Shoot to thrill
(This was something I wrote on the fly for my novel. Unproofed and long but I'd love to know what you think <3)--
Somewhere in her unconscious Ryssa could hear a door rattle, a loud knock, the creatures in her dream just ignored it oblivious to all the sounds. They continued to approach where she lay, her whole body was ridged with fear, no matter how much Ryssa tried to move she was stuck fast. One creature climbed on top of her, long black fingers traces quietly and softly across her face. Ryssa could feel her whole body shaking with fear and she was so cold, as the black creature pressed its slender body down on top of her she squeezed her eyes shut only to find that it made no difference to the scene.
One, long, black nail raked itself down her cheek and Ryssa could feel her own blood begin to trickle down her face. Suddenly the creature drew itself away from her, the temperature began to rise and a loud bang echoed somewhere outside of the darkness and Ryssa tried to work out where it was coming from.
“Ryssa!” a harsh voice whispered close to her ear and she was sucked straight back into the conscious world. She snapped her eyes open to see Lieutenant Matthews leaning over her, light was streaming in from the open door to her quarters and her cheek was still stinging.
Sitting up Ryssa brought a hand to her cheek to feel the damage the creature had left, the skin was tender but still smooth, there was no blood, not cut, it was as if she’d never been scratched. Maybe that was the case but that did not explain why the whole left side of her face stung, the somewhat panicked expression of Matthew’s face told her that there were more pressing issues at hand than her own discomfort.
“What’s going on?” she whispered.
“I don’t have time to explain but we need to get out of here, get dressed.” His voice was low, worried, they didn’t have a lot of time.
Ryssa looked at him blankly for a moment; she didn’t understand what was going on or why he was here, she was still half asleep so understanding this situation was proving rather difficult.
“Get dressed, now!” he snapped, “that’s an order.”
Ryssa couldn’t argue with that, she got out of bed and quickly dressed. She went to put her armour on when she was grabbed by Matthews and pushed towards the door. “No time for that, get a coat.” Ryssa did as she was told and grabbed a coat as she was pushed out of the door.
Once out the door Matthews moved quickly and quietly through the corridors signalling for Ryssa to do the same. She wasn’t in a position to argue but she felt bare with no armour or weapons, she was itching for an explanation to all this, part of her thought that it might be some kind of elaborate drill but another, more sensible, part told her she was in danger.
They rounded a corner and Matthews stopped looking around for any one else who might be walking around the sanctuary so late at night. He then gestured for Ryssa to head to the door that lead to one of the tunnels, this was their only way out to the surface and the only way he could count on Ryssa no being quarantined.
Ryssa did as she was told and pushed open the heave door that lead into the tunnels, it was cold there were no environmental controls in these rarely used tunnels, the air was thick with the grime and dirt of this place and it always felt like you were having the breath knocked out of you when the door closed. Once Matthews was in the tunnel and the door closed her slowed his covert jog to a quick walk, Ryssa looked at him hoping to get some sort of explanation.
“They think you’ve got radiation poisoning,” he said simply as the tunnel darkened, Matthews pulled a torch from his belt and switched it on.
“What? How?” Ryssa hadn’t been to the surface in years there was no way she could’ve got radiation poisoning.
“You haven’t, someone is setting you up. They want to put you in quarantine,” said Matthews, not once looking at the cadet, instead scanning the walls for the ladder that would get them out of the place.
A feeling over overwhelming fear and betrayal washed over Ryssa and she wondered why anyone would want to set her up. She took a deep breath, still looking at her commanding officer as they walked. She couldn’t get her head around the situation or why heading through the tunnels would keep her safe from whatever was going on.
“If I haven’t got radiation poisoning then what is it?” she hoped that he would say nothing and that results of her tests had just been fabricated to get her put in quarantine. She pulled her coat on, the wind blowing through the tunnels was cold and there was no shelter from it, pulling the heavy coat further around her shoulders she stopped as the lieutenant did, torchlight shining on a ladder that lead to a hatch in the top of the tunnel.
“I don’t know, yesterday the Doctors were saying that it was unlike anything they’d seen before.” He examined the hatch with his torch light before beginning to climb the ladder, “it’s some sort of power, rippling through you. The Doctors don’t understand it and the sanctuary doesn’t understand it, that’s why you have to leave.” He pushed the hatch open and squinted as light flooded the tunnel.
Ryssa breathed deeply as fresh air swamped her, she followed Matthew’s up the ladder and into a small room. She didn’t know what to say now or what to think. She wasn’t dangerous, she’d encountered one hound that had exploded and was having bad dreams, that didn’t warrant testing and quarantine. She looked around at the room she was in, she had no idea where they were but she was surprised to see a window, it looked out over a wide, snowy expanse of land, Ryssa’s heart jumped into her throat.
Matthews looked at her and grinned, “don’t worry,” he said simply, “it’s safe out here, you are just told that it’s not so you never try to leave.” Of course it was still radioactive out on the surface but nothing like it had been thirty years ago. The worst of it had passed and it would take a lifetime to show any adverse effects from the radiation levels. What Ryssa did have to worry about was the weather and the creatures that lurked in the shadows in the night. Matthews had heard many a story of people running off to the surface to live new exciting lives just to find themselves freezing to death or being savaged by some beast. Although no one knew where the tunnel hounds came from they knew that they must originate from somewhere on the surface. The hunted in small packs and just because they had only even been seen in the service tunnels didn't mean they didn't hunt elsewhere.
Ryssa shook her head, this place was terrifying, she'd been outside before but she'd had it drilled into her head that this world was dangerous. Surely she would be facing a better fate back in the sanctuary. "Are you saying that I have to stay out here?" he looked back out the window and at the fresh snow that was beginning to fall from the sky.
"No, I need some time to pretend that you've run away, whilst convincing them that you aren't dangerous and that you don't have radiation poisoning." He placed a hand on her shoulder, "for now, this is the best place for you."
Ryssa turned around as she felt the hand on her shoulder and she sighed, she didn't know whether he was right or not but she trusted him and if he thought this was the safest place for her then she wasn't going to argue. She sat down on a chair that stood alone in the room and ran a hand over her head. This was never the situation she would've imagined herself in when she'd started her training, all she'd ever wanted was to help fight against the beasts and baddies that lurked outside. They'd been preparing for something, a war, for so long that now she didn't think she'd get a chance to put everything she'd learned into fruition.
"I'll make sure you get food and that you are safe," he pulled his gun from his belt and handed it to Ryssa; he then pulled off his gloves and scarf and handed them to her. "I'll be back for you in a few days." With that he turned and made his way back down into the tunnels.
Ryssa felt tears welling up in her eyes and she tried to hold them back not wanting for this to affect her as much as she felt that it should. This place, this tiny shack was cold, depressing and now terribly lonely. She doubted very much that she would be able to survive a long amount of time out here. She hoped that Matthews would be back sooner than a few days and that he would be able to make things right with people in the sanctuary. She had no idea who would want to set her up and put her in such a situation. She knew that she was different and that there was something bubbling up within her but she was controlling it, in no way was she a danger.