// 2020-06-27 // by Neon

Close Encounters

A misty condensate wafted from my lungs as I exhaled the frosty air. My footfalls on the metallic floor pierced the silence, playing on my anxiety with every step. For all I knew, I was not alone here. They might hear me.

It was a maze of tunnels and hallways down here, dimly lit and dread-inducing. The flashlight attachment on my rifle was my one shining beacon of light. My lone protector, staving away utter darkness, keeping the lurking shadows at bay... or drawing them in closer.

Each hallway, each door that I ventured through, every step further was one step deeper into the complex. One step further from safety. The walls were mirrored, scattering my light around and casting tricky shadows in the corners of my eyes as I moved through the facility. The floors were littered with refuse, much of it junk from the initial commotion of when this place was first abandoned. Every once in and a while I heard a creak or a rattle; haunting ambient sounds of the derelict compound. I clung tightly to my rifle and pressed onward.

I shone my light into each doorway as I passed by, looking out for any movement or signs of disturbance. Empty rooms to my left and to my right, on and on as I continued down the hall. There were probably valuables to be found, but now was not the time for that. What I searched for was most certainly deeper, secured in a vault at the centre of it all. The real trick would be finding how to get there... not like I had a map of this place. I continued walking and met yet another dead end. The atmosphere of this tainted place was overbearing. Distressingly so.

I took a moment and took a look at my distorted reflection in the tarnished mirrored wall at the end of the corridor. I smiled meekly at my reflection, eager to distract myself from the deeply demoralising surroundings. I looked pretty good, actually. Best damn shape of my life. Not to mention my eye-catching full black suit of state-of-the-art Rivtech tactical armour. My equipment, my body: they're the only things that kept me alive and kept me company all this time.

Reflexively, I jumped a little bit. Something moved in the corner of my eye. Not a sound, but I had definitely seen something. I quickly looked both ways. Nothing. I looked back at my reflection.

Out of nowhere, there was a high-tech masked woman now standing right behind me in my reflection. She was suited in a bright red ultramodern metallic tactical suit similar to mine but even more advanced. Her face was covered with a featureless black reflective visor. I froze up for a moment. She stood eerily unmoving for several seconds and then girlishly put a hand to her face as if covering her mouth and giggled emphatically. Her voice reverberated inhumanly as its echoes loudly bounced from wall to wall around me.

I swiftly spun to face her and the illusion faded. What greeted me was beyond human. A pungent mass of dark pinkish-black writhing tentacles wriggled inches in front of my face.

I winced as the horrifying creature in front of me let out a deafening SKREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

A tentacle lashed out from above me to my right. With lightning speed, I quickly dodged out of the way before it could latch onto me. I fumbled the firing selector on my gun into its automatic firing mode. These fiendish beasts had ruthlessly slaughtered so, so many souls. Men, women, children.... they didn't care. They never did. They deserved every single god-damn bullet my gun could give them.

Without hesitation, I looked at the winged tentacular horror and decided my course of action. I took a couple steps back and then threw myself forward at the creature, tumbling in midair and landing face-up underneath its torso. I pointed my rifle at its underside and firmly squeezed the trigger.

BAPBAPBAPBAPBAP. Bright white light strobed as the muzzle flare from my weapon illuminated the room. Goopy liquid splattered over my face and armour as bullets cracked through the mi-go's armoured body and eviscerated its fleshy innards. The creature screamed once more and stumbled, nearly stepping on me with its sharp talons. I rolled around on the dusty filth-laden floor, evading the monster's death throes and scrambling out from under it as it fell to the ground, lifeless and defeated.

I stood up and dusted myself off. "Creepy bastards," I muttered while still catching my breath. This isn't the life that I had ever planned for, but it was the one I'd been given, and the only one I'll ever have.

I think I've been playing way too much Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead recently.

Last night I had the coolest dream. It felt so real and vivid that it would be a waste not to make something of it. When I woke up, I did my best to jot down every little detail as best as I could remember. This post is the result of cleaning up my scribbled notes from that dream and reworking it into prose. I hope you guys enjoyed it!

The artwork in this post is sourced from the public domain. Minor edits made using GIMP.