|Hell Can Swim
Author: The Hark-ness monster PM
When the secret republic science station on the Hrackert rift lost contact with the surface of Manaan, search parties were sent out but never returned. Eventually, a rescue team was able to get through. They found only one survivior. This is his story.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Horror - Words: 3,403 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 04-06-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6882845
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Knights of the Old Republic
A horror story
Hell Can Swim
Note: The following is the account of Trauman Nox, the
only surviving witness to the Hrakert Station incident.
This was written after he was rehabilitated and declared
sane, therefore, this account is believed to be viable.
I woke up that morning like it was any other day. There were no signs, no alarms, nothing to warn me that when the sun set I would be different…changed. And that nearly a hundred good people would end up dead. Slaughtered right before my eyes. Of course there weren't that many bodies to be found afterwards. Most of them would be ripped apart…and eaten.
I left my apartment at quarter 'till seven. I was already running late. To make matters worse, my speeder, which had been needing some maintenance for some time now, decided that today was the day it was going to stop working altogether. Somehow I managed to catch a shuttle and arrive at the Republic embassy just in time, but of course on my way in I slipped on some oil from a malfunctioning droid. That would happen to me. Of course at the time I thought I was just having the worst of luck. I thought the day could not possibly get any worse. I was beyond wrong.
The secretary nodded and said hello to me as he always did but I just ignored him. I didn't have time for formalities. Had I known that this was the last civil act I would see that day, I would have given it a second thought.
I rushed to get to the last submersible and caught it just before it went under. I joined a couple of other late comers in the cramped space and the craft departed. But none of us would have guessed what awaited us below. We weren't descending to the ocean floor. We were descending into hell. What was about to come was beyond our comprehension. Worse that anything we had ever imagined. The events of that day were an example of when nightmares invade reality.
When the craft resurfaced at the underwater base, the four of us, driver, two scientists, and myself, a mechanic, left the shuttle and continued on our way to our posts. It was as if everything was normal. And it was…for now.
I rubbed my eyes and grumbled to myself as I trudged down the hallway. Dreams of crawling back into my small but comfortable bunk still lingered in my mind and I struggled to stay focused. I fumbled through my locker, mumbling something about being late and "this damn morning." The rest of my team had already left to begin the repair work on the outside of the station that we were scheduled for.
Tired, angry and bogged down by the heavy envirosuit I carried, I didn't bother to run. I was late. Overexerting myself wouldn't make up for lost time. So I slowly made my way to the vacuum chambers.
Then, suddenly, like a smack in the face, the whole station rattled and rumbled. A groan like metal beneath a great amount of pressure shook me down to my brown regulation boots.
"What the hell?" I said to myself. It stopped. Silence.
Then, an indescribable noise erupted from the walls. It was a seemingly source-less shriek that twisted metal and curdled air like sour milk. I collapsed beneath the sounds crushing might and clung to the rail on the wall, unable to stand. It was as if the sound alone had paralyzed me. Soon enough, however, it faded from the hall and solidified in my brain. The latter was far worse. It was like a scream but just barely. It was inhuman for sure. Inalien even. It was something…else. My eardrums throbbed with the vile, gut-turning noise and my brain felt as if it were being sucked out through my ears. Then, to my relief, my eyes rolled back in my head and I hit the floor. I blacked out.
I opened my eyes. Slowly. They were sore as if I had rubbed them too hard. At first it was like waking up from a dream. The shriek was now only a dull ringing, like a strange, old memory. But as events unfolded, it became more and more like waking up in a dream.
The hallway where I lay was much darker than I remembered. Some of the stations power must have been knocked out by the horrible screaming. I groaned and pulled myself back onto my feel. My knees shook and I nearly fell over. I caught myself on the railing.
I heard a pounding down the hall. Or maybe that was just my heartbeat. No. It was a metallic sound. Then it stopped.
I looked around me. My envirosuit lay strewn across the floor but I didn't bother to pick it up. I had a feeling I wasn't going to need it.
I started walking. My footsteps echoed, ungodly loud in the silent hall. I stepped with caution, trying to make as little noise as possible. I didn't know why it suddenly mattered how much noise I was making but it mattered. Maybe it was the chill in the air or the inexplicable goose bumps on the back of my neck. My subconscious knew something that it refused to tell me. Like it was keeping a secret or playing some kind of game. My only clue was, be careful.
I noticed a chamber up ahead to my right. When I approached it I turned.
The few, dim lights that were still functioning flickered. I could barely see. There was a glint of something…red in the hall beyond. A puddle on the floor and streaks on the wall. Blood? What the hell…
I stepped into the dimly lit room. I squinted to see. It didn't help. I couldn't make out details but I could see that things were scattered about. I nearly tripped on something twice. The first thing I hit was hard. Maybe the corner of a footlocker. The second thing was softer. It felt like a thick, damp, wadded up rag. I couldn't even begin to guess what it was at the time but later I realized what it must have been.
I heard a soft whimpering somewhere in the shadows. Reluctantly, I went towards it. I was able to make out a figure huddled in the corner behind some upturned crates.
"Umm…hello?" I whispered but the echo sounded twenty times louder. "What's going on here?"
The figure shook violently in the darkness. "NO! Get away from me!" he screamed. I cringed at the volume of his voice.
I stepped back. His words shot ice into my veins. This was bad. There was something very wrong.
"You bring them with you! OH! They're going to kill me!" A ray of light caught his face. Good God. His throat had been clawed. Three gaping slashes trailed their way down his neck, oozing blood and shredded flesh. Lines of red streaked his face as well, eyes wide with indescribable terror. His skull had been smashed in.
I think he tried to scream but a gurgle was all he could manage. Then, his eyes rolled back and he fell over dead.
I stumbled backwards away from the corpse. "Sith-" was all I was able to say.
To my left was the hallway leading further into the base. I stared down it daring to image the ghastly things that were happening down there.
A horrible screaming hit me. I didn't move. I couldn't move. This scream was human, but it was even more terrifying than the mysterious shriek that seemed to have caused all this.
"No! Please!" Then I saw him as his body was thrown through a doorway on the left and slammed into a wall. I jumped.
What I saw next…a selkath. Then two, then three, appeared from the same doorway. They did not notice me. They were intent on the figure who now lay on the floor and whose blood was smeared upon the wall. He lay there like a limp doll. I thought he was dead. But then he cried out one last time as one of the selkath picked him up by the ankles, lifted him high in the air and slammed him down with enough force that I could feel it all the way where I stood. His skull shattered, spitting brains a blood across the floor. I heard his spine snap with a loud crack. Now he was dead.
I was unable to look away as the three monsters ripped apart his body, devouring bloody chunks of his flesh. I stood there until what was once a human was reduced to a pile of shattered bones in a puddle of blood. At that sight I would have puked up my guts, if I hadn't been in shock. Even now…even after my memories have been dulled significantly by attempted suppression….
When the selkath had finished their meal, their heads snapped up and their piercing eyes fell upon me.
After this I don't remember having control of my actions. My feet took off. My legs took me back down the hall at alarming speed. But I don't remember even thinking. It was like I was being carried, or someone else, someone with sense, was telling my legs what to do.
I moved down the hall watching the grey walls go past. But I didn't think. I heard the fish-beasts behind me. They made sounds like rabid kath hounds. Sniveling, growling, sucking, screaming. At the time I couldn't comprehend the horrifyingly bizarre sounds at my heels. I thought they were laughing at me.
I don't know how long I ran. Maybe ten seconds…no. Two years? I only remembered where that length of time took me. I ended up back at the locker room where we keep the envirosuits. And that's where I started to think again. The lockers. That's what I thought. They were big enough to fit the envirosuits. They must be big enough to fit me. I yanked mine open and locked myself in. I sighed once safe inside my walls.
Then, the three monsters slammed into the metal around me. My safe haven. They shook the locker, with me inside, like a child with a gift trying to guess what it was. The noises I had heard from them earlier were louder now and stranger still. They growled and howled but also hissed and chomped. I heard them biting, scratching, clawing at the outside metal. Their dull teeth gnawed at the corners of the locker with thousands of tiny thuds. Their webbed paws pounded and even dented the metal inwards. An ear-piercing metallic screeching let me know that their claws were strong enough to peel at the surface. I knew they would get through…they would rip this locker to shreds…and then me to shreds…
But the end did not come. And I still lived. Before long they accepted defeat. The locker had won. They gave up and walked out of the chamber gurgling and whining to each other in some strange language that wasn't selkath. I heard their disgusting, hungry noises for a while after that down the hall. My lungs shuttered inside my chest, forcing a breath from me. I slumped against one of the close, cold, metal walls and I would have collapsed if the space was big enough for me to do so. My head, which had been slammed repeatedly in the close quarters, was bleeding. I stared at the grey nothingness before my eyes. I couldn't tell if they were open or closed. If I was asleep or awake. I only remember standing there, staring, until my mind stopped thinking again.
After that my memories are not set in stone. They are soft and maliable. Because from this point until my rehabilitation I was officially insane. Some things I have been told of what I said or did, but a sane mind trying to remember when it was not so is like looking across the ocean floor under a moonless sky. I cannot tell what is fact or simple fabrication of my own insanity. This is my best attempt at unscrambling what happened…
At some point the fishies came back. I called at them. Laughed from within my locker. I was safe. It felt good to be able to mock such horrible, vile, vicious, monstrosities.
Then they replied. They didn't sound like fishies. Humans. The back of my mind urged. Ohhh! They were human! I only laughed at them more. "Just another lunchie munchie for the fishies." I told them about the other miserable, wandering souls who had been condemned to this darkest hell.
They thought I was insane. Only later did I realize that they were right.
"NO!" I screamed at them. They were trying to kill me! They wanted me to come out of my safe box! Outrageous. No! Never, I told them.
They wanted to know what had happed to the selkath. The fish-beasts. "When the beast screamed…" I was referring to the strange shrieking. I didn't know what I was saying. I didn't know of any beast. Later I found out that it actually was a monster's voice that had caused all this. Maybe I just knew. Like the selkath just knew to kill the humans and make them their dinner. I told the fish food a distorted account of what happened. They left when they realized I was crazy and that they couldn't save me. What were they trying to save me from? I wasn't in any danger.
A short while later I heard them screaming. They were being eaten. Hideous shrieks. My knees began to shake. But it didn't take long for me to figure out why the screams sounded so loud…and strange. It was me. I was screaming. The fish food were long gone. It was mostly in my head, a hallucination, but every now and again a cry would pass my lips. After a while I began to sob…and then my memories fade out again.
Eventually they found me. I had no idea how long I was in that locker. I had no sense of time, no sense of anything…I had no sense. Someone later told me it had been almost two days.
When they first found me they had come in a group of about seven, I guessed. The leader spoke to me through the locker door.
"You come to feed the fishies?" I asked innocently. "They're probably getting hungry." I can imagine I sounded like a five year old excited to feed their new pet.
"No," they answered. "The selkath are dead. Would you come out of there?"
"Dead?" I laughed a chilling, madman's laugh. "They're not dead. No one kills fishies. Fishies kill you." Then I whispered as if it were some great secret; "They're invincible." I don't know why I thought that. Maybe I had convinced myself they were demons. But from what I had seen, that wasn't too hard to believe.
"No. They're not. The selkath are dead. I promise you. I could prove it if you would just come out of there."
"NO!" I screamed. "You have them with you! They're inside your little minds! They use you as bait to get me out so they can eat me! Why! Why do you want to kill me!" I broke into hysterics. I began to hyperventilate in the small space and tears erupted from my eyes. They flowed in rivers down my face and neck and the combination of the lack of breath and the water I felt on my face led my deranged mind to believe that I was drowning. Death.
"Oh God!" I cried. "I'm going to die, die, die!"
"You're not going to die and we are going to get you out of there."
"Stop! No! Don't! Please! I would rather drown in here than be killed by those monsters! Just let me alone so I can die!"
I heard one of them whisper. "Drown? What is he talking about?"
Then another replied, "I don't know but if we want to get him out we have to take him to the surface. He's not gonna come out down here."
I felt the water all around me now. On my face, neck, back and arms. I knew that before long I would be completely submerged. But it wasn't water. I was just sweating. I had no way of knowing the difference at the time.
"Alright. Let's go."
I screamed. They were rocking the locker back and forth to dislodge it. "What are you doing!"
"We're getting you out of here, buddy."
"No! No! Let me go!" I whimpered as more tears cam down. "Let me go…"
They held the locker and carried it out horizontally. Like a coffin, and I was still. For a while I just let them take me, silently crying to myself. I think I thought I was dead. I thought they were carrying me to my grave. And I was content. I thought it was all over. But then memories of the monsters flooded back into my mind, spoiling my contentment. Images distorted by my insanity.
I erupted into screaming accompanied by a vicious pounding against the metal. I shook, rocking myself back and forth in a true lunatic fashion.
"YOU ARE TAKING ME TO THE MONSTERS!" True, utter and complete hysteria now. "You're gonna sell me to the evil ones! The demons! Devils! No! NOOO!" My rant continued in a similar fashion for the rest of my lunatic life. Until I regained control of my thoughts I was always yelling, mumbling, screaming, saying something about the slimy, slithering, slippery selkath.
After they got me back up to the surface, kicking and screaming the whole way, they clawed me out of my safe box. My protection. Piece by piece they tore it apart. Their hands that worked at the metal flashed from tan and five-fingered to blue and web-pawed. Their faces went from composed and human to demonic and fish-faced. I convulsed, crying my eyes away, and then they hauled me up out of my coffin and I screamed. I screamed so loud I thought my vocal chords would bust out of my throat. They didn't though. And I lived to scream another day.
I remember once, they drug me past a civil selkath minding his own business in the city on the surface world. I felt bad for him after I could comprehend what I had done. They told me I went ballistic. It took three people to restrain my outrageous flailing. I screamed at him, things like, "You beast! Why! Why did you kill them! Please don't eat me! Spare me!"
I cringed and acted in a similarly ridiculous fashion every time an unfortunate selkath should happen to cross my path all the way to the insane asylum.
And so they had rescued me. After two days of being confined to the space just enough to contain an envirosuit. They had brought me back to the surface, back from hell, alive. I had survived. But, unfortunately, my sanity had not. I had lost it and left it somewhere in that locker. The locker that I took for my coffin actually was that of my mind. Left behind back in the depths. Sometimes I think that I never actually regained it and that they just scooped out my raving mad mind and replaced it with a synthetic, pre-programmed brain. Are these thoughts I am having even real? I don't think there is a way for me to ever know for certain.
And so, that is the story of a mad man's mind in hell, recollected from sanity. At least, they tell me I am sane anyway. And although I have been mostly cured of my hatred of selkath, I still have an unnatural fear of lockers.