No, the word hell didn’t even begin to describe the horrific scene in which Vincent Crow found himself.
There streets had become a sea of fire, there were cars turned upside down and horrible screams filled the night air. But amidst the screams there was another sound, one that wasn’t human, but something far more terrifying.
And it was about to rip Vincent in half.
The creature stood over nine feet tall, its muscular arms and legs equipped with razor sharp claws and its appearance was like a toad and gorilla with grey skin and gills. But despite its horrible form and bone chilling wail, Vincent kept calm and aimed his semi-automatic rifle and pressed the trigger.
A short burst escaped from the rifle’s cannon, the creature dropped to the ground with a wet thud and a large exit wound on the back of its head.
There was a beeping sound and a floating blue arrow pointed to his left, it came from the helmet Vincent was wearing. This state-of-the-art equipment that was developed by the R&D department for this sortie; it allowed Vincent through a simple HUD to access the city layout, night-vision, a motion sensor and infrared vision. But he was also equipped with a black combat suit that hid his body heat and slightly augmented his physical strength. But it wasn’t enough. He was also heavily armed, but those monsters were numerous and tough.
The helmet warned him of a small pack of dog-like creatures with tentacles spurting from their backs and mouths, ready to tear him apart.
As Vincent ran away from the hideous beasts, he tossed a grenade at them; the powerful explosion left nothing but a crater, and Vincent almost got caught in the explosion, if it he hadn’t found an alley to hide.
The narrow alley was dark and damp, with a lone streetlight hanging on the wall, casting its light like a lone firefly, the alley was too quiet but Vincent could still hear the cries of those freaks in the distance and every cry was just a terrible as the last. Vincent shook his head and started walking down the alley.
Vincent kept close to the wall as he continued walking, thinking that it would keep him from getting ambushed, but when the wall behind crumbled and a large crab-like monster with human head attacked, he realized that it was useless to be cautious; the creature was too close to allow the helmet to calculate the creature’s weak spot, so he grabbed his combat knife and slashed horizontally at the creature’s head, the top flew high into the air before landing with a wet thud, but the body continued its initial attack. Pressing a small trigger in the handle of the knife, the blade began to emit a soft, blue glow, followed by a faint humming noise and Vincent stabbed what appeared to be the creature’s heart until it eventually stopped moving.
Vincent cleaned the knife and stared at the lifeless body of the monster, and wondered how it evaded the helmet’s sensors. Concerned, Vincent did a status check on the helmet, and found out that the shockwave from the grenade he tossed a few minutes ago damaged the motion sensor. The good news was that the map, infrared and night vision still worked. Now he had to rely on his eyes and ears, if he wanted to survive.
Vincent needed to repot his progress, as he hasn’t been able to do so since he was attacked from the very moment he landed in Lyon, and after finding a quiet, secluded he proceeded to check in.
“HQ this is Chevalier,” he said. “Do you copy?”
“Loud and clear,” replied the electronic voice. “What’s your status?”
“I’ve managed to infiltrate the city,” Vincent said, “but the situation it’s far worse than we thought. Should I proceed?”
For a moment there was radio silence, “continue with your mission. You’re the only one that had survived the infiltration.”
Those words, Vincent didn’t want to hear them. They were originally a team of six, highly trained men, but no training in the world could’ve prepared them for the hell that had become the once peaceful city of Lyone. Vincent was all alone.
After ending the transmission, someone smashed the back of Vincent’s head and knocked him out.
When Vincent awoke, his left cheek was pressed against the cold, concrete floor. His ears were ringing and his vision was blurry, and could only see the black shadows against a bright, white light.
“Look, he’s finally awake!” An echoing voice yelled.
One of the shadows drew closer, Vincent tried to get up but his hands were tied up. “You’re not going anywhere,” the shadow ordered.
Vincent struggled to move, but who ever did the knot really knew how to do it, he needed to cut the rope to get loose, fortunately he had a small knife hidden in a small compartment in the wrist of his suit. He only had to wait for the opportunity to break free.
“What are you planning to do with him?” A female voice asked.
Vincent’s eyesight was getting better as he could see the owner of that voice he just heard. It belonged to a girl, perhaps she was twenty-three years old with medium length chestnut hair, but this girl was no ordinary girl. She was dressed in riot gear with large white letters on her back that read STU, was she a member of the police force? That couldn’t be, she was too pretty and young to be a police woman.
“Well?” The girl in riot gear asked again to a large man wearing a plaid shirt.
“Simple,” replied the man. “We are going to take his weapons and leave this place.”
“And leave him here?”
The girl stomped her foot on the floor, “I won’t allow it! As one of the few remaining police officers I won’t allow you to…”
“Who the hell cares if you’re a cop?” The man interrupted raising his tone of voice, “it no longer matters who is a cop or a civilian. It’s kill or be killed now!”
“B… But we must work together if we want to…” The girl begged but was interrupted again by another man.
“Listen honey, we appreciate that you looked out for us and found this warehouse were we could hide from those beasts, but its time for you to step down.”
Vincent could see the girl hanging her head, her bangs hiding the look in her eyes. Vincent felt sorry for the girl, but she was outnumbered by these ungrateful bastards. But he find it amazing that a girl like her kept her cool in order to find a safe place for her and others, most would only loose their mind and make some rash decision that would get them killed.
“That boy is not so innocent,” said the man in the plaid shirt, “I’ve heard him talking to someone over the radio and I think he’s behind this mess.”
While wrong, that statement endangered Vincent’s life. The survivors talked to each other and snarled at Vincent, like if he was the one who summoned the horrible creatures that took over the city. Vincent understood their anger, but he wasn’t going to let a mob kill him.
“Why did you step out in the first place?” The girl asked. “You’ve could’ve gotten yourself killed and give away the location of this warehouse! What the hell’s wrong with you!?” Then she looked at Vincent, “if he has something to do with those freaks I’ll be one to decide what happens to him, not you.”
The large man placed his hand over her shoulder, “tell me police girl, what are your plans?”
The young lady twisted the man’s wrist and brought him to his knees, despite her looks, she was very strong. “Don’t you ever touch me again! And you’ll have to start acting like a grown man.” Without releasing the large man, she faced the rest of the survivors, “given that this place has been compromised, I suggest that we find another place to hide.”
“Are you nuts!?” The man protested in pain. “We wouldn’t last more than a minute out there!”
“But staying here will get us killed!” The girl yelled.
Out of nowhere, two men grabbed the young girl, she tried to break free but they had her pinned.
The man with the plaid shirt stood up and with a large crowbar approached Vincent who was still lying on the floor, but he already had cut the rope that bound his arms.
“We’ll deal with you later missy,” said the man as he raised the crowbar. “But we first have to deal with this guy. I know he’s responsible for this hell.”
The crowbar flew through the air and fell on the ground with a loud clang, followed by a yell. The survivors in the warehouse were speechless at what just happened, the young man had freed himself and slashed their leader in the blink of an eye.
When the man tried to attack, Vincent threw him over his shoulder, the large man fell on the ground with a loud dry thud, and before he could get up Vincent pinned him down and pressed the knife on his throat.
“You bastard! How did you…?” The man mumbled.
“Shut up!” Ordered Vincent, “where are my weapons!?”
The plaid shirt man pointed to a large metallic box, “You over there bring that box!” Vincent ordered to one of the survivors, a young man barely out of his teens.
When the teen hesitated, Vincent brought the knife even closer to the throat of his prisoner, a fine string of crimson dripped along the blade. The teen finally brought Vincent the box, and Vincent released his prisoner but kept him pinned down by pressing his head with his boot, while cruel it was a precaution that Vincent had to take, this man could easily order the others to attack and he couldn’t allow that to happen.
All of the survivors watched as Vincent rearmed himself with the contents of the box: a .12 gauge pump-action shotgun, an assault rifle, two different types of combat knives, a pistol and grenades and then heard him curse when the tried the helmet on. How could a boy like him, overpower a man larger than himself? It could only mean one thing: the boy had military training. But his uniform was different from the one used in the military, who was he?
Before leaving the warehouse, Vincent looked back, the survivors were all looking at him some of them, were in awe, while others looked at him with contempt. Fortunately, he didn’t have to put up with them. “You better listen to the police girl,” he said as the left the warehouse.
The two men that were holding the police girl released her, and watched how the girl left the warehouse as well, taking with her a semi-automatic rifle.
Vincent walked along the narrow alley until he came across a cross section. Each alley looked the same, if he just had the helmet. He heard footsteps behind him; he quickly turned around and had the cannon of his rifle aiming directly at the police girl. “What do you want?”
“I’m coming with you,” the girl answered.
Vincent didn’t lower his rifle, “I’m not interested in company. Get lost.”
The police girl grabbed the cannon of the rifle, “I know that you’re not from around here.”
After seeing what he had done back in the warehouse, she could’ve have him arrested on assault charges, but tonight it was different, and deep inside knew that boy with short chestnut hair and dark-blue eyes wasn’t a resident of Lyone. And her cop instincts told her that somehow, he was connected to those creatures.
“What are you getting at?” Vincent asked knitting his brow.
“Let me help you,” was the answer.
Vincent finally lowered his rifle, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then he turned around and faced the cross section again.
“Who are you?” The police girl asked as she approached Vincent.
Before Vincent could answer both heard a loud crash, followed by a bone-chilling roar, the police girl realized that it came from the warehouse and wanted to check it out, but Vincent stopped her.
“Let go of me!” She ordered shaking the arm that Vincent had hold on to.
Vincent saw how the police girl returned to the warehouse. He could just let her be, and continue on his own, but without the helmet or a map, he was lost.
He chased after her, hoping that whatever had attacked the warehouse was already long gone.
When Vincent arrived he saw the police girl kneeled before a large hole in the middle of the warehouse. The place stank of blood, and there were body parts scattered about, Vincent saw the rag of a plaid shirt on a severed arm. The owner of that shirt was an ass, but didn’t deserve to die like that. Also, this kind of brutality was common with these creatures, but why did it ran? Why didn’t it remain in the warehouse, and wait for new victims? And the speed, how could move so fast, being so large? Probably it didn’t take the creature, more than a few seconds to turn the warehouse into a slaughter house.
“Are you okay?” Vincent asked as he drew closer to the hole.
The police girl grabbed him by the neck and threw him against the wall. “Do I look ok!?”
Despite her small frame, the girl was very strong, perhaps the result of her training as a police officer and the adrenaline rushing through her body. Vincent grabbed her hands and pulled them from his neck, much to the girl’s dismay that tried to keep them on his neck.
Then Vincent placed a prudent distance between the two of them. And waited. The police girl attacked, but he countered her punch with a throw, but the police girl wasn’t going to down so easily, and countered Vincent’s throw with one of her own. He flew through the air, but landed on his feet.
“You have some very impressive moves, for a cop.” Vincent said with a grin on his lips.
“You’re not bad yourself,” the police girl replied with a smile, without lowering her defense. “But you still haven’t answered my question.”
“Who the hell are you?” Then the police girl stepped an inch closer.
Vincent remained silent. Not because he didn’t want to disclose who he really was, but he didn’t really know if he could trust the girl. But, she was a police officer, and had knowledge of the city. Vincent needed to gain the girl’s trust, and keep an eye on her. But could he pull it off?
“I’m part of a team sent to investigate what happened to this city, and bring the situation under control,” Vincent replied.
“You’re with the army?” Vincent could tell that the girl wasn’t at all convinced of what he just told her. Part of it was true though.
The police girl lowered her fists and sighed, he did so as well. “My name is Gabrielle, what’s yours?”
“Vincent,” his reply was so cold, that Gabrielle felt a chill down her spine.
“What can I do to help?” Gabrielle asked picking her rifle from the ground.
Vincent also picked up his rifle, “I need a place where I can send a radio transmission. It’s urgent.”
“Let me think,” said Gabrielle looking up, trying to remember. “There’s a police precinct a few blocks away from here, I can take you there.”
Under normal circumstances, a few blocks isn’t much. But with those monsters running about, it was going to be a dangerous trip, and the precinct probably has been compromised as well. Still, there was no other choice for Vincent.
“To the police precinct it is then,” he said walking out the door, followed by Gabrielle.
Before leaving, she turned back at the carnage inside the warehouse and the strange hole in the middle that was several hundred feet deep. What was happening to her city?
© Copyright 2016 AtelierEdge. All rights reserved.
Book / Science Fiction
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