Sam 'Ollie' Oliver
Down the Rabbit Hole
A flash of violet coloured lightning streaked across the crusted cheap carpet, leaving a single wisp of pinkish purple smoke to rise up from the ground, winding its way towards the ceiling. Moments passed before another round of lightning struck again, tearing off in a different direction. Then another and another, each round coming in quicker and brighter than the last. Paper began to dance in the air, desks and chairs were upended as anything not nailed down flew across the room. The force from the event grew stronger, until a final blinding flash of light lit up the former office space.
Left in its stead was a man lay face down on the charcoal covered floor. It sizzled as Ollie groaned and shifted about. The detective could feel an immense pressure squeezing his mind, like a headache but on crack. His chest was heavy, seemingly glued to the ground, as if someone was trying to drag out his soul. Where was he? Had he died and gone to hell?
Pushing himself onto his hands and knees, Ollie made an attempt to open his eyes. His world spun, not just his vision but his emotions too, as if his entire body was circling in a drain of depression and anger. Shifting his weight, he tried to wipe the discomfort from his face, before trying again to open his eyes. Perhaps it didn’t matter, wherever he was, it was too dark to make out anything significant anyway. Instead the detective opted to flip over onto his backside and wait out the spin.
The air was thick, laced with a potent odor, stuffing it’s way up the detective’s nostrils. Ollie’s nose wrinkled as the rest of his face contorted. Everything was off, like someone had taken his world and shifted it, leaving everything crooked and out of place. How long it took for his eyes to adjust was anyone's best guess but eventually his vision came together with the rest of his senses following along. Finally.
He thought to himself. Now where am…
Ollie froze, inhaling sharply, unable to even finish the thought. What. The. Fuck.
Disbelief hit the man hard as his eyes darted around the room. The building was in shambles, it looked like a bomb had gone off but hundreds of years ago. Just metres from him the ground opened up, as vines snaked their way up from the floor below, growing through whatever was in their way. But they weren’t the type of creeping plants you’d find in a rainforest, it was like someone had taken tar, stretched it like licorice laces and banded them together. They dripped wet with thick black ooze and whatever didn’t fall through the crack, pooled, emanating a kind of faint, dark pulse, that slowly danced in line with the beat of his heart.
The vines were everywhere, a perverted form of nature had reclaimed the building with barely a cubicle left standing. A soft breeze rolled in through a huge chunk of missing wall, exposing the outside world. Thunder rumbled off in the distance, as flashes of lightning silhouetted everything around the room.
Ollie’s jaw had dropped so far that it was attempting to unhinge itself. His brain was rejecting the images reflected by his eyes and his skin began to turn ghostly white. The detective's body screamed retreat, urging him to crawl into a fetal position. Moments away from obeying, his right arm began to tingle. It was kind of like someone was lightly pressing the feeling of pins and needles but localised to this one spot in the middle of his appendage. Slowly the feeling grew, managing to pull Ollie back from the brink.
The detective stood, moving towards the gaping hole in order to get a better look. A small black spot appeared, looking like someone had tattooed his skin. But something was off, it looked as though this dot was growing, appearing to get larger, one millimetre at a time. Ollie’s head cocked to the side as his brow furrowed, slowly he combed his mustache. Surely his eyes were still messing with him.
“Nope.” he denied, rubbing the spot against his dress shirt. “Nope, nope, nope.”
Ollie brought his arm back to the light, not only had it not rubbed off, it had gotten noticeably bigger.
Suddenly the feeling of mild discomfort took a sharp dive into searing pain, tripling in strength, as the darkness surged forward, climbing towards his hand in a sudden movement. Ollie gripped the base of his arm and screamed, collapsing to his knees. His skin began to crack apart, like fire opening fresh charcoal. Swirling patterns of orange heat carved themselves into his flesh like an open wound.
The detective dropped to his knees praying for the pain to stop, frantically hoping to pass out so he could just be done with it. The darkness was relentless, continuing to surge forth until it covered the last of his fingertips. Only then did the pain begin to subside, leaving Ollie to collapse to the ground, gasping for air, drenched in sweat. It was all too much for the man as he curled into a ball, the texture of the floor pulling at his 5 o’clock shadow, plucking one hair out at a time. He didn’t care, he just wanted to go home or better yet, die.
Around him, the world had gone quiet, save for the slow creak of a door, coming from somewhere deeper in the building. As the door latched back into place, slow, uneven thuds rolled forth.
“Margaret, why did you call them?! WHY?!!”
The voice cut through the air like a knife, it was filled with so much sorrow, so much anger and pain. It sent a shiver down Ollie’s spine, raising the hair on the back of his neck, snapping the detective out of his child like trance.
“H-Hello?” he wheezed, his voice still broken from the pain.
“You know I didn’t mean to hit you! It’s just… you make me so angry sometimes!” The voice let out a loud scream as if it was in pain.
The detective struggled to his feet, his arm limply hanging by his side. There was something else, it sounded as if the stranger's voice was somehow garbled, like he was trying to talk with a mouthful of something. Wiping the sweat and snot from his face, Ollie trudged forward, maneuvering around the closest vine, careful to avoid the sludge.
“Margaret?!” The voice repeated.
“My… my name is Ollie, please... sir, I need you to tell me what is going on.” His inner cop was returning.
There was no reply this time, only more shuffling could be heard far off towards the back of the room. Ollie continued to make his way forward, squeezing his way between the collapsed cubicles and destroyed office equipment.
“Sir are you sti-” Ollie stopped, choking on the dryness of his voice.
His legs started to feel like noodles as the memory of the pain lingered in his mind. It was as if the world was trying to sap what little energy he had left.
“Are you still there?” He managed to get out.
A black silhouette stumbled into view, plodding down one of the aisles towards the detective.
“I didn’t mean to do it, I didn’t mean to! She. Just. Wouldn’t. Shut Up!”
Ollie’s stomach turned, his gut rumbling with warning. Something was definitely off, apart from the sludge covered vines. The detective looked down, he still had his pistol tucked snugly in his shoulder holster, his right arm was useless but he still was a decent shot with his left. Careful not to make any sudden movements, Ollie slowly removed the pin holding the leather strap in place and, somewhat awkwardly, removed his 9mm.
“Sir, I am a police offer, I can help you but you need to tell me what is going on, and please, keep your distance.”
The figure continued forward at the same slow pace without a reply. As it came closer, light coming in from the torn out wall began to reveal the man. Ollie almost screamed, exiting the shadows was what could only be described as a creature of some sort, covered in a series of deep blue crystal formations and clusters. Tatters of a pinstriped suit loosely hung to his body as the crystal clusters jutting out from his skin had torn through the material. Each formation was spaced anywhere from 5 to 10 centimetres apart but they were all over his body, with the largest formations coming out from his stomach and left eye.
The look on his face was one of emptiness as the rest of his features were being crushed by the sheer size of the crystals, distorting them in an unnatural way. His skin glistened with a sickening pale green, as the Things veins pulsed visibly.
“Margaret?!” he screamed, his one good eye rolling around and stopping on the detective.
Ollie’s mouth was stunned, slowly he began to peddle backwards. The creature lurched forwards, still stumbling but at a quicker rate.
“I-I didn’t mean to hit her!” He screamed continuously.
“Sir! Please stop! Or I will shoot!” the detective shouted, his mouth obeying him once again.
The creature said nothing, making no effort to change course. Ollie turned and darted back, maneuvering his way to the spot where he woke up. The thing followed, its pace and stature straightening slightly in an effort to catch the man.
Ollie reached the wall, there weren’t any doors or single offices on this side of the room, there was nowhere to hide.
“Sir, I’m giving you one final warning! One step closer and I will fire!”
“WHY DID YOU CALL THEM!” It wailed.
That was it, he couldn’t do any more than that, Ollie opened fire hitting the creature several times in the chest. It stumbled backwards, its torso rocking back and forth, while it’s arm remained at its side. The detective stayed his ground, the gun still aimed at the thing, panting heavily as adrenaline began to surge through his system.
The creature charged forwards, arms extended and teeth gnashing. Ollie unloaded blindly but the thing closed the gap, grabbing the detective and pinning him to the wall. Dropping the gun, Ollie used his remaining good arm to hold the creature back as it latched onto the detective, its crystals brightening as it hugged the man. Ollie struggled, trying to use the wall as leverage to push forward but it was useless, the thing was much stronger than it looked and the brighter its crystals began to glow, the weaker the man felt.
Ollie palmed the creature's face desperately but it fought its way loose and bit down on Ollie’s middle finger, hard enough to draw blood. The detective roared in pain and his right arm began to tingle, radiating with a faint heat. Slowly his blackened hand began to curl into a fist.
The creature pulled Ollie in tighter, its crystals now lighting up part of the room. The detective's vision began to shudder as blood rushed to his head, he’d lost most of the feeling in his legs. But the sensation in his right arm grew stronger.Punch.
The word came from nowhere, as if it was artificially inserted to his brain from the outside. Summoning his remaining strength, Ollie pushed the creature's head as far away as he could with his left hand. His blackened arm sprang to life, bringing around his fist and punching the thing square in the jaw.
The creature flew across the room, like it had been hit with the force of a car, crashing through cubicles. Ollie fell to the ground, propping himself up on his elbows and knees, coughing and spluttering. A milder burning sensation, similar in nature to the one from earlier, returned as he watched the blackness move a few millimetres up his arm.
Somehow that thing was still alive.
Ollie looked up to see it climbing to the top of the heap, it’s jaw barely hanging on by it’s left tendon, swinging in the breeze. It’s tongue swung back and forth, the saliva dripping uninhibited down onto the floor. Despite all this it still tried to speak in a garbled cry.
Ollie looked back to the floor seeing his gun. The creature lurched forward again, stumbling its way at a decent pace towards him. Without much thought, the detective reached out grabbing the gun with his blackened arm. Immediately the darkness began to spread across the gun, with the 9mm shifting in shape, the barrel getting longer and wider. It turned a deep black with the same swirling orange patterns cracking open, emitting a mild warmth.
“What the fuck?” Ollie muttered to himself before the creature moaned again.
The detective pushed himself to his knees, extending his arm with gun in hand. He fired twice at the thing, hitting it in the chest. The bullets exploded like paintballs on impact with a magma like substance oozing out, melting flesh and bone as it dripped down the creatures torso. It wailed in pain and dropped to its knees. It reached out with both arms towards the detective, gasping for air. Ollie stood, forcefully controlling his breathing, and took final aim at the creature's head. With a slow breath out, he squeezed the trigger.
The Thing's remaining good eye exploded in a burst of scolding orange before dropping to the floor, dead. Ollie could feel what was becoming a familiar shot of pain coming from his arm, the blackness moving up again, ever so slightly towards his elbow. He dropped the gun onto the floor, stepping back and watching the pistol return to its usual 9mm look. The detective raised his arm twisting it over and over as he looked upon it. It had become as responsive as ever, emitting a warm glow.
Slowly, he shuffled over to the gaping hole in the wall, leaning out as far as he could. The rest of the city was in just as bad shape, vines of every shape and size grew from the ground, twisting their way through buildings, strangling the life from them. Huge cracks were carved into the roads, filled with pools of black sludge as dark colours hung above them, pulsing in unison. High above, strange neon symbols danced across the pitch black sky as lightning cut jagged lines over them. Surely this must be hell, there was nothing here except the feeling of dread.
Ollie fell back into the office, stumbling towards where he left his gun. He picked up the 9mm, losing himself in a stare. An image of himself jamming the barrel up under his chin flashed across his mind. Whatever this game was, he didn’t want to play. He took one last look over to the body of the creature, he just wanted to go home, he just wanted…
Wait, what was that?
There was something bulging from the creature's pocket, something square and definitely not a crystal formation. Ollie dropped his arm, which had begun to creep up, instead moving his head down as if changing its position would help him make out whatever it was. The detective stepped forward cautiously, awkwardly returning the gun to its holster. Squatting down he reached into the things pocket.A wallet?
He pulled it out and flipped it open. There in the see-through sleeve was a drivers license with the words ‘New Atlantis Driving Permit’ printed along the top.
“No, it couldn’t be, I couldn’t be…”
Flashing images interrupted the flow of his thoughts, a woman, young, impossibly beautiful, hovering above him. She was talking, what was she saying?
"You desire the truth, don't you?" even the memory of her voice melted his heart.
“I can give you power...”No, wait.
“Your soul is too valuable..”Impossible.
“New Atlantis.”It can’t be.
“I'll be watching you carefully."
Ollie whipped around as if she was there in the room. He ran over to a desk, tearing through a draw and picking up a stapler. ‘PROPERTY OF NEW ATLANTIS GAZETTE’ was labelled onto its side. Tossing it away he grabbed a stack of paper, the header of the letter read the same. Finally he had solved the mystery, this was New Atlantis, at least what was left of it.John!
His brother was here somewhere, maybe this is why he had been brought here, a chance at redemption, a chance to save him.
The door creaked from across the far side of the room, more shuffling could be heard echoing from the stairwell. A lot more of those things were on their way. Ollie looked down at his arm, the warmth coming from the cracks began to rise and the glow grew brighter. Shifting his gaze towards his gun, he gritted his teeth.
“Whatever it takes John, I’m coming.”