The heat from the fire was making Blade’s armor hot and the air of the room was getting thick with smoke. He had to find a way out. When the imp had thrown him into the corner, he had felt the wall give slightly when he had crashed against it. Blade walked to the corner and began pushing on the corner walls.
After a couple of tries, he found a section that moved slightly when he pushed it. He ran his hands fingers along the wall and felt a thumb-sized depression about waist high, next to the section that moved. Blade pushed his thump into the depression and he felt a click. With a hum, the loose section of the wall slid down into the floor revealing a lift. Blade stepped on the lift and it shot upward stopping at the entrance to a dark, hidden passage above and behind the weapons cache.
Blade stepped off the lift and feeling his way along the wall, followed the passage around to an opening that looked out over the end of the storage room near the computer room. Looking down he saw that the way was clear, the fire not having any fuel to burn on the bare concrete. Blade jumped and landed with a roll, then ran down the corridor and into the computer room. The air here was hot and smoky, but the computer room was clear of fire. He slowly made his way back to the entry room where this nightmare had started.
In the entry room, Blade looked out the windows that opened onto the courtyard. One window was broken and blood stained the jagged shards that reached up like daggers from the window frame. He knocked out the glass and leaned out the window. The courtyard seemed clear of monsters. Carefully, Blade stepped out the window and jumped to the hard-packed earth of the courtyard.
Bodies lay scattered on the ground. In the center of the courtyard, a pool of slime bubbled and spat in the dim sun. Across the courtyard, a window opened into the storage area and Blade could see the flames shooting out of the shattered window and up into the sky, sending thick black smoke trailing toward the mountains in the distance. On the left of the courtyard, a set of stairs descended into darkness.
Blade turned his attention back to the pool of slime. Some heavy armor was sitting on a rock that protruded above the surface of the pool. He could use that armor, his own being somewhat battered and beginning to loose it effectiveness. He walked to the edge of the pool and gauged the distance. He could probably just reach it with the shotgun.
Standing as close to the edge as he could, Blade reached out with the shotgun and tried to snag the strap on the armor. He had to be careful; the edge was crumbly and if he fell into the acid, it would be all over. Stretching out, he snagged the strap of the armor and lifted it off the rock.
Behind him, he heard a grunt and the sound of a shell being pumped into a shotgun. Blade jerked at the sound and the edge crumbled. He flailed his arms and lost his grip on the shotgun. Both the shotgun and armor fell into the hissing pool of slime. Blade threw himself backward and fell to the ground on his back.
He rolled over and looked behind him. A zombie was raising the shotgun it carried and aiming it at Blade. He rolled to his right as the zombie fired. The blast dug a hole head-sized in the ground. Blade rolled to his feet and screaming, ran at the zombie.
The zombie was pumping another shell into the chamber of the shotgun and raising it, when Blade jumped into the air and kicked viscously at its head, sending the zombie flying backward. Blade landed on his feet and scooped up the fallen shotgun.
The zombie was struggling to its feet and Blade stepped up to the monster and pointed the barrel at its head. The creature looked upward with vacant eyes, and Blade recognized the face. It was his best friend, Sammy. They had gone through basic together, had roomed together and both had been stationed at this hellhole.
Blade looked at the gibbering creature on the ground and tears filled his eyes. “I’m sorry, old buddy,” Blade whispered and fired the shotgun. Without looking back, Blade slowly walked down the stairs and into the gloom.
At the bottom of the stairs, Blade pumped another shell into the shotgun and peered into the dim corridor ahead of him. He could hear some feet shuffling, but could not see past the bend of the corridor a meter to his left. Slowly he walked toward the bend and carefully looked around the corner.
A decaying face stared at back at him. “Shit!” Blade said and jumped back. The zombie shuffled around the corner, Blade fired the shotgun and the zombie’s head disappeared in the flash. The body took another step forward, then fell chest first to the ground.
Blade stepped around the decaying corpse and climbed a set of stairs to a doorway at the end of the short passageway. He slapped the open switch and stepped into the exit corridor at the end of the storage area. The fire still raged in the storage area, but the way was clear to the exit.
He pressed the switch to the exit door with a sigh of relief. He had made it. He had a long way to go, but he had survived the initial shock and horror of the situation. If he kept his wits about him, he could make it the Command Center. He would have to fight every step of the way, but this was what his training had been all about.
With a hum, the door slip upward and a red-eyed, brown monstrosity growled and clawed at his face. Blade jerked back and pulled the trigger of the shotgun, but the hammer clicked on an empty chamber. He had forgotten to load a shell.
The creature lunged at him and slapped him hard on the side of the head. Blade slammed against the light stand next to the door and with a shower of sparks, knocked the light from its fixture. His shotgun rolled into the corner as he hit the floor. The imp leaped on top of him, pinning him to the ground.
The creature was clawing at his chest, leaving deep scratches in the duralloy armor. Blade frantically reached for the shotgun, but it was just beyond his outstretched hand. Blade looked around and saw the broken lamp beside him. Sparks were flying from the bare wires that had been exposed. Blade reached for the broken lamp and just got his fingers around the base and with a scream, shoved the stand into the chest of the imp. The exposed wires sparked and smoked when they touched the imp.
The imp screamed and convulsed as the electricity coursed through its body. Blade getting to his feet, kept the wires on the creature as it backed against the wall. The imp clawed at Blade, but the lamp stand gave Blade enough reach to keep his distance. The imp bucked and screamed like a demon, but Blade pressed the stand against the imp with all his strength, keeping the wires embedded in its flesh. With a dying scream, the imp slumped to the ground, twitching and smoking. Blade kept the wires on the carcass for a minute more, and then tossed the lamp on the ground. The imp was dead.
Blade retrieved the shotgun and slapped a stimpack on his bruised chest under the battered armor. The pain eased as his chest numbed and the drugs did their work. He cautiously looked into the exit elevator expecting see more monstrosities, but the room was clear. He entered the room and slid to the floor, breathing hard. He would take a moment and rest before he threw the switch that would take him on his journey.
He snapped his head up and looked around. He must have dozed. Thankfully, it had been a restful nap. He stood and took a deep breath and threw the exit switch. The door closed and the elevator dropped. When the door opened, Blade smiled.
“Time to rock and roll,” he said, raising the shotgun and pumping a shell into the chamber.