Now that I've finally finished one of my chaptered stories, I can begin writing this. I have already pre-written several oneshots that I will try to post once a week. There is no grand plot and the chapters are not in chronological order, which means I can end this collection when I see fit. I'll try to make it last at least two months. Here is the first of the series. Also, this is in third person, which is not usually what I do. Enjoy!
"Sheckley, I think I just crushed another worm." John Grigori, or "Griggs" frowned as bright yellow antlion entrails slid down his jeans.
"For the love of god, Griggs, we're crawling. Can't you see what's in front of you? And second, they're not worms, they're antlion larvae. Now we're gonna have another army of angry acid-spitting bastards on our asses." Robert Sheckley, called only by his last name, rolled his eyes as he crawled through one of the many tunnels in the antlion colony. Scattered throughout the colony were thick, juicy yellow larvae that would later hatch into the monsters the duo had fought endlessly.
"Well, can't you think about it as one less antlion?" Griggs suggested.
"You can certainly think about it that way, but don't whine about the third degree burns you'll get from the antlion workers. They probably heard the noise that grub made when you killed it."
"Geez, sorry. What are we even trying to find? The vort said there was an abandoned mine somewhere, but I think he was an evil Vortigaunt."
Sheckley stopped and decided to humor his friend. He sat down in the tunnel and crossed his legs. "Why was he an evil Vortigaunt, Griggs? Gosh, it seems like he was trying to help us! But I guess I should think twice about any kind vort that tries to lead us away from the Combine, huh?"
Griggs, caught off guard by the sudden attention he was getting, started to stutter. Sheckley patiently looked him in the eye.
"Jesus, don't look at me like that. I-I had it!"
"Well, I guess we should press on, then?"
The two crept farther into the mines, careful not to disturb the developing insects. As they turned the corner, a hole in the floor of the tunnel revealed itself. A quick look down the hole showed concrete. Griggs grinned.
"Finally, something built by humans. My knees are killing me." Sheckley grumbled. He wriggled through the hole, followed by Griggs.
The hole in the floor of the antlion tunnel was actually a hole in the top of the man made tunnel's ceiling.
"So..." Griggs said, looking around. "We're either at the end of a tunnel or at the beginning of one."
In front of the men was a large atrium of sorts, with three other mining tunnels branching out, a hub of sorts. But most noticeable was the enormous hole in the ceiling of the atrium, high above their heads. The sky was visible. An elevator shaft ran from the hole on the top to the floor. A ramp led down to a lower part of the floor, where the elevator shaft was. In front of the elevator was a stone table.
"So we could've just found that hole, gone down in an elevator, and skipped the last couple of hours with antlions?" Griggs sighed. "I told you that vort was evil."
"If you wanted to risk meeting up with something smarter than your typical antlion, like a Hunter, then sure, we could've stayed above ground. Can't you think ahead, for once?"
"You wait. One day I'm going to think ahead so much I'm going to...going to know what I'm gonna be in the next life!"
"You do that. Now then, whaddya say we get familiar with this place if this is going to be our hiding spot for god knows how long?"
"Hey Sheckley, what do these traffic lights do?" Griggs tapped a light fixture next to one of the tunnels. A humming generator sat next to each light. "They're next to all the tunnels."
"They probably direct traffic, Griggs." Sheckley rolled his eyes without looking up from the contents of the dumpster he was shuffling through. So far, he had found a few inactive hopper mines, an empty carton of laundry detergent, some kind of wooden box, a few cardboard boxes, four moldy towels, some spray paint, duct tape, baling twine, and two pillows.
"What about these unlimited ammo crates? What're they doing in an abandoned mine?"
"Just take it for granted, Griggs." Sheckley sighed. "I think someone else lived here." Sheckley stood up.
"Why would anybody else live here besides us?"
"They could've been in the same circumstance as us! Rest of the group killed by the Combine, so they were runaways. They took shelter in the nearest place they could find, it happened to be the opening of the antlion colony. Then they found their way here. And of course..." Sheckley pointed up. "They could have come from there."
"Well, fine. I...I woulda figured that out at some point.
"Of course. What did you find, if you're so smart?"
"Well, I found the traffic lights..."
"I saw them, I just didn't speak up. They're in plain sight. I hardly call that a "discovery". Anything else?"
Griggs walked over to a second dumpster, reached in, and pulled out a disabled Combine turret. He beamed from ear to ear. "'Nuff of a discovery for you?"
Sheckley was speechless. "You...uh...well...yeah, I guess. Just-just don't turn it right side up."
"Don't worry, it's broken." Griggs flipped it right side up, effectively activating the turret. A red light blinked briefly, then it opened fire on Sheckley. Startled, Griggs dropped it and it broke in several pieces.
"You better thank the stars it missed me. What the hell made you think it was broken? I'd love to hear it." Sheckley crossed his arms and glared at Griggs expectantly.
"Stop...doing that! I can't...think when I'm under pressure."
"If activating a live turret pointing straight at me is what you call thinking, then I hope you never think."
Griggs smiled. "I can not think at all if you want me to." At that point, he crumpled to the ground.
"Very funny. Let's see if we can get this turret fixed. I know how to reprogram it so it won't attack us."
"Um, we don't have any fancy computers or anything to reprogram it." Griggs stood up and waved his arm around the atrium.
"I don't need any fancy computers. All I need to do is yank a chip off of its board. I guess that's work for tomorrow, though. How do you want to-"
All of a sudden, one of the traffic lights lit up. An alarm began to sound, beeping every other second. "Huh?" Griggs scratched his head.
"I got a baaaad feeling about this." Sheckley pulled out his weapon.
"Why are you always so pessi-"
An antlion emerged out of the ground and began running at the men. Sheckley shot it quickly.
Another antlion dropped from the ceiling of the mine, the hole where Griggs and Sheckley came from. By now, Griggs had come to his senses. He pulled out his gun as well.
After four more antlions had been killed, the light turned off and the alarm stopped.
Griggs exhaled. "Well, that was fun." He leaned against the wall and blew into his gun's barrel.
"That was the most fun I had since you pointed a turret at me." Sheckley crossed his arms.
"Hey, it was a mistake, okay?" Trying to change the subject, Griggs brought up the lights. "So I guess the lights are antlion sensors?"
"It sure looks like it. I'll have to set up that turret sooner than I thought."
"How are we gonna sleep?" Griggs asked.
"You heard me."
"That was...random. Well... I found towels, those could work like mattresses. And there were two pillows, which can work like pillows. You happy?"
"I guess. Do we have any food?"
"Good god, you little subject jumper. No. We don't."
"Damn it, I'm starving. How do antlions taste?"
Sheckley frowned. "I imagine...bad. But I guess we have no choice but to find out. Drag one over here." He pointed to one of the antlions they had killed a few moments ago.
"I'm not touching one of those things." Griggs shuddered.
"It's dead. The only thing that's gonna happen is you'll get some guts on your hand."
Griggs walked down the tunnel and grabbed an antlion by its front legs. He began to drag it to Sheckley.
"Damn it, these things eat too many donuts."
"Great, more meat for us."
Griggs struggled to move the overgrown bug. Once he finally got it to the center of the atrium, he quickly wiped his hands on his pants.
Sheckley lifted his left pant leg and pulled a knife out of a sheath strapped to the side of his shin.
"I didn't know you had a knife." Griggs said.
"You also didn't know I keep my dad's ashes in a salad spinner."
"No, dummy. I never even had my dad cremated. And what's the point of a salad spinner?"
Griggs said nothing.
Sheckley snickered and began to dissect the antlion.