The Vault Runner

My mind departed from my body, seeking down through the hallway and the open blast doors there. Around the corner, lie an open vault. I was already running. I ran through the halls, the diffuse light of the corridors entering me, inciting memories of a time when theses corridors were full, in a different place, in a distant past. I coughed up black, sticky blood. I didn’t know where I was I didn’t know who I was.

But I could hear them running behind me. Their black footsteps. My vision tinged with yellow, and my feet ran off their own accord. I was bleeding. I wasn’t sure from where.

“There he goes!”

“I can see its blood, it’s black!”


“What is he??”

I rounded a corner, heading upon the steel container inside. It had the breadth of a wall.

Its steel wheel was shut. It resisted fast, and my heartbeat sounded to the fall of footfalls. I threw phosphorus, which diaphinated into a cloud of sparking smoke. I sprayed into it, then heaved, the metal door squealed with rust, its bars spinning open.


Almost in shadow, a hulking, sinewy form slid past, leaving its daggers in my chest. The Vault door slammed shut.

The wheel turned, locking. I coughed once into enveloping darkness. The sound of it seemed to stir up a whole host of other sounds tittering and clicking in the darkness. Shaken from my slumber, I clicked the light on, on my SMG. Nothing. A low fog, from some moisture, partially concealing the metal walkways on the narrow floor, rounded tile ceilings and an endless black hallways that loomed out of sight, and the smell of… blood?

I waved my light to the far end of the shadowed hall. Two eyes had glared there, reflecting off the scant light. I found my feet under me and began moving towards the empty corner, while tin strings picked and plucked inside my head. The hallways… this color… this mist… was it all… blood?? And so it was. I was seeped in blood from my uniform to the very house and hall I was in, the very air I was breathing. I whirled around the corner,

Nothing. A low growl emanated from behind me, deep in the ceiling of darkness. Slick, sticky slob slapped onto my neck, oozing in a viscous globule down my shirt. I fell back and sprayed, my light illuminating his face as my bullets flashed into his neck, flesh rippling. I saw its face, shocking. It was that of an overgrown baby, its tiny, blue, blue eyes, contracting in the light to needle sharp points, bulbous amounts of slobber emanating from its mouth. Its huge, sinewy mass contracted, a ridiculously large claw blurred into my side. Its face ripped open at the seams

And enormous bony fangs erupted from it. Its face descended on me, and it began to gnaw my face to shreds.

I gasped, immediately coughing into darkness. I fumbled for my light. I was back at the Vault door. It’s just like what happened at the silo! I had jumped from one of the uppermost balconies into the water at the bottom. Turns out, it was only two feet deep. My legs were so twisted up under me that the guards there emptied two magazines into my chest, and then unloaded another one each on me. And then before in knew what was happening, I stood at the parapet, ready to jump, the world around me having spun into existence from ethereal blackness.

I tried to see if there was any way back through the door, but the steel bolts and wheels were faceless.

I turned just in time to see something huge crawl from the ceiling out of sight. My heart pounded twice.

It whirled around the corner again, its claws clamping furiously through steel grille. clank-clank-clank-clank-clank-clank-CLANK-CLANK-CLANK.

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Heavy caliber smashed into it, rippling up its torso and neck to its face, popping its eye, but it did not seem to care. The last thing I heard was the swooping of its claw from blackness, the last thing I saw was its jaw tearing open expediting rows of angler fish teeth.

I gasped, inhaling a lung full of blood, and I swarmed to my feet, coughing and retching. As I spit the last globule of blood against the bars on the floor, where it stuck with full mass, a dead silence trembled in ecstatic expectation. HH!!! Its eyes bulged in the sudden light, a pace away.

It leapt.

I rolled.

I caught it under the armpits with my feet, and pushed, the bullets from my pistol sinking through the bottom of its chin as it scored me, a raw and nauseating slash from my face bones, my collar, and my chest, all the way down through my leg, where it caught and slipped out across my more tender marrow.

The pain was deep and numbing, and I hobbled away on a straightened leg, copious amounts of blood pulsing from it. I balanced on my heel and watched as it warped and writhed with agony. Finally it banged its head against the bars and tile, which shattered and warped. The thing turned two hateful eyes towards me, glowing in the dark. I was shocked, startled. I knew that hate. Sinuously, it extended claw after claw, a growl emanating from its bowels, its insides.

“HA!- HAha,” I could only laugh contemptuously as something dinged into the ground. I turned off my light, and closed my eyes.

Blinding light stunned us as I leaned just so far forward, passing through his claws before its chest slammed into me, taking us both down to the ground. I forced its chin upwards with the heel of my hand, and emptied seven rounds from its throat into its brain.

Its claws sank deep into my back, through my ribs. Too deep. I gasped as it only squeezed tighter, and forced myself through agonizing movement as I put my pistol in my other hand and put two its eye.

The only thing I noticed was a strange solidity to the writhing shadows this time, a strange noisiness before silence engulfed me.

I stood, harrumphed, turned on my light and turned my back to the hall, as if studying the massive door. But my eyes were closed. 1…2…3! CLINK-CLINK-CLINK-CLINK!!

“HAAAAAAA!!!” It froze in the light, its tiny pupils showing constricted fear. I sprayed it in the face, the lead striking hard against bone as its facial flesh was ripped apart, and sinking past its thick skull at the eye and nose. It screamed, the sound shatteringly high pitched as I rebounded off the wall and past it, around the nearest corridor corner-there-! Light!

Emanating from the darkness, the figure threw itself after me as I flew in full flight, rushing by at a frightening speed. Something wet touched the back of my neck and it was blood, rushing from the face of this… thing. This beast. In moments I was there, with a good lead. I threw the biggest bomb I had, but it screamed. The smoking bomb flew back, behind me, and my face, iron hewn and seeped in red, only had a moment to see before the fiery blast partially incinerated me. I flew headfirst into the steel hexagonal wall, past the human golem, who swiped at me with golden claws and only raked my vest, sending me into a tailspin. It lumbered after me, loping on all fours in a halo, its jaw unhinged and wagging, as I fumbled for my feet it came upon me, trying to sink its teeth into my face, but the knife in my hand found itself, and I swiped at its single remaining eye, and it flinched like a mollusk, and my pistol shot its eye hole, sinking deep and widening the wound. In counterance to everything, it released me, and in counterance to everything, I attacked it. I flew directly at its chest, and its throat, my foot knocking it off balance before my blade struck.

It caught my hand. I kneed its face. It let go, and I slashed its throat deep, the thin razor blade catching into the hardened, thickened flesh. I landed hard, something in my knee horrifyingly refusing to bend. Its back was to me, heaving in pain and rage. It ROOOAAAAARRRED and began to turn towards me as I emptied a most of a magazine into the base of its skull. It charged me like a bull a bloody wreck. I turned to run, but again my knee refused to listen. I forced it horribly- until I saw the jagged tooth more than halfway to its length buried in my kneecap and shinbone. I gripped its literal razor-edge and pulled, slipping. -It was huge- I slipped once more -Bearing down on me, mad with bloodlust!- I yanked the spike from my knee and drove it into the things neck as its claw tried to reach into my guts. I severed its wrist ligaments, and its other arm threw me like a rag-doll. I smashed into the iron banister below the light, rending it, and collapsed, limp as a boned fish. In my lucidity and terror it bore down on me, shaking the whole room. It was there. Its ruined face stared down on my limp form with disgust and hated. It smashed the banister to a tangle, and my body leapt from the ground for a mere moment. But a gun also, slid and dropped down the stairwell, clattering by my side, but just out of reach. My fingers reached for it… Its fangs were salivating, so heavily now, and endless stream of drips raining on me. It extended a single hooked starry claw, and I saw the mad glee in its inhuman blue eye as its gash of a mouth grinned. And I saw it. I saw myself. This Insane Creature Blamed Me For Its Existence. Sound familiar? My death would not be an easy one. It tried to pick me up with its lame hand, but I merely slid a few feet over. It only regarded me suspiciously, and I realized with its blind eye on that side, it could not see the gun next to me. I trembled from fear and exertion. It laid its full hand on me, trying to scoop me up in its other arm. I guess it wanted to eat with a proverbial teacup. My fingers could feel its metal grip. My chest was slowly compressing as the claws sank a little deeper. With a jerk and a hump, it had me tucked in its arm.

I whispered something. Its eye sharpened, and with an almost human understanding, he brought me to his razed ear. “I… am you…”

I jammed the gun under his chin and pulled the trigger five times.

Like a marionette gone limp, he collapsed onto me. I felt the air being squeezed from my lungs. If I didn’t- get-him-off me–! I would die, for real. His single remaining glassy eye looked into mine as I struggled. An eye, the same color as mine, the same hue, the same slashes of black and chiseled emerald green around a jagged pupil.

An electrical vise flashed in my vision, wrapped around my head, the kind used to imbue madness.

Those sparks lit up everything!

To die, like a rat in this cage- a worthless experiment.

“You are highly valued, my son. You are worthy. Huh?”

It sounded like- some sort of father figure- but not like any father I’d ever known. I threw the beast off me with little more than a shrug. My muscles bulged, my veins hummed, and all my wounds were heating up.

“You see, all this has amounted to was a test of your strength. I knew that you would succeed. In fact, it was not quantumly possible that you wouldn’t. You always find the best path, don’t you?”

“Who the f**k are you?” I stared at the figure in a black lab coat and bow tie, nothing whatsoever distinguishable about his face.

The figure laughed charmingly, blackness and red reflecting from his shadow-image.

“Why, you have no memory? It really is a shame what they’ve done to you in this place-”

“I ate. Humans. I’ve rotted inside my own carcass with the roaches crawling around inside my guts. And if I find you. I WILL kill you. And I’m gonna eat your heart. For old times sake. You were saying?”

“I’ve had no responsibility for the doings here. That group of scientists had gone completely berserk! Unsanctioned un-”

“That’s why I killed them all. You were watching from behind the mirrored wall. But you were doing experiments on everyone, even your fellow scientists, drugging them with endorphins and pheromones to dull the mind. I could smell it. You even gave me my fear pheromone. I know how you fed us inmates our own. After all, you own this whole facility. And when your scientist rats died by my hand, that only proved that your experiment was so successful that the current facilities could not contain it. But after all, it’s a labyrinth down here isn’t it?”

“Unfortunately for you, it seems you really are my patriarchal ancestor,” he paled from mute silence at the quazi-fold implications there.

“-You agreed- this whole thing was your idea, you wanted the power, the prestige-”

“Whatever that long-gone, past-self vestige is here to claim, he can do so now.”

“What’s that? Nothing-? Well it seems then your son really is dead! He died in that chair the first time your lackeys injected him with Syrum!!” the old statesman fought back tears, tinged in red.

“Well if he really is gone then, whatever you are, you killed my son! And I will kill you for it!!! I SWEAR IT”

The whole room shook and swung, or perhaps it was simply my head. I looked him dead in the eye, and I saw his nostrils flare up.

“No, you killed him,” he disappeared then, in a flicker of black, never having physically been there in the first place. The dingy lightbulb far above on the stairwell buzzed, flickered, and went out, leaving me in almost total darkness.

The old fool. How could he hope to kill me? Was there any way, any way at all?

Why was I crying?