The technician was halfway up the ramp, face down, and when they rolled him over they recoiled at the look on his face. He had died in terror, from the looks of it, his eyes wide and his mouth open- as if he had been screaming. Anna immediately shone her light down the rampway, but all they could see was shadows. Eric looked the technician over, found his ID card.
"Hamilton," he grunted. "Any idea which one this is?"
"No," she glanced over quickly. "I didn't catch their names."
This was wonderful. No other identifying information. He looked around, rubbing his forehead. This was not what they had wanted to find. What was going on? Can we ever catch a break?
"Let's not tackle that now," he said, nodding towards the depths. "Let's get up and see what we can see and go from there." She nodded and they retraced their steps back to ground level, Anna walking backwards with her rifle charged. Once they reached base level she knelt and left a small proximity alarm at the ramp and they hurried up the steps leading to the upper level.
"Well we know one of those guys isn't coming back," she muttered. "Think the other one is down below?"
"No idea. Doesn't bode well for him being alive though, does it?"
She just grimaced. They reached the second level and after a cursory look around kept on going. Eric wanted to get a view from the high observation deck that often surmounted these towers. When they reached the third level Anna did a sweep while Eric went right to the windows that looked out upon the rest of the complex. He could see for quite a ways, and there was no sign of movement.
"Clear," he heard. He turned back to explore with Anna, a little more relaxed. This was the level he always thought of as the library or leisure area- if the Precursors indulged in leisure. There was just a more comfortable vibe to it, and the machines that were spaced at intervals looked almost like data interface points. It didn't have the same clinical feel that the lower levels did. And who wouldn't love the view?
He sat down with a sigh on one of the extrusions that apparently served as chairs for the long- lost race. They were made of a strange metallic foam that was entirely unknown to humanity, but they were comfortable enough. He fished a food bar out of his pack and threw one to Anna as well, who took up a position by the windows. He could tell she was freaked out a little. He was too.
He thought about their options. They had a strike team nearby, presumably hostile. They'd read the same log entry, know the technicians were missing and they had to know that he and Anna were here. So where would they go next? The answer was pretty obvious.
But why were they here? There could be any number of reasons, but the more he thought about it, the less likely it seemed that they would be here for any other reason than him. Although Anna was a target now too, he supposed. The way things were now- maybe they should just petition Control and try to sort things out at home. It was clearly out of hand.
He might have dozed, exhausted, when Anna roused him.
Shit. He got up and went over to see.
"Looks like they found us."
He nodded, counting.
"I see ten," he said. She nodded. "Same." They were moving with military precision, standard pattern, just coming out of the water now.
"They're going to come here first," she pointed out.
"They'll establish a perimeter first, then they'll come here," he replied. "We need to go."
Scrambling away from the balcony he took a last look around wistfully- he could have spent hours, days, here but that wasn't going to happen. Not now. They sailed down the steps, headed for the entrance. As it sphinctered open they could already see troopers fanning out across the complex. They'd have to be quick.
"Eric, are you in there? I just want to talk."
He almost laughed. How reassuring.
"Eric, just you and I. No need for violence. Is Anna with you?"
Eric and Anna exchanged a glance, incredulous.
Oh DAMN. Now I want to know what Eric did to piss this dude off. Well, him and nine of his most deadly friends, as it seems. It's really quite intriguing (and sad, too) that they're spending time in a room of an extinct species, I love it!ReplyDelete
Also, I smiled when I saw Hamilton :) I mean, he was trying to write his way out, but alas. (Of course, you killed him off so I can't be annoying about him anymore, which let's be real, was probably a good call hahha.)
Can't wait for the next installment to find out what this Andreas guy wants!!
Hmm seems there's a history there, of sorts. :) And you know I never quite thought of it that way, but nice point- they kinda are hanging around in an extinct species.Delete
Sadly, Hamilton is no loner alive. Although TBH I thought maybe I was making a mistake, writing him out too soon?
It's okay, he died prematurely in real life too. You can just add Aaron Burr if you get nostalgic ;) He IS the villain in our history, after all.Delete
(Have you listened to Hamilton? Because some of these ridiculous lines I spew are from the actual musical hah)
Starts off creepy and ends in a cliffy! Nice writing, Greg! :)ReplyDelete
THanks! I wanted to inject the creepy element and then leave it ambiguous as to whether they'll get to explore it more?Delete
Ah. I finally found you. For some reason every time you hopped over to my blog, I had trouble figuring out where you lived on the blogosphere. I see you just finished reading Emma in the night, which sounds amazing. I am adding it to my TBR right now. -Anne@HeadfullofbooksReplyDelete
I did read Emma in the Night and liked it a lot! Thanks for finding me. :)Delete
I'd be right freaked out, too, if I found them. lol Nice installment, Greg!ReplyDelete
Thanks Anna. They can't catch a break...Delete
I'd be freaked out too. Not only finding a dead body but also seeing that he died in terror? Is whatever terrified and killed him still around?! I'm curious about that place, too bad they have to leave! But now I'm curious who this voice belongs to.ReplyDelete
Ooh I know? What's going on in that place?? They stayed longer than I would have :)Delete
nothing like a body with an expression frozen in a silent scream to give the whole excerpt that creepy atmosphere! LOVE IT!!! and I love how you described the action scene "they were moving with military precision, standard pattern" action driven but still so suspenseful AND it tells you so much about what it's gonna happen. THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING, THEY ARE ORGANIZED, THEY MEAN BUSINESS, THIS AIN'T GONNA BE PRETTY!!! :D [grins widely]ReplyDelete
I know, right? And thanks! And no, it may not be pretty :) Glad it worked for you.Delete
Wow! Wow! Wow!ReplyDelete
I read this last week and set my Kindle down to do something and never got back to comment. I am addicted to this story. :D