By Emma Wells
Part One: Darkness Falls
Bang! Bang! Bang!
"Don't you think that's enough?" asked a familiar voice in Lara's earpiece.
"Whatever makes you say that, Zip?" asked Lara.
"You've been out there since four, and it's now ten! You'll catch your death!"
"Maybe one day..." she shot a perfect bulls-eye, "death will finally catch me..." she shot yet another bulls-eye, "if he can shoot me!"
A low, metallic rumble thundered under Croft Manor and it's grounds.
Silence. The fountain stopped, the generator stopped growling, and Lara, narrowed her eyes. Winston looked at Lara, and she at him.
"Trouble, my lady?" he asked.
"What else?" Lara smirked as she marched off to the generator. Winston followed, at his own, slow pace.
Nothing looked out of line. All the switches were on and the pressure was perfect, so why had the water suddenly stopped flowing? Winston peered over Lara's shoulder.
"I cannot see anything wrong, my lady."
"No. Neither can I, and that's saying something." she sighed.
"What do you mean, Miss Croft?" She stood up and turned to face him.
"I always find something wrong with everyone!" she looked towards the manor, "I think we need to go inside and see if any taps are running. Zip, unlock the door, please." They made their way towards the entrance, only to find out that it was locked. "Zip, I said unlock the door. Zip? Zip!" No reply. Winston slowly hobbled towards her.
"I'm sorry, Winston, it looks like you're going to have to toddle back the other way, the door's locked."
"W-well, couldn't you just ask again?" stuttered a very tired and cold old man. Lara took off her earpiece and held it out to show Winston.
"It's not working, Winston." she told him, "He must have switched the intercoms off without remembering to unlock the door."
Winston sighed. "I guess that means the other way, then."
"I'm afraid so..."
Zip was not happy. Lara wasn't answering him, the loo had backed up and there was no one to talk to!
"Ruddy stupid woman! She goes out in nothing but a vest and shorts and just stands still! I mean, I wouldn't mind if she was jogging, but she just stands there and pumps lead into some pieces of paper! Come on, that's just not normal! What do you think?"
His voice echoed throughout the empty foyer. After Alister had been killed, he had no one to rant to and annoy.
He slumped down in his cold, hard chair. "Hmph! And now I'm going mad!"
A strange noise come from the crypt; it sounded like voices. Zip looked at the crypt door, alarmed. "I'm definitely going mad!"
The voices had changed into a tap-tap-tapping sound, then grinding... Zip suddenly jumped out of his seat when he realised that the crypt door was opening. "What the f..."
"Watch your language, Zippy!" Lara butted in. Winston chuckled.
"How many times have I told you about calling me Zippy?" Zip growled.
"How many times have I told you about your language?" came the answer.
"And how many times have I asked you to tell me when you're going offline?"
"What the hell happened there?" asked a voice.
"It's obviously a power cut, Sir." answered another.
"Come over here, Zippy." said a third.
"Grrr, I told..."
"Oh, shut up and come over here, I need a light!"
A sound of trudging feet and flying papers was heard, before a yelp of pain.
"Zip! That was my foot!"
"Where are you?"
"Give me your face."
"What the..? Why?"
Chuckling could be heard in the background. A small light lit the large room, creating eerie shadows on the wall. Lara had struck a match on Zip's stubble.
"You are a very dirty minded man!" she told Zip. He just narrowed his eyes and sloped back off to his chair, grumbling to himself. Lara just smirked and walked back into the crypt, leaving the foyer in darkness.
"Oh, yeah! Thanks for the light, Lara(!)" Zip called after her.
The tomb raider returned from the tomb brandishing a fully lit pair of candle arbres. She handed one to Zip.
"You're most welcome, Zippy!" she smiled. She beckoned Winston to sit down in the chair in the corner; something to which he gladly obliged.
Upon trying to open the door to the rest of the foyer, she discovered the it too was locked. She shook it, kicked it, even shooting the lock didn't work! The last of her ammo bounced off the glass.
"Now I can see the impracticality of bullet-proof glass!" she sighed.
"Lady Croft, might I say something?" asked Winston. Lara smiled and turned to face him.
"Of course you can, old friend!"
"This power cut seems to have been done in stages: first the water and the intercom, then the door to draw us into here, before all power ceased to flow, trapping us in here." Lara walked over to him and knelt down in front of him.
"Winston, this manor has an awful lot of electricity running through it, there's probably a back-up somewhere which is shutting down the systems one by one." She got up and turned to face Zip.
"You got the back-up intercom online?" she asked.
"Way ahead of you!" said Zip, tossing her an earpiece.
"Good man! Carry on like this and you may even get your old name back, Zippy!" she said sarcastically, "Now I'm going down to the basement to see what I can find there, watch him for me." She nodded in Winston's direction. Zip nodded.
"Take care." he added, "Remember, you've got no guns now." Lara walked through the crypt door.
"I have many alternative methods of disposal!" she called back.
The tunnel to the basement was long and cold. Lara wondered why she only ever feels the cold when she doesn't have her trusty pistols. Reaching the top of another flight of stairs, she felt yet another draught blowing up it. She was about to descend into the darkness when she heard a gun cocking behind her.
"Zip, you can tell Winston that that power cut wasn't an accident..."
She turned to face...
Part Two: Dreaming Deeper into Darkness
…darkness. Lara fell to the ground before she could get a chance to see anything. Something had hit her hard on the head.
Lara’s eyelids fluttered. She groaned and ran her fingers through her hair. That hurt! All of a sudden, that very familiar and slightly annoying voice sounded in her ear.
“Lara? Laaaaara? Wakey-wakey!” cooed Zip. Lara sat up, still slightly woozy.
“I’m awake, Zippy!” she groaned, “That talk is bound to wake the dead!” He muttered something under his breath which made Lara slightly angry.
“Don’t you dare call me that, Zippy!” she shouted, sitting bolt upright. Zip sniggered, that woke her up!
Lara composed herself and cautiously staggered to her feet. ‘It must have been something really heavy to put me so off-balance…’ she thought.
“Zippy, how long have I been out of it?” she asked.
“All of…half an hour.” came the response.
“Did you get a good look at who hit me?”
“Dontcha mean what?”
“I beg your pardon?”
Lara was getting confused, what on earth was the idiot talking about?
“I would send you a picture, but there’s a power-cut, remember?” he whittled on.
“And I’m trying to sort it out, remember?” she said, sarcastically, “Now, just tell me, what did you see?”
“Zip! I am not in the mood for this! Just stop pratting about and TELL ME WHAT YOU SAW!” Confusion had dispersed to become anger.
“I’m being serious! All it was, was darkness! There was nothing but black!” Lara looked around uneasily. Shadows were dancing in the darkness. But the candle arbre was stood perfectly on the banister, all the candles still lit. ‘That’s strange…’ she thought, ‘when I fell, I was holding the candle arbre, so it should have been on the floor with me…unless…’
“Lara?” called Zip, “We lost you for a minute there, you OK?”
“Yeah, sure, I’m fine!” she replied, quickly gathering herself, “Down we go then!” She took the candle arbre off of it’s unusual stand and proceeded down the draughty staircase to the basement.
‘No wonder it’s draughty down here, somebody’s left the garage door open!’
“Ooh, look at that! Somebody’s left the garage door open!” exclaimed Zip.
“My thoughts exactly, Zippy!” smiled Lara. She was about to walk over and shut it, but something stopped her.
“Well, go on, shut the door..”
“Zip, look at the door!”
“Yes…it’s a door…”
“I know that, but it was a full moon when I was on the range. So where‘s the light?”
“Yes…Lara, are you…”
“Zip, look at the door! It’s not letting in any light, it’s only letting in darkness!”
Sure enough, only shadows were creeping through the gaping garage door. The only light in the room was from the ancient candle arbre in Lara’s hand.
“Oh-h-h. So, that’s not good, right?”
“Right now, Zippy, I don’t know, but I can tell you something that it’s not…”
“What‘s that, then?”
Zip sighed, ‘why does she always have to be so awkward?’
Lara walked over to the gun and ammo locker and carefully typed in the code, turning to look at the open garage door uneasily every few seconds. The door finally opened and Lara quickly grabbed her pair of back-up pistols and hurriedly put them in her holsters. That felt better!
After stocking up on weapons and ammo, she placed the candle arbre on the table and picked a large torch off of the floor. The strong beam of light from the torch made the world of difference; the shadows immediately retreated to the corners of the room and underneath the cars from whence they came. Moonlight began to shine in through the garage door once again, and Lara, breathed a sigh of relief. A sigh of relief, that didn’t last all that long…
A can of petrol fell over in a shadowy corner, spilling petrol everywhere. Lara pointed her torch over to the corner, leaving the candle arbre in darkness.
“That’s funny…” she started, but she was interrupted. The candle arbre toppled onto the floor and the petrol caught alight. Lara gasped as the flames spread across the garage floor, creeping toward the Jeep.
“Lara, get down! GET DOWN, LARA!”
Lara slowly got up and dusted herself down to the sound of a very annoying smoke alarm.
“Phew! That was close!” exclaimed Zip.
“Too close…” muttered Lara, examining her now broken torch. Then she looked at the fuse box. “Sorry, Zippy, but it looks as if you won’t be playing your video games for a while yet…” The entire fuse box had been obliterated, the wires sparking at the ends.
“Zippy, I think Winston was right. Someone is doing this on purpose. Someone…or something…”
“Yeah, and Lara?”
“It looks as if you won’t be getting out of there for a while yet.”
Lara looked around and saw that both the door from which she had come and the garage door were completely smothered by flames.
But Lara had a trick up her sleeve. She brushed some ashes off of an old set of drawers and revealed a map of the manor carved into the wood.
“I knew those childhood doodles would help me someday…” she smiled to herself.
“How exactly does that help?” asked Zip as Lara wrenched the lid off of the drawers, revealing a torch, batteries and an old catapult in a secret compartment.
She grabbed the torch and spare batteries before turning to face the gun locker, holding the wooden map. Looking under the M16, she found an alcove containing a switch. She gingerly reached a hand in and flicked the switch, making the whole locker revolve, taking Lara with it.
Lara switched on the torch and looked around.
“Erm, that’s not good…”
The shadows did not retreat, they stood firm…
Part Three: Shadows Are More Than Just Darkness…
There, in front of Lara, were three shadowy figures.
Black, silken cloaks seemed to be made of darkness itself, wispy and waving in the draught. Their faces were totally obscured by darkness, even when Lara shone the light in their faces. The only speck of light upon their faces was from their glowing, red eyes.
Lara’s breath became heavier as they slowly glided toward her, ‘this is going to be a difficult move…’ she thought. She inhaled a deep breath, then leapt right over them, kicking two to the ground in the process. The third suddenly swooped towards her, but Lara ducked just in time, dropping the torch. Immediately, she straightened up, pulled out her pistols and shot it repeatedly. Instead of reacting, they all simply melted into the darkness. Lara watched on in disbelief.
“What on earth are these creatures?” she asked herself.
“Hell, don’t ask me!” exclaimed Zip. Lara rolled her eyes.
“I wasn’t talking to you…” she sighed.
“Then who the hell were you talking to?”
“Now, now, children, play nicely!” Winston butted in. Both Lara and Zip laughed at themselves. How silly do we sound?
“Right,” Lara said, “pull yourselves together, team.” She looked around at the darkness, “We’ve got some shadows to kill…”
The tunnel ceiling got lower and lower as she went deeper until she was crawling.
“Ergh!” she exclaimed, “It used to be so easy…” A crackling sound came from her earpiece. Tapping it, she realised that this deep underground, no signal could get to her. “Just like the old times, then…” she sighed to herself.
The tunnel eventually opened up to become a large chamber, the ground covered with what appeared to be broken vases and glass. Lara looked at the mess in despair. ‘This was my collection…’ she thought, ‘…something’s been through here; something big…’ Lara picked up one of the shattered pieces and examined it. “Something…recent…” she said.
Throwing it aside, she noticed that there were a select few vases still on stands; the ones in the shadows. Her skin crawled at the thought of facing those shadows again. She hurriedly switched the light on, revealing the sheer size of the chamber. It was almost the same size and shape of the gym. After doing so, she realised that she had cut her finger on the vase fragment. She sighed and sat down on a battered, old couch to see to it.
She was about to get out a plaster when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw that the three shadows were back. Lara uneasily exhaled and pretended that she hadn’t seen them. They began to slowly glide towards her as Lara pretended to suck her finger whilst discreetly trying to reach for some pottery shards with her other hand.
At two metres away, Lara decided it was too close for comfort. She threw as many shards as she could at them, making them scatter. Big mistake. One went for the light and switched it off, rendering Lara powerless. She received a hit right in her stomach, then another in the back of her knees, knocking her to the floor. She screamed with pain and frustration as she shot aimlessly into the oily black. Trying to fight back was pointless. The last thing she remembered was getting her face pushed into the fragments of a glass vase.
* * *
Leaning against the wall was Zip, hogging Alister’s usual spot and tapping his foot endlessly. Winston was still sat politely in the chair which Lara had sat him in.
“Why the hell isn’t she answering…?” he sighed.
“Perhaps she has got bored of you!” chuckled Winston. Zip scowled at him, Winston twigged that it was time to change the subject.
“She could be in trouble…” Zip butted in.
“Or maybe she just wants to be on her own. I’ve known Lady Croft a lot longer than you. Remember that she grew up without intercoms and maybe she would like to go back to the old days.” Zip gave Winston a funny look with one eyebrow raised, and in doing so, he noticed that Winston was looking out at the foyer with a scared look on his face. Zip looked in the same direction and saw why he was so scared. There, hovering three feet above the floor, was a shadow. The two men looked at each other, then ran as fast as they could into the crypt shouting: “Lara! Wait for us!”
* * *
They squeezed through the tunnel into a massive, dark chamber. After feeling around for the light, they eventually found the light and flicked the switch. In doing so they noticed that Lara was lying flat on her face in the mass of pottery shards. They quickly rushed over to her aid.
Lara was fully out of it. Zip turned her over and slapped her cheeks to wake her up, something which she did not seem pleased about.
“Quit it, Zippy!” she eventually said, “That’s right where they hit me.”
“Who hit you? The creepy-ghost-guys?” Zip asked.
“Yes, the shadows…” she sighed. Suddenly she sat bolt upright. “The shadows!” she exclaimed.
“How the hell are those things shadows? Shouldn’t they be following something?”
“Zip, in ancient times, before even ancient China, people worshipped shadows as their dead relatives’ spirits following them. But the word follow can also be translated as…” She looked at them with a scared look on her face.
“What?” Winston added.
“Precursor to what?” Zip asked. Lara got up and walked over to a flooded tunnel and turned around.
“Something much bigger.”
Then she dived in, not knowing what she was going to face…