Nightmare was constantly prodding at my awareness, trying to keep me lucid. It was helping me more than I would like to admit.
Then again I was almost paralysed with pain and possibly dying so I had no real reason to complain about the guy making sure I wasn’t going to fall into a coma, or worse.
The hallway was changing as we progressed down it, occasionally breaking down a wall or two. The face worked as a shield and protected us from the debris that came down as we essentially ploughed through a building.
“Hold on, we have some disturbance here.”
I moved a little to try and see ahead of us from behind the shield and regretted it instantly. It was apparent that my burned skin did not like to even have a gentle breeze over it.
I winced and moved to hold my side but stopped. I could see the disturbance.
The hallway condensed a little as a small but obvious black pinprick hovered in the air, creating a clear event horizon around it that blocked the hall. It looked like a wormhole.
“Dead Metal, be prepared to back up,” Nightmare said. He dropped his act and was more focused now, even his voice was a little changed. “I don’t like the look of that thing. We’ll have to go around and hope it isn’t hostile.”
Just before our ride reversed the wormhole un-collapsed and an almost entirely black silhouette of a man unfolded so that he was standing in the hallway. He wasn’t entirely black, as he looked more like an empty spot in the world. He had stars and galaxies cover him in the way the sky would be covered, and as I moved my head, wincing I could see that the stars changed depending on his position. He was what I would be looking at if the earth and the sky wasn’t there, a living window into space.
Nightmare grunted in irritation. “Dead Metal?”
Wordlessly, Dead Metal fired something at the Wormhole making man before us. He recollapsed and took the hit in his black hole form, then decompressed. The rocket was growing smaller inside him. I smirked internally, I was right to assume he was a wormhole.
He charged right at us.
“Back up, back up!”
Dead Metal followed Nightmare’s order and moved into reverse immediately, stopping the patient from closing the gap as he tried to approach.
It was no use. We were losing the ground we covered. I tugged on Nightmare’s shoulder.
“I’ll counter him,” I said weakly, at the limits of staying awake.
Nightmare looked at me, studying my resolve with a gaze. Whatever face I was making was good enough, because he nodded.
“Dead Metal, Stop. Our new friend would like to aid us on our quest.”
The vehicle stopped, and the patient who I’ve dubbed Wormhole followed. He cocked his head to the side and shrunk down, pulling pebbles of rubble into himself.
I slowly hopped off and limped to Wormhole. I knew his power, he was functioning as a one way trip to outer space. One that I wasn’t going on.
I reached my range and the Wormhole folded in on itself before vanishing. No distortion of light, no nothing. Wormhole was gone as soon as I walked towards him.
A brief thought of an absolutely normal person floating in the middle of space flashed in my mind, and I nearly fell over.
Nightmare caught me.
“That was interesting, pray tell us how you were able to defeat such a man without touching him?”
“I stop powers from… From working,” I explained, my breathing even heavier.
Nightmare nodded and dragged me back onto Dead Metal’s vehicle. I wondered why there aren’t any seats since I was essentially laying on the top of the hood of a very, very small tank.
And it was very, very painful. Every jolt, every bit of rubble we drove over and every wall we crashed into was distracting.
Now that I thought about it, this facility was improbably large for psychiatric uses, even if many of the patients had powers.
“It’s taking a while,” I said to Nightmare. He nodded at that, glad that I’m making an effort to stay awake.
“This building has a unique feature dwelling within it’s walls,” he said. “It is larger than it appears.”
“I guess it has to be, with people like Wendigo,” I paused for breath. “And the Wormhole guy back there.”
“Indeed, my boy.”
We got closer to Samantha. The walls were fading into a skin like colour, the sharpness of the corners disappearing. An eye opened up on the ceiling, looking at us as we drove by.
Even the cells and doors changed, exactly like last time. The rooms filled with stomach acid, trying to digest the occupants.
The only problem was that most of the occupants were trained for this and the rest had powers. We stopped again.
The ground became too soft, too fleshy. We were caught in a puddle of blood, piss and flesh. The tracks only ripped away more skin at the ground and let it bleed even more.
“Unfortunate,” grumbled Nightmare. “Dead Metal, this ground is too dangerous, we-”
“It’s safe-ish,” I said, stumbling of and yelling in pain on my soft landing. “Fuck! It’s fine. Samantha’s doing this.”
“I see,” replied Nightmare, walking around the vehicle. Dead Metal popped out of the hatch. “I can see why she could help your predicament, with this… power.”
That, and if I was going to die, I want to at least say goodbye to somebody. I’d have chosen Michael or Ricky or Derek or Maxine any day, or even Ellen if she wasn’t…
Right now, I only have Samantha.
I was braced against Nightmare, struggling down the putrid halls. I could see fights of all types and hear them. The rumbling and burning of flesh, Wendigo laughing as he snuck down a hallway, freezing three guards who had guns levelled at him. The last one tried to get out the way too late and his foot broke off with the momentum. He fell like a statue.
Luckily, Wendigo was too obsessed over his own art to notice us, and turned into the corner behind the three guards.
Metal spikes erupted from the floor, puncturing a converted pipe that began to leak fecal matter.
“C’est -” Nightmare muttered something but I didn’t quite catch it. It sounded foreign. French?
It didn’t matter. He picked up the pace as we got to more patients and guards. This time it was one former patient protecting a few guards from a second.
The second patient walked away without a fight once one of the guards stepped forwards. Lovecraft.
Now that I think about it, Lovecraft wasn’t a common name at all. Was she a metahuman, too?
“So any clue on your friends location?” asked Nightmare.
“She was in her cell last time,” I said, grunting as I stepped into a softer bit of the flesh floor. “She’ll be in one this time too. Suspended in a cocoon.”
Nightmare nodded. “Dead Metal, Check the cel-”
“No,” I blurted out. “She makes things, traps. bone spike pits, drowning pits, even guards. I’ll guide you.”
Dead Metal looked up at Nightmare, then me. An unspoken agreement was made and Nightmare dragged me to the cells from the hallway.
We took a pause every two or three cells to look around for anyone who would attack us – be it the staff or the numerous powered and clearly insane patients – as we progressed from cell to cell. We eventually saw our first womb room.
Dead Metal stepped forwards.
“Be careful,” I said, making her pause mid step. “She makes guards.”
Just as she was about to resume I saw Firespitter run around the corner, screaming. He was back up.
Nightmare gracefully swerved us out of the way as he fired a flaming ball of liquid at us from his trunk. It went wide and I turned to look at what he fired at.
Two Fingerfaces stood nearby. Dammit.
“Nightmare, let me go!”
He complied, and charged Firespitter before stopping. A wall of icicles sprouted from the ground.
Wendigo must have been Firespitter’s ally. No wonder he left me for dead, I thought.
One of the Fingerfaces charged, pointing with many indexes, middles and rings. I was weaker than last time; I didn’t have a knife.
Still, I had to fight. Hands outreached, no less than fifty small fingers stretched like tentacles of a squid. I stepped to the side, grabbed at the shoulder and put my foot out.
Momentum guided it into the door. A door that was lined with spiked of bone, leaning outwards.
The second Fingerface wasn’t as stupid, and tackled me as the first died. I landed on my good side, but it hit me in my burned hip.
I screamed out and punched its head repeatedly. Four, five, six times. No use.
I shot a brief glance up.
Wendigo and Firespitter were a team with surprising synergy. They created impassible terrain each time they attacked anyone and missed, they always created splash damage, and most importantly, they were able to fire nearly constantly together. They did so perfectly. Wendigo freezing ground, launching icicles. Firespitter lobbing balls of flame, burning the flesh on the ground.
Nightmare and Dead Metal were already separated, with Firespitter and Wendigo creating a deep gash of fire and ice in the middle of the hallway.
That’s when the Belching Screamer threw up over them from an upper walkway.
I could hear the anger from Firespitter, covered in something that was purely rancid. “Dammit.”
He wiped some off of his clothes with his hand. Then he saw that it was eating through the cloth.
“Wendigo, Freeze me!”
Wendigo turned and Nightmare tackled him down in the short time he exposed himself. Firespitter shot a blast out as Nightmare tumbled, holding onto Wendigo. Wendigo took the brunt of the blast.
Nightmare then kicked Wendigo back as a maw opened in the few unburned and unfrozen patches of floor. It ate Wendigo as he stumbled, then froze.
Firespitter was already gone by the time I turned to look at him. His clothing was discarded, burning from chemicals.
“This reminds me of our employer,” remarked Nightmare, patting out a small singe in his clothing as he stood up and walked over to me.
The Fingerface stopped moving and was mostly limp now, but it still held onto me and I struggled to shove it off.
“Dammit,” I muttered. “I’m here for Samantha.”
It looked up.
A second later it let go and got up.
“Where is she?” I asked.
It pointed at where the Belching Screamer was.
Okay. She was on the second floor.
I could meet her. Then I can deal with Trauma.