idiotic scheme from a man behind a desk who had never even seen a battlefield, never mind fought on one. Regardless, we always had a bad feeling about the assignment. When the lieutenant came out to brief us, he had a worried look in his face. Just to give that some perspective, let me describe the lieutenant. He is, or rather was, a bear of a man, both in his build and his demeanour, the only difference between him and said animal being the lack of hair, and even then he was grizzlier than most. His face had the same capacity for worry as a bulldog has for contemplation; physically possible, but bizarre all the same.
So, the lieutenant was worried, and yet he was just describing a routine search of an abandoned complex somewhere on the desolate planet below us. As he was scared, it transmitted to us men, and it wasnít a feeling we were used to. Without false modesty we were all pretty tough bastards, veterans of plenty of campaigns and no strangers to bloodshed, but even the strongest of us found themselves filled with an unidentifiable sense of trepidation on the shuttle down to the surface. We disembarked as normal, the landing jets melting the covering of snow into a dirty grey slush with the underlying mud. Everything was hideously exposed, the white snow plains stretching out in every direction, and a harsh biting wind tore through clothes and flesh alike. The entrance to the complex was partially concealed, a stairway leading down through the snow with only tiny glimpses of grey metal poking through. There were 40 of us in the team, and the entrance was only 5 or 6 metres wide so we snaked our way down in 3ís, heading deeper down through the stairway which extended a fair way, lit by dim glow-globes at regular intervals down the side. As soon as we got into the shelter, the wind cut out like a switch had been flicked, and was replaced with a musty stillness. Everyone, already on edge, was strung out to breaking point by this stage, and the eerie emptiness wasnít helping matters.
At the bottom of the stairs the corridor split into two ways, and by unquestioned agreement we all took the right fork first, the lieutenant acceding to popular demand and leading the men down. By this point he still hadnít told us what we were looking for, only saying ďwe would know when we find itĒ, and I suspect he had no idea either. Instead we just found ourselves looking through what was turning out to be a complex designed to be lived in for some length of time. We went past living areas with metal bunks all lined up, a kitchen with a row of sinks, none of which that worked, and a room which had been locked, bolted and finally welded shut from the inside. We left it alone ďfor nowĒ, and penetrated deeper.
It was at about this point, just after the locked door, that we started noticing a smell permeating the air. At first it was only a niggling sensation, an occasional whiff in the still air, but soon it built up in to a detectable odour. It was a sickly scent, very sweet and with just the hint of disease, which soon became more of a hint. We knew something was up, and opened every door with trepidation, knowing that eventually we would stumble across some revolting scene. We were, almost inevitably right.
It was a trooper called Dutton I recall who first arrived at the hospital. He pulled the door open with a moment of effort, held as it seemed by some sort of sticky grip. When it relinquished to him, there was an audible hiss of expelled gas, followed by a frenzied gagging of first Dutton, then the men queuing up behind him. Everyone staggered round the corner to the rest of the force, who had too felt the intensity of the stench increase. The lieutenant looked haggard, as if his worst nightmares had come to fruition, and ordered everyone back to the nearby sleeping chamber. Everyone sagged down on to the bare bunks, pulled field rations and flasks from their packs and slumped awaiting further orders. The lieutenant and his 2 sergeants spent a few minutes conferring and eventually drew apart, before asking for 5 volunteers. Now Iíve said already I donít have any pretensions to being a hero; honestly, I just donít trust anybody but myself to do a job properly. My hand was the only up to volunteer Ė everyone looked at me like some sort of idiot.
The other four were picked at random: Dutton, the lanky, pale trooper who originally opened the door, and as a result was now even paler, Howard who was a stocky young corporal with jet black hair, and two others who I didnít recognise. We were all equipped with gas masks, and our sweaty hands held our rifles tight. I led the line as we shuffled out, and as we got closer to the door, Hospital printed on a label on its front, we could begin to smell the decay seeping out. The door was still ajar, and I flicked it open with the toe of my boot, not wanting to even put my gloved hands anywhere near whatever was on the inside. The door slid open with an exaggerated creak, knocking against the wall, and exposing the scene within.
In the centre of the room, the floor had split like an open wound, and from below had come something horrific. I never knew a human body could hold so much blood. It coated the walls in a grisly fresco, and in an otherwise comic position an arm lay alone to the side of the room. The body from which is had came was unidentifiable; a red and purple pile of limbs and crushed bones, flung aside with some great force. Medical tools and tables were scattered across the floor two, and as I looked further down the aisle there were more bodies and lots, lots more blood. The gash in the floor was wide enough for a man to drop through with ease, and had peeled the floor up and outwards, and as I shined the flashlight down into the crack I saw a tunnel beneath, coated too it seemed in a layer of blood and viscera. As I carried on looking round in stunned horror I heard a thump behind me as Dutton had collapsed, and then an enormous crash that reverberated through the walls, and send more tools crashing to the floor with a metallic tinkling. I turned and gestured at the men behind me to run back, and we hurtled back to the chamber in which everyone else was waiting. They were in a shambles, men picking up their gear in a panic and the lieutenant roaring at everyone. I tore off my gas mask and slowly shook my head at him, a look of horror still on my face, and he seemed to understand. He ordered everyone quiet again, and calmly sent a scouting team out to investigate the source of the crash.
The entrance had collapsed. Great wounds were rent in the ceiling on some places and the snow fell freely through, and whole chambers were left bent and bashed. As the report came back, a ripple of shock went through the men. There was nowhere big enough for a man to fit out; we were, essentially, stuck. We settled down for the night, bed rolls coming out, and the aforementioned alcohol. That night was a massacre.
Last edited by Doctor; February 28th, 2009 at 14:36. Reason: Typo
my computer is retarded. i need to post this to see other comments. sorry; this is meaningless.
'Tis not bad. I think, if possible, working in a greater sense of desparation might help with the piece. Maybe that will come in the next part, though?
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 10:16 am. 13/11/2021
We never saw what had hit us; just shadowy shapes in the darkness, and screams of the dying. We scattered everywhere, in groups or individuals, and bolted ourselves behind the first door we found. I was with a man I had never met before, although that unfamiliarity wasnít to last. As we sat in silence, breathing heavily and hearts shattered with terror, we heard men thudding past, and a skittering of claws, and always the screaming, coming from many directions at once. Eventually, the sounds died out, and I drifted into fitful sleep.
Miraculously, our personal radios still worked perfectly in our subterranean environment, and it is from this we discovered the status of our team-mates. The lieutenant and 15 other men had congregated in another sleeping chamber, and they were the largest group surviving. There was us two, and then 5 other people scattered in pairs or individually, in other parts. They too joined up with the lieutenant; they were on the other end of the complex. We were far away, and out of touch, as well as having no idea how we would get to them. The chamber we were in was on the other side of the complex - we had been one of the first out and this was one of the nearest places.
The person I was with was a young Hispanic man called Hernandez, and he too had been one of the people chosen to check out the hospital. He had jet black hair, cropped short and spiky, and the vestiges of stubble around a tight lipped mouth, piercing grey eyes, and he looked younger than his actual age. He was generally a dour and quiet individual, but when he spoke he did so with clarity and just a trace of a Mexican accent. He still looks as grim in death as he did in life Ė I spare a glance at his corpse, leaning slackly against the wall opposite me, he brains sprayed out behind him and the metal pistol frozen to his mouth. The rest of him is frozen too, the sub zero temperatures sparing me the rank smell of decay, instead leaving him preserved in a grisly statue. Strangely enough, it doesnít unnerve me at all; itís almost a comfort to have him still there, some vestige of humanity besides me. He shot himself while I slept in the second night, a single crack that echoed round the room and raised me from my slumber in an instant. The claustrophobic corridors, horrific hospital scene and subsequent internment had become too much for him, and I canít say I blame him. I would gladly choose death over whatever fate was held for those set upon by the creatures, however unlike Hernandez I saw a third option; survival. From the day he topped himself I set about my survival with a renewed vigour. First things first, I had to find out exactly where I was. At night I slipped out of the chamber, sliding the heavy bolts away, and crept into the still dimly lit corridors. Either side of me were empty sleeping areas, but directly opposite I had struck gold. It was a kitchen, with running water and a pantry which held, glory of glories, a mountain of food tins. The door had no lock, so I couldnít stay. Instead I took an armful, a tin opener and a bucket of water and scuttled back to my cell. That night the radio was cut off as well, and I was essentially alone. I settled into a rhythm. On alternative days I would leave the cell and explore further into my surrounding. At first I found nothing to signify the destruction of our exodus, but the further I went the more bodies appeared, flayed miserably by some unknown source. I never encountered any creatures either, although in one heart-stopping trip I heard a skittering of claw along the metal. I swung round a corner into the nearest chamber, and pressed myself as hard against the wall as was physically possible, until metal rivulets were digging deep into my flesh. As I heard whatever they were Ė I reckoned about 5 of them Ė pass my hiding place, I stopped breathing altogether, my whole body tensed in anticipation. In the event, they went straight past, but I didnít dare move for another hour. I sprinted back to my cell as fast as my legs could carry me.
The days I spent in the cell were of contemplation. After inspecting every inch, and finding nothing but a bunk and an empty cupboard, I would simply sit and think about what to do. I knew that I needed to get back to the rest of the team, but that involved a long and dangerous trip, especially as I still had nowhere to go. As I ventured further and further I was becoming more aware of my surroundings, but each further trip came with it greater risk of disembowelment by some unknown creature. I was also painfully aware of how close I was to what I was certain was the source of everything, the rent on the floor of the hospital, and it took every ounce of my willpower not to turn around to look into the darkness at that end of the corridor. I knew that as long as I gritted my teeth and walked away I would be able to do it, but to succumb and turn around would be too much, and I wouldnít be able to continue.
This brings us up to now. I know now of course that the Lieutenantís chamber is down, another of the increasingly quakes finally tearing it apart. I wondered for a second if they were crushed by falling metal, slaughtered by encroaching creatures or even escaped. Itís all irrelevant now, and I need a new plan. For now though, I am going to leave it, and ponder over it later.
Today has been one of my sit-in days, hence I have found time to write this epic. I paused for half an hour to do some sit ups and press ups too, and ventured into the adjoining cell to add to the stench already caused by my previous ablutions; in essence, it serves as a toilet. In terms of bathing I have given up totally, the water too precious to waste. I am also unwilling to leave myself vulnerable even for a second, and want, need, to be able to fight at a minutes notice.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 09:48 am. 15/12/2021
Am going out for another excursion today Ė there are some chambers to the west which I have yet to check out. I will have to go past the welded door to get there, and it always creeps the shit out of me.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 02:30 pm. 15/12/2021
The chambers were a dead end, just some sort of supply cupboard containing a couple of old mops and cleaning materials. I considered taking a mop to use as a weapon, but it probably wouldnít be much use against anything I would come up against.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 02:41 pm. 15/12/2021
I take it back. In close quarter, I might not be able to bring my gun to bear, and my boot knife is far too short. I will go out and get it now.
Personal Log: Pvt. Ward, James. 056 pm. 15/12/2021
I took Hernandezí knife and tied it to the end of the mop handle using his bootlaces, I canít imagine he would mind too much. I have long since taken out the metal of my body armour to allow me to run faster, and I have torn off a strip of cloth to hold back my hair which was protruding into my vision. With my makeshift spear in one hand Iím looking more like a caveman by the day.
I have been putting it off for as long as possible butÖ.I cannot survive indefinitely here. With each day slipping past the point at which my decision is made for me becomes ever closer. The tins are going alarmingly quickly, the water equally so. Perhaps the shuttle is still intact? With all the earth tremors and constant snowfall, it is massively unlikely. But itís the only hope I have. And hope, that most human of emotions, is the only thing that has been keeping me going.
Tomorrow is the day I think.