Repetition

(originally written 13 April 2004)

As I walk down the darkened hall, my gun trembled in my hands. I had never been forced to use such a thing in all my days, but now I needed it more than ever. I glanced at the walls in the flickering light, trying to catch a glimpse of any movement in the projected shadows. In a brief flash ahead of me I saw one of the horrid things I was running from. Its pink, fleshy body leaned over the corpse of a man. The creature was easily a third the size of its prey, but I’ve seen them fight, and it frightened me more than anything in my life.

I stood in shock for a moment. I hoped to chance, I prayed to luck, that it did not see me. No thought of any higher power graced my mind as I searched for a place to hide. A God is only as real as the faith of his people, and his people were depleting rapidly. Centuries ago, one might assume these things to be demons summoned by occult rituals. But in this age of reason, Science replaced religion because it was more real. Rather than just tell of the horrible forces beyond our reach, it has now brought them to us.

A flicker of light revealed a door to my left. I ducked inside and found the door still on its hinges and able to close easily. I feared to shut it fully. The clicking lock would generate too much sound in the empty halls and lead the beast straight to me. I let it hang slightly and looked for a place to hide.

“Turn around or you’re dead.” I could see shadows creep up on me, and I turned just in time to see three of the demonic creatures. They held back their fury long enough for me to see their stubby legs and blood-stained maws. The foremost beast advanced slightly, walking on its arms. It paused for a moment, and swung at me. I was dead before I hit the floor.

“Turn around or you’re dead.” I heard the same voice as before. I was confused—had I just died, or merely witnessed what would happen if I did not turn around? I hesitated to do anything, and the result was different from the previous death in only that I was not facing my attacker.

“Turn around or you’re dead!” This was not a recording playing back in my mind. Someone was trying to save me, and they were growing impatient with my lack of assault upon the beasts. I was frightened beyond anything these creatures could do to me now. The beasts could grant me an end, but this voice, attempting to help, grants me death repeatedly. Rather than fight the beasts this time, I chose to hide from the voice. I lunged for a dark corner and sat, aiming my gun into the darkness. Apparently this was a wrong choice as well, as I soon found myself standing where I was before, the voice repeating its line with even more irritation.

“Turn around or you’re dead!” I asked myself if this was real, or just practice of some sort. Was I dying, or merely being shown what would happen if I didn’t do as told? The first two iterations of this sequence had me in a well-lit room. I distinctly remembered entering a dark room from a sparsely lit hall. From where did enough light generate that the beasts would cast shadows foretelling my doom? There was a solid thump on the back of my head and I fell to the floor, apparently dead again.

I half-expected the voice to sound again as the room appeared before me. I chose not to wait for it this time, and hid behind the filing cabinets to my left. I heard a shot fire from the hall, and it startled me. Another shot fired, and a body thumped as it hit the door. The door opened, and the body of the beast I saw in the hall fell in. I jumped to my feet and screamed, not realizing the implications of my actions. I behaved on instinct and fear now, and fired wildly at the corpse.

I expended my ammunition. The gun clicked repeatedly as I continued my mad assault. My eyes were pained and teary, my teeth were tightly clenched. I breathed heavily. Once I realized it was useless to fire, I threw the gun at the corpse and screamed again. It was a scream of defiance, though I knew that I had not killed the beast. It was dead, however, and more would surely come after all the noise I made. Let them come, I thought. Let them come and end this.

“You done yet?” I looked up and saw a man in the doorway. His voice was the same as that warning me to turn around. I was in no condition to answer, and he felt no need to wait for me to do so. He entered the room, a rifle in hand. “Let’s go,” he said, but I could not move. The shock of it all, of everything I’ve witnessed today, paralyzed me. Without hesitation, he grabbed the back of my shirt with his free hand and dragged me into the hall. Even if it was a violent manner of removing me from the room, I never felt safer in my life.

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