Mental Nature - Part 2

Roger Brees By Roger Brees, 12th Sep 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Short Stories

Part 2 of Mental Nature - The soldiers begin to suspect that they aren't the only ones in the compound, which is beginning to erode their sanity.

Mental Nature Part 2

“Jesus Christ Danny, I don’t like this at all,” Red hit his palm against his forehead.

I flinched again. “A little respect, please.”

“Huh?” Either Red was oblivious to my obvious religious background, or he didn’t care. “I’m going to run back to reception, make use of the toilets, god knows I need some water.”

“As if there’s still any water running through this place.” My response was hasty. I wasn’t about to get seperated and that was exactly what’d happen if Red backtracked to use the flaming men’s room. “Can’t you just suck it up?”

“Danny, I’m seeing faces in the shadows, I’m hearing moans coming from the walls, I’m going to go completely mental if I don’t just get out of this god-damned-fucking-corridor!” On that last syllable, Red stood up and marched back the way we came, and just before disappearing into the darkness he called out, “and for the love of God, don’t move.”

Now it was getting really dark. What little light the cracks in the selfish canopy outside had afforded us was disappearing, until finally the only understanding I had of my environment was granted by the meagre ray of illumination shooting from my rifle’s flashlight. I didn’t like what Danny had said about the faces in the shadows, because I’d been seeing the same thing. I’d been able to put it down to my imagination up until that point, but that luxury was no longer plausible. There was something seriously wrong here, something far more sinister than the mischievous side of my subconscious.

It wasn’t long after I’d watched Red trot off in the direction that we’d come that I turned around and saw it again. The terrifying apparition hovering just on the edge of the consuming darkness of the corridor. So shrouded in darkness was this apparition that it could have easily been mistaken for a shadow. But there was no doubt in my mind. It was closer than it had ever been before- the increasing darkness brought on by the total setting of the sun had meant that the fringe of total darkness was only ten feet away, even with my flashlight pointed straight ahead. It was the figure of a human, which stood there motionless except from a constant twitching at the neck, causing it’s head to jerk ever so slightly in a manner that made my heart race and my knees wobble- I was terrified. Nothing should ever twitch like that. Nothing human should twitch like that.

“Dont-you-move,” I commanded- no- quivered.

To be fair, it almost complied. It just stood there, facing my direction- although I could never be sure if it was actually looking at me. I couldn’t even be sure that it wasn’t just a trick of the light. Perhaps it was just an unfortunate conference of shadows cast by the now nonexistent light of the sun. But I was sure it was making a noise- a demonic gargling noise, like a sink ejecting the last drops of water down a long and dirty drain. I got the feeling that it was trying to breath, but couldn't as if something had snapped its airway. The twitching was becoming more erratic, yet the figure made no movement toward me. It hadn't even acknowledged my existence, save for the fact that it was staring right into me.

I then did exactly what any reasonable human would do. I fired my gun.

I nearly dropped my rifle as the bullet exited the chamber, unloading an empty casing and causing only the slightest eruption of flame and smoke as it sent my messenger of death smartly on its way. I didn’t hear the horrid squelch of led ripping through flesh. Instead, after what felt like minutes, but could scientifically only been a second or two, I heard the bullet ricochet off of the end of the corridor an untold distance away.

Having winced like an amateur firing his rifle for the first time, it took some seconds to readjust my sight to where I’d seen the apparition. It was gone. My bullet sure hadn’t hit anything other than a particularly unlucky door, but the twitching figure was no longer there. It must have been a shadow. In spite of being a religious man, I was wholly closed minded to ideas of ghosts and poltergeists. There was no explanation I was willing to accept that differed in the slightest from the apparition that I’d seen being the result of a perverted marriage between the tricky shadows around here and my overactive imagination.

Two things were now bothering me. One, was I’d wasted a good bullet on nothing. But more importantly was the second: I’d just fired a 5.56mm round in a hauntingly empty building, and I’d yet to hear the sounds of my partner rushing to my rescue. I did hear something that I desperately didn’t want to though. A shuffling in the direction we were initially headed. Not the I-swear-I-just-heard-something-oh-wait-maybe-not kind of shuffling, either. This was distinct. With my newfound confidence that there was nothing supernatural going on here, I reasoned that the only thing that could have reasonably made that sound was Red. How did he get past me without me seeing? He’d obviously found another way around. Why wasn’t he approaching me? I had no idea but I was damn sure it was Red.

So, out of bravery or stupidity, I gripped my rifle and moved in the direction of the sound. Each step I took was more terrifying than the last, as every inch I advanced into the corridor meant that my flashlight revealed an inch more of the ground in front of me, an inch more of another corpse, an inch more of the ground where not four minutes ago I’d sworn I could see the ghastly shape of a human, an inch more of this hellish corridor, and my mind was buzzing with the fear that the next inch would reveal the terrible secrets that this facility was protecting.

Eventually, I reached a point where I was sure that I was at least standing right where the shuffle had come from. The wall to my right was interrupted by a solid steel door, upon which was engraved the number: 108. Even more disturbing, and even tempting, as my flashlight revealed, was that this door was ajar.

Now, I had no reason to look in there. Remembering back to the maps we’d studying before coming here, I figured that this was one of many small 6’x6’ rooms that were connected to this corridor. Our briefing had stated quite clearly that the only thing of interest was the retrieval of certain experiments that lay in some of the larger testing labs at the end of the facility. This room would be dark, claustrophobic, dirty and undoubtedly playing host to at least one rotting corpse. And so, like a sensible person, I didn’t go in. I turned around and walked back down the corridor, towards the reception, with a view to going to the bathrooms in which Red had presumably spent all this time.

As I made my way back down the corridor, every cell of my brain was telling me that there was something behind me, calling to me, trying to get me to turn around and see it’s ugly, horrific face. I didn’t bite. I just powered down the corridor, head down, and tried to shut off all of my senses in a bid to protect myself from seeing something that I couldn’t unsee. When I finally made it back to the reception, I made a sharp left, without pausing, crossed the room and turned left again, entering the corridor which provided the only entrance to the staff quarters. Thankfully, this corridor was about ten feet long and I could just about see the end of it. The first door on my right was the ladies room, so I went to the next one, and shone my torch on the sign fixed to it just to make sure I wasn’t about to walk in on a group of women trying to use the bathroom. After ascertaining that it was the men’s room, I raised my rifle again, and nudged the door open with my foot.

For whatever reason, this room was a little brighter than the corridor before it. It was a pretty standard bathroom. A row of three cubicles to my left, and a row of three sinks to my right. There wasn’t any noises coming from in here.

“Red?” I said, all too quietly. After psyching myself up a little, I managed to turn up the volume. “Red?!” No reply. There was definitely nothing in here that could respond to my voice. I moved into the room a little, still not lowering my rifle. After about the third step, I realized how shockingly thirsty I was. My tongue was a shrivelled wasteland of dust, and the roof of my mouth was an unforgiving dry sky. Given the small size of the room, and the slightly brighter environment, I felt comfortable unslinging my rifle and leaning it against a sink, while I attempted to work the one next to it.

I reached out to the head of a tap- the cold tap, I hoped- and gave it a spin. Nothing. Not a drop. Desperately, I went to try the same for the other tap. As I did this, without a thought, I looked up into the mirror, and froze.

In one of the cubicles behind me, the only one with its door open far enough to afford a good view, there was somebody sitting. And they were staring straight at me.

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