Friday, June 27, 2014

Day Seven-Hundred-Thirty: Nothing can stop Nothing


fuck

oh fuck me

why is this happening?

why?

what did we do?

Fuck. Okay. Compose yourself, Dragomir. Enough... enough gods-be-damned crying. That won't...

Gods.  

Why us?

Jeffrey has been inconsolable since the disappearance of his kids. He flipped the moment I woke him up and asked for his help, and his condition got steadily worse as we searched with no success. Grylock kept berating us for blowing our cover by running willy-nilly 'round the streets of Below, and Jeffrey could only listen to the nagging for so long before he blew.

"Shut the fuck up." Lifting Grylock with one hand - Jeffrey's been working on his arms with his boxing, and Grylock's pretty damned light these days - he pushed the goblin up against a wall. Not hard, not enough to really hurt Grylock, but firmly. "Those are my kids. I'll panic as much as I want. Keep jabbering and I'll break your neck."

His words chilled me, and I kept away. They apparently didn't bother Grylock at all, as he cackled away Jeffrey's threat.

"Have ye seen me lately?" Grylock lifted one arm weakly, allowing the fabric of his loose desert clothing to slide away. The skin beneath drooped from his bones. "Ye'd just be hastenin' the inevitable. Might thank ye for it, high-and-mighty asshole."

Jeffrey soon gave up, returning Grylock to the ground. He apologized; Grylock did not. We continued our search in vain.

Unwise though it may have been, we began to move closer to the thudding movement of the Nothing. I suspect both of us came to the same conclusion: if Logan and Celine planned to attack the Nothing, they would spend most of their time near it. Grylock developed a small fever partway through the day and his thinking became muddled, so he didn't seem to notice that we were approaching the beast.

We didn't spot one of them - Logan, of course it was Logan - until early evening. By then it was too late to stop them.

The Nothing was circling a six- or seven-block stretch of Below as we moved into the neighbourhood. It had already demolished a dozen buildings, and it was crushing the remains into powder as it followed a single track, around and around and around. Slinking behind a crumbled wall dividing one section of Below from another, I peered out at the thing - 

- and spotted the flash of extended tendrils, lashing out at something. The telltale scream of its liquid weapons reached our ears a moment later, chilling me. I hastened Jeffrey over to have a look, worried by the desperation crawling across his features.

"Is that them? Did you... oh gods." He gulped at the angry sound of the Nothing's metallic shrieks. "Gods. Why's... what is it..."

"Look." I pointed. "Look. I think that's Logan."

The Nothing's long, circular track took it around two small buildings that it had miraculously not crushed, and for a brief second I spotted a figure landing atop the taller of the two buildings. It crouched a moment, then leaped into the air and vanished. The Nothing followed its track a few seconds later, its tendrils ripping through the roof but failing to bring the building down. 

"He's luring it." I placed a hand on Jeffrey's shoulder. On the surface I wanted to be sympathetic; in reality I was holding him back, lest he try something stupid. "They've got a plan. Don't - "

"LOGAN!" Jeffrey stood upright, bellowing out his son's name with a challenging, frightened snarl. "GET AWAY! STOP IT! COME BACK!"

The Nothing was perhaps five hundred feet from us at that point, clearly concentrating on Logan, yet at the sound of Jeffrey's voice it turned. Its two legs, jutting awkwardly out of its orbular surface, pivoted the body around to peer at us with unseen eyes. And as one of the legs flashed around, I caught a glimpse of something clinging to the side - 

Jeffrey spotted her, too. He began to run. "CELINE! NO!"

I jumped to my feet, all attempts at subterfuge abandoned. I grabbed at Jeffrey's clothing; he wheeled around and put a fist in my gut. I went down, kneeling and panting. Jeffrey ran towards the Nothing, screaming at his children to STOP, STOP, GET AWAY and for the Nothing to COME GET ME INSTEAD, YOU BASTARD. And, oh boy, it came.

I'm not sure what Logan and Celine had planned. I'm guessing that Logan was keeping the Nothing occupied while Celine tinkered with its leg, trying to fuck up its gears so it would fall apart. That, at least, would strand the Nothing in one spot, a spot we could avoid. If so, their plan was wise. A shame that Jeffrey had to go and screw it up.

The Nothing is a killing machine, i can tell that much. Its purpose is to destroy. I assumed it would use its tendril attack to impale Jeffrey, much as it was trying to skewer Logan. Instead, the Nothing's left leg slid along the sleek surface of its body to the Nothing's front, rising above the shell-shocked father. A long shadow eclipsed Jeffrey, and my heart stopped as the leg came down to crush him.

Jeffrey was not crushed. At the last second something small, and swift, and abruptly strong, shoved him out of the way of the Nothing's huge, flat foot. He sprawled, bounced, and fell onto a heap of stone, disappearing in the sudden puff of sand exploding upward as the Nothing pulverized the ground.

Moments later, covered in sand and looking utterly shocked, Logan appeared beside me. He said something - "Grab him and get the fuck out of here", I think that was it - and then leaped back into the fray. I haven't seen him since.

Taking a moment to recover, I ran from the remains of the wall and into the clouds of dust. I tried to envision Jeffrey's position in the chaos, doing my best to ignore the obvious presence of the Nothing looming over us both, and, miracle of miracles, I tripped over his foot after a minute of blind running.

The dust began to clear. The Nothing above us was turning toward some new threat to my right, its foot lifting away from the ground. Hefting a semi-conscious Jeffrey to his feet, I spared one quick look at the hole the Nothing had left in the ground - 

- blood -

- and pulled Jeffrey into hiding. 

Eventually, through some miracle, the Nothing went away. It's a long way from us now, though I'm mortified to say that it's still moving.

After an hour of struggling with Jeffrey's stunned form, I made my way back to our former hideout. Grylock was waiting inside, awake and largely alert, sipping water with chapped, broken lips. His eyebrows furrowed furiously as I entered, dragging Jeffrey along behind me.

"Fucking... idiots." He coughed. I noticed a patch of stained sand at his side. "Looks like ye got what's comin' to ye. Botched their... ack... plans, did ye?"

Dropping Jeffrey, listening to the ex-king's pained sob, I covered my face. It was coated in grime.

Grylock studied us for a minute before saying anything else. His voice... it was so hollow. So defeated. So fucking sad. "Which one died?"

Sincerely,


Mud

5 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. She was just too awesome to live. I apologize.

      Delete
    2. Oh wait, they all hit the save point. I can sleep now...

      Delete
    3. She was the last one to hit it. YOU'VE SAVED ME!

      Delete