"Fucking kid ordering me around," I grumbled under my breath. I would've beaten his ass if he didn't keep that crossbow so close. Hell, I still might if he slips up. We've only climbed down 3 floors. He keeps insisting on stopping at each one and checking for supplies, but in this shithole, there's nothing but broomsticks and rotten wood. I want to leave as soon as possible but that kid ain't having it. I can see that look in his eyes, my boss used to have the same look.
The criminal underworld became less powerful than it used to be with Minerva outfitting police. As a result, the Underworld bosses became more ruthless and cunning, never taking the slightest chance. Minerva made it real hard for people of the criminal profession; Security cameras that could identify wanted criminals with ease, top of the line non-lethal police equipment and a whole lot of other shit. Didn't matter what high-tech shit they used really, the point is it made my boss paranoid and cold. He looked at people that ended up "missing" with the same eyes that kid had.
"We'll see who goes missing," I mumbled to myself as I checked an empty room. Nothing but cobwebs and broken furniture. If I had my gun, I'd be the one ordering everyone else around, for now, all I had was a sharpened broomstick and a small cut on my stomach. As soon as he let his guard up, I would-
"We're leaving." An indifferent voice calls out from behind me. I spun around and turned to see Ulysses with his crossbow held tightly in his hands. I just noticed he had bandages wrapped around them. I nodded to him and walked past. The brat and the old man were already waiting in the hall, I would be taking the lead. We sauntered down the hallway and continued on with the same routine. Finding nothing in the rooms, but Ulysses seemed keen on checking each one. Did he know something we didn't? Well, it wouldn't matter once I got my hands on him.
About 30 minutes later we finally made it down ten floors, but there was something on this one.
"An elevator!"I shouted as I walked over to it. Ulysses, the brat, and the old man all walked over. I stepped in and looked at the buttons, but it only went from floor 90 to floor 80, and there was a coin slot. I pressed a few buttons, but nothing happened. Did I need to pay to enter? With what? The slot was too big for ordinary coins maybe those black coins would help. Above the display was an icon with four dim lights, I didn't know what the fuck it meant.
"It must take black coins, so there is no point. We don't need it to get past 10 floors unless it gets too dangerous." Ulysses said to me. I looked at him only to see the crossbow pointed in my directions and his eyes completely focused on me.
'Damn.'I thought inwardly. It would be the perfect chance to catch him unprepared in close quarters too. Sucks that he must've figured that out.
"We'll continue, the same as before."He said as he shrugged. And so, the same boring ass routine continued. We went down to floor 89, and I almost shouted at what I saw. The old man and the brat were no exceptions.
"Quiet," Ulysses said like he could read our minds. At the end of the hall stood a thin looking creature with long skinny arms. From here it didn't look like it had any eyes and it's skin looked like it was too tight on its body. With a weird shaped triangular mouth that constantly opened and closed. Ulysses crouched down, the old man and the brat followed him, even I did the same.
"We'll move slowly." Ulysses said as he pointed the crossbow, signaling for me to go forward. Is this bastard using me as bait or something? I'd show him.
"Heh."I chuckled a little as I crawled forward with the sharp stick in hand. We crept along the hallway, but Ulysses would duck off into a room for a few moments and re-emerge. Looking for shit in a time like this? He wasn't as smart as I thought. At this point, I could see the monster from up close.
It didn't look as dangerous as I expected. It seemed like a starved man from right here. A warped face with no features, a weird shaped mouth, five fingers with no nails. Nothing between its legs either. I could probably kill this thing and grab one of those black coins and then give Ulysses the slip when we reach the next elevator. I gripped the broomstick and got ready to move. I glanced at Ulysses to see him shaking his head.
'So you want it for yourself, huh?'
I smiled at him before I charged and stabbed the creature in the chest. The broomstick came out the other side of its back, but no blood spilled.
The thing screamed and thrashed wildly, but it only had the strength of a kid as the sound continued to pour from its mouth. I drove the broomstick in deeper and twisted it.
A high pitched scream filled the hallways. Other than being annoying it didn't burst my eardrums or anything. I pressed my foot into its abdomen and pushed it off the broomstick. It fell to the ground, and I stomped the fucker as it continued to scream.
"Eiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" I stomped on its head until it finally stopped screaming and began breaking into black ash. A piece of it flew into my wrist and right below my palm was a small "1". "How's that?!" I turned around asked Ulysses with a smirk.
All of a sudden the dust falls from the ceiling and the hallway shakes every so slightly. I looked at Ulysses, only to see him shaking his head in annoyance.
"Daniel and Paul, upstairs right now." He ordered as he looked at me with his emotionless gray eyes. They nervously ran up the stairs as he checked the crossbow and then aimed at me.
"W-What the fuck?!" I jumped back, did he plan on shooting me right here and right now. I could hear a rumbling noise getting closer and closer. Something was coming. "Since this is your fault, we're gonna kill whatever comes up."
He said as he diverted his aim to the stairwell.
I said while trying to hide my anxiousness. I tense up as I gripped the broomstick with sweaty palms. It seems like he wants to get some more black coins, which is fine with me as long as he doesn't leave me out here by myself-
I hear the release of a string and before I can react, there is a searing pain in my left thigh. I drop my broomstick and fall to the ground without knowing what happened. "Fuck!"I look down to see a bolt sticking out of my leg.
"W-Why the fuck did you shoot me?" I turn to see Ulysses loading another bolt into the crossbow. He didn't even look sorry, the fucker. "Wait! Wait! Stop you fucking bastard! Shit"
I panic and try to stand, but the pain is too much. I still can't believe he shot me while I wasn't looking, the people I worked with had the decency to look at you before they hurt you. He struggled with it, but ultimately finishes loading the crossbow and walked toward me.
"I'll give you my coin! Stop!" I still hear the rumbling, but as he closes in its pushed to the back of my mind.
"Hand it over." He kicked my broomstick away and stood over me, continuing to aim at my chest.
'Withdrawl.'I say in my head, and one shiny black coin appears in my hand. Getting robbed by a fucking kid, my boss would get rid of me for incompetence if something like this happened before. "Here!"I extend my hand toward him. He snatches the coin out of my hand and then stores it.
"N-Now help me!" I wanted to curse at him, but it'd probably make the bastard shoot me again. I could feel sweat poured down my forehead as I struggled to move my left leg. He kneeled down in front of me and without a word of warning, he yanked the bolt out of my leg.
"Fuck! Fuck you! Fuck!" I squeeze my leg as blood pours out.
"Tch. I think I hit an artery. Things aren't looking too good for you, Bobby," he says sarcastically. I wanted to fucking kill him, and even though I had no choice, I needed to suck up to him.
"P-please help me."I pleaded as I wore an entirely genuine expression of suffering. The shaking had increased and sound closer than before. I looked toward the stairwell and then looked back at Ulysses only to see him running away.
"Hey! Wait!" I call out. I tried to stand up, but can't manage to do it. "You motherfucker!" I curse at him as I crawl over to the broomstick. I grabbed it and used it to prop myself up. The rumbling gets closer and closer. I don't know why, but the fact I couldn't see what made the noise made it even worse.
"You fucking bitch!" I curse at his back, he already was in the stairwell by now. I hobbled along like a miserable fuck using the broomstick, leaving a trail of blood behind me.
"Ookht-Ookht!" I hear a weird shout behind me and turn around. A big glob of muscle that looked to be two feet taller than me stood at the end of the hall. Its arms were the size of both of mine put together, and its hands only had three thick fingers on them. Its face looked like the screaming monster from before, but it had two small button-like eyes spaced far apart and a huge mouth. "Ookht-Ookht!" the guttural croaking of a cat choking on a hairball emerged from his throat. He locked eyes with me and then charged toward at a slow pace, but it was way too fast for the current me. "Shit! Help me! Fucking help!"
"Shit! Help me! Fucking help!" I began hobbling away as the hallway shook with each of its steps. I could see Ulysses peeking his head from outside of the stairwell entrance, just watching me. "Help me! You bastard!" I cursed desperately and tripped. The heavy footsteps moved closer and closer toward me. I roll over and hold the sharpened stick upwards to defend myself. The flimsy stick breaks on his taut skin as it moves forward. "No! No! No!" I crawl backward while crying, but it grabs my ankle. "Noooooooooo!" I screamed. I was as scared as I had ever been in my life. Whatever pride, or dignity I had, flew out the fucking window when that thing popped up. I just wanted this nightmare to be fucking over.
"Noooooooooo!"Bobby issues a bloodcurdling scream as the brutish looking monster lift him up. My hands shake, but I continue to watch. I had to learn everything I could about the monster in case I encounter it again. I try to remain as calm as possible while mentally noting the characteristics. 'Strong but slow. A large target but thick skin. No sign of intelligence.' I list them off in my head as I ready my crossbow. I highly doubt I'll be able to hurt it with this. Aiming for its small eyes would be nothing more than a delusion.
A loud crashing sound filled the hall as the creature smashed Bobby into a wall which instantly crumbled. "Argh! Ahhhhhh! No, no, no!" Bobby sobbed as he crawled out the room and back into the hallway., he was covered in dust, blood, and splinters to add to his pitiful snot covered face. "Ookht-Ookht!" The monster came back out into the hall and grabbed him. Both of its arms picked him up, while its fingers curled around his torso. It exerted force causing his bones to snap. "Aaaaaaaah!" Bobby screamed in agony.
The creature opens its gaping mouth, exposing jagged and mishappen teeth, which looked like it could just barely fit Bobby's head in. Which was bad news for him. It crunched down on his head, sending blood and brain matter onto the floor. Bobby's body spasmed before going limp. The monster continued to chew on his corpse, but it stopped at the shoulders. It adjusted his body to find a place to bite, I saw my chance and took a shot. The bolt grazed his head and struck a wall. "Damn it!" I cursed. I didn't expect high accuracy, I wasn't experienced with a using the crossbow, but I hoped to at least hit his body.
"Oohkht!"The brute turned its attention toward my direction. Its tiny black eyes looked at me- no, towards me. It dropped the partially eaten corpse and moved forward. I stayed calm and put the crossbow on the ground. I placed my foot on the stirrup and pulled back the string. The huge creature began walking toward me with a gait that slowly increased in speed with each step. Hearing the mechanism, I lifted the crossbow and loaded the bolt. I aimed down the sights. The quiver under the barrel only had 6 bolts originally, but I already shot one, leaving me with 5. The brute began to speed up. I'm not sure if it could actually see me, unlike the other creatures I've seen so far, it had eyes. The hallway was about 60 feet in total, and the creature had covered more than half of that distance with a type of inquisitive uncertainty in its steps. I fired another bolt which hit the creature square in the chest. It didn't seem to penetrate the muscle tissue and went in about a quarter of the way. I slammed the crossbow down and place my foot in the stirrup once again.
"Oookht-Ookht!" I guess it was either annoyed or finally noticed me because it roared and charged forward.
I loaded another bolt and then retreated up the staircase. The layout of this entire structure was weird. Each floor had one staircase up and one staircase down. As I climbed higher, I could smell the faint scent of gas.
"Daniel! Paul!" I shout as I enter the 90th floor with the heavy footsteps behind me. They stumble out of one room and look at me with frightened eyes. I had four options at this point. One, create a makeshift spear using duct tape, the broomstick, and the katana hoping that it's sharp enough to penetrate the layer of muscle protecting the brute and attempt to kill it. Two, try to use Daniel and Paul as bait and escape to the elevator. Three, create an explosion of the gas that I left running, even though I wanted to save that for later it would definitely kill that thing. Four, hide from the thing and slip behind it.
One by one I evaluated the options as quickly as my mind could process. Making a long range weapon wouldn't be smart. While it may stab the creature, it could easily break the weapon and kill whoever uses it. There was also the fact that no one was skilled enough to handle a makeshift spear. Leaving Daniel and Paul could come back to bite on the lower floors. There may be an obstacle which needed more than one person. Even if I did leave them, they might come back for revenge while I was vulnerable or if I incurred an injury. The gas should be prominent on the higher floors, but this one was still being filled. Then there was the problem of escape, the entire building was basically flammable, I'd be hard pressed to avoid the threat of flaming debris above me. The building may eve collapse in on itself and come crashing down on my head.
So that left me with the fourth option.
"Ookht-Ookht!" The roar woke me from my contemplation.
"I'll distract it, you two slip behind it, and down the stairwell, I'll follow," I said to them. Daniel and Paul looked at each other and then nodded at me, before returning to the room they hid in earlier. "Ookht-Ookht!" The massive creature climbed the stairwell with some difficulty and charged toward me.
"Come on." I urged it on with impatience, but I'm sure it didn't understand. As it moved toward me, I ran into a room at the opposite end of the hall and closed the door. It would offer little protection against that massive creature, but I needed the time. Even if the door obstructed it for a few seconds, it would be helpful. I moved a torn couch and old wooden tables in front of the door for extra precaution."I need somewhere to go." I mumble aloud as I scan the room, I think it's pointless to go into the bedrooms and attempt to hide, so my next step is...
"Window," I exclaim as I dash over to the kitchen window. Right above the sink was a window large enough for me to fit through. On the outside there appeared to be something that looked like a fire escape. I didn't trust its stability and wasn't even sure if it was suitable for standing on but it didn't matter. I turn the safety on the crossbow and toss it over my shoulder before opening the rusted window. With a bang, the brutish monster smashed down the door.
"Ookht-Ookht!" It announced its arrival with the weird regurgitating-like roar. I send a single glance towards it as it starts to push past all the obstacles I placed, without wasting any more time, I climbed out the window.
"Shit!"I feel a sense of vertigo as I look down, a drop from here would definitely kill me. What I thought to be a fire escape was nothing more than a solid, but rusty, railing, I would have to stick to the wall to get to the other room.
"Ookht-Ookht!" I could hear the creature moving closer and shimmy away from the kitchen window. Just in time too, a massive hand came out of the window and grasped around blindly. The walls shook, and I could hear the snapping of wood, luckily it either grew bored or tired out and stopped altogether. I listened carefully and could hear the heavy footsteps of the thing retreating. It seemed to lack a lot of basic intelligence which was beneficial to my survival. I erased all notions of killing that thing and continue to hug the wall while slowly moving toward the next room. While I edged closer to the room, I looked out on the unfamiliar cityscape. Hundreds of thousands of dilapidated apartment building similar to this one, all arranged in parallel order. From the closest one, I could see a long rope made of dirty bed sheets hanging down to the 80th floor.
"I should've thought of that." Maybe there was some sort of special reward to be had for making it down first, similar to killing one of those creatures before the trial started. I finally arrived at the third room from the exit and pry open the window. Then I climbed into the room trying to be as quiet as I can. After I entered I crouched down and moved slowly to the other side of the room and quickly reached the door. I opened and peeked into the hallway to see it empty, there is still the faint hissing of gas from the old stoves, but nothing else. I entered the hall, still crouched, and make my way back to the stairwell. I could hear the slow but heavy footsteps behind me, I looked back and saw the brute exiting the room and walking back from where he came, most likely coming back for the corpse of Bobby.
"Ulysses, over here," Daniel whispers. I see him and Paul cautiously waiting at the bottom of the stairs with pale expressions. They had probably seen Bobby's corpse and heard his screams from earlier. "Let's go." I stood up and began walking briskly. On the way to the end of the hall, I grab the bolt I fired earlier and walk past the headless corpse. Daniel and Paul follow behind me, probably restraining the urge to throw up.
Just like that, we had our numbers reduced to three. Weirdly enough, I felt no guilt from causing Bobby's death. He was dead and I was alive, it seemed natural. Not because of his problematic nature, or his inclination toward violence. It just felt like it was supposed to be this way. I drew no enjoyment or excitement from his death, and I didn't naively hide behind a guise of righteousness as an excuse. It just became a fact.
And so we continued on.