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The Cold of Winter short story

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Re: The Cold of Winter short story

PostWed Nov 04, 2015 11:00 am

Part 6
Caleb’s arm felt tight and warm around Silene’s neck, and she could feel his pulse quicken even more so at the sound of whatever was coming from the darkness. All three figures turned their heads towards the sound, and Caleb pointed his revolver at the inky darkness as if it itself was about to coalesce into some kind of evil shadow. Giron, meanwhile, quickly glanced around at the floor for the rifle that Silene dropped earlier, located it and bent down to retrieve it. He also joined Caleb in pointing the gun towards the darker end of the parking lot. A collective fear made them all forget their animosity and almost bring them into an ad-hoc alliance, as this new threat could potentially dwarf the brawl they had just had. Each seemed to gulp in turn as they waited anxiously for whatever was to happen next.
The sound got louder as whatever was causing it was getting closer. It then stopped just outside the range of the light emitted from the heat lamp and beyond several cars that were surrounding the camp. Caleb loosened his grip enough for Silene to escape but she saw prudence in staying near to her erstwhile enemies as their combined firepower would keep her safer than her being alone. Giron grabbed the thermal goggles and pulled them up to his face to see what was making the noise. Silene was surprised to see Giron throw her gun back to her as he focused on holding the goggles with both hands up to his eyes. She hesitated for a moment as she felt a sense of power return, but sensing the collective threat that faced them all, continued Giron’s over-watch into the darkness. Giron turned the dials on the sides of the goggles to calibrate his vision to the pitch black and a picture blurred into view of the concrete support pillars, revealing a bone yard of old vehicles much like long grass in a windless meadow. Left and right he scan, but nothing met his view. He stepped forward towards the carcass of a nearby car so he could see a little further into the parking lot.
As he came closer to the car he could see more of the floor between the vehicle skeletons, and what he saw froze him in his steps. Everything he could see gave no thermal signature, just shades of pale blue broken up but the outlines of the vehicles and concrete pillars. All except the floor, which seemed to glow bright white indicating something was giving off a massive amount of heat. Unsure of what was causing the floor to be so warm, Giron took a few more steps to sharpen the image through his goggles and better clarify what was going on. Watching Giron’s meticulous steps, Caleb did his very best to whisper a shout over to him.

“What can you see Giron? What is it?”

Giron lowered the goggles and turned his head back to answer Caleb.“I...I don’t know, but the floor looks like it’s giving off a lot of heat” He replied with a slightly more confident tone.

Caleb acknowledged with shallow nod, then gently lowered his pistol and cocked his head from side to side as if trying to hear out for anything that might give them more clues as to what was exactly happening. Silene found herself straightening up as the threat seemed to have lessened, her brow furrowed in bemusement as her eyes scanned the silent darkness. Giron returned to his search, then Caleb and Silene saw his hand launch back at them with an open palm as if to signal to not move; he had seen something. Silene was drawn to how still he was, much like a statue as whatever he saw had frozen him stiff. Guns were raised in an instant as the fear became a palatable infectious entity of its own, spreading from Giron to Caleb, then onto Silene. Giron gently pulled his hand back in and towards his pocket and grabbed the keys for the buggy. He turned his head over his shoulder towards Caleb and gestured for him to take the keys. As Caleb’s hand touched the key, Giron brought his head forward to Caleb’s and said:

“Get back to the buggy as quickly as you can, put the key in but don’t start the engine ‘til I’m ready, got it?”

“Ok got it. But what do we do with the girl?”

“I might hate her guts right now, but I’m not gonna leave her to this” as he gestured with a sideways nod over towards the darkness.

“What is it?” Celeb asked, crouching low as to avoid whatever it was’ gaze.

“Take a look” Giron said as he passed Caleb the goggles. Caleb squinted in confusion as he could see a mass of warm things writhing and tumbling over themselves just a few metres away, but seemed to cover much of the parking lot like a vast organic undulating carpet. His eye’s widened as he realised he was looking at a group of Scourge Razorworms; enormous alien slug-like beasts that could grow between 10-30 feet in length with stories describing even larger ones. They must have been stimulated by the noise of the scuffle earlier, but were possibly not yet fully awake to respond or even register the humans nearby. Passing the goggles back to Giron, Caleb turned as quietly as he could on his heel and took several steps towards the buggy as Giron instructed. Silene still wasn’t quite sure what was happening but was somewhat relived to see Caleb gesturing to her to join him in the vehicle.

“Ready” Caleb whispered to Giron. He answered back with a simple thumbs-up and started to make his way towards the vehicle. Giron had to pass around the camp they had set up earlier, and he noticed the map generator sitting there which they would need if they were to find their way home. Glancing over his shoulder towards where the worms were located, he gently crouched down to grab the device. He knocked it. It suddenly sprang into life, projecting the holographic display before him and made a few synthesised electronic noises. They all instantly turned to the device as Giron frantically pressed buttons to shut it down before it alerted the creatures of their presence.

“Give it here” Caleb said as he was the one who knew how to use it, instantly reminding himself of he couple of button presses he would do to put it in standby mode. Giron complied and passed it over as Caleb leaned sideways from the buggy. Caleb leaned back into the cab with the device and Giron felt something drip onto his head from above. He turned round to see one of the Razorworms looming over him and watching him very intently with several ruby-red insectoid eyes. Two parallel rows of spines were positioned ventrally on its underside, ending at the top of the creature in huge gaping maw with a circular set of fangs. With a silent, lumbering and precise movement the Razorworm tumbled onto Giron, the sheer weight and force pulverising him and yanking his outstretch arm where he had passed the map to Caleb. Blood splattered over Caleb as Giron disappeared under the worm’s immense bulk. For a moment Caleb froze in horror at the shocking event that just happened, unable to cope with the violent lose of his comrade. Despite this, Silene was quick to respond by turning the keys in the ignition and then pushed her foot down on Caleb’s to press on the accelerator. They both lurched forwards towards the ramp before Caleb snapped back to reality and took control of the wheel. The screeching tyres combined with the loud revs of the engine alerted the mass of Razorworms and they came as a tide of undulating flesh and teeth, eagerly barrelling over one another to catch the vehicle and its riders.
Silene turned in her seat and swivelled one of the crossbar lights back at the worms to see a glistening black mass bowling up the ramp behind them. She awkwardly placed her rifle next the light and fired shot after shot into the mass, then clicking the selector switch to full auto and held the trigger down without considering her aim or any sense of target priority. The tight curve of the upwards ramp plus Caleb’s inexperience with the buggy meant he had to focus on his driving rather than just pressing down hard on the throttle and going full speed. He was anxiously aware of the cold slab walls on either side of him speeding past; if he was to even clip one he would almost certainly crash the vehicle and they would both meet a nasty end. Sweat ran down the side of his temples as he was trying his hardest to hold the steering wheel in one place that allowed the buggy to follow the ramp. He didn’t blink once as he anxiously watched for a sign of the exit to the cyclical tunnel, all the while the sound of Silene’s gunfire reverberated through the buggy and around the close confines of the claustrophobic passageway.
He sucked in a sigh of relief as the exit appeared out of nowhere, and he eagerly pushed down hard on the peddle to get them both to safety. He had gathered quite some speed as now the ramp was straight for a hundred feet or so, causing the buggy to leave the ground for a moment once they got to the top. The impact of the vehicle coming back to earth knocked Silene back, yet she managed to hold on for dear life as Caleb turned the vehicle sideways to clumsily line back up with the road outside. They then accelerated away from the cavern into the cold bitter dawn before them and away from the danger they had encountered at the parking lot.

I hope y'all like it so far. This has brought it to a convenient end point, but I do have plans for Silene and Caleb, so if you want more give me a shout and I'm sure I can rustle up the next bit!

Thanks for reading!

Jeff Newton

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Re: The Cold of Winter short story

PostWed Nov 04, 2015 3:59 pm

That's great. I really like the stories.

UCM Deathdasher

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Re: The Cold of Winter short story

PostTue Nov 24, 2015 6:10 am

Please sir, more? :D
One of the youngest and worst dzc players around.

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