“We shouldn’t be doing this.” Richter said sternly, watching his partner with every conceivable muscle tensed.
He watched Valentine manoeuvre past the shelves in the dark, stuffy room, his silhouette ignited by a spear of light from the door behind them. Valentine rummaged through the boxes.
“Relax bud,” Valentine said, in his easy way. “Just let me know if anyone’s coming.” He risked a glance back, and returned his attention to the box. He pulled out a length of black cable with a slight gasp of delight. He ran the length through both hands and noted the red and yellow plastic ends.
“Found the SCART cable!” He called out quietly, and moving away from the box. He nodded to Richter, who risked another look outside of the door, into the empty corridor filled with identical brown doors, and slowly closed the door. Darkness swallowed the room, and Richter walked slowly to the sounds of movement ahead of him. The store room had items older than the two of them combined, and Valentine now turned his attention to an old, blocky television set. He reached behind it with the cables, and fumbled with them in the dark. Richter swallowed heavily.
He tried to defer his attention to any sounds protruding from outside. The A-SEC office was empty, the last majority of personnel had gone home, but if a straggler caught them here, it would be difficult for the two analysts to explain. Richter felt beads of icy sweat pool on his forehead. It would be more than career breaking, they would be black-listed from all but the most medial jobs, and subpoena for breach of their Non-Disclosure Agreements would leave the two of them penniless. The consequences seemed too high for such a small thing, and Richter wanted to bolt it out of there. Valentine did not share these concerns. He had worked at A-SEC for almost a decade, and had made a name for himself as a capable field agent, but for some reason, he had requested a transfer to the analyst department a few years ago. He managed his own team, but he could have been running his own agent cell. Richter trusted him as a manager and a leader, but as he watched Valentine holding the plastic ends to his face to discern the colour in the pitch black room, he had begun to feel manipulated into being an accomplice.
Suddenly the TV blinked on, a black screen with fringes of light. Green text appeared in the corner, as the machine patiently awaited input. Valentine turned to look at it, and cackled with triumph.
“Alright, we’re good to go. Have you got it?” He said, still trying to tame his excitement in a tone no-one would hear. His gaze was fixed to the screen, his eyes were fixated with emotional concrete as Richter reached round blindly, trying to find where he had placed the tape. His hand groped against the plastic, and he picked it up slowly, and reached it towards Valentine, who still did not turn away. He tapped his manager lightly on the shoulder with it, bringing him back into the room. He turned and reached for it slowly. Richter saw through the dull illumination, that Valentine’s eyes seemed to shine through the artificial light. They were no longer the jovial, friendly eyes of the man he had worked with for over a year, now they were orbs of frozen glass, pale and almost devoid of light and love. The shadows cast onto his face were black shards that cut at his cheeks, frames of a demon’s portrait. He held the tape up for a few long seconds, and Richter saw him swallow. There was a piece of masking-tape over the front of it, written in black marker.
SECTOR 23 was all that was written on it.
Valentine licked at his lips nervously, and bent down towards the VCR player beneath.
“This is a really bad idea.” Richter said, almost unaware that he had spoken it outloud.
“Don’t worry about it.” Valentine said absently, his mind clearly focused on other things. “This is it baby. This is the next clue.” He said softly to himself, once again forgetting Richter was even there. Richter fidgeted, obviously uncomfortable. Valentine shot him a quick look as he reached for the solid plastic remote that sat on the dust covered stand.
“Don’t worry about getting into trouble. I’ll take the fall if we get caught.” Valentine said numbly, stabbing at buttons wildly, trying to get the tape to start. Richter crossed his arms, and nervously brought up his thumb to chew on it, studying Valentine intently.
“So, are you going to tell me what this is all about, yet?” He asked. Valentine shot him another look, and opened and closed his mouth, struggling to formulate the words. Before anything exited his mouth, the screen flicked on. Richter watched as Valentine tensed, leaning slightly to stare at the big, outdated TV. Richter went to say something, but decided against it. No word could breach this hull of concentration, and besides, he felt his curiosity build and bubble away inside. At least this way, even fi they were both caught, they would both surely learn something.
The screen flashed and changed, to multi-coloured bars, a blast of obnoxious light, before changing once more to black. This time, the text was white, a few short sentences on the bottom-left of the screen.
SECTOR 23 FACILITY 03/04/2001 BODY-CAM FOOTAGE:/ JENKINS A-SRU ID:99842
They had just enough time to read the information, when the screen flicked again. There was another screen of black, but of a shape that was moving, obfuscating the entire screen. There were loud clicking sounds, and the two viewers ducked down slightly, darting towards the door, as Valentine lowered the volume slightly. The clicking and fumbling sound continued for a while, and the black obtuse shape seemed to move slightly, before pulling away, revealing the obscuring object to be a gloved hand. The two watched carefully, unsure of where this was, or what was unfolding on screen.
The footage was grainy, of an old and low resolution. Crackles of dust and smudges of light interfered with the room in front of the camera; a dull, light grey room of grey, with several members clad in black.
“All good, Jenkins?” Asked one of the figures, a gruff voice, muffled slightly by what they soon discerned to be gas masks. The hand reappeared, giving a swift thumbs-up to the speaker. Richter leaned ins lightly, and saw the figures were clad in tactical gear. They had black flak-jackets adorned with pockets, grenades attached to their chests with straps. On their chests were all small black cameras. They each held black assault rifles with ACOG scopes attached to the top. There were five of them, standing in a slight circle. The speaker stepped forwards.
“Final equipment check, go.” He said.
The five figures all patted themselves down, and looked briefly, but carefully at their weapons. They watched as the black forearms in front of them quickly moved, patting above his camera, and at his gun.
“Sound off.” The figure said.
One by one they called out. Six, okay. Five Okay. Four Okay, called the camera wielder.
“One okay.” The central figure said when it was his turn. He reached his hand to his ear, hidden beneath his mask and helmet. “Control, Bravo team is standing by for insertion.”
Richter watched intently as the squad fell silent for a few moments. He leaned forwards and bumped against Valentine in the darkness, but his manager did not notice. The two waited to see what was unfolding. The figures on the screen were restless, evidently anxious. One of them lightly hopped on his feet. Another rolled his head from side to side. The camera wielder, Jenkins, rolled his shoulders slightly. The central figure looked at each of his squad individually, before his hand darted up to his ear again. The others stopped moving and tensed up slightly, watching the leader as he nodded.
“Understood. Bravo Team is go.” He pulled his hand from his ear, and gestured at two of the squad, who bounced away quickly. He pointed to Jenkins and the other two, and quickly waved a series of complicated gestures that Richter wasn’t sure he would understand even if they were done at a tenth of the speed. Jenkins pulled his rifle up closer to the camera and the squad moved out.
The squad moved through a door and into a corridor, keeping their weapons low. After a brief jog, they pushed through a final door, and into an open space, equally as grey as the other rooms they had passed. At the far end of the room, was a gigantic door. There was a large valve in the centre, with giant pistons running to and from the corners. It was solid metal, and looked thick and durable. The first two members of the squad reached the door, their weapons aimed forward, their bodies kept low. One of them reached the valve and placed his left hand on it, waiting for his team-mate who reached a small control panel to the side. The rest of the squad caught up, and struck a formation. Jenkins stood at the read, as someone in front of him crouched, and the other two copied them in routine symmetry. The figures were still, and the weapons were poised. On the gigantic door, there was large white letters painted on the top.
SECTOR 23- ACCESS 04
The figure by the control panel pulled a white plastic card out of his jacket and held it above the plastic panel, allowing his hand to hover slightly. He turned back towards the squad, and one of the figures nodded. Instantaneously, the one holding the card dropped his arm in a swift, fluid motion. A light on the panel blinked white, and a loud click roared through the body-cam’s microphone. The man holding the valve moved his arm, pulling at the steel bars, until the door clicked a second time. The two figures retreated back to their squad, sitting by the squad, all six weapons trained on the opening door, which now moved independently. Beyond the moving steel door, was a vast void, a deep and terrible black that seemed to lead towards infinity.
“Control, this is Bravo Team. Override sequence has been initiated. Now preparing for infiltration.”
The squad watched as the door pushed itself automatically back. Jenkins’ gun twitched, and they heard a deep, crackling breath ease itself through his mask. The door continued to move, until it was past visibility. The door clicked in place a third and final time, echoing through the still room. From the periphery of the camera, they saw more complicated hand gestures, and Jenkins’ camera shifted wildly as he nodded, and he moved forwards with the soldier on his flanks. Weapons aimed forwards, Jenkins and his comrade moved to the door, quickly but carefully, and Jenkins broke away, moving to the left side of the open gate, as his team-mate moved to the adjacent side. The two lowered their weapons, leaning against the concrete walls. The other members of the squad moved swiftly into the black void. After the last had vanished, Jenkins followed the other remaining squad member into the darkness, and light disappeared from the world.
Silently, they saw Jenkins move his hand in the darkness and pressed at something on the side of the camera. The world flashed from pitch-black into an eerie grey wash of light. Now they could see the figures in front, while remaining invisible in the void. They were in another open room, and another massive steel door waited in front of them, identical to the one they just passed. Once again, another squad member ran a card through a console, and another pulled at the valve, until the door pushed itself open again, and the squad stared deep into a never ending abyss, somehow darker and fouler than the one they had just entered into.
Richter swallowed, his mouth was unbearable dry, but Valentine was motionless, completely disassociated from everything apart from the TV.
There was a slight whistling sound emanating from the total darkness that was now absolute. There was a slight gust of air rushing into the room they now stood at. The leader turned to his squad and gestured once more, following the same pattern as two squad members stood by either side of the open door, and the rest, including Jenkins, moved slowly into the open mouth of the facility.
They had entered a massive room, that had formerly been some sort of reception area. There was a large wooded desk, and carpeted floors, with multiple corridors leading to different areas and facilities. Aside from the furniture, however, there were other objects, all thrown across the floor. The squad didn’t move, but Valentine and Richter found themselves moving closer on impulse, trying to find out what had been thrown across the room. With a slight gasp, Richter saw they were body parts.
Dark black stains were everywhere. Long trails on the floor, leading down the corridors, splattered across the walls. There were dismembered arms and legs, ragged flaps of torn flesh and lumps of bloody meat. Jenkins moved his camera slightly to the floor, wondering what had just brushed against his foot. As the camera shifted to the carpet, they saw it was a bespectacled head of a middle-aged man. Richter brought his hand up to his mouth, unable to tear his vision away, the image of the figure’s eyes burning white in the night-vision searing itself into his brain.
“Jesus Christ.” Hissed Jenkins. Immediately the leader turned his head back.
“Quiet.” He whispered, before nodding at the figure to his left, who immediately moved forwards towards one of the corridors. As a unit, they all followed behind. Jenkins breath was now ragged, and his camera turned towards the scene of viscera, unable to turn away from it. The unit moved into the corridor, it’s walls gleaming pale in the dim light, with brush strokes of black adorned across. The squad moved to the end of the corridor which ended into two branching paths. As the format ion stopped, a terrible shriek ripped through the silent air. A blood thirsty cry of a beast that should never have existed. The camera shook wildly as the howl died, as a shiver tore itself through Jenkins.
The leader silently motioned once more, and the squad broke in half, one team of three going left, as Jenkins followed the leader down the right. The corridor ended at a glass door, and beyond it, was a lifeless body of a woman in a lab coat, and a bloody hand smear on the glass, the last gasp of movement in her final moments. The leader moved to the door and peered through, and when he noticed it was clear, he swung his assault weapon to the side, and pulled at the doors, which opened. Jenkins and the other squad member moved forwards, and further down the corridor, which led into a large, open space.
Rows and rows of office desks reached towards the end of the room, all adorned with computers, most of which were now knocked over. More corpses were dotted across the floor, some leaning against the walls. The gore was everywhere, a Picasso painting of limbs and offal. The trio silently maneuverered past the cadavers and rows of desks. There were a series of doors on the far side, and the team moved to the central one, Jenkins once again moving to the side, the leader opposite, as the other member crouched forwards. The leader gripped at the handle, and pushed it gently forwards.
Before they moved however, there was a hiss of static. The leader gestured at the rest of the squad to halt, and distant gunshots echoed through the halls. The two looked at their leader, who gestured to fall back. Hurriedly, the trio ran past the desks, past the glass door, and back to the cross-section, and down the other corridor, slowly their pursuit, guns feverishly trained forwards. They slowly approached a symmetrical glass door, this time wide open, and passed through. Immediately to the right, where large window-walls, which had been smashed to bits. Their heavy boots crunched against the glass. Beyond the glass were labs, filled with equipment that now lay strewn across the floor. They reached a heavy metal door which split in the middle, and a hand lay in between. Above was a sign, in dark bold letters.
CONTAINMENT CELLS-017-029. NO ENTRY WITHOUT AUTHORISATION.
The leader pulled at the door, and the hand in between fell slightly with a wet sounding thud. Jenkins’ breathing sped up rapidly. The arm was clad in black, it’s fingers reaching towards the escape. Beyond it was a discarded assault rifle, identical to Bravo Team’s. The team slowly followed the fresh black trail, which grew out in a heavy flow as they reached the owner. One of their squad members lay several feet away on their back, the contents of their chest and stomach spilled out, their masked eyes reaching towards to the ceiling. The squad member with Jenkins mumbled something under their mask. They heard a retching sound, loudly echoing through the camera’s mic, and realised Jenkins was struggling not to upheave.
The leader looked towards them, almost as if unsure of what to do. Gunshots rang out once again, and the trio moved their weapons towards the end of the corridor on instinct. The shots died out, and a terrifying, very human, scream burst through the air. The trio did not move, as something in the darkness shifted. The three waited, weapons pointed into the absolute darkness at the end of the hall. Then there was another inhuman screech, an unholy siren of bloodlust and terror.
In the shadows beyond, a mass of shadows moved.
The squad immediately turned, running towards the heavy metal door. Jenkins whirled round. Something in the darkness was moving quickly before them, low to the ground, but a massive mound. A limp reached forwards, toward them, groping at the floor below.
“What the f-” Jenkins called out.
“Fire! Fire!” Screamed the squad leader.
The sound of gunfire ripped through the old TV’s speakers, and blinding flashes of light obscured the screen.
“Fall-back! Fall-back!” The leader shouted.
Jenkins turned and spun through the metal doors.
“Close it!” The leader barked, following after them. The two squad members pulled at each side of the open door, slowly pushing it closed, as the third one fired wildly.
“Hurry!” He called out, firing until his weapon was spent, instinctively reaching towards to drop the empty magazine. Before he did, a limb reached through the ajar door. It was as large as a human torso, long claw-like nails that dug into their squad leader’s torso. Whatever creature it belonged to, its flesh was torn, hanging off in sheets. The leader tried to scream as he struggled against it, and he was pulled against his own weight. Immediately Jenkins and the other squad member grabbed at his arms, but the creature would not give. Black tendrils reached forwards and buried themselves into the black-clad figures shoulders and chest, piercing his flesh. He screamed, Jenkins shouted, and the other figure whimpered, as he was pulled from their grasp. The two fell to the floor, watching in horror as their leader was pulled through the open door and towards the creature.
“Shit!” Jenkins shouted.
The two survivors whirled roudn their rifles, firing wildly into the gap between the doors, screaming with every trigger press.
“Get out of here!” Jenkins screamed hoarsely.
Turning, the two figures ran through the empty corridors, their laboured breathing reverberated through their cameras. The screen shook as they ran for their lives. Suddenly the camera whirled round, a nauseating spin of the world before they realised it was now facing the ceiling. The camera moved down, and saw Jenkins’ legs sprawled out in front as he groaned in pain. Standing above him, the other figure looked towards him with concern.
“You okay?” He shouted desperately, reaching towards Jenkins.
Before their hands connected, the horrifying howl tore through the air once more.
“Ah, shit!” The other squad member shouted. He pointed his rifle towards the corridor where they just came and fired, again and again, until once more the creature’s terrible arm grabbed him, constricting his arms to his waist. His squad-mate screamed, and was pulled of his feet and onto the floor. Jenkins pulled himself onto his feet again, his rifle clattering to his feet. He turned to the corridor and saw his comrade pulled on the floor, screaming for help, towards an open maw. The creature was a mass of flesh and reaching tendrils that groped the corridor as it squeezed itself through. It howled once more, and the last figure disappeared into the darkness.
Jenkins turned and ran, sprinting faster than even before. Past the reception area, and through to the final corridor. The world grew dark again as he reached the heavy metal door, which was now, completely closed.
“No, no, no no no no no.” He whispered. He banged his fists impotently on the heavy door. He reached towards his ear.
“Control? Control? Can you hear me? This is Jenkins of Bravo team, reporting heavy casualties, most of team unaccoun-“ He said, fear tainting every syllable, before being cut off by another horrific roar.
“For the love of god, please open the door!” He screamed. A squelching noise amplified itself, growing closer and closer. Jenkins’ hands fumbled against his chest, quickly pulling a grenade off of his vest. Directly in front of the camera, he pulled at it’s pin, it’s shrill noise permeating the gloom. He reached back and threw the grenade far, landing almost at the door at the end. Jenkins began to mutter desperately under his breath. Behind the door was a loud click. Jenkins battered at the door again.
“C’mon, c’mon c’mon.”
After a few seconds, the explosion roared at the end, and the creature howled in agony, as terrible as every other scream. A desperate laugh exited from Jenkins as he looked towards the smoke and debris. Behind the door there were opaque noises, voices muttering to one another. There was another loud click, and slowly, the door behind him began to move. Jenkins shouted in triumph, moving to the far end where the door began to open. He peeked round, and saw members of Charlie Team, identically clad in tactical and masks. He reached towards them, but the camera jutted. Jenkins screamed. As he turned behind him, a black tendril had reached through the smoke and wrapped itself round his leg. He screamed and reached towards the other squad members who pulled at him, but more tendrils struck forwards like Eldritch lightning. Out of the smoke, the creature crawled further. The barbed limbs dug themselves into the flesh of his legs. The squad pulled at him desperately.
“Close it!” They screamed to another member who rushed to the console. Jenkins turned back once more, as the face of the nightmare drew closer, almost shaped like a skull, with empty black eyes, and a long curling tongue. More limbs reached towards him grabbing at him. Jenkins screamed and the camera lurched forwards, as Jenkins and the two pulling him landed several feet away. The members of Charlie Team pushed at the door as the tendrils drew themselves back into the darkness. Jenkins looked down one further time at the gash where his abdomen and legs once were, a trail of black leading into the depths of nothingness, as the door slammed with a click.
Just like that, the image switched off, returning to darkness for a second, and again to multi-coloured bars. The two men were silent. Richter felt incredibly sick. He bit into his forefinger until the nausea faded. He wanted to believe it was a joke. It should be a joke, a home-made film sorted on an old VHS. They worked for A-SEC though, Anomalous Security. There were no jokes or pranks with the subject matter they dealt with daily.
Valentine turned the television off, and sunk down heavily in the darkness. Richter watched the silhouette without saying a word.
“What…what was..” He started. He saw the silhouette shake his head. Gently, he moved forwards, and crouched down. A million words and letters roared through his head.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” He asked quietly.
“Yeah. I guess I did.” Valentine answered, his voice choking up with some heavy cocktail of emotions.
“You knew about this place before? Did you work there?” Richter asked, evidently curious about Valentine’s career change, but not wanting to upset the man. Valentine was silent for a few moments.
“Not me.” He said slowly. Richter nodded, understanding at last. It wasn’t something he was looking for on the tape, it was someone. Someone who worked in that facility. The two stayed in the darkness for a while, their short breaths echoing softly.
“It’s gone now.” Valentine said suddenly. Richter turned to him.
“What is?” He asked with a bead of hope.
“The facility. Purged. Disappeared without a trace. No records, no logs, no known survivors. The only evidence left is that tape.” He sniffed as the emotion returned to his voice. Richter pursed his lips thoughtfully.
“That’s why you became an analyst, then? To find something out about it?”
Richter could just make out Valentine bobbing his head in a solemn nod.
“What will you do now, then?” He asked gently.
Valentine shifted, moving his head low, and his arms crossed against his shoulders, staring deeply at the floor. The silence returned, and the two men remained in darkness.
Find the rest of the ‘Weird Dreams’ series here!