Chapter 16: Escape Plan

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Jennifer stared down the length of the huge corridor she'd stepped into. The ceiling soared overhead, easily forty or fifty feet up. There were immense cargo doors set into the walls to either side of her. Clearly, she'd come to a storage area. The hallway she was in had been subjected to some kind of brutal slaughter. The air reeked of blood and death and decay. Something, something huge, had smashed its was through the corridor. Crushed bodies, as if stamped underfoot by some behemoth, littered the blood-smeared deckplates.

A powerful, palpable sense of dread and foreboding curled on the chilled air. Jennifer stood a few steps into the corridor, slowly looking around, adrenaline coursing through her veins, laced with an edge of raw terror. High overhead, powerful work-lights stabbed down, giving the area a stark, remorseless feel. She didn't want to travel the passageway. She tried to make herself go forward, but her body felt frozen.

Walking down the corridor was like walking towards her death.

But Jennifer had faced death down before, and she would face it down again. If she balked here, then she couldn't very well expect to do anything like this again in the future. This was the interview for a job she'd been pining for for years, a job she hadn't even known existed. She had to do this. There was no other option, really. Not if she wanted that position among the others who dealt with the weird, the out there, the other.

So she took a step.

And then she took another step.

The journey had begun. Slowly, as if moving against a great wind, Jennifer pressed on into the corridor, sticking to the center, trying to avoid the smashed, ruined bodies and great pools of blood. All four of the massive cargo bay doors were closed, but one of them, the door on the left, farthest away from her, near the entrance to the reactor, was dented. And, even worse, as she drew closer, Jennifer thought she could hear as much as feel something stomping around inside. Something immense, bigger than a Titan.

Whatever it was, it seemed to be locked away behind the door. But maybe not for very long. Jennifer picked up the pace, moving to the other side of the corridor, trying to steer clear of the door as much as possible. It seemed to take ages and eras, but she finally reached the end of the huge corridor. Now she stood before the doors of the reactor facility. They were partially open, almost as if beckoning her within.

Jennifer took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

She double-checked her gun, then stepped through the doors.

* * *

"You have got to be shitting me," Greg groaned, freezing up as he caught the first sight of webbing up ahead.

"What?...is that...are those webs?" Eve asked. "As in, spid-"

"Yes, spider webs. This is the result of giant spiders."

"How giant?"

Greg tried to think of a good measurement. They'd ended up moving back into the underground, though Greg was beginning to regret that. They'd been making good time, but had started running into a lot of Lancers and then a pack of Stalkers had forced them out of the network of corridors they'd been traversing and into the underground portion of the base's oxygen plant. The corridor they now occupied terminated into a much larger room.

The top of the room and some of the walls were covered in thick strands of webbing that glistened in what little light was left.

"Bigger than a cat?" Eve hazarded when Greg didn't say anything.

"Yeah, bigger."

"By how much!?"

"Same size as...I don't know, an average-sized dog, maybe? Big and nasty."

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