The female Stalker slowly works its’ way down from her seat in the branches. She raises her head to the sky and pronounces her hunt over, and her attack started.
A smaller, male stalker charged at me from the right. I turned and braced myself for a fight. But as I turned, every movement made seemed to slow down. I could see it all; every blade of grass, every leaf falling from the trees above, and every single one of the seven stalkers that had formed a loose semicircle around me.
Gripping the knife in my left hand tightly, I stared down my now slow moving foe. Weighing the knife in my right hand, I quickly formulated a plan. I was too unsure of the weight of the knife to throw it at the incoming Stalker, so at the last second, as he reached out his left hand to claw at me, I brought the knife straight up in a fluid motion.
His clawed hand dropped into the grass, oozing blue blood. The Stalker was screaming from what I assumed was shock and agony.
Trying not to let the smirk that now corrupted my face transform into overconfidence, I brought the knife back down, at an angle this time, and buried it into the monster’s neck.
I pulled the knife out and watched with a feeling of great accomplishment as his eyes rolled up, and he collapsed in a mangled heap. First blood was mine.
I tensed up as I noticed a second Stalker crouching to the right of me. Mere inches away from me, he was preparing to swipe at me. It was too close to dodge, so I swung my left knife around. As his razor claws sliced into my thigh, my knife slammed into his head.
I cringed and let out a heavy gasp as I backed away from the monster and pulled my knife out. Blood was everywhere. It stained my knives and ran down my leg, ounces at a time.
Shit, how do I get outta this?! How the hell did I even get into this?! I didn’t do jack to deserve this! But these freaking monsters come out of nowhere and now they’re killing me.
A female ran at me, screaming as she closed the separating distance. From the left of her, another male appeared, snapping at me viciously. The male landed a huge bite on my left arm, and I screamed as I dropped the knife in that hand and lost all feeling below the bite. Furious with the new injury, I slashed the female across the chest and shouldered her away. I had no time for that whore.
“You can die, you son of a bitch!” I screamed as I pushed my knife into his mouth and kicked him away.
Holding my left arm with my right, I scanned the grass for the knife I misplaced when the bastard bit me. Blood now coated the grass that I stood on, and I felt myself swaying on my feet. I don’t have any time left. I’m done.
I leant down to collect the knife that I located and collapsed, unable to hold my own weight now. Clutching my last hope of not being a delightful meal, I prepared for the remaining three Stalkers to move in. I raised my knife in defense-
But they were already upon me. Ripping and tearing at my body, I watched for I don’t know how long. I ended up on the ground watching as two of the monsters dug into me, feasting.
Looking around for the third, I discovered that she managed to impale herself upon my raised knife. But that was a small victory. I looked back to the remaining two and recognized the female that I had first noticed glaring towards me through the glass of the hospital window. She opened her teeth at me and clicked them shut once.
Then she raised her head to the sky and let a scream resound through the forest. Afterward, she went back to eating.
And then I rested.
Part Four: Sleep Walking
Awakened by my nightmare, I sit up straight on my makeshift bed. The sun seems to be just going down, and the shadows the buildings and trees create seem to be reaching greedily for some unknown goal.
I look around and realize where I am: the check-in area. Bottom floor of the hospital I woke up in.
The hospital with that monster in it.
I shuddered at my most recent obstacle, and how fatal it could’ve been. Looking next to the couch, I rediscover my knives and the gun with three shots. Gripping two of the knives in one of my hands, I pick up the gun with my free hand and frown as I decide to just leave the third knife behind.
Staring out the window into the city, I can hear the cries of other monsters throughout the city. Some seem to call to others, and still there are more that warn anything from coming near. Watching silently and thoughtfully, I sit in my couch and just observe.
I watch as a group of seven monsters stalk down the street. The humanoid creatures have wide mouths and long fingers topped with razor sharp claws. Their skin is a very pale white, and red eyes dominate their face. They have an extra joint developed in their leg, separating the shin and creating an extended ankle.
As the trot down the street leisurely, the glance into every building, looking for fresh prey. Hunting. Stalking.
Sprinting back and ducking behind the check-in counter, I just barely peek my head out over the counter at them. They’re the monsters from my dream. I know it without a doubt in my mind. And if they catch me, they will rip and tear until the only thing left is a pile of flesh with little tufts of hair and cloth mixed in.
I lower myself down so I’ll be completely out of their line of sight.
A scream rips through the eerie silence.
What was that about…? I think as I inch myself around the corner of the counter
.Behind the glass door stands a tall female staring right at me. I dart back behind the counter in hopes that they’ll just go away. I close my eyes, praying to anything that’ll listen to help. I’m so screwed. I’m so screwed.
The glass squealed as the stalkers claw at it with their long talons. They’re trying to break in. They want me. They can sense their good fortune and he inevitability of their feast.
But then there’s only silence. No squealing, nor screaming. Not even the sound of running off. Just silence.
Looking around the counter again I find that the pack has vanished, not unlike the sun was about to.
The night had been a long ordeal. I sat behind my counter, occasionally checking the doors for the return of my predators. Each time I heard the slightest creak, I would go rigid, and check out the window to find that it was only a small creature roaming the streets.
The cold had grabbed at me with its’ impaling claws. My sanity had begun to unstitch itself from my mind, leaving not even a crumb of rationality. But I endured.
I made it to dawn.
The door had creaked open, not unlike an old man getting up from kneeling. At first, the door refused to move. Its’ response to my pleading were made clear, but I eventually worked the door open enough to slip through the small portal to this new environment.
And now I stand outside. Sunlight danced off the skyscrapers surrounding me. The light burned my eyes.
I sat, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the new light, and when they were accustomed to the glaring of the towering giants, my eyes fell upon a city in ruin.
Glass and blood littered the chewed up tar. Brutalized bodies lay askew wherever they seemed to please. Small footprints and craters littered the parts of the road that remained. Plant life was beginning to seep though the holes in the blacktop, reclaiming its’ old kingdom.
The skyscrapers above were infested with windows that were missing large portions of their glass. There were even a few of the gaping holes hung certain items, including body parts and clothing.
Taking it all in, I began walking. I don’t know where I’m going or why I need to be somewhere, but a feeling restlessness is overcoming me. I feel as though I must keep going or something tragic will happen.
The walk seemed to drag on and on, and aside from the noises of my own breathing, my footsteps, and the wind screaming overhead, it was silent.
Standing amidst the trees in the park, I’m sensing them.
They’re getting close.
They’d been following me casually for what seemed like miles, but not so close as to be obvious. They weren’t even in sight. The only thing that gave them away was their distant screaming that I remembered from my dream. And then the evasion began.
I had to get away. They were after me.
I ran down the street, and through the desecrated city. Building after building passed in what seemed like a vast ocean. Turning left and right in a panicked fashion, I had no hope of finding my way back.
As I broke away from the buildings, fear clawed away any hope for sane, rational thoughts, and I just stopped running. I drew my pathetic looking knives and waited. I’m screwed anyway, right?
And they’re close. I shouldn’t have to wait much longer, now. I can hear the breaking of branches and shrieks being sent up into the air from all directions.
Directly to the left of me, is a rustling in the tree. Turning to face my opponent, I watch as long, spidery fingertips wrap themselves around the branch the Stalker perches on.
Mouth open in what appears to be a Stalker’s equivalent of a grin, is the female from last night.
Dread fills me as I realize that they never stopped following me. They were always there.
Looking around, I watch as her pack-mates join our meeting. I decide a fight is inevitable.
Here we go.
“Where am I? What’s going on here?” I ask out loud to no one in particular.
A smell drifted into my nose, making me snap my eyes open and gag. It’s as if the fumes in here are toxic.
The room I sat in appeared to be a gymnasium. Basketball hoops hung from the ceiling and one lay off in the corner in a tattered heap. The walls had been shredded and were even completely missing in some areas. Some of the lights weren’t working, and the only thing they shown down on was the floor of the gym and myself.
The floor was the most unnerving part. Crumbled in front of me were what could’ve been thirty bodies. A few adults, but mostly children.
It had been a goddamned gym class.
Staring at the mutilated figures, I try to make out how many exactly. Realizing that some of the bodies were so far disfigured that some were even ripped in half, I give up.
And still the smell of rotting flesh ripped its’ way into my nostrils.
Where the floor was bare of blood and entrails, small craters sat. Cracks seemed to spider-web their way through the mess of deceased, making small spaces for even smaller amounts of blood to drain into.
Bloody, but almost human foot prints walking around the edge of the pile, into it, and some even go up onto the walls. Claw marks serve as the markers for the trails they’ve created. The odd feet only end when the walk themselves right out of my field of vision.
I’m standing there, staring in shock. Each second seems to slowly decay in the presence of the massacre. No noise intrudes into the room, not even the sound of my own breathing, for I’ve found that I’m incapable of something even that simple.
Stumbling to my feet, I look away from the carnage in search of an exit. Uncontrollable dear wraps itself around my mind, relinquishing not the slightest hope. My mind is now racing with nothing other than thoughts of retreat. “I CAN’T be in here any longer. It’s suffocating. If I don’t leave now, I will die.”
Finally, after what seemed like long enough for the corpses to turn to dust, I spot my destination: a door lying on the other side of the pool of remains.
But the tracks already beat me to the door.
Shivers wrack my body as I try to move my right foot. “Just one step. Then another, Keep going, and you’ll be there before you realize it,” was all I could muster to tell myself. Anything else sounded like too much of a lie.
Making my way across the gymnasium floor, I shoot glances all around me. My gaze lands everywhere I can think of to inspect: the bodies, the many gaping holes in the wall, even the rafters above the lights.
My footsteps are far too loud. It’s as if they reverberate through the maze of cracks in the floor and navigate their way to all the corners of the large room.
The door rests just a few footsteps in front of me. Every inch of my body screams at me to leave it alone, to stay as far away from what lies behind it as I can get. At the same time, an insatiable need to open the door, to go through it, and find what lays on the other side grips my soul. Every bone in my body transforms into a magnet attracted to that gate.
Misery takes its’ hold on me as my hand pushes up against the crash bar, and my option to turn around and run is taken from me.
Darkness. Blackness. There is nothing.
But then I pause and wait.
Wet heat blows wildly through the door, coating my body in a mixture of sweat and steam. I breathe out my captivated breath. The fear loosens its’ ferocious grip just slightly. And then I feel it. A presence. Something in there. It’s stalking me. I can feel its eyes locked on me, unblinking. I can feel its hunger.
My eyes widen so I can search for whatever thing awaits me in the deep dark. Backing away slowly, I hear the first move it makes: The scrapping of something sharp against the floor. I take another step back, but before my foot hits the floor it makes the second noise. A high scream fills the air, and an electric shock runs through my body, standing every little hair up.
I freeze up and watch helplessly as my stalker steps into the light. Long fingers with razor nails are the first parts to become visible. The bony appendage is coated in a glossy, white skin, which completely enshrouds the monster.
Fully stepping into the light, the human looks at me quizzically. Large, bright red eyes dominate his face, but they only barely overshadow his mouth, which stretches literally from ear to ear.
Raising his head to the ceiling, my stalker lets out another scream, this one bolder sounding than the previous. He moves forward, dragging his sharp fingernails across the floor. The freak opens up his wide mouth and reveals a row of razor sharp teeth, as it makes way closer to me.
All I can feel is his insatiable hunger for my blood. And he’ll have it.
He leaps into the air and comes down on top of me, mouth opened wide…
Sweat drips from my forehead, as I sit upright on the metal table. The disorientation of waking up settled as I scanned my surrounds. Though it was dark, I could still see because of florescent light of the moon shining in through the windows in the hall.
Glass carpeted the floor, along with the scattered tools. Groaning at the chore ahead of me, I removed the desecrated sheet from my body, and ripped it. Scanning for the easiest way out, I lay the one part of the crusty sheet onto the floor, over the paraphernalia on the floor. Inching my weight little by little onto the sheet, hoping for the best, I let out a sigh of relief as my feet finally settled to the floor with no pain.
Wrapping the other scrap of sheet around my right hand, I combed over the glass on the floor, carving out a path. Creating a tedious and careful procedure, I scraped out a path of mostly clean floor.
At the door now, I look back upon the room. There’s got to be something useful among the tools…whatever that thing was, it was dangerous. It was dragging a goddamned body or something.
Keeping my hold on the sheet, I scour the room. Relentlessly, I search for scalpels, knives, and anything else I can use. If I can just load up on whatever makeshift weapons that lie in this room, I might stand a chance against whatever’s out there.
After I pass what must’ve been half the night searching, success struck. I pulled out one final drawer and peered inside.
It held three knives and a large supply of scalpels. Each knife was roughly eight inches in length. Scraping them against the countertop, I grinned as I discovered each was durable.
So, hanging onto all three blades and the smaller scalpels, I decided to leave this place. I crept towards the door cautiously, in case another monster happened to be lurking about.
I winced as the door creaked open loudly, like an alarm in a prison.
Shuddering at the thought of sticking my head out the door and being caught, I got down on my hands and knees and started to move forward as slowly as possible.
Small fragments of glass stuck into my palms, succeeding in wetting them with blood. My pulse was frantic, fast as an Olympian one second and then slow as an old woman’s next. The anticipation of seeing whatever lay beyond the doorframe epitomized in the sweat running down my arms.
And then I made it. Staring out, my gaze is met by a long corridor lit up by the cascading glow of the moon. Past the rays of the moon, there is only darkness.
The rest of my body is following my head, as I make my way out into the hall. Standing up, and stretching out my legs and arms, I get a second look at this place.
Blood splatters cake the wall, and long scratch marks give it texture. All the way down the hall, glass shards and small dents in the floor make what seems like a simple walk much more unstable and risky. Dead lights hang from the ceiling and rest on the floor, offering no comfort or light.
I’m frozen. I don’t know what’s happening, but I can’t move. Horror is setting in, and my mind is running at full capacity trying to figure out why I can’t move.
Stop being a freaking coward I tell myself angrily. Move your ass.
My body refuses to move, except for my legs, which are quivering.
Collapsing onto my knees, scattering my weapons, my body releases the last contents of its’ stomach through my mouth. The bile is in a puddle around me, soaking my knees and feet. Still, my body won’t respond to my commands. Move…move…move… I beg myself.
Reclaiming the strength I have left, I pull myself to my feet, and lean against the wall. Looking down at my scattered provisions, I have an epiphany; a sad one. Even if I were to take these horrific creatures with me, if I were to be engaged in any sort of fight, they would be tragically useless, and even get in the way.
Staring disappointedly down at the scattered blades, I pick up the three big knives. If I can find some cloth, I could tie it to my waist I think.
As I pass a small handful of rooms, I come to one labeled “LOCKERS”, and turn the handle of the door hesitantly. Pausing, I listen for what seems like a long time for anything moving inside.
Finally, after concluding that nothing lies behind that door I push it open, and feel for a light, hoping that maybe the power’s still on.
No luck I admit in defeat after flipping the switch twice. Oh well, There’s an open window that lets in a little bit of light.
Rummaging through the abandoned lockers, I find one old granola bar, and a bag of Skittles, but no luck on clothes just yet. And my fortune persists until at last, I stumble upon a pair of pants lying just under an open locker.
As I climb into the pants, I examine the remaining contents of the locker: A pair of old tennis shoes, and a large shirt. The shoes seem to fight, although they’re a bit big, but the shirt has other results. It’s far too big to be convenient to me at all.
Happy with my most recent triumph, I exit the room and reenter the long hall.
As I begin my walk yet again down the darkened hallway, my mind begins the games. At first the games are subtle, and I brush them aside with a simple look behind my back or a pause to listen for anything stalking me.
But then they become more and more convincing. I swear I hear the ‘ssssshhhhhhhhhh’ sound from earlier. The clicking of the spider appendages against the linoleum tiling resonates through the hall. And around every corner waits an unknown adversary. Although I frequently check my surroundings just in case something was to happen, it doesn’t convince me anymore that I’m safe here.
I’m definitely not alone. But no one’s there.
Coming around yet another corner, my vision focuses on a cluster of desks. Papers bury the floor in a random and flustered fashion. Splinters from the desks that are no longer standing are sprinkled onto those that still are and the floor.
Dark stains cover everything.
Making my way forward cautiously, I step behind the first desk. Lying in the shadow is a body. The poor guy’s chest was ripped open right down the middle, like a it had been unzipped. The left side of his head was blown almost completely off and just as gruesome as the wound in his torso.
In his left hand, he clutched a small revolver.
I blinked as my mind worked to grasp his final actions. “I’m sorry, Sir…” was all I could say, and then I grabbed the gun. Quickly checking the ammunition in little revolver, I discover there were still five more rounds. I grinned with success and thanked the fallen man for his last gift. His suicide was, sadly, my reason to rejoice.
Weeding my way through the tattered desks, I discovered more ravaged bodies, the most disturbing of which had her arm severed from her body in the process of reaching for the phone. It appears that her head was then bitten off. Each death was violent and all were probably slow and excruciating.
Done looking through the desks, I pause to take everything in. There’s more to take in than there was two minutes ago.
Standing not ten feet from me is the same monster from earlier, rummaging around in the mess of gore.
Swiftly ducking under a desk, I hold the new weapon close.
I can hear that thing tossing office paraphernalia around, probably looking for its’ next meal.
And then I hear nothing.
My heart stops at the sudden silence. Each breath I take is too loud. That monster can hear me. Oh, shit. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shi-
A low bellow interrupts my thoughts.
My bones become liquid, and I collapse all the way to the ground. My body is being racked by shudder after shudder, all in fear.
The sound of sniffing fills the air, as I listen to the clacking of the pointed legs walking about. It’s coming for me. It can smell me.
Acting quickly and summoning all of my courage, I grip the gun tightly, and stand up to face the beast.
Turning around to stare into its’ face, our eyes lock.
Everything slows to almost a full stop, and I raise my arm to fire while the thing stares at me quizzically. But before I can fire, it leaps into the air, and comes crashing down under the desk I was just using as shelter.
Backing away, I run into the desk behind me, and slide down to the floor while leaning down. Aiming upwards I shoot sporadically in the direction of my attacker.
Another bellow, higher pitched than earlier ripples through the room. I look up to find the abomination backed away from me. Examining it even closer, I can see the blood dripping down from the wound I put in its’ stomach.
I’d hurt it. And now it was backing up in fright and confusion.
I let myself exhale and released some more adrenaline with another shot of the gun, this time to the thing’s head.
It screamed out an inhuman sound and backed up even farther. Grinning at my success, I stood and faced the creature.
And as I got to my feet, it turned and galloped away, hoping to escape me. I laughed out loud at the sight of this; a monster that stands seven feet tall running from a small and scrawny human like me! What a sight this must be!
Shaking off my cockiness, I walk towards the stair shaft. Opening the door, I expect to walk into total darkness, but the ruby glow of the exit sign lights up the whole stairwell. Gripping my knife in one hand, and my gun in the other I start making my way down.
When I make it to the bottom after just three flights of stairs, I open the door expecting something horrifying to come after me. Instead, I’m greeted by rays of sun coming in through the windows of a check-in area. The colors of the walls down here are still the soft baby blue that they should’ve been upstairs. The doors to the outside are closed, and no bodies lay about.
Breathing in my small reward, I stumble over to the couch and lay myself down.
Sweet dreams don’t replace the nightmare I’ve been living.
Light drips through the seams of my eyes, hinting at tears of pain if I were to open them any wider. I feel around with my hands, and discover the metal table I’m laying on. Trying to touch my face, to shield my eyes so I can peer around, I grunt at the great force it takes to move my hands past a certain point.
Sighing in defeat, I prepare to crack open my eyes. Clenching my fists, I do it quick, like a band-aid.
And I moan as the light from bright, industrial, overhead bulbs sear my corneas.
Where the hell am I…?
When finally I am able to see where I am, I’m looking at the strange machines surrounding the table I lie on. Each one buzzing, whirring, or lit up, but all look to be doing something.
Looking down upon a white sheet, it occurs to me that my body is almost wholly obscured from my vision. My hands, one of the few body parts not covered, appear to be buckled down to the table.
Looking around to the best of my abilities, I see the door, the windows that surround me, the machines, and the tools. Clamps, fancy looking scalpels, and dozens of other pieces of equipment that have abilities unknown to me.
A hospital. It’s got to be a hospital.
Fed up with my skepticism, I speak. “Hello?”
As my echo rings out, I shout it: “Hello?!?”
The silence is deafening. The only noises audible are those of the ones made by the mechanical contraptions.
I shout and shout until my lungs hurt, but to no avail. And accepting my failure and the inevitability of my loneliness, I succumb to my desires to sleep.
Glass crashes to the floor as the machines shut down. The ground is shaking, and tools are flying as fast as jets. I let out a howl as a nasty looking scalpel sheathes itself into my side, inches above my hip.
The remaining tools find their way to the floor, clattering like hooves against brick, though I’m too preoccupied with a certain scalpel to care what lands on the floor.
Staring down helplessly at the protruding blade, I watch as the blood flows down onto the table, soaking my backside. My stomach churns at the sight of my life spilling out onto the table.
Before I know what’s happening, I’m whipping my head into its’ side and retching onto the table beside my head.
Naked, filthy, and covered in blood, darkness greets my consciousness.
Coming to, I hear it.
Through the shades of the shattered windows, I can see a gargantuan, but unfocused, figure stumbling down the hallway of this tomb. The whisper of something dragging behind it is the only noise about.
As the thing continues its’ walk through the hallway, it passes an open shade and reveals itself.
I can’t help but gasp at that…monster.
Four massive spider-like and scaly appendages hold up a very humanoid and bloodstained torso. On either side of the torso sprout two lengthy arms with pincers that would put a crab to shame, and what seems to be the head. A maw-like structure dominates its’ face, with two large, protruding teeth that drip blood down onto the floor. Under the gaping and devouring hole sit six eyes that lazily scan the environment around them. Hunched over like an old man, it continues moving forward.
As it passes by the window, I see one of its’ pincers dragging a mass of flesh and bloodied cloth. Though that too passed out of my vision, the gory trail the abomination left behind did not.
The noise of the mutilated body that the creature drags behind it fades off into the distance, as it moves deeper into the building.
Letting out the breath I’d been holding for what seemed like hours, my body shudders. After the first wave of shudders ends, a second picks up within moments. Turning to my side as much as I can, I vomit again, making it to the floor this time.
My mind races with questions, but there’s one that dominates them all.
What the hell was that?
Regaining control over my body to a minimal extent, I muffle my shaking to the best of my abilities. As I squirm around in what I’m imagining to be my death bed, the scalpel in my side sends a current of fire through my body. Groaning with pain quietly, I realize my hand is close enough to pull it out.
Grinning with pride at my idea, but gritting my teeth with pain, I pull the scalpel out quickly, and gasp as I feel the warmed blade leave the incision.
Determination somehow fought its’ way up and revealed what I should do next: escape. Get the hell out of this damned place.
Gripping my new tool, I press it against the leathery buckle holding my left hand in place. I can feel the fibers giving away as I run the blade back and forth against the hide. My victory is finally made real as my hands breaks through the top of the band, and carries itself with the excess force into the air.
I’m free! Laughing with an insane sense of bliss, I grip my savior with my left hand and saw at the band on my right.
Exhausted from the force I used to cut through the cuffs, I lay back down, allowing darkness to take me yet again.