Consciousness splits through my mind like a tomahawk; the blissful peace of sleep shattered by the bitter taste of reality.
Damn. I must have been sleepwalking again. I haven’t woken standing up for years now, at least not since I was a kid. The air is cold and acrid (metallic); I must have made it outside this time. Slow, thick drops patter in the background, too fast to be a tap, but too slow to be rain (is it oil?). Just where the hell am I?
I rub my dreary eyes with the ball of my left palm.
My palm is covered with something slick and greasy (oil again?). Am I in the kitchen again? Those pills were supposed to stop me doing this. It stings my eyes, so I rub my face with the sleeve of my jacket (I don’t remember getting dressed).
A strained, gargled voice rises from my feet, splashing against my ankles (more oil?).
Out of instinct, I go to wipe my grease-covered eyes again. Something hard and metallic drops from my hand, the clattering echoing down the tunnel (are there any tunnels near my house?) and back again, ringing in my ears. As the noise dies, it is replaced with rasping gasps for air.
“Who are you?”
The breaths slow, and then stop.
Dim lights shine down the length of the tunnel, casting queer shadows as they bounce up and down to their own rhythm (One, two… no, more. Maybe a dozen?). They are still a way off, but I can now hear the heavy footsteps echo throughout the cavern.
Illuminated by the approaching lights, the scene before me takes shape.
At my feet lies the corpse of a girl (she can’t be older than 16). Her innards lie in a puddle; a puddle that my boots have unceremoniously stepped in. Blood and ichor slick the walls in shades of red and black, and I soon find that I, too, am soaked in the stuff.
Memories press against my subconscious, but are unable to break into my working mind. Something important happened here. I scan my memories of the last few days, but I can find nothing. Images of a home, of a family, of work and of friends fill my brain, but they feel artificial, implanted. All that is clear is that I haven’t had an episode like this since I was a child, before I was started on this experimental treatment.
I look again towards the approaching lights, examining the floor of this mysterious tunnel. The floor is awkward; odd shapes (is that an arm?) jut out at all angles.
Swinging my head to examine the opposite direction, a glint from the floor attracts my attention.
My knife lies on the blood stained concrete. If I leave it there it will rust up pretty quick…
“Freeze! Move another fucking muscle and it’ll be your last!”
The lights have converged on me. Ten men or more, all carrying sub-machine guns, form a semi-circular cordon around me. The one in the centre holds up his hand as he barks at his companions.
“If he touches that knife, drop him.”
I pause. I may not know what’s going on, but I know well enough when to follow orders.
“Is there a problem, officer?”
“Problem? Problem? Just what the fuck is going through your mind, freak?”
The policemen shoulder their weapons, their fingers itching dangerously close to the triggers that will rain death upon me.
Their inexperience shows. Even with their balaclavas on I can see the tension and fear in their eyes (one of them is shaking, for crying out loud). I feel a little insulted that my fate is being entrusted to these amateurs. Amateurs are dangerous. Pros only shoot when they need to; but an amateur will pull the trigger at a gust of wind. It’s important to stay calm in times like this.
At least their leader seems to have a good head on his shoulders.
“All right, you’ve got me, though I’m not sure for what.”
“Just put your hands behind your head and step away from the blade. Slowly”
“I have no intention of rushing anything at this point, officer.”
Following orders in confusing times often brings comfort. As I being my hands to my head I feel the confusion of this moment flow away from me (nothing to worry about). As ordered, I take a step away from the blade, and towards the semi circle of guns. The entire group flinches backwards, and for a moment I think I am done for.
“That’s enough. Stay right there.”
“Right you are.”
The officer slings his weapon and pulls a set of handcuffs from his belt. He approaches me with guarded footing.
I turn my back towards the policemen. From here, I get a better look at the corpse of the girl. Her eyes are locked on mine, but they do not carry the glazed emptiness of the dead.
She is starting at me in contempt, as if I were some kind of idiot.
“What’s the matter?”
“What did you say, freak?”
“I wasn’t talking to you, officer. I was talking to her.”
Behind me, I hear the footsteps stop and the awkward shuffling of the policemen trying to see past me. A few of the torch beams stab the darkness ahead of me, but they only reveal bare concrete.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but shut the fuck up.”
“Right you are.”
Silenced thusly, I return to observing the corpse before me.
Without breathing, without moving another muscle, she blinks.
And then… a rasping inwards breath.
Her corpse shudders, her eyes never losing contact with mine.
This time, I obey the girl’s orders. I break into a standing sprint as I hear all hell break lose behind me, scooping up the blade as I pass it.
Slurping wounds and cracking bones overlay with the rat-tat-tat of gunfire. I don’t dare turn to find out what is happening, nor do I need to know. Whatever is happening back there is enough for the police officers to turn their guns away from me.
A scream and a wet sucking tells me that someone, some thing back there is tearing limbs off bodies.
(Where have I heard that sound before? The question is irrelevant now, but I will have to think about it later.)
The tunnel ahead of me grows dark as the gunfire dies away, giving way to the tearing sound of flesh being ripped from bone. In the end, they were only amateurs.