Revealed, A Center of the Earth Story by John Pirillo. Part Two, Something horrible has happened! And it doesn't even exist!
Red felt, more than heard, a barrage of bullets smash into the Insectoid. It was so near, still towering over him, when its head vanished in an explosion of red pulp and its upper body as well. It was flung sideways by the impact and stumbled for a moment, as if uncertain where it was, then collapsed like a rag doll to the cavern floor.
Red turned around. Diggs, the giant Japanese, African American, was grinning from behind a smoking submachine gun. "Hey there sailor boy, need some help cleaning up?"
Red shook his head, and then threw up.
Diggs looked away from his red haired friend. He felt the same way, but what good did it do? He'd save his energies for smashing the uglies who had started this mess.
It was a quiet mass. Their first since the journey had begun. A thoughtful one. Again, it reminded them of how awkward and lost they felt in these massive underground caverns and corridors that wound ever downwards and deeper into the interior of the earth. Every man and woman stood there gathered close listening as the Colonel did the last rites for their fallen comrades.
He stood there, tall and lanky, his sandy brown hair wet with sweat. It was hot in the corridor they stood in. Air flow was minimal. It had been getting warmer for quite some time now as they descended, which is what they expected. His dark brown eyes looked like polished stones in his skull as he stared at the Forces laid on the ground before him. His face was expressionless, but his upper right lip kept spasming, as if his face were straining to stay normal, when it wanted to explode into sorrow and despair.
"William. Mary. Devonne. Harry." The Colonel intoned, his voice flat and dull. "You will be missed. The people of Earth above have much to thank you for. Your courage. Your sacrifice. Your devotion to duty. You will be missed."
Finished, he signaled an aide who rushed forward with an American Flag. Several of the Forces spread out to help him drape it over their fallen comrades, then another wet the flag with a flammable liquid. The Colonel waited until everyone had drawn back to a safe distance, and then he flung a wooden match he had just struck onto the flag.
Everyone raised their hands in salute as the flag and the bodies beneath it began to burn.
Claire, a tall blonde with gray eyes, wiped at her eyes, over and over, never enough to clear them of the misery and loss she felt. She had joined the expedition to report its quest back home and journal it for their return home. Now she was starting to wonder if there was ever going to be a return. She had started to get close to Devonne, a wonderful tall African American woman, who had left behind two sons to join the expedition.
"I'm doing this to keep them safe. Besides, their Daddy needs to man up and raise them boys for a time, like he should have years ago."She had told Claire.
Claire had laughed.
Devonne had laughed and then passed a bottle of water she was sharing with Claire back to her. "It's amazing how times like this can bring a woman's head to her senses, isn't it?"
Claire laughed again.
Devonne had looked into her large palms, which were blistered from the periodic scraping she was under obligation to do to check the formations about them for any clues that might help the expedition. She had been born in Kentucky, in a small town no one even remembered anymore. It had been swallowed up by the Big One. Aftershocks had buried any hope of rescuing any. Devonne and her family had been on a picnic about twenty miles away when it struck.
"The trees around us were dancing like we were in the middle of some kind of fairy thing or other." Devonne had told Claire. "They wiggled and squirmed, knocked branches and heads together, while my dear old man practically crapped his pants."
She winked at Claire at the time. "Actually, he was beyond that. He had emptied them out the moment the Big One started and working on a second base run all over again."
They both had laughed.
And then Devonne had found a Red Cross Team and liked the way they sorted things out. She had told her husband. "I'm tired of digging into holes in the ground for them oil magnates. I want to contribute something useful to our world before it's too late."
Her husband and she had listened the night before along with many others gathered in the Red Cross camp to the President.
"We have been attacked by a secret and calloused life that has hidden itself deep inside our planet. Billions have died. Men, women, children, old and young. Mercilessly brought down by the insidious forces those beings unleashed."
The President's voice had risen angrily. "We shall not forget our brothers and sisters .We shall not forgive those who brought them down. I swear this as your leader and..." A long pause. "...Your friend."
The camp had gone wild with cheers.
Devonne had immediately gone to the Red Cross Captain and saluted her. "Devonne James reporting for duty, Sir!"
Claire looked at the body before her, the memories fading as the body along with that of the others began to burn away, its fats and muscle sizzling and popping. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore, she rushed ahead, sobbing.
No one tried to stop her.
There wasn't a man or woman there who felt any less, except perhaps for Doctor Brevard, who had noted her absence and went searching for her.
He found her sobbing at the edge of a large drop off, her feet dangling over the edge, like a child might dangle theirs over a running stream. "You all right, Claire?"
He said nothing more. He just stood there. Lost in his memories and thoughts. Perhaps at that moment he had reached a point in his own humanity that he had come down from the perch of his intellect and roosted in a kinder, gentler outlook of his fellow beings. One never knows really what goes on in another's mind, unless they speak it, and he kept his inner most thoughts well concealed beneath a blanket of intellect and hardness that no one could penetrate, not even Claire. But in this one instance he displayed a flicker of light that warmed Claire in her sense of loss.
Red rejoined the Colonel and Doctor Brevard at the head of the column of Special Forces as they continued their descent into the Earth. He saluted.
"Getting some strange readings ahead. Jeffries says it's different this time."
The Colonel nodded. He turned to his aide, a bright faced young man named Corbett. A tuft of red hair, the rest bald. He had chin whiskers that were blonde and red and great big brown eyes. "Send Avery..."
"Already there, sir." Red put in.
"Barnes, Manuel and Jerod. Sir!"
"Good. I want Barnes, Manuel and Jerod to grow roots there until we figure out our next move. They're smart and capable. They'll cover you. They'd better cover you because I won't stand for any more of those damned..." He swore something under his breath, which everyone knew was poor souls..." I don't want any more casualties."
Red turned to leave. "And Red..."
"That's an order. Keep alert and tell Diggs to get his ass back here and cover our rear!"
Red saluted. "Yes, sir. I will." Red flashed the Colonel a grateful smile, then high tailed forward, flicking on his helmet light to thrust its mag beams like laser beams of blasting light into the dark areas ahead as he ran.
"What do you think it is, Doctor?"
Doctor Brevard shook his head. "Too early to tell."
"You're holding back!"
Doctor Brevard turned his eyes on the Colonel, as if weighing his next words. "I studied the energy spikes earlier. They weren't just life forms."
"Damn!" Swore the Colonel.
Jeffries eyed his scanner, frowning, and then he smacked it once. Hard.
"Something?" Avery demanded.
Jeffries shook his head. "Probably just an anomaly. Nothing."
Barnes, warily turning from side to side, sweeping the wider corridor she faced, shot back. "Well, if it's nothing, why am I seeing something!"
Manuel and Jerod shot forward.
"Take left and right." Barnes ordered.
Avery whipped around just as Red shot into view, his Helmut light bouncing off the low ceiling. "Colonel wants you backside now, Diggs!"
The sound of gunfire opens up behind them.
Red and Avery rush forward.
Barnes holds a smoking weapon, but there's nothing there.
"I swear I saw something move."
Avery stepped front of her. "Well, it ain't getting past me."
He grinned. "Not ever!"
Then something out of a nightmare rushed from the darkness. A snakelike worm with a huge mouth filled with more teeth than hairs on a dog's back.
"Oh Jesus!" Avery swore, and then opened up.
Barnes was reloading her weapon as Jerod and Manuel opened up as well.
Red eyed the creature that didn't seem to be slowing down much. It had all kinds of holes and globs of flesh punched out, but it still wasn't stopped.
Red sighed. "Sorry, baby."
He took out a hand grenade.
Avery saw him just as he was about to toss it.
"Hold on, Red!"
The grenade flew towards the creature. At the same time the creature vanished, like smoke before a powerful fan.
Everyone looked on in surprise, and then Avery shouted. "Hit the deck!
Everyone dove to the ground and covered. The grenade exploded. A huge cloud of dust and fine debris showered them.
Red sat up, dusting himself off. "Well, least we know it's not for real."
Avery sat up next to him. "Yeah, luck you didn't bring the roof down finding that out!"
Then the cave wall overhead began to make huge snapping and crackling sounds.
"RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" Avery screamed! as a flood of water smashed through the ceiling of the corridor.
Red looked at the flood and shook his head. "Never have rubber duckies when I need them."