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|© Copyright 2015 - AmyAmy - Used by permission|
|The Building AmyAmy MMFF; M/f; abandoned; explore; liquid; rubber; capture; chase; transform; F2other; M2other; insect; mc; forced; enslaved; feed; stuck; cons/nc; XX|
Copyright © 2015 AmyAmy and all that stuff. All rights reserved. This work may not be reproduced for profit or without this attribution.
The building broods where the cloverleaf junction meets the railway tracks, squat and massive, dominating the crossroads. Its position no coincidence, at the conflux of concrete and steel, where the ghosts of murderers cannot find their way back to take their revenge.
Up where the warehouses cower beneath screaming graffiti and vast pillars carry the arcs of the highway far overhead, where waste-grounds of abandoned development projects give way to weeds and squatter camps, the building hefts and spreads its tentacles.
The best way to see it is from the train, and that is close enough. Through diamond-scratched windows, the industrial barrens of cement powder silos and transformer stations create the landscape in which it breeds its menace.
The hatred that seethes within seeps out, tainting everything around, but it is within where the true horrors lurk. It has been abandoned for years of course. Even when it was inhabited by the living it was a place of atrocities, where shipments of Russian prostitutes died slowly in the dark, scratching helplessly at the steel walls of their prison after the water ran out, where fluids of decay ran thick and septic down shower drains, and where concrete is layered beneath an accretion of dried blood and excrement.
Abandoned now, forgotten by a company that planned to demolish it, years have passed and they still haven’t drilled the walls for explosive charges and blasted it to rubble. A wise decision. It wouldn’t go easily. Inside, concrete is piled on concrete, bunker set within bunker. It was built as a fortress, an impenetrable vault for money and secrets. In an era when everything of value is secreted in off-shore data centres, it is no longer needed, but it has become too expensive even to destroy.
Only the foolhardy would venture there now. But it would be worse than suicide to enter such a place on a night when the barriers between reality and the beyond stretch thin and membranous – when things may come oozing through the holes and the cracks between the universe that can be measured, and the nowhere that lies beyond.
It would be madness indeed to hold a party there, and summon a knot of the living to such a foul junction point. To offer up such a mass of conscious souls at one time would be sure to spark a feeding frenzy, or draw the attention of something huge and ominous. It would be worse still to charge that tasty meal with raw sexual energy, as if spicing and scenting the meat to the point that it is irresistible to those predators that can be neither seen nor understood by human eyes, and from which escape is impossible once the hunter’s appetites are aroused.
Shane popped the chain off the old car-park gate with the massive bolt-cutters he’d hired from the hardware store.
“She’s a good ‘un. I thought we might need the grinder to get through this beauty.”
He nodded towards the heavy chain, links as thick as a man’s finger that had held the iron-barred gate shut. The gate itself looked as if it were intended to stop a runaway truck loaded with sandbags, and perhaps it had been. At some point in the distant past it had been secured by powerful electromagnets, but the power was long gone, as was any need for cars to enter the space beyond.
Shane, Dougal, Alice and Janet pushed together to force the creaking gate open far enough for them to slip through. The car-park beyond was roofed over with the stained, swooping concrete of a highway ramp, the space beneath layered in years of accumulated bird shit. It seemed that generation on generation of pigeons had lived and died here, and it was impossible to reach the other gate without wading through their history. As they walked, more shit fell down in clumps, disturbed by the nervous movements of the birds above, foreshadowing some kind of disgusting guano avalanche.
The four young people were what hipsters pretended to be (but ironically of course). They lived rough in tents and a shelter of stolen corrugated iron, set up in the abandoned building-site that lay across the dead-end road from the car-park. Daily, they made their private way along the side of railway tracks, following paths that were supposed to be fenced and protected, for supposed safety reasons, or to prevent graffiti, though clearly the attempt at security had failed on every count, only denying the route along the back of the warehouses to law-abiding pedestrians.
There was a door-sized entry gate at the other end of the car-park, and it had once also been secured by an electronic lock, security pass-scanners and watching cameras. The cameras drooped, motors dead, lenses blind, sensors unquiet, haunted by ghost images with nowhere to display and nobody to view them. The gate was secured by a chain, but this one was barely a token effort and Shane snipped through it in moments.
They were in the main courtyard. Cars had parked here too, once, but today there was nothing but an accumulation of litter and dead leaves. The windowless walls pressed in around them. Shadows fluttered, hiding secrets beneath the overhang of the upper level that covered half the space. There had been undercover parking spaces beneath it, the prestige spaces for the movers and shakers. Set back in that darkness were some of the easier doors to break through.
The building had many entrances, many ways in, but most were well defended. They were solid affairs of thick steel, or covered with bars and locked with the kind of bolts that would be left unscratched by saws and laugh knowingly, even at Shane’s trusty 2-stroke powered angle-grinder. This, after all, had been the showpiece of a company that had built vaults for the military. That bygone company had been swallowed up by a take-over, and the building sold on to yet another, then another, but the building had not forgotten its origins.
The doors in the undercover parking area must have been added in later, more casual, days. What had happened to the hundreds of clerks, guards, engineers and installers that had once occupied it? Shane had no idea, though probably there were old timers around who knew the story. Perhaps the building had devoured them, one by one, to feed its cold appetites, but realistically they had likely ceased to be necessary when the paperwork had dwindled away and the company’s attention had shifted to new and more lucrative markets.
Those undercover doors were glass, albeit laminated, with ordinary steel frames. Their electronic locks would be dead, and they would be secured only by high quality barrel locks. The grinder would be a universal key.
Shane started up the grinder, dropping it on its starter cord like a yoyo, and set to work while Alice held the LED work-lamp, her heart-shaped face pale in the reflected light. The grinder screamed and sparks showered from the door. Beyond was another door, just the same. Even here the fortress-builders hadn’t made things easy. Probably, there were areas inside that would be too hard to get into, at least tonight. It didn’t matter. The place was massive, there would easily be space enough for the party, even if they could only get into a part of a single floor, it would be more than enough.
Two doors and a stairwell took them up, and everywhere the doors were locked. Which floor would be best? The roof would be the coolest spot by far, with its view of distant skyscrapers. The roof-space was bounded by low-walls and safety railings and half-filled with an airy glass walled room with doors that opened out onto the roof. It was a landmark, visible from miles away, and perfect for a party. The downside was obvious, they’d be visible to the police from miles away too.
The floors below had no windows, or scarcely any, and those that were visible were covered over with steel screens. In that dark maze they could hold the party in safety and nobody looking from outside would know what was going on.
Looking at it from outside, an upper-middle floor was their best bet for a usable location. But from the inside it was all more complex than the exterior had suggested. Rather than some logical layout of interconnected offices, or hallways lined with doors, the place was a snakes and ladders maze of corridors and rooms that changed levels erratically. Intermediate floors slotted between others, obfuscated, as if the building was trying to keep them some kind of secret.
It was still light outside, but inside it was the unrelieved darkness of caves or mines, deep underground. They needed the torches to see anything at all. There were no lights, and so far they hadn’t even reached the far side of the building. There were windows of a sort, on some floors, or so it appeared from outside. But, perhaps this one didn’t have them and they belonged to the floor above or below? The light from Alice’s lamp, and the dancing spots from the pocket torches the others carried, lit the way, and shadows danced, laughing silently everywhere.
Shane cut through another lock. It seemed every single door inside was secured somehow. The place was sealed up like a trap and it was hard going. The grinding wheel was already worn down. Was the whole place a prison for something best avoided? Shane chuckled to himself, the darkness and the one-day-a-year date were making him edgy, bringing up wild fantasies. As far as he knew, there was nothing here but the smell of stale dust, mouldy carpets and the occasional piece of long forgotten office equipment. Each abandoned machine dating the year the section was sealed and forgotten. So far, things were looking distinctly eighties.
Shane finished grinding yet another door open. It was frosted glass and they’d argued about what lay beyond. It opened into a large office area, perfect for the party. There were toilets for men and women, though it was likely that the plumbing didn’t work. The four of them spread out to investigate.
Shane climbed onto a desk and shone his torch around the room. “This looks like it might do. Let’s all spread out and check it over properly. I think I see toilets over there, so with any luck we don’t need to go any further.”
“What a relief,” Alice said, ghostly next to Janet’s dark skin. Her light brown hair was wound into ragged dreadlocks, another contrast to Janet’s immaculate black braids. Shane had been thinking about Alice a lot recently. They hadn’t had sex yet, but it might happen tonight. He shouldn’t be thinking about it, should be thinking about how he really felt about her. She was upbeat and easy to talk to though, that was important, wasn’t it? It was a shame really, they probably weren’t going to make it as a couple. It just wasn’t on the cards.
Shane stopped, flicked the torch-beam back where he’d been looking before. There was a walk-in storage cupboard here, the door ajar. He pulled it open, confident there wouldn’t be anything inside except swivel chairs, old computer monitors, or abandoned document racks.
Except there was. Slabs of beer bottles were piled in a stack. He pulled the door open wider and stepped in to investigate. There was a good supply here, twenty slabs at least, various brands and all new. He ran a finger along the top of a slab. Not a trace of dust. He pushed aside troubling thoughts as to what this might mean.
Shane was about to shout for the others to come and look, then changed his mind. He looked behind the beer, holding the torch up high. There were other things too, stuff in boxes, cables, lights or something? He stepped out of the cupboard, closed it and continued his circuit, stopping at a door that surely led into yet another section.
“Hey, what’s this?” Dougal called out.
Shane reached up and scratched his bushy beard, indifferent to Dougal’s discovery. He looked up at the ceiling tiles. There had to be a space above there, didn’t there? Probably it was secured somehow like everything else.
The others were standing in a semicircle, looking at a door. Shane drifted up behind them.
Dougal reached for the heavy metal handle. “It must be a safe. Do you think it’s unlocked?”
The door was a normal size but made from steel, painted dull grey. There were two keyholes, each with a hinged cover. Dougal swung the handle down with a clang and hauled on the door. It didn’t open at first. There was a hiss of air and finally it eased open, revealing darkness beyond.
“I wonder how long it’s been closed?” Alice said.
Shane laughed. “Still. Nothing in there but empty ring binders from nineteen-seventy-three I reckon.”
Janet spoke quietly and distinctly, not a whisper, but only Shane was listening. “I found a set of decks and a PA system. I thought you said you hadn’t been in here before?”
While Shane was distracted by Janet, Alice had moved towards the door, her torch-beam danced around the interior, revealing glimpses of a room the size of single-car garage, lined with empty shelves. Shane ignored Janet, following Alice. He traced down the inside of the door. There was a sliding handle, like the breach of a rifle, probably some kind of safety so it could be opened from the inside. The wall it was set into was especially cold and at least two feet thick, reinforced with who-knows-what.
Alice stepped inside, flicking the circle of torch light from one thing to another. “Yeah. I reckon Shane was about right. Empty shelves and a load of document racks and trays that-” She cut off mid-sentence, coughed, stumbled and then quickly staggered out. She coughed again. “The air’s dead in there,” she explained, her voice a croak.
Shane grabbed her by the shoulder, steadying her. “Leave the door open so it can air out. We can put the esky’s in here and set the bar in front.”
The investigation moved on. The toilets were brick-walled cubicles with heavy doors, the locks smashed off. There was no water, the porcelain crusted with brown stains, old overhead cisterns empty, chains rattling when touched. Even the dulled stainless-steel urinal had an exposed brown painted cistern. Mercifully, the tampon bins in the women’s toilets were missing.
Janet caught up with him investigating the PA system. Stacked amidst the cubicles, it was easily missed in the dark. “I don’t know anything about this,” he said. She gave him a look but said nothing, just moved on. He called out to her. “You might as well ask Dougal as me.” He wasn’t sure if she heard.
A strange sound picked up as they approached the solid wooden door at the far end of the space. Like the others it was locked. It was agreed they should investigate and Shane fired up the grinder again, increasingly mindful of the exhaust fumes. Alice was still wheezing from her experience in the safe. Her face was whiter than ever and she propped herself up against the wall, her skin shiny with sweat.
Shane pushed the door open to reveal a medium sized square room with three other doors leading off it. The buzzing sound was louder now. One door was glass, stencilled with the words “PABX”. Shane flashed his torch-beam through the glass into the dark space beyond, expecting to see empty electrical racks and cut wires.
It was only a glimpse, but it was enough to make him jump back away from the door. There were bones in there, mostly broken pieces, and something like a black swirling cloud. The buzzing grew substantially louder, as if he’d disturbed a hive of bees.
A huge black fly landed on the far side of the glass, clearly visible there, wandering randomly, underside visible, feet on the glass. It took off and vanished as suddenly as it had appeared.
“Fuck,” Shane said.
“Flies? What the hell?” Dougal echoed.
“Not just flies. I saw something else in there. Whatever, we’re not opening this door. Fact, I think we’ll head back the way we came and barricade the way into this bit.”
Janet was shaking her head. “Too late,” she said, her voice a whisper.
A black, glistening, slick of liquid was seeping out from beneath the PABX door.
“What the fuck is that?” Shane said, edging away from it. He bumped into Dougal behind him.
“It don’t make sense. Why now? This place’s been shut up for years, right Shane?” Alice said, her voice low and quiet.
“Has it? I thought so, but…” Shane kept moving away. “How long you think flies live for?”
Moving quicker, mindful of rising panic, they all backed through the door into the big office. The black pool was spreading out from beneath the glass door, covering most of the floor of the small room.
“If there’s someone been in here. Two things. One they have keys, and two, they are up to some weird shit, and three, they probably aren’t friendly,” Dougal said.
“That’s three things,” Janet said, almost beneath her breath.
Alice was the last through and she slammed the door closed behind her and leaned back against it, as if trying to stop it being opened.
Everyone looked at Shane. He knew what they expected to hear. “I’m all for calling this thing off. Let’s get out of here. I don’t know what I saw in that room, and now I think about what it might be, I don’t want to know, get what I mean?”
Alice burst into a fit of coughing. It wore itself out and she managed to force out her words. “Yeah. Fuck it. However fucking cool and spooky this might have been, it’s not worth getting done by some fuck that mistook those Halloween movies for how-to videos.”
“Probably just somebody we know got here first and is fucking with us, you know? Playing a joke,” Dougal said.
“Whatever. I’m still going,” Shane said. Dougal was about to reply when his eyes suddenly went wide and he backed off.
“What the? Alice…” Dougal said, edging away.
Alice followed Dougal’s gaze, looked down at her feet, picked out by the light from his torch. The black ooze had seeped under the door and was pooled around her feet. It had to be her imagination that it was sending thin tendrils reaching up her leg, like stretched out pizza cheese. She must have got it on her somehow and then it had got like that when she picked her feet up.
But she hadn’t picked her feet up.
Shane raised his voice. “Alice, get out of that shit.” He reached out and dragged her towards him, out of the ooze. The tendrils seemed to stretch and follow, clinging to her shoes and the lower part of her calf.
Dougal and Janet were already gone, running. Shane pulled Alice, but she wouldn’t follow any further. Her eyes were wide, pupils dilated. She’d flipped out. He gave another pull, putting real force behind it. She broke out of her trance and began to follow. She was making a sound, like a sustained sob.
It was just in time. Another moment later and it would have been all over. With a sudden fluid movement, a towering mass of blackness burst open the door. A column of inky slime standing six or seven feet high flooded through the doorway. It broke like a wave in shallow water, and collapsed into a puddle.
Shane ran, full tilt. He glanced back. Alice was close behind and the ‘thing’ was gathering itself again. If it moved quickly a second time they wouldn’t outrun it. Shane couldn’t even see where to run to, he was simply following the lights of Dougal and Janet. They suddenly turned a corner, plunging him into almost complete dark, and he followed, unthinking.
Shane wished he had been thinking. He was in the safe. Alice crashed into him from behind, knocking him forward. She was making a racking, sobbing sound. He was out of options. He pulled the door closed behind her, there was no clang, instead there was a hiss as it sealed shut. Alice’s jeans were burned away at the calf, hanging off in tatters. Her foot and leg were red with burns. One trainer and the sole of the other was gone.
Shane pointed his torch away from her wounds and sucked a breath between gritted teeth. “You alright?”
“No. I’m fucking not.” Alice snapped out her words, trying to hide her sobs.
“You got any of that shit on you?”
“No. No. It’s gone. But I’m burned. It’s bad. I don’t think I can walk.” Alice sank into a half-sitting position next to the door. Leaning against the wall, she began to pull off the remains of her Reeboks.
Dougal flashed his torch light about annoyingly, as if expecting to find some solution to their problem. Shane knew he wasn’t. “The air here’s still kinda rank,” Dougal said.
“It’s out there. Waiting,” Janet said.
“You what? What’s out there?” Shane said. “I mean, what the fuck was that? Did I imagine it? Am I tripping?”
Janet grimaced, hissing her words. “It’s the fucking blob, the fucking blob. Except black. Like that shit from that old Spiderman movie.”
Shane shook his head slowly. “You watch too many lame old movies Jan.”
Janet sniffed, then pulled a face at the smell. “What’d you call it then?”
Shane closed his eyes, rubbed his temple. “Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua, obviously? What? I’m joking. I have no fucking clue Jan. No fucking clue.”
Shane checked his phone signal. Nothing. He circled the room hoping for a spot where it worked, but he knew it was a waste of time before he began. There was too much concrete and steel in the way. Beyond the door the thing was hunting them and inside the air was already stale. The four of them would quickly exhaust the remaining oxygen.
Shane turned to the others. “We’re going to have to make a run for it. We’ll suffocate if we stay here.”
“I can’t run,” Alice said. Her shoes were melted away. Janet was examining her feet, inspecting them carefully, holding her torch close but not touching with her fingers. “Your feet don’t look burned at all. It’s like the only thing that got burned was your trainers.”
“Fuck that. They’re on fire. Like chilblains but worse. You saw they were red.”
Janet looked up at Shane, raised her eyebrows and shrugged. The reddening of her skin had vanished. Janet had noticed it too.
“Eew,” Janet said. “There’s a spot here.” She peeled Alice’s jeans up, revealing a black splotch on the back of her calf. “At least it’s not doing anything.” She flicked the light back to Alice’s feet again.
Alice let out a long sigh. Deep, almost a moan, something unsettlingly contented about it. “I think the pain is passing. Maybe I can stand now?”
Janet held up a hand in a stop gesture. “Wait a sec. Your feet have gone all shiny. Maybe you were burned after all.” She looked up at Dougal. “Check it out.”
Dougal crouched down and ran his hand over the sole of Alice’s foot.
“Hey, quit groping my legs. Janet’s one thing, but Dougal…”
Shane pocketed his phone. “This is no time to be squeamish.”
Dougal made a contemplative sound. “It is kinda smooth, slick and soft. It doesn’t feel normal. I think you need a hospital Alice.”
“Thanks genius.” Alice pulled herself to her feet, clinging onto the shelving for support. “I’m fine now. I’ll be ok. It’s all carpet to the stairs, right?”
“It if stops following us there,” Shane said. “It might chase us outside. Or maybe it’s already gone. We’ll have to take our chances.”
Janet stood up, backing away from Alice. “What if we run different directions? It can’t chase us all.”
“Someone will be very unlucky in that case,” Shane said. “If you want to try it… Decide for yourselves, but there’s only one way out.”
“I’m fine with it,” Alice said. She leaned against Dougal. Stumbled. He caught her as she fell. She let out a long low sigh. Her body was completely limp, only Dougal holding her up.
“Fuck,” Shane said. He ought to help but something made him back off, searching for the door mechanism by feel.
Janet shook her head. “Dougal. Put her down, get away from her.”
Dougal looked down and saw what Shane and Janet had already seen. It was just too late. The blackness slid up over Alice’s skin, almost too fast to be a movement. It was more like turning a switch. It slid up her neck and covered her face in smooth, featureless darkness. He dropped her instantly. He backed up, moving towards Shane and Janet.
Alice fell to the floor with a muffled thump. The dark engulfed the rest of her, swallowing up her hair with a sound like air bubbling through water. Her remaining clothes were next, giving off acrid smoke as they melted. Alice was gone and only a black woman-shaped lump of darkness remained.
“What the fuck?’ Shane whispered.
Janet’s hand covered her mouth, as if holding back a scream. “Is she dead?” The blood drained from her face. Shane had never seen her genuinely pale with fear before.
“Oh God,” Dougal mumbled.
Shane could barely get the words out. “That’s it then. We run…” He slammed the door mechanism open. “Whatever happens, somebody has to get a message to the others before they come here. No need for anyone else to get sucked up in this.”
He pushed the door open. It was heavy and swung slowly at first. Janet forced herself through the gap in front of him, and set off running. “No. Let me lead it off,” Shane yelled, but it was too late. Janet was already gone, just a flash of shadows from her torch light.
Shane slipped out through the gap, scraping himself on the door mechanism as he set off. Where was the thing? He glanced back. Dougal was stuck in the doorway, looking back, struggling against something. The slick, dark form that had been Alice had hold of his arm and wouldn’t let go of him.
Shane didn’t wait. He ran.
Alice wasn’t in pain. The dark stuff had plugged her ears, covered her eyes and filled her every orifice. Her mouth was forced wide open. It was crawling down inside her, slipping down her throat, up into her nose. It was shocking, frightening, but not painful, and strangely she could breathe more easily than ever.
She’d sensed something warm and grabbed at it. It was probably Dougal. She didn’t know why she’d grabbed at him – she wasn’t certain it was Dougal but her instinct told her so – but once she had her hand on him, everything blanked out for a moment, afterwards her hand wouldn’t come loose, even when she tried to let go. She’d been having some kind of orgasm, but it was over now. She should probably worry about that, but there were other things on her mind.
It was sliding up her vagina, and up inside her bottom, filling her. Where was it all coming from? There’d been nothing but a tiny smear on the back of her leg a minute ago, but now it seemed to be limitless, filling her to bursting point. It was a cool sensation, chilly, like evaporating alcohol, but tight too, physically tight. It squeezed her snugly, like the strongest support underwear she’d ever worn, but more.
One hand was still stuck to Dougal. She put the other to her face, trying to scrape away the stuff so she could see. Her fingers were bound tight together, though her thumb was free. It was like wearing a mitten. The thick layer over her hand slid uselessly over the stuff covering her face, getting no more purchase than if she were covered in slippery oil.
Dougal had been thrashing about. Now he’d stopped. Her hand came loose from him and she reached down and felt her breast with it. It had grown, tight and round. It was almost as if she could feel the blackness forcing itself into the pores of her skin, even up inside her nipples, filling her breasts, invading her flesh. It was impossible. Utterly impossible, yet strangely pleasant.
She gave her firmly rounded breast a squeeze and felt a reassuring tingle of pleasure. She dropped her other hand to her crotch and explored. There was no opening down there, and the black fluid had plugged her up and covered everything over so it was smooth and uselessly slippery down there too. There were twinges of pleasure, but nothing she could take any further.
Frustrated rage boiled up inside her. It wasn’t fair to be trapped in darkness, alone, blind, deaf, dumb, her breasts tight with arousal, her nipples offering her just enough stimulation to get her started, and she was filled to bursting point, filled like she’d never been filled before, but there was nothing to rub, nowhere to put her fingers. She clenched her jaw, as if to grind her teeth together, but her mouth was stretched wide, forced open in a silent scream, not of pain, but of anger, anger at being so horribly foiled. She’d never felt so ready to fuck, so perfectly prepared for it, but she couldn’t give herself even the slightest relief, her whole body had turned into a slick hindrance to that goal, an impediment to her righteous and justified culmination.
A small voice in the back of her mind was whispering that this was all terribly wrong. She’d be contaminated by some horribly black slime in a building that had been abandoned for years. It had burned away her shoes and chased them into a dead end trap, holed up to die with no air. This was no place to be worrying that she couldn’t finger herself. Shouldn’t she be more worried that she might never get this stuff off her? She was helpless in the deserted building. How could she get out? How could she get to help, in a maze, in the blind dark, with no sense of touch or hearing to speak of? She might wander out into the open and never even know it… What was going to happen to her?
The only sense she had left to her was the sense of pleasure that came from squeezing and pinching her rubber impregnated body, and what she could do was just enough to keep her madly frustrated, hanging on the border between infuriatingly unfulfilled lust and real arousal. She was so far from being able to cum it wasn’t even funny.
No. That wasn’t all. She could feel something, a remote enticing warmth. It was far away, and there were probably many walls between them, and yet she could still feel the direction of it; it tugged at her, deep down in her belly.
She tried to rise to her feet to walk towards it. Her head span and she tumbled dizzily to the ground. It didn’t hurt, instead she seemed to bounce. It wasn’t unpleasant at all when she hit the ground, but she had no sense of balance at all, and without sight or balance it was impossible for her to stand. She began to crawl. Even rising to the full height of her arms was too much, and she slewed over helplessly. She had no choice but to crawl on her knees and elbows, her face inches from the ground. She had to do it, because the tugging in her belly was ever more insistent, like a hunger pang that only grew stronger.
She found a gap that seemed to be the doorway and dragged herself out. Then she came across what had to be the cold body of Dougal. It was chilly, slippery and repellent, like a frozen fish, half defrosted. Disgusted, she crawled over him.
Now she was out of the safe, she could sense something else guiding her, a kind of scent. Her nose and mouth were completely plugged and sealed, and yet she was still breathing, and could still smell, but this was the only thing she could single out. Whatever it was, it was warm and delicious, perfect to fill that gaping hole in her insides where the hunger gnawed.
She followed the trail until she came to an impasse. There was something that felt like a door, but she couldn’t open it by bumping into it. She slapped her hands onto the surface, hoping to lean against it to bring herself to her feet. Her hands and arms seemed to stick to the door or the wall, and she pulled herself fully upright, her whole body glued against the vertical. She felt around for a door handle but couldn’t find anything.
She was stuck so tightly that there was hardly any weight on her feet. She reached out and attached her arm further up, pulled and lifted herself off the floor. Repeating this process she raised herself to the point that her hands bumped into something in front of her. The ceiling? She tried to press on the obstacle, probably a ceiling tile. Her body unpeeled from the wall with a nauseating sensation of despair. She was falling. In an instant, she hit the floor. Her whole body squashed and deformed flat against the ground. A judder quivered through her body, like the shaking of a dropped jelly, diminishing to nothing. Some things had cracked but there was no pain. It was awful and yet sexy too. She wasn’t hurt, or injured, or even stunned, she was simply back on the floor,
That scent, it was still there. She began to climb again. This time she’d be more careful. There had to be a way through the ceiling. She could smell it.
Janet had run the wrong way. She’d made it out through the vault door ok. The thing had been slow to get itself together, gathering itself from a puddle on the floor into something fast, heavy and lethally mobile. There had only been one route through the maze of doors and corridors. They’d only opened one path, and the marks where they’d ground through the locks were obvious. Except, in the dark, running flat out, with a single small torch for light, they weren’t obvious at all. Somehow she’d taken a wrong turn. It should be impossible, but she had, and now she was in a stairwell she didn’t recognize and the only way was up. A trap. She had no choice but to run into it because the thing was moving fast behind her.
Her lungs were on fire. She wasn’t used to running this much, and running up flight after flight of stairs was beyond her. She was slowing down and the thing following her wasn’t. She turned the corner at the top of another flight. She’d run out of stairs. There was a landing with doors opening in opposite directions. She rattled the nearest pair. They wouldn’t open, though as she pressed close to them she could feel a draught, a hint of freshness in the musty air. She tried again but they didn’t give, probably chained shut from outside.
She threw herself across the landing at the other doors. She was lucky they didn’t push to open, if they had, she’d have fallen to her death. She pulled one open and flashed her torch-beam down into darkness, revealing a deep shaft, with cables and pulleys. She was screwed. Her head span with vertigo and she could hear the schlupp, schlupp, schlupp of the thing dragging itself up the stairs. No escape that way. She shone her light into the shaft again and screamed, almost dropping the torch. There were things, shiny black things like giant slugs crawling up the shaft, peeling off, falling back down. Somewhere down at the bottom she’d glimpsed a tangled slithering mass of them.
A bump came from behind and she screamed again, turning to face the new threat. She put her hand to her mouth to hold back another scream then gave a gasp of relief. It was Shane.
She was almost too out of breath to speak and her words came in gasps. “Quick, doors opposite are locked. They lead out.”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Shane threw the grinder out on its starter cord and caught it in a smooth motion as it sprang back, engine revving hard, exhaust thick with the mechanical stink of hot two-stroke oil. He pushed the disc between the gap between the doors, lighting a dazzling stream of sparks that threw everything else into merciful shadow.
Janet gnawed on her hand, the image of those things in the shaft burned into her mind’s eye. No doubt they were still climbing. They were vaguely human shaped, with featureless heads and arms more like flippers than hands, legs trailing away into long slug-like tails.
The doors burst open. The rush of fresh air a metaphor for itself. Janet breathed deeply and ran out onto the roof. The sun was falling below the horizon, glimmering red on the horizon, like stock footage indicating that time was running out for vampire hunters, but it was still bright compared to inside.
She searched her pockets for her phone. “Will it follow us, you think?”
Shane was right behind her. “Yes. It’s coming. Why did you scream?”
“Things. Things in the shaft. Awful. Hundreds of them.” Janet pulled out her phone. She hadn’t forgotten Shane’s advice about calling the others. She’d been thinking that maybe the others could help them get out, but that was a mistake, there were too many horrors. Anyone else who came would only be another potential victim.
Shane shook his head, looking back at the doorway. “Hundreds? Really?”
“No. I’m not sure. Dozens anyway,” Janet said, dialling. The tone seemed to go on forever.
“Look, we can jump across to the other roof, and from there, it looks like there’s a way down into the upper level of the carpark.” Shane gestured at a gap between two raised parts of the roof.
It was about six foot across, but she couldn’t tell how deep the gap was. It might be a frightening leap, but still easy. The railings made a run up impossible, but it wasn’t so far. Nothing to be worried about… But Janet wasn’t good with heights.
She frowned, her gaze flicking between Shane and the gap. He was watching her but said nothing. He’d remembered her phobia, or could see it clear enough without being told.
Her phone connected.
“Hello. Hello. It’s Janet.” Her voice too fast, too loud to be heard clearly.
Matt’s voice crackled and distorted, echoing strangely. “Hey there. How’s the prep going?”
Janet shrieked into the phone. “Don’t come. You mustn’t come.” Shane was yelling something at her, but she was trying to speak, trying to hear the quiet voice on the phone speaker, failed at everything.
Janet quietened her voice to suitable phone volume. “It’s bad. Real bad. You’ve got to call it off. Stop anyone from coming.”
There was a screech of weird interference and then Matt’s voice again. “-What for? What’s wrong? Cops?”
“Worse. Look just make sure nobody comes anywhere near the place. Please Matt.”
“Hey, are you winding me up? This some kind of Halloween atmosphere? Sweet. Loving it.”
“No Matt. Matt. You’ve got to-”
The black wave gushed out through the doors and onto the rooftop. Janet was already moving as she pushed the phone into her pocket. Shane had the thing’s attention and he was running. She was free and clear.
He called out to her, short of breath. “Head back down the stairs, back the way we came. I’ll make it off the roof no problem. Kay?”
Janet nodded, and when Shane lured the thing towards the edge of the roof she dodged back into the top of the elevator shaft. She tried not to dwell on the things crawling in the darkness and hurried down the stairs by torchlight, retracing her steps. All she had to do was find the place where she’d taken the wrong turn. She had time to look at the doors now, she could do it. She could. She just had to stay calm, not panic.
Yes. Yes she could. She could see now the door she should have taken, metal dust from the lock strewn on the floor in front of it lit up by her torch-beam. She should have taken a left instead of straight on. They hadn’t tried that other door that had led to the stairwell when they came in. A couple more twists and turns and she was in the stairwell down. It felt familiar this time, even in the darkness.
She reached the bottom. There was a small lobby there, some dusty plastic pot-plants and the exit door. All she had to do was make it through the carpark and birdshit-alley…
Everything was dark. The last thing Dougal remembered was Alice’s slimy hand locked around his wrist with a grip impossible to break. He’d slammed her arm in the door trying to make her let go but even that hadn’t been enough and finally he’d felt the sickening cold spreading up from his arm until it reached his brain. Memory had ended.
Now there was no light. He fumbled around for his torch but it was gone. He went to check his pockets but his hands seemed numb, his fingers unresponsive. He couldn’t feel his clothes, couldn’t feel anything, there was nothing but darkness and a vague sense of cold and emptiness.
He put his hand to his mouth, but there was no hand, or no mouth. He wasn’t quite sure which. He tried to call for help but no sound came, or he couldn’t hear it if there was one. What had happened to him?
He tried to stand but before he could get as far as a crouching position his head span and he slumped awkwardly onto the floor again. He wasn’t hurt but he could hardly feel anything and the only sound was a deep and distant thrumming. He felt drawn to the sound.
His hands still numb, he explored his body. He was almost certain it was all there. His hand caught on something around his crotch. Were his pants missing? Had his hand caught on his erect penis? He tried again. There was definitely something sticking out there. Either the others had played a sick joke on him, or it really was his cock. It felt as numb as the rest of him. He grabbed and squeezed, and a vague sensation of arousal followed.
He began to crawl towards the summoning sound. Why not? There was nothing else. It wasn’t long before he picked up a strange scent. It came and went, the odour of something foul and rotten, decaying offal. As he continued it grew more distinct. Sometimes he’d slip in something cold and wet and the stink would be overpowering for a moment. It was enough to make him gag, but his stomach seemed empty, achingly so.
He kept on, heading towards the sound, and the more he followed, the more cold wet slippery stuff he found, and the more of the wretched stink, as if he were following a trail. Then he sensed the warmth, a vague distant heat calling to him from a distance away.
Shane stalled the thing for as long as he dared. It could move with unpredictable speed and seemed to learn quickly. He faked-out for the doors, then made a dash for the railings at the edge of the roof. He didn’t hesitate, hours of parkour practice had trained him to ignore obstacles. He jumped up onto the top of the railing and kicked off cleanly. He’d go straight over the opposite railing and land on the other side with a tuck and roll, still running.
Except he didn’t. Something caught his foot. He was stopped, spinning, falling headfirst into the gap between the walls. This was just the corner of a space that spread out into a huge sea of air-conditioner stacks. He had time to notice that all the fans were motionless as he fell, but he didn’t need to, anyone could guess that the fans had been stopped for years.
He landed well considering, rolling. His shoulder ached but nothing serious, but now he was stuck down here, and the thing would be close behind. He looked around for the grinder, but it was nowhere in sight, and probably ruined anyway. He climbed up onto a compressor stack and jumped to the next, gaining height. Was there another stack that would take him back up to roof level?
No. And now the thing was down here with him, pouring between the stacks, slick and black. Everything was in shadow here, the setting sun hidden behind bleak concrete walls. Usually, there would be a way up. Rooftops were always an unfinished thing where all of the loose ends of the building would show, but this building had no loose ends, or not enough. There were no drainpipes, no conduits, not even a ladder. Wait…
There was a ladder that led into a pit and at the bottom of it was an open door. Either somebody had been up here recently, or that door had been open for years, which didn’t seem likely.
He slid down the ladder, dropped down into the hole and slipped through the doorway, it was low and he had to duck. He clicked on his torch and pushed the painted-steel door closed behind him, slid the locking bar into place. The horror couldn’t break through something like this could it? Could it? It might slip through the cracks, but it would take time doing it. Seconds, minutes? He wasn’t sure.
Another ladder led down into a cramped, filthy room, thick with dust, covering rusted metal parts stacked in heaps, lost somewhere between floors. There were square openings on two sides, one of which he’d slid through. On the third side there was no wall at all and he found himself looking at the top of a wrecked freight elevator, a few feet below the floor level. Rusty cables vanished up into the darkness. This elevator hadn’t moved in years and showed signs of some terrible violence, though how long ago that had happened he couldn’t tell. But there was no way down here so he slipped through the other opening.
He emerged in some kind of service closet, a bucket of rusting tools sat to the side and there were metal wiring cabinets marked with high-voltage warnings in red. Another exit probably led into a corridor. He had no idea how safe that path might be. What were the chances there was still power here?
He pulled open a panel and started throwing switches. At first nothing seemed to happen, but then he started to hear remote noises, distant sounds from far away. Somewhere, something was humming with a deep and powerful note. Strange that there was still power, but then, who would come to disconnect a place like this? Maybe a setup on this scale was more complicated to shut off than just clicking something on a computer somewhere, or maybe it was still supposed to be connected?
He flicked more switches, then moved onto another panel. Up above somewhere, AC units clicked, trying to spin. He threw a particularly large switch into the up position and a green emergency-exit sign flickered on, followed by dim emergency lights. Panels all around him lit up with green and orange indicator lights.
In the new bright illumination he could see a hanger on the back of the door with discarded overalls, but also hanging from the same hook were a pair of security badges on lanyards with the old company logo. He pulled down the badge. There was a faded picture of some evil looking man with a huge beard and an unpronounceable Slavic name, and there was a white plastic key-card.
Were the electronic locks even working? Hadn’t everything been locked down manually? He reached into the overall pocket and pulled out a bunch of keys. They were crusted in dried blood but they looked like the right kind of key.
Alice forced her way up into a shallow space, too low and tight to crawl. She inched along on her belly. She was probably in the roof space. Hadn’t Shane said something about how it might not be blocked by the walls?
The wonderful warm smell was calling to her, drawing her along, and she squirmed through the eternal darkness towards it. Shane was wrong though. She found a wall blocking her path. It wasn’t in quite the same place as the wall at floor level. She didn’t have room to turn around, so she had no choice but to follow the wall along. Ah, there was a gap. She had a vague sense of something threaded through it, cables probably, but her sense of touch wasn’t good enough to be sure.
It was a small opening, only big enough for cables. She probably couldn’t fit through. But the warm smell was stronger beyond. She had to do something. She pressed her arms into it, hands first. She got a good grip on the sides and pulled, trying to haul her shoulders into the gap. She squeezed herself up as best she could. Something inside her cracked and popped and her shoulders seemed to soften. Somehow she had the widest part of her inside the conduit.
Inch by inch she reached out, stretching her arms as far as they’d go until they reached the edges of an opening at the far side. She pulled as hard as she could, dragging her body in. She was stuck, wedged in tight, no way to go but forward. There was no space to move her head and her face was crushed into the bottom of the conduit. She had an odd feeling of extension, as if she was becoming longer and longer. She kept on pulling, gradually bringing her entire body inside the conduit. Her hips cracked and crunched as they conformed, her legs flowing together. Legs? No. She couldn’t tell them apart any longer. They weren’t legs now, they were just part of the sense of her, compacted into the unyielding conduit.
She stretched out, her head moving forward, her shoulders following somewhere behind, and then she was out, wrenching herself from the narrow space with more cracks and pops that sent vibrations through her rubbery body. It was kind of nice.
The sweet warm smell was much closer now, somewhere not far away, and below. She forced aside a ceiling tile and dropped onto the floor beneath. She felt her body splatter and spread as it hit the floor, awash once again with those intriguing vibrations. She pulled herself back into shape, tried to rise to her knees, but she no longer had knees. Her legs had merged together and lost any semblance of bones. There was nothing below her hips but a rubbery serpentine muscle.
Standing was out of the question. She couldn’t even crawl. All she could do was slither, dragging herself with her arms as her tail pushed behind her. She moved up to the door. The wonderful smell was definitely behind it.
The tiny voice in the back of her mind was screaming in despair. What had she become? How would she ever escape this place? Was this all that remained for her? Empty darkness? Why wasn’t the feeling of the shards of shattered bone being forced out of her body painful? Instead, she felt better without them, lighter, sleeker, quivering inside with taut desire.
Janet pushed through the door into the lobby and a figure stepped out in front of her. Another monster? She started to turn tail and run back up the stairs again. No. Not a monster but a normal person. Just a man. Had one of the others come early? She had to warn them.
She shone her torch into his face. It was an old face, sun-damaged and worn, but reassuringly human. The eyes were rheumy and yellowed, but there was nothing supernatural about them. Too close for comfort, tired old eyelids blinked at her.
He brushed her torch aside so it wasn’t shining straight into his face. “Sorry love,” he said. He was dressed in dusty overalls and there was a yellow plastic bucket and some tools resting by his feet.
She backed away, directing the torch-beam to illuminate his face without dazzling him.
“You prob’ly shouldn’t be here,” he said in a wheezing voice, old and dusty as the building itself. Older probably. There was a click and a large LED camping lantern lit the lobby, chasing long shadows up the walls. He set the lantern down on the floor and took a step towards her, shifting his head a little from side to side, as if examining her curiously. Yes, he was old, and probably feeble, but she could feel his invasive male gaze focusing on her lips, her breasts, her crotch, her hips, her thighs. He’d done nothing wrong, but alarms were going off in the back of her mind.
Janet studied his deeply creased features, his face like the topography of some desert mountain range, weathered and eroded by centuries of storms. She moved to push past him, to get away at any cost. “I’m on my way out,” was all she could muster to explain herself.
He was balding at the front with long, straggly hair hanging down at the back, in a cut that would have been called a ‘mullet’ a few years back, but nowadays nobody had hair like that. Nobody. A wide mouth and a somewhat oversized roman nose completed a face that belonged on the stage.
“Uh, ‘fraid not love,” he said. He grabbed her. She made to pull away, but his hand remained locked around her wrist. No matter how she pulled it was like fighting against herself. She couldn’t seem to get loose and yet he didn’t seem to be applying any force.
Without understanding quite how, she found herself on the floor with his knee in her back. She struggled to breathe as he pulled her arms together behind her back. Cold metal scraped against her wrists. She tried to struggle free, but he seemed able to anticipate and counter her every move.
She bucked and wriggled, increasingly desperate. “Hey. Stop that. Let me go! Let me go!” What did this weirdo want with her? Why had he cuffed her? Was he police? She had to get away.
“You can shout all you like love. Nobody here to bother.” He climbed off her and stood back.
She dragged herself to her feet while he watched, a rotten toothed smile playing over his lips.
She gasped. “What the hell are you doing?”
He raised his hand and something long and evil swayed in front of her. He was holding some kind of disgusting giant centipede, a monster from the jungles of PNG. Its large pincer-jaws snapping angrily at her, black and jagged, actually clicking. A chill of fear flowed through her as she edged back, trapped between fake plastic yuccas. She was in a corner, nowhere left to go. He kept on closing in.
With his left hand, he reached out and pulled down the neck of her top, exposing the upper part of her breast. She tried to resist but her arms were trapped behind her, jammed into the corner. Her wrists chafed against steel. His foul breath was hot against her ear, odorous with stale coffee and decay.
The fangs of the centipede buried themselves in her neck. A burning pain pumped into her blood. It hit her brain first, the nervous rush off too much nicotine. Then it hit her heart, and she wished it would stop from the shock. It was like a punch to the chest. She dropped to her knees, oblivious to the incidental pain of the fall. Alas, her heart was still pumping, each beat forcing the poison towards her extremities, purging and destroying as it went, a terrible fire, an unbearable agony.
The sharp centipede legs dug into her neck, a choker of needles, lodged in her flesh, burrowed in deep. She tried to open her mouth to scream, but it wouldn’t respond and the sound caught in her throat, nothing more than a tiny sucking sound. What had the poison done to her?
She slumped forward onto her face. Her limbs wouldn’t obey and the poison pulsed through her body in waves. Her arteries were filled with boiling acid under pressure, her veins packed with razor ice-crystals, tearing them apart. Her nerves were rivulets of lava. Surely, soon there would be blessed darkness and the relief of death? Pain like this wasn’t survivable, was it?
Dougal’s path was blocked by something, a wall, a door, no way to tell. His hands weren’t working and he couldn’t stand, it was all just guesswork. What had happened to him? Nothing believable. It was a safe bet that he was badly hurt. Was he really lying unconscious in the safe, dreaming strange dreams as the last of the air ran out? It seemed more likely than what was happening to him.
He pressed his hand into a gap. A crack beneath a door? It felt large, somehow. He pressed his hand harder into it, and as he pressed, his hand seemed to grind and pop and then slide through the gap. Yes, his hand could pass under the door. As he pushed he had the feeling that his whole arm would fit if he tried, and though it wasn’t quick, and there were some odd noises, and the peculiar feeling of something stiff and irritating being stripped away, his arm did fit.
Without delay, he started to press his other arm through the gap, and with patience he found that it fit too. Now he was stuck though, because there was no way to get his head through the opening. Or was there? The space seemed to have got bigger somehow. It really wouldn’t be so hard to get through.
Janet was panting, gasping for breath. Her limbs trembled from the pain and the shock. Muscles torn from the harsh spasms of the episode inflicted lingering stabs to her belly, but the all-consuming anguish was just an oppressive memory. Her body ached all over, but it was fading.
The old caretaker knelt by her side. “Hurts don’t it? Well, that’s just the little master giving you a taste. If you don’t do as he wants you’ll feel it proper. You’ll do as he wants won’t you?” He flipped her onto her front and removed the cuffs with brusque efficiency.
She tried to rise, tried to get to her feet and make a run for it. It was useless, she was too weak to move a muscle. Even breathing was difficult and the more she thought about it, the harder it became. The caretaker could do anything to her and she wouldn’t be able to resist. Her arms were unbound but useless, limp at her sides. The more she struggled, the more useless it was.
The caretaker’s eyes glistened in the lantern light. He gave a dry laugh and then barked out, “Stand up.” It was an order.
She found herself on her feet in no time. She tried to run for the door, but again she couldn’t do it. She tried to speak, to ask for help, to ask what was happening, but she couldn’t do that either. Her mouth wasn’t interested in anything her brain wanted it to do.
“Soon as I saw you, I thought, there’s a good ’un, worth saving. Young, sweet and juicy, with them big titties all squeezed into that little top. That one’ll do The Great One proud, I thought, and truth be tol’ I couldn’t wait to feel them big lips o’ yours around me ol’ feller. Aye, you’ll do us proud love.”
He laughed. She wanted to deny his words, to tell him to leave her alone, that he’d never feel her lips like that. No, she was fooling herself, she just wanted to run. She couldn’t do that either. She couldn’t move a muscle. He had her frozen somehow.
He laughed again, a dry scratching sound. “Ah, little master got your puppet strings, don’t he?” His voice changed and he babbled something in a language Janet had never heard before, guttural words like nothing on earth.
In English, “Show me them titties,” the caretaker wheezed. Without knowing why, Janet found herself pulling up and rolling her top to show him her breasts. Her body had no problem moving when he wanted it to.
“Grab yer nipple and put it in your mouth, suck on it good,” he ordered.
Janet found herself following his instructions, a helpless toy. Why couldn’t she control her own body?
“Now bite down ‘til you taste the blood. Stop and hold it.”
Janet screamed inside, but her body ignored her. It did as it was ordered, biting down hard. She might not be able to stop it but she could feel the pain. Tears came to her eyes. At least something worked as it ought to. What was happening to her? How was he making her do these things? Why couldn’t she resist?
“From now on, you’ll be a good girl for me won’t you? Be my pretty little pet? Help with my chores?”
Janet found she was free to nod.
“Do as you’re told or the little master will punish you, an’ after you’ll do as you were supposed to anyhow. No point fighting it. Best thing, do as you’re told, best you can an’ keep the little master happy eh? He can put the pain in you but it don’t stop there. Hurt ‘o the body ain’t nothing compared to hurt of the mind. He can make you do things you wish you hadn’t. Don’t rankle him else he’ll find out what gets you the worst.”
She tried to nod again. It was still allowed.
“You’re free to move, long as you do what you’re told. For now that ain’t nothin’ unless I say so. Understand?”
She let her poor bleeding nipple slip from her mouth. The rusty taste of blood was strong. How deep had she bitten? She shuddered, moved to pull her top down and was hit by another spike of pain, fire shooting through her arms. She returned to her original position, breasts still poking out from beneath her top.
The caretaker gave a dry cackle that turned into a wheezing cough. Eventually he recovered enough to look her in the eye. “You can put ‘em away now. I got a job for you. Listen good.”
Janet was afraid to let go of her top, afraid to move in case the pain returned. She steeled herself for it, but when she let go, nothing happened. She fitted her breasts back inside her top. Her arms felt numb, like they belonged to someone else, but the feeling was fading. The caretaker watched with a sly sparkle in his eye. Did he wink at her? She wasn’t even sure.
“Get on your phone and call everyone you know, and tell them to call everyone they know. There’s a party here tonight that they mustn’t miss. Tell ‘em whatever they want to hear. Once that’s done you can start getting the place ready … ready enough to convince them there jus’ might really be a party. An’ when they show up, you better make it the best party it can be. Keep ‘em coming. When there’s enough, we’ll feed ‘em to the black maggots, all together. The little master will show you where to go.” He watched her carefully.
“The big fellers will leave you alone now, but them maggots are dumb so you got to watch out for them. Sure, they won’t come after you but don’t bump into one eh? Ah, they won’t kill you now, but that slime o’ theirs still burns something sharp. You can leave the building, go wherever you need to, but your job’s to bring people in. Make that party happen. Got it? You don’t quit bringing ‘em until I tell you to stop. I reckon I’ll catch plenty of flies with a honey like you eh? An’ when I say you do whatever you got to do to bring ‘em, I mean anything, eh?”
“Don’t’ be afraid to answer me love. It’s the little master you got to keep happy, he just does as I say. If you’re good he can reward as well as punish. An’ I want us to be real friendly. We are friends right, love?”
“Yes. Friends. I understand,” Janet said, her voice so soft she could barely hear it herself.
“I wonder? Anyhow. It don’t matter any, the little master’ll keep you on the straight and narrow no matter what.” His voice changed, a few words of the other language.
He was still talking when Janet felt herself cum. Just like that. From nowhere, intense, mind-erasing pleasure rolled up from her crotch and through her belly, a wave of relief so amazing that she wondered how she could have not noticed that she had needed it so badly. Her knees wobbled and she found herself clinging to the caretaker to keep from falling. The pain was gone. Everything was good. Even the caretaker’s smell, close and thick in her nostrils was good. Spicy.
No. The pleasure was fading. No. She needed it. The nagging background pain of her scrapes, pulled muscles and intensely sore nipple, all of it crashed back onto her. She was cast down into hell from the heights of heaven.
Janet’s heart sank, kept sinking fast. What was worse? The powerlessness, the pain, or the vague longing for that sweet relief? The centipede was still there, a sharp irritant touch that made her want to scratch and claw, but she daren’t touch it. Was there any way to get it off? The only visible signs were some odd black marks, like a made-up tattoo done by someone who had seen some Sanskrit writing once. There was no sign of the creature. How could that be? She could feel it there, its vile legs and claws clamped into her flesh, ready to release its venom.
Was it growing restless? She quickly reached for her phone. She had better get started before it got irritable. She really wanted to make it happy, and somehow it understood this. Her capitulation pleased it.
At that moment, the emergency lights came on in the lobby. The caretaker blinked. “Ah, one of ‘em still alive?”
Shane looked down at the elevator that blocked the shaft. Something had torn a huge, gaping hole in the roof, and the floor below it. With the lights on, he could see down into the shaft beyond. Something was moving down there, something dark and terrible, perhaps another one of the things that had chased him earlier. Where had the first one got to?
It was too much to hope that his pursuer had given up. It might arrive any second. He needed to get out of here and the elevator shaft didn’t offer any kind of escape route. The only way other than the shaft that didn’t lead back towards the dark hunter was through the door into the corridor. No telling what was out there, but it had to be better than almost certain death.
The door opened with a simple pull of the handle, it hadn’t even been locked. Glistening in the faint glow from the emergency lights was a black snake creature, like the dark hunter, but much less fluid. Shane froze, but only for an instant. It was as big as a man and there was a long tail and two flailing tentacles, almost like arms.
It had been waiting just outside the door, as if lying in wait. It reared up like a cobra when he opened the door, forming vaguely feminine curves. There was something horribly human about the shape of its head, like a person in a thick rubber mask, stretched over their features, their nose flattened, their mouth stretched into an endless scream of agony. In that moment it nearly had him.
Any comparison was irrelevant, the thing was monstrous, probably lethal. He regained his self-control, jumped back, just in time. It missed by inches. Its strike didn’t carry far and it collapsed back onto the floor, as if unable to maintain an upright position for more than a few heartbeats. He took another jump back and readied himself. It writhed forwards, in the room now, tentacles snapping about, as if it couldn’t tell exactly where he was.
No time for hesitation. He took a stride towards it, then another, building speed. He jumped and grabbed the top of the door frame, using it to swing over the horror, extending the length of his jump. He landed behind it and glanced to the right. In that direction, spread out thin, like a slick on the floor was another one, its form a mix between the two others. It seemed to be in the process of oozing through the narrow gap under the door there.
To the left was a long corridor, dimly lit by the emergency lights. No way to the right. Now way back. It would have to be this. He didn’t look back. He bolted down the corridor, directly away from the more fluid of the creatures. At the corridor-end there was a glass door, and no sign of any creatures beyond it. He tried the handle but it was locked.
The liquid thing that had come under the door was crawling towards him with horrible slow persistence. How long did he have? He pulled out the keys and fumbled through them. They all looked like master keys. Not right for this lock. At last… One seemed the right type for the lock on the glass door, a type of lock he was now familiar with.
He fumbled with the key, everything in slow motion as the thing slithered closer. The door clicked open. He pulled out the key. He ducked through and slammed it closed behind him, just in time. The thing hurled itself wetly against the laminated glass. The electronic catch had caught. It would need a card, or the key, to open it again, but it wasn’t deadlocked any longer. Something to remember if he had to come back this way.
The door would probably hold the creatures back for a while. It looked like it had been difficult for the nearest one to ooze through such a narrow crack. It must have taken it minutes. There had been signs of pieces of bone and debris in the corridor beyond. Remains of another victim?
Shane kept moving quickly, unsure where he was, or even what floor he was on. Wait. Did he recognize this part of the building? Yes. If he was right, from here it was just a matter of following his vandalised doors out to the car-park exit. Moving as quickly as he dared, not so fast that he might stumble into something nasty, he jogged to the stairwell.
Somebody was coming up the stairs towards him. They weren’t making a slithering sound, or the horrid shlupping of the great black ooze, no this was definitely footsteps, and there was a flicker of light.
Alice felt the beautiful warmth pass overhead, and then it was gone. A terrible sense of loss plucked at her heart. She turned around, questing for the heat again, but right in front of her was something else. Some horrible cold stinking thing had come up behind her and now blocked her path. She could feel the chill from it even at a distance. It stank of excrement, of death. Even though the warmth was heading away from her now, she couldn’t go straight towards it, not right now. She couldn’t go through that thing. Maybe she could circle round somehow?
She crawled through the opening that had appeared. The wall had been solid but now it was gone. Maybe she’d just got turned around? At least this route led away from the cold nastiness and the reek that made her weak with sickness. She bumped around, finding her limits. It was some sort of room, not very big, with things on the floor. To her right was an opening, maybe a step down. How far did it go?
She edged over the lip, trying to feel her way down, but there was nothing to grab onto. She felt herself slip, and then she was falling. She didn’t fall far before something sharp snagged her, a rough, jagged edge that cut deep into her body. Terrible pain exploded through her side and then she was falling again. At first she felt no fear, only pain, but then she scented a terrible rottenness and a deep chill below her.
She landed wetly, her body shuddering. She was in some cold slippery liquid that sucked the strength out of her. She was drowning in stench, worse than a garbage truck, or the cross-breeze from a recycling centre. Weak and overwhelmed by the smell and the cold, she felt something icy slither over her, pushing her down deeper. Things were oozing all around her, chill, slippery things, hateful things. What was this frigid trap?
She tried to drag herself up, but the things around her were all trying to climb too, all desperate to be on top, and despite her struggles, she found herself pushed down deeper and deeper. It was all she could do not to sink to the very bottom. Surely, if she stopped struggling for even a second she would be forced down there and crushed into nothingness by the weight on top of her. Even now the weight above her was unbearable and the deep cold ate her strength.
All she could do was struggle in this frigid place, trying to climb. The only thing she could sense apart from the terrifying weight above her was the smell of all these horrible things slithering and squirming against her. What were these filthy horrors? She had to get away from them. She had to climb, but the cold made her so weak.
She realised that if she couldn’t fight her way up, despair, and the cold, would take everything from her, she’d be helpless to move, trapped indefinitely at the bottom beneath that pressure, engulfed by a stink foul beyond any previous imagining. Perhaps, all along she’d been dead, and this was simply the hell she had earned?
Shane called out. “Hello? Who’s there?”
“Is that you Shane?” Janet’s voice was clearly recognizable.
“Yes. Janet? Are you ok?”
“Ah… Um, yeah.” Her answer seemed unconvincing. “Actually, I’m fine,” she added. “There was a guy here who helped me. He said…” Her words trailed off.
He turned the corner and met her on the sub-landing. She put her hand on his shoulder as he started to head down. “Look, he gave me this lantern. It’s UV or something, scares off the … you know the things? Anyway, we have to get Alice from the safe. She’s still there. Will you help me?”
“You sure? I’d rather just get out of here. We can call for someone to search for the others. Never thought I’d say it, but this is one for the cops. They can arrest me, I don’t care right now. Fact, think I’d feel safer in the back of their van than in here,” he lied.
“I’m sure it’s safe. We know the way now. We’ve got to get her. From what he told me, she needs treatment fast.”
“Alright, but I see one of those things, I’m leaving.”
“Don’t worry. You won’t see one this time. I’m sure,” Janet said.
Shane doubted that somehow. Janet’s words didn’t add up, unless… He reached out and pulled down the neck of her top. She tried to step back, tried to bat his hand aside, but she hadn’t expected his move and she was too slow. He looked at the weird black symbols, like a tattoo of some extreme and unreadable gothic font that made a ring just below her neck. Letters from a language that Shane recognized but could not read.
Janet grabbed his fingers, peeling them away. “What? What are you doing? Have you gone crazy?”
Shane looked away, a slow, tired motion. He reached up and tugged down the neck of his own t-shirt, revealing a tattoo similar to Janet’s. “Let me guess? The caretaker helped you?” He didn’t look at her, didn’t want to see her expression when she realised.
Janet gave a quick shake of her head, a refusal, of something, but Shane knew the truth.
Warily, he looked her way. Her face was blank. “Look, that thing wasn’t supposed to be there, and it shouldn’t have chased me, but it did. The plan was simply to set up the party. Death wasn’t scheduled until much later.”
Janet stared at him, her empty expression clarifying nothing. “What are you saying?”
Shane took a deep breath, hesitating. No, he’d get it over with as soon as he could. Might as well face the truth. “I’ve been working for him for the last year. It isn’t much fun. Exactly the opposite of fun.” He paused, shaking, but it would be better if he got it out, finally admitted it. “He’s raped me dozens of times. Fucks me in the ass and bites me. Tells me he loves me. He seems bad at first, but then you realise he’s much worse… More subtle.”
Janet’s eyes were like saucers, pupils like she was on drugs. “We have to do as he says. I won’t disobey that… The little master.”
“Of course not. I had some rebellious moments. They all ended badly. I won’t make that mistake again. Don’t think for a moment that it will let you kill yourself…” Shane’s voice trailed off. Too much truth in too short a time was making him dizzy. Saying it out loud, confessing it, it changed things. He couldn’t hope for absolution, but at least his regrets were clear now.
Janet reached up, brushed tears from her eyes. “You’ve been under his control for a year? He won’t kill us then… At least not right away?”
Shane paused, unsure if his puppet master would permit him to explain things, but apparently it was allowed. “Tonight is the final summoning. If he can get enough people in one place, and sacrifice them all at once, it will open some kind of portal. Summon some kind of god… I don’t understand it exactly, what opens, what comes through, or how, or where it goes. But anyway, I’m not sure if he’ll have any use for us after that happens. Or maybe he will but it will be worse than ever.”
Janet looked up at him, shuffled from foot to foot, glanced away. “But we have no choice?”
“We better start setting up then. He told me the party has to happen. We have to get everyone we can. You know? Or else.”
“Will that lantern really keep the hunters away?”
“No, but he said he’s taken care of them.”
“I guess, we better get started. We definitely don’t want the little masters getting impatient. The party must go on.”
He turned away, started climbing the stairs, back into the heart of the maze. He’d almost died here today. The caretaker was careless with his toys. If they’d both been killed, what would have happened to his scheme? Probably there were others, the ones who’d left the supplies upstairs.
Janet followed behind him, holding the lantern high. “But how did he get you? Did you come in here looking for somewhere to live?” She asked, her voice desperate somehow, as if one more stupid revelation would make sense of it all, when it could never make sense.
“No. It wasn’t like that. See, this building was bought by an obscure hedge fund, Valhalla. I figure somebody in Valhalla knew there was something special here, and they wanted it, but I guess they couldn’t use it, or forgot about it, or the caretaker led them astray. At least, I couldn’t turn up any sign they ever did anything with it.”
“I don’t understand. What are you saying?”
“For some reason, Hanley-Muller paid me a very nice sum of money to take a look at what was going on here and keep an eye on it, and they told me to keep it secret. That’s how I ended up living in a squat in the waste ground over the road, as cover. I am, or I was, a kind of industrial consultant. The kind that finds things out. Confidential things.”
“Hanley-Muller? You’re kidding? Did they warn you about the caretaker?”
“Maybe they did, kind of, said to be careful that nobody worked out I was looking into the place. Once I saw the state of things, I probably didn’t take their warnings as seriously as I could have. I was sure Valhalla had lost interest, if they ever had any.”
“So you broke in to look?”
“No. One night, weeks before you and the others showed up, the caretaker came into my tent while I was sleeping and put the little master on me. Easy as that. The rest, as they say, is history.”
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