It wasn’t the volume so much as the vibrations caused by the unholy scream that caused Mick to cringe. And it was less the scream at all than the thought of what it was screaming. And even less what it was than the responsibility he had for it being … well, in existence, let alone here in this … hell, he wasn’t even sure what it was. A convent? A girl’s school?
Whatever it was, it had a locker room, and he’d had to fight through the crowd of a couple dozen women in their teens and twenties dressed in the most horrid clothing he’d ever witnessed to get this far. A matted bit of black hair stuck to his face,covering his eye and held there by his sweat. He pushed it roughly aside, regretting, as he always did at moments like these, that he bothered to get a haircut every now and then.
He winced as he reached in his jacket pocket for more ammo — the scream simply didn’t stop. The leather straps he had wrapped around his hands caught and he cussed, forcing his hand in. He dropped three of the four rounds he’d pulled out when the the pipes burst in a portion of the wall and he was showered with powdered ceramic tile and grout and both cold and hot water. He cussed again, and yet again when the rounds he dropped rolled across the floor and into a drain.
Hastily he pushed the last round he had into the cylinder of his revolver and slammed it closed, then he peered over the piece of rubble he leaned against. The thing was still there, floating in the middle of the shower area, the three … what were those, tails? still undulating in the air green, with suckers on one side, like an octopus tentacles, pointing downward. It had six arms as well, in a circle about the upper body — bony, near skeletal, jointed in three points, with fingers nearly half the arm length, ending in claws, of course. They all had claws. There were no legs. though Mick supposed it didn’t need them if it could float there.
And the piece de resistance … the head. Or was it heads? There were two beaks, easily a foot long each. Both were open, and both were screaming. It apparently didn’t need to stop for breath. It was dripping wet from the spray in the walls. Mick guessed that the plumbing wasn’t holy water than. Or, admittedly less likely, this one wasn’t vulnerable to that sort of thing.
The scream was its weapon. Which was, at best, irritating. He had to admit it was a very effective. He wasn’t sure his ears weren’t going to start bleeding at any moment, and he had to fight the temptation to cover his ears with his hands.
Instead, he stood and faced the beast full on. Aiming his gun with both hands, willing his muscles to stop shaking. He only had one shot.
Then the most unnerving thing of all happened. The scream stopped.
Mick lost his footing in the sudden change in the air pressure and he stumbled forward, though he managed to stay upright. The thing was looking at him. He wasn’t sure what part of that head (heads?) were its eyes, but he could feel it staring at him. Then both beaks pointed toward him and the scream resumed, louder. The force of the sound threw him back several feet. He rolled until he hit a wall. He couldn’t stop it now, his hands flew to his ears, and he pressed them against it. Though the right hand, with the gun, was less effective at blocking any sound.
His eyes were wide with pain, and he couldn’t shut them. He groaned. It may have been audible — he wasn’t sure, because he couldn’t hear anything. Even the scream. But he could feel it, every where in his body, every inch of his skin.
In desperation he stretched out his arm and pointed the gun. He couldn’t hold it steady. He used every last bit of his strength to squeeze the trigger.
The shot couldn’t be heard any more than anything else could. It seemed like everything froze for a moment. He thought the screaming stopped. Then it exploded in a visual cacophony of guts and lights spreading everywhere.
“I guess I hit it,” Mick muttered. He was deaf, he hoped only temporarily, and didn’t hear it. He hadn’t heard the explosion either. Or the guts hitting the walls. He tried not to think of it.
He forced himself to his feet, his left hand against the wall to steady himself, the gun hanging limply at his side. As soon as he could he took a step forward, then another. Till he reached where the thing had stood… floated. He shook his head and immediately regretted it, the pain shooting over his skin. He winced.
He reached down into the rubble and the water until he found it: the thin chain of silver threads with the pendant on it, an unassuming smooth round stone, the size of a silver dollar, in a flat platinum setting with… symbols or runes etched around it. He ached as he stood again and limped away.