She darted through onto a flight of stairs. The wall slid shut. Would this route be better or worse? The stairs descended into darkness. There was no choice but to proceed down them with caution, especially if the option had a chainsaw. After taking a moment to listen to her instincts, she made her way down the stairs with one hand securely against the wall to keep her steady. She was still shaking a bit and didn’t want to trip and fall. She had no idea how far the staircase descended. She couldn’t see twenty feet in front of her. She heard something scurrying around on the stairs. She took a few more steps down and there was a large rat directly in her path. She wasn’t afraid of rodents, so it wasn’t a big deal. She took a step towards the kitten-sized rodent. Kayn whispered, “I’m just going to sneak right past you. I’m not going to hurt you. I promise there is no need to be afraid of me.” The rodent looked up at her and cocked its head. It was actually kind of cute. She was almost tempted to pet it. The rat bulked up to twice its size. Kayn took a few steps back up the stairs as she said, “Well, you’re not a normal rat, are you? It’s okay. I’m not a normal girl. I am cool with you, even at double the size. It’s all good. I just need to get past you, little buddy.” The rat bulked up again and now it stood blocking the width of the stairs. It smiled at her. Those long square teeth were more intimidating on a rat the size of a large dog. This was still not that bad. She was still okay with the creature. She just needed to go past it down the stairs. This was not a big deal. Kayn scanned the walls on either side of her for grooves or ridges. There had to be another way out. What was she thinking? Stairs usually had a way out at the top and at the bottom. At the top, there was a chainsaw and at the bottom, there was a rat. Granted, it was an enormous rat but it was still just a rodent. She would venture down the stairs versus the alternative. Kayn quietly bargained, “Hey little buddy, I just need to sneak past you. Not going to hurt you. It’s all good.”
The rat looked like it was going to bulk up again as its body began to bulge and shift, then out of its torso, eight long hairy legs unfolded. The rat went from passable to utterly terrifying in about five seconds. On either side of its square teeth, long razor-sharp fangs grew. Kayn took a very slow step back up the stairs as she whispered, “It’s fine, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t need to get past you that bad. I’m just going to go now and you can just carry on with your giant spider rat transformation thing.” Kayn clutched her knife, knowing as she gingerly moved back up the stairs that she’d probably be dead of a heart attack long before the creature touched her. The spider rat had not moved an inch and it hadn’t attempted to chase her up the stairs. Kayn breathed a sigh of relief as she made the conscious choice to brave the chainsaw versus the messed-up creature. When she reached the top, she laid her hands against the wall and said, “I’ve changed my mind. The chainsaw’s not that bad. I think I’m alright with it now. Open up.” Something jolted beneath her feet and she thought, Oh, no. The stairs turned into a slide. Kayn’s feet came out from under her. She landed flat on her back and shot down the staircase at lightning speed. She was going so fast, she caught up with the spider rat. She couldn’t help herself. It was as though the high-pitched squealing was coming from somebody else. She’d been absolutely terrified many times in this new life but in this moment, she was flying down a slide riding on a giant hairy spider rat. She attempted to scramble away, kicking at it and flailing with her hands and her feet. The spider rat did appear to be equally terrified of her screaming. It was hard to tell the difference between terrified and extremely excited as you shot down a slide. She ended up on top of the creature as they shot across the floor at the bottom. Kayn managed to pull herself together. She raised the blade above her head. They were bumping into hairy things as they sped by. Don’t think about it. Just deal with this one first and then you can worry about the rest. Just breathe, she thought as she stabbed the monstrosity. Her mind continued to shoot through the scenarios that she might be facing. She couldn’t see in the dark but she could hear the echoes of scurrying legs across the stone. She couldn’t see but she imagined that hundreds of rat spiders would be able to see just fine. She gripped the knife, prepared to fight until her last breath. She was grateful she couldn’t see anything. She couldn’t handle the visual. Kayn felt a searing pain in her leg. Something was biting her! She reached down and yanked it off. She knew what it was as she tossed it across the room. Oh… Crap! She heard countless scurrying legs. No! No! No! She whirled around in the darkness launching away each abomination that sunk its teeth into her flesh. Her hand pulsed a few times in the darkness. The meager amount of light revealed that she was surrounded by an enormous swarm of the furry beings. She’d faced this challenge before. She had been in this situation. Kayn stood her ground gathering strength from somewhere deep inside. She hissed, “You want a piece of me! Come and get it!” Her leg had begun to burn. Her hand began to pulse allowing for brief flashes of vision in the darkness. It was a slow, steady radiating burn. She glanced down at her leg. It was swollen to double its size and she was covered in hives. Oh, wonderful. I’m allergic to bees and spider rats. Good to know. She stood there slowly rotating around in a circle to keep watch on the swarm of creatures that appeared to be just watching her now during each strobe of light. She had the distinct impression that they were waiting for something. Kayn had seen countless low budget horror movies. She’d given her imagination plenty of ammunition. The swarm of spider rats parted to allow something large passage. Kayn stood there with her blade poised before her and her mind set on one thing and one thing only. She would stab this mutant son of a bitch at least once before she went down.
Suddenly, it felt like she was breathing through a tiny juice pack straw. Deprived of oxygen, her mind flashed back to the embarrassing fanny pack she’d worn through elementary school, containing her EpiPen. It wouldn’t do a damn thing now. By the light of her flashing Ankh symbol, she saw an enormous creature moving slowly through the middle of the swarm with an ominous rattling. Her ability to inhale air ceased. In her last seconds of consciousness, she saw the monstrosity approaching her. It had a rat spider’s body and a mesmerizing rattlesnake’s tail. Pass out! She needed to pass out! It opened its jaws and sprayed something at her. She felt her body spinning in circles. Why was she still conscious? What in the hell? She was methodically encased in white as her headache ceased and her mind turned off.