Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 2, Part 2.11

Posted by harmony0stars on November 23, 2008

As Glory walked behind the soldier, she couldn’t help but notice an angry red scar that began at the man’s nape and disappeared beneath his hair. It couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old, but it might explain his daze better than the harm she had done with her sword. He might be in shock now, but he could have already been in a state conducive to it before the attack.

The man seemed perfectly content to walk where he was made to walk. Even his muttering slowly died away as they wandered deeper into the building. Something was definitely off with him, and Glory began to wonder just how much free will he even had. She’d have expected a prisoner to be tense, but his posture was all wrong. He might have been walking in a park for as worried as he seemed. As they came to another hallway and she put her hand on his shoulder, he stopped without protest. Had he merely fought back because he was told to?

The shifters cautiously rounded the corner, and she heard a shout and the clatter of something metallic hitting the floor. An instant later, the faster members of the group were already racing after a man in a white lab coat as he ducked through a door at the far end of the hall. The door slid shut before they reached it, causing them to slide into it even as they tried to slow down. It would have been a moment worthy of America’s Funniest Video’s if it hadn’t looked so painful.

The wolverine stood on its hind legs in front of a panel and growled his frustration. As Glory got closer, she saw it was a handprint recognition screen. “Here, move over,” she said, pulling her prisoner with her. The wolverine dropped back down to all fours with a grunt. She spun the man around and struggled to get his hand on the scanner without untying him. He might seem complacent, but she didn’t want to take a chance. After a few seconds of struggling to lay his hand flat on the screen, the door slid open and the pack charged through it.

There were stairs beyond the door which wound downwards to different landings. Aside from the man in the labcoat, they had not come across any more soldiers in the entire building, and that began to worry Glory as they crept further into the building. Were they waiting in ambush somewhere?

The pack stopped on the third landing down and waited for Glory to twist her prisoner’s hand to the scanner plate again. This time though, it didn’t work. Obviously he didn’t have clearance. Maybe the reason they hadn’t encountered any more soldiers was because they weren’t allowed in certain areas? She doubted she could kick it in and her sword wasn’t likely to work either since it didn’t seem to pass through inorganic matter. Letting go of her prisoner, she put her hands on either side of the sensor and concentrated. After a moment, she could smell burning plastic. She was relieved when the door slid open with an unhappy buzzing sound. For a minute, she’d been afraid she was frying the whole thing, and it would never come open.

Hart gave her a weird look as he led the others through the door, like why didn’t you do that in the first place instead of wasting time with the other door. Oh well, if he wanted to say something later, he could… when they were all safely out of the building. The shifters had stopped just inside the door though, fur bristling. Their rage was a palpable thing. These were obviously the holding pens and many of the “rooms” were occupied. None of the occupants moved though.

“Don’t come any closer, or they’re all dead!” shouted the man in the lab coat, obviously the mad doctor in charge of the place. His hand was on a large red button on the wall marked emergency. Hart wasn’t having any of it though. He stalked towards the doctor and the rest followed. “I’m warning you!” he screamed.

“I’m guessing they saw through the flaw in your logic. If they leave, their people are dead anyway.” Glory replied since in their animal forms, the shifters couldn’t.

“Who…. Lori?” he said in confusion, then focused on the soldier Glory had been dragging about the complex. Glory gaped at him. He knew her sister?! She’d finally found someone who’d seen Lori? This was just…. just too good to be true! A wicked grin lit his face though as he dug through his coat, the emergency button forgotten. Pulling out some kind of remote control, he stabbed the button triumphantly with his finger.

The soldier ripped himself from her hands with a cry of pain, more growl that scream. He convulsed, his clothing tearing as his muscles bulged. The belt she had used to bind his hands together popped off his wrists like a broken rubberband. His transformation was complete before she had time to cry out, though he hadn’t changed fully into anything so far as she could tell. Hair bristled through the tears in his clothes and from his short snout, but it was hard to tell what animal he was supposed to be. He climbed to his feet, staggering as he got used to his new footing. After a few tottering steps, he kicked the split footwear from feet that looked more like some kind of three-toed hooves and launched himself at the pack with a swiftness that scared her speechless. She’d never seen any creature move with such speed.

It became apparent very quickly though that his target was not the other shifters. He batted them aside like so many beach balls, indifferent to any injuries he might cause and making a beeline for the doctor and his remote. It was quite clear that this was unexpected to the doctor as well. He turned and tried to bolt through another door behind him but his head was caught in one of the creature’s massive fists. Both arms seemed to be in working order despite his little run in with her sword only minutes ago. He swung the man into the wall and caught him again as he rebounded. Glory flinched as she watched him do it a few more times before tossing him through the open door and following him into the next room. There were more sounds of things being broken as the doctor’s body was tossed from one side of the room to the other. It was almost as if he was playing with the man.

The shifters picked themselves up and walked or stumbled to the room’s entrance. Once there, they simply stared at the mayhem before them. The doctor had obviously expected his… creation… to attack the shifters or at least be distracted by them. Had her sword disrupted more than the feeling in his arm? She’d probably never know, but it was clear the thing had to be stopped and the shifters seemed too dumbfounded by this turn of events to make the attempt. Not that they’d be inclined to, given what he’d done to them.

She waded through the pack and into the room. The creature seemed not to notice her as she approached. One of the wolves, Toby she guessed, threw his front legs around her leg, trying to stop her, but his uncle gave a sharp bark and Toby released her.

Whatever he was now, the creature was bleeding and probably in pain. His clothes were saturated with blood. It flowed freely from skin that seemed to have burst open from the expanded muscles beneath. He even seemed a little larger than he had been before going through the door. Glory had no way of knowing whether the doctor was still alive, but if he was, she had to talk to him and that meant stopping his tormentor.

When she was only a few paces from the creature, it turned its head and growled softly at her. More warning than aggressive. He only had eyes for the man he was torturing, and Glory really couldn’t blame him. She’d probably want to beat the crap out of the doctor too if their roles were reversed. “It’s okay big guy.” she assured him shakily. “I’m… on your side.”

He made a hupping noise as he turned away, stepping onto the man’s body and squatting down with it between his arms as if guarding his kill. Whether he believed her or not, he didn’t seem to see her as a threat. That didn’t mean he was inclined to give up his toy. She stepped up right next to him before throwing herself onto his shoulders, wrapping her arms around his neck. That got a reaction.

He was suddenly up and trying to get her off, but she clung with a tenacity that surprised even her. He slammed her into walls and shattered the glass doors of a cabinet that had somehow, miraculously, remained intact during his “game,” but she held on and concentrated on healing him. That only seemed to make him angrier. He  started screaming as he swung her around like a rag doll. His shrieking reached a crescendo as he stopped stock still in the center of the room, his back arched in mortal agony. With a sound like a melon hitting the sidewalk, his head exploded and his body collapsed under her weight.

Glory sat on the floor, wide-eyed and covered in gore. “I- I…! Oh my god!” she cried, tears streaming down her face. “I didn’t mean to…. I’m so s-sorry!!!” She wailed. After a moment, Toby butted up against her and she wrapped her arms around him, crying into his fur. At least the man wouldn’t suffer any more.

Toby allowed her to use him as support when she finally struggled to her feet. Then he joined his uncle and the others as they tried to make sense of the locks on the cages. They obviously required some sort of passkey but there was nothing obvious in the room. Glory went to the doctor’s body, but he was so badly mauled there was no chance that she’d be able to revive him to ask about her sister or opening the cages. With a last tearful sob, she stepped back into the hall of cages. Now that she had opened one electronic lock on the stairwell door, the others seemed to go easier. Each one took less time than the one before it. She did not even look inside as she went from one to the other. The last few only took a brush of her hand against the mechanism for the bars to slide to the right.

With a growl, Hart suddenly butted into her leg, knocking her hand away from the key slot. “What’s the matter with you?” she demanded, not expecting an answer. She looked through the bars and saw a gray-skinned creature curled up against the far wall. It glared at her malevolently but didn’t look healthy enough to do her much harm. It was humanoid, but also canid, though it looked as if it might have mange. Its feet were very much like those of the poor soldier she’d just killed. Hart gave a violent shake of his head and nudged her away from the door.

“Okay, fine,” she agreed, “You get your people out of here, and I’ll… let it out once your gone.”

He looked at her as if she were insane, but then gave the equivalent of a feline shrug. Apparently if she wanted to risk her life to free whatever was in that cage, it was no skin off his nose. The people in the cages were slowly coming to their senses. It was probably past time for them to get a dose of whatever the doctor had been feeding them. When the last of them had awoken and transformed, Toby gave her a final nudge of thanks before following his uncle up the stairs. She waited another ten minutes before approaching the creature again.

It continued to stare at her coldly as she looked through the bars. Actually, he… she? looked kind of amused. “I’m just going to open this door and then you’re free to go… wherever it is you came from. Okay?” Glory  announced, not expecting a response.

It laughed, a high pitched whopping cough that sent ice through her veins. It was an instinctive response that left her nauseous with fear… the first time she’d been aware of her stomach in weeks. “Did all your little friends say goodbye?” The creature muttered as it stood. It was taller than she’d expected, easily taller than the creature the doctor had created. “Were they afraid of little ol’ me?”

“Um, yeah… looks like.” She replied, unwilling to give it any indication that she was in fact terrified. Glory laid her hand on the lock and heard the click as it opened. The creature stepped out through the bars and looked down on her. She felt very small as it gave a long sniff and looked off towards the door where the two bodies lay.

“Don’t worry too much about the mess. Me an’ mine ‘ll clean it up… liiiickety split.”

“Um, yeah, okay,” she answered, nervously. Glory tried to step around it while its attention was elsewhere, but it zeroed in on her almost immediately.

“You don’t even know what I am, do you?”

“Er, not so much, no.” She balled up her hand into a fist, ready to pop her sword if she needed it. She really couldn’t tell if the creature was going to let her go without a fight.

“Oh, no no no! You won’t need that little trinket,” it sniffed, lowering it’s muzzle until they were eye to eye. Its breath was rancid like rotting meat. “Ghouls and guardians, we’re like old friends. Guardians are not for eating. Thought your kind ‘ad all gone to ashes aaaages ago though.” It gave that weird, high pitched laugh again. She couldn’t help but glance back at the room where the two bodies still lay and shudder. Of course, she’d read about ghouls, but even so, she’d always thought that they were just a fairytale monster. The ghoul stepped around her heading towards the bodies and without looking back, she began walking towards the stairwell, gaining speed as she got closer. It wasn’t until she heard the unmistakable sound of breaking bone that she bolted.

*               *               *

It was a good thing Glory didn’t need to sleep any more or even dream because that night’s events would have plagued her for months. As it was, she was in a daze for several days before she managed to pull herself together. During the daylight hours, she scrutinized every animal that crossed her path, wondering if it were a shifter in disguise. Every night, the cracking of branches in the cooling darkness reminded her of the ghoul and made her wonder if it had changed its mind about eating a “guardian.”

She just about screamed one morning when she found a quarter and putting it in her pocket, she encountered the corner of Aaron’s note. How?! How could she have forgotten the note?! With deepest shame, she found a secluded spot hidden within the branches of a fir tree and opened it.

With a little frustrated cry, she punched herself in the leg.

She turned it over and over in her hands, but it was nothing more than a business card.

:::::::End Book 2::::::::

Advertisements

8 Responses to “Tattoo Book 2, Part 2.11”

  1. Miladysa said

    And?!!!! 😀

  2. Miladysa said

    just to let you know I’ve reviewed Tattoo over at the Web Fiction Guide.

    • harmony0stars said

      Thank you, thank you, and did I mention, thank you? 🙂 Hope you keep reading. Things are really going to develop in the next few chapters.

  3. kathrine said

    Interesting Read! Very detailed blog.
    Thanks for sharing

  4. here2read said

    Love this series.

  5. Vicki Grimes said

    I am enjoying this more than I thought I would!! Thanks for telling me about this.

  6. Wendy said

    Wow….. This is great, so glad I followed the link to get here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: