The City of the Damned

The corpses piled up but good in the canteen. They’d been few and far between – sporadic, even – up until now. Hanging limply over tables or slumped against a wall, their recoiling silhouettes clean on the black walls above. Horrifying snapshots of their last moment. I’d seen this kind of thing before. There had public service announcements about it at the turn of the year, about procedures to take if you found a hollow, what to look for and how to report anomalies. Everything was textbook at the moment. I managed to detach myself from the situation by pretending it was just another high quality video.

Lianna is taking point, guiding us through this graveyard, this… city of the dead. She looks braver than I feel. Putting one foot in front of the other without hesitation. Every footfall I follow her with is a battle of will. The mess hall is exactly that, a bloody swash covering every surface, baked into the walls and the ceiling and the tables and the leftovers abandoned on plates. The ships bowels creak again, its underbelly groaning up at us as if it were hungry. As if all this destruction hadn’t satiated it yet. I keep quiet and so does she. All we need to do is place a beacon, retrieve the captain’s log from his quarters  and we can leave, get off this God forsaken mausoleum and leave the death to itself.

“Good a place as any,” I say, reaching into my pack. Lianna nods rather than disturb the silence further and I place the phallic object down in the middle of someone’s dinner party. I flip a switch on the side and the tip glows green, intermittent with its illumination. Somewhere, far, far away, a similar green light is lighting up, notifying the governing bodies that be of what we’ve found. A general is groaning, no doubt, unwilling to dispatch more troops to this secluded section of space but dictated to do so regardless. The clean up crew will be here soon enough – less than a week, I’d wager – and no one else will have to stumble upon this most morbid of morgues.

“Lets get the log and-” Lianna begins to say until, from the depths below, a great thrum interrupts her. A deafening roar of the engines inexplicably bursting into life.

“What the hell is going on?” I ask, every inch of my nerves allowed purchase on my consciousness. The fluorescents above flicker slowly awake, painting our surroundings the unrelenting reds they are and always have been. Lianna has her weapon out, as if a corpse will spring up and attack. I’m about to ask my question again but the ship lurches, a great screech from behind splitting the air. The cacophony of sounds is at once terrifying and confusing. We’re pulling away from the Awesome. Reasons unknown. Destination uncertain. Our chances? Not good.

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~ by Joseph Blame on March 6, 2011.

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