The pit sat in the world like a savage stone wound. Its walls were unclimbable, the millions of years of rain had shaped the stones flat and the workers who harvested the ore had effectively screwed themselves.
Up on the ridge four outposts sat, their occupants with bows and spears. The men inside did not guard pit from invaders and barbarians, their attention was making sure that no one but the masters left the site.
All day and most nights the pit played it nightmarish music.
The chorus contained the crack of a whip breaking against human skin, the following hiss and cry, the scrap of rusted picks meeting stone, and the march of tiered and stinging feet. If the wind blew at just that right angle, they could hear the prisoners crying a dirge for their lost freedom a village away.
It was a music that pounded you with depression. It was the song of the damned.
The woman was seen to be a goddess. Wide hips, narrow waist, breasts that seemed that bit too unreal, and hair the colour of sunshine. The Gods, if they truly existed must have made her from clay. At least that was what the mine's owner had thought when he saw the creature that had been brought before him.
Four hours ago she had been sold to the stone mine for a pittance. Not a minute after that the owner of the mine had forced himself on her. While she was colder to the touch, the mine's owner found her to be well trained. Not once did she scream or utter a word, not even when the guards sodomized her and cut into her flesh.
They joked with each other as to the reason why she did not scream or speak. She shed no tears as they displayed their cruelty. They assumed that her lack of protests meant that she enjoyed it and so spent a little longer then they should have enjoying her company.
The answer to the woman's absence of tears should have been obvious, one look into her eyes and you could tell that the woman was dead inside.
Done, they gave her to the manager of the mine. By then she reeked of stale male seed and she was no longer the beauty that she had once been. Still, the manager took four minutes to make sure to enjoy himself with her before the slaves had their fun.
She was deposited into the mine, naked. The other slaves gawked at the dirty women who still managed to stand straight and tall. Despite not having clothes, and the abuse that she had suffered the woman walked straight.
The woman did not care. She was just a shell. She may have walked and mimicked understanding, she was as dead as any corpse. Her soul, her life, her love, and her pity, they had taken it all away long before she came to this hell hole.
She went deeper into the darkness and into places not even the guards went down. She was partially aware that she was being watched, the feeling strong enough that even someone as cold inside as she was could pick it up.
The men who made this mine this mine their home and prison had no idea the thing that now roamed in their borrows. Like the woman they had been abused and had their lives taken from them.
They had been assaulted with whips and clubs daily until they were nothing but cringing rabid animals. Broken, some of the miners became a reflection of their dark masters and sort to share their misery. And here was another play toy, a wondering lamb that they could play with in the dark.
From the shadows four men came. Their skin covered with dirt, their eyes filled with hunger. They were dead men, but not like the women. The mine itself had killed them, the dust in their lungs slowly whittling down their days.
They took a step towards their prey, expecting for the woman to bolt like a startled hare, instead, she grabbed at the wooden pillars that kept the roof from falling in. With superhuman strength she tugged and the mine became that less safe.
“What are you doing?” one of the four screamed. “Stop her before she sends the whole mine down on us.” Even as he said this the the four were running towards the woman, forgetting the large hunk of wood that was in her hand.
With a fast swing she disposed of the first two miners without trouble, killing one and injuring the other. The two behind them however, managed to push the woman off her feet and into the wall.
They punched and kicked her, the pain that the guards had done to them they now wanted to share with this bitch who tried to kill herself and them along with her. They didn't understand that the woman they were assaulting was colder than the walls.
An open hand struck out like a snake, burying itself into one of the male slave’s abdomen. The miner looked down in astonishment to see the woman's hand penetrating into his stomach, wrist deep. He felt her fingers grasp his larger intestine and pull.
The man let out an high pitched scream as he dropped to his knees and tried to shove his guts back in.
His friend was having his own trouble, he went to force his tongue into the woman's mouth. Him being shocked was an understatement when his intended victim bit his lower lip off.
He went to push her back, but with her arm now free the woman could now grip him with both hands. She preceded to eat his nose off and then one of his fingers while ignoring his screams of agony. She would have continued except that her mission took priority.
Hearing shouts from both directions of the tunnel, the corpse woman opened her mouth and pinched one of her molars between her thump and forefinger. With a twist it broke free. She then looked down at her would-be assailants, one dead, one unconscious, and two nursing their wounds. If she was still alive she may have nodded in approval.
After placing the tooth in a crack in the ceiling, she continued to navigate the mine.
When one of the guards came to investigate the screaming, he hurriedly stepped under the woman's tooth. There was an resounding explosion as the plastic explosive detonated.
“The ceiling is coming down.”
The woman didn't feel the weight of eyes or shoves she received as the slaves and the guards alike moved passed her.
She found the spot almost immediately. While this world's level of technology stopped the natives from going too deeply into the earth their greed knew no bounds. Something had made them come here, something had been subtly manipulating the weak minds of the humans in the area.
As the humans left their latest tunnel to learn more about the cave in, the woman had reached the end of the line. Laying on the floor were picks and shovels, the miners were not so keen to die for their master's schedule.
At their current speed it would have taken ten years for the humans to reach their destination.
“Let us out, let us out.” A man screamed in the dark, his hands thumping against the earth.
Waiting for orders, the undead woman was unaware as the man who she had been chewing on tackle her to the ground. With the advantage, he began to hit her over the head with an abandoned pick. He spoke something that could have been “Die. Die, you evil bitch.” but it just came out as “Ligh. Ligh. Yoosh ge.”
Blood the colour of black tar oozed from the woman's head. Each blow of the pick adding to the small pool which slowly covered the mine floor.
Satisfied with seeing the pulpy remains of the woman's head lay on the ground, the slave stepped back.
“That wasn't nice.” Somebody behind him said.
The slave with torn up face turned his head around to see an older man pierce his stomach with a knife. He fell to his knees, looking at the wound in his gut, the surprise of being attacked numbing the pain. His eyes drifted upwards to the man who had just ended his existence.
His eyes asked “Why? What have I done to deserve this?”
“Because you are a fucking animal,” the older slave said before savagely twisting the stone blade and pulling it out with a growling tug.
The light dim and his eyes failing him, all the old miner could barely see the pig's latest victim. A pair of naked feet were all he saw in the torchlight and he had no desire to see any thing else. “I'm real sorry girl, but this would ain't nice to no one.”
He's deed done, he discarded his weapon and took up an pick. As much as he would have liked to have kept it, survival mattered more than righting another wrong. He went back to the cave in, extinguishing the torches as he went, air was going to be more valuable then light very soon.
It was a good thing that he did not linger for a while longer because the woman's corpse began to shift and contort wildly as the substance inside her took control again. With her head laying in pieces and the embalming fluid pouring out of her at an alarming rate, she needed to act quickly.
Twitching, the woman pushed her fingers into her abdomen. She made not a sound as her blood covered fingernails pierced the thin layer of skin that separated her from her goal. As her seizing hand entered the place that had been her stomach, black ooze spurted from the wound and saturated the uneven floor.
Instead of the stench of rotting flesh a powerful alcoholic odour filled the tunnel.
Digging inside, the corpse tore free a small device. When the woman had been alive she would have thought the trinket looked like a small totem. It was a cylindrical, its body covered in blue lights and tiny pillars of a silvery metal reinforced its structure.
Within the darkness, a blue glow emitted from the totem.
From inside an inn some distance away, Frank was sitting on a chair, his eyes closed, and his hands resting on his lap. “Damn that was close.” He opened his eyes and let out a sigh of relief mixed with frustration.
He stood, shacking of the fatigue, “Sonvabitch. What the is wrong with this place?” It had been his fault really.
Frank had been surprised to find the dead woman in his bath tub. His first reaction was to retrace his steps and scream the hell out of Tila and her friends. What if some kid had walked in there, not to mention how unhygienic it was. Then a thought came to him.
Frank had lost a large chunk of his stock making the Red Spears an able fighting force again. He had thought that their monarch would have settled the bill, sadly, that didn't happen. Worse, his trip to Eba had cost the bartender expensive ingredients that not even the service of an Amazon warrior could hope to replace.
Fortunately, the luck potion that Exlia had taken was shifting the rules of probability in her favour. She wanted Frank gone before one of her rivals bartered for a luck potion. The universe answered her unconscious wish and Cyme willingly chose to pay her bill. She had also subconsciously made his instruments flare up as it detected and anomaly.
The rift had been there decades, maybe centuries, but it was only through Exlia's desires had it widened. It was a too tempting a target for the bartender.
While he could have gone inside the mine himself, locked and loaded for war, using firearms in a confined space with tons of stone just waiting to squash him didn't sound like an entertaining idea, so Frank had sent in an expendable asset.
Closing up shop for the day, Frank went about making his secret agent. First was her appearance. Seeing that the woman was a real dog before her death and not sure if the mine owner would be interested in taking her, the owner of the Abstract performed some cosmetic surgery on the corpse.
Done, he removed most of the woman's innards, inserted the relay, and embalmed his creation with lich licker.
While movies in most universes described raising the dead as the dumbest move in all of creation, zombie apocalypses were extremely rare.
The first problem in the zombie apocalypse movies is that zombies are incredibly slow and dumb. In a world of phones, chainsaws, guns, and cars, the most a zombie could ever hope for would be to munch on a few families before their rebellion ended. All it took was a high fence and you could just wipe hundreds out.
Lich licker was an embalming fluid created in a universe were necromancy was a legal and profitable trade. In truth, the world was rather civilised. There was no slavery, tyranny had been done away with, and most of the living people were happy. The dead were treated as a resource and were used for only the most dangerous and disgusting jobs.
The concoction didn't so much raise the dead as give the liquid a useful shell to inhabit. The controller, (Frank.) could then use the corpse like a puppet to perform simple tasks like going into a slave mine to drop of an highly advanced piece of equipment.
What he hadn't been counting on however, was the abuse. While it made for an interesting necrophiliac story, the whole thing had been disgusting. Frank was having some serious thoughts about abandoning this claim and finding a candy world to operate in.
Leaning up against a nearby wall, Cyme had been watching the sorcerer meditating, unsure exactly what it was that he was trying to do. Not for the first time, her eyes drifted to the entrance of the Abstract, the door was closed, and now she felt the portal eerily hum.
“What is it that you are exactly doing, Sorcerer?” Cyme asked.
Frank placed his hand on the closed door. “Lightning is made when ice and water molecules rub against one another.” he rubbed his hands together to show his point. “The cloud stores the energy until it becomes too much and... Zap!” Cyme stepped back when he clapped his hands.
“Pure electricity shoots out. A bolt of energy powerful enough to kill several people strikes the ground. Now all that is just the water in a cloud rubbing against one another. So what happens when one universe rubs against another? Imagine the power that could create.”
Cyme frowned. She had also been told that it was the god Cannon who threw lightning down to the ground to show his power to the mortals below. She didn't know what this water moll-ee-kel was and thus had no frame of reference.
“And that is what is in the doorway? A world storm?” she asked.
Frank half-smiled, “It's called a rift. The skin between worlds getting thinner as they get closer. Now, just like thunderstorms this isn't uncommon. Most of the time its nothing, benign, the universe version of acne. You could walk right through a thousand of them and not even know.”
His face darkened, “But it's that one in a billion that's troublesome. Sometimes, when the worlds get too close there is a tear. Again, these are unstable and the universe fixes itself before anyone knows what happened. But in the rarest conditions, when a set of circumstances so impossible that they couldn't possibly happen, happen. Well, you hear about those occurrences all the time.”
“What do you mean, we hear about them?”
“Monsters.” Frank whispered, trying to sound mysterious. “Giant sea monsters out of legends, creatures that shouldn't exist in this reality finding a hole and walking through it by accident. Demons, talking animals, ghosts. Sometimes humans go through these holes and get sucked into other worlds.”
This time Cyme decided not to get to close to the doorway, fearing that some giant hand would reach through and grab her.
Frank raised a finger, “But just like a bolt of lightning it is possible to redirect the damage. To trap the rift and heal the universe, and in the process syphon off the power created. It's also the reason I sent the woman that you killed into the slave mine. Putting the Abstract anywhere near a stable rift to unknown dimension would have been stupid. I mean really stupid.”
“Why?” Cyme asked.
“Cyme, I'm not kidding when I say how rare these things are. A stable rift is like finding a perfect diamond in toilet. It doesn't happen. You hear about it, but you don't expect it to happen to you.”
He continued. “Those miners were digging right for the rift. There are only two reasons that they would do that. One is if they knew where an invisible gateway to another universe would be. Or...” He gesture for her to finish the thought.
Cyme thought for a moment and then cursed, “Or there was something on the other side calling to them.” She tried not to look to closely at the doorway. “What can we do?”
Frank stretched, “Nothing. Let's go check this market place.”
“You're just going to leave this here? There is possibly an evil monster inside trying to invade my world, and your just leaving right there, unguarded?”
“Well I don't want to be here if he does show up. Anyway, it's locked.” Frank said.
“Right, and there are no competent thieves in this city with a set of lock picks handy.” Everyone in Oria knew that Thebes was a cesspool of crime. Their ideals of democracy and trade bringing nothing but weakness. “You said that the god behind the door could influence people. Call for them.”
“Fine, you stay here, I need to check Tila.” Frank picked up the backpack and the large bag made from a waxy cloth.
Wanting to scream to the gods about the foolishness of men, Cyme firmly checked her sword. Not happy about any of this, she gave the door a glance before she followed Frank into one of the most dangerous cities she knew of.
As they left the door rattled.
Born in Australia I am a late bloomer when it came to books. I started writing when my grandfather died and it just sort of turned into a hobby.
I like science fiction, but not space opera. I like fantasy but I am picky when it comes to epic and urban types. I try to stay away from vampires, zombies and romance novels when I can.