100 Stories- 100 Days – Short Story #6
I slowly opened my eyes, the gray, concrete walls the first thing that greeted me. I rolled out of bed, reaching for my boots that somehow got wedged underneath my mattress. I got dressed, examining the bare room. Thick cement walls, and a heavy metal door. Gotta love the bunkers of U5,W3. Once clothed, I left my room and walked towards the mess hall. I didn’t see anyone on the way there, which wasn’t normal. As I approached the gate to my destination, I heard a loud commotion on the inside of the room.
There were people yelling at each other, arguing. I pulled someone aside, and asked what was going on.
“The water filtration systems went offline in U5,W4. We think the Painters finally infiltrated the base. Somebody has to go check, but nobody wants to step out of the bunker.”
I thanked the man and walked to the center of the crowd. A tall man, Fret, stood on top of the tables and gathered every ones attention. Once the mob settled down, he began to spoke.
“Somebody has to go reactivate the water filtration system at the base, but no one is going to go voluntarily, so we’re going to draw some names.”
He shoved his hand into a bowl filled with paper shreds and grabbed one. He pulled it out and read it.
It was my name.
I sat down, stunned as I watched my mother break down.
“No! He can’t go! He’s only seventeen!”
I hugged her and looked into her eyes.
“I’ll be back soon, okay?” She knew it was a lie, and so did I.
I was escorted to the equipment bay, and was outfitted in a gas mask and a cloak. They let me choose my weapon out of a wide array of firearms. I chose the one I had the most experience with; the crossbow. They provided me with a backpack full of supplies, including some food and the last of the pure water. On they way out of the equipment bay, I snagged a fire axe and a satchel full of arrows.
I was shoved outside abruptly, and began my journey.
It was a two day walk to get to the lake side bunker, and I had to traverse the infamous hills of U5,W3. I walked a few miles before I took my first break, to re-hydrate and regain some energy. I had already been walking for a few hours, and I was exhausted.
After a few minutes break, I kept going. I passed through the ruins of Tessonville, and encountered a group of Painters. Never seeing Painters before, I hid behind a rusty car and observed them. They had long, lanky arms going down to their knees, and they had curved and extremely sharp claws that dragged on the ground as they walked. They had no eyes; they relied solely on their sense of sound. On the side of their heads, there are four large holes which I’m guessing are ears. Their mouths containing row upon row of long fangs.
They killed something, and I watched them get their claws wet with blood, only to go to the nearest wall and draw intricate patterns and symbols with the scarlet red liquid.
I re-positioned myself behind the car, but my foot lost traction and slammed into the metal wheel. Only one of them noticed, thank god. It stood up tall, listening to the surroundings.
I got behind the hood of the car and took aim. If it locates me and alerts it’s buddies, I’m doomed. I lined up the shot, it’s head in the cross-hairs, and pulled the trigger. With a light “twang” sound, the arrow soared through the air, and sunk into it’s skull. It dropped to the ground, with a deafening shriek. It was dead. The remaining two managed to locate me within seconds. I fired an arrow into one of them, piercing its chest, the other one approaching with alarming speed. I didn’t have enough time to reload the crossbow, so I unsheathed the axe.
The final Painter leaped over the hood of the car in an attempt to get me. I ducked underneath it and held up the axe. It jumped into the blade and by the time it hit the ground it was dead. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. After cleaning off the axe and retrieving the arrows, I continued to move. I didn’t have much time to waste.
I reached the bottom of the hills by dusk. I hurried up to the top as fast as I could while I still had light. I reached the peak just as the final rays of sun disappeared behind the horizon. I set up camp in-between a few trees, and tried to get some rest.
I was awoken in the middle of the night by shrieks on the hill below me. They must have found the bodies and they must be looking for me. I quickly gathered up my supplies and ran down the other side of the hill as fast as I could, stumbling in the dark. I reached the bottom just as the sun began to rise, illuminating the path ahead of me.
After a few uneventful hours of walking, I reached the entrance to the bunker. The heavy bulkhead doors lay in shambles. The exterior cement walls decorated with bloody patterns. I stepped into the dark facility, motivated to finish my task.
The inside was infested with them, and I was at a disadvantage; I rely on my sight. They don’t.
I traversed the dark bunker hallways, trying to be as quiet as I could. I turned my flashlight on and kept moving.
I was close to the filtration room when I turned a corner. I shined my light ahead of me. There must have been 15 of them. I almost screamed, but I kept it in. I have to be quiet if I have any hope of survival. I slowly crept past them and entered the control room. I found the lever and pulled it, the machinery slowly powering up with a loud thump. I ran from there as soon as I could, knowing the Painters would be attracted to the sound. Running through the dark tunnels, I attracted the attention of hundreds of them. I kept going; I couldn’t stop.
I see the light at the end of the tunnel.