captantes capti sumus
we catchers have been caught

by Chaed


Prologue

The crimson head drops dead, a half-moon chunk of its face missing, the rest a gross mess of brain matter and muscle tissue.

Chris reloads the Remington. The empty shell falls out. He kicks at it, furious.

Forget defense. There's no reason he has to play the cards close to his chest anymore. It's all-in from here on, nothing left to lose.

He can still hear Claire falling. Calling after her, a ghastly goodbye that follows her into the abyss. Jill stays behind. Says she'll distract the creatures. Tells him that Claire needs him now, alive or not.

Go save her, or bury her.

But he can't find her. Nowhere. She's a prisoner of the darkness and the silence mutes her screams.

The sewer level is a mass grave. And its keeper, the scythe-monster, doesn't respond well to uninvited visitors. It expels him from its realm before he can find his baby sister in the underground tomb.

By the time he makes it back to where he left Jill, Jill is gone.

The only thing she left is a trail of breadcrumbs. A blood map.

So he starts to follow the crimson path, because he knows this language all too well.

Help me. Hurry.

Before the monsters pick up her trail.

Or before she runs out of blood to paint him a way.


Up to her ears in sewer water. Blowing air bubbles as she tries to breathe.

Asphyxiation seems the better option if she had the choice.

In the darkness, up in the corner, she searches for the all seeing glass eye and knows her every movement is being watched.

They've selected a fate for her, but they're still anxious to see what she makes of it.

Death can come in many ways and there's are a lot of people with a lot of money who pay to guarantee maximum entertainment.

The water isn't high. Her feet touch. If she stands tall, it comes all the way to her chest, but not more. Still, she prefers to stay in deeper. The sewer stink has saved her life once. She pulls her lucky card in hoping that it will a second time.

It's been a cat-and-mouse game ever since they ran into each other. The roles are unsurprising. She's the mouse.

She can feel her thigh throbbing in the water. It's causing a heavy pain drives tears into her eyes. And blurred vision is the last thing you need if you can barely see your damn hand before your eyes.

She holds her breath.

It's coming.

The telltale click-clack.

As if it's wearing high heels. That's its givaway.

She abandonded the idea with the flashlight a while ago. The thing acts like a beacon for every monster out there, and there are a lot. It's still clipped to her belt, but her impromptu bath probably rendered it unusable.

Panic seizes her.

What if she does survive the click-clack thing and is lost in this darkness because she doesn't have a light to get to the end of the tunnel?

She makes a fist around the object in her hand.

Now's the time to start praying.

She adds in an extra plea for it to be over quick.

One thing she doesn't envy the others for is their way of dying.

She doesn't want to get eaten alive. It's a sick thought to imagine yourself screaming at the top of your voice while somebody's holding your lungs in their hands.

But she doesn't want to huddle in a corner and die of fear either. Some people kick the bucket because they have a heart attack in the dark. It's a pityful way to go. And it doesn't sit well with the audience.

It's very close now. Cloaking itself in darkness, it draws out the tension. Wants the surprise to kill her. She can hear it breathe. It takes quick gulps of air, but not because it's tired – it tries to smell her. The sewer water does a good job at concealing her scent from a distance, but the closer it gets, the more the odor intensifies. Fresh meat has a very sweet base aroma. Add a five inch cut to it and the blood makes it irresistible.

She brings her hands together and a finger closes in around the metal ring.

With one swift movement the safety pin is off the grenade and she throws it right at the darkness, into the click-clack creature's invisible cloak.

She screams, "That's for my brother, you piece of shit!" and then the bomb explodes and the blast submerges her in water.

After she crawls out on the sewer passage she lays flat and starts to cry.

She's alive. She survived.

But so has the monster.


Jill is a tinkerer. Always has been. As a kid she bent paperclips into lockpicks. In the military she was a survivalist. In STARS they called her the Master of Unlocking.

So many years later, she hasn't lost her touch.

Holed up in the JANITOR room she cuts wires and reprograms circuits. She doesn't know if anyone thought a power box could be turned into a weapon, but whatever gets into its range is going barbeque at the push of a button.

The whole area around her is boobytrapped. She converted the two grenades into mines. They are strategically placed in front of the door. Whoever comes knocking is going to undergo an explosive surprise.

This plan isn't going to hold out forever, of course. Jill knows that. But after everything that happened – with Chris and Claire gone, dead – she needs to regroup. Get on top of the situation. She is in survival mode now. Whatever the military and police haven't taught her, two outbreaks in Raccoon did the job.

Getting emotional means ending up in the grave and Jill is no cat who has nine lives to spare. There will be no reset button if she fucks this up.

There are at least three BOWs she knows about.

The stealth hunter. Whoever designed this version abandoned the bulky design. This one is tall, lean. Very humanoid. It doesn't rip you to death. It skillfully breaks your neck. And whatever its creator saved in muscle mass was added in IQ. Jill has never seen such a tactical BOW. It learns from her mistakes and rarely makes ones of its own.

The Hunter is Jill's biggest concern. It might not know what the word Janitor means, but it will know that the space around the room is dangerous. It won't be stupid enough to run straight into her ambush. But the problem is, if it circumvents her trap, she's going to bite the bullet. Because with only six shells shared between two guns there's no way she can take it out in direct confrontation.

That only leaves the hope that one of the other creatures will catch in her contraptions. The complication with them is the following: they are ceiling crawlers. There's the licker for one. It looks like it's been going heavy on steroids. A terrifying mass of muscle. An inside-out bodybuilder.

Its claws are the size of her forearm and she's seen first hand what damage it can do. And that isn't even the big improvement last year's model was lacking. This one has eyes. A licker with goddamn eyes.

The other beast Jill hasn't glimpsed a good enough look of, but the bulking shadow with its numerous legs is warning enough to make her wary. Since the thing hasn't followed her earlier she's bold enough to assume that it's possibly territorial. Which makes the sewer level impassable. There isn't anything but death down there anyway. And to commit the same mistake twice would be inexcusable. That one of them paid with their life is lesson enough.

Jill freezes.

Outside the room something rattles.

She holds her breath, unmoving. What rattles? She maps a mental picture of the corridor. There's a locked door at the far end. An open storage room to the right, but that's a dead end. Has a monster made it in there? If so, it's a ceiling crawler. Only way it circumvent the mine in the doorway. Then the only thing it needs to do is knock over a shelf, her failsafe and boom goes the licker.

More noise.

It's not the storage room.

If her hearing is right, the sound comes from straight ahead and that can only mean one thing. The row of four chairs aligned in the corridor has been knocked over.

Something's coming, and it's on a rampage...

Suddenly silence creeps back in. Whatever it is, it's passed the chairs.

Here comes the moment of truth.

And all hell breaks loose.


Welcome to world of survival horror.

Cheers,
Chaed