Bloodsuckers (Working title)

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Starship Captain
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Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 4:23 pm
Location: Sol system, Earth,USA

Bloodsuckers (Working title)

Post by sonofccn » Mon May 18, 2015 7:53 pm

Hey guys! I'm still alive, or at least a reasonable equivalent, and still ham fistedly mashing my fingers over the keyboard and calling it writing. I haven't been working on A New Terror and I deeply apologize and offer up an actually completed story written by Sonofccn with a beginning, middle and end to it. Which I'm pretty sure is one of the signs of the end times. Anyway regardless if the stars are in alignment and if a certain sunken, cyclopean city rise up from the dank, dark depths of the stygian abyss please enjoy this rowdy, two-fisted pulp tale depicting G-men embattled against the undead.

Ancient Martian death machines, radioactive Nazi Zombies, gibbering horrors from beyond the stars…in the end they’re just different stains I need to scrub off my boots.Agent Smith waxing on the peculiarities of the job.

The rusty sign highlighted by the car’s high beams identified the town as Potter’s Quarry, just another of the shuttering, dead towns found lost off the way of the interstate. Crumbling, vacant Pre-War houses, barren storefronts boarded over with plywood, a long abandoned plant or mill. A forgotten, decaying husk of a once vibrant town staked out in the middle of nowhere. Unremarkable or truly exceptional if other than the car’s driver haven spent the better portion of the last three hours crisscrossing the intertwined ruts and footpaths they called roads this far out trying to find it.

And seeing it through the drizzle streaked windshield as he chugged through its barren, motionless streets he found it an under whelming waste. Spotting the local courthouse, a granite lion standing defiantly firm amidst the decay, he pulled into a parking spot in front of it across from a condemned movie palace. The tattered, mildewed poster for a Levasseur pirate picture still hanging in its shattered frame. The titular swashbuckler bestriding center stage with a leggy blonde draped in one arm and a blinding saber of steel in the other which he parried some hideous proto-human’s stone ax as the film’s title launched itself above their heads stretching out from seeming infinity.

“Levasseur conquers the Ape-Men.” The driver smiled nostalgically at the poster.” Maybe ’49 or ’50. Not the best but it wasn’t bad.”

Trip down memory lane finished he leaned into his seat and far rougher than he needed shoved the sleeping passenger waking him open before opening the glove compartment. Inside lay neatly folded a useless road map, the car’s rental agreement, an army issue forty-five pistol with two back up clips and a bottle of sour whiskey with maybe a finger’s worth left in it. The latter which, rooting around in the confined space, the driver pulled out and uncorked for a hard swig leaving the glove box open. The passenger, looking in disgust as the driver chugged the bottle’s contents, noticing this and eyeing the semi-automatic pistol reached in for it only to have the now empty bottle smash down against the top of his palm pining it.

“You don’t get a gun.” The driver belched releasing the passenger’s hand and tossing the bottle into his lap before slamming the glove box closed.” You’re here for that sodden mind the Bureau thinks you have, nothing else.”

“I see.” The other passenger, clearly an older gentleman, noted drolly as he held rubbing his injured hand.” And should something unexpected arise and I find myself faced with mortal danger?”

“Very loudly call my name.” Agent Smith joked peeling open his soiled looking long coat and reaching inside the lining pocket for his little black notebook.

Flipping through it to the last written page he ran the finger of a gloved hand down the mess of scribbled fragments as he reached back inside his coat for a cigarette then a match which he lit by striking against the worn underside of his wide brimmed hat.

“Potter’s Quarry. This should be it.” He remarked finding the circled name as he shook out the match.

“Your sure this time?” His passenger, a professor Blud, asked sneeringly.” Because I’ve heard that before.”

“Is it my fault there’s a half dozen quarries in these parts?” Smith growled opening his side and stepping out into the misting night.

The large man stretching working the kinks from his back as he watched a figure appear on the courthouse steps and walk towards them. The light from off the building reflecting off the bronze star pinned to his olive drab uniform shirt identifying him as the town’s constable. Older, portly, red faced with a drooping mustache and a pair of Western boots Sheriff Irons looked like an aging cowboy star squeezed into his old costume. The peacemaker strapped to his pudgy hip through looked certainly real enough, the grip and trigger slightly worn with the abrasion of frequent and steady use.

“Let’s try and do this quick, okay?” Smith, removing his smoke to exhale, implored Blud climbing out of the car.” I got a date back on the West coast that I mean to keep.”

“Your obligation. Not mine.” Blud snickered back walking around to join Smith as Irons walked up offering each man a surprisingly still strong grip of a handshake.

“Good to have you arrive. Folks are getting worried.” Irons drawled in a slow, thick as molasses voice.

Nodding his head to the deserted street and dark storefronts, those which hadn’t been abandoned, which were tightly drawn and locked against egress despite the relative early hour.

“Everyone’s just holing up?” Smith asked drawing a puff from his cigarette as he looked around.

“Nearly two dozen murders or disappearances in the last ten days…you can bet everyone staying locked up. Not that it makes a difference.” Irons shrugged, causing pooling rivulets of water on his shoulders to spill over, looking between the two newcomers.” Paul Crawford was found locked in his home, an emptied shotgun at his blood splattered feet. And Parker-Sue and her boys…Sweet Christ.”

“Well we’re here to put an end to it.” Smith assured taking his smoke and flicking it away into a puddle with a hiss.

Opening his battered long coat again revealing the twin revolvers slung in reverse grip underneath the charcoal vest of his suit he drew one of pointing it at the ground and rotating the barrel with the hammer half drawn to triple check it was still loaded.

“ I hope so, I really do son, but this ain’t no demented Asylum nut with a razor. This is something…dark.” Irons said with grim fortitude.” You sure you two will be able to handle it?”

“It isn’t my first rodeo. And as for him…” Smith, putting his revolver back in its holster, said gesturing at Blud who stood quietly with his serious, graven expression.”…he’s the Bureau’s leading expert on Night Terrors.”

“That right?” Irons asked with new appreciation for the Eastern European man standing before him.

“Among my many other disciplines.” Blud answered managing to commingle smug pride with a aristocratic detachedness.” Through we are wasting time with these trivialities. In your communiqué, Sheriff Irons, you stated you were preserving the bodies?”

Blinking as strands of water drizzled down over the brim of his hat to pool on the ground Irons seemed about to say something then thought better of it and instead nodded slinging droplets all around.

“Yeah, over at Doc Henry’s place. Him being the town mortician and all. Through frankly their piling up faster than we can get them in the ground regardless.” Irons said in his slow, precise way.” I can take you there if that’s where you want to start.”

“It’s the best place, along with a couple of strong, able-bodied men you trust.” Smith assured drawing and checking his second gun.” If we don’t want to be up to our armpits in Bloodsuckers we need those corpses beheaded and burned.”

“Brutish, primitive and quite frankly counter-productive.” Blud argued raising an eyebrow at his erstwhile colleague.” I want to see the bodies to exam them, not destroy.”

“ And what is that going to tell you Professor? That we have a nest of maybe three or four of the blood-freaks we need to clear out?” Smith challenged putting his revolver back as Irons looked unsteadily between his town’s would be saviors.

Scoffing Blud looked up at the other Agent’s brass beaten face and smiled wickedly. A sight which made Irons hand instinctively flinch towards the smooth grip of his gun and even Smith, well traveled in Earth’s more obscure and esoteric locations, to stiffen ever so slightly.

“An impeccable deduction except for a single, niggling detail.” Blud teased haughtily.” Nothing about this situation suggests Nosferatu activity.”


“…was the population which first alerted me. One hundred-eighty circa the last census.” Blud explained stepping in from outside past Irons holding open the door to the dark lit parlor filled with vacant coffins.” Simply too small for any Vampyric pack or entity’s needs.”

The room spacious and tidy with hard oak floors that creaked as you walked over them and windows covered by frilly drapes blotting out any light seeping in from outside. Black and white photographs of stern looking men in frock coats and hats and prim women in bonnets hung spaced around the subdued walls. In the corner a small table held a collection of women figurines that looked well cared for but untouched. But dominating the floor space were the glossy black obelisks laid out in neat rows, their lids propped open in order to showcase their pillowed comfort afforded the deceased but in the dark looking like a scene from a bad Gothic film.

“Cities, large and impersonal, where a murder or two fails to raise notice are far more desirable.” The Bureau expert said sliding off and folding his water slick coat as he looked back behind him over his shoulder.” In an emergency a migratory pack might take prey from a town like Potter’s Quarry but they wouldn’t remain risking discovery like your killer has done.”

“So what do you think it is, professor?” Smith asked hotly brushing past Irons into the room slipping a cigarette between his lips.” The victims all had their throats torn out and their blood siphoned. What else does that?”

“I have no idea. Intriguing isn’t it?” Blud said excitedly all but rubbing his hands with sadistic glee.” That someone or something wants us to suspect the Nosferatu.”

“ Not really.” Smith muttered striking a match against his hat’s brim again and cupping it against his smoke.” Just means more paperwork.”

Lighting it, drawing a much-needed puff, he shook out the flame and broke the fragile stick between his fingers as Irons followed him in closing the door and feeling for the light switch. The device clicking a moment later bathing the showroom in an eerie, diffused light which only served to embolden the macabre shadows and haunted atmosphere.

Taking off his own coat Irons hung it off on the hook by the door motioning to the others but with only Blud following his example. Smith keeping his long coat on, droplets of water running its swaying edges as the big man walked through the room’s center running a finger for dust along the side of one of the coffins. The black leather of his glove clean and immaculate when he held it up to look.

“Won’t find anything finer this side of the county line, I can assure you.” A gnome of a man in soiled work clothes reeking of formaldehyde cheerfully boasted stepping into the room from the back.” Now then, what can I do for you fine gentlemen?”

Barely five feet all with snow white hair receding over a bald dome, twinkling blue eyes and an infectious grin Smith quickly panned him over and relaxed the coiled muscles in his gun hand which hanged at his side as he reached with the other for his smoldering cigarette.

“I’m Agent Smith, this is my associate Doctor Blud.” Smith said exhaling an ashen cloud then returning the smoke to his lips to reach his hand out and shake the mortician’s.” And we’d like to take a look at the bodies you have on ice.”

“They’re the G-men I was telling you about, Henry.” Irons spoke walking up to them.

Blud trotting after offering the backwoods physician the barest and most perfunct amenity, his mind on the town’s clear misdirection and what it portended. Theories and hypothesis buzzing wildly behind his cool, composed exterior that ranged from the mundane cover for a specific murder to the fantastic such as the overly overt and stylized deaths were meant to obscure the true hunger being sated. Adrenal glands, bone marrow, or merely raw human cellular structure in his time with the Bureau, and his life before it, he’d seen countless aberrant monstrosities desperately consume each vainly attempting to stave off further degeneration.

“Well, I didn’t think they were tourists Charles.” The old man laughed releasing his surprisingly firm grip with Smith to extend it to Blud who limply returned the gesture. “ Name’s Henry Joseph but just call me “Doc”. And however I can help, just say it.”

“We really just need to view the remains of the attacked right now.” Blud insisted quickly letting go of the other man’s hand.” Afterwards, of course, I would enjoy comparing my findings with your notes and observations.”

His tone brush and dismissive to the wrinkled old man not that he seemed to notice, his vividly animated eyes widening almost imperceptibly as his infectious grin pulled even further at the corners of his mouth.

“So I’m not the only one with reservations that we’re dealing with some half mythical boogeyman.” The mortician said shooting a glance at Irons.” Mark my words Charles. What we’re dealing with is just some crazed drifter hiding behind the Nosferatu’s imagery.”

“The Bureau is open to all possibilities.” Smith spoke up noncommittally, voice laced with silky strands of ash gray smoke, following as Doc Henry turned spryly on his heels and ambled back out of the room leading them into the cellar where the bodies were stored.” Including non-terrestrial influence such as a Martian cult.”

The brain caste of that cyclopean, dying race, the end product of half a million years of faulty eugenics, survived almost exclusively on serum derived from oxygenated, nutrient rich blood and some of their human followers, brainwashed and driven mad by psionic contact, emulated the practice. Through even as he said it the veteran Agent felt doubt rise in him. The whole effort at masquerade simply didn’t have the touch of that enigmatic but brazen civilization.

Making up the rear with Sheriff Irons as they navigated around the unkempt empty crates and packaging which cluttered the back of the mortician’s house slash funeral parlor Blud raised an inquisitive eyebrow at his erstwhile partner as they descended down the creaking basement steps Doc Henry had vanished down looking at Smith with a marred air of surprise and amazement.

“An actually intriguing notion, perhaps the first you’ve had in the entirety of our relationship.” The creased Eastern European said before his tone turned mocking.” Through untenable in light of the present facts. A Dreamstone would produce noticeable side effects through out the population with widespread irrationality, paranoia, cases of insomnia or extremely lurid nightmares of otherworldly vistas. A pity through, I’d hate to discourage what may have been your first thought in ages.”

Craning his head walking down the shabby steps Smith was about to offer a retort, an observation concerning Blud’s maternal ancestor, when the first strong rancid whiff of the odor permeating the cellar pierced through his personal cloying miasma of stale cigarette smoke. A pungent, sickly sweet smell unfortunately familiar to the veteran Agent; the scent intimate even, almost an old acquaintance conjuring memories of muddy corpse strewn fields, fetid dens carpeted in rancid bones maggots squirming through the hunks of fetid meat hanging off and countless other dismal moments etched into his soul.

Blud, clearly recognizing the scent of death, raised an eyebrow more curious than concerned while Irons, clamping a red handkerchief over his mouth, offered an apologetic expression as the three stepped down into the grungy work area. Fluorescent lights hung from the ceiling, flickering intermittently as they warmed up, shining a pale, shallow light on nearly a dozen sheet covered bodies laid out on the steel tables arranged four deep and three long through the center of the room. A sink and counter running across one wall, some rust colored stains in its basin, murky bottles with faded labels lined on its shelving. The opposite wall carved into and excavated replaced with enclosed steel racks and trays normally used for refrigerating the deceased. Instead fine white, granular powder clung embedded to the body covering sheets or spilled drizzling into growing mounds from thick, canvas sacks piled up in the room’s corner.

Standing before them, liberally dabbing a mint cream over his upper lip, Doc Henry offered a sorry little smile and a shrug of his shoulders to the cloying pestilence.

“Refrigerator blew out a couple days before this mess started, and we just can’t seem to get the parts.” He explained offering his round tin of balm which Irons hurriedly accepted lathering a pudgy hand with the cream while both Smith and Blud shook their heads.” Its an old machine…in the mid-term we’ve taken to using rock salt but once rot sets in…”

“I suggested to burn the lot of them but Henry wouldn’t go for it.” Irons, slathering the mint-scented cream under his nose, spoke up as Blud walked gently past to the first body pulling away the salt encrusted sheet.

The white crystals diligent packed and pressed into the wrinkles and folds of the cadavers bloated, mottled skin further damaging the outer tissues already being broken down by ecosystem of unchecked bacteria running rampant through it.

“We can’t very well burn up our only evidence in these crimes, can we Charles?” Henry protested as Blud moved onto the next body and then the one after that pulling the sheet off of each.” Besides their families deserve to have something of their loved ones than just ash.

“Still think this is the work of a man?” Irons asked drawing his heavy bulk up as tall as he could as he snapped the lid closed on the tin and handed it back to the mortician.” That he would rip out another’s throat, suckle out the blood?”

“It is a hypothesis certainly not disproven yet.” Blud said leaning over satisfactorily fresh body, the widow Parker-Sue, running her hand across the discolored, ragged gash torn through her neck.

“ Look at the edges of the wound, thin but deep without any curve…suggestive of a bladed tool or weapon.” He said digging a finger into the salt packed wound.” Certainly the flesh has been gnawed upon but, judging from the surrounding tissue, likely post-mortem in attempt to disguise the actual cause of death.”

“And while we’ll have to have a plaster caste made to be sure the bite wound appears consistent with human rather than Nosferatu.” Blud finished looking up from the corpse to the other men.” No sign of the increased incisors.”

Taking a swab of the wound and growing the resultant cultures would also have been useful, more definitive. Rather than the mere animated corpses of popular legend “Immortals” were living organisms and their saliva teamed with sympathetic and congenial microbes unique to their specific biology. The regrettable condition and preservation of the bodies precluded any hope of that through.

“Are you certain?” Irons asked uneasily as Smith, already bored, checked at his watch.

An ashy haze of nicotine swirling around his face, cutting against the room’s dreadful stench, as he looked back up impatiently at his partner hurrying him on. The fingers of Smith’s hand clenching spasmicly straining the black leather of the glove then releasing itching to be out in the night hunting this murderer down.

“Fairly, Sheriff, through the conditions of the bodies leaves something to be desired.” Blud answered the nail of his probing finger piercing the back of the caked salt through a soft membrane causing a foul smelling, viscous brown fluid to seep into the wound.

Raising his eyebrow again as he held his finger up running the gelatinous pus between it and his thumb the creased Hungarian’s eyes stared in puzzlement then lit up with the excitement of discovery. His free hand reaching into his suit’s person for his cloth wrapped personal surgical kit, kept for whenever opportunity presented, unwrapping and laying it out on the woman’s stiff, lifeless chest as he wiped his hand on her equally cold shoulder.

“Was any attempt at exploratory autopsy performed?” He asked wedging the frayed lips of the torn gash wider with forceps and digging a slender necked scalpel past the ruptured webbing into the mucus filled cavity.

“No. It’s a little beyond me, I’m afraid.” Henry said apologetically as he and Irons approached drawn yet repulsed at what the Agent had found.” Cause of death was plain enough. Some fiend with a butcher knife.”

“Perhaps, but he did so much more.” Blud murmured slicing away and peeling back the soft internal tissue away from the glistening, pink stained tip of Parker-Sue’s spine.

Peeling the wet, slimy flesh away from the pus covered, squirming grub latched tightly against her spine its slightly translucent, membranous covering undulating as Blud’s scalpel pressed experimentally into it. Causing first long, ivory hooked fingers to wedge themselves free from the embedded bone and nerves and then spread out unfurling the protective, leathery cocoon into wings that pushed and clawed at its surroundings widening comfortably the niche it had burrowed for itself. Powerful hind legs, thick with ropey muscles, ending in similar curved barbs twitched as each toe-claw pulled itself free then plunged into a new crevice or gap in the vertebra securing its purchase. It’s body hairless and amorphous, a shapeless pulsating bag, connecting to a tubular curved head and neck firmly pressing its underside against the rigid bone with a lamprey’s mouth. Long sinewy strands, dozens of them, extending from out of its gullet burrowing through the spine or vanishing up into the nape of the woman’s skull.

“What the hell is that?” Irons, sweating face suddenly pale, asked his red handkerchief making a reappearance as he attempted to hold back his gorge.

“Trouble.” Blud expertly diagnosed as the salt entombed eyelids of Parker-Sue slid from over her cloudy, milk-white eyes.

Eyes that turned mechanically, spilling more of the fine white powder grinding against the desiccated organs and its sockets, after the Agent as her shriveled, bloodless lips curled back from her rancid gums in a sneer and her gnarled hand, trembling with new found life, ripped up from the table in a white hail of salt to rake her nails across Blud’s face.

Stopped, with a meaty thunk, solely by Smith’s own hand as the other Agent smoothly sprung between catching the corpse’s limb in his iron grasp. The tendons in his arm dancing underneath the sleeve of his coat as he squeezed bursting open the dead woman’s bloated flesh and crushing the bone beneath while he reached for the handle of his revolver with the other.

“Undead. My specialty.” Smith said with almost a smile as he whipped his weapon out raising it preparing to brain the sitting up cadaver’s head in.

Only to feel the cold, clammy touch of shriveled, peeling fingers encircle and clasp his wrist jagged, broken spurs of nails and bone cutting painfully into him as the grip tightened. Panning his head to look, avoiding the other slashing hand of Parker-Sue, Smith saw the mummified body on the table behind him sitting up right, its sheet spooling down to the floor, and leaning after him. Streamers of salt pouring from its open, puckered mouth and emaciated, hollow eye sockets. A panning look back in front of him showed the rest of the eight Revenants rising from their slabs stumbling on rotted, unsteady legs or sweeping shriveled hands withered into bone-claws questingly through the air. Last, straining to free his gun arm from the Revenant, the stone-faced man looked to Blud, watching fascinated the resurrections, and the others cringing back in horror. A puff of ashen smoke billowing out of the Agent before he spoke.

“This might be more difficult than I thought.” He said over the sounds of tearing sinew as the Revenant behind him arm was wrenched from its decaying socket and Smith’s revolver continued forward shattering Parker-Sue’s putrid face.” You may want to get them out of here.”

Smiling that devious smile of his Blud nodded leaving him to his fate as he wheeled around grabbing a hold of the doughy Irons and far more lean Doc Henry shoving them both up out of the room. Gunshots echoing at his heels he forced them up the groaning steps and through the house towards the front entrance. From below the sounds of gunfire died away replaced with the melodious shuffling of feet, the reedy, shrill moans the Revenants and the sounds of scuffle as a body or bodies slammed against the tables and walls of the cellar. And within his breast Blud allowed a crimson hope to flare at the thought of the hare brained oath, outnumbered and surrounded, flailing with his meaty fists into the necrotic, unfeeling horde as they assailed from all around him raking their skeletal claws flaying bloody strips of flesh from his weakening form.

Savoring that delicious image, of that last moment before his head vanished underneath their grasping outstretched hands, until he ushered his charges into the front parlor and he suddenly had more pressing issues to face. From outside moonlight spilled through the mortician’s opened door silhouetting the three drenched, muddy Revenants which staggered drunkenly into the house on deteriorating legs. White, glistening maggots and worms falling from along with clumps of soggy mud as the three swerved unsteadily, their motions unsure, then narrowed singularly to the three beings in the room.

“Roy Thompson…” Irons, green, gagged the putrefying corpse bob towards him, rotting hands outstretched.” He was one of the first to be killed…”

“An impressive deduction.” Blud said genuinely looking at the shambling Revenant’s nearly fleshless skull-face then turning an eye to the cavalry pistol on the Sheriff’s hip.” But right now I think your skill with that iron is more important.”

Letting his handkerchief, now thoroughly soiled with mint smelling gel, fall from his fingers Irons turned his plump head following Blud’s gaze and stared flummoxed at the forgotten weapon holstered there. His thick brow furrowed as his terrified brain struggled to wrap itself around a world where people he knew, not some anonymous, nameless bloodsucker but people, good people he’d seen laid to rest clamored for his life. Then, his eyes hardening, Irons nodded his hand snatching at his weapon like a starving man as he took a step forward towards the shuffling corpses drawing a bead on the furthermost Roy Thompson.

And whatever else he was, an overweight middle age in a sweaty uniform too small for his heft Sheriff Irons was a marksman. The lead slug puncturing right through Thompson’s sunken chest where his heart would have been rocking the Revenant backwards slightly as dirt and crumpling flecks of dust like meat spilled through the filthy, tattered shirt’s most recent hole. Recovering Thompson mouth yawned open, the spindly tendons connecting his lower jaw fraying giving him an impossibly large bite, for a wheezing shriek that died to a fetid hacking midway through as what remained of his lung ruptured, slimy bits of the dissolving soft tissue vomiting up through his gaping jowls while other slithered out from beneath his soggy shirt.

“Merciful God…” Irons whimpered firing again and again into Roy tearing open his shirt to show his gray, insect eaten body and the protruding ribs poking through.”…just die!”

“The head.” Blud suggested in an academic voice watching the Revenant stagger indifferently through the fire.” Shoot it in the head.”

The corpse bearing down on the Sheriff its hands, soiled strips of flesh hanging from off the stained bones, brushing against his portly frame as, with a fear driven yelp, he followed the Agent’s dispassionate advice jerking his gun upwards into Roy’s decayed face and firing. The bullet snapping his head back, nearly ripping it from off its rotten moorings, and continued on through spewing a confetti of moldy brains and brittle bone fragments. Jerking at the destruction the Revenant buoyed for a moment on its rotten heels then went limp sagging at Irons’s feet only for Thompson to catch himself and rear his broken, hollow skull-face back up staring accusingly at Irons with his empty sockets as his hands sprung tearing at the Sheriff’s ample sides.

“Fascinating.” Blud whispered to himself as a screaming Irons shoved his revolver into Roy’s puckered, necrotic chest and fired hearing the splintering creak as he snapped apart his one time friend’s spine and a more meatier, muffled noise as he hit something else.

Something that swelled the upper back of Thompson pushing to escape even as his wretched body collapsed, a maggoty tumor which clawed tearing an opening for first one leathery, black wing than the other as it took flight from its crumbling host. Roy’s skull coming with it, connected by an oozing white bundle of tendrils, lifted and torn from the decomposing ligaments of its neck as the thing fluttered into the air launching itself at a backwards reeling Irons then veering away for his swiping arm as it gained more control and soared up towards the room’s rafters. Where, recovering, the Sheriff steadied himself against Blud and Doc Henry and drew a bead on the weaving abomination.

“Just die you son of a bitch!” He shouted up at it firing his sixth and final shot cleaving open one its membranous wings and causing the squawking thing to plummet against the side of one of the room’s coffins.

Leaving two remaining Revenants at arms length which Irons pushed the others away from, shielding them with portly bulk, as he grabbed for the loop of bullets on his belt only to have Henry grab his arm pulling him away and out of the room.

“The storeroom!” The Mortician said pointing a finger at a closed room.” It’s got a window, we can escape!”

Trailing after Blud followed eyeing their pursuing Revenants guide themselves along in uncoordinated jerks of their decomposing bodies but efficient nonetheless. Wanting little more than to get one under a laboratory setting, to deduce how they chose and tracked their prey with their atrophied if not dissolved senses.

“Remarkable.” He muttered, walking backwards through the door, as the two sidestepped around a crate in their path.” Simply remarkable.”

Then he was through and Doc Henry was slamming the door shut wedging his skeletal shoulder against it as he beckoned at Blud to help a moldy desk wedged along the wall to in front of the door. The two scraping it in place just as the Revenants began to scratch at the door pounding their reedy, emaciated fists against the soft, interior wood.

“That won’t hold them for long.” Irons said huffing turning towards the promised window raising his gun up and started emptying each of the chambers of empty casings.

“Come on, we can make a run for the station, grab some shotguns…maybe set this whole place on fire.” He said walking up and peering through the grime covered glass to the desolate outside world as he began to slip bullets free from his gunbelt.

“I’m afraid Charles, I wouldn’t like that.” Doc Henry said stepping up from off the moved desk to grab hold of the surprised Blud’s head bending it out of the way of the of the strait razor he slid sharply across.

Releasing it Blud’s body collapsed, the man clutching at his bubbling wound, as Henry, smiling oh so sinister, stepped towards the shocked Sheriff Irons. The officer, turning to see this unexpected and grisly sight, stumbling backwards his bullet slipping from his hand to clatter to the floor and roll to a stop against Henry.

“You…it was you?!” Irons said in disbelief as his friend advanced towards him.” All this time?”

“Who better, Charles? I could stay close to my children.” The Mortician said raising the razor up.” Take care of them.”

“And even paranoid Paul Crawford trusted good old Doc Henry. Let him get close until it was too late.” The thing shaped like a man giggled.” Of course I needed to dress the scene a little afterwards, keep you guessing and jumping after shadows.”

Taking another step the Mortician flicked his tongue out wetting his lips in anticipation expecting the Sheriff to turn screaming trying to bash open the window to escape or fumble trying to load his gun in terror. Instead Irons stared at the dripping razor blade which, following his frozen gaze, the thing wearing Henry saw coated with a black bile rather than blood. His brow knotting in confusion as the sound of creaking floor boards caused the Mortician to turn and see Blud standing back up. His neck wound knitting itself closed.

“That was uncalled for.” The Agent said angrily his retractable incisors softly popping out to their full length giving him the ever so slight lisp.

“No. You can’t be a…” The Henry shaped thing stuttered as Blud ran towards him.

Moving faster than a man of his apparent age had a right to he evaded the Mortician’s clumsily swung of the razor catching it at the wrist and brittlely breaking it as he swooped his other hand up through Henry’s throat and face digging his fingers into the soft, warm flesh as he reached up through it to grab the man’s jawbone.

“A bloodsucker?” He finished for the Mortician using Smith’s preferred derogatory.” As you said, who better?”

Then, Henry’s bloody and torn face wide in surprise and disbelief, in a titanic jerk of strength Blud ripped it upwards uprooting it from its base along with pulling knobby, slender link of bone of the spine up through the newly created hole. Attached to which was a pulsating, leathery sack with white bundles shooting out into the detached head and spine which Blud slung with a wet smack into the floor.

Letting the head drop along beside its labrously writhing form the Agent slung his hand getting rid of the worst of the coating blood, let out a long sigh as he recovered his temper and then reached up to adjust the collar of his stained suit.

“Sorry.” He said looking over at an ashen Irons.” But you wouldn’t believe how much it costs to get these suits cleaned.”

Offering a smile to the mute, awestruck officer as his fangs retracted when a heavy thud came from the cracking door. Followed by a second and third as it split apart against the crumbling skull Smith was slamming against it. Letting the earth stained cranium fall away he bent peering through the hole as he reached a hand through to push the desk out of the way silently taking stock of Blud, Irons and most importantly Doc Henry.

“Your alive.” Blud said with disappointment as Smith pulled himself back through the door to push it open.

“Yes.” He answered simply producing a cigarette from his person.” Got everything in the basement. Found a couple more up here, found them useful.”

Finding a match he struck it against the brim of his hat as he stepped over to Henry’s headless body and the wiggling, broken thing beside him. It’s continued, laborious efforts rewarded by unfolding one wing, its hollow bones broken and protruding through its skin, and flapping it weakly against the floor and wall. As Smith stood over it the thing’s sightless head lolled and meekly began to retract the ropy white strands embedded and entwined through Henry’s nervous system and brain recoiling it all somewhere within its soggy, misshapen body which Smith kicked with the toe of his boot purposely trying to goad some reaction.

“So what is it?” He asked taking a few short puffs as he shook out his match, broke it in two then tossed the fragments atop of the creature.

“Possibly an Atomic aberration.” Blud said wincing holding his hand up to his temple.” Some bat or other creature mutated by radiation.”

From where he stood by the window Irons cried out dropping his gun and clasping both hands against his head moments before Blud felt the red-hot corkscrew twist into him. The Immortal and the Sheriff dropping to their knees as something forced itself into their inner most minds. A hissing, bubbling voice whose inhuman words seemed to echo deafeningly inside their skulls.

“Not aberration, meat sack. The Future. We shall strip the flesh from your bones, suckle the marrow, devour until your world is dead-“ The thing challenged until Smith, unaffected, drew a revolver and shot into all six chambers silencing it.

Then, beginning the tedious process of reloading, he planted his foot down on it, making sure to grind the oozing, pus filled thing against the floorboards, and walked over to Irons offering him a hand up.

“That should take care of your immediate problem.” He, exhaling a cloud of smoke, said pulling the still slightly confused officer to his feet and thumbing closed the chamber guard on his gun which he then holstered.” Now are concern should be that by my take we got thirteen or fourteen Revenants leaving maybe six unaccounted for.”

“ Likely was a deliberate effort by the creature to scatter them in case the brood was discovered.“ He explained to the shell shocked Irons.“ They will have to be found and destroyed but we can enlist the surrounding authorities for that. Let them know what they’re looking for and dealing with.”

“Add that brainshots are ineffective, you have to kill the parasite creature.” Blud said grimacing as he pulled himself back up.

His head still painfully throbbing like it had been caught in a vise as well as feeling slightly nauseous from the thankfully brief psionic contact by the slain creature. He was less grateful for the brusque means Smith had employed to subdue the mangled, bullet riddled specimen Blud shooting the other Agent a loathsome glare as he moved closer and knelt over the creature inspecting to see what remained.

“What about-what about both of you?” Irons asked finding his voice with some difficulty.

Finding it hard to concentrate on what was happening, that Doc Henry was laying dead at his feet. That he’d been about to kill Irons. That he’d been a monster.

“We’ll perform a sweep of the town as well as preliminary inspection of its citizens to confirm lack of infestation.” Smith said between pausing to take a long drag from his cigarette.” You can also expect a more specialized and in-depth team to be sent once we file our reports to the Bureau.”

“Beyond that, I’m afraid, Potter’s Quarry is just the first in a long list of unexplained occurrences and disturbances calling for our attention and manpower.”

“Besides.” He said blowing a plume of smoke out as his brass beaten face cracked into a sophomoric grin.” I got a date on the East Coast that I’m not going to miss.”

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Re: Bloodsuckers (Working title)

Post by Praeothmin » Mon May 18, 2015 8:57 pm

Nice, I like it!
Blud being a Nosferatu was a nice twist, but what is Smith?
A Warewolf?
Frankenstein's monster?

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Re: Bloodsuckers (Working title)

Post by sonofccn » Tue May 19, 2015 2:23 pm

Praeothmin wrote:Nice, I like it!
Blud being a Nosferatu was a nice twist, but what is Smith?
A Warewolf?
Frankenstein's monster?
Thanks! Glad you liked it.

As for Smith nothing so cool or awesome I'm afraid. Agent Smith is just a man albiet one possibly descended from myth shrouded Cimmeria. Or at least I imagine an 80's era Arnold dressed as a 30's noir detective when I picture him. ;)

If you will indulge me further may I enquire for your thoughts on Doc Henry and his brood? Did they "work"? That is I mean were they sufficiently otherworldly or were they just paper cut outs for Smith to tear apart?

Lastly, while I understand the vagaries of life and am certainly in no position to complain, may I offer my earnest hope for a new chapter of the Long Journey. As well as the Tides of History if your reading Breetia.

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Re: Bloodsuckers (Working title)

Post by Praeothmin » Wed May 20, 2015 1:04 am

I admit I am not the best at seeing subtle hints, but I didn't see the doctor as being the culprit...
I liked the critters, they were like a Slithers/star trek parasite mix...

As for "The Long Journey", I was actually trying to jumpstart the inspiration in the last few weeks, and was just waiting for an opportunity to start...
I don't want to get your hopes up, but let's say in a few weeks, we might have an update...
I said "might"... ;)

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Re: Bloodsuckers (Working title)

Post by sonofccn » Mon Jun 15, 2015 3:39 am

Another festering figment of my idle imagination. More of an experiment in trying for a more gothic, otherworldly feel I hope it at least passes as an amusing waste of time.

It’s a reinforced slab on floor thirteen for all the gribbly horrors recovered alive after a situation’s been resolved. Some they speculate can’t die, death itself utterly anathema to their alien flesh. All kept tightly locked under key to be prodded and studied by the men with the high-sloped foreheads. Frankly gives me the creeps going down there, being watched by all those eyes…” Agent John explaining the Freakshow.

Fumbling with his stiff, brand new great coat Agent Jameson reached in pulling out his glossy new ID Badge showing it to the bored, blue uniformed guard who mechanically ran his eyes across the black and white headshot positioned above the gold inlaid badge then to Jameson before waving him onto one of the waiting elevators. Short with a pale complexion, frail build and a mess of short, curly golden spun hair peeking out from beneath his slightly too large fedora Jameson looked like some maniac pixie rather than the lantern jaw, ironed-thewed Agent found on recruitment posters but then the Bureau hadn’t hired him for his intimidation ability.

Hurrying, his greatcoat flapping behind him like wings, putting his badge away he turned shoulder first and slipped through the opening in the elevator lift behind held by fellow Agent John. More than a head taller than Jameson with a svelte but powerful physique, an experienced if good natured face marred by a faded scar across his left cheek and a shorter crop of more dusty hair than Jameson own illustrious curls John looked every inch the veteran he was.

Letting the doors slide shut, and in doing so cutting off the buzzing susurrus of the crowded Bureau lobby, he offered Jameson a distracted but kind smile as he held his thumb over copperplate labeled buttons. His thoughts were a far away conflicted, chaotic jumble gnawing over each other for attention. A snippet of which Jameson, in the deafening silence of the elevator’s cramped interior, inadvertently gleamed out of reflex before he caught himself and steeled his mind inward. The deepest, most clear impression, embarrassingly, that of a blonde woman reclined leaning on one delicate elbow against a tussled bed, naked save for the sheet covers pooling past one milky thigh, stroking her hand up and down a dressing John’s arm coaxing him to stay which made Jameson’s cheek burned a bright pink.

Watching his reaction John raised a puzzled eyebrow for the barest of moments before dropping it again possibly deducing the other occupant’s mutation. If he did, if he so much as suspected what Jameson had intercepted, it didn’t show on his warm smile as he resumed on as if nothing had happened.

“What floor? Archives? Maybe Operation Control or are you being hauled in to talk to the Chief as well?” He asked with weary good humor as Jameson shook his head.

“No-uh…the Menagerie.” The young Agent said softly his voice dropping to a bare hush as he continued.” I have-I have guard duty.”

“Oh.” John said with a pitying look as pressed the buttons for their respective floors.” Shouldn’t be late then.”

The two silent then as the lift lurched into motion, unseen gears above the ceiling groaning, descending down into the earth and the heart of the complex. The iron arrow very slowly rotating from the large “L” of the lobby to the first underground floor the colossal armory where an Agent could go to get some shooting practice at one of the ranges or requisition more exotic ordinance ranging from mortars to Martian heat-rays. Continuing down past the insulating layers of concrete through a gulf twice as high as a normal story the arrow languidly clicked over the second floor, reserved for barracks and housing for on site Agents, as both men watched waiting impatiently in the awkward silence.

“Guard duty, huh? First time?” John finally asked breaking oppressive stillness earning a nod.” That’s rough. They did explain what’s down there, right?”

“I know what’s expected, sir.” Jameson said removing his hat and running a hand through his hair.” Actually kind of excited, must have spent hours down in the Archives after they told me pouring over old case files, examination reports, everything I could find. Its just so…”

“Fascinating?” John finished for him.” So I thought when I first heard about it…just take it easy, will you Son? Guard duty has a way of getting to you.”

“Sure.” Jameson said uneasily not liking the grave way John had spoken.” So, uh- you’re going to see the Chief?”

Nodding John reaching into his coat’s outside pocket pulling out an opened carton of cigarettes which he clawed at pulling the pasteboard messily apart to get at the white sticks within.

“Yeah. Some cock and bull pantomime of reviewing my “unnecessary violence” in subduing a Enigmacron. Ever tackled a Enigmacron? No?” John asked sourly as he began patting his coat down looking for a lighter.” A giant pulsating mistake of eugenics able to summon psionic shields to protect itself or funnel searing bolts directly from its mind. Frankly torching a single gas station is a wonderful exchange to be rid of the beast.”

Finding his lighter, the cheap disposable kind found at gas stations like the Agent had turned into an inferno, he held it up flicking it repeatedly until he gave a sputtering, weak flame.

“Chief Marsh’s timing is impeccable as always.” John, puffing away as he tried to light his cigarette, grunted angrily.” We have Agent Smith playing babysitter out across the Midwest, Union Industries is still locking us out what they found in the Antarctic, Agent Jones thinks he’s close to something out in Las Verdes, we have a boat of snake worshippers butchered by apparent Corsairs found drifting in the Pacific with no reason how or why.”

“Not to mention Sylph is on her own trying to fix the Army’s screw-up. And I’m pulling Administrative duty pending review.” He sighed, some of his frustration vented, sharing with Jameson a defeated expression.” But what are you going to do?”

A hazy image of John, decked out in guns with a eighteen inch dagger clenched between his teeth, popping into the younger Agent’s mind as the older man spoke but he dismissed it as, hopefully, a stray flight of fancy.

“ Just what we can.” Jameson offered sympathetically causing John to smile again as he offered the splayed open carton.

“Want one?” He asked chuckling softly when Jameson shook his head.” Yeah, I know. My girl’s been trying to get me to quit. Old habits I guess.”

Stuffing the broken open paste-board box back into his pocket as the elevator came to a rumbling stop and the doors slid open to a tiled antechamber with stenciled office doors through which the murmuring clacking of typewriters could be heard.

“My floor.” John said giving a quick wave to Jameson as he stepped out then turned looking back as the doors began to swing closed.” Just be careful down there kid. Watch your back.”

And then Jameson was alone, the only sounds other than his breath the grating creak of the lift’s venerable motors, the heavy steel doors clanging loudly together sealing him inside the falling box. Carrying him down past the Archives and the first of the Research and Development slabs a grand glittering citadel laid out like a wheel spoke around the elevator shafts. Each section carefully laid out and colored to a specific field of research furnishing each lab with the necessary ultra-modern equipment and the latest reel to reel memory processors.

Having gone down to that floor briefly for his aptitude, gawking through the reinforced plate glass into a cavernous hanger where a salvaged walker was being put through its paces, before being dragged off to a cramped, dull storage room to tediously read through the back of playing cards and divine childhood secrets from the stony, incredulous Examiners. Afterwards they’d taken him to a different room, one paneled in blinking banks of computers, and restrained him down into a chair and affixed a God awful number of electrodes to him which the humming memory banks fed live voltage through in intricate and ever varying degrees and frequencies collating his every minute and microscopic reaction to the twenty minute ordeal.

Of the two additional research slabs beneath the tenth floor he knew only through barrack’s gossip. That they dealt with the more esoteric, the more unpredictable, than the tenth level. That they were rigged to collapse in on themselves at the press of a button to prevent any breach of security. That there had been a breach of some kind and both levels were now sealed tombs holding some unspeakable evil. That they were in fact the Tenth slab merely looped paradoxically backwards through time. Each tale and story swapped more ludicrous and outrageous than the last.

Below that, more than halfway down the immense chasm painstakingly carved out and dug out in the Post-War years, the lift shuddered to a stop once more. The steel cable above Jameson head squealing shrilly as it came to a stop and hydraulics hissed moving steel jaws to clamp tightly at the anchoring spurs. The doors, heavy enough to withstand a small bomb, creaked and pulled apart vanishing into the walls.

The sound strangely empty and alone in the musty, still air not even echoing properly but seeming to curl up and die a few feet away. Suffocated by the peculiar stale atmosphere, dusty with the suggestion of dampness without any specific quality, that had been ancient when the olden Hyborian Kings had been entombed in their forever sleep. For this and the floors below had been shaped by no human intelligence, no eye towards clean symmetry, rather a loathsome, bloated toadstool festering abandoned and forgotten through the long eternity.

Once long ago, in the dim days of primeval, it had towered over the landscape with throngs of men and near-men gathering in supplication to bizarre emerald idols while priests walked its myriad halls scenting the moldered air with fetid incense but with the shifting of the lands and the sinking of Lemuria the edifice had been thankfully swallowed by the smothering Earth.

Stepping out of the elevator Jameson paused at the mouth of the immense causeway, wide enough for a column six abreast with a ceiling high enough for a Ravager to walk untroubled, which fed from the waiting elevators. The floor some form of ivory shaded a pale, wet pink and textured to resemble a long, fat tongue. The walls were a peculiar ebony stone hard as steel and veined with illustrious, shining lavender growths or impurities embedded through it. Their pale, diffused light spilling across commingling with the cleaner, more natural yellow lights strung bolted into the high ceiling.

Splitting off down each of the innumerable paths that curved away from the Grand Hall threading a knotted, erratic path that coiled drunkenly about the others as they wove their way through the level. Some led to the huge bulk lifts intended for the laboratories on the floors above while others aimlessly double backed on themselves or spiraled long, looping ellipticals which terminated in a blank wall. Still supposedly one path or two lead to the onyx steps which the old priests had traversed leading deeper into the citadel’s inner most heart. Deeper than then even the chasm carved through the blasphemous temple had dared to pry, a place of eternal darkness where leathery wings fluttered unseen through the air above and whispered breath, frail and reedy, seemed to rustle across each lichen covered wall.

As with the levels above tales were freely spun of an army of Revenants, moldy and worm infested from their long vigil, who prowled slaying all who dared intrude, a besotted god resting among its broken, forgotten idols half slumbering and forever hungry for human sacrifice, to fantastic thoughts of the very fabric of the lower most levels had been perversely subverted to accommodate some abysmal presence born in the stygian outer-gulf rather than the lives of mortal men.

The truth a tenebrous secret dared not contemplate here so close to its boundaries instead, carefully taking his gun out and checking it, following the signs fastened to each adjourning tunnel directing with arrows to the myriad destinations or warning of dead ends. Unable to help glancing through the cumbersome panes of shatter-proof glass covering tightly over the periodic niches cut into either side of the wall. Their original purpose a mystery each stone warren had been fitted painstakingly by the Bureau into containment cells adding the electronic coded door cover that would be pulled up out of the way by an industrial motor, motion and pressure sensors to record the occupants movements, an integral alarm system and multiple vents which could quickly flood the cramped interior with either an anesthetic or incinerating gas to subdue the prisoner.

Jameson feeling a touch of perverse pride as he recognized from his studies in the Archives each of the occupants sequestered behind the transparent pane as he walked past them. From behind one scuffed and scratched window “Tiny”, his diminutive mind consumed with the ever-present, gnawing hunger, a bloated Guardian stooped his bald, misshapen head brushing against the high ceiling as he strained against the countless chains wrapped around his swollen body and anchoring his corpulent, powerful limbs to the floor. His portly, fanged mouth slobbering caked in the festering dried blood of whatever livestock had been his latest meal.

One of the oldest “guests” Tiny had been found by the Army after a perilous and hectic fight during the waning days of the War pinned beneath a Pershing tank which had rammed into the bulbous, towering creature after its initial shot had failed to slay the beast. The rancid scar from that shell as well as from the grinding treads running down from the thing’s craggy shoulder across its sagging, bloated chest and belly.

Out from another window, lazily batting her long eyelashes, “Cleo”, a ravishing dark haired, dusky beauty, stretched languidly over her plush, velvet covered divan watching him pass as she flicked out her cigarette from its long stemmed holder into a bowl on a stand beside her. Her thoughts equally dreamy through he caught a glimpse of something glossy and many legged clutched tearing at his throat.

Taken a few a years back in a Bureau raid she was supposedly a sorceress from ages long ago, ageless and everlasting, who sustained herself on the mortal life of men draining the very essence from their withering carcasses. A sign bolted next to her cell door warned of the danger as well as the possible mesmerism it was thought she was capable of.

Creeping past he walked beneath the vigilant gaze of “Tinman” who stood motionless and still behind his window no chains or other restraints holding his massive, stout, silver frame. Easily seven foot he stood ram rod straight a polished, chrome behemoth with a single, cyclopean blood-red glowing “eye” in the shape of a pressed “V” situated right above a metallic grill from which his rough, electronic voice would crackle from. Tinman’s mechanical mind impervious and enigmatic against his most forceful efforts Jameson suppressed a shiver as he hurried along trying to shake the feeling the being’s pulsing, red eye’s gaze followed him.

From further down the hall listlessly writhing its tentacles against the floor the scarred and pitted “Gorgon”, a Martian Brain caste, turned its substantial, rigid body and sole remaining eye to the interloping human. First in idle curiosity then excitement as its immense intellect probed Jameson sensing how he was different, his greater awareness. The plodding fingers he felt pressing into his brain turning into a hammer downpour as the sluggish Gorgon relentlessly tried to batter down his defensives and entwine itself into the very being of his soul.

“Should be a bloody warning.” He said through gritted teeth raising a hand to the side of his splitting skull as he shoved the extraterrestrial away.

From behind the several inch thick glass he heard the muffled cry of Gorgon’s shriek as the ponderous thing jerked reeling from the painfully severed connection then cravenly wriggling itself backwards against the cell’s back wall hurtling malicious thoughts of vengeances and insults upon the human mutant.

Stranded after Mar’s abortive, indolent invasion attempt the colossal alien had managed to stave out a relatively humble and meek existence since the 30’s as the ruler of a backwoods cult of degenerates and crude, simple hill folk. Or it had until Agent Adams had led a group of policemen and militia to cleanse the ramshackle encampment capturing the cowardly alien in the process.

The telepathic alien’s taunts still echoing whisperingly at the back of his mind Jameson reached his destination, an oaken door with dark, brooding brass hinges and hanging ring set into a swelled, cistern like bump randomly growing out of the wall. Once, in the dim mists of prehistory, it had served as one of innumerable fanes to the faithful for the she-devil Egar’Etah through, pulling the door smoothly open, it had been refurnished taking away the bleached, bone-white plinth on which the gruesome jade statue had squatted, obscene in both its salacious, wanton posture as well as the grotesque cruelty, and removing the stone trough through which the blood of the sacrificed was offered.

Now, under the harsh glow of ceiling lamps, stood two chairs facing away from each other and separated between a glowing, shimmering faint blue column. Larger around than his arms could reach it rose from a copper base subset into the floor to the ceiling oscillating from darker to lighter shades as the very air seeming to grow hazy and blur from the energy traveling up it arcing between the copper bars of the faraday cage which made up the heart of the device.

“Here for guard duty?” A white haired man, his thoughts rigidly guarded, seated with his back to Jameson asked gruffly as the young Agent closed the door and to his relief found the Martian thoughts silenced.

Nodding stupidly Jameson caught himself and answered with the affirmative earning himself a clipped grunt and a gestured tilt of the older man’s head to the other chair.

“It ain’t going to bite ya’, sit!” He ordered with a haggard, bitter tone when Jameson hesitated looking at the chair.

A high arched back metal construct rooted into the masonry with copper brackets it looked stiff and uncomfortable with one enclosing arm sweeping in front of the seated person forming a sort of narrow table. Recessed in it a hand span apart were two indentions or pits with a small steel ball at the bottom.

Slipping himself cautiously into the seat as if he was afraid the slightest pressure or touch would break it he raised trepidatiously his hands hovering them over the two tiny spheres unsure now, on the precipices, if he could actually go through with it. His mind, despite himself, going back to the ledgers’ full of dull, grainy photographs from the Imperium’s Wartime experiments the chairs were derived from. Scrawny, wasted scarecrows with glassy, hollow eyes hooked into steel caskets, fed by pneumatic tube, more dead than alive.

“Well?” The other man asked with a grating tiredness craning his head to the side to get a look at the delay.

“Nothing…nothing.” Jameson said with resigned quietness plunging his hands down and cupping the silver balls.

No sooner making contact with their smooth, cold surfaces then rounded metal cups with a gap just barely large enough for his wrists swung up and around from the hallows clasping over and locking his balled fists in place skyrocketing his heart up through his chest into his throat.

“It’s okay! It’s meant to do that!” He tried to reassure himself, fighting off the temptation to try and yank his hands free, as the two spheres under his hands began to warm.

Burning up from cold ice too not quite painful as his fingers unconsciously writhed and squirmed around the rounded surface unable to pull away inside the claustrophobic space.

“It’s just completing the connection.” Jameson told himself as the closed buzzing of the other man’s secluded thoughts faded then went away entirely.” Making a conduit to draw my Psionic energy.”

Turning him into a living battery, one that the infernal device hungered ravenously for. In his mind his could feel it, more resolute and adamantine than even Gorgon had been, tugging trying to coax more and more out through A white-hot pinprick into other-space which burned ever more fervidly inside the dark recess of his head. Beside him the column shone brighter, becoming incandescent, as a second circuit energized and momentarily worked alongside the first before the latter closed and the other Agent was released with a clang of contracting metal.

“It’s okay…okay…there’s a safety…I’m not in danger…not in danger…” Jameson chanted deliriously, drenched in cold sweat, as he felt the burning hole inside his skull strobe and swell from some internal pressure.

Felt something push through with a primal, sundered scream spilling oily through into his mind. A cold, noxious absence that sucked hungrily leeching his warmth and vitality as it rooted and twisted through Jameson’s paralyzed body same as the foam-flecked sea might a dwindling candle. A tenebrous shadow that blotted him out from the inside as old as death and as bleak as the stygian gulf from whence it had crawled.

Whimpering, his body rigidly contorted , as his self-imposed barriers and wards crumpled and were swept aside by the invading, oozing apparition Jameson could only watch as sights and memories not his own streaked like shooting stars before him. Seeing sullen, baroque cities whose streets ran as opened graves piled with the dead, turbulent, rubble strewn battlefields as soldiers from a thousand worlds perished in forlorn hope and ghastly, necrotic processions as ghouls of every stripe, dressed in flayed skinned of the dead, vainly seeking favor or clemency with the most perverse rites and offerings.

He saw iron-skinned, steel jawed giants of a dusky world with bloodstained sky and featureless ashy desert delve beneath the coarse, gray earth for the queer green metal from which they forged and shaped their potent weapons of War. He saw them erect cyclopean, jagged cities from the veined black, marble stone dredged up from their deepest mines. Heard the melodious, haunting melody that rang from every cursed atom of the vile onyx masonry stirring the lusts and passions of the already violent giants and unconsciously guiding them to the predestined moment where their salacious, vulgar rites would summon down a thing born in the stygian outer void. An amorphous, shifting thing of undulating mass which laughing slit the collective race’s throat in a single night’s orgy of rapturous destruction.

He saw the Serpent-Lord Set worshipping Spider-Fiends of the shadowy world Arachana fight back fanatically to protect the last of their bronze temples against the Devourer of Souls with squat, crab like walkers bristling with missiles, bomb laden fighters and beam-rifle equipped warriors. The last thousands of the pious faithful, refusing to flee into space like the forever-damned heretics, entrenching themselves amide the spires and minarets of Set’s most sacred and holy city for a final, futile stand the Devourer would drag out for days enjoying itself. Crawling through the crumbling ruins where once the anointed had burned perfumed incense seeking its pleasure reverting from an amorphous medusa of razor-sharp tendrils to a jackal-faced ogre with prying claws to winged horror as whim and need struck it.

He saw the hirsute, beast like enigmatic philosophers-kings of Ikurse hobble themselves in desperation before the decadent mystic Scar, an emaciated corpse-eater whose reprehensible proclivities and fascination with certain diabolist wizards and the elder, primordial gods they served had forced theirs excommunicating him to an isolated monastery in the iron peaks of Ikurse’s most desolate range years before. Now through with the kings’ greatest machine-servants and vat-grown warriors slaughtered helplessly and their cathedral cities turned to dripping charnel houses where death stalked from every shadow they crowded into the grim, shadow-haunted mountain fortress supplicating themselves before Scar’s person listening to his reedy, susurrus whispers of Antediluvian knowledge and sunless, cyclopean worlds learned from tattered, yellow scrolls and festering tomes of the darkest leather.

Bargaining their protection in exchange for their submission in body and soul to him swearing to exalt each who did beyond the power of the Life-Bane, beyond death itself. And dying in gory bushels the most renowned kings and the lowliest beggars knelt in turn saying the instructed arcane, black speech and carving the proscribed talisman on their bleeding chest. Only for each to know the bitter most depths of anguish and Scar’s sadism as their spirits were withered and drained in the days which followed to sate the Life-Bane’s hunger leaving only mindless husks as faithful servants forever enslaved to the mystic’s perverse will. Only afterwards when Irkuse was a barren tomb tended by lifeless beings did Scar, invoking the millennia old incantation which had summoned it, dispel the Life-Bane keeping the bargain he’d struck with the hideous intelligence to transfer the Bane to a fresh, verdant world.

He saw a million lives extinguished with all the thought or care of flipping a light switch, a thousand-thousand races which slithered, crawled or flew who perished confused and frightened against this primordial hunger lurking out from the darkness. He saw worlds plunged into the anarchic dark ages or vanish beneath the radioactive clouds of Atomic bombs.

Then Jameson was on a stark, gothic bridge of a drifting ore freighter, the mummified crew draped irregularly across the command lectern and crew pit. Their beaked, ridged faces twisted craven fear with their long, slender arms bent cradling over protecting themselves from the nameless horror which had followed aboard their fleeing ship. Bending and prying apart the heavy, vault like slab of black steel of the command deck's blastshield to get in after the last, cowering mortals.

The ship's gargantuan hold, he knew with intimate detail, burgeoning with the withered, husk like bodies of the desperate refugees who crowded aboard to escape the madness and terror consuming their world only to perish in gibbering fright pressing desperately against each other into the baroque walls to avoid the writhing, ebony shadows which lashed snatching a screaming soul at random and dragging them from sight into itself.

Walking amidst, trampling the sullen stillness which hung over the morbid ship, staring with dull comprehension at the reedy, emaciated bodies stacked in dense cords over the brackish stained floor came the brutish, ignorant hairless apes of Earth. Ignorant dullards who prowled the ghost ship's dim, twilight filled interior with an undeserved swaggering confidence making jokes and talking softly to themselves of marauding Spider-Fiends and Cytherian freebooters never imagining the lingering, immaterial presence which slithered unobserved between one flickering light scone to the next following after them. Patiently waiting, listening, as the invading humans, a detachment of Marines, made their way through the inward splayed steel doors learning of the verdant world they called home. Stowing itself away inside the belly of the USS Tripoli which subsequently departed, the derelict freighter’s course and location plotted for salvage, making the first of their many-legged jumps towards Earth.

From their Jameson vision shifted to a sparkling vista of a cloud wreathed blue-green marble floating beyond the thick, plate-glass of the cramped, forward canopy of the older War-era Alpha-110 series. The glass and much of the controls streaked with rust colored dried splatter of viscera and gore not unlike the freighter with Colonel Archibald, Commandant of the Tripoli, at the con requesting clearance to land at the bustling Backus Rocket-Port. His words calm and controlled even as his paroxysm wracked body rocked against the bloodstained flight chair and restraining harness fighting against the taloned, smoke-like, ebony hand reaching from the hanging darkness behind him up through his slashed neck into his skull forcing his twitching, white knuckled hands to lock the Tripoli into a fatal trajectory into the Astroport.

The last thing Archibald, trapped between the cusp of life and death, heard was the panicked shouting of the technician to veer off as the bustling field of the port’s fuel depots and crowded, concrete launch pads swelled across the hurtling ship’s canopy. A scintillating flash following as the nose cone of the hypersonic craft impaled into the bloated side of a fuel reservoir atomizing the Colonel’s body and setting off a cascade through the surrounding fuel bins which smashed uprooting the base’s labyrinth blockhouses and inset, concrete bunkers scattering the burning fragments across a radius of miles. Gouging out from the Earth in one blistering, cataclysmic instant millions of dollars, years of work and hundreds of lives as part of a thunderous challenge and boast.

And like the zealous Spider-Fiends and enigmatic hive based Hegemony the frail creatures of Earth met the challenge pouring columns of infantry, battalions of steel-track tanks, squadrons of bombers and legions of cannons which blistered and upheaved the scarred, ruinous ground surrounding the burned crater. Gorged aircraft felling incendiary bombs creating firestorms which swept forcefully across the landscape turning everything to ash while deluging shells rained down in indiscriminate roving barrages. Groping blindly in this hellstorm small pockets of trucks, men and tanks stumbled shooting fearfully at whatever still stubbornly clung to survival amid the scathing destruction.

It was, in other words, an opulent, unending feast for the Devourer who relished the terror as much as the bloodshed as it stalked toyingly over the battlefield. Taking pains to artistically position the patrol it slaughtered for when it was found by another before leaping up into the air to dismantle in full, plain view of its peers one of the buzzing bombers with laborious slowness keeping its helpless crew alive for as long as possible. This was kept up for blood drenched days the stern, flint-hearted lords and leaders sacrificing thousands of men and hundreds of vehicles to appease and amuse the living-shadow. The Bane feeling fear only once when a man in a dark greatcoat and hat in panic inadvertently summoned a lance of ethereal light, a pure stream of psionic energy, which scathed and burned the Devourer’s twilight flesh. Reminded of the mystic Scar’s magic the abomination ignored the frantic soldiers hammering its intangible body to scoop the dumbstruck Agent up and fly away rending the screaming man skin from his bones millimeter by excruciating millimeter.

Finally Jameson was on a rain drizzled street of an evacuated township the military had made into its rear command center watching the Life-Bane enjoying as the jackal-faced ogre gnawing at the bloody stub of a leg and listening to its former owner, General Ross S. Calhoun, hurl every venomous curse and blasphemy from the ground at the Devourer’s feet struggling to reload his pearl gripped pistol. Mocking the grey-peppered officer with a rumbling laugh the demonic creature bent, ripping of a long shank of meat with a twist of its head, pressing one blood-smeared, jagged talon against the General’s lips silencing him. Pressing down it began to carve an oozing, red line underneath the General’s eye as he futilely grappled struggling against it when an agonizing beam skewered through it boiling out a fist sized hole which slowly refilled as the howling beast reared around after the source.

And there, oily rain pattering and running slick down its scarred, pitted hide, Jamesone recognized a Martian personal walking machine the roof of its cabin shorn and cut away to make room for its human occupant. Suspended and hanging over the side in front and in back were steel, cylindrical drums feeding into jutting particle weapon hanging from walker’s nose cone. Each drum an oppressive tomb for a mind, human or alien, preserved and kept alive by perverse Martian science still beyond the ken of Man. Mutant brains in this case able to tap into the unfathomable mental energies of the Psychonaut which red haired man sitting in the walker’s cockpit, whom Jameson recognized as a youthful Agent Adams, unleashed in a second volley which saw the shrieking Devourer recoiled from.

Spilling sideways and elongating across the street over a manicured, front lawn into a shapeless, rolling blob which contracted and sprung taking down part of a white picket fence as part of it swelled and budded into a five stubby fingered hand it swatted narrowly missing Adams who turned the walker shakily around and hobbled away. The rocking, buffeting machine kicking up a house’s lawn cutting across one to step over the dividing fence into the neighbors backyard as the Life-Bane shrunk back then catapulted with a hissing scream long, ebony wings taking shape as it sailed to the top of the roof then dove to the side to avoid the scintillating beam Adams fired spinning the walker’s cabin around as the machine continued over the rear fence into the street beyond.

Continuing to swivel and tilt the carriage after the circling creature getting off a final shot which the Devourer evaded by splitting itself apart down an invisible seam, letting the bolt of light pass through it, then pounced its body fluidly reshaping vomiting an oily tendril which coiled around the walker’s leg snapping it in two like tinfoil and roughly depositing Adams over the pavement. Landing a few yards away as the battered mortal pulled himself up from wreckage and dove to wrestle free the gun emplacement the Life-Bane rose like a tidal wave hurling dozens of barbed tentacles which, at the spoken word of an unseen individual, were sent careening back as the air intensified and crackled with arcane power.

Only then seeing the summoner’s circle which engulfed it, one not unlike what the mystic Scar had used but larger, as well as the scarred, pale man naked from the waist up digging a complex network of runic glyphs into his sweating, bleeding flesh inside with it. The prominent and deeply elaborate symbols butchered into his forehead and face marking him as a worshipper of the dreaded Emerald Goddess whose glory and power he beseeched. The energies which fueled the wards trapping the creature emanating from the worshipper and growing stronger as he, smiling, finished inscribing himself and, continuing to chant, wedged the steel tip into his eye socket prying the soft, wet orb free plopping it to the ground then repeated with the other side. Freeing the way for the twin, burning jets of jade like flame which erupted out from both orifices soon joined by a larger third which bubbled and burned from the cultist’s blacken maw.

Despite this the worshipers voice only became deeper with an echoing quality seemingly causing the ground to shake and the sky to tremble as he dropped his knife by the wayside and at last seemed to regard the abomination directly.

“Kneel, Dark One, before the Mistress.” The cultist taunted mockingly emerald wreathes of flames spreading across his body, singeing and eating away at the skin, and he began to levitate off the ground.

Snarling the Devourer hurled itself at the hovering apparition then cringed wheeling away as the merest contact burned, its flesh bubbling and smoking as it scooted back against the entrapping circle’s wall as the worshipper followed. Shooting down with a raised, sizzling hand the spear like protrusions the Bane expelled in a frantic flurry at the encroaching specter. Coming within arm’s reach where the cultist then plunged both burning hands into the center as, screaming, the Devourer ignored the blistering flames ramming new-grown spikes through the cultist’s withering torso locking themselves into a horrific embrace…

Where upon Jameson woke up still restrained in his chair gasping covered in beads of sweat with a heart hammering to escape from his chest. Off to the side the white haired Agent he’d relieved finished untangling himself from his chair and stood up popping a creak from his back as he made for the door. Sparing a sympathetic glance at him the haggard and incredibly drained man paused from his flight to grab a meal and a couple of beers to help wash away a laborious stint at guard duty.

“You okay, Kid?” He asked concernedly as Jameson turned an even more ashen shade.” They did warn you, right?”

“ Just-just that the device served as a connection. Nothing about the visions themselves.” The youth said weakly licking at his dry lips.

“Kind of have to feel those for yourself I’m afraid.” The white haired Agent said with a forced laugh.

“Wish I could say it got easier, Kid, but this is going to be the longest four hours of your life.” He said drawing Jameson’s gaze to the pulsating tube.

To the skeletal claw-hands pressed against the static field and dead, skull-like leering face with a fleshless grin and empty, charcoal black eyes admiring its latest handiwork as it probed for the slightest weakening in its prison then began anew plunging Jameson back into a nightmare of pain and horror.

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