Here's a freshly written, and not yet edited chunk of Echoes of Erebus. This excerpt happens to cross the 100 page mark, and is a step further into the ugly gritty half of the story.
For the record, earning it's place onto the unofficial soundtrack was Marilyn Manon's 'Beautiful People' which I was listening to when I wrote most of this scene. Manson's not so much my thing, generally, but the MP3 popped up randomly, and the sound seemed to fit the mood of the scene.. not the lyrics mind you.
He stood in a dimly lit concrete stairwell. The small space he stood in now connected to an extruded metal staircase. After the polished posh gym areas, it felt like he had stepped into an alternate reality. Only the muted sound of those weights hitting down rhythmically reminded him otherwise.
Bam. Bam. Bam.
In front of him a staircase of dark extruded metal reached downwards. This was the kind of thing he was looking for. He slumped to the floor, to sit and steady his nerves.
Breathe. Think of something relaxing. Like Brianna, and her magnificent qualities. On a beach. A nude beach. Doing yoga. Breathe. Greene took out his little work terminal, and made sure he still had a signal out. It reassured him again that he was not in another world. The sound of the weights were becoming less and less reassuring, sounding more and more like the heartbeat of something massive and inhuman.
Push that bit of imagination aside. Call back Brianna's yoga. Everything's fine. Everything's fine. You've just entered a dungeon looking for huge monsters tearing each other apart, that's all.
Thoughts of the nanite-enhanced pit fights forced their way into his head. His breathing became tight. He needed some water, and had none.
Get up. Get up and dust the tux off. Greene took a deep breath and took his first step down those stairs. That wasn't so hard. They made more noise than he wanted. Blame the hard leather soles. Step softly. No rush.
Tap, tap, tap down the stairs. When the sound of the weights in the gym stopped, he was grateful. At first. He was left with only his own sounds and their cold little echoes. He strained to hear the music form the gym, but not a note could reach him.
He considered playing some music softly from his terminal, but stealth was more important. Maybe if he had earphones. No, hearing things around him was equally as important.
That thought struck an extra chord of paranoia. He stopped, listening for anything.
Even a growl would at least give him an excuse to run screaming out of the hotel and face the chastising of Mr. Book. How did Greene get himself into this? Why didn't he bring a gun, or a platoon?
Careful with each step, not to slip nor make a sound, he was soon at the door of basement two. Curiosity would not get the better of him. Opening that door could only serve to ruin his stealth. Onward. Down. Again staring down a set of extruded dark metal stairs.
The concrete walls were damper and colder as he went down, moisture seeping upwards from the ground. At the last step, he stood on a glistening concrete floor. Greene looked up though the stairwells, up towards the door that led to the shiny world of the buxom Brianna. Knowing such beauty up there in the light, she attained the title of 'angel' in Greene's mind. As he stood at the door to the third layer of this concrete purgatory, he jokingly whispered a little prayer to Brianna.
Brianna, O, goddess of the pool, bounty be thine chest. Guard me as I trespass, as I forgive those who sent me here.
Alright, stop stalling.
He turned the knob as quietly as he could, and opened the door enough to peek. Inside was about as hospitable as the stairwell, continuing the theme of damp concrete, but now with masses of pipes streaming along the ceiling.
Two directions led from the door. One to the left, which he couldn't see much of due to the door, and one straight ahead. Roughly fifty meters, on the left side of the passage, stood a man in front of a door. He stood facing away from the door, staring at the wall across the passage. His arms were crossed across his large physique, and he did not move.
He was not wearing a tuxedo. Nor gym wear. This was notably urban apparel. High end stuff, but not in great shape. It looked like he had been sleeping in them, and they were not clean. Given what he was here to find, it was likely smears of blood. His jacket was zipped up high, to right under his nose. His eyes were hidden under broad, dark sunglasses.
Greene didn't feel much feel like talking to the man. The left path would do for now. He stepped out of the doorway, keeping an eye on the large man all the while. Still no movement. Green headed down the left passage. Whatever the goon was guarding was now to Green's right, though the wall. He got some distance from the corner and pulled out his little terminal.
It still had a signal, barely. He took readings for any radio frequencies in the area. Anything. Yes, yes, there it was. This must be the signal type that the pit-fighters were run on.
It was deeply encoded, and was doubtlessly just commands that would mean nothing to Greene, but the pattern was unmistakably the same as those that Jonathan Coll and Erebus had used in Autar and Meston. Was the government aware of this? They must be, after all those pit fight raids.
Greene had to report this. He attached his readings to a message, and typed in a short note to Mr. Book, and transmitted.
That scream, that war cry. It was like the 'demon of Densfarn' he had seen taken into custody. In the cement underground, the sound reverberated and rebounded towards him, and hit him so hard he nearly dropped to the floor. He had to get out of there, now.
Running to the door, he could hear footsteps coming from the other passage. He had to race to get to the door first. A quick glance revealed that is was the guard. With an open jacket, he was just like the demon. Lower jaw split down the middle, body ripped open and hollow, with ribs sticking out like horns. The sunglasses were gone now as well, showing its raging yet lifeless eyes.
Greene slammed the door behind him, and headed up the stairs, eyes upwards to the land of his angel. He heard the door open forcefully behind him,
The hard leather sole of his shoe slipped on the third metal step, sending his face against another step. It hit with an ugly crack, shaking loose tears, blood, and his upper jaw.
Before the pain caught up with him, bloodied hands wrapped around his torso. With a firm embrace, Greene saw the demon's ribs burst out between his own, before the three-sided jaw wrapped around his head from behind. The two sides of the demon's lower jaw ripped at the sides of Greene's face.
The pain found him. It was blinding. Almost a welcome distraction to the monster ripping him apart. There was nothing but the pain. More screams of demons came from behind him.
Greene had no scream. There was no ability to scream with shredded lungs. The split moment seemed to gave him an hour or pain. It was incredible. Almost fascinating.
There was nothing but pain.
And the pain began to fade. Fading. Greene knew, and welcomed it. The pain was gone, the world was dark, and Greene was gone from it.