Excerpt from GODMODE
By Quan Williams.
“Sub-level 6 reached,” the familiar, metallic voice of Robo-Brit rings in my ear, waking me from my memory. “Please identify yourself for access to this floor.” The memory puzzles me. Mulder and Ithaca must have been important people in my life, but I can’t remember how or in what capacity. And how can I find out?
“Please identify yourself for access to this floor.” Robo-Brit repeats.
“Elijah,” I say, still a little surprised to hear my own dry, deep voice.
“Voice pattern confirmed,” the Robo-Brit replies, “Welcome, Elijah Turner.” I haven’t had much reason to say a lot since waking up in that cage. It’s not like I’ve had anybody to talk to… anybody completely human, that is.
I hear about thirty second’s worth of muffled beeps. I take time to look around at my elevator. It’s a lot like the other elevator I’ve been in, except this time the walls are painted blue. With a metallic schwepp the door slides open, and before me is darkness, and lots of it. I can barely make out the details of a hallway.
Oh well, I’m not going to get anything accomplished sitting around, although I do wish these things had a working light switch nearby. I turn my flash light on and step forward. There is a faint echo as my feet touch the tile, just enough for my footsteps to register. A stale, mildewy aroma wafts up my nose, and a barely audible squishy, wriggling sound can be heard amidst the white noise of the air conditioning. I stare out into the gloom and squint.
Maybe I should use wait until my night vision kicks in. It might do some good to just wait. It would give me some time to collect my thoughts, maybe make some sense out of all of this madness. I still can’t remember enough to really…
That was a sharp pinch on my left bicep. I shine the flashlight on it.
The light glistens off of a dark burgundy mass pulsating and undulating on my arm. It has crusty, wax-like skin split into sections under a thin layer of slime that reflects the light. Under its skin and between sections of it is brown, leathery flesh with pulsating veins protruding from it. Furthest up on my bicep are five limp pieces of what looks like a mixture of jelly and cartilage dangling from it like some kind of deformed antenna. Its tail end — or, at least, what I assume to be its tail end — swings back and forth, yellow-green pus dripping from it. Eventually the tail end stops swinging, finding a nestling place on my lower bicep. It makes some smaller pricks into my arm from that area as the thing solidifies its attachment to me, and a small glishnishp sound comes out from under it.
I feel my blood drain.
Reflex kicks in, and I drop the flashlight, my arm engulfed in darkness as I reach with my free hand and grab the thing stuck on it. My fingers wrap around it, almost sliding off the slick but tacky slime that covers it. I rip it off of my arm, feeling a thousand little stings as the things I assume are its teeth snatch out of my skin. I hold its underbelly up to my face, and even in the darkness I can see rows upon rows upon rows of tiny, sharp pins protruding from it, heaving and clacking together with a chattering chikakchikak sound. It’s a big worm, with teeth.
I throw it to the side in disgust, but no sooner than my arm finishes its follow-through I feel that same pinch on my right shin. That thing can’t have come back that quickly, can it? I don’t even bother looking down before thrusting my foot out, shaking the creature loose from my shin. Now I look at my leg to make sure the thing is off, and from the corner of my eye I see my flashlight on the ground, its beam partially blocked by at least three other little monsters writhing in front of it, seemingly oblivious to the light.
How many of these things are in this hallway?
Soon after, my tarsier vision adjusts. I look ahead at the hallway, and now in the green-tinged light I can make out the actual length of it, along with details along the walls like a half-barren bulletin board and a toppled water cooler, its contents sitting still despite a slick puddle around it of water. For the most part I see the hallway in a shade of green, but a huge portion of the hallway is black.
Not black, but burgundy, and the burgundy mass is moving towards me. The hallway is teeming full of
wurmteeth, and they all smell my blood.
A few feet down, midway between my elevator and the door that would lead me out, the mass moves over an odd shaped form against the wall. Spaces between the advancing wurmteeth reveal that it’s a dead body. I can’t tell who, because the body has decomposed so much, but the ripped and punctured dress-shirt, casual sweater and slacks reveals it to be maybe a low-level intern, or something like that. No matter.
I reach for my guns, and then reconsider. I don’t have enough bullets to kill all of them. But I’ve got to get to
This is going to hurt.
I take my first step down the hallway, and just as I expected, the wurmteeth immediately jump on me. I feel
the familiar pricks of their teeth burrowing into my legs, my arms, my back and my chest. I feel them draining me while I wade through the mass of leeches, more and more of them latching on to me with more of their teeth digging into my flesh. I press forward, all the while ripping as many of them off of me as I can get my hands on, kicking as many of them off my legs as I can, stifling the grunts and screams I desperately want to let loose, lest one of these wurmteeth try to leap onto my face.
At this rate I won’t make it. I’ve got to get moving.
I break into a run and rush past the dead body. The wurmteeth have been so preoccupied with me that they
left the corpse more or less clear. The body is nothing more than a husk in tattered clothing, its cheeks sunken in with large, gaping holes where its eyes used to be. Its skin seems shriveled under the ripped uniform. I honestly can’t tell whether the person was male or female. Not that it matters now, anyway. Don’t have time to look any more closely at it; I can feel the drain of the wurmteeth heaped on me increasing. I’m running out of time.
* * *
Elijah wakes up in a cage, and can barely remember anything about himself or his situation. He fights his way alone to escape a building full of bizarre and deadly monsters, while learning disturbing truths about himself. Once he finds the way out, he has to pass it up and keep fighting to rescue his wife and child from his nemesis.
Quan Williams has previously published three other books and various short stories, as well as spending two years as a journalist for The Michigan Daily Newspaper. He studied creative writing under the tutelage of Jonis Agee, author of “Strange Angels” and “South of Resurrection.”
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