1982: The Underground Monsters

I never signed up for this. The commander forced me to join a few weeks ago, he said it was because of my 'profound skill and experience'. My father was an excavator, it's just in my blood, I've never had a job like this in my life. I'm signed up on tier four, we're the group that disposes of the creatures. I've never seen them before, but there are horrible rumors about them.

The other guys in my tier say that the creatures are things from a nightmare, they say the more common ones are the short ones, they are about as short as your knees, but they have knife-like teeth that can kill you on the spot. Jack, the oldest member of our tier, told me he witnessed a guy from tier two have his kneecaps ripped off, crippling him. Once the guy fell to the ground, the monster proceeded to bite his face off, and Jack barely made it out without the creature noticing him. Jack told me he managed to make out the color of the creature in the dark, damp tunnels. He said it appeared to be a light shade of red.

The first day on duty, the commander gathered us up and handed us our firearms.

"These should dispose of the creatures near the surface, remember, we CAN'T let any escape into the eastern or western cities, it could start chaos. Take them out from afar, and don't get within of ten paces of the creatures."

He handed us the strange looking rifles, they were green, and had a white magazine. Jack told me to aim for the mouth of the creatures, if we got the stream inside of the creatures they would eventually implode from the inside. I asked him why we had to do it this way, and he responded by saying that shooting it anywhere else would just result in the firearm's ammo deflecting off the creature's body.

The sky was beautiful on this particular day, beams of sun were shining through tree leaves at the base, but I knew I wouldn't be seeing it for a while after getting on our tiers truck. Our orders were simple, dispose of all underground creatures within fifty feet or higher below the surface and prevent any from escaping to the eastern or western cities. My thoughts began to drift off into space when Jack nudged me and spoke;

"Hey rookie, I never asked you this, where are you from?"

Where am I from? From home, my family, I got torn away from it all for this stupid job, or as the commander called it 'Community Service'. In these days, 1982, you can't do much about it. After about an hour of driving on the truck with my tier, we began to enter a rocky area surrounded by mountains. The gravel became dirt, almost moist, we were on top of their tunnels. Riley, our truck driver, stopped the truck and stood up in the front seat. The truck was an old rickety army truck with no roof attached to it.

"Alright, you savages. We're above what Captain calls a 'Nest'. A nest consists of soily dirt that can be easily broken and will lead to the creatures tunnels, so we must dig. Tier three is coming to help us out with that problem."

Just then, a truck similar to ours drove up, shooting the soft soil everywhere with its tires. The truck pulled up next to ours, and the men proceeded to come out. I expected them to look like us, but with shovels and drills and everything, but it wasn't what I expected. They were all wearing white suits with helmets and each one of them had a red marking painted on the chestplate of the suits they were wearing.

The five men scattered then stood in formation, in a straight line. The one farthest to the right, which appeared to be the leader of the tier, started to speak.

"Everyone, on my go, we proceed to dig. These military brutes will be our escort."

He looked me straight in the eye.

"You men will protect us as we dig to try and find the creatures, understood? Good. Men! DIG!"

Every man lifted their arms and stood at an angle, then their suits made a whirring noise similar to the one of an old lawn-mower, then the simply walked into the dirt, creating a huge tunnel. It was pitch-black inside, then Jack ordered us to begin walking into the tunnel. I obeyed, but trailed behind the other soldiers, last in line. The tunnel was literally pitch-black, and went deeper and deeper. Jack had to keep talking so we would know where he was. After a while, mine and everyone else's eyes adjusted to the darkness so we could see the back of each other's head. That's when I heard a rumbling noise.

It came from above, and I barely had time to look up before seeing several boulders and debris crashing down from a weak ceiling structure of dirt. I dove backwards, and all the debris crushed the man in front of me, I believe his name was Alex. But it didn't stop there, the debris continued falling, there must have been tunnels beneath us. The ground I was laying on started moving, sliding towards the gaping hole the debris just caused, I couldn't stand up, the dirt below me was moving too quickly, the dirt carried me to the hole similarly to how a sinking ship would pull you to it in moving water. I quickly looked up.

The other men stood far enough on the other size of the gaping hole to not be sinking in with the ground around the hole, and before I knew it, I was beginning to fall in to nothingness. Jake called my name, but it was already too late as I began to enter freefall. Then everything went black.

I awoke seemingly an hour later. I must have fallen at least ten or twenty feet. My head hurt like a spike went through it and I believe I broke a toe or two, but other than that I was fine. I managed to get up, the tunnel spun around me for a moment then I focused my vision. I looked behind me, there was the boulder and wood debris blocking my path, and I could see a hand from under the boulder and blood already had formed a little pool around where everything had crashed. I realized that my head was resting in the poor guy's blood. I looked to the other direction of the tunnel.

There was a faint light, far away, so I began to walk towards it. As I got closer, I could hear various noises, like the ones that you hear when you take a bite out of rough, juicy steak. I reached the end of the tunnel, and it branched left, where the light was. I peeked around to the left, and what I saw was horrifying. There was one of the diggers, lying on the floor, surrounded by his own blood, I realized that the light was coming from a lantern, it appeared he had it attached to his belt. On the dead man, there were three little creatures. They couldn't see me, and they were too focused on ripping the man's stomach open and gnawing at his entrails. I could only see their backs, they were red, had little stubs for legs, and saw a little strap on the back of their head. They seemed to be enjoying a nice meal.

I couldn't throw up, it would attract the creature's attention, so I headed backwards to where the tunnel branched off to the right. I could hear the crunching of bones and dripping of blood behind me as I ran. I still had my rifle, but no way I was going to take on three of those things at once. The tunnel began to slope at an upwards angle, and I broke out in to a sprint. I wasn't looking ahead of me, and I ran right in to Jake and fell backwards with a horrifyingly loud bump noise and I made the dirt ceiling shake.

"Man, what the hell! You're going to get us killed! Get up!"

Jake helped me up, then behind him I heard a shrieking noise. I looked over Jake's shoulder and saw a small, white figure running towards us. The figure began to get bigger, closer to us, and I noticed that he was one of the diggers, except his stomach was red. That's when I saw that one of the little red creatures was eating the inside of his stomach. The digger fell face-first onto the ground in front of us, and the little creature popped out. He turned around, noticed us, and began to scuttle towards us at an alarmingly fast pace. Jake aimed his rifle at it, and fired.

A little stream popped out of his rifle, and it went inside the little creatures large mouth, and got caught in its esophagus. Similar to how a fishing hook latches on to the fish's mouth. Jake pushed a button on his rifle, then held down the trigger again. I could hear the bullets traveling through the wire stream, and begin to fill the creature with bullets. The creature got bigger, no, INFLATED with the amount of led being injected into it. Then it exploded. Entrails flew everywhere and bullets just fell to the ground, useless after filling the creature. I turned my attention back to the wounded digger, who appeared to be mumbling something. I leaned in closer...

"Rookie... Please... Take my gear, you'll need it to escape these tunnels... Head back to camp... Gather all available troops... And return with an army. They killed most of us, and tell the Commander that the reapers... The reapers..."

He choked up blood, and his final breath escaped his mouth. Well, I didn't hear the last thing he said, but it was his final wish, and I was going to grant it. I began to strip him of the white armor, though I could not equip the chest piece, because it was too badly damaged. 

"Come on," I told Jake, rather pissed off that innocent people were dying from these sick little twists. I aimed up at an angle, and began the drilling mechanism built into the suit. I grabbed Jake with the other arm, and we began our ascent. I was a natural. I dug at surprising speeds, and it felt like I was a digger for years. Eventually, we reached the surface. Light poured into the tunnel, and hurt my eyes after being underground so long. I collapsed on the soil, panting. Jake climbed up behind me. 

"Come on, no time to waste, you heard what that veteran digger said. It's our fault for not protecting him, so we have to make his last words come true."

I stood up, and Jake began to hotwire the car. The driver was nowhere to be seen. We began to drive back to the base camp. When we arrived, we almost crashed through the gates. I could hear the commander shouting orders to open the gate, and we were finally let inside. I collapsed out of the truck, and fainted.

The next day...

I awoke in a bunk inside of a tent. I turned to my left, and realized I was in the commander's tent. He was sitting at a desk, scribbling notes down.

"Ah, you're awake, rookie. I'm going to need a full detailed report from you. What happened in those tunnels? What did you see? You also appear to have a large amount of blood on you."

I told him everything. From the shredding of flesh to me and Jake escaping. As I spoke he kept taking notes and jotting things down.

"Alright, rookie. You appear to have quite a bit of skill with the drilling suit, and you know how to use our customized firearm, as Jake presented. I'm appointing you and Jake to Tier six. It's like Tier four, except you do the killing and digging. You are starting to become quite useful. Now that you're in a higher tier, you get to dispose of these things called Fygars. They are large, scaly creatures that hatch those red vermin from eggs. You kill the Fygars, you dispose of the enemy completely. First mission is tomorrow, 0600 hours. Now, I have a friend about to come in here. His name is Yuriko Keino, but you can call him Yuri. Tell him anything he asks. Dismissed."

The commander left the tent, and a few seconds later another man walked in. He told me his name was Yuri and that he was visiting his brother that is on our troop, and he said he was a game developer. I almost laughed at this, but knew the commander would have my ass if I disobeyed his orders. Yuri began asking questions, about the tunnel, creatures, and even the Fygors. He had pulled out his own notepad and was scribbling away as I talked. He also asked about the suits, and weapons. I was starting to worry that he may be a spy trying to get information out to the world about what we were doing, but I kept answering his questions. Finally, after a while, he finally stopped writing. I peeked at his notebook for a second, and saw that he made sketches of the creatures, they looked much less hostile in his drawings.

"I have enough information, you may go. Wait, I almost forgot, what is your name?"

My name?

"Doug," I answered.

As I exited the tent, I could hear Yuri snicker under his breath.

"Heh. Dig Dug. Wait until the guys at Atari hear about this..."