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Cordero's Nightmare (II)
Posted By: Nosolee<crugg2005@gmail.com>
Date: 7 July 2006, 2:46 am

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1725 Hours, March 31, 2534 (Military Calendar)
12 Parlor Street, Perkston (Industrial City Suburban District)
Hephaestus, First Inhabited Planet of the Circinus Galaxy (Outer Colony: Established 2382

      Now here he was, entrusting his life to a thin piece of silverware. Something Covenant no doubt had recently entered a little while after Infantryman Alec Cordero had and was thumping around on the first floor of the house. Cordero listened carefully, trying to pin down which of creatures it was. He knew what some of them looked like in reality…Grunts, Jackals and…
      He breathed in deeply, his heart pounded faster now, droning on like a relentless machine. Something bigger than a Grunt or Jackal was down there. It spoke; Cordero could hear its deep, foreign and utterly inhuman voice echo from the room below him. A shrill Jackal's voice responded. Then he heard, in great terror, the heavy footsteps creaking up the house's wooden steps. Thump…Thump. Creeeak.

      Cordero looked around the room, there had to be some place to hide, somewhere. Under the bed? No. A closet? There has to be a closet. He stood, careful not to make much noise; he had little time before the two—he hoped it was only two—aliens reached the top.Thump. Thump
      Success! A small closet opposite the bed would be decent enough to hide in. He shuffled toward it, quietly. He turned back, however, realizing the small mess of maroon-stained biofoam on the floor. Reaching carefully toward the bed he removed a pillow and gingerly placed it over the puddle. He then continued toward the door. Reaching the knob he slowly rolled it in his hand and prayed the door wouldn't creak as he opened it. Only slightly, barely audible. Without releasing the knob, he slid his body in and closed the door around himself. He gripped the knob on the opposite side with his other hand and slid in his left arm. Completely shutting the door he cautiously let the handle slide back into place. He stepped backward into the hanging clothes. Hoping to cover his body should they open the door. It was pointless, his legs would show. A women's aroma hung in the closed; Cordero breathed in deeply. The sweetest smell to grace his nostrils since the invasion began. He took advantage it,at least one sense would be blessed the moment of my death, he painfully thought.
      The thumping ended as the creatures arrived. The Jackal's hoofs clucked along the floor and Cordero knew it had entered the room. The other's heavy boots followed. Again it spoke deeply, for a little longer, right outside of the closet door. Cordero wished he knew what they were saying. He thought, panicked…can they open human doors? Are thy accustomed with manually opening things in general? Can they twist knobs? Do they know how? Does their hand anatomy allow it? Would they ignore doors in general? What do they use as doors? He smiled internally—wearily—and felt a feint bit of hope. He'd seen Jackal's hands, noticed the odd T junction of the three fingers. But what of the other? He didn't know what the different members of the Covnant looked like. He'd only seen Jackals and Grunts in person. Cordero hoped, for his life, that turning a knob would be difficult for both. He really hoped they didn't even try.
      The guttural voice of the other eventually drew silent and the Jackal ended what Cordero supposed was their "conversation" with a curt "Bahkkt!". The other's heavy boots thumped out of the room. Cordero heard the thumping echo down the stairs and out of the house. He slowly let out a breath of relief—only temporary, but relief nonetheless. Now all he could do was wait in fear and discomfort. Allowing some time to pass, Cordero eventually lowered himself onto his haunches and then slowly sat on the floor of the closet and crossed his legs. He leaned against the back wall, the folds of the woman's clothes draped over his body. The biofoam had clotted and thickened and the pain in his ankle had lessened. Cordero prodded the wound with two fingers; it was growing cold and numb. Fuck he cursed under his breath and shook his head slightly.
      Barely able to hear the dull echoes of the fight in the distance, Cordero thought of his desperate situation, the desperate situation all of humans. He wondered: How did we get into this mess? How did I get into this mess? Reminiscing, he remembered the day, two years ago, he filled out the medical forms at his kitchen counter with his mother to enlist in the reserves.
      "It's the only way we'll be able to pay for it, Mom. We can't miss this opportunity," Cordero tried to convince his mother to sign off on his father's idea. Next to the medical forms sat his acceptance letter to H.I.T., Hephaestus Institute of Technology, the most prestigious university on the colony. His family had pushed… driven him to succeed throughout high-school so that he would have the opportunity to expound upon his gifted intelligence at the best institution available. They had hoped, if he were accepted, that the institution would grant them financial aid, but the university declined. Their only other foreseeable option was for Cordero to enlist in the reserves. From the onset of the Covenant War the UNSC had agreed to pay for any student's tuition if he join the fight. His father proposed they accept the UNSC's offer, he argued that the Covenant, whatever they wanted, wouldn't find any interest in Hephaestus. "Why would they come here?" Cordero's father had said. His mother eventually agreed, dismissing an alien invasion of the planet as merely a scoffable nightmare—they hadn't worked so hard for their dreams to be dashed by a scoffable nightmare.
      Now here he was, sitting in that very same not-so-scoffable nightmare with H.I.T. glassed along with the rest of the megalopolis. He thought of his father and mother as he closed his eyes. Wondering if they were alright he wanted nothing more than to be on the evacuation ships with them. Cordero fought off fatigue. You can't fall asleep. Not now… Time passed, Cordero was unsure of how long he had been sitting on the floor of the closet. It was useless to resist the pressing fatigue; he was weary from the fight, from fear. His wound throbbed in unison, it seemed, with the beat of his heart. His breath became shorter. It's alright,he said to himself. The Jackal doesn't know I'm here. I'm safe, if only for a little while. And Cordero allowed himself to drift off into a broken and anxious rest.

1945 Hours, March 31, 2534 (Military Calendar)
12 Parlor Street, Perkston (Industrial City Suburban District)Hephaestus

      Cordero's eyes blinked twice and then shot open upon realizing where he was. A deep rumbling shook the entire pitch-darkness of the closet. The hangers holding the clothes all clattered together, some fell off onto the floor. The entire house creaked and shook violently while the deep, whirring engines of something large passed overhead. Cordero wondered: This is it. They're going to glass me like the rest of everyone else. These are the last seconds of my life. Cordero couldn't contain himself, his heart pounded so hard in his chest he thought it would burst through his armor.I can't die in fear. Not in the dark.
      Clutching the butter knife in his left hand, Cordero slowly pulled himself to his feet and opened the closet door. He peered out pensively, hoping against hope that the Jackal wasn't there. Sure enough it was—its thin back was to Cordero as it leaned against the side of an armoire, staring out of the window with its fiery eyes, focused…oblivious.