Blade pressed himself against the cement wall and cautiously peered into the storage area. Barrels of green slime had ruptured filling the storage area with bubbling acid. A clear area of the floor zigzagged through the slime and ended in a short corridor. Standing by a door at the end of the corridor was a zombie, gibbering to itself and walking slowly in a circle.
Blade heard that low, chilling growl coming from the left of the storage area from the top of a raised platform. Blade looked at the creature on top of the platform and his blood ran cold. The creature was straight out of some hideous nightmare. The monster was covered in matted brown fur, with bony spikes protruding from the flesh. Its eyes glowed an evil red color, it hands and feet were tipped with claws that glinted in the light from a window that looked out onto the courtyard.
The creature arched its back and roared at Blade. It then leaned forward and spewed mist from its mouth that suddenly burst into flame and became a fireball streaking toward him. Blade jumped back as the fireball exploded into the wall beside him, scorching the cement, the heat of the blast washing over him like the gust of a blast furnace.
Blade realized that the rumors were true. The explosion he had felt while patrolling the perimeter must have opened a door to another dimension. This creature, this imp, was not of this world. The zombies, this imp—they defied common sense and violated physical laws. They could not be of this world. They were nightmares from the pit of Hell.
He had to get to the Command Center and warn Earth. He may be the only human left alive in the research center. If these creatures somehow managed to get off Mars and get to Earth, millions would die. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. It was time to battle Hell.
He looked down at his .45. He would need better firepower. There was a weapons cache behind the platform, but the switch was in the room at the end of the corridor. He would have to get past the imp and the zombie with only his .45. He checked the clip; only two shots left. He took a deep breath. They would have to do.
Blade ran into the hangar, keeping low and following the zigzag of clear cement. The fumes from the bubbling slime around him threatened to overwhelm him so he kept his breath shallow as he ran. As he neared the corridor at the back of the storage area, the zombie saw him and raised its .45 and fired.
The bullet whined off the cement in front of him. Blade heard the imp bellow and the whooshing sound of another fireball. Blade did not look and kept running toward the corridor. The heat of the fireball washed over him as it passed close behind him. The fireball struck the pool of slime to his right and exploded. The fumes ignited and flames flashed across the slime around him. The blast threw him into the air toward the door at the end of the corridor. He slammed hard onto the cement, losing his grip on his .45. The pistol clattered as it slid into the corner.
Blade pushed to his knees and came face to face with the muzzle of a .45. He rolled to the right just as the zombie pulled the trigger. The gun roared and the bullet dug into the cement where Blade had been kneeling only a moment before.
Blade continued to roll coming to his feet and kicked the zombie in the face. The zombie staggered back against the wall. Blade stepped close to the creature and punched it hard in the face. The smell of rotting flesh made him want to gag and his fist hit with a soft wet sound.
The zombie to staggered back against the door at the end of the corridor. The zombie tried to raise the .45 it carried, but Blade grabbed the monster’s wrist and twisted it backward so the muzzle was pointing at the head of the zombie. With a grin, Blade pressed the zombies finger that was curled around the trigger. A neat hole appeared in the forehead of the zombie and the body slumped to the ground leaving its brains on the door.
The fire was raging behind him making it hard to breathe. He had to lower the platform and get to that weapons cache before the fire destroyed anything in the room. Blade looked at the .45 that the zombie was carrying. The clip was nearly full. He slammed open switch to the door and stepped into the exit room, looking for the platform switch.
From the back of the room, near a door marked “Exit”, an imp stepped forward and hissed at Blade. Blade fired two shots at the creature, the bullets digging holes in its chest. The imp did not seem to notice.
On either side of Blade, behind a wooden screen, two zombies were pressing themselves against the wood and firing at him. The bullets whined off the concrete walls and floors, spraying hot lead and cement chips into he air. Blade stepped back and fired at the zombie on his left. The creature jerked back, then slumped to the ground.
The imp opened its mouth and a fireball flashed toward Blade. He hit the ground as the fireball passed above him, singeing his hair. Blade fired again at the imp. The imp staggered backward a step then resumed its advance. Blade pushed to his feet and fired several shots into a barrel of slime beside the imp. The barrel exploded engulfing the imp and turning it into a flaming torch. The imp danced around for a few moments, then crumpled to the ground and quietly burned.
The zombie to his left shuffled around the corner of the screen and fired at Blade with its .45. Blade rolled to his left and fired at the zombie striking it in the chest. Blade kept pulling the trigger, tracking the fire upward and blasting the head of the zombie to pulp. The creature fell onto the burning imp and did not move.
Blade slowly got to his feet and scanned the room. It was empty. He found the platform switch on the wall beside the door and pulled the lever down. Behind him, he could hear the sound of grating metal as the platform lowered to the floor of the storage room.
He walked slowly back toward the storage area, holding his hand up to shield his face from the heat of the flames. The slime was still burning, filling the storage area with smoke and acrid fumes. Blade looked for the imp, but could not see it amid the flames and smoke. The flames had probably consumed it when the platform lowered.
The platform was on the other side of the burning slime. He would have to jump. He secured the .45 in his holster and backed up to get a running start. He had to make the jump on the first try. There would not be a second chance.
Blade took a deep breath of clean air, ran to the edge of the slime and jumped. The flames licked up toward him and he felt the heat through his shoes. He landed on the platform with a jolt and he rolled into the room.
As he lay on the ground catching his breath, he heard a hiss coming from the shadows at the back of the room. Blade jumped to his feet and pulled the .45 from his holster. An imp stepped from the shadows and crept slowly toward Blade. Blade raised the .45 and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell on an empty chamber.
“Damn,” Blade said throwing the pistol at the imp. The imp batted the gun to the side and took a swipe at Blade with a clawed hand. Blade dodged to the side and tried to get to the table. A shotgun, some shells and a stimpack lay on top of the table under a bank of bright, yellow-white lights.
The imp reached out, grabbed Blade by the back of his armor and lifted him into the air. It shook him like a child shakes a doll and then with a screech, the creature threw Blade against the wall opposite the table. His armor went rigid as Blade slammed into the wall, knocking the breath out of him. He tried to crawl away from the imp, but the creature picked him up by his ankles and threw him into the corner. Blade felt the wall give slightly under the impact, easing the shock and giving him a chance to catch his breath.
The imp took a swipe at him with a clawed hand, but missed as Blade jumped between its legs. The imp turned and Blade kicked at the monster’s kneecap as hard as he could. The imp staggered backward, howling in pain. Blade jumped to his feet and lunged toward the table. His hand fell on the shotgun, but as he tried to lift it, the imp slammed into him and wrapped its claws around his chest.
Blade drove his elbow into the matted fur, and then stomped hard on a clawed foot with the heel of his boot. The imp grunted and loosened its grip. Blade drove his head backward, slamming it into the face of the imp. The creature jerked back and released Blade.
Blade leaned forward and grabbed the shotgun, pumping a shell into the chamber and spinning around just as the imp opened its mouth to spew a fireball. Blade jammed the shotgun into the creature’s mouth and pulled the trigger. The imp’s head vanished as the body jerked back against the wall and then slid to the ground, twitching madly.
Blade slumped against the table and tried to catch his breath. The fire in the storage area was roaring like an angry beast and Blade could hear the pop and crack of the cement as it shattered in the heat. He loaded up on ammo for the shotgun and slapped a stimpack on the deep scratches the imp had inflicted on his arms.
Blade slowly approached the platform, holding a hand over his face to shield it from the intense heat. The fire had completely involved the storage area and portions of the roof were falling into the flames as the fire ate into ceiling. There was no way he could leap to the exit corridor. The heat was too intense.
The fire was beginning to creep into the weapons cache, licking up the walls of the room and blackening the ceiling. It would not be long before the room was engulfed in flames. Blade looked around him for another exit, but all he saw was the table and four walls of small room. He was trapped.