Many horrors confronted me inside the Desiderasha. Every kind of her spawn patrolled her caverns. Some I’d never seen, like the things with heads made of one long snout full of razor teeth on short and stout bodies with round bulbous muscles that could either march upright or run on all fours. I had to kill one of them, but there were many porous sections where I could stuff a body or two.
I could walk through much of her, but many places I had to explore on my hands and knees or even on my belly, every kind of nasty creature creeping around me like the sewers of Drazhalan. I came across a chamber that emitted a single hollow moan from an unrecognizable creature that was stretched in all directions, attached to the surface on all sides, the red liquid running over it. A shiver ran from my ears to my bowels.
Many rooms had men and other creatures absorbed into the surfaces, half sticking out from random places, slowly flailing, seeming to plead for something through vacant eyes. They mostly didn’t respond to me, but I came across a long, wide hallway with dozens of them all in a row, and something about them twisted my scalp.
I believe they were all men at one time, but they had grown bigger with the wall, though the growth malformed them into garish proportions. They also seemed older, the Desiderasha’s skin joining them all together looked leathery and dry. The biggest difference though, I realized, was their eyes. They weren’t vacant—they were angry.
They yelled at me all at once, so I couldn’t understand them much, but they called upon the Desiderasha and told me to find my place within her. Even with their anger, they could not hide the intense prevalence of misery that was everywhere, oppressing me and thrusting despair upon me. They wouldn’t stop screaming until I left them at the other end.
I felt lost, the search unending inside this atrocity against nature, not knowing if I was getting closer or farther from Enta. I might have been inside the Desiderasha for three days at that point.
I believe the Desiderasha learned of my presence, perhaps from the line of screamers. Maybe they found a body. I had to avoid more and more of her spawn and Children as they searched for something, undoubtedly me, but I would not be prey to these vermin. I hunted them as much as they hunted me, killing whenever I had the chance instead of avoiding them.
A bloodlust grew in me. An overwhelming desire to kill every evil thing around me. I’d been so long without my Enta, and rage boiled stronger with every step that I didn’t find her.
While searching the caverns around the screamers a band of gitchspawn confronted me, thick, furry beasts with giant claws. I pulled off my rifle and picked them off one-by-one as they charged at me, six rounds, all dead center between the eyes.
These were the first shots I’d fired within her, and every kind of howl went up. Behind me came three bigsnouts, much closer, so I pulled my forty-five and took each one down. The heart was more effective for these ones. Ten rounds gone. Six rifle, four forty-fives. Last count had me at forty-one rifle rounds, fifty-three for my forty-five, and nineteen for the small caliber pistol. One hundred thirteen, now down to a hundred three. Enough ammo to trade for a house next to a warlord, yet wholly inadequate for the job ahead of me.
Roaring and yelling erupted from the direction the bigsnouts had come, so I ran the other way, jumping over the massive lumps of gitchspawn. A few more skirmishes with a number of creatures and I found myself in a chamber with fumes that choked me so horribly I fell to the ground.
I pulled a cloth from my bag and tied it around my mouth and nose, but I continued to choke.
Then the room spoke to me.
“Be calm, child. You are lost.” It was soft, but sounded like someone with the flu.
I looked around and almost missed her because she was so big, her form took up most of the wall and part of the ceiling, several armslengths above me. Her mouth and her nose were black, disproportionately gigantic for the rest of her, her arms were two stubs that hung loosely.
“Are you the Desiderasha?” I asked.
“I have her voice.” A sound like a snorting nose filled the chamber. “I can help you find your place. Don’t resist my helpers, they come to help you, not hurt you.”
“I’m not here to find my place,” I said. “I will never join with you.”
A grunt and a hiss came from her. “You don’t wish to participate in the glory of the Desiderasha?”
“There is no glory in you. You corrupt the world and do hateful things to it.”
“You are a sick and stupid child.” A squeaking snort. “By denying the glory of the Desiderasha, you are the one who despises the world. She fleshes out new life—”
“Monstrosities and lies!” I yelled. “You claim you give beauty to the world, but you bring nothing but ugliness and you corrupt all that is good.”
“Who are you?” Red drool dropped from her mouth to the floor. “What do you seek? Why are you looking through the ancient sections of my glory?”
“I seek my heart,” I said.
She moaned, like a ghowat in pleasure. “More light comes through in the upper levels. You will see better to find what you’re looking for.” She wheezed. “But it will be so much better if you would assimilate with me.” She sighed.
“I’ll have nothing of you.”
Her laugh gurgled without mirth. “It’s too late for you, child.”
The walls collapsed at a harrowing pace. I leaped for the entry, but it already closed smaller than me, and the ceiling was down just above my head. I could feel her breath upon my back.
I pulled my knife and stabbed at the closing. She growled and hissed. I pulled my knife through a foot and a half of Desiderasha flesh and pushed my way through, pulling my bag through separately behind.
I took off on a hard run, looking for a conduit upward, seeking the lighter areas she spoke of. I found a spiral ramp and crawled up the spongy floor. The light was many times brighter at the top, a large empty chamber, though many grotesque things twitched and flickered on the walls.
The roof split open with a violent tear. I fell back as one of the Desiderasha’s tubes of death plunged toward me. I turned and scrambled back down the spiral, the tube barely missing me, too big to follow.
I scoffed, realizing the real reason she suggested I go up.
I ran for a while, avoiding rather than killing so I could lose the spawn that hunted me and search again without interference.
Something else she said. I’d been looking unawares through the old sections of the Desiderasha, but an intense feeling took me that I would find my beloved in the newest ones. Every twitch of thought in my mind bent toward finding them.