My Terror Tuesday is ready! Believe me when I say it is hot and steamy!
THE MISTS OF PAPOOSE POND
Chapter Twenty Nine
The liquid weapon the Dark Angel has conjured up moves swiftly through the trees and attacks his own troops first, carrying them towards us, their bodies washing about like rag dolls: undead rag dolls. Shit, this reminds me of fishing on the West Branch of the Penobscot River back in the sixties when you would be wading in the river and noticed pieces of bark floating downstream towards you. That was a sign to get the hell out of the water because logs, big logs, would come floating down next, due to the opening of the gates below the dams to shoot them downstream.
These are no logs coming at us, though. Zombies, untold numbers of them, will soon crash into us. Undead as they are, they will continue to fight us, bite us, and tear out at us, as they have nothing to fear from the raging torrents other than a loss of mobility. The living, on the other hand, can be torn apart by these crazed creatures. Or we can drown.
The options suck.
Some of the water, along with the zombies, falls into the many fissures scattered around, but there are not enough of them, nor are they deep enough to hold all the water back, and the wall advances towards us.
Water hitting the bottom of the fissures turns to steam, clouding our visual perception of exactly where the main thrust of the advancing torrents are and the Zombies accompanying them. My sense of touch, and the fact I can peek into the minds of the undead rushing towards us gives me a leg up, but that one leg is not the ultimate weapon we need to avoid this cataclysm.
Openings in the ground, created by my webbed soldiers, draw huge amounts of swirling water into them. My buddies are diverting the remainder of the water deep down into the tunnels below. Shit, my mind tells me this is some previously destined method of dealing with a natural calamity, only now it is directed at a totally unnatural event: one caused by the Dark Lord.
Mere feet from where we stand, expecting the worst, swirling eddies send water and the undead down below. We escape harms way by the very smallest of margins.
But still, I reach out with my machete, disabling the bastards that I can before they take an unexpected swim below. My forces, including those of the undead on the side of God, follow suit. The water turns bright crimson from the blood lost from both sides, but a spinning vortex in each aperture quickly takes the evil ones from our sight.
"Stay topside!" I shout to my human troops. "I'm taking the good Zombies with me into the bowels of the Earth to do what we need to do to destroy Satan's minions. The rest of you can stay topside and destroy anyone or thing coming after us. You will have the Angels of the Lord on your side. Tom can direct the topside battle."
Tom stares at me, not exactly wanting to be in the position I'm putting him in but knowing some leadership on the surface is needed. He nods at me, and I take our Zombie forces with us to finish the job we need to do.
Okay, part of the reason I am directing the below ground battle is to make certain that Louise is safe, but the main thrust of the war is taking a decided turn, and I need to become a part of it. My friends will take care of Louise. They tell me so with their thoughts. Some will stay topside and some will show me their engineering marvels.
We follow the receding water deep below the surface, staying behind only enough to make certain the groadies don't escape the treat we have in mind for them. Some we have to shove back in to the water so they will be carried to their new home. The Zombie ghosts and the undead of the Lord will convert some of them, but not before they reach a state of being where that is possible.
Wails of anguish encircle us, coming from both sides, but the attack and pursuit does not end. Both sides . . .yes, both sides are losing warriors, and more will be lost, but it must be. This is a war of attrition. Hopefully, the losses will be less on our side. Their forces outnumber us. We must be smarter and use our weapons to the utmost.
The paths taking the water down below have been constructed well; so well that no water flows in to the caverns, but instead, follows a path along the wall, carrying the enemy farther and farther down, the heat rising with each level we descend to. Heat and steam, along with the stench of burning flesh, assault our senses. It is not easy continuing with these impediments, but we must persevere. For the first time, I sense a kinship to my webbed friends in regards to seemingly human traits. Maybe . . .maybe they are more human than I thought.
Steam; a powerful force, and it is ripping the flesh from the Zombies, turning them into charred bits of flesh which eventually become ash, the same results as we were getting from our other supposedly high-tech methods of destruction. My Zombie ghosts work on converting the Dark ones to our side, and it works better down here than topside where the presence of Satan wields a much stronger influence.
If anything, it is hotter right now than it was before, the water hitting the magma below us and instantly turning to super heated liquid reaching temperatures far above the boiling point because of the pressure. This is steam like I can barely comprehend, the pressure slamming against the walls like the strongest caliber rifle ever designed by man. But this rifle fires bullets of hot destruction lethal to all it touches.
Shit! No second chances here. One slip into the bottom of this confab of nature run amuck, and it's all over. No one can survive this: neither the dead, the undead, or those alive; at least as alive as we can be at a time like this.
The battle runs nip and tuck, the demonic Zombies not wanting to slip below and reach the end of their existence, and my guys feeling the same. I feel sad for my webbed friends, able to read their minds, knowing this heat is not what they are suited for, their bodies much more adapted to watery, cooler environments. Yet, they silently fight to the best of their abilities, enduring the pain, even as they are on the verge of total collapse.
Even though my mind tells me it's a bad move, my heart tells me this battle has to end soon or my friends will not make it. They will go on a quick trip to Heaven, no questions asked. But I know they are not ready yet, not any more than I am. We want to take the fight to the bastards from Hell for as long as we can, me even more than them since I passed on Rapture. I could have a long wait to go to Heaven.
Sucks for me.
My lungs . . .my fucking lungs are burning more the deeper I go, but what choice do I have? I have to do what I can to end this. If my lungs are searing, my friends are in even worse shape. Sweat pours from me, dripping down like the water against the walls just moments before, hitting the magma below, and adding to the steam. My vision is totally obscured by the steam added to the vaporization of blood coming from the combatants on both sides. The glow . . .the glow of the red death permeates the caverns we pass through and intensifies the deeper we go, reminding us that our life force hangs in a tenuous balance.
Though the heat is taking a toll on me, I can not stop. Stopping would lead me into an even more vulnerable position. Alert! I must stay focused and alert. I need to remain an example for my troops.
The walls become hotter the deeper I go. I can barely stand to touch the hot rock because the stench of my burning flesh makes my stomach turn sour, threatening to empty its contents on all those around me.
"Fuck it, Ed!" I think. "Stop being a pussy. Do what needs to be done. If you weasel out now, it's all over."
Words of wisdom, spoken to Ed by Ed. I better fucking listen.
The nearness of the absolute limits I can endure are near, so close the pressure threatens to take away my stability and knock me to the ground, or worse yet: into the chasm waiting below where I will vaporize the same as the others, my ashes to flit about like so much worthless dust, reducing me to a spirit totally bereft of any physical attachment.
I battle back, knocking the thoughts from my head, becoming more lucid. Yes, the mental strength comes back, and with it a return to the warrior that is Ed. I slash and twist and shove my enemy in to the depths of their final agony.
Once more, I have won! My enemy has been vanquished!
Turning to get away from the heat and back to a more hospitable and compatible place of existence, a hand reaches up from below and grabs me by my ankle, pulling me down towards the depths below.
"Oh, Mr. Ed, you don't want to leave now, do you? I think you need to embrace the friends who have not survived this rather grueling toe to toe encounter. A true general is not afraid to give his all for those he leads into battle. They owe him and he owes them."
Maniacal laughter fills the air around me.
The hand pulls harder, and I slip towards the abyss . . .