Dead Space: Martyr

DEAD SPACE™

MARTYR

The creature charged and he dived out of the way. It slammed into the side of the circular chamber with a loud crunch, the wall panel buckling. He pulled himself up, aching all over, and limped to the other side of the chamber.

It was twice the size of a man. It moved forward by swinging from its spiky, chitinous arms to its feet and back again, with incredible speed.

He watched as it turned around, oriented itself, and then charged again, the floor shaking.

He waited until the last possible second and then leapt again, his arm torn open this time by one of its spikes. The creature bellowed in rage or frustration, turning all about, trying to locate him. By the time it finally did, he was on the opposite side of the chamber, as far away from it as he could get.

Okay, he thought, gripping his injured arm, now it’s my turn.

It charged him again. This time, instead of throwing himself sideways, he dived between its arms, sliding under it and up against its soft abdomen. He pulled his knife out and slit across its dead flesh, tearing it open as much as he could, then scrambled quickly up and away, stumbling across the room.

Before he got far, it caught him by the foot and swung him like a doll and let go. He smashed into the wall, hard. He tried to get up, but he couldn’t move. He had felt the air rush out of him when he hit the wall, but it was more than that. Perhaps his back was broken.

He expected the creature to charge again, but it didn’t. Instead, it approached him leisurely, almost curiously. He watched it approach, and his fear began to build.

The grotesque creature loomed over him. It struck him once, brutally, knocking him back against the wall. For a moment he thought he might pass out, but suddenly the room took on an intensity and crispness that it hadn’t had before.

The creature lifted him up in the air, gave again its bellowing call. It shook him violently before bringing his head into its maw.

A moment later it tore his body in half. A moment after that he was dead.

PART ONE

PUERTO CHICXULUB

1

Chava woke up earlier than usual that day, just before the sun rose. His mother and sister were still asleep. His father was gone, traveling again. When the boy asked him where he went, he was always evasive, and Chava had learned not to ask further. He took a ladleful of water from the bucket and drank it, careful not to wake his sister. He poured another into the basin and washed his face and hands and arms before quietly slopping the rest onto the dirt floor.

He was still sleepy. He watched his sister move restlessly, giving a little moan. Why had he woken up early? He had been in the middle of a frightening dream. There was something chasing him. A strange, stumbling creature, something that moved in lurches and starts, something that seemed at once alive and dead. He shook his head, wondering how something could be both alive and dead.

He slipped into his clothes and left the shack, careful to stop the piece of aluminum that served as a makeshift door from clacking behind him. Outside, he could smell the salt in the air, could see, a few hundred meters away, the slate gray waves. The tide was out, the waves gentle now, hard to hear from this distance.

Something lingered in his head, a noise, a strange sound: a whispering. It was saying words but in a language he