Thinking about the echoing gunshots of the 9mm she heard earlier, Dexi wondered if Anna and Raymondo had made it out, or if they were dead. She really wanted to see them again. If they did make it out, where did they make it too? If she could only see them again...well, she wanted to make it out and down, to live through this. If not, so be it. She did not want to live that much. She could not bear the thought of end time loneliness; she had already spent too much of her life that way.
Her gas mask was long gone, and the stench was really getting to her, roiling around in her stomach, a foul so thick it was like it had been swallowed. She could taste the rot. It caused her to wrap her black bandana around her nose and mouth, and proceed onward.
The darkness was all consuming, and the small mag light only threw out the faintest of halogen glows, though it really did nothing more than light the clouds of dust and small flies that were beginning to appear amongst the piles upon piles of corpses.
The lower she went...it was even more like descending into the bowels of hell itself. The bodies seemed to increase fourfold with every new level. She was moving at quite a clip, her breathing labored, the sickly sweet putrescence of death caught so fully in her throat that she wanted to spit it out. Finally, she stopped and heaved violently into the darkness. She could hear her projectile vomiting splash off the floor, and dribble over the corpses in her path.
But she refused to stop, even for a second. Hell, she figured, I used to wander the city high on god knows what, and in those days all I would do was to turn my head, puke, and keep right on going...I can do that now.
The amount of bodies was increasing still with every floor. She tripped over a high corpse-pile she had missed, and it sent her mag light flying off into some unseen direction. Disgustedly, she jumped right up, but could feel that her front had just been soaked through with slippage from cold flesh. That awful death slime could be felt against her warm stomach and breast, almost like she had laid down naked upon the filth. She retched again, and it hurt so badly. Her stomach was more than empty, and there was no more bile or mucous or saliva to heave up. Just the pain of the dry heaves.
In total darkness now, her heart quickened and she ran, as fast as she could, jumping down several stairs at once, landing on death (death was literally everywhere), and jumping again.
She continued, jumping again, this time unexpectedly onto a large pile of the wretched and vicious rats. The squeaks turned to howls as she landed upon them, and she could feel them scurry away from her.
But that did not last long.
Dexi was stuck, her boot having gone right through the stomach of a quite putrefied specimen, and her foot had become lodged in the poor corpse-bastard’s rib cage. When she tried to jump up and continue on, she twisted her ankle and landed back flat on her stomach, draped on bodies. Rotten, wet, stinking bodies.
She heard them all come scurrying back, the rats, and she could feel their sharp claws digging pin-like into her back. Lots of them.
In no time at all she was completely enveloped in the chittering, dirty rodents, not a one of which seemed any smaller than a large cat. She could feel them claw and bite, knew that with each chomp she was being infected with some kind of bacteria, some kind of contagion...something that she knew would be so terribly painful.
She flailed her knife wildly in the darkness. She was slicing and stabbing the rodents with every swipe, but more seemed to instantaneously come upon her. She could feel their drool on her face, and also their warm blood...or was it hers?
It did not matter. The stress and panic and terror all collided as one loud and frantically thrashing movement. Her adrenaline had risen to such heights, that she could no longer feel the pain, or even the fear, of her predicament.
The sound that escaped her lips came from somewhere deep; a primal and then primordial screech of agony, hatred, and refusal to give up. It rose from within the darkest recesses of her solar plexus, of her soul. It was the hateful sound of a desperate fight for life, and the final exorcism of all her innermost nightmare demons.
THIS IS HELL.
She finally turned and wrenched her leg out of the pulpy chest cavity, accompanied by a most heinous slurp-pop of a sound, and another sickening waft of fetid death.
She jumped up, the twist in her ankle sending shockwaves of white light pain throughout her right leg, and then her whole body. She hollered, growled, cursed, then continued down through the darkness, into the great unknown that awaited her beneath.
She blitzed down the stairs like a pro football player, jumping and hopping blindly in the dark. Every now and again she would check her pockets and belt, making sure everything was still in there, that the water was still tied securely, not leaking.
Eventually, she ran headlong into a wall of rotting bodies. It was like someone had deliberately put up some hideous barricade of the dead. She kicked, pushed, stabbed at it furiously, but it was no use.
She was going to have to climb her way out.
Using her knife to dig in and get a hold, she proceeded to do just that, carefully, yet quickly. She could literally feel the bodies sluicing away to a liquid, deteriorated nothingness as she ascended the wall of death. She was completely unaware as to where the top was. She found out when she dug her knife into some corpse deeply, lifted herself over, and fell a good ten feet to the sticky-foul ground on the other side.
Now Dexi was dazed, and tired. The pain from her tumble seemed to cancel out the adrenalized, endorphin-enhanced anaesthetic qualities, and she was hurting, very, very badly. Still, she pulled herself up one more time, and noticed that she was seeing a dim, greyish light just up ahead.
She had actually made it to the bottom, to the ninth circle of hell. She looked around for Raymondo, for Anna, but saw no signs of either one, dead or alive.
She looked up at the wall of corpses behind her, now faintly visible from the faint light seeping in. It looked to Dexi like it was a frozen snapshot of people trying to escape all at once, or maybe even being chased by something. Most likely rats. But they were people trying to escape, trying to get away. Really, there was no escape. Men, women, and children all just crushed together, squashed underneath one another, all crammed into the doorway like too many cattle.
Dexi wanted to fall to her knees, to cry up at the heavens...to not be alone.
A hand reached from somewhere behind her, and Dexi turned with a severe start, her knife at the ready.