(533 words // 14a)
warnings; graphic imagery
The rarity of companionship; the animal instincts that lead us to find friends, even after death.
Through the haze of his barely-there consciousness, he can feel the tiles beneath his cheek.
If his nerves were more in-tact, he would be able to feel the cold, the roughness of dirt pressing against his infected, raw skin-- but his nerves have long since been eaten away by disease, skin scabbing halfheartedly only to be rubbed away again, rebuilt more durable than the last time. All he can feel is the gravity pulling him down and the vaguest sense of something being there to hold him.
Everything is dark. There are no windows in this hall, no moonlight, no lightning. He splays his arms out in front of him, lets the floor cradle his body, listens. His eyes are damaged from the infection, but his ears can still pick up the slightest sounds-- it's kept him fed so far, kept the acid pouches under his tongue filled up. Raindrops splatter against thin glass in some far-off part of the building; melodic screams; whines.
Gunshots, muffled through the walls.
A few moments of silence engulf his senses, silence save for the gentle rain. Then, a new noise-- the scraping of flesh against tile, followed by a soft, almost keening screech. He perks his head up and responds with a screech of his own.
There's the sound of hands scuttling against the floor, and more screeches; an acknowledgement, this time. He raises himself up onto his arms, hesitantly, and begins to drag himself in the direction of the noise. His fingertips curl against the smooth floor-- his fingernails were lost long before the infection took them, either broken learning how to move again or digging into his own flesh. He can't feel the difference. The back-and-forth noises continue, getting louder as he approaches the source. He has not encountered enough like him to develop a suitable means of communication, but the cadence between himself and the other creature is encouraging and calm, and he can only guess-- on some instinctual level-- that they are beckoning each other closer.
He's sure they've very nearly found each other when the other creature seems to stop, followed by a soft thumping noise. The keening continues on, and he realizes that the other has stopped to let himself be found. He lets out soft, placating noises as best his vocal chords will allow and follows the sound, and it's not long before his hand lands against something long and thin.
An arm. The creature makes a startled noise, which quickly fades into shorter, livelier chirps; they sound relieved and, were he able to interpret better, almost content. He whines low and lets himself sprawl out in front of his newfound companion, tangling their arms. How long they stay there, trading soft screeches and curling lazily against each other, is beyond him-- the sense of alleigance is new, but not displeasing. They are motionless save for twitching fingertips; with each other to focus on, the rest of the building seems strangely quiet.
Then, the vaguest repetition in the otherwise stagnant air-- slow footsteps, coming from the edge of his consciousness and nearing. The door at the end of the hall creaks open, slow and fearful. A flashlight clicks on.