Leon quickly drew his guns aiming at two of the B.O.W.s simultaneously and opened fire. The creatures howled in pain and fury, blood gushing from the wounds, but they charged forth ferociously.
“Stay back!” Leon shouted to Sara as he hurled himself out of the path of the pouncing monsters.
Sara squeezed herself into a corner, trying to stay out of the line of fire.
Leon drew the submachine gun, spraying the nearest monster full across the chest until it was bathed in its own blood. The creature crumpled to the floor, writhing in death throes before finally going still. That left three more to go. And they weren’t going to be easy.
The three made a peculiar hissing sound to each other, and one detached herself from the trio to advance on Sara. Leon tried to stop her, but the other creatures closed in. Behind him, Sara cried out but leaped out of the creature’s reach.
Leon fired the submachine gun again, managing substantial damage to the second B.O.W. He turned swiftly on the third, but the rounds were exhausted. The trigger clicked uselessly. Tossing the weapon aside, Leon lunged out of reach as the unwounded monster swiped at him.
He rose on one knee, shotgun in hand, and loaded the last of the shells as rapidly as possible. As he cocked the weapon, three rapid gunshots rang out. Leon looked up to see Sara holding her smoking gun, eyes wide as saucers.
The monster bellowed furiously and dealt Sara a hard blow that sent her sprawling out on the floor, her gun flying out of her hand. The creature roared, blood dripping from her mouth as Sara scrambled away.
Leon turned his weapon on the creature lurching toward Sara and fired two quick shots. The first penetrated her back, and the second her skull, exploding in a rain of blood. Leon then turned on the creature closest to him, but he didn’t notice the other monster closing in on him. She hissed at her companion; another signal to round up Sara. She then seized Leon from behind, pulling his arms viciously and trying to sink her teeth into him.
Leon wrestled furiously against the creature, able at last to free himself and deal her a hard blow with his elbow, following up with a spinning kick. He brought up the shotgun and fired the last round into her chest. As she fell to her knees, Leon whirled around to face the third B.O.W. He was startled as he was suddenly lifted off the floor, his arms pinioned to his sides in the creature’s painful grip. He was face to face with the hideous monster, straining yet again to free his arms.
Leon’s earpiece sounded, and Hunnigan’s voice came through. “Leon, I’ve got that intel you wanted on Liam Grey.”
“Really bad... time for a... dossier,” Leon groaned.
Leon managed to pull his right arm from the monster’s grasp whereupon he seized his knife and plunged it beneath her chin. She shrieked, releasing him as he wrenched the bloody knife from the gushing wound.
“Leon, do you read me? Are you okay?” demanded Hunnigan.
Quickly activating his earpiece, Leon responded. “Gonna have to get back to you on that one. Hunnigan! You got eyes on me?”
“I need you to open the door--we’re trapped!”
“Okay; I’ll do what I can,” Hunnigan replied shortly.
Leon headed for Sara who had started to her feet, trying to reload her gun dazedly. A wet tearing sound behind him arrested his attention. He turned to look. “Ah, shit…”
The B.O.W he had shot in the chest was mutating further, her flesh ripping open, exposing her spine, ribcage and half of her skull. Her misshapen fingers lengthened into black claws. She let out a deafening shriek that made Leon and Sara double over, ears ringing.
The monster Leon had stabbed through the head writhed on the floor, snarling and hissing. The newly mutated creature thrust her steely claws through her head, leaving her convulsing in a pool of blood. She turned on Leon who whipped out the. 45, ready to fire. Before he could take the shot, she swung violently at him. Leon bent backward to evade the slash, shooting wide and stumbling. The monster followed up with a backhanded swing as Leon straightened up. She clawed at his neck, raking open his skin.
Leon reeled backward, gasping in pain as the blood streamed down his neck. He backed away from the creature, trying to reestablish his aim. “Hunnigan! Now would be really good,” he said hoarsely.
“Almost there,” Hunnigan replied.
“Hey! Over here, you ugly sack of shit!” Sara suddenly shouted. She fired a barrage of bullets which barely punctured the monster’s flesh; as effective as pellets.
The creature shifted her attention to Sara, hissing. Sara exclaimed softly, retreating slowly from the approaching B.O.W.
“I’ve got it!” Hunnigan announced.
There was a low buzz as the lock on the door released. “That’s our cue!” Leon declared. He fired a shot, satisfied at the monster’s thunderous roar as the bullet struck her shoulder, leaving a gaping hole. He made a beeline for Sara, seizing her arm and hauling her with him out of the room. The B.O.W. bellowed with rage and charged at them as he pulled the door shut.
“Lock it, Hunnigan! Now!” Leon exclaimed.
The lock beeped and reengaged, trapping the furious B.O.W. within. She howled and screeched as she tried to claw her way through the solid steel door.
Panting, Leon turned to Sara. “Okay?” he asked shortly.
Sara nodded, her eyes fixed on his bloody neck. “That looks bad,” she said nervously.
Leon reached up, brushing the torn skin with his fingertips. “It’s not as bad as it looks,” he assured her, though the wound bled profusely, his streaming sweat worsening the burning pain.
Sara looked unconvinced, but she made no further comment. Instead she looked up at him sheepishly. “I did it again: I acted without thinking in there; taunting the monster like that.”
“Yeah, and I owe you another one,” Leon replied.
Sara scoffed. “Good! Then you won’t want to kill me yourself for my recklessness.”
Leon smiled and shook his head. Her sense of humor complemented her courage. He liked her even more. “Let’s move,” he said.
Leon called on Hunnigan again. “Hey, thanks for the save back there, Hunnigan. Things got a little hairy. I’m ready for that bio now.”
“Glad you’re okay,” she answered. “As for your new friend, Grey, you were right; he’s not just your average lab nut. Liam Grey was a medic in the army. He was as brilliant in combat as he was in medicine. Grey was dishonorably discharged and imprisoned for doing experiments with dead and wounded soldiers. He ‘mysteriously’ disappeared from prison one night during a riot.”
“Mysteriously, meaning paid out,” Leon remarked.
“Further investigation into Halcyon Isle’s personnel files shows that Grey is Ramsey’s top research scientist. Ramsey is the mastermind and the purse, but apparently Grey’s the real genius behind all this horror,” Hunnigan continued.
Leon exhaled grimly. “Okay. Thanks for the info,” he said. To Sara’s inquiring gaze he explained, “I just got Grey’s bio. The abridged version is: he’s ex-military and considered extremely dangerous which I don’t have to tell you.”
Sara blanched. She quickened her pace, despite her slight limp.
They continued their journey to the cargo elevator, Leon periodically checking his GPS. “Almost there,” he said. “A left and then a straight shot down that corridor. The elevator is right there.”
A low, distant rumble made Leon halt. He signaled to Sara to stop. She froze, staring at him alertly.
A raspy growl rumbled again. Leon turned in the direction of the noise. He was dismayed to see the hulking form of a large creature with glowing red eyes emerging from the shadows just yards away from them.
“Oh, shit. CERBERUS!” he realized. “Run!”
Sara risked a glance and cried out in horror as she took off, her wounded leg hampering her speed.
Incensed by their sudden sprint, CERBERUS roared deafeningly and tore off after them.
Leon ran as quickly as he could, wishing he could gather Sara up to get to the elevator faster, but that wasn’t an option. He glanced over his shoulder; the monster was gaining on them. Leon snatched Sara’s hand, dragging her along with him. He cringed inwardly at the low cry of strain she uttered as she struggled to match his pace.
CERBERUS increased its speed, its bounding steps causing the floor to tremble beneath them. Leon tuned everything out, focusing solely on the elevator just feet away from them. “Almost there, Sara, just a little further.”
CERBERUS roared and swiped at them with a long, grotesquely clawed paw as it trailed them. Leon managed to evade it, but it caught Sara, striking her across the back and tearing her out of his grip as the blow catapulted her forward.
“Sara!” Pure adrenaline gave Leon a burst of speed and he dashed after Sara, her prone, motionless form sprawled out a foot away from him.
CERBERUS galloped on. Turning swiftly, the .45 in hand, Leon fired twice at the monster’s chest even as it lunged forward. The high caliber shots caused it to check its speed, letting out an uncanny whimper.
Leon scooped Sara up and made for the elevator, taking advantage of CERBERUS’ momentary slowdown. Draping her over his shoulder, he pounded on the call button. “C’mon, c’mon!” he pleaded as the gears rumbled and shifted.
CERBERUS recovered quickly and resumed its headlong rush at Leon. He fired twice more, but the creature seemed more determined than before. Its blood sprayed the walls, but it came on, undaunted. Leon’s heart raced as he watched its unchecked speed. In quiet desperation, he shot two more rounds at CERBERUS’ right leg.
With a bellow of agony, the monster halted and fell forward, rolling onto its side. Leon lowered his weapon in dubious triumph, certain he had done little more than slow the creature down. Behind him the elevator buzzed loudly and the door began to rise. Quickly, Leon took hold of Sara and boarded the elevator.
As he punched the button, Leon’s eyes locked onto the monster. It lay on its side, seething with hatred, its glowing eyes glaring at him. CERBERUS rose on its haunches and swung its tail forward. Leon’s eyes went wide when he saw that the tail was covered with spikes. CERBERUS lashed its tail like a whip, flinging the spikes at Leon as a porcupine would its quills.
Instinctively, Leon flung himself over Sara, shielding her with his body. The spikes scattered, embedding themselves into the walls and the elevator door with one spike impaling Leon’s right flank. A single cry of pain tore from his throat as the door finally sealed the elevator and it began its ascent.
Leon slowly laid Sara down, groaning deeply as the bony spike seemed to burrow further into his flesh with every movement. He knelt beside her, craning his neck to study the wound. The spike was about three inches long and sharp as a stiletto knife. Working to control his breathing, Leon gripped the spike. Steeling himself for the pain, he plucked it out, grunting loudly as the spike dislodged, followed by a hot stream of blood.
“Leon…” Sara’s voice was feeble.
Leon looked down at her. Her eyes were barely open, but she was staring at the spike he still held. She turned her gaze up to the bleeding wound. “No…”
Leon tossed the spike aside and leaned toward her, wincing as he did so. “We’re almost there. We’re gonna make it.”
Sara’s eyes closed again. Leon brushed her hair away from her face; a thin trickle of blood ran down her left cheek from a gash on her head. It didn’t seem severe, however. With some effort, he turned her over to check her back where CERBERUS had struck her. The back of his jacket had been torn by the massive claw, but he was relieved to see that Sara had suffered no injuries.
The elevator halted abruptly and the door lifted. Leon forced himself to rise, drawing his handguns and stepping protectively in front of Sara. The area was clear and silent. A dim corridor stretched ahead leading to an enormous door with prominent signage reading “Armory”.
Satisfied that the way was clear, Leon gathered Sara up in his arms. He grunted and groaned, staggering as the exertion aggravated his wounds. Cold sweat poured down his face, his breath coming in ragged gasps.
He lurched toward the door where he set Sara down and called Hunnigan. “We made it to the armory,” he reported huskily.
“Leon, what happened? You don’t sound good,” Hunnigan noted.
“Been playing with my new friend. Damn thing makes Cujo look like Lassie,” he panted.
“Of sorts. We took a couple of hits, but we’ll live. Can you open the door?”
“Of course. Just give me a second here.” The clacking of keys followed, then the sound of the lock disengaging.
The door slid open, admitting Leon. He took hold of Sara and entered. “Thanks, Hunnigan. I’ll be in touch.”
“Be careful,” she replied.
“Yeah; that’s my life’s motto,” Leon disconnected, and as gently as he could manage, he sat Sara up against the corner wall. The door shut behind him, and he sank to the floor, grateful for the respite.
He tended to Sara who sat pale and dazed. “Sara? Can you hear me?”
Sara’s eyelids fluttered. “Yes.”
“Good. We made it, Sara. We’re halfway out of here. Just gotta hold out a little longer.”