Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Time of the Shadow: Chapter 1.1

Here is the first half of chapter 1 of my latest book i'm working on. I'm only putting half up because its too long to put up all at once. I hope you enjoy it, i should be posting more from this story in the near future!

     Rain thrummed on the metal roof. The air was cold and lifeless. All around her was darkness, compressing her; it was hard to breathe here, so high up. It felt like claws of ice were squeezing her lungs. Rain leaked from the ceiling, landing on the metal floor with a drip, drip, drip.
   Steam hissed from pipes and other machinery under the pulled plate metal mesh flooring. An eerie glow came from red lights on the metal walls. The low ceiling made her feel claustrophobic, pressing her in the tight space.
   Her black, leather boots made no sound as she crept through the tunnel stealthily. She brushed her long, straight hair out of her eyes as she crept. Despite the fact she had tied her it up in a ponytail; her hair was still getting in the way.
   “You need a haircut, Alex.” Theo whispered from beside her.
   “Keep your mind on the task ahead and not my hair, or you’ll get us killed.” She retorted.
   “Oh stop it the both of you! Or you’ll get me killed along with you!” Heidi’s voice rang in Alex’s earpiece.
   “Yes, boss.” Theo muttered under his breath.
   Ignoring his comment Heidi continued, “You need to turn left when you get to the crossroad.”
   “I wouldn’t really call it a road.” Theo said into his mouthpiece.
   “Just get on with it!” Heidi replied.
   “Ok, ok, calm down.” Theo murmured.
   “We’re at the crossroad.” Alex informed. She turned left and carried on, Theo just behind.
   “Good, now keep going for one hundred yards, then turn right and the door should be there.”
   They quickly got to the turning and arrived at a thick, steel door. There was a wheel on the door which took the combined strength of Alex and Theo to turn. The door opened with a hiss and white mist drifted out of the opening.
    Alex glanced at Theo and noticed he’d assumed his serious persona. His dark brown eyes were deep and foreboding, his tanned skin gleamed and his short, black hair shiny. He pulled a hand-held, battery powered glow stick from his belt and tapped it so it provided a dim, pale light. He wore tight black clothing and leather fingerless gloves, as well as the same black boots as Alex. Strapped to his back were two short swords made of hard steel, with leather grips and a black stone in the pommel.
   She nodded as she drew her katana, a backsword that was slightly curved, and he led the way into the room.
   A searing wave of heat met them as they entered the poorly lit room. The room was so high, that the ceiling was shrouded in darkness. Steam hissed from a confusing maze of heavy machinery, so much machinery in fact that the opposite end of the room was obscured from view.
   “What now?” Theo asked.
   “Heidi, are you sure this is the right place?” Alex wondered.
   “Very sure Alex, you just need to make your way up.”
   “Up?” Alex and Theo said at the same time.
   “Towards the left hand side of the room there is a large chain leading from one of the machines to the ceiling. Do you see it?” Heidi replied.
   “I see it.” Alex answered solemnly. The ‘large chain’ was more than just large, each link was twice the height of herself and covered in orange rust.
   “At the top of the chain is the Chain Room, that’s where you need to go.” Heidi continued.
   “But I can’t even see the top.” Theo said sceptically.         
   “Well that’s where you gotta go.” Heidi said.
   “Come on, we’d better get a move on or we’ll never make it.” Alex started heading for the chain, Theo following sulkily.
   It didn’t take them long to get to the base of the ancient, unmoving chain. It was tethered to the ground with large, thick ropes like elephant trunks. The last link in the chain was bolted to a large metal platform a few metres above the ground.  
   “Well, we made it.” Theo gasped.
   “Something’s not right; we haven’t met any sign of life on this escapade at all.” Alex commented.
   “Oh lighten up!” Theo exclaimed. “Just because in the city there’s danger waiting around every corner doesn’t mean there will be here!”
   Suddenly there was the sound of a ghostly moan from the way they had come. The sound made icy claws run down Alex’s back, her face drained of all colour and her knuckles where white from gripping her sword.
   They were coming.
   “Run you idiots! Don’t just stand there!” Heidi bellowed.
   Theo had to grab Alex’s wrist and haul her towards the chain to snap her out of her trance-like state of fear. Her heart was thumping so loud that she barely heard Theo shouting at her to get a move on, pushing her towards the stationary chain.
    She gripped the cool metal and began to climb, rust flaking from the chain where she put her fingers. She was barely conscious of what she was doing; all she was aware of was the moans, those terrible moans, and the sound of her heart beating, her head throbbing, adrenaline pumping through her frail body.     
    She scrambled up the chain as quickly as she could, but she knew that it wasn’t quick enough. She could hear Theo panting just behind her, urging her on. She looked up and realized that she was already half way up the chain. She risked a look behind and suddenly, her stomach flipped.
    If she fell from this height, she would surely not survive, but maybe that would be preferable to the alternative doom she faced. For among the machinery and pipe systems she could see the vague shadows of their pursuers, she could still hear their ghostly cries.
  She swiftly turned her attention back to the chain. Her arms and legs felt like led as she attempted to climb up the chain. She was trembling, her heart racing. She was clinging on for dear life, but she felt herself slipping. She was clinging on for dear life but that was not enough.
   He hands came away from the chain and she screamed as she began to fall. Suddenly, she stopped and it felt like her arm was being pulled from its socket. She looked up to see that Theo had caught her and was gripping her wrist tightly while holding onto the chain with his other hand.
   Tears splintered from her eyes.
   “Hold on, it’s going to be fine.” Theo said reassuringly.
   But all was not fine, for at the bottom of the chain, the creatures were beginning to climb.
   Theo’s knuckles turned white as he struggled to hold onto the chain, I could see his arm muscles straining. His grip on my arm was getting looser and looser.
   “Climb onto my back.” Theo ordered through gritted teeth.
   Alex grabbed hold of his arm with her free hand and pulled up with all her strength, she swung her legs around and looped them around his. Then she let go with her hands and quickly grabbed hold of his shoulders.
   Theo grabbed the chain with both hands and waited for Alex to wrap her arms around his neck before continuing to climb. Alex clung on for dear life. The chain room still looked so far away, and below them the creatures were getting even closer.
  Suddenly, when they were only ten metres away to the opening into the chain room, something cold wrapped around Alex’s ankle. It was terrifyingly cold and dry. She looked down to see one of the creatures staring up at her.
   Its white eyes were sunken far into its head and its mouth was open as if in a last, dying scream. The creatures’ skin was white and slightly translucent so the outline of bones could be seen under the skin. It’s hair was wispy and white, laying lank around its face. The creatures’ nails were long and pointed and it was holding a knife with a long, cruel looking blade. Draped around its body was a white robe.
   “Theo, we have a problem.” She said shakily.

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