Waking the Dead÷Prologue
Posted By: Chuckles
Date: 18 April 2005, 2:09 PM
Waking the Dead—Prologue
Harsh winds battered Gus and Georgina's, easily drowning the tavern's music in the howl. An hour earlier snow had begun to fall, transforming the windstorm into a blizzard. But that was normal in a town nestled this close to the Arctic Circle, and Gina's patrons barely noticed.
Gus could not help but smile as he watched someone feeding coins into the new jukebox, paying for a song that they would not be able to hear. Glancing down the bar he saw his wife taking in the same scene. After the grief he had given her for purchasing the blasted thing, Gus knew he was in for it.
Walking up beside him, Gina nudged his arm. "Told ya," she said smiling. "After a few drinks—"
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Gus said, grabbing a glass and wiping it down. "Heck, if they get drunk enough they'll probably think they really do hear music."
Gina balanced a tray on one hand as she loaded several beers on it with the other. "Yup, I told you so. Bet it pays for itself in less than a year." As she headed out into the bar, she turned and mouthed I told you so one last time.
Suddenly feeling the icy wind on his face, Gus looked towards the entrance and saw one of the doors flung open, letting snow drift into the bar. The likely culprit, now shivering on the stool in front of him, looked around in near panic, as if he expected to be jumped.
What an idiot. "Hey, you stupid son of—" Gus bit his tongue as his eyes and brain caught up with his mouth. Unbelievably, the man wore no coat. What he did wear was an ice covered uniform with a gold comet symbol visible on the shoulder patch—meaning he had nearly picked a fight with an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. Gus had talked tough with one of these guys before, and whenever someone asked why his nose was crooked he got to tell the story. He was about to apologize when a huge fist grabbed his shirt and pulled him across the counter.
Here it comes. To his amazement Gus found himself staring into very, very frightened eyes.
"Help me, please." The man glanced around the room in horror. "I need a ship, oh God, I need something." It was only then that Gus realized that the man was not shivering from the cold, but rather, from fear—and that gave him reason to fear.
The ODST loosened his grip, and Gus settled back behind the bar. "Sorry, but we haven't got a ship. Are you," he said as inoffensively as possible, "a deserter?"
Slamming his fist down on the counter so fast that Gus jumped backward, the soldier stood to his feet and yelled. "I have to get out of here and I don't have time for your stupid questions!" Calming slightly, he sat back down. "I saw something, my God, I saw something horrible." Again, his eyes darted around the room. "I have to get out, I have to tell someone. But I know . . . I know who they sent after me. I shouldn't have stopped here, I should have kept going . . . "
Gus was intrigued. "Who are you afraid of?" Slowly, the man leaned forward and whispered in his ear.
Gus shook his head in disgust and managed a tired chuckle. If the man had not been an ODST, he would have swung a bottle at him. "Simjanes? You're running from a legend, my friend." He filled a shot glass with whiskey and pushed it towards him. "Here, this will get rid of Simjanes, the Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot and whoever else is—"
Suddenly Gus stopped talking and looked towards the door. He could have swore that somebody had been standing there, just outside—somebody huge. But now he saw only snow.
Noticing the look on the bartender's face, the ODST whipped his head around. "What? What did you see?"
Gus grabbed the shot glass and downed the whiskey as if it were mere water. "Nothing, I guess. Looks like you got me spooked too." Without taking his eyes off of the doorway, he filled the glass again. "You don't actually believe that Simjanes is real do—"
The lights flickered and died, plunging the tavern into darkness. Screams of slaughter erupted all around, drowning even the voice of the wind. Dropping on all fours, Gus crammed himself into a small cupboard behind the bar. Footsteps clamored up next to where he hid, stopping outside the thin wooden door.
Eyes clamped shut and shaking with horror, Gus barely stifled a whimper as Gina screamed his name. A second later her body thumped to the ground mere centimeters away. Tears swelled in his eyes, but he did not dare move. Long moments passed, filled only by the howling wind.
Finally building up enough courage, Gus pulled the small door open and climbed out. Standing to his feet in the darkness, he began moving slowly towards the exit, but before he had taken two steps a massive hand clamped around his neck and lifted him off of the ground. A voice spoke and it was colder than the arctic wind.
"What did he tell you, Gus?"
The frightened bartender could barely breathe. "N-nothing." Massive fingers began to close around his neck.
"Nobody talks that long and says nothing, Gus. Did he go anywhere else before he came here?"
"I don't know, h-he didn't say."
"Hmmm." Slow and unstoppable, the huge fist squeezed tighter and tighter. Flailing in panic, Gus grabbed at the hand that held him, but it was useless. He tried to speak, to beg, to scream, but all air was now cut off. Then, just before he blacked out, the hand opened, dumping him to the floor. Gus gulped breaths with desperation, even as he tried in vain to locate his adam's apple.
"Please believe me! He didn't tell me anything!" Gus waited in terror for a response, but heard only the storm raging outside. Suddenly the lights blinked on, hurting his eyes. Squinting, he scanned the bar, finding mangled bodies but nothing else. Almost beyond hope whatever-it-was had left.
Gus did not notice what was sitting under a body in the middle of the tavern. No matter. Not being a military man he would not have known what it was, and having only a few more seconds to live he would not have time to learn. He would never have seen it coming anyway. After all, who would expect Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman to be hauling around a Lotus anti-tank mine?