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Sprint And Drift

By David W. Blackstone All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Horror

short story

"Guide," Mendez calls out again; there's been no response since the ship rang like a bell, since his ears popped and started to ache, since he was thrown against the bulkhead and knocked senseless.

The wall is cold, smooth metal. He makes his way along it to a door that doesn't open automatically. There is a control pad, but it makes no sound when he touches it.

"Is anyone there?" He listens. Again, there is no response. There is no low rumble from the engines, there is no muted hum from the power grid, there is no faint whine from the air system. "Anyone?"

Mendez resumes moving, passes another door that defies him, and another. He walks faster, the fingertips of his right hand dragging lightly against the wall.

His foot jams in mid-stride against something soft. He is off-balance: he tumbles forward, instinctively brings his arms and elbows up to protect his face and head. He is on the ground.

He sits up, reaches out for what tripped him; he finds a body. He feels for the face, to see if he can identify it, but recoils at wetness before he can recognize the shape. He wipes the blood off on his clothes, shuddering.

He hears a noise, a creaking sound. Someone is trying to open the door from the other side.

Whomever the body used to be, their pistol is still in its holster. He pulls it free, turns it on, releases the safety. He makes himself small against the bulkhead opposite the door. He will have to be very lucky.

The door creaks again, and then hisses. He hears the sound of gears moving against tracks. He readies himself.

"Mendez."

It's a familiar voice; he lowers the gun. "I'm here."

"It's Pen. Have you seen… I mean, have you run into anyone else?"

"No. And my guide program isn't responding."

She comes close, helps him up. "The power's off. All I have is a pen light."

He can smell her, her distinctive soap. He also smells fear. "What happened?"

"I don't know." She pauses for a moment; he can hear her breathing. "We should try to get to the bridge. Are you hurt?"

"No, but… who's dead? Over there."

There is a pause. She exhales. "It's Reese. Something cut him up pretty bad."

"Something?"

"I don't know. I… we should get to the bridge. Hold on to my belt."

They move slowly through the ship. Pen stops and starts, moving quietly and then listening. They come to another door, and she begins to crank it open manually.

There is a crash, and he is knocked down. He slides across the deck and into the bulkhead. He hears ripping sounds, horrific sounds of desperate struggle, and then nothing. He lays silent, unmoving, listening.

Something is very close to him, something big and awful-smelling. He hears an odd clicking; he feels hot, wet breath against his face. "I can't see. I can't see you." Mendez reaches out to feel.


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