Chapter LIV: SpidersAs the taxi passed by the old abandoned hospital in downtown LA, I turned to look gloomily at the dilapidated building, idly curious at the lights I now saw in the window. Had someone broken in? No business, or concern, of mine, of course, but it piqued my curiousity.
'This is far enough', I said to the driver. 'Thanks for the ride.'
Wordlessly, the vampire turned the wheel slightly, slowing the taxi down, pulling up on the side of the road. I got out, closing the door behind me, and looked up at the old building. Part of the wire fence surrounding the building had been pulled down, one of the fire exits open slightly.
I stepped closer to the door. This late at night, whoever was in the building was up to no good. Images of drug dealers, or worse, plague bearers, went through my mind. Last thing I wanted to deal with was Archpope Oozingsores coming to spread a little more of his end of days love.
The high-pitched female shriek broke my reverie, the woman's death cry reverberating through the night air, piercing my ears. I pushed the door open and ran into the corridor. Broken machinery and cabinets littered the hallway, making movement into an obstacle course.
The man ran up from my right, his breath coming in laboured gasps. His eyes were wild with terror, his scent an acrid mix of sweat and urine. He grabbed me by the shirt, his words coming in rapid beats, in between ragged gasps.
'Huh?', I replied. 'Who's got what? What's going on here?'
'Stop a second.' I took the man firmly by the arm, looking at him sternly. 'What were you doing in here?'
The man broke off, sobbing. I relaxed my grip, thinking.
So, it seems someone...something else has made it's residence here, and you stepped unknowingly into it's lair...
I was torn. A mix of curiousity and apprehension battled for dominance, my desire to find out more about the creatures that lived in shadows as I now did, my fear that I would find something I didn't want to find. If it was the Tmicze...
'Listen, I'll go look for your crew. Wait here.'
The man shouldered me roughly aside, running through the open door and into the street. I considered following him, but first I'd have to see what was down here. The hallway was blocked, the furniture packed so tightly that it was impossible to get past. I stepped into a small side-office, looking for an alternative route.
A fallen vent had crushed the desk in this room, but it made a perfect walkway, leading me around the building, past the blockade, and down into another corridor.
The door at the end of the corridor was blocked on either side. I continued along to the right, into the office at the end. A solitary security monitor blinked eerily in the darkness, casting a luminous white light over the walls. I leaned in for a closer look.
Squinting, I could just make out the figure of a young redheaded woman crawling through a gap in a wall where the plasterboard had collapsed. Her face was horrified, flecks of vomit staining her lips and the front of her clothes. She pulled herself out from under the gap, her face showing a small glimmer of hope. That hope turned to open-mouthed despair as an unseen force dragged her back through the gap. Her legs kicked, her fingernails digging into the floor, but she was pulled backwards, and down, through a hole in the floor. Bloody marks streaked the linoleum as she disappeared. Sickened, I turned from the monitor, and proceeded through the security room through some double doors into a large room filled with scattered beds.
Heavy boards covered the windows, and a stack of bed-frames blocked the exit to the right. I turned, looking for any other way through the room. It felt strange, like something was guiding the movements of everyone who came in, setting them down a particular path, blocking all other exits. My eyes widened slightly as I turned my head to the left, seeing the bloody fingerprints on the floor, the gap in the plasterboard. I walked over carefully, listening for the sounds of movement on the other side, hearing nothing. I ducked my head, crawled through the gap, and jumped down the hole, looking at the large pool of blood at the bottom. It led off through a doorway, and into another room, stacked with garbage.
Pulling myself through the garbage, I came into another corridor, again barricades preventing movement through some doors. An open door led into an operating theatre, blood staining the table and basin. A large hole in the floor brought me through a series of pipes, and out on the other side of the blocked door. A corridor led to the right, turning right again past a door.
Coming closer, I saw a man beating on the glass, yelling incoherently at me, his face imploring. I ran closer, my hand reaching out to grab the handle, tear open the door and free the man. Closer....closer...
The man gave an abrupt scream, silenced quickly as the glass pane was splattered with thick blood, covering the entirety of the window. Sounds of meat tearing came from the other side, of bones being chewed. I tried to open the door, but again, something on the other side now blocked it. This time, it wasn't furniture. I could feel some sort of energy keeping the door closed. Slamming my hand into the tiles in frustration, I ran down the corridor to the right. The other door was open, leading me into a larger operating theatre. I turned, hearing the sound of chewing again.
A tall woman stood at a basin, licking blood and meat from her fingers almost delicately, seeming to ignore the gore staining her face and chest. She looked up as I approached, my hand on the hilt of the katana. Her eyes fascinated me, repulsed me. They glowed in a way I had never seen before, as if each eye somehow reflected the fires of the sun, glowing white with heat. She glanced at my hand on the blade hilt, then her unwavering gaze returned to my face.
'You're a vampire?', I responded, my voice too nervous for my liking. 'But you're...eating him, not just the blood, but everything.'
'I call it kinda gross, to be honest. You're a mess. Besides, I don't kill my food.'
She had a point. To humanity, we were both monsters. That I didn't kill where she did would mean little to them. This was not enough to put me at ease however. The woman was too self-possessed, calm and rational, despite the grim surroundings and the way she seemed to have played with her food.
'Who are you?'
'Then I'll call you Pisha.' The Beast whined slightly, it's hackles raised. She reminds me of a spider...
'But what are you doing down here?'
As ever, the Masquerade.
'I can't kill him. I won't kill him.'
Pisha looked up, her head raised, at once distant. Her eyes closed for a moment, and I heard furniture being scattered, destroyed, fragments rebounding against the walls above my head. The bolted door clicked open, and Pisha's eyes opened once again. I stepped back, amazed and intimidated by the vampire's power.
'The way is now clear. Go.'
It didn't seem like I had much choice.