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Dance macabre, flesh and bones, lay silent as I have. Dead to the world and yet alive, asleep at peace. Here, it is here, in the gap, the blackness of slumber I hide, for there is no shelter from such a misery as this. Respite from all the darkness of the world, it is in my mute dream that I can lay tucked away from the shadows that haunt these grounds. No one to harm me here. But wistfully, I knew I needed to wake to the world once more. Floating up to the surface of real world, I inhale in a deep fetid smell. My eyes slow open to the dumpsters where I settled. Filth and trash surrounds. I glance up to meet the sky, that dull reddish purple I went to sleep under.
Rubbing away with the tenderest of touches the deep slumber that was slathering upon me, I let out a yawn and spread like a cat. Curling into it, I feel the strain of my back release to a considerably more comfortable state. Releasing the stretch, I let out an exhale that exuded the rest of my weariness.
“You have something that is mine.” I froze as I heard a statement. Her voice was noticeably young, unsettling so. Everything in me did not want to look, at the same time, could I trust the voice. It sounded human enough, but if experience had taught me anything, it was not. I twist my head to look at an amalgam of parts. My eyes swelled large with repulsion. Sure, it had a human head; an adolescent’s to be exact, but that is where all conversions ended. Atop that enamel face, ram horns and long ears too. A fur shawl around her collar, nevertheless primitive, and I suspected it was torn from the back of something else. Her hair was lengthy and was like a midnight fire, in two braids in the front but rolling like embers in the rear.
I cower down at her. “I… I… I don’t have… anything I swear.” After her neck, the thing developed into something even further grotesque. Four arms come off her like branches. Each one distinct from the others. Two of them reminded me of a human’s but the one was a crux, with a blade sticking out of it. She had armor on them, and her trim was bone like with open sores.
Her other two arms were more like bones mixed with mechanical parts. Each of them had razor claws for fingers. Her breasts were wrapped in bandages and harnesses.
Her torso pinned, metal fastened on her abdomen with mechanical parts in the middle. They seemed to move in parts as she exhaled. The monster strolled up with her mighty four cloven hooves striking the pavement. It was as though her torso was riding another beast. A massive ram like skull was at her crotch with muscles clearly visible attaching it to her body. It rests between another skull like that of the ram that was separated down the middle, its jaw absent but the fleshy tethers stretching to form the front legs.
Around her waste a polished ring of alloy. Ornate design encrusted the metallic piece. Fleshy tethers hung off moving down to her four goat’s limbs; shielded as well. Not to mention her two enormous bone like owl wings with no feathers. She had a tail that hid trinkets attached to it. And she stood about ten feet tall. Her body had many strange pumps and other metal devices with bones sticking out.
I wince with each tread she takes; vibrating and dwarfing me in stature. “Please. I don’t want any problems.” Her rosewood eyes glared into me. I watched as her elegant lips spread into a grin. “Just let me go. Please.” With her human hand, she grasps onto my shirt. The boney fingers lift me off the ground, pressing me into the wall. Full of fright, I kick my legs to get away from the behemoth.
“Something is off about you.” the creature claims with her eyes latched onto me. It is as if inspecting me, the clutch strangles any fight I had in me. As I understood it was hopeless, I gave in and settled, stretching aside as best I could. It did not measure to much, pressing my cheek into the wall. Amused with her analysis, she sets me back on my feet. I falter as I back away as I slip away to force myself into the farthest wall from it. “Tell me, what are you?”
She stole my tongue in her presence. There was a shudder in my speech as I struggled to respond against all my best intentions. I was not entirely sure if I really should answer. On one hand, she seemed rational. On the other, she was uncomfortable to view. “Human.” I squeaked out.
“Interesting. I will have to assimilate you.” she released veined cables that stretched out from her frame. They looked like long worms with cavities at the ends of them. Slithering like vermin, the tethers approach me. Cornering into the wall to avoid futile, I kick at the six squirming leeches. This simply leads to a slight smile from this thing in front of me. It cornered me with nowhere to flee.
I drop onto the ground and huddle up, utterly afraid of what was to come. “Please don’t. My blood,” I hoped it would work. She squinted her eyes at me as she reared up one thing with its snarling mouth to my face, “It will kill you.” I look out from my crumpled hold to see the girl retract the cords back into her torso. She listened to me. Maybe I could reason with her. “You, your, not going to kill me are you.”
“Should I? I was not planning on it but hey you know how those things go.” Glancing at my surroundings I catch a mangled fragment of glass on the ground. Leaping over my shoulders, I snatched the glass, tumbling to the ground onto my knees. Now with the glass in hand, I press it against my skin. Pride swelled in me as I hold down, providing a sprinkle of blood to breach my skin.
“Get away from me!” I shouted while using the wall to make some distance. The machine hellfire eyes just look at it. It thus takes a step at me, much to my comfort. “I am warning you. If I bleed on you, you’ll melt.”
The girl lets out a cordial snicker. “Aren’t you an imaginative one where in the world would you get an idea like that?”
Helibore, I could not bear myself to mention his name. He was right. “I have seen it.” I whimpered. “He injected himself with it. I.. it killed him. He died in front of me.”
The young woman seemed to hesitate for a moment. “Well, isn’t this interesting? Your empty.”
“Empty? Whats that mean.”
“It means you have no machines,” the girl informs me. “Only the ones you stole from me.” She stares down at me with an indignation in her eyes.
“I didn’t steal anything. I don’t know what you mean.”
“We have decided not to assimilate you.” At hearing this, all I could do was shiver some. Though it brought me some relief as well. “You should drop the glass, it would not save you, anyway.” She looks me right in the eyes. “You do not pose an actual threat to us and I am curious how did you survive this long outside of stasis.”
The glass just slipped out of my fingers. “How did you know.” Shock filled my face as she spoke.
“Stasis. You are young, you could not have gotten here without being in stasis.” the creature says to me.
“I… I… there was a colony. Its dead now.” I replied. Feeling my fear slowly slide away, I release myself of my guard. “Do… do… you have a name?”
“We have many names, my name is Velora, my name is Erianthe, my name is Livius, my name is Ravener, my name is Bree, my name is Marionette, my name is Novella, my name is Vanity, my name,”
“Stop!” I shout. “You are not Vanity.”
“I am not, Vanity is us though. I assimilated her. So her arm which you possess is mine by right.” the girl answered with no trace of emotion. I rear up with tears streaming down my face I hold Vanity’s arm tight to me. That hideous thing takes a step closer to me with that long goat like limb. “Don’t cry.” she tower over me but gentles herself down to the lower. She presses her boney hand onto my cheek. I stare up into her eyes as I consider the razor against my cheek. But yet I did not sense ill will. It was gentle, with a squeeze, it could easily stab through my scalp.
“I understand. Please… don’t take it.”
“Parina, I know you.” I rattle my head at this demon. No, this horror is not Vanity! It can’t be. She is fooling with my head. She is deceiving, she is a swindler. She must not, she’s, she’s… she’s evil!
“You killed her!” Push against her arm it flies away allowing me to get free from her.
She peers at me with a disheartened gaze. “Vanity is not dead, she lives in me. To you I am Velora, a human name.” I shake my head at her sick little mind. Ricocheting down the alleyway to get away from that thing, that thing took her away. Stole her… it’s a monster. It’s a devil that is far wickeder than any other.
Scurrying through the roadways like a mouse in a maze, I find myself inside the shatters of this formerly lively little city; now all it has to offer is a journey of terrors. It didn’t really matter where I went as long as it was not where my feet were. There was no prize staying for me. No, just the propositions of this gruesome place. As I proceeded, I perceived my humanity pealing off me, disposed of on the ground.
That horrible thing; she killed Vanity. There was no leniency here. It was the way it is. She did not even consider it as if I would be ok with that. To whatever that thing was, I was just another sack of flesh waiting to be its next meal. My tour finished outside of a grocery store. I could tell because of the hologram of a woman driving a shopping cart. At least I assume that is what it is supposed to be. There are fibers of flesh sticking off the side of the building. Needless to say, this muscle landscape made me get insecure. Regardless, I press on through the derelict parking lot.
Automobiles were left behind to decompose and rust in this decay. Some even were swallowed up by the nodules of tissue. There were several of those humanoid creatures wandering around. They had not spotted me yet, but if they did, unquestionably they would tear me apart. I look around for a place I can go without drawing attention to myself.
Winding around, I shuffle back and move behind the building. It is not very unlike everything else in this old grim town. There was nobody but the echo of my footprints keeping me company. Tumbling from the roof of the food mart was a hound like thing. Landing on all fours it looked at me. It had metal on its body and its face shifted. That neck of dog thing, stretched out long, far longer than I was conformable with. It deliberately swings its head to expose the face of man. I shrieked.
My little scream must have startled the thing. As the thing looked upon me, I haltingly withdrew from the dog-like creature. His face showed it was battered and from his jaw a thick coat of saliva dripped down. It just peers at me; not stirring, not saying a word. For a moment I thought I would be able to walk away, stupid me. “Aaaaahhhheeee.” The dog man whined.
I remembered doorway to the grocery is behind me. If I can just make it there, I can barricade myself inside. The thing prowled nearer to me as it showed the viciousness inherent in its deep guttural growl. Every tooth showing as drool pooled and gushed out at the sides of its mouth. His gums were formed of metal. I could make out cables enclosed in metal also around his mouth. He looked as though he was muscles strung together and machine with the rest. His movements were broken, as if he was at one time a well-oiled engine, but now he has handed over into decay.
Once my back was against the wall I just needed to open the door, but the dog thing was extremely close. I seized the knob to the door. Breathing in a long deep breath, I braced myself. Immediately jolting it open, I plunge into the chamber, hurling the door as hard as I could behind me. I was puffing in and out, “That was a close one.” Drooping against the floor, I am in a hall. I must have taken the office door or something.
My relief was short-lived though, I could hear the dog man gnawing at the door, scraping with its claws, ravaging the doors seem. Leading up to my feet and jumping back there was light from the outside pouring in already. It would not be long till the dog was inside.
A rumble from the room down the hall made my skin crawl. I spun my head to the crash. “No.” Was all I could say. Thump, thump, thump, I listened as something was getting closer. They pinned me I realized. “Aoooaaaahhhh.” a wail burst loose from the room. I see a limb breech the doorway. Limping out is this thing with a body like a busted up torso. It reminded me of a chicken, without the feathers, but human. Out of a cavity in its body a head popped out it delivered another low moan. Hunched over and menacing, the living thing started its way for me down the hallway. Virtually in a full panic between the two, I push my back into the door, attempting to ward off the dog from breaching it.
The hound was ripping at the exit and had formed a gap. It suck out its tongue and grazed my leg. It was disgusting. I toiled to the side to get away from his slimy lick. “Stay away!” I screamed. Staring down, I see the claws of the dog rip through the doorway. Its head appears in a flash and nips at my leg. That head tries to bite me a so I punt the dog’s head struggling to keep the thing off me. The creature in the hall roared.
Withdrawing into the corner, I glance to the chicken like organ thing. Pulsing with pus and muck, the creature sluggishly moved. I don’t wish to die like this. I imagine the strange thing gnawing on my arm as the dog man carries a piece of me. “Ban!” an enormous thing makes a move outside. In an instant, the dog is ripped from the doorway. Something much grander and fiercer is outside the door.
“Ahlahw.” it howls in terror. Then it is no more. Abruptly, I am significant less frightened of the strange monster in the suite. Clearly the monster agreed with me as it took off. My mind overflowed with anxiety for what was to take place.
From the holes in the doorway, I could see a number of arms clutch it. My jaw sank as they rip it to pieces. Obscured in the red glare, it was so fast; it captured me as if I was nothing at all. I discharged a yelp of fear as I am slung into the air. Desperately I try to rip away from its grasp, but I cannot. When I focus my eyes onto the creature looking into the familiar red eyes of Velora’s bitter face. White as a ghost, I feel the blood drain from my face. However, she sets me onto the ground next to her and without adding a word; she walks away. I looked at her in utter shock for some time.
“T-hanks for sa-ving me.” I was not entirely sure what to make of it, other than she did not want me hurt. That’s for certain. I looked over to the wall to see the dog person spattered against it. The juice from the puddle had tentacles already vivacious. The small tentacles grabbed at pieces of meat and other body parts, drawing them back together.
“Follow me.” I snapped out of my trance. “Understand.” I swung my head. “Good, now follow me.”
So I ran after Velora, and followed to whatever paradise or purgatory she had waiting for me.
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