Alone in the Darkness

Jo peered down yet another identical corridor: it was dark enough that she could barely see with her helmet’s night-vision (and she didn’t want to risk using her torch, not with those things around), and she the ceiling was too high up to make out. It was silent, but that didn’t mean she was safe.

She thought about swearing, but held herself back – she had maybe fifty bullets left. Not nearly enough.

Fuck, she thought. She should have left when she had the chance: now she was lost. She’d run out of food or her suit’s oxygen would get too low or – worst of all – there’d be the skeletal hand on the shoulder. Maybe in a hundred years some archaeologist would find her.

‘H— hello?’ came the voice in her ear. Jo had the sound level on her comm-bead turned down as low as it would go, but still the voice made her jump. She placed a foot down hard to balance herself, and the sound echoed out through the hallway. ‘Are you still there?’

Bloody civilians, she thought. What part of ‘radio silence’ was so hard to understand? She started moving her hand up to her ear, to send a single beep in response, but then…

‘Sergeant,’ she whispered, hand half-way to her head. It was him – Booker – it was his survival suit. He was standing perfectly still, at the other end of the corridor.

But he hadn’t been there before. Jo lowered her arm, raised her gun. Slowly, slowly, she backed away.

‘What was that?’ came the voice of Dr. Simmons.

‘Shut up,’ said Jo, a little louder than she intended, and Booker turned to look at her.

It was hard to see in the dark, of course. Even with her helmet’s night-vision, Jo could barely make out the crack along the front of his helmet. Haltingly, like a puppet on a string or a man wearing stilts for the first time, Booker took a step towards her. Then another, faster, and another, and then he was running at her.

‘Shit,’ she said, and opened fire. ‘Shit, shit, shit!’

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