I’m breaking every single one of my rules for survival doing this and yet I know if I don’t I’ll die of hunger in a few weeks or worse they’ll find me when I’m sleeping and carry me off to where they dwell nestled in the tunnels beneath the city.
I stare into the abyssal depths below me, nothing to make out but the now motionless escalator stairs, poking their way out of the blackness. I take one last deep breath savour the clean crisp February air and make my way down to find Nate. Nate’s the greatest survival tool any scavenger can have, a full bred German Shepard who can hear a pin drop a mile away and smell danger just as far.
I found Nate in an apartment on the 6th day of the” Crossing” as it was termed by the media at the time. By this time the portals had opened across the planet in every nation and all manner of demon began to cross over. I had hidden in my apartment for as long as I could but had been too scared to leave to stock up on supplies in the first days and had nothing but a nurtrigrain bar and week old milk lying in the fridge and had no choice but to look for food. I searched the apartments around my own tip toeing from one to another almost vomiting at the chaos and gore left in each, finding little or nothing in the majority of them. In number 304 where I had seen a young family with a little girl move in the month before I found canned food and bottles of spring water. The carpet was soaked in blood but no bodies. I know now where they were brought and what was done to them and I thank god I didn’t know at the time or I would have never left the building. In what I took to be the young girls room I heard whimpering coming from a small cabinet by the bedside. As I opened the small sliding door on it I found a puppy, no more than 10 or 12 weeks old. Immediately I fell in love which is a rare thing when you’re standing in an apartment block caked in the remains of its tenants.
Ever since then he’s been my closest companion but no less than twenty minutes ago one of those demonic spawn grabbed him as I was searching a broken down ambulance near the hospital. I heard a short painful whimper and rushed out to the street only to see the gangly malnourished limbs of one of their stalkers vanish into the entrance of the subway on Grattin Street. They don’t kill and eat animals the way they do humans; they use them changing them into one of their own altering their bodies. Dogs are always favoured for their tracking skills and have marked the end for many a survivor. That’s why I have to find him, if not to save him to release him from the torture and cruelty that bondage to these things entails.
The further I travel down the stronger the smell of rot and decay becomes leaving a sickly bitter taste in the back of my throat. In the past I would have vomited or had to smear vaporub on my upper lip to withstand it but now I’ve become so accustomed to it it’s like second nature to me. Every few steps I find myself standing on the withered remains of those who tried to escape the subway when the portals opened and they crossed over, those who were trampled beneath the feet of the swarming crowd like rats escaping through the cracks of a burning building. A bone breaks cracking beneath my boots every six or seven steps and I almost stumble downwards on a few. My flashlight only shines ten or twelve feet ahead of me and ahead of that I’m met with an unending darkness. It’s like this for ten or fifteen minutes until finally I reach the subway floor.
The smells at its worst down here and the floors are littered with bones and filth left over by those ungodly creatures further down the tracks. Suddenly an inhuman shriek rings out from somewhere not far in the darkness and my heart drops to my stomach like a ton of lead. I turn off my light and go prone to the cold tiles, my heart thumping against my ribcage and the floor beneath me. I hear a soft pitter-patter running along the ceiling somewhere to my right and listen as it vanishes almost certainly down the tracks into the depths perhaps to alert its demonic brethren further down. I stand up slowly almost expecting to see the creature jump out of the darkness towards me, but nothing and after a reassuring deep breath I make my way to the edge of the tracks and drop down. I twist the top of my cheap steel flashlight and as the light begins to dim I make my way down the tracks and towards their home, towards what I almost know to be my death. The shrieks and hungry howls I hear on the way should be enough to force me to turn around and run as fast as I can back up the tunnel and back to the surface but I can’t abandon Nate because he’s never abandoned me. He’s always been loyal and I know if I do the shame and guilt ill hold will kill me quicker than any demon. After what seems like hours but probably no longer than twenty minutes I come to a junction in the tracks and a train carriage. Once lit up like a Christmas tree, full of commuters going about their day it now lies decrepit and lifeless and whatever may be alive within certainly isn’t human. The door of the carriage is torn open hanging by no more than one or two of its hinges.
I make my way past the door and into the carriage and the first evidence of those things lies in front of me hundreds of prints overlapping one another left in blood from feet and paws and things that resemble hoofs like those of a pig but much larger. In some you can make out the long claws and talons used to disembowel and dismember people like myself, people foolish enough to enter their domain. The howls are louder and closer now no more than four maybe five hundred meters in front of me. I don’t walk I crouch down and make my way through the carriage. Small pieces of entrails and viscera lie strewn across the floor of the carriage I do my best not to stand on them but feel the stickiness of the congealed blood and fluids beneath my feet. I can hear them outside the carriages at either side the crunching of bone and soft wet sound of them devouring flesh, snorts and growls as they do so. I feel like standing up and running my whole body and mind are screaming to but as hard as it is I ignore it and push forward, slowly but surely following in what I can only hope to be the steps of Nate’s abductor.
I see the end of the carriage in front of me and once again go prone and begin crawling towards it the flashlight slightly illuminating the sides of the door. When I finally make it to it I’m met with a site I know will never leave me until the day I die. In front of me facing away crouched over Nate the figure of the stalker the skin of its back pale with a sickly green hue, sores and scabs appearing at intervals across it and its spine jutting out beneath its irregularly long body. Its gangly arms lie by its side it reminds me of a ghoulish painting I had once seen years before the “Crossing” in a basement close to my old home in Boston by an artist called Pickman. In front of it all around lay numerous piles of bodies and body parts and atop and between them demons of all kinds, horns and snouts jutting out from between the mess while others were covered with thick dark fur slick with the blood of those poor souls brought down here. Near the top of the closest pile ,eight or nine meters in front of me a demon lies face down with appendages like that of an insect connected to a body which although malformed appears human, but all recognition of humanity fades away as I see the antenna on its head like that of a mantis or a beetle. Its head buried in the torso if what looks like the remains of a woman.
At first I think Nate is dead but I see the slow and steady rise and fall of his chest. He’s still alive! I then realise this is my one and only chance to save him before he’s brought deeper into the tunnels towards whatever dark and evil thing waits to change him into a creature like those around me for use in filling this pit with more sustenance for these things unquenchable thirst. They don’t appear to notice the dim light from the torch and I leave it on the floor beside me facing the back of the stalker. I slip my hand down my side and to my belt and slowly withdraw the military knife from the holster beneath it. I slowly pull myself forward every second seems like minutes and slowly I swing my legs down from the carriage and find myself outside, my shadow now printed on the back of the stalker in front of me. I know one mistake, one wrong move or step and I’ll alert it and every single creature around me. I feel the sweat begin to build on my forehead and spend a split second planning my attack. I creep to the side of the creatures back and as my foot steps forward simultaneously I bring one arm forward along the side of its head my hand opened to cover the creature’s mouth as the other stabs upward, the tip of the blade slicing through the floor of its mouth up and into its brain. I feel its lips move beneath my hand as it attempts to let out a cry but it’s too late and feel its body go limp and drop to the floor beneath me. The few second afterwards is the most alert I have ever been I wait to hear the howls of revenge from the other demons sealing my faith, but they never come and they continue to feast unbeknownst to what has happened. I slide my hands under Nate and pick him up slowly and carefully and cradle him between my chest and shoulders and slowly crawl back into the carriage.
The journey back through the tunnels is twice as fast as the journey down and although still aware of the dangers of alerting one of the creatures I quicken my pace. Before I know it I’m hoisting myself back on the platform next to the tracks and feel Nate’s body begin to twitch and jerk against me. Just as I near to the top of the escalators and feel the sunlight from the surface shine on my face his eyes flicker and open and he licks the side of my cheek.