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The Adventures of Cliff Ungar - 02 - The Demon by J. Allen Wentworth
SUMMARY: Note: Installments of this story are not in chronological order. This is a much later episode of Cliff Ungar's life.
Cliff threw himself to the deck as a bundle of glistening wings and claws flew through the steel corridor. Its high-pitched scream echoed through the ship. Talons missed him be mere centimeters, and the beast hurtled past. Damn it was fast. He looked up just in time to see its whip-like tail disappear around the corner. The silence afterwards was the worst. Wasn't there supposed to be some sort of alert blaring through the ship at a time like this? He struggled to his feet, clutching his wounded side with one hand and bracing the other against the wall for support. He staggered towards the door and slammed it closed. With a satisfying click the lock fell into place. That might hold it for a few minutes. He turned and had only taken a few steps when he heard a resounding crash and the sound of warping metal. Without looking back he limped as quickly as he could in the opposite direction. This wasn't ideal. He had been trying to make his way to the escape pods, but the beast had been too fast. He pulled open a side door and stepped into another hallway. Another crash sounded in the hallway behind him. He secured the door and turned to run. He almost tripped over the corpse. Half of a corpse. He turned it over to see who it was, but it didn't really matter. They were all dead. The soldier's battle rifle lay a few feet away. Cliff picked it up and checked the clip. It was empty, same as all the others. He checked the body for ammo clips, but found none. The soldier's sidearm must be with his other half. As he started down the corridor again he heard another crash of alien flesh against metal, followed by the screech of ripping steel. The thing's unearthly scream echoed through his skull. The next crash was against the door behind him. It wouldn't stall the creature any longer than had the first. Cliff shot quick glances into the rooms as he passed. All the doors were torn apart like soft tissue paper. Some folded in, others folded out. None of the rooms had other exits anyway. A few contained mangled body parts that had been strewn around in a diabolical frenzy. Cliff couldn't force himself to care what the beast was or how it had gotten on the ship. The countless years of his life had taught him that surviving left no time for such trivial concerns. He stepped over another corpse in the hallway. This one was one of the scientists. At least that saved him the time of checking for ammo. Cliff pressed the airlock release and the door slid open. As he entered the airlock he heard the sound of tearing metal behind him. It was worse than any sound he could imagine. No man should ever have to hear that sound enough times to recognize it. Cliff pressed a button and the airlock door slid closed behind him. It sealed only moments before the creature crashed into it and let out another of those awful wails. Cliff took a deep breath and hit the external airlock release. He held onto one of the rails along the wall so that the rush of air didn't launch him into space. As the air rushed out of the chamber, he emptied the air out of his lungs, breathing out as much as he could.