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The leather pack weighs heavy on his shoulder as he trudges over the rocky terrain. Occasionally he balances himself by grabbing hold of one of the many trees that have grown so closely together their roots must be suffocating each other.

For a brief moment, he stops to wipe his brow and to listen to the sounds of the forest. He hears a squirrel scurrying along a tree branch to his right and a group of birds chirp in manic conversation somewhere in the distance. Otherwise, he hears nothing, which is in some ways a relief. He is not being followed and perhaps his presence has gone unnoticed.

The late afternoon heat has sapped some of his strength and he eagerly awaits the comfort that nightfall should bring even if it will hide the marks that he is pursuing. Along the ground is a trail made by the body that they drug and sporadically he discerns errant drops of blood. They had been careful but not quite enough.

He continues forward hoping to find his prey before midnight but he doubts he will be that lucky. Somewhere to his left he hears a small cracking sound and the sudden patter of fast moving feet. Fearful, he grabs at his hip and the only weapon he has time to brandish.

The waves of heat blurred his vision and dulled his senses. Still, Jordan was one of the best the company had. Jordan crouched behind a large tree, His gun raised and ready to fire. He scoured the landscape and reached out as far as he could with his hearing, trying desperately to pinpoint the source of the sound. And there it was again. Jordan was ready for it this time and managed to get the direction of it. By the sounds of it, Jordan was pretty sure he’d found what he was looking for. He sat quietly, listening, taking in all the details. Despite the heat, Jordan’s sense made quick work of the sensory input.

There were five, maybe six of them just over the ridge to the north. If his memory served, that put them at the mouth of the old mines. Those caves went on for miles. Which means Matthew had been right, they were setting up camp out here. Suddenly, Jordan realized that maybe he should have let the others come. If there is a lair down there, he could use all the help he could get.

Though the government was probably somehow involved in this, the company always ends up cleaning up these things. The government always called the company to deal with stuff like this. After decades of playing God, you would think people would learn. No, Jordan was just as happy that he was the only one here. He wouldn’t have to worry about anyone else getting in the way. If this was indeed a lair things could get really messy.

Jordan could remember when this would seem strange even to him. Jordan’s daughter would turn 16 today if she was still alive. Jordan always volunteered for missions around this time of year. No one ever questioned him. In the 15 years he’s been with the company, he’s the only person who’s gone into a lair alone and made it out alive. Not once, not twice, but over 30 times. Jordan was a spook for the government for nearly 20 years. Drafted from the army during Vietnam, he was put through nearly every covert government project you can think of. Most of his co-workers can’t stand to be around him. Jordan was the kind of career agent that everyone heard about and was glad they were on our side but no one wanted to be in the same room with him.

The rumors at the company make him sound like some sort of ghost agent or psychopathic renegade. Jordan and his superiors at the company know what kind of person it takes to do what he did. And it’s exactly the kind of person they needed for this. Jordan’s wife had left him after their daughter was taken. He couldn’t tell her what really happened. He couldn’t even tell her the truth, that their one year old daughter was dead. But he knew and it drove him further away from the rest of humanity.

Jordan could here his mark settling in, probably getting ready to make camp. He looked around to make sure no one was this far out on patrol. Jordan slowly moved several meters away from the cave’s entrance. He’d need to get ready for what he had to do. He had to make sure he wouldn’t be interrupted. After carefully putting enough distance between himself and his enemy, Jordan again took cover. Years ago, Jordan had been recruited by a black ops division of the government that dealt with paranormal activities. He could remember thinking it was some sort of a joke. But the guys who recruited him even gave Jordan the chills. And after the things they showed him, Jordan was a believer. Years of training taught him to do things other people only dreamt about. They had told him he was a latent psionic. That the reason he’d been so successful in most of his missions was his ability to use his senses far beyond that of normal people and at times, influence others minds, emotions and even senses. His training with the company had taught him to use these gifts on demand. The long trek into these mountains, in this heat had left Jordan exhausted. He knew he’d need all his strength for what was to come. He took out his pistol once again, and took off his pack. He took out his gear and started prepping it for the battle. Carefully placing everything in easy reach so he could get to it while he was fighting. He’s done this so many times it took him only moments to get ready. He still needed to give his body and his mind time to rest. He really wished he’d found these things earlier. Nightfall would be here soon and then there would be more of them.

Jordan sat behind some rocks and trees so that no one could see him. There was only one way to approach him, which left him free to concentrate. He opened his mind, reached out with his senses to make sure he was still alone and that his prey was still where he’d left them. Once he was sure he was safe, Jordan began to meditate, and remember. It was 16 years ago today. Jordan and his wife had taken their new daughter Angela camping. Angela had been playing with some other kids while Jordan and his wife Lisa were talking with some of the other campers. It wasn’t long before there was a scream and everyone went running to the playground. Angela was gone. At first it seemed that she’d been kidnapped, and that’s still what Lisa believes to this day. Jordan had found out what really happened. Those things had taken her, killed her and turned her. Jordan found out while clearing out a lair near the camping grounds. It nearly cost him his life. He entered the lair where it was to be a simple sweep and clear. He’d done it time and again. But when he entered one of the chambers, there was Angela, and she turned to attack him. He froze and she nearly killed him before he did what he had to, and killed his own daughter. He knew it wasn’t really her anymore, still. Jordan was never the same. Jordan always recalled this memory before he went to do what he had to. His job. It was nearly midnight now and Jordan was well rested, and ready get this over with. He reached out again with his mind and could hear his enemy moving around. They were still there, but that would soon change.

Jordan eased up to the entrance to the cave undetected. After getting his bearings on where everyone was, he rushed the camp. In seconds he had killed the five of them who’d seemed to be left out here to keep guard. Jordan paused one more time before going in.

“I fucking hate zombies” Jordan said, and went in.


------
Chrispian H. Burks
Lit.Org Owner / Founder
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Comments

The following comments are for "Write Off: Into the Cave"
by Chrispian

Zombies!!
Crowe,
I really liked this story. It may have been because I really like zombies, one of my favorite monsters (right up there with vampires). This was a good story even if I didn't get to see more of these nasty little flesh-eaters.
Later,
Dras

( Posted by: Drastine [Member] On: April 22, 2002 )

Good one
Man, you got tons of background info into a short read. A fine job at that.

It was an interesting way to tell the story, but I would rather have seen a little more action on the his present 'mission'.

The Hal

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: April 22, 2002 )

excellent
I was very impressed with the writing in the story and to a lesser extent, with the concept. The twist, or explanation at the end, was very well planned. It was written so you could continue with a book and keep the reader's interest. The only thing I have to suggest is that maybe less is more. Sometimes, you would say something very effectively and then you would talk more about it and in the end, saying less. For instance, in your description of Jordan's reputation, if you'd left it with "Jordan was the kind of career agent that everyone heard about and was glad they were on our side but no one wanted to be in the same room with him," it would have been extremely effective. But you muddled the mystery by going on with "psycopathic renegade" and "ghost agent", descriptions that are less compelling than what the average human imagination would fill in the blank with. Anyway, overall, it's a very compelling story and it's easily better than Beckett Grey's story with the same beginning. I wasn't sure I really understand the nature of the competition there, if there is one.

( Posted by: Seanspacey [Member] On: April 23, 2002 )

To Sean
The Write Off is an exercise where two writer's are given the same story starter, usually written by moi, and they complete it by adding no more than 1200 words to it. The members of Lit.Org than vote or rate the stories based on creativity, grammar or whatever else the choose. It's a very fun exercise for the competitors and it's instructive for the readers to see how two separate minds can start in the same place, but end miles apart.

If you click the "Write Off" Button at the top of the home page you can see all of the previous entries and read over them. I really liked the one between Crowe and Highly Imflammable Man and the one between Beckett and Hal. But you can check them all over for yourself. Next friday, I'll declare a winner in the forum by taking an average of all the scores posted.

If you have any other questions please e-mail me at Parteepants@lit.org. Thanks for voting and giving me the opportunity to explain this competition again to all of the newer members.

Parteepants

( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: April 23, 2002 )





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