Monday 2 March 2015

Hunted by a Freak

Very short fiction, not gameable. Written on a train journey.

The plants poked up between the long dormant rails, great strips of metal orange with time and weather. The heat had scorched the air clean of scent. Nearby, the skeletal remains of structures loomed, throwing out long shadows across the dust. They approached, the only signs of life in that dust-filled place. All cradled rough, worn firearms wrapped about with bone-charms and tatters of scripture they could not read. I alone carried no weapon - I was here to lead them. They signalled I should stay back as they circled the cluster of building-corpses, weapons at the ready. I glanced at the naked sun - we had a long time before night and the chill it brought. Satisfied at last, they beckoned me on, and we moved into the tangle of decrepit structures. The slight wind seemed amplified amongst the wreckage, evoking haunting metallic moans and signs from it's improvised orchestra. My escorts were visibly shaken, jumping and imagined horrors lurking in the shadows. We continued through that unearthly cradle of rust for a tense hour before we reached our destination - a squat building, less decayed than the others. It's metallic face bore no features bar the single, large doorway yawning open, revealing the blackness within. They glanced at me for confirmation. I nodded my assent. One of them lit a lantern, and we slowly, cautiously entered the structure.

Inside, blank corridors led to blank rooms - everything of value or not had long been stripped out. We pushed on, eventually finding the basement access. Here, dirt and disturbed dust marked the passing of many. Again, they looked to me for confirmation. Again, I nodded my assent. As we entered, the change was immediate - the pristine, clinical construction gave way to rough hewn earthen tunnels, supported by obviously scavenged scraps of rusted metal. There was a moist coolness to the air, and the scent of the earth of heavy. One of the men spoke, and the others laughed grimly. The tunnels were a maze, continuous branchings and turnings, weaving themselves into a tangle. Despite this, I led them well and deftly through the passages.

It happened suddenly. The ear-splitting crack of a rifle, amplified in these tight tunnels. The muzzle-flash illumination revealing a horde of twisted half-people swarming, bearing scraps of metal and bone as crude bludgeons. The men shot and killed three of our number before they were dragged down by the multitudes, beaten and crushed and suffocated by the mass of bodies crowding over them. We ate well. I was rewarded for my eleventh successful hunt with my own rifle, taken from the invaders.

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