Chapter 11: Beneath

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Sleep wasn't kind that night.

Greg had recurring dreams of the thing in the basement breaking loose and coming to the surface, intent on blood and death. Once he dreamed it came for him by punching a hole up through the mattress and pulling him down.

He woke early, drenched in sweat. Glancing over, he saw that for once, Cage had agreed to let someone else take the second watch. He slept on his back, arms at his side. If it wasn't for the fact that his chest was rising and falling, Greg would have mistaken him for a corpse. He pulled the blankets aside and stood.

By the time he'd completed his morning routine, Cage had awoken. Greg stepped out of the bathroom, fully dressed and feeling refreshed. He walked to the window and glanced out. Rain beaded the window and ran down the glass. Nothing moved. It was easy to believe that he, Kyra, and Cage were the only three living beings on the entire planet.

Sometimes, he wondered if this was a dream.

Greg turned away from the window and slipped out into the main corridor. Kyra was there, sitting on a chair, reading an infopad.

"Finally up?" She looked tired, her hair pulled into a rough, functional ponytail.

"Yeah. Want to get some sleep?"

She shook her head and stood up. "No. Couldn't if I wanted to. Got that restless energy thing going. Let's eat and decide what we're going to do today."

They left Cage showering and headed outside. Gray skies beset them from above. Greg felt a strange sense of unreality as he crossed the dirt courtyard. He tried to clear his head of the nightmare and lamented that they were likely going to have to face whatever was down in the basement. Not a thing he was looking forward to.

They heated up some breakfast and Kyra dove right into the conversation. "So, I think we should skip the mining installation."

Greg felt a cold spike of fear pierce his gut. "Any particular reason?"

"I've just been thinking about it. We have no idea where this virus or infection or...whatever the hell it is came from, but a mining installation does seem kind of suspicious. I've heard all sorts of stories about people digging up weird shit or finding it floating out in space...it's entirely possible and even feels likely that the mining installation is the reason for all this. Personally, I don't feel like visiting ground zero."

"So...that just leaves here, and the basement, right?" Greg swallowed the bile that rose in his throat.

"Yeah...are you okay with that? I mean, I'm pretty sure we can handle whatever it is that's down there."

"I'm not so sure. I mean, we have no idea what's down there, except that it's big, and somehow still alive despite the fact that it's been locked up down there for several days."

"Well, it takes awhile to starve...and there might be stores of water down there. Or it might not need water. Look at it this way, when we face it, it'll probably be crazed with hunger and not thinking clearly."

Greg remained unconvinced, but when Cage came in and started eating, he concurred with Kyra. It made more tactical sense to him to simply face the beast here.

"We're familiar with the base, and it's three on one. If we were to go to the mining facility, we wouldn't have any idea what would be waiting for us. It's too dangerous. However, it will be a good idea to set up a plan of action."

"Yeah, that would be prudent." Greg tried to hide his unease with a quiet reply.

* * *

Greg was still uneasy with the idea even after they finished breakfast and moved on to the planning phase.

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