View Full Version : Of Metal and Men

2010-03-01, 04:39 PM
Here's something I had to do for English coursework -it's the opening chapter of a novel. I don't have to do the rest, but I might anyway.

Of Metal and Men

Pain. Confusion. No feeling in the extremities. These were the things going through Jack Astabury’s mind as he struggled to shake the net of confusion from his mind. Right, he thought, need to find out where I am, and how to get home. He slowly, shakily, uncertainly lifted himself off the dusty, stony floor, where he had found himself, and promptly collapsed on the floor, having overestimated his current abilities. Right, maybe I should wait a moment or two, at least until I’m able to get up. After what only seemed like a moment, he felt able to raise himself from his dusty resting place. However, it was at that moment that he heard it. An alien, foreboding scratching that sent shivers through Jack’s mind and body.

Suddenly, he realized he was unarmed. He patted himself down, hoping to find something, something useful, something...OW! What was that? There was something. Something sharp enough to cut his finger. Something useful. He closed his sliced hand around it, and retrieved it from his pocket. A knife. Not a very large one, mind you, but not a small one, either. It was smooth, with sharp edges and no serrations. A more disturbing thing was his hand. Despite cuts to his hand, it hadn’t bled. The cuts still exposed some raw red flesh, but no blood seeped out of his wound. That’s odd, Jack thought, but I’ve got bigger problems at the moment. That’s when he heard it again. The scratching. He squinted in the shadowy light, and saw something, something strange, something that shouldn’t exist.

This creature, this abomination, was large, about the size of a horse. It looked like some twisted insect, with four insectile legs and a squat, humped body, with rust-red chitinous armour plates covering its entire body, ending with a long tail with an odd appendage, a sort of double-ended paddle. Below its grey, soulless eyes, either side of its mandibles, were two long, feathery antennae. In front of it was a large iron box, with writing engraved in it and a large lock keeping it closed. The aberration’s eyes were focused on it, and with a touch of an antenna, the whole box crumbled before Jack’s eyes. Then, the creature started to eat the remains of the box.

Lucky me, Jack thought, it eats metal. I’m just flesh and blood, so I should be fine. Wait a second... Jack looked at his hand again, and finally saw why he wasn’t bleeding. Mixed along with his blood were small metal balls, and they had stopped the blood from flowing out of his wounds. But, if I have these in me… Oh no, I’m doomed. The creature looked up, its antennae pointing straight at him, and out of its mandibles a terrible screeching emanated; out of the shadows, more arrived. These were smaller than the first one, but still looked just as soulless, just as much an abomination as it. Jack quickly threw the knife at the largest one; it stopped, touched it with an antenna, disintegrated it, and then ate the remains. Jack used this opportunity to run. To run away from those things; to run away from the living nightmare he felt he was in; to run to survival, the creatures hot on his heels.

Jack started to tire, but then he saw his method of escape. A vine, hanging from the roof of the humid, moldy, sinister cave. Once up the vine, he saw a tunnel in the rocky, pitted wall of the grotto, and swung into it. Here, there was a lantern on the ground, which Jack picked up. Guided by the light, he ventured deeper into the tunnel, hoping to find a means of escape. Strangely, the stone here seemed to not be stone any more, but a dull metal, which seemed to be iron. Once I get out of here, I need to remember here. This would be perfect for a mine. Once the creatures are gone, of course. His thoughts were interrupted once he felt the ground seem to change again, now rough, uneven. Looking at the ground, he saw that now, the iron floor seemed to have huge bites taken out of it. With renewed cautiousness, Jack moved onwards, until he saw something moving in the shadows which covered the tunnel, and then the vague outline of a huge head.

From this head, Jack heard a clanging, metallic, groaning voice. “Ah, a morsel. Guess the rust monsters weren’t interested in you, as you don’t have metal. Me however, I think some flesh cleans the palette between meals.” Hearing this, Jack tried to run, but was stopped by the floor itself rising up, creating an iron barricade. “No,” the head continued, “there is no escape for you”. The last thing Jack saw was a large, copper, scaled head coming towards him, terrible jaw agape.

I'll post an updated version in a week or two.