This chapter was written by the utterly brilliant arielklontz
Abby brandished the jagged, jutting point of broken bone as she jogged through the dark, metal maze. The thick blood on her hands felt like a coat of shellac as it dried in the cool air of the underground station turned arena. Every echo made her heart stop. Every scuttling rat running for cover in the shadows made her jolt in another direction, makeshift bone knife at the ready.
Most of the passageways were dimly lit enough that she could forget her weapon had once been part of a person. No matter how hard she tried to stop the thoughts, questions kept coming to her: Who was he? Had he been a father? A husband? Another ally in the resistance? He could have been anyone. Now he was merely an empty, headless vessel, his soul — or whatever had given him life before this — long gone, his arm bone a crude means of protection for Abby. But it was either stand there and wait, like a passive lamb to slaughter, or fight the only way she could: like a ravenous wolf, like the horrible barbarians who'd brought her here.
She would die the wolf if she had to, but she would not let herself be the lamb.
The hollow echo of footsteps shot up to her ears and she paused again, whirling toward where she thought the sound had come from. The lights flickered ominously as she squinted down the narrow passage, a silhouette slowly taking shape at the end of it. It was an enormous, hulking figure. The figure wore a long, billowing cloak, tattered with wear and, likely, from battle. She thought it must be a man, for he looked to conceal an almost impossibly muscular physique beneath his layers of dark clothing. She could only assume he was on BioWar Enhancers — illegal military steroids that were particularly popular among users of the Dark Web.
He stood beneath the flickering lights, unmoving for a long while. Abby didn't move either. She could only imagine his eyes peering out at her, for she couldn't see them beneath the hood of his massive cloak. She stood transfixed, unwilling to turn her back on him lest he instantly charge. She couldn't be sure whether it was a real standoff or whether the figure was toying with her, letting her thing she stood a chance, waiting to see what Rogue Soldier would do under a little more pressure.
Her heart beat wildly, blood rushing past her ears. She heard a scream somewhere in the distance, echoey, bloodcurdling and final. Then silence. She winced. The figure at the end of the corridor chuckled slightly, a hearty and utterly mad chuckle. It sounded deeply masculine, and the gravely tenor hinted at age and dark experience.
She wondered if he had children? A wife? A cause he believed in other than casual, televised murder? If he did, it didn't show in the menacing way he cocked his head at her now. If she'd had any doubts before, she didn't now. He was toying with her. To him, this was a game of cat and mouse in which he was clearly the cat — a wild and feral cat.
He slowly raised his arm and the glimmer of a blade caught her eye in the dim light. He held it up, and threw off his cloak dramatically. Abby stifled a scream. Beneath his cloak there were not muscles, but human heads in various state of decay, strung on ropes and draped about his torso, the horrific spoils of many a bloody victory. Many a bloody victory. There were at least four that she could see. He shed them off as if they were just another part of his costume, and only then did he begin to stalk toward her, his knife held high, a wild and terrifying smile stretched across his face.
Abby didn't think — she ran. She could be the wolf all she wanted, but this man had sawn off heads with nothing but that blade, and he'd kept them to prove it. His footsteps instantly pounded behind her, and she couldn't help but let out a terrified shriek as she rounded a corner and found — a dead end. Her dead end, she thought. The man slowed then. His smile said one thing: he was in no rush. He had her, so he would savour the kill.
Tears streamed down her face as she held up her bone knife, her hands shaking violently. She'd never been so terrified. It was as if all her physical strength had left her seeing those heads, their horrible, terrified eyes, their gaping mouths locked in endless screams. She pressed herself as far as she could go against the cold metal of the wall at the end of this passage.
He took another step toward her. saw Nick's face in her mind, smiling. Another step. She saw the future they'd never have. Another. She saw her childhood home, the farm they'd once owned, the sheep out in the field. Another step, glinting, murderous eyes getting ever closer. She saw her grandfather approaching the lamb; the lamb standing there as he picked it up; the lamb lying in his arms as he carried it off, accepting whatever fate would come.
She screamed with fury. She was not the lamb. She dove for the assailant's legs and caught him completely off guard. He growled as he fell to the ground, tumbling together. His knife toppled to the ground and clattered against the rough concrete. Abby smacked her head against the corner of a barrier, her mouth tasting of metal, but she clung to her crude weapon and threw herself atop the murderer, plunging the sharp end of the bone blindly toward his torso. He screamed with rage and pushed her back, nearly knocking the bone from her hand, but she squeezed it so hard she could feel it draw blood from her palm.
He tried to pin her down but she swiftly kneed him in the groin, screaming. He cried out in pain and she took that single moment, that tiny opening, and drove the bone forward, throwing her whole body into it, screaming from the deepest part of her gut, the most primal sound, a growl mixed with a howl mixed with a desperate desire to survive.
She squeezed her eyes shut as bone met soft tissue, squishing, and squirting, and spraying hot blood across her face. The man screamed, much more high pitched than before, much more agonizing. She drove the bone forward harder, not sure where she'd struck him but sure she had to do as much damage as possible before he dove for her again. She pressed until she felt the sickening crunch and grind of bone meeting bone.
Only then did she realize that that sickening crack and her laboured panting were the only sounds in the metal maze around her. Only then did she slowly peel her eyelids back to see the horror she'd caused.
Abby had known change could happen quickly, overnight even at times. She'd witnessed an almost instantaneous change in herself when she'd salvaged her crude weaponry from the remains of that man. But that had only been the beginning of what desperation had done to her. In the minutes that followed she felt she had become an entirely different person. In the span of mere minutes, she felt she had become more animal than human.
The man lay, sprawled across the concrete in impossible angles, blood pooling quickly beneath his head where a large, broken bone stuck out from his left eye cavity, glinting in the flickering light beneath coat upon smeared coat of other people's blood.
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