By Richard Barrett
Lawson woke to pitch blackness. His hard eyes slitted and he sprang up like a panther.
He could smell a dank stench of rot. He was crouched, tiger-like, upon cold stone. His jacket, shirt, and tie had been ripped from his body.
His hard eyes adjusted to the darkness, and his vision grew clearer. He was in a chamber of black stone, a domed ceiling rising high above the small cloister.
He shot a glance downward. He was on crouched upon a bed of rock about three feet above the ground. To his right was a wall. To his left was another bed of rock…upon it lying the convulsing form of a girl.
Her every fiber trembling in terror. He leapt from his perch and approached her side.
She was lithe and white with a mass of black hair crowning her lovely head. She was high caste, with cheek bones set high, framing immaculate smooth ivory skin of pure snow. Her eyes were dark deep wells of terror whimpering fear, drowning over deep duty and sadness.
Help me those lovely dark wells begged.
So that’s what this was, Lawson thought. Some temple complex, dedicated to the sick twisted murder by some sick sadistic alien species. That common practice among the barbaric alien types beyond the stars—blood lust for the other races.
Lawson’s eagle eyes glinted laconic to the girl.
“Don’t worry,” he commanded. “I won’t hurt you.”
Her head tilted tentatively, slowly nodding.
“Can you walk?”
Again she nodded.
Lawson picked her lithe frame up as if it was nothing. The deep dark wells looked longingly into his laconic slitted gaze.
“What’s your name?” he questioned.
She shook her head ferociously.
“No name.” She pointed a lithe finger to her breast. Her voice was heavily accented.
Lawson nodded, drinking in her beauty in.
“Alright,” he said. “How about I give you one?”
A light began to glow in the deep dark wells as a smile began to play at her thin, lithe lips.
“I like a that.”
“Alright,” he said, listless. “How about…Vivacity?”
Her countenance gave way to perplexity.
“Why would you call me that?”
He grinned and his eagle eyes gleamed.
“Because,” he said. “There’s something about you that–under, happier circumstances–you’re passionate. And vibrant.”
She smiled radiantly and suddenly her deep dark wells shone with the light of a million stars from the bottom of her soul.
“Thank you,” she said pleadingly. “Thank you!”
Suddenly, her head tilted and her brow cocked quizzically, puzzled.
“What…” she stammered. “What is your name?
“Lawson Fuller,” he said. Like it was nothing he set her lithe frame upon the rock again and his glinting blue eyes stared straight into her soul.
She grinned impishly now, like a devilish little she-sprite.
“Now,” he said. “Who—or what—is keeping you here?”
Suddenly her head shot back and her eyes became deep wells of horror, warning and begging distance.
“Monsters!” she whispered. “Monsters!” She gazed into the blackness before shooting her head forward, meeting his steely gaze desperately to ward him off. “Like you have never seen.”
Quickly he grasped her body from the stone bed and cradled her like a cat. He looked down at her gravely.
“Did they hurt you?”
She gazed downward to the floor–like a cat that had been chastised by its master.
Suddenly a screeching sound filled the room. Lawson’s eagle eyes darted across the room.
A slithering sound, puckering and slimy came up ahead.
Two, no! Three! Now four! tentacles of wet pink muscle squirmed their way upward above the bed of stone, inching menacingly toward the two figures.
Lawson pushed Vivacity behind him and he leapt upon the bed of rock toward the thing. Over the side to see a crawling slowly upon four limbs, swathed in black, the tentacles extending from its puckering slit for a mouth, its eyes an otherworldly pale yellow as its skin of translucent aqua green covered a thick skull that seemed to raise with contours of one! No two! human brains!
Lawson sprang from above for its head as he grasped the bony neck of the skull with his right and slammed his speared fingertips of his left into its sick sallow eye sockets. Again and again and again he slammed into it as it shrieked in pain, reeling back.
Now Lawson was on his feet as he slammed the skull upon the ground and let loose his vice grip and stomped on the massive misshapen skull again and again with his black steel shoe heels.
The creature screamed with the sound of a banshee as it hissed venomously in rage, its tentacles going convulsing limply as its skull smashed into bits.
Brain matter and bile poured out as Lawson stepped back gravely. His blue eyes glinted, darkly satisfied with his handiwork.
Suddenly, the screeching sound returned—followed by slow, rhythmic clapping that echoed through the dark chamber.
The creature’s hissing faded, its resistance to death decreased, and slowly all the surroundings now began to fade…the beds of rock, the black walls, the domed ceiling of stone, even the putrid odor disappeared.
Lawson’s gaze slitted hard as he spun around behind him like a tiger read to strike strike—and ever slowly, the girl gazing upon him, longingly reaching out from the other side of the altar, faded into thin air.
The images gave way to laboratory of buttons and metallic machines against the walls of dark mahogany, well-lighted by glowing yellow bulbs that hung from the ceiling and the walls.
Suddenly an oak-smoked voice spoke.
“Very good Capt. Fuller,” the voice said. “You’re the man for our job.”
The voice had the grainy quality of being projected through a speaker.
Lawson’s blue eyes slitted laconic, hard.
They had no fear.
“And what job’s that?” he challenged.
“You’ll see,” see said the voice.