Behind Door #1


7/9/20233 min read

The tavern's festivities had soured into a grotesque reveal, the jovial banter and celebratory cheers devolving into a menacing, guttural chant. They were no longer simple folk, but monsters masquerading as humans. My pulse thrummed in my ears as Fitt and I tried to stand our ground, our hands instinctively going for our guns.

Our hearts pounding, we tried to maintain a facade of composure, but I could see the fear mirrored in Fitt's eyes - it was a stark reflection of my own. We were surrounded, outnumbered by this fiendish horde. We squeezed off a couple of warning shots, hoping to startle them, create a diversion, but their bloodcurdling laughter in response was anything but reassuring.

Before we could react, strong, rough hands were yanking our guns away, our protests muffled by the pandemonium around us. Resistance was futile as our hands were bound tight behind our backs, and we were swept up in a wave of bodies, carried towards a hidden door at the back of the stage.

The door opened onto a narrow, steep stairwell that plunged into the bowels of the earth, hidden beneath the bustling tavern. The air grew colder, damp and heavy with a stench that twisted my stomach - the unmistakable smell of decay. We were herded downwards, our captors' grim satisfaction echoing around us.

Fitt managed to lean close, his voice strained, "Moe, we're knee-deep in it this time." Despite the tremor in his voice, I could hear the spark of defiance. "But we've got out of worse, right?"

He was right. We had faced down pirates, rogue asteroids, even a near-catastrophic ship malfunction, but this was a whole new level of hell. Still, giving up wasn't in our vocabulary. A reckless plan began to form in my mind. "On my signal, we move," I muttered back, praying to the universe that our luck hadn't entirely run out.

Our escorts had grown complacent. Their grip on us loosened just enough for me to make my move as we descended a tight, winding bend in the passageway. With a grunt, I pivoted, driving my shoulder into the unsuspecting guard on my left. The surprise and force of my attack were enough to knock him off balance, and he tumbled down the stairs with a yelp of surprise.

Seizing the opportunity, Fitt delivered a swift kick to our remaining guard's knee. The man crumpled with a howl of pain, dropping his gun. Fitt dove for it, his fingers closing around the cold metal just as the fallen guard tried to regain his footing. A well-placed kick sent the man sprawling back down the stairs.

"We need to move," I managed, my breath coming in ragged gasps. Scooping up the second guard's dropped gun, I nodded towards the deeper darkness of the corridor. "Now."

Running on adrenaline and sheer terror, we fled through the labyrinthine underground. The once distant shouts of alarm were growing louder, spurring us onwards. The deeper we went, the less human this place felt. It was a realm of nightmares, a den of inhumanity where the air was tainted with death and suffering.

Eventually, we skidded to a halt in front of a large, rusted iron door. A shiver raced down my spine. What horrors were yet to come? With a deep breath, I pushed the door open, stepping into an unknown horror.

My heart pounded, blood roaring in my ears as I took in the sight before us. It was a sight that no man should ever bear witness to, a sight that burned itself into my memory, a tableau of the grotesque and horrifying. It wasn’t just a tavern; it was a slaughterhouse. My feet were rooted in place, my eyes unable to look away from the shocking spectacle that laid bare the true nature of our captors.