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Old 02-23-2017, 07:11 AM   #15
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Fear of the Dark

Dr. Anderson can't recall the location of any electrical tables, so we accept that we'll be walking in near total darkness. Townsend drives the wheelchair with Berrocal, Col. Burr helps him while acting as rear security and Agent O'Toole gets to be the security element behind Taylor on point, with his readied can of Mace acting as our poor man's machine gun. Ms. Bell and Dr. Anderson march in the middle of our single file, as before, with Anderson holding the flashlight and trying to hold it so everyone benefits.

As we pass another room off the corridor, this one with a broken door, Taylor can hear quiet breathing from inside it. A lone person, tired and afraid, trying desperately to keep hidden. Taylor is well ahead of Dr. Anderson's light, so he simply moves quietly inside the room before the rest catch up with him.

With a small flashlight almost 100' away along an inclining tunnel, no direct line of sight, the room is almost perfectly dark. Taylor, however, can apparently walk confidently among various detritus without ever making a false step or even disturbing anything that can make a noise. He can also see a man in early middle age in the room, dressed as an orderly, waiting in the darkness and holding a piece of pipe as a weapon. The man has got some severe bruising in several places and what appears to be a bite mark on his face.

Taylor addresses him gently: "We're not here to harm you. Federal agents. We're here to stop whatever is going on." The man reacts by panic-swinging his pipe, screaming in terror. Taylor backs away from the wild swing, slides behind the orderly and catches him in a neat choke hold with his metal rod. Taylor moves the orderly out of the room to the corridor while applying pressure, gently lowering him to the ground as the others come up.

Col. Burr: "What the hell?"
Taylor: "Casualty, physical and psychological. He's coming with us, maybe the Doc should take a look at him."
Col. Burr: "Wait a minute! We can't haul around more people, it'll just make us slower and more vulnerable. Besides, he's one of them, anyway!"
Taylor: "That ain't a guard, he's an orderly. Noncombatant, US citizen, probably a tax payer and entitled to our protection whether as soldiers or law enforcement officials. Or is it SOP where you come from not to care about wounded civilians?"
Col. Burr: "****! So he is. I.. didn't notice."
Taylor [contemptuously]: "Hooah, Colonel. Leave no man behind. Be all you can be."

Taylor asks O'Toole whether he wants the piece of pipe the orderly had, but O'Toole is satisfied with a can of Mace. Taylor then hands the pipe to Dr. Anderson, who takes it gingerly, looks at it as he might regard the leavings of a sick dog and hands it to Ms. Bell. She accepts the pipe with a curtsy and flashes Dr. Anderson a grateful (and gorgeous) grin before trying a few practice swings with the pipe.

Dr. Anderson starts to inspect the unconscious orderly.* He determines that he'll live, but that the nasty wound on his face is probably indeed a bite wound. This sparks some animated talk about what could have done it. Taylor absent-mindedly says: "Probably whatever's been bellowing."

Listening closely, the others can now hear what he's been hearing, echoing roars that sound like a steam turbine. An angry steam turbine. The others can't tell if that's some kind of machine or not, but Taylor can hear clearly that this is a noise made by a living being, someone roaring incoherently in fury. There is also a rhythmic slamming of metal against metal, which Taylor can pin-point as so close to the bellows as to make it almost certain they originate with the same phenomenon.

Cherry Bell [sing-song]: "Here comes the Monster!"

The noise is coming from the tunnel ahead of us, the one we identified as our best route to where we are going. It is not necessarily the only route, on the other hand. If Dr. Anderson was planning to propose an alternate route, however, his efforts are frustrated when Taylor doesn't join the others for a consultation. Instead, he makes some motions with his right arm and hand, which no one except Col. Burr understands, and moves forward, out of the lighted area. Rolling his eyes at the GI Joe hand-signals, Agent O'Toole opts to follow Taylor, but moves much more slowly than he did, as he doesn't want to walk into something and needs to make use of Dr. Anderson's light.

The rhythmic banging is moving closer and Taylor estimates that whatever is making it is hitting a metal pipe in a corridor up ahead with something metal while walking along. Whatever is making those hoarse bellows doesn't sound human, more like an animal of some sort, but Taylor doesn't have the knowledge of physiology to determine whether damage to the vocal chords from sustained screaming and roaring over a long time might reduce a human throat to such incomprehensible sounds.

After moving past another tunnel leading northwest, Taylor determines that he is certainly in the same tunnel as the creature making those noises and that they are moving closer to him at a rate matching a fast walk or slow trot. They are very close now, close enough so that he can hear other sounds than the deliberate banging of metal, such as crashes when the creature hits walls and hoarse, heavy breathing that reminds Taylor of a horse worked to exhaustion. There is a foul smell coming from there, excrement, urine, filth, blood and sweat, as well as a heavy musk of a powerful male beast, a stallion, bull or some similar creature.

Taylor decides to find a hiding place where he can allow the creature to pass him and then take it out from ambush. A small janitor's supply closet, empty now, off the corridor seems promising. As Taylor takes up position, he can hear a loud bellow and then a scream in front of him, around an incline in the tunnel. The scream is raw, primal, filled with pain and fear, but it's nevertheless identifiable as human. That scream had the despair of a person being hurt beyond endurance who has stopped hoping for any help. The bellow sounds like a fighting bull roaring in fury, complete with an sharp intake of breath at the end, from lungs much more powerful than a man's. These sounds are close, no more than 100' up ahead.

The supply closet is a good hide. If Taylor simply waits, he'll be able to attack from behind while O'Toole sprays the creature from the front and even if Col. Burr and O'Toole should prove useless in a fight, they'll at least distract the beast. It's a good plan. Altering it to rush into an area he hasn't reconned, without any support behind him, would be profoundly stupid, Taylor thinks, as he runs forward into the unknown.

*Using his freaky sleep powers to put him in a deep, restful sleep as he does so.
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Last edited by Icelander; 03-02-2017 at 10:27 AM.
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