Chapter 2: Hell House
Disclaimer: Most emphatically, NOT MINE!
AN: For anyone who has never heard of Hellgate: London, it is a computer game based on the idea that a demon world has merged and taken over the human one. There are groups of resistance fighters that you encounter during the game. I don't know if I'm going to stick to Hellgate missions or not yet. Anything else, like characters, places, abilities, I will explain more as Xander begins to find out.
AN2: I know nothing about the geography in London beyond what is shown in the game. So please forgive my errors, I've never been to or seen maps of the city.
The small frisson of happiness Xander felt at killing the zombie had faded. Although he was still determined to survive, he had to take stock of his situation.
Was he alive or dead? Xander remembered dying. Remembered his drunken father finally finishing what he'd threatened to do so many times before. Even after all Xander had been through, he hadn't believed his own father would kill him. But Tony Harris did. He came into the basement and without so much as an insult Daddy Dearest had plunged a knife between his second and third rib and proceeded to let his only child bleed to death on the dirty floor. The feeling of helpless and filth wouldn't soon fade for Xander. Thinking back, Xander decided he wasn't dead, 'cause he was pretty lively for a corpse. Plus having a heartbeat and feeling pain ruled out reanimation and vamphood. So, Xander decided to consider himself miraculously, or demonically, healed.
Which brought up the fact that he was alone, half-naked, and stranded in unknown territory, add to that the demons that were roaming around and Xander was pretty much screwed. Deciding that thinking about the big picture was causing a near melt down to happen in his brain, Xander was concentrating on more immediate goals. He decided to scout out the building he was in. If there were more of these things, he didn't want to share a house with them.
Glancing around the room, Xander guessed it was a basement; he saw a box in the corner. When he looked inside Xander found a weird type of vest. It appeared to be made of panels of metal that were stitched inside pockets of the material. There were hooks on the side that indicated how it was taken on and off. The material itself was black and had a nylon feel to it. Obviously, it was made to not rip with the weight of the metal. Xander wondered what type of people had lived in this house to have armor lying around in the basement.
With this piece of good fortune, Xander hadn't decided if being alive was good or not yet, he drew the armor over his head and buckled it on the side. Moving around he felt the fabric grab on his healing wound and the metal sometimes pinched at his skin, but it was better than going around without anything on. Finding something to wear underneath this would make it more comfortable and keep his wound from tearing open. But before any of that, he had to search the other floors of the house.
Standing, Xander pivoted to view the basement on more time. The zombie still lay were it had fallen earlier. He refused to think about person that thing had been, now just rotting muscle and sagging skin. God, please don't let me end up like that poor bastard, Xander thought. After procrastinating long enough, he made his way to the stair case he'd jumped from earlier. Quietly, Xander placed one foot the steps and began to climb. As he walked, Xander trained his eyes on the parts of the room he that could be seen.
The room was in surprisingly good condition. During is sprint to the basement, he hadn't taken the time to survey the rest of the house. This had been a living room at one time. There was no blood or bodies, just a ripped and torn sofa that was pushed against a door. The doorway he'd come in had been torn, or blown, open. Keeping his back to the wall, Xander listened. He heard the faint sound of wind crawling through the house and the distant clank of the flying demons. Nothing from inside, not that it particularly reassured him. Besides the barricaded door, there was an archway that led into the rest of the house.
The door or the archway first, Xander deliberated. For whatever reason someone blocked that door, it hasn't gotten out, or in, yet. Let's deal with the rest of the house before asking for more trouble. Nodding to no one, Xander moved towards the archway. One foot in front of the other, he crept forward.
Reaching the archway, he pressed his back to the wall. Quickly, Xander stuck his head around the arch to scout ahead. It was a hallway that stretched about twelve feet, opening into a kitchen area. Xander proceed forward into the kitchen, glancing in both directions before emerging from the hallway. There was not much left in either room, just the ruins of a former family home. He could see another staircase leading up and a door. Moving towards the door, he paused to listen before opening it, a bathroom. The faint smell of blood and the odor of bodily excretions showed that there hadn't been running water for quite a while. Xander avoided looking into the cracked and broken mirror; he didn't need any reminders of himself at the moment.
Exiting the bathroom, he moved to the staircase. Up the stairs Xander went. He was confronted by an L-shaped hallway. There were two doors down one branch straight ahead and three down the right. He walked forward to the furthest door. Opening it, Xander found a bedroom. There was no bed, only a pile of rags and paper; a few scattered boxes completed the room. Xander decided to finish clearing the rest before looking for goods. The next door held a similar set up, rags and boxes.
Returning to the stairs, Xander started down the last hallway. Door number one was another bathroom, in slightly better condition than the downstairs. Door two was a closet. Looking at the final door, he took a deep breath and entered.
All over the place there were clippings from newspapers and handwritten notes. Each one proclaimed a variation of the same theme: The World is Ending, Demons Walk the Earth, and Hellgates Open. Xander was stunned. Was it possible that he wasn't in hell, but on Earth? Before he could investigate, something caught his attention.
The distant sound reached Xander's ears. Fear paralyzed him. He couldn't decided what to do, as he panicked. When he didn't hear the sound a third time, Xander exhaled loudly. Slowly he turned towards the open door. As much as he wanted to deny what the noise, he couldn't. Not if he wanted to take the chance that there was something inside that would kill him. So, he went forward. The sound had originated from downstairs, he was certain. It was too low to have been on the same floor, plus it would have eaten him as he'd become less vigilant on the second floor. Now, down the rabbit hole I go.
Xander stood at the head of the stairs. He didn't want to do this. Never before had he felt so alone. No friends, no slayers, no weapons, all he had was his will to survive. It had to be enough. He wouldn't die here. The descent was brutal. Every step he took sounded like an explosion, every breathe like a hurricane. Finally, he reached the bottom.
Nothing in the kitchen, instead of relieving some of the tension, it only escalated. As he moved towards the shadowed hallway, Xander fell.
Heart beating a fast tattoo, Xander jumped up and looked around to see if anything would attack him. Nothing. Then, he looked at the floor were he tripped. What he saw almost made him smile: a rusty, chipped kitchen knife. It was one of the cheap ones that you by at Walmart it a ten pack, basically a sharp butter knife, but to Xander it was like someone had set a Twinkie in front of him. Snatching it up, he began once again to walk.
As he reached the end of the hallway, Xander peered into the living room. Nothing was different. There was nothing moving around. Beginning to breathe normally, he went to check the stairs to the basement. Focusing his eyes forward, he looked at the couch. Something seemed off, different. It was still worn down, more wood than cushion, but it bothered him.
Nearly falling backwards Xander cursed. That fucking door! Something was the door the sofa stood against. And it wanted out. Now he knew what was wrong. The sofa had fucking moved. Whatever was behind it was getting out. Xander had very few options. Although the beating had stopped, he knew there was something there. He couldn't leave it, the sofa would only stop it for so long. If he tried to find somewhere else to hide, there might be worse things waiting for him. So, he had to kill it, without knowing what it was or how to hurt it. No problem.
Xander decided to wait for the thing to get out. As it moved into the room, he would ambush it. Slowly Xander took a position met to the door, pressed into the wall. Just as he was about to move into a crouch, with a final bang door opened and the sofa fell apart. However, nothing came out. There was only silence as Xander waited in fear.
Suddenly he felt a tug on his ankle as he landed on his back and was dragged into the room. Not able to see his surrounding, he concentrated on what had grabbed him. It looked like a mutated lizard. It was red with horns and spikes all over its body. The things razor teeth were clenched around Xander's ankle as it dragged him forward. The thing was the size of a large dog and its eyes glimmered at him in the dark. There was an alien hunger in those eyes, for flesh, for meat, for Xander.
Pulling his free leg back, Xander let a hard kick loose at the beast's head. Crying out it let go. Scrambling backward, Xander darted towards his dropped knife. As he grabbed it, the beast pounced on his back, sinking fangs into his shoulder. Xander screamed and shoved his knife at the things face. The glancing strike cut its face and made it let go. Twirling to face it, Xander kept his hand with the knife forwards and tried to protect his wounded shoulder. It darted forward to scratch at Xander's chest, but the armor deflected most of the strike. The thing was fast, almost too fast for him. There was no way he'd be able to get to it to damage it and get out without it killing him. So, the thing had to come to him.
Thinking, Xander feigned to the left. The lizard lunged forward, as Xander pushed himself to fall on the floor. Then, it was on him. As it moved in to rip out his throat, Xander shoved the knife into its stomach and dragged up. Warm liquid washed over his chest as the thing died. Pushing, Xander was able to roll the dead thing off him. Standing up, he was finally able to look around. Running out the room, Xander started throwing up in the remains of sofa. Whatever bad things he thought he'd seen were nothing images that were permanently lodged inside his brain. He hadn't know the meaning of the word meat before now. Meat was inside that room. It was that woman who had been eviscerated and insides eaten until you could see that her spine had teeth marks on it. It was the strips of skins that were littered around the room like birthday wrappings. It was face of a tiny child that was missing her tiny child arms and legs.
This was the world now. All horrors and shade and meat, he lived here. Xander would live here because he had no choice. And because he was going to kill them, it may not be heaven but this world had given him anger and hatred. Anger enough to kill all the demons that thought they could do this to humans, to children. All would pay for this. Xander would see to it.