Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Danger is Not My Middle Name #9
Jennifer pushed me hard up the stairs. My ordinarily unflappable partner was moaning with something that sounded suspiciously like terror. The stairs felt slick and even smaller than they had been before.
“Holy crap,” I muttered, guiding myself along the stairwell by running my hand along the wall in the pitch blackness. The wall was also covered with that viscous, sticky coating.
“Listen, Diamond,” puffed Jennifer, struggling along behind me. “I need to go help Gerald…otherwise those things will…they’ll…”
“Suck the life right out of him and leave a lifeless husk behind, an unclean thing destined to become another creature of the night?” I offered hopefully.
Pause. “Yes. Something like that.”
I nodded – and then realized there was no way she was going to see that in the darkness so I muttered something like “okay.”
“If we don’t come out of here you need to look under the bed in the stateroom, understand? And you need to keep it safe.”
“Keep what safe?”
“Never mind. And if you see either Gerald or me in…in the night….under absolutely no circumstances are you to let us into your room. You understand me? If it’s me I won’t come to you unless it’s daylight. If I come to you in the night...don’t look into my eyes and don’t…”
Her voice cracked into silence and statement hung in the air between us, crackling with everything she didn’t say.
“Holy crap,” I whispered again.
“When you get out of here – you need to get back to the ship. Don’t wait for me. Don’t wait or Gerald. GO!”
She shoved me hard and I took four steps at once, nearly tripping over my own feet . Arms pin wheeling wildly, I managed to regain my balance. My breath was coming in agonized gasps and I wished I had brought my inhaler. But a private dick with an inhaler? One of these things was not like the other. You never saw Bogie with an inhaler. Or George Raft.
I ran upward. There seemed to be a thousand steps. In the end I ran directly into the door so hard that stars flared in front of my eyes. My hands clawed for the handle. Below me I could hear the sounds of fighting, heated snarls and all too human sounds of exertion. But it was all far away.
What would Bogart have done? He would have gone back down there and kicked some undead ass. Concluding with every step that I wasn’t Bogart, I ran to the bottom of the hill and congratulated myself because I hadn’t peed in my pants. Much.
I waited there for five minutes that felt like five hours. My pseudo girlfriend and the guy I was supposed to be following were probably getting torn to pieces inside there – their lifeless husks would soon be twitching back to undead life.
I suppose I should have felt guilty. If I was in a movie – I would gird my loins, slam through the door and rescue Jennifer from the scuttling advance of the head vampire guy in just a nick of time, feeling her warm body fall into my arms in a surrendered swoon.
But this wasn’t a movie and those things scared the snot out of me. So after several heated arguments between my mind and my heart, my mind (ever the self-preservationist) won. I sighed and made my way back to the ship alone, really alone, for the first time. If they had won or even survived, Gerald and Jennifer would have been here by now.
I made a beeline for our stateroom. I needed to know what was under the bed. I guess I fixated on it, having failed at everything else.
I was walking down the outside deck to our stateroom, thinking that I may have been the only one to survive the night…well…survive the night with actual blood and stuff…when I saw a dark cloud of mist appear half a ship away. Then I saw the creature step out of the mist and start shambling slowly and purposefully toward me.
“Holy crap,” I breathed. Again.