Founders Valley Pt 4

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A Backrooms Story
⤷ Massacre in the Founders Valley, pt. 4

"This is perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect!"

A giddy wave of toxic excitement shot through his reinforced spine: a rushing chemical soup of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins spilled across his neural passageways. The adrenal gland is simply another component, doing what it was supposed to do. This is what the hunter lived for — the rush. The wonderful feeling, that toxic cerebral salivation from stalking prey. Too toxic, though, too human. A valve response, triggered by his emotional state, fired off, signalling to the mainframe to send a calming flush of water from the riftbox1 into the medical tumbler (a complex small whirring machine) where it was injected with Benzodiazepines before the mixture was released through the feeding tube thrust down his esophagus.

It was fresh, mineral-rich water, siphoned directly from an opening to a waterlogged level which he accessed through the riftbox. A nutritious fluid that — should he have been able to drink it normally and let the flavour roll about his tongue before swallowing — would taste slightly metallic and leave a hint of almonds. The careful linking of limspaces with the riftbox gave the hunter an endless supply of fresh water, and it was nearly weightless to carry.

He released a flurry of shallow, medicated breaths. He was too excited there. Far too excitable. But the porter was there! He could see him tiptoeing around the Point, being careful to not step in anything wet. 'Oh, just relax.' If he got too excited he might make a noise and give himself away. 'Relax, or the valve will trigger again and you will lose your focus…'

And then he spoke out loud, under his breath. "Focus, focus, focus, focus. Yes yes yes yes yes. The porter, keep him in your sights now… where do you scamper to, little rabbit? Little jackalope? What do you look for?" He let out a long, deep, slow breath as the medical slurry in his stomach began to dissolve into his blood.

His brain began to slow, but his spine was still tingling. It was a learned response to react to his human toxicity with things other than his brain. A tapping of feet, a squeezing and subsequent release of a balled fist, again and again, or a tingling of his bones. Thinking too much would trigger the valve again. "We do not want that, no no no," he mumbled aloud. No silly toxins. Just keep him in your sights. The porter was about five rooms over, but he had warm flesh. There may have been many layers of drywall and poor wooden frames between the two, but the porter had solid bones. The hunter could see things that normal eyes could not, like the metal pipes inside the walls, or the cold beads of sweat across the porter's forehead. "Little rabbit, little rabbit, little rabbit there you are! Look how you tippy tippy tippy toe. Time to hunt you, hunt you down!"

Before falling in line behind the porter, the hunter flapped and wiggled his hands excitedly — a silent tic that would not give away his position but released enough of his emotional outburst to suppress the mainframe's activation. It was so frustrating that he had to keep this one intact, alive, and well. The porter was important. The porter had to find the child. That was the goal, the plan, the motive.

'Oh, yes, the child. Let's not forget that, actually.' He had to backtrack a few steps and stoop to pick up a bundled canister before going back to following the porter.

The hunter was just a scout today. A puzzle piece: a means to an end, a falling domino crashing into things with reckless abandon, an unstoppable force coming into contact with the immovable object that was the tranquillizers seeping into his brainstem. He was discipline, he was self-control. He was everything he wished he wasn't. He was a still and quiet pond, without a ripple on its surface… he certainly was not the bubbling torrential boiling violence that lay below its calm and serene face. He was silent footsteps and a noiseless threat, a watching set of eyes from afar, staring through lenses and machinery at the colourful thermal blur of a porter that was trying to hide under a Cheshire cloak a few rooms over.

'And just what is this little lost porter doing, anyways?' Walking like a nervous cat, creeping around and being generally a complete waste of the hunter's time. He saw him crouch near cadavers and nudge at knapsacks, and rummage through shelves for things. The porter was on edge and would whirl about to look at imaginary sounds. 'Oh the frightened thing.' And what was that he was carrying on a large strap underneath the cloak… was that a crossbow? An elegant, wooden thing, how showy! A lucky shot from that and the hunter might actually be a real casualty. This porter had gusto — truly, all of them did. The hunter was always entertained seeing a porter's chosen method of survival; what tactics worked for them, what knowledge they possessed that kept them alive this long in limspace. Porting was an old man's game, a career cut out for only the most insane and hardy survivors. How many decades worth of misery had this poor soul wandered through, the hunter wondered, as he mirrored the porter's footsteps that were glowing warmly through his augmented vision on the carpet below.

This is why the Infirmary gave him entity eyes. There were many eyes to choose from so he selected two: his right one could see right through most things, and his left one could see many different surprising things, like the heat of the porter's feet leaving tiny footprints on the floor. He mumbled cheerily and quietly to himself as he matched the porter's exact footing. "Step step step, tippy tippy toe…" When combined with properly adjusted lenses his vision was unparalleled. Perfect for-

'Oh, what was that?' The porter just stuffed something into a pocket in his cloak. Couldn't see what it was… just the x-ray of his solid bones securing it, tucked away and safe. Interesting. 'What did he need to find so badly? Just, food or something?'

The hunter watched and tapped eager fingers on his canister to make sure it was still in his grasp, so it didn't slip away while he was distracted. The medicine was scrambling his brains. Focus. The canister, the child. He would deliver the child to him right as the porter was leaving so that it was the last thing he grabbed. This lost rabbit was taking his sweet time. Simply had to be patient. Wait, and follow.

Just then his brain tingled again. 'No, no, no…' But wait — not in a toxic manner. It was a fear response, an animalistic one: a terrified buzzing in his pituitary gland. Cortisol this time, exploding from his inners, flowing from the deep instinctual responses of his adrenal glands. He thought to himself a sentence not his own — unexpected words that rose to the surface of his mind in crystal clarity compared to his regular chaotic intrusive thoughts. This voice was clear and chilling, an internal monologue that stemmed from him but was not him.

'Do not falter, Sclāvus. Soon it would be time to release the child.'

The hunter paused as an icy familiarity tingled across his skeleton. Avus was here!

He winced, for in a fraction of an instant an unspeakable microcosm erupted within the hunter's mind. Millennia of bloodlines and kaleidoscopes of countless realities blossomed forth in impossible colour, searing into the soft flesh of his entity eyes with maddening painful comfort. It was everything at once in a fraction of an instant — and then it was over. The mainframe (overloaded with neural input) simply decided to trigger nothing at all, unsure what medication would be the proper response to calm the hunters poor, fried cranium. Or had it even detected anything at all? It happened so fast.

'Focus now. I will guide you.' He thought to himself. Or, rather, Avus thought for him. They were his thoughts, formulated from his own brain, but perhaps it was more like a proxy, an override, as if someone were using his mind as a terminal, a keyboard input. Avus would guide him, but it was the hunter guiding himself. His ideas — turned alien and strange and fed back through him. 'Scared meat, scared meat, keep the porter in your sights!'

He was fear. He was terror. He was everything he wished he wasn't. He was electrified by the horror of survival, an unstoppable force coming into contact with the immovable object that was the other 'him' seeping into his brainstem. He could not fail in his duty, or Avus would see it, and that would be no good. No good at all.

He talked to himself again quietly, sprinkling his thoughts with Latin, a language he didn't even know. "I am the vermis and these are my manus, these are the hands that commit all my crimes… we are watching, watching, watching!" He was shaking. He was two: both terror and in control, slave and master.

And for a moment, he could hear thoughts from the child in the canister. But that was impossible.

It was not a child at all, really; but a stillborn: a dead clump of cells, arranged by genetic blueprints that only trillions of evolutionary trials and errors could perfect. It was dead — had been dead before it even could breathe life — but wiggled anxiously to be let out. The stillborn was ready, it was trembling with excitement, and it could hardly wait to meet the porter.

The hunter grappled with sanity and gripped the canister in sweaty, shaking palms. He suddenly did not feel well. He couldn't hear his own thoughts, only the thoughts of Avus coursing through his mind. He couldn't tell what was real anymore, whether it was a sickness of the mind that suggested the child in the canister was calling out to him, or if the child actually was shrieking louder and louder to be let out. That fear, that pervasive, endless, deep and terrible fear… the mainframe picked up on it and tried to pacify the hunter with a stimulant, but Avus was in control now, cooing sweet nothings to the stillborn in the canister and blasting through the medicine deposited into his stomach with inhuman willpower.

His legs moved but the hunter did not want them to. He wanted to scream but was not allowed to. The fetus in the canister was twitching, thinking, crying out to Avus, and all around them the corpses littering Alpha Point passed them by, rotting. Avus had killed them, too. 'All will go as planned.' he thought fervently. The child would reach the molestum umbra and shine light into that unnatural beacon of darkness. He needed to see, he needed to scratch that itch of obscurity, to sink tendrils into that troublesome blind spot and understand why it was so pervasively elusive. The hunter's brain was on fire, ignited by an obsessiveness he had never previously known.

'The child must reach Athenaeum!'

More Founders Valley, Parts:
OneTwoThree ⋅ Four

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