Hello there! It’s time for another short story. This one took me longer than I’d expected, but it’s finally done. Also, I’m thinking on writing three or four parts for this one. Expect this one to be longer than the Eater of Faces (originally Face-Eater, but I changed it.) So, this one tells of a parallel dimension where mutants run rampant, killing humans for food, humans that are no longer mere humans, but mutants as well.
WARNING: Gore and abusive language ahead!
Heir of The black catacomb
“Move your arse over here!”
The incompetent squad leader tells me. He knows how to make people do as he says, but he’s got no idea how to lead a squad properly. Let me put it this way; he knows how to send people to battle without a strategy.
Are we soldiers, you ask?
We are soldiers of the Catacomb.
“Yes, sir.” My reply is weak. I’m doing it intentionally.
“What? I can’t hear you!” The sergeant major shouts.
The only thing that’s causing too much noise here is you, sergeant. If you didn’t scream like that, maybe you could hear me.
What’s the Catacomb, you ask?
It’s the Black Catacomb, a dimension that doesn’t exist in reality. Time doesn’t exist here, therefore, we’re eternal, but mortal.
Before we were forced to enter this accursed place, we were just normal peasants who lost their wealth. We were forced to enter this place as expedition corps. What are we now, you ask?
We are mutants.
“Faster! The beasts are coming at us any moment now!”
The sergeant just doesn’t seem to understand that he’s the one attracting them here with his loud voice. If I were the leader, we’d be done with this shit already.
Although we’re mutated humans, we still look like humans, for the most part. All of us have silver eyes now, that’s because of the dark. We can’t really see like humans anymore. Our eyes rely on heat to see, that’s the only thing everyone in this Catacomb has in common.
As soon as I get to the sergeant, I ask, “What is it, sir?”
“Set up this trap over there!” You know, you’re dead in twenty-three seconds.
As for the environment, we’re in a tunnel that’s called ‘External Tomb’. The contrast, Internal Tomb, is the area where mutants appear less. The hostile mutants, that is.
These are all names we’ve made up ourselves. Our numbers were 5,000 when the expedition began, now, we number about 1,000. Thousand of the best. Oh well, I’m considered a nuisance, for I haven’t mutated yet.
Or that’s what they think. Of course, I’m a mutant as well, I just haven’t told of my mutation to anyone, hence they think I’m just a mere human.
Now that I think about it, I’m the last ‘weakling’ remaining.
“Sir, I heard something.” Our corporal blurts as I’m walking away with the trap material.
It’s been thirteen seconds since I stated the sergeant major would die.
“What was it? A mutant?”
“Not sure, it could’ve been just a steam eruption somewhere near.”
“Corporal! There’s a mutant type—”
“—that lets out hissing—”
“—that sounds like—!”
The sergeant major’s head is sent flying by a figure in the dark.
“What the hell!?” The corporal cries.
Idiot. You call yourself the leader, yet you couldn’t even see that coming? The incompetent falls first. I hide behind a rock that has fallen from the ceiling, putting down the trap material carefully, as it can attract the mutant to me.
The corporal has his weapon drawn, a stave with blades on both ends. Two other soldiers draw their longswords. Now that we saw the mutant killing the sarge, we all know what we’re dealing with. It’s a common mutant we see daily, and it’s also one of the most dangerous.
No one says anything, we’re all still, waiting for the mutant to come out of its hide. Though we can see heat, it’s not helpful here as the mutant we’re dealing with has no body heat. Of course, if it’s moving around carelessly, we can detect it easily.
However, it killed the sergeant major without leaving it’s hiding spot. We call this particular mutant Type 4. The number four stands for the rarity rank, so in short, this monster is really common.
I’ve got some snacks with me, I can hide here for a day or two if it comes down to that, but I’m not so sure if those other poor soldiers in the open can. There are no rocks behind which they could hide, nor can they move, for if they do, the mutant might hear them.
You see, it has no eyes. It relies on hearing.
I pick a tool from the trap material box, carefully, then I throw it in the middle of the tunnel. The noise that’s caused by the tool is loud as it hits the floor. At once, I can see a figure move towards it so quietly that it isn’t possible to hear it.
The others see it as well, those incompetent idiots. They start taking careful steps towards the mutant that crawls on the walls. It’s a slow creature, but it has a weapon that strikes faster than the eye can follow.
I’m not going to help them. There’s no reason to risk my life here. In fact, there’s so much profit in hiding that I don’t see a single reason for me to help them. If I just hide, won’t they think I’m an incompetent idiot and a coward?
Someday, they’ll realize the fact that I’m of no use and they’ll strip me of my soldier status. Either you’re a soldier, or you’re a worker. Those who are workers basically live for as long as there are soldiers, as they won’t have to leave the base we’ve built over the years.
I’d like to be a worker.
I’m not a coward, nor am I useless in combat. It’s just that I don’t see any reason to fight for something that’s not mine.
Also, I’m a mutant.
Mutated humans aren’t humans, so I don’t feel like a human. When I look at the others, I see resources, not friends, not allies, just resources.
It’s possible to escape this Catacomb, but not the way we came. Some unknown force sealed the entrance so that no one gets out. However, there is an exit somewhere, a hole from whence fresh air comes in. It took us several years to get deep enough to realize that fact. We didn’t feel the fresh air back in the ‘Old Sector’, the area where the sealed entrance is.
Since this place is like a labyrinth, I don’t think we can find our way back to the entrance anyway, not in a year or two. If I was given five years of guaranteed survival, I’d try to go back to the entrance just to see if it’s still sealed. I mean, we live eternally, as long as nothing kills us. Five years for checking something like that, I wouldn’t mind it.
By the way, did they kill the mutant already? I felt like it’s waste of time to watch them try it, so I didn’t follow them with my eyes.
Now that I’m taking a look, I can see the corporal and one other soldier standing there with two dead bodies, plus a corpse of a mutant. That thing is a flat beast that reminds me of a frog that’s been stepped on. Its tongue is similar to frog’s, you see. It uses it as a tool to behead us.
So they did manage to kill it, huh? Though it did cost them two lives. Pathetic. Those incompetent fools haven’t smelled the sulfur, I bet.
The smell of sulfur means two things in the Catacomb. Either we’re close to a sulfur field, or we have a Type 12 after us.
In this case, however, it’s not the sulfur field.
“Something’s coming!” The corporal warns the two of us.
Fool, I don’t need your warning. I knew that Type 12 is coming before you even killed that Type 4. Truth to be told, I’m already running for my life.
Since it was a Type 4, there should also be a small hole somewhere, a nest, that is. If I find it, I’ll hide there. Otherwise, I’ll be running to the closest Dimension Orb. A Type 12 won’t find me from a small hole like the ones Type 4s make, not that it could get me even if it found me from such a spot.
“It’s a Type 14! Run!” Oi, it’s Type 12, not 14. Idiot.
You know, you’re dead already. I’ve found the Type 4’s nest, and I’m already climbing up there. Damn, this one was a nasty bastard, making its nest high above the floor.
As soon as I get into the hole, I hear a large beast rampaging nearby, probably killing the two others even now.
“Heeelp!” Either of them cries.
Ah, why must we fight? Can’t we just hide from the mutants? It’s not like they’re actually hunting us, they kill us only if we happen to cross paths with them. Those very few mutants that find their way to the base can be dispatched easily with the defense we’ve set up. So why leave the base? Especially to an area we know already.
I can hear something munching on a soft object, I bet that’s either the corporal or the no-rank soldier who’s being eaten alive. Oh, I can even hear the mutant swallow.
I wonder how a mutated human tastes like.
Nevermind that, I’ll just wait here until the beast goes back to the sulfur field from whence it came. It’s a Type 12, it leaves its nest only to hunt for food, and as soon as it finds a snack, it returns to the nest which is a sulfur pool.
It can’t sustain its body without sulfur. It needs to go back, and once it does, I’ll hurry to the closest Dimension Orb. It should be safe as the smell of sulfur scares away all the other mutants. You see, mutants have a survival instinct as well, and the smell of sulfur is something 90% of the mutants are afraid of, as they all know there’s a chance that it’s a Type 12.
Once the Type 14 is gone, I’m leaving my hide. My back is aching due to the poor position, but I’m fine with that.
The closest Dimension Orb should be nearby. We passed it as we came here. I don’t smell, hear, or see anything that threatens me, so I’m walking rather hastily.
The tunnels here in External Tomb are more natural, whereas Internal Tomb looks like someone or something had built it as the walls and ceiling are made of bricks. Not only that, there are torches that burn eternally. I’ve got no idea as to who the hell has built this place, nor does anyone else.
If I recall, the fires of those torches were blue and they burned in an eerie manner. I don’t think I ever want to meet the creator of this place. I mean, such a being could be anything, a god or a monster.
Hell, this whole place is in a timeless dimension, so it can’t be a mere human that made this place, right?
After a short while, I arrive at the Dimension Orb, a blue glowing orb of darkness that’s been placed on a pedestal in the middle of a square room. The walls around the orb are made of bricks, the room itself is lighted by two torches that burn eternally.
I look into the orb, carefully touching it with my hand.
And then, I find myself from a whole different dimension we call the ‘Safe Haven’.
A complete darkness surrounds this place. I’m sitting on a platform, lighted by eight torches of eternal fire, not that I need the light to see. This place is an external dimension of the parallel dimension of reality. Complicated, isn’t it?
The radius of this platform is about ten yards. In the middle, the Dimension Orb is glowing on top of a similar pedestal as back in the Catacomb. The torches are placed on the rim.
Other than this platform, there’s void around me. I have no idea what happens if I drop down from the edge. What I know, however, is that there’s no way back if you drop down.
In this place, I should be totally safe. Only mutated humans can come here.
Speaking of which, I hear an odd sound resounding in this empty place. It’s the sound of someone entering this dimension through the orb. So either of the soldiers survived and came here?
No, the figure that appears from the orb is a person I know all too well. “Evening.” I greet her.
“Evening,” she returns the greeting.
You see, the Catacomb is an underground place, so we don’t see sunlight at all, therefore, we use ‘evening’ as a greeting as it fits the idea of eternal darkness.
“Arain, you are suspect to a crime you most likely have executed on purpose. Please, follow me and my orders obediently, or be expunged.” She states out the sentence I’ve heard over a hundred times in my life. She just never learns, does she?
Her mutation is called ‘Eye of Past’, for she can see the past of the area around her in ten-yard radius. She can see as far as twenty years back, or just .001 second to the past. So theoretically, she can see the area around her in ten-yard radius, whether she had eyes or not.
She’s making my life a hell. I have to be really careful with my actions. “What have I done in your opinion, if I may ask?”
“Murdered the corps you headed out with.” You know, you’d speculated something like that before anyone had even died. Unless you’d been secretly watching us, you possibly couldn’t know that people died. Oh well, this crazy bitch has grown attached to me—in a bad way. She wants to see me in jail—or my grave. However, her sense of justice won’t allow her to murder me.
Her eyes speak of her coldness, her never-smiling attitude emphasizing it. Fuck this bitch. When we first entered the Catacomb, we were all terrified, barely maintained a calm expression around the campfires we made.
But now, we all have changed. We’re mutants, we don’t possess the weakling’s emotions. And this crazy bitch is showing that coldness of a mutant so well that I’m jealous.
“May I speak in my defense?” I’ve dealt with her countless times, and this won’t be the last.
“You may as long as it won’t hinder my investigation.” I hear an answer I’ve heard countless times before.
“Then I will tell you the truth. We headed out to place a trap to the External Tomb entrance as we were told. As we were setting up the trap, Type 4 attacked us, killing the sergeant major first. We remained still and silent for a moment to find the mutant. I helped my allies by throwing a tool to the floor, which made the mutant to move over. Using that opportunity, we killed it, but at the cost of another soldier. As soon as we had killed it, we smelled sulfur, and so we began fleeing as we didn’t have the necessary weaponry to fight the Type 12 that hunted us. The result? Only I survived as I climbed to the safety of a Type 4’s nest.”
Countless times I’ve explained myself like that, but always they treat it as a murder case. Oh well, if 95% of the people I head out with die, I suppose you can call me a suspect for murder. Normally, the death rate is about 3% nowadays, unless it’s me we’re talking about.
Of course, I won’t deny that I’m not a murderer.
What I do deny, however, is that I don’t kill for zero profit.
“I shall take you to the spot where those soldiers died. I shall see it for myself.”
Thus, I’m forced to head back to where I let my allies die intentionally.
To be continued.