Clark pressed on the handle for the door, it resisted, then gave. A heavy metal click confirmed the latch had disengaged. A drum of heavy bass beats pounded away from the inside of Clark's chest. The catwalk on the opposite side showed no sign of the reptilian creature. Only the wet marks along the grated steel where it had climbed out of the water gave any sign that what he had seen was real. Clark proceeded forward, scanning the girth of the walk away, trying to get his rifle to scan each nook and corner among the large pipes leading up and down the walls. Junctions split off from the walk way. Each time he'd move up, his breath would go stale, but the results were the same. Some dead end with only gauges and control valves at the end.
No one had been posted along the lone industrial like path, did he eat them too? Clark found himself at the next door. A steel framed set of double doors, the reptile man had gone through here as he watched in horror it snake up and out of the water.
As Clark closed the last few steps to the door, his palms poured sweat. Entering a room was always one of the most dangerous things to do, doing so alone was suicidal, doing so alone against genetically modified creatures was fucking ridiculous. He breathed out heavily, his joints old stones grinding as he readied, steadied himself.
Clark pressed in. The door swung open. Clark's vision began to tunnel. He cleared the fatal funnel behind him. He kept sweeping the area, his corners, nothing, bleak concrete. Piping. Water. No shots came. No teeth came bearing at him.
The room was wider than the last. A catwalk ran along the center over a massive body of water. The room took a hard turn at the end to the right. He could tell that the cat walk began a slight decline as it took the corner to the right. That was concerning, it wasn't high off the water as it was, if it dipped down, he didn't know how wet he'd be getting. Clark scanned the area again, the large pipes coming down in the central area and off the side walls cast humanoid shadows against the concrete walls. Paranoia. It could keep you alive, but it could also waste time. He could stay in one place making that area the most cleared area at anytime. Facing the unknown is more dreadful than facing the worse of the well known.
Clark moved a few steps, his rifle at the low ready, his steps going from heal to toe. The metal under his feet stayed strong, but with each step he expected it to beg to give, for the water to get closer to flooding over his body. He moved along the long length of the center catwalk, the ceiling lowered down, narrowing as he went, the ceiling was almost touching his head as he came to the right turn.
The water was higher after the right turn. A large crack along the right side concrete wall spewed a geyser of water. The metal catwalk was submerged, but within the hour would be completely underwater. Clark let out a slow breath and took his first step into the water.
The water was surprisingly warm but chilled him as it soaked through at ankle depth. He moved, slowly, stiffly, the spurting of the water from the cracked wall masking his subtle movements. His socks had become soaked and heavy, the wet squish enveloped his feet with each step.
The waster spurting from the cracked wall obscured Clark's view to the other side of the catwalk. His world became a blur of sound and foaming white as he passed under the spraying water.
He emerged. Pain spread across his face. He couldn't register what was happening, react! His rifle was over whatever it was pushing him. A heavy heave. He was being hit hard and drove back. A blur of sound and foamy white. His stomach heaved with the blow as he slid back with the force. His shooting hand left to catch himself as he felt the descent coming. He gripped onto the slippery rail, the man driving him back by his stomach sought to take him in the water. His back rammed the rail, snapping. He felt a twist. The rail giving out. The reptile man pushing on. Not the goddamn water! Clark bore down with his fist, the rail giving away and breaking loose. The man slid off, giving as Clark held strong. Clark's teeth gritted as he back felt no support behind him. He pulled hard. The man slid off and a splash of water came up. Clark felt his feet giving, the edge of his boots tipping, threatening his balance. He flexed harder. His boots coming back to the side of reason. Clark looked back. The rail torn and twisted to his left, the water rippling where the reptile man had gone. Clark turned facing the ripples, just as he oriented himself a mass of teeth emerged. His finger squeezed, high, too late, the rounds burst out. The teeth snapping shut around his magazine, inches from his crotch. He felt the warping of metal. The snap of the spring. Clark tried to twist up and away, but the massive creature pulled back, yanking him forward. The hind end of the creature began to slip into the water, and Clark could see the water approaching, he pushed and drove, but the rifle was attached by the sling and dragging him forward with the sinking weight. Clark's fingers moved to the lower receiver and before he toppled over with the reptile man, Clark ejected the magazine.
Again, only the water rippled where the creature had been. Clark back away faster than a scared cat from a Doberman. Clark moved further from the busted rail as he fished the next magazine from his carrier. The fresh magazine slid and settled in the magazine well. He swore he felt a bump come from the cat walk under his feet. He swore, he turned to where he had come from, started going back, wanting to get his feet out of the water, higher away from the water, out of its advantage. Clark splashed for the segment that was slightly raised out of the water, the small gap closing smaller and smaller but not fast enough.
The grating below collapsed, sliding away to the depths. The water exploded up towards the ceiling. Foamy white death, Clark flinched back, his rifle coming up. Clark squeezed off a round into the geyser, the massive reptilian mouth coming towards him. The round went wild, drowning in the water. The mouth kept closing the distance, faster and faster, Clark fired against his barrel pushed out of the way by the thick stubby fingers of the thing. A single round found its mark in the thick fleshy leg of the man. The mouth recoiled back. The fat fingers gripped the rifle, Clark found himself being dragged along to the other side of the catwalk, led by his rifle. Clark began to pull himself from under his sling but the force took him with it. He was greeted with twisting sharp pain as the rail and rifle pressed into his stomach muscles. But he was free of the sling. The rifle went toppling, midair, in slow motion he watched as his rifle splashed horrifically in the water and was gone.
Clark flipped around. The creature cam stumbling at him with the stubby hands out at him. Clark launched his body away back towards the gushing water. The creature lunged sporadically at him, favoring the uninjured leg. Clark crashed through the spurting water, the creature disappearing from view as he passed through the portal. He drew from his thigh his sidearm, his last hope as he sloshed backwards. The water came with a crashing roar as the reptilian face came smashing through. Clark tried to get a square frame and fire. Muscle memory overruled and he fired when he found had a sight picture. The .45 slug punched and ballooned up the right cheek, but the maw of teeth still advanced. He fired again, wild, the bullet hitting a mark, teeth sinking into his left forearm. Clark yelped, his pistol firmly in only his right hand now. He pressed his arm out as he felt the thing begin to twist taking his arm with it. The muzzle pressed against it, and he fired, and again, and again, and again, more twisting, and again. The reptile man drooped to his knees. The teeth still firmly clamped onto Clark's arm.
Clark looked at the milky filmy eyes of the creature, marbles motionless at him. The dead weight bore down heavily on his arm, the muscles swelled around the filled puncture marks. He waited, the thing didn't move.
Clark moved, his pistol hand lifted the head up, the straight teeth and humanoid teeth pulled out of the flesh, the tendons screamed. A sickly sucking noise escaped as the last of the teeth came out of their burial places in his arm. The body slumped forward, a hiss came. Clark fired, the .45 slug cracked the dome. But it was only a death noise, no life had caused it, and his pistol had locked back the slide, empty. The empty pistol still pointed at the now deformed dome of the deformed thing. His arm lowered and he ejected the magazine.
He tried his left hand, the fingers moved and his arm screamed at him in protest, but he could grit it, and silence the screams. He put in a spare magazine, only two left for his pistol now. Turning away from the body, he saw the last door to the other side before him.
- Writer, soldier, thinker, and science fiction lover. I just can't seem to find a way to divide my adventurous self of constant outdoor activity and exercise from my nerdy self playing games and going to conventions. So why not just be both?
I am a young professional living out of Tallahassee, Florida for the past five years. I have been on a deployment with the United States Army and continue to work outside of my other occupations to better myself mentally and physically. My passion for writing is driven by my passion for everything I find entertaining in life, and of course by my friends and family.