CHAPTER IX: " A BATTLE AND A GLIMPSE INTO HELL"
By the afternoon, we had explored the lower level of the building, gathered numerous objects of interest and examined them.
The upper level was barely accessible, as decay had collapsed most of the stairways. There were numerous rooms and antechambers in the first floor that still contained the remnants of a chemical lab, offices and rooms of dubious use. It seemed as though this temple, as it were, was deserted in extreme haste.
There was a study room full of books and reference materials all related to the occult, both ancient and modern. Most of these books were known to me in my studies, but not all of them had I ever read fully. The more ancient books, mostly in Latin, Arabic and Hebrew, I might have stood a chance at translating, but most everything else was in modern German. In any case, there was scant time to investigate these tomes, even if I had the interest that I once had before leaving San Francisco.
Edward and I also found a room where there were chains bolted to the walls having shackles.(27A) The rooms floor was slanted into a cone shape towards a round orifice where the most foul stench emanated. Various tools, fashioned from what appeared to be gold, lay untouched on a small table in the corner.(28) Each of the bladed instruments were engraved with the symbol of Dagon and various other indicia that we had observed in the great hall. This room was probably where the most despicable atrocities had occurred. What experiments happened here? How many lives were snuffed out in sacrifice to pagan devils?
We were on a scavenger hunt for possible weapons within these halls of Hell and I grabbed up the blades without hesitation.
Edward suggested that he go to the laboratory and obtain whatever acids or useful chemicals that might still be viable for use. I agreed.
Another smaller chamber adjacent to the room of death was much more mysterious than the first. There was an alter, made of strange colored stone in the center of the room. The alter had shackles for feet, hands and head mounted in their respected locations on the outlining rim of the rectangular slab. The base of the slab was carven with numerous symbols, as in the great hall- with a great swastika separating the two rows of inscriptions. The top of the slab was discolored, obviously with the blood of it's uncountable victims.
If this was the sacrificial chamber, then what was the greater room used for?(28A)
After meeting back in what we now referred to as the 'great hall', I asked Edward to explain what our intentions were regarding what was to come to our Japanese survivor. Edward spoke to Yuki and they had a rather lengthy conversation, rather animated at times.
The Japanese sailor- although a political enemy- was, in this unusual circumstance, an ally. He relayed through Edward that his allegiance was to kill the dark thing. Yuki, just as conscious of the other worldly ramifications as we, stated that the creatures that took his friends lives and that the dark thing was the enemy of all mankind. The on-going war between East and West would be but a faded memory if these devils were loosed upon the entire world. Yuki said that he would fight honorably by our side.
Crawford had an idea of trapping the dark thing, in an attempt to destroy it. We spoke at length what we could use amoung our equipment to fashion such a device sturdy enough to hold the beast at bay. Taking stock, we had rope, climbing shackles and sufficient materials to build a type of snare. Crawford stated that we could bait the creature into the center of the snare with bait- 'sauce for the goose' as he put it.(29) Edward suggested using one of the stone idols and a page of the book as bait.
I further suggested that the beast is smarter than that and we would need to create both a diversion and an attack simultaneously. The beast had been here before and we were now going to fight it on it's own soil.
The following hours were spent readily making the gigantic snare and carefully placing it on the ground of the great hall.
Crawford had further fashioned a line to a counter-balance of heavy stone blocks. These blocks took all of our physical power to maneuver into the proper positions- ready to topple and capture the dark thing.
As the sunset, we prepared to battle the dark thing. The floor entrances were barricaded and we hoped to force him to fly in through the glass ceiling, where we would lie in wait with the trap hastily designed by Crawford- where we would attempt to destroy the thing with our weapons- ballistic, chemical, bladed and bludgeon.
We took stock of our weapons: I had one half magazine in my .45, Crawford and Carter had full magazine of same; while Ward was in possession of some acids obtained from the old lab- while Yuki had a bludgeon and a large hand knife. This was what our small band of humans had to fight and destroy a supernatural being...we swore to fight it to our deaths if necessary.
We watched through the hastily made barricades as the last of the sunlight glided in sharp, angular shafts throughout the great hall and became smaller until nothing but a strange, dark stillness remained.(30)
We listened and waited, for how long I could not tell. A sound was heard above our heads, in the upper level- the sound of walking on the concrete. Our attention fully focused on the upper level, hearts beating in our ears, thought exactly what Edward was about to whisper.
"Dear God...it's been in here with us the whole time..."
Suddenly, the dark thing appeared and screamed a million death screams, eyes searing red in an ageless fury, lept into the air from the second floor, wings spread.
The dark thing, guided by his rage, swooped down from the upper level towards us. Only Yuki was not quick enough to avoid it's attack. I saw the thing mid-air, without pause, to use the mouth-thing in it's abdomen to swallow his head whole and with a slight struggling, to hoist Yuki's entire body into the air. Crawford fired two shots, one piercing the dark thing through the wing and the other striking it's leg. The thing howled in great pain and Yuki's headless body fell to the floor in a great thump and
outpouring of blood. The dark thing flew up towards to the second floor and was quickly lost in the darkness.
We listened intently, but no movement or sound of it was heard for several minutes. We crawled and regrouped amongst several large blocks of the collapsed concrete.
Whispering, Crawford stated, "We can kill it- it can be hurt- it's flesh and blood."
"It's waiting... it's going to try and pick us off one at a time, now that it knows it won't get it's way", I said.
"We've got to get it down here, "Ward interjected, "and into that damn snare!"
"How can we lure it?", Edward countered.
There was no turning back now, there was no choice but to fight this Hell-beast until nothing existed.
"I'll do it." I said. "And don't argue with me, Edward. This ends now."
I stood up and walked to the center of the snare next to the bait pages of the book and the stone idol. I shewn my light up and around the upper level.
"Isn't this what you want?" I yelled. "Our bodies, our blood?! Well, here's one- come on and get it!"
There was no sound. It knew it must be a trap. I prayed to God and after a few moments, a hellish whisper was heard.
"It is not I who wants your blood.....it is he who is dead and sleeping..."
I picked up the pages of the book and placed my light under my left arm. I removed my lighter from my pocket and drew a flame. Only then, was a more definite movement was heard on the upper level.
"Ah, does this worry you? That I would destroy what you have sought?"
"There is another...." came the slithering response.
I knew that he wasn't lying about the other copy. But he was lying about his need for these. Something was flung from the upper level and struck the ground before my feet. It was Yuki's head, eyes glaring in the fog of death- his face a frozen state of terror.
I lit the ancient papers afire and flung them to the ground.
The thing flew into the air as I grabbed my light. As it swooped towards me, Crawford and Carter began firing- striking the thing in several places. I fired at it three times, striking it once in the face, above it's right eye. It fell from the air and began flopping on the ground. There was no time to activate the snare.
The others raced to my side and we approached the limping, crying thing as it tried to back away from us.
We came within two yards of it and it turned and let out such a cry from it's mouth-thing as any thing from a Hellish abyss could, hoping to frighten us- it's wing outspread, quivering in a false fury.
It whispered in the dark, "There are others...Ia!...the stars will again be r....ugggh!"(31)
It could not continue as we all fired our weapons until there was no more bullets to spend. As it lie in a slowly growing pool of slime and red-blood, twitching- we began to beat and stab the thing in such primal rage as even the warful Spartans of old would not bear to watch.(32) Ward fell backwards at this final act and fell upon the ground. We had completed our task only until none of us could
physically continue and there lay before us only a decimated pile of unidentifiable meat, sinew, blood and biles.
I poured the acids onto the remnants in an attempt to leave no trace of the foul thing. (32A)
I, at last, fell to the ground, exhausted and aching. Crawford and Carter were to my left, panting and wiping the primal sweat from their brow- attempting to rid the blood from their clothes and hands. I asked them if they were injured, to which they replied that they were not. Ward, to my right, was sitting upright and wide-eyed, trying to breathe slowly. I attempted to speak to him,
but he was unreachable in his state.
We all sat amidst the rubble, occasionally throwing a glance at each other as if to make sure we were still there. I again tried to speak to Ward and there was no response. I quickly moved to him and checked for a pulse and there was none to be found. His eyes were glazed and it was certain that death had come for him during our final assault on the dark thing. Thomas Ward, our friend,
student, linguist and ultimately- a hero of the human race- was dead. (32B)
The others joined me as I stood over his body. I prayed to God to allow him the rest he so deserved and the sacrifice he had made for both us and all humankind. Unlike the Professor, we had no time to afford dear Ward a proper burial, but, then again, on what part of Hell does one expect to bury a good man?
"We need to get out of here.", said Crawford. "That thing in the crate may still be about."
We gathered what was only necessary, with the exception that I grabbed the unholy idol of Cthulhu and stuffed it in my duffel bag.
We forced away some of the concrete slabs at the front entrance to get out and began into the tropical forest.
As we exited onto the beach front, we saw the skiff intact. We gathered the remaining equipment, food and water and placed them into the skiff. All three of us began to push it towards the awaiting sea when Crawford said that he saw something. Carter and I stopped pushing and turned to the direction in which Crawford was looking.
Further down the beach, barely visible in the moonlight, was something large. It appeared to be undulating, rolling and then slapping the sandy beach as if it's form had reached a certain limit of contortion, then repeating this process of movement.
"Christ Almighty! That's what made the marks on the beach from the crate! Go!", cried Carter.
We all began to push the skiff even harder. Fear, as I have learned, is a motivation seldom used in normal life. As we made it to the surf, I turned and looked back to the thing behind us.
It may have been the moonlight or my nerves, but I swear that it appeared almost translucent and jelly-like. As it moved, it looked like there were small, appendages forming and re-absorbing back into the mass with each locomotive undulation. It also became apparent that as it came closer it was of immense size-how could something that massive move? My mind attempted to comprehend what this thing was and how could it have come into being. It simply should not be, but yet, was.(32C)
We launched into the sea and began paddling out- all eyes glued onto the misshapen monstrosity pursuing us for it's own aims. As we made our way into the crescent shaped lagoon of the island, we saw the thing sliding quietly into the ocean into our direction.
"Crawford", I screamed, "get the flare gun!"
Crawford began to rummage through the bag and retrieved the flare gun and two flares. We looked back and could see no wakes or other indications that the thing was still in pursuit. We all stopped paddling and directed our gaze aft ward. There was a stillness of the waters as the moonlight reflected around us.
Without warning, the thing silently rose from the water at the rear of the skiff- rearing it's form high into the air with only the sound of the sea water sliding and splashing back into it's home. The thing began to descend onto Crawford, who managed to fire the flare gun as it absorbed his body into the gel-like form. The entire creature reeled back from the shock and we could clearly see Crawford
struggling inside of it's translucence as a second flare lit up the entire bulk of the thing as it fell back into the sea.
Edward and I leaned over the side and watched, helplessly, as the shapeless blob descended in the oceans depths with Crawford still absorbed within it's mass, struggling to escape. The look on his face is something that I shall never forget...nor forgive.
I can only imagine what hell we was taken to in that dark oceanic pit.
I pray that he was dead before ever reaching it.
FINAL CHAPTER X: "A CLUE AND AN OATH"