-running again, running as fast as she fucking could, chest burning, the walls blurring as she sprinted past them...
Jennifer came back to reality in some anonymous corridor lined with doors. She stopped and looked around, trying to get her breath back, feeling that adrenaline surge fading away. There were a lot of doors around and they had names above them. Feeling vulnerable and confused, Jennifer headed over to the nearest one, opened it up and slipped inside. She found herself in a small dormitory. Bunk beds in one corner, two tall, thin dressers, two desks, and an open door that led to a bathroom. Jennifer locked the door behind her.
She took several deep breaths, making herself calm down.
After a moment, she activated her radio.
"Is anyone out there?" She hated how her voice sounded. It was unsteady and meek. She cleared her throat, tried again. "Can anyone hear me?"
It was better, but still not totally stable.
"North, I'm here." It was Harrington. She took at least some small satisfaction in noting that he didn't sound calm either.
"Are you okay? Is anyone with you? Where are you?"
"Um...I...think I'm in the dorms. I'm alone. I'm okay, but..."
"I think Fields is dead. I remember...ugh, I remember someone screaming. It sounded like her. I think she's dead."
"Fuck...okay, Harrington, do you have the tracker?"
"Okay. I'm in dorms too. Where is it now?"
"Um...it's back in the mining section."
"I guess that will have to do. Let's meet by the entrance to the dorms."
"All...all right, I'm on my way."
Jennifer felt a bit of relief. She wasn't alone, at least. She just had to get there. Moving slowly to the door, she unlocked it and then went to open it. Her finger paused, hovering over the button...she forced herself to press it. The door slid open, the only sound the soft hum of hydraulics and the quiet white noise of the dying facility. She didn't like how dim it was out there in the corridor, but again, she forced herself to step out.
There was no blast of cold, no sudden skipping forward in time. Just her in the corridor. Elsewhere, she thought she could hear footsteps. Harrington. Jennifer turned and hurried back down the corridor. For a moment, she was stymied: she hadn't spent much time in this portion of the base, she wasn't sure where the command module was. She stood in a crossroads, looking around. It all looked the same. Where to go?
Suddenly, there was movement down one of the corridors. A familiar figure stepped into sight: Harrington.
She heard him release a relieved sigh as he spied her and waved her closer. Jennifer hurried down the corridor.
"You were right," he said as he led the way.
"About what?" Jennifer replied. Up ahead, she saw the exit from the dorms area.
"That skipping forward, it was..." He shuddered.
"Horrible," Jennifer finished.
Harrington nodded. They reached the exit to the command center. She looked down at the tracking device, which was held firmly in his grasp. He followed her gaze, then brought it up. The red dot was still back in the mining area.
"I wonder what it wants over there," he murmured.
"Who cares. Let's go. If we're fast, we can finish this up."
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Alone? (A Shadow Wars Companion)Horror
A companion short story set after Starck's Lament. Jennifer North, after surviving the horror of the zombies and the remnants of Rogue Ops, has signed up with Anomalous Operations. She's been asking to go on a mission, eager to move on and get to wo...