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A horriﬁc steam pulp story !
! Dashiell burst through the dining room door and ﬁred off another round behind him. The creature let out a horrible shriek and stumbled into the room, collapsing onto the antique rug. It writhed in pain burying itself into the carpet, the hard beetle like plating on its body shining in the light of the moon spilling in through the high windows. Dash tuned and slowly made his way back to the creature, his pistol trained on the wounded horror as he carefully grew nearer. It was like no other animal he'd ever seen. The so-called scientists had unleashed something truly terrible this night, armoured beasts with hooves and claws and a teeth ﬁlled head of something from the deepest oceans. Dash could not help but watch the thing struggling on the ﬂoor. He hoped to never see a monstrosity like this again but could not take his eyes off of it, he was mesmerised buy its demented design. It had chased him the length of the house, separating him from the crew, snapping and screeching all the way. It truly was a horrible thing. It lifted its head off the ﬂoor and looked up towards the young captain, the tendrils on its face curled back to reveal a mouth within a mouth, each lined with a hundred razor sharp teeth. Somewhere deep within its throat a guttural click rolled out of it, growing louder as it raised its head higher off the ground. The thing snapped towards him, clamping it's teeth tightly together. Dash recoiled slightly and squeezed the trigger ﬁring one last round into its head. He watched as a thick black ooze seeped out of the creature, pooling on the rug underneath it. ! ! "What the hell are you?" Dash said as the room fell silent again. He snapped open his revolver, tipping the empty casings out into the widening pool of gore by his feet. He kept his eye on the defeated beast as his reloaded each chamber in turn. Saving his speed loaders for later. Just in case. He locked the pistol back into place with a ﬂick of his wrist and placed it back into its holster. ! ! The room was long and wide and the dining table ﬁlled most of it. A huge dark wood surface polished to a high shine, place settings and vases lined the top equal distance from each other, no doubt measured precisely by the serving staff. The walls were half wood paneling half papered. The upper half held paintings and tapestries of pervious owners and noted guests and far too many Royal sigils for Dash's taste. He admired the
room as he caught his breath, he'd had no time to take in the ﬁne decor as he ran through the maze of corridors chased by the now twitching monstrosity in a pool of dark life ﬂuid. ! ! Clouds passed in front of the moon throwing a sheet over the dining room, leaving Dash in almost complete darkness. He walked over to the high, wide window, his hand on the grip of his revolver. After the last hour in this house he was cautious of everything now. Outside, what little he could see of it in the low light, was still, not even the leaves on the trees that lined the gardens moved in the night air. He could just make out the nose of his ship, the Aurora Hawk stood silently in the distance. It seemed so far away even though it was only a few hundred feet away, he wanted desperately to be on his ship right now taking to the skies with his crew and never returning. A burst of static shot out from the radio hooked onto the back of his belt breaking the silence and pulling him back to earth. Dash sucked in air with the shock of the sound, he chided himself for being so jumpy. He needed to stay focused not get spooked by every little noise. Just the unholy ones from slick black creatures that wanted to eat him. He relaxed a little more when he heard Abigail's voice come through the metal box. ! ! "Dash? Dash, can you hear me?" Her voice sounded small and distant over the simple radio. He reached around and pulled the metal box from his belt, he depressed the spring switch and spoke. ! ! ! "I'm here Abi. You guys alright?" ! "Thank god, we're alright! Where are you?" She asked. This night was getting to
her, she could pilot you through any kind of storm or dogﬁght but she wasn't used to gun ﬁghts and monsters. She no doubt shared Dash's desire to leave this place but she alway preferred to be in the air than anywhere else.! ! ! "Dining room, which one I couldn't tell you. I can see the Hawk from here though." ! "Those guys, they aren't here any more. They stopped trying to get in a little while
ago. Have you seen them?" Over the radio, buried in static he could hear Bernhard. Dash only made out the cursing but he got the general gist of it. ! ! "Haven't seen any of the cultist but I ran into one of their pets. Nasty little beasts too." Dash turned from the window and made for the door, he only knew he'd stepped into the blood pool by the soft slapping sound under his boots. ! ! ! "Zeke is still out there somewhere, have you seen him?" She asked! "No, but we'll ﬁnd him Abi don't worry." The radio squawked again. Bernhard's rough
voice burst out the speaker. He always held it too close and distorted the sound. !
"Dash, those loons have gone but I think they're up to something. I'm gonna take
Abi and make a run for the Hawk. You should meet us there." The line crackled as he clicked open the channel. ! ! "Ok, just stay out of sight and stay quiet. Keep your eyes open for Zeke and more importantly for anyone wearing a hood. This cult has shed enough blood tonight." Dash stood by the door ready to leave once his hands were free. ! ! ! "See you out there. Stay safe kid." Bernhard said disappearing into a ﬂurry of static. ! Dash peered through the gap in the double doors out into the dark hallway he had
entered from. He checked every corner he could see and listened for the sound of footsteps or salivating jaws out in the darkness. He could hear nothing but his own breathing when he lightly pushed the door open widening the gap just enough to slip through. He held the door in position in his hand and listened again. Silence was broken, a low groaning noise moved above him and stretched to the outer walls of the building. He cocked his head when the sound shot behind him and followed it across the ceiling until he reached the far wall with an identical set of doors. The noise was spreading and growing louder and louder, the ﬂoor boards bulged up and the windowpanes juddered as something shifted on top of the house. Dash backed away from the door keeping his eyes on the ceiling, his hand holding on the the grip of his revolver. He moved around the table staying away from the window, the huge eating surface separating him from the glass. His eyes continued to follow the sound which was moving again. The light of the moon broke free of the clouds and illuminated the room once more. It was then when he saw it, whatever it was. Breaking the edge of the frame two thick black arms snaked into view. They shined like the armoured hide of the fallen pup but curled and moved with ﬁne precision. Two more followed from the sides of the window and the four huge tentacles cast shadows into the room surrounding him in a cage of arms. The moving bars of his prison clenched and the window cracked, along with the frame and the plaster around it. With the crushing grip came a deafening sound, a multilayered noise unlike anything heard before by man. It started as a deep groaning like twisted metal and travelled trough the sound spectrum to a screech of a million voices. It reverberated around the house and into Dash's head, it throbbed and pulsates inside his mind tearing at his very being, his soul and sort to replace it with a new truth. Dash stumbled when it hit him and slumped against a tall cabinet, the contents chinked and clattered together but he heard only the roaring inside his mind. He struggled to his feet and made for the door, the noise cake louder the closer he moved to his previous foe, it acted as a speaker relaying the sound, making it worse. He spun into the table and pushed himself away towards the opposite
door. His mind delved deeper into a darker place with each step he took. He thought of light to guide him and his mind went straight to her, he voice buried beneath the evil sound but there, reaching out to him. He held on to her and pressed on through the black. The sound lessened as he neared the edge of the table, his light was banishing the dark. H was nearing an end, an exit, another obstacle. ! ! In front of Dash stood a man dressed in a dark green robe which fell all the way to the ﬂoor and held in at the middle by a thick leather belt. Resting place of a wide, curved blade bearing the unmistakable stain of blood on its edge. Upon his head sat a helmet of shimmering black material much like the face of the creature which had chased Dash through the house. Tentacles curled out from all sides drawing you in to the mouth within a mouth gaping at the top of his forehead. More twisted arms hung beneath the mouth curling onto his face and around his eyes making it seem like the headwear was consuming him as well. In his hands he held a heavy tome, bound in a leather stained dark with age and held together by stitching. It had been pieced together by sections of ﬂesh, a horrid patchwork to hold dark and ancient words. At his shoulders stood two men on either side wearing the same dark green robes as he but their faces hidden under deep heavy hoods. Each man stood with a knife in hand waiting silently behind their master. ! ! "What did you do?" Dash asked lowering his hands from his head. The sound form above had lowered to a rumble moving through the walls. The shrieking had stopped but echoes of it still ran through his head. ! ! ! ! "We have saved you all." Said the High Priest, the faintest of smiles curling at the "That didn't sound like salvation to me." ! "You heard him, will you not answer his call?" The Priest stroked the twisted book corner of his mouth. !
held up to his chest with his ﬁngertips. The echoes of screaming bounced back through Dash's mind bringing within them images from the dark. It lasted as long as a blink but it felt to him like an age. "You cannot resist, He is already with you." ! ! ! "He isn't with me." Dash said drawing his revolver, he pulled back the hammer as "Oh he is, and he will be with her too soon enough." The Priest's eyes lit up and his he set his aim on the leader. ! smile grew wider as he spoke. Dash tightened the grip on his weapon and squeezed the trigger. The ﬁrst round cracked the Priests headwear, the second shattered the front entirely. The Priest collapsed to the ﬂoor still holding his tome, his chest clicked under the weight of it. As he landed another shot rang out, louder and harder than the ﬁrst two, the right most acolyte was knocked from his feet and tumbled backwards into the doorway.
Dash did not turn to look for the shooter, he focused and dropped the two hooded men to his left with one round a piece. The ﬁnal acolyte rushed forwards but was stopped short of the young captain by a bullet to his hooded head. Dash spun on the spot, his weapon still raised and searched for the second gunman. He found Ezekiel stood at the other end of the table, levering a casing out of his riﬂe. The tall, dark skinned man looked exhausted. It had been hours since Dash ahead seen him and his friend looked to have aged considerably since then.! ! ! "Zeke. Where the hell have you been?" He asked.! "Doesn't matter, we need to leave, now." Zeke said. His eyes ﬁxed on the window.
"Come on." He waved Dash closer watching never taking I his eyes off the glass and the monstrosity that clung to it. Dash checked the window himself, he had been so focused on the Priest and his men, what he'd said about, his mind had blocked out the groaning sound but now in he he quiet of the dining room he felt it rise again. Zeke looked worried, he wasn't the kind to spook easily but this had him on edge. He kept motioning for Dash to come closer but never looked at him. He was watching the black arms feel their way over the building, they clenched once more and the cracks grew larger. This thing was crushing the house. ! ! "Come on!" Zeke shouted. Dash lifted his foot to move but was pulled back by a hand on I his shoulder. When he turned he found himself confronted with the blood covered face of the High Priest. A hole sunk deep into his forehead oozing dark blood down his twisted face. His eyes had turned black and lifeless, two dolls eyes in the body of a corpse. ! ! "He will claim you all." He said in a million voices at once, all known languages and pitches ﬁghting for space and reaching into Dash's mind like the giant creature consuming this house. Dash ﬁred off a round which sunk into the possessed man's knee and phased him little. He struck Dash in the jaw and knocked the revolver from him hand, it disappeared into the gloom somewhere on his left, bouncing dully on the carpet and out of view. Dash ﬂexed his jaw, feeling out the pain. The blow had cleared his head and given him something else to focus on, keeping the drone of the great beast out of his mind was essential. Zeke ﬁred on the Priest with his riﬂe, he strode towards them levering out empty casings after each shot. The Priest took each round but kept on I his feet, his shoulders twisted and rolled with each impact. Zeke had covered half the length of the table and ﬁred half his rounds when one struck the stained leather book. The Priest cried out in pain and the room was ﬁlled with glass and dread. tentacles burst through the windows ﬂailing in all
directions. Zeke ducked under the ﬁrst but the second swept him off of his feet and ﬂung him through the air into a glass fronted case, destroying the priceless antiques inside. ! ! Dash pounced on the Priest as he writhed in pain. He pulled his airman's sword from its sheath and slashed at the book cutting into its ﬂesh. The Priest and the creature shrieked with each slice into the he book. Tentacles slammed into the ﬂoor and ceiling crushing plaster and furniture with each swing. Wood and glass littered the room as the great table broke apart, the cases and cabinets around the walls stood no chance against the immense limbs and spilled their contents like lifeblood, silver wear and bottles tumbled across the carpet bending and breaking under falling arms and debris. Dash sunk the angled tip of his short sword as deep into the binding as he could creating another torrent of rage from the beast. He twisted the blade, tearing at the ﬂesh, causing more pain. Dash grabbed the Priest by the robes and threw him to the ﬂoor, Zeke was just getting to his feet, his arms and face covered in cuts from the glass. He grabbed at a bottle as he rose, a large bottomed container with a gold leaf label. He tossed it to Dash who caught it by the neck, he spun it in his hand, pointing the fat bottom up like a club and swung at the Priest. The ﬁrst blow landed on his knuckles, several small bones crunched with the force of the hit, the second blow broke the bottle and his hand. The smell of expensive alcohol ﬁlled the air as it poured from the broken bottle. Tentacles smashed through the ceiling from above and more hammered on the exterior walls. Zeke had collected his riﬂe from where it lay and ﬁred on the tentacles inside the room, chunks of ﬂesh ripped from the limbs with each high powered round causing them to jerk and ﬂinch away. Dash stood next to the body of the possessed Priest who despite the broken hand clung to the book with all his might. He took a spark stick from the pouch on his belt and struck it against his blade. The tip erupted in a shower of embers which fell silently on ﬂood. He dropped the stick onto the fallen corpse and the ﬂames caught instantly. The two evils, inside and out, twisted in fury. The Priest rolled away trying to escape the ﬂames only to reach the liquor cabinet which took the ﬂames willingly and pushed them across the walls. The ﬂesh of the tentacles loosened and stuck to any surface they touched. Large blisters formed in seconds, puss ﬁlled sacks littered the black arms and popped in the heat of the room. Zeke scrambled over the remains of the table and joined his partner who watched as the ﬁre stripped the book clean of its ﬂammable materials. As the ﬂames grew so did the noise from the burning beasts, two creatures sharing on mind, sharing one pain. Dash spotted his revolver in the light from the ever growing ﬂames, he stepped over to it and scooped it up. He watched some more as the Priest gave up his struggle and accepted defeat from to he ﬁre. The sound that pierced his head was still there though, there was life left in the book,
he was sure of it. He pulled back the hammer, locking it in place and took aim. With the he wound from his blade and the damage from the ﬁre the tome had formed a horribly pained face on its cover, tears in the leather revealing a black shiny surface underneath. Dash ﬁred and struck the book between its two lifeless eyes and the screaming rang out to nothing. All that could be heard was the roar of the ﬁre which was taking hold of the room. Zeke placed his hand on Dash's shoulder and lead his friend away from the ﬂames. The two men left though the double doors, stepping over the bodies of the fallen acolytes. Both men had seen enough despair tonight, they needed to leave this place, to ﬁnd a light to bring them back to the world. !
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