Monday, July 6, 2009

פרק ח:גולם

As Scott disappeared into the waters, the dogs were upon Rachael. While some stood on the edge of the river, snarling at the spot where Scott had sunk beneath the waves (but not daring to follow), the majority of the beasts turned their attention to her with great fervor.

Well, at least, upon the spot that Rachael occupied; it seemed that like so much of this realm, the dogs and their masters were largely incorporeal to her. They leapt upon her, tried to bite at her legs, but all to no avail. Well, mostly; as it happened, as their vaporous teeth and paws sunk through her, she repeatedly felt a great chill settle over any part of her body so affronted. Although there was no pain per se, there was something quite eerie and unsettling about it.

A cold hand grabbed her by the shoulder and jerked her away. Before she could see who it was, she heard a voice speak to her, saying in what oddly enough seemed to be rather bored tones, "Run. I will hold them off." Gladly, she ran.

Looking back over her shoulder as she ran, she saw a man who appeared to be fighting with the hounds, driving them and their infernal dog-walkers back the way they had come. She faltered, suddenly realizing that she didn't know who it was that had come to her rescue, what it was she was being rescued from, nor, for that matter, where she was supposed to be running. It was not as though there was somewhere to hide, as this side of the river seemed to be severely lacking in landscape, at least as far as she could see around here. She waited and watched.

The man who had pulled Rachael away from the dogs seemed rather odd for numerous reasons, most of which she couldn't put her finger on. There were obvious things about him that were odd, although she wasn't sure what to make of those things, since they had to do with the apparent supernatural quality of this realm: The dogs occasionally bit at the people who had come across on the ferry, and their effect was much as that of the bites of normal dogs on normal people, it seemed; while the people showed no wounds, they did seem to be experiencing pain. The strange man, unlike Rachael, seemed to make physical contact with the dogs, but appeared none the worse for it. The hounds and their keepers seemed to note this, and eventually retreated. He turned towards Rachael.

"I think we have found the third member of our party," Nate said, making Rachael jump. She had forgotten in the chaos of the attack that he was with her.

"Who is that?" Rachael asked.

Nate smiled and shook the hand of the man, who had come to stand in front of them. "I'll let your other companion explain himself, I think."

The stranger extended his hand to Rachael, giving a slight bow of his head, and speaking in the same bored voice she had heard earlier. "I am Nekros7. I am here to protect you." She shook his ice cold hand, realizing now what he was.

"You're a robot, right?"

He nodded. "That is correct. It was surmised that the spirit beings of this realm, while incorporeal to living matter, are susceptible to manipulation by non-living matter. This has been shown to be true. Furthermore, while the hellhounds could not physically harm you, they could cause great distress to your soul. I do not have a soul to be harmed."

Rachael considered this for a moment, then said, "I guess I should thank you for saving me, then? Or would that be appropriate?" She looked to Nate questioningly.

The robot responded, "I assure you that it is of no consequence. It is no trouble for me. I am merely doing that which I was programmed to do."

"Are you programmed to tell me what the heck I'm here for? Nobody seems to want to explain anything to me, and I thought I was just on my way to the airport."

Nekros7 shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, the most human gesture he had displayed so far. "I am sorry to say I know nothing of your purpose here. As yet I have not even been told your name. I am merely here to serve the living."

"Rachael's purpose here may soon become clear I hope," Nate said to the robot. "It's not my place to tell her, though, but I hope as we're now ready to begin our journey, it will soon become clearer. Let's go." He walked away from the river, beckoning them to follow.

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