Why was he alone so often? Allan thought he'd get used to it, and he supposed he had, to a certain degree, but still, as he split off from the others and stood at the mouth of another derelict corridor, he felt a wave of loneliness slowly wash over him. How long had he been alone? Allan wondered about that as he began walking down the corridor, his only company the soft sounds of the ship, the occasional distant shriek and his clanging boots.
When he was growing up, he hadn't had many friends. There were some that came and went, and he'd had one particularly good friend for a few years, through elementary school, but then his friend had moved away, leaving him alone again. In middle school and especially high school, he'd been shy and socially awkward. After joining up with SI, things hadn't gotten much better. He'd made a few colleagues and did the cliché thing of going out for drinks after work, but it hadn't really gone beyond that. He'd lived alone in his quarters with only the occasional girlfriend that never really turned into anything serious.
He could remember wanting to have some real friends. People who actually understood him. And now, here he was, having tossed his lot in with a group of people who were utterly unique in that they had survived absolutely insane shit they shouldn't have...just like him. This was as close as he was going to get to having a genuine group of people who understood him. Who better to make friends with? But did he deserve them?
Allan didn't think so.
Not after what he had done. The atrocities he had committed on Lindholm.
He was pulled out of his malignant thoughts by a nearby grunt. Allan hefted his machete and prepared himself. The sound was coming from an open doorway. Of course it was the way he needed to go. In order to get to the living quarters, he had to cut through a pair of mess halls and a cold storage bay. Stepping in through the open doorway, he surveyed the area. The mess hall was large, only one of four. An expanse of tables and benches, bolted to the deckplates, cast in gunmetal gray, awaited his inspection.
The place was a wreck.
It looked like a lot of people had been eating here when...whatever it was had happened struck. There were close to two dozen bodies spread out across the area, broken in death, arms and necks twisted or bent at painful angles. Plates, silverware, and food was everywhere, largely reduced to so much debris crushed underfoot. Another grunt, then a moan, from nearby. Allan froze, looking around, and finally decided it was one of the bodies.
He looked around for a long moment and finally saw one of them move a little. He let out a low whistle as he approached it: all the arms and legs had been broken. Still alive, though. Allan raised his machete, then paused. The man, what appeared to be a former medic, was lying on his back, eyes wide and wild, rolling around, the breathing rapid.
"Can you understand me?" he asked.
The medic let out a grunt that sounded like tired anger and shifted slightly, as though trying, even as broken as his body was, to attack Allan. What had done this to them? What made them insane like this? The man continued to grunt and shift.
"I'm going to kill you," Allan said calmly.
No change. No effect. Allan sighed, raised the blade and brought it down swiftly on the man's neck, severing his head in a visceral spray of blood. Allan stood, feeling suddenly very tired, wanting nothing more than to lay down and sleep for an era. Instead, he started walking again, crossing the mess hall, boots squelching in the blood. He navigated between the tables, over the bodies, and passed through a door at the back, into the next mess hall. As soon as he stepped into the room, he froze, spying four demented crewmen.
YOU ARE READING
The eighth novel in The Shadow Wars. After the events of Ceaseless and Snowblind, Allan Gray, formerly a member of Security-Investigations, now a Specialist in Special Operations, is having some trouble keeping sane. He experiences sudden tremors, i...