I heard shouting through the haze of fear and the encroaching blackness. I wasn’t sure if I was hearing real shouting or if it was the plants. They were beginning to constrict my legs and went for my torso. A tendril wrapped itself around my arm. I let out a scream and jerked myself to the side. I burst through the bush, but it hurt. Thorns cut through my suit and into my skin. I let out a sharp yell of pain and threw myself opposite the giant mass as it reared back from me.
There were vines everywhere and they were beginning to creep toward me. They didn’t move particularly fast but there was no clean surface in the chamber. I scrambled across the floor looking for anything to help me. I was desperately wishing that Science Techs were allowed to carry weapons. I screamed as a vine whipped across the room, suddenly building momentum, and lashed across my shoulder. I ducked my head just in time to avoid a blow across my face.
Pain radiated through me where they struck. A rain of further whip lashing came. I got onto my hands and knees and crawled across the earthen floor as I went. The shouting seemed louder and louder now. I didn’t bother looking up to see if the rest of the team had found me. I needed to find a way out of this room. I needed to escape these plants!
My palm hit something sharp, yet slightly rounded underneath me. I jerked my handd back and looked down to find a skeleton beneath me. The skull had sharp horns protruding out of it, and its teeth were razor sharp. I had sliced my palm on the teeth. I let out a little whimper and started to scrambled away. The glint of something in the bones of its hand caught my attention. A long, flat primitive knife.
I snatched it up and started to slash out at the plants. Another whip was sent crashing toward me. I whirled in a circle and slashed out with the knife. I cut it before the tendril could reach me. It ended up wrapped around my hand which I shook violently. As I did so another tendril was sent sailing toward me. It landed a blow across the side of my face, and knocked my mask free.
I let out a sharp yell and threw myself at the bush. All my logic and all my forethought had left me. Instead I was a creature of pure rage and fear; flight or fight had been triggered and fight won out. I went straight for the biggest mass of flowers. The knife slashed, hacked, and cut at vines. The thing jerked backward and I chased it. Flowers, vines, leaves, and other greenery fell on the floor around me. I stomped on vines as I went by. I stopped feeling pain as the thorns of the bush nicked me. They were distant little pinpricks.
My flesh felt cold and numb. My heart beating fast. A fire running through my veins that didn’t reach my skin. I kept cutting and slicing at the plant until it retreated to a corner of the room. I kept going. I pressed my attack further. This thing would kill me if I didn’t kill it.
I kept cutting and cutting into the plant until I found a strange red bundle inside of it. It pulsed and green dripped from little holes in it. I marveled for only a single beat of my heart, and then I stabbed the bundle as hard as I could. The plant jerked and spasmed and then began to wither and die. It went limp and attacked me no more.
I pulled the primitive blade free and looked toward it. Green dripped from the tip of it onto the floor. Leaving little puddles there. I licked my lips and raised the knife to my mouth. I thought nothing of tasting the green substance. It was spicy with just a hint of sweetness. It didn’t taste like plant. It didn’t taste like blood either. It tasted like something I might put in my food. I looked at the green substance and lowered it once more.
The world was fuzzy. My skin was cold, and I felt sweat running down my spine. I shivered and looked around the room. There was a door opposite of me. It had been covered in vines. Now there were just a few withered flowered clinging to it still. I walked over to the door and pressed my palm against it. Only the slightest of push was needed to open it.
Darkness greeted me on the other side. As did the smell of dust and old earth. Slightly damp and dank. I gave a small shake of my head and glanced upward. There was no sign of my team up at the hole. I could wait for them, or I could find my own way out.
“Into the dark.” I murmured to myself and stepped into the hallway.
The hallway stretched on until darkness swallowed it up completely and I could see no more. The ground beneath me was rough, and covered in dirt. Occasionally the loose earth gave slightly underneath my heel. I snorted a moment and kept walking until I could see no more.
I reached out and placed my hand against the wall. The knife causing a dull thudding noise when it knocked against the rough hewn surface. The blade made a low grinding noise as it ran against the wall as I walked. A low hiss of metal against stone. I smiled faintly to myself and kept walking.
Suddenly lights turned on all around me, briefly blinding me. Bright, white, and so very clear. When the blinding light cleared I found myself exactly where I had been before. A rough earth passage leading on for seemingly forever. Now, however, I could see the end of it. A very long way away there was a door like the one I had gone through.
I looked upward and could find no source of the light. It seemed to be emanating from nowhere at all. I looked at my primitive knife and then toward the door. The light was at odds with the rest of the atmosphere. I held my knife a little bit tighter and murmured to myself, “Into the light.”