The Bright Pit
rating: +32+x

By Marcelles D. Raynes

The flesh pit was massive, unruly, disgusting, and quite temperamental. In the years following the Calamity, after everyone at some long-forgotten Site all mysteriously disappeared near a rather large hole in the ground, the flesh pit had grown tired of its immortal existence. Well, not the pit itself, as underneath the hundreds upon hundreds of individual minds and melted animal corpses that now called itself "Bright", the flesh pit was still just a hole in the ground.

But that didn't stop it from occasionally screaming bloody murder well into the night, disrupting the dreams of the UnHumans that lived on the eastern fringes of Haphway. A few of the locals took to complaining to the town's custodian, Candela, after a few particularly noisy nights. A few unlucky skamps wandered a bit too close to the edge and had gotten snared in some flesh tendrils, joining the collective after being torn asunder and melted away. A horrific sight for onlookers, surely, but more importantly it was an inconvenience for residents.

As Anita approached the flesh pit the scales on her back turned themselves over, revealing their reflective side. She swallowed. She was ten, maybe fifteen meters from the edge of the pit where the flesh oozed out onto the ground and swallowed the land. She was far enough that the tendrils that licked the air around the pit's edge couldn't grab her, but close enough to see how gargantuan the pit truly was. She craned her neck side to side and squinted as hard as her eyes would let her. Even with vision that rivaled a hawk's, Anita could not see the pit end to end.

A giant flesh bubble boiled to the pit's surface and erupted, tainting the air with a pungent stench that would turn a vulture's stomach inside out. Anita could see the wave of profoundly abhorrent order wafting toward her like a heatwave. Given the distance between her and the noxious gas, the spider girl calculated that she would have ample time to get out of the way.

But Anita was never that good at math.

The stench was powerful and fast, one could easily mistake the brown gas for a form of sentient life. It moved with such precision and malicious intent that it struck a chord in Anita's heart as it collided with the boulder she was hiding behind. The air wrapped around the edges of the boulder and crept into her nose. The spider-girl took a sharp inhale, holding the last particles of fresh air in her lungs for as long as she could. It wasn't long before she had to take another breath though. With reservation, Anita decided that passing out on the edge of the flesh pit was far worse than breathing in some bad air, and she took a breath.

"Ugh! God! Fuck!"

Anita flailed, trying desperately to swat at the aerial enemy assaulting her noses. A painful surprise met her as one of her palms made contact with the side of her face, uttering a loud TWACK and leaving a red mark on the spider-girl's cheek.

Then there was a chuckle, deep and booming. It wasn't one that Anita recognized. This laugh belonged to a giant, Nephalim Anita reminded herself, with the lower body of a horse and a civ-passing torso with a crustacean carapace. The Nephalim's face was soft and round, long black hair that reached to her hooves shaped her cheeks quite nicely. Her eyes were light brown, hazel almost, and her gigantic smile felt warm and welcoming. The longer Anita stared at the Nephalim, the quicker she felt her heartbeat in her chest, and the more the red hot mark on the side of her face burned.

Anita caught herself staring at the Nephalim and gasped, reflexively covering her slap mark with her hands. She bit back a wince, feigning a meek smile and a light chuckle instead.

The Nephalim folded her massive arms and stomped her hoof on the ground a few times before saying, "Whatcha doing out here?"

Anita swallowed, "I… uh… the pit… um…"

The Nephalim boomed in laughter again, "What? Never seen another evo before?" She gave Anita a once-over look from head to toe before asking, "You from 'round here?"

The right words were trapped somewhere between Anita's mind and her throat. She couldn't speak. Her body nodded for her and said nothing.

"Cool, me too." The Nephalim raised her hand and pointed lazily at the flesh pit, "Guess you're… hiding? Why? Flesh tendril try to grab you? Animate remains? Oh! The pit must have screamed at you after you threw your trash in it!"

Anita shook her head this time. She considered a thousand lies to tell this behemoth in front of her to save face; how could she look someone in the eye and tell them that she got frightened by a fart? The spider-girl racked her brain and sighed. She could say that she was there for observation, or to try and find a way to keep the pit quiet at night so she could get some very needed sleep. She could also tell her that she was there to poke and prod at the oozing flesh expanding the flesh pit at a molasses pace. Neither of these reasons sounded particularly appealing though. Who in their right mind would even think any of those would work?

God damn it. What the hell were you thinking? You're so fucking lame Anita, why would you even-

"It farted!" Anita blurted out, covering her mouth with her many hands once the words were fired.

The Nephalim cocked her head to one side, "It… farted?"

The brief moment of silence hung on that last word for eternity. Anita nodded.

"And you thought hiding behind a rock would block the wind?"

Anita nodded again. The Nephalim's cheeks filled with air as she tried to hold back her laughter. The effort was in vain; soon after she was doubled over, hands on her waist, laughter erupting from her as she bellowed so loudly that Anita felt reverb in her bones. The spider girl's cheeks were flushed, the scales across her body finally flipping over in their entirety and turning her invisible.

The Nephalim stopped laughing once Anita disappeared, "Look, look, I'm sorry okay? I didn't mean to upset you, you just… it farted?"

From the cover of invisibility, Anita responded, "It was horrible."

"I'm sure it was, arachnoid. I'm sure it was."

"I have a name!" Anita shouted, annoyed now.

The Nephalim raised an eyebrow, "Oh yeah? What is it?"


"Huh. Pretty."

"…What's yours?"

"Hrmmm. You can call me… Allocer."

Anita wondered if that was the Nephalim's actual name or if it was just one that she made up on the spot. Either way, at least the spider-girl now had a name to put to a face, and she was grateful for that. It was a decent name, strong, powerful, beautiful, like its owner. She peered over the boulder and stared at the flesh pit. It had calmed down now. Not a single boiling ulcer or fleshy bulb in sight. The flesh tendrils receded under a thick layer of oozing muscle mass and fat, leaving the edge of the pit looking like a sunburned tomato. Steam drifted up from the center of the pit at a steady rate, interrupted only by the occasional low moan.

The flesh pit was calm. For now.

Anita released her grip and slid down the boulder, resting with her back against it, "This thing keeps like, messing with our sleep. We live on t-the outer edge of Haphway, that's actually my house right there."

She pointed at the tall, lopsided, dilapidated building leaning precariously to one side. The wood of Anita's house was eaten by termites and dandelion-Lillies, two invasive species that doubled as a high source of protein and an architect's worst nightmare. There was a brick chimney loosely stacked that swayed in the breeze like the rest of the house did. From outside, Anita could see the silhouette of her mother chatting up another spider.

Hopefully not another guy, Anita thought, After a week without sleep, I'd lose my mind if I had to help her move another headless body out of her bedroom and into the trash.

The Nephalim craned her neck back, offering a terse nod of approval, "Ah so the uh, screamin's been keeping you up too?"

"Yeah," Anita said, gesturing behind her, "I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to… I don't know… make it feel better? Talk to it? Put it out of its misery?"

Allocer shrugged, "Could throw a few colotov mocktails in there, see what happens."

There was an emotion bubbling in Anita's stomach that she had never felt before. Her chest tightened, and each of her eight hands curled into fists. She shot Allocer a look with as much rage that she could muster, with four index fingers fully extended in her direction, "You take that back."

Allocer put her hands up in a defensive position, "Alright, alright. I was kidding. Relax. We won't burn the flesh. What do you propose we do then? Go in it?"

Anita thought for a second, resting a finger on her chin as four arms scratched her head. She hadn't actually considered what she'd do once she got to the edge of the pit. Perhaps casting stones or bricks into it? Chuck some healing herbs into it? Do large holes in the ground need medication?

Wait. Medication? Perhaps…

"Yeah," Anita said, stroking her chin, "Let's do that."

The Nephalim's face dropped, "I'm sorry, what?"

"Well, maybe it's sick and no one's helping it. Maybe if we, ya know, go inside of the pit, we might be able to fix the issue and get some sleep. Like anti-bodies or something!"

"I'm not getting assimilated, I'd rather dig my eyes out than become… whatever it is things become when they get absorbed."

Anita harumphed before scaling the boulder and climbing down the other side. She approached the pit tentatively, placing one foot in front of the other until she reached the edge where the liquid flesh bubbled and crawled outward. The spider-girl peered into the pit, looking at the undulated beige-pink mass staring back at her. A hundred eyes bubbled to the surface and split the skin, creating rudimentary eyelids for them to rest in. The eyes were all… different, but somehow the same? Most were human (as far as Anita knew), but some were distinctly Evo or even mechanical. They tracked her as she strafed, never breaking contact with any of her own eyes. She shuddered.

A jagged crack broke in the pit from the edge where Anita was standing. The flesh tore itself apart, slowly at first, and then with enough speed to shoot out a gust of wind that knocked Anita off her feet. She groaned as she landed on her back. The spider looked over as she heard a slow, methodical trot from Allocer. The Nephalim was standing over her, looking down into the crude and uneven stairway that was now present before them.

A massive hand reached out from the walls of the stairwell, gesturing the two inside. Allocer shook her head, helping Anita to her feet. Was she really about to do this?

With a straightened back, clenched fists, and the will of a creature much larger than she was, Anita sucked in a breath and started down the stairs. As her foot came into contact with the squelching mass beneath her Anita shut her eyes. She expected the walls to close in around her like in a horror movie, for her consciousness to melt away and join a collective that had no respect for personal boundaries or keeping people awake at night. And yet, nothing of the sort happened. Instead of liquid, meaty assimilation, Anita was greeted with the sound of low, pained moans and a putrid stench that burned the hairs out of her nose.

"Come," She practically hacked out a lung, "Come on! It's not that bad."

Allocer made a face that betrayed all of her feelings. She tentatively stepped onto the stairwell, trying to find her footing. The stairs weren't as wide as some of the ones in Haphway, but neither girl expected the pit to be accommodating for Nephilim. But as Allocer took another step down, there was a ripping sound. The stairs tore themselves asunder underneath her weight, rearranging themselves again and again until they were much, much larger. Allocer stood at the top, her face white, her body rigid. Anita smiled.

Together the girls descended into the pit for what felt like hours, the stairs shifting and changing to accommodate for Anita's massive hooves, and the cavern ceiling evaporating until it was tall enough for her to stand upright in. When they reached level ground, it was dark. The sunlight from the stairwell didn't reach down there, nor did either of the two bring a light source with them. Feeling around in the dark for an undigested torch or flashlight, Anita found nothing. She sighed.

"Alright, let's head ba-" Allocer began, turning on her heels (hooves?), and starting for the stairwell.

Before she got there though, the entrance to the stairwell sealed itself shut like a cut wound does after stitches. Only, this happened much faster, and the pit splashed a bucket's worth of blood and red gunk on Allocer's face. With a groan, she grabbed a few of the larger chunks of mystery meat and threw them on the ground.

"Real funny," She said, hands on her hips, "Real fucking funny."

Anita held back a chuckle. Allocer snapped her head in that direction and a glob of congealed blood flew at Anita, landing on her feet. The spider-girl groaned. Allocer laughed.

"You suck," Anita said, yanking her feet out of the glop with more effort than she thought she needed.

Allocer stuck her tongue out, "Well we're in. What now? I can't see anything, can you?"

"Hmmm," Anita pondered, finally free of the blob, "Let me use my spider vision and see which way we can go."

"Wait, you have spider vision?"

"Of course not."

Anita scanned through the darkness, seeing nothing save for vague shapes of bulging flesh that pulsated at a frequency that made her shiver. After a moment, the cavern ceiling started making a tearing sound. Ripping. Blood started raining down on the pair from above as a large, uneven crack opened above them and a body fell out.

The body was dressed in a white coat that reached down to its ankles, stained in blood and something else that Anita couldn't identify. The hair was long and blonde, or at least it would have been blonde had it not been dyed a deep brown by the pit. As the corpse rose, Anita could see its face. The body looked human enough, two arms, two legs, but the face of the thing standing before her was alien. Six eyes scattered unevenly across its head, and there were mouths barking without noise where its ears would have been. Its nose was two vertical slits that opened and closed sideways, and the body had no mouth to talk with where Anita expected to find one. Instead, the corpse had a long, prehensile tentacle like that of an elephant that sniffed the air in front of them. At the end of the trunk was a human mouth.

"Bright," The corpse said, giving the pair a terse nod before withdrawing a tablet from its coat pocket and activating it. The tablet glowed with a radiance that lit up the entire cavern, revealing an open path deeper into the pit behind Allocer. The corpse walked past them, taking the light with it.

"Hmmmmmmmm," Allocer said, shaking her head, "That's a hard 'nope' from me, fuck-o."

Anita shrugged and started down the path after it, "Feel free to wait in the dark then, Allocer."

Allocer thought on it, folding her arms and stamping her hooves around for a moment. But as the darkness slowly began wrapping around her again, she trotted after them shouting, "H-hey!"

The path was sloping down again. Anita slipped more than once while following the corpse, who partially melted back into the ground to keep its balance while holding the tablet above its head. Allocer kept the pace easily, stomping down the slope without rest or hesitation. Soon the pair saw a faint light.

"What is that?" Anita asked their corpse-guide.

The corpse rotated its head 180 degrees, trunk-mouth flailing as it said, "Bright."

When the ground leveled out again, they were in front of a massive, semi-translucent wall. On the other side of the wall was a pale blue light source, illuminating the cavern and silhouetting their guide. Anita could see the dark blue veins running across the wall carrying blood from one side to the other. She felt the warmth radiating from the other side as she approached.

She examined the wall from top to bottom, trying to find a way through. She cocked her head to one side and looked at the body when she asked, "How do we uh…?"

The corpse looked at the wall, then at Anita, then at Allocer, who shrugged in response. If she didn't know better, Anita could have sworn that the corpse was… shaking its head at them? The corpse raised the tablet over its head and brought it down on the wall. The wall gave way, if only a bit, before bouncing back to its original position as if nothing happened. The corpse then looked at Allocer again, and then back at the wall.

"Oh," The Nephalim said, ideas forming in her mind.

Allocer trotted to the wall, standing a hair's length away from it. She cracked her knuckles, sending the reverb throughout Anita's body and the rest of the tunnel. Allocer reeled her massive hand back and with one solid THWACK plunged her fist straight into the wall.

The wall erupted into a shower of blood and viscera, most of which had somehow avoided Anita and landed on Allocer. The Nephalim stood there, fist still in the position she punched in, and sighed.

"Of fucking course."

Anita chuckled and pat Allocer's leg as she passed her. The interior behind the wall was brighter than the surface, getting even more luminescent at the center of the room. There was a figure in the center of the light, one that Anita had to squint to make out in order to avoid being blinded. Allocer raised a hand in front of her face, shielding her eyes.

The corpse-guide pointed at the thing in the center of the light and said, "Bright."

Allocer scoffed, "Yeah no kidding."

"Is that what's bothering you?" Anita asked, turning her back to the thing.

The corpse nodded, "Bright."

Anita glanced up at Allocer. The Nephalim rolled her eyes and walked toward the thing with her head turned away and both hands raised. When she was close enough to grab whatever it was, she let out a loud grunt and started tearing it from the wall. A myriad of wet, squelching noises made their appearance as the thing was torn from its spot in the flesh. After a moment though, the noises stopped.

Anita approached with her eyes closed, feeling her way through the light until she touched Allocer's hind leg, "What's wrong?"

Allocer grunted once more, yanking back with all the strength she could summon. The thing did not budge.

"I can't grab it. Can you get in there from the other side and see if you can cut whatever is keeping it attached to the wall?"

"What is it?"

Allocer grunted, "I dunno, feels like a Skamp though, but I've never seen one glow before."

Anita nodded and felt her way along Allocer's legs until she too was touching the part of the pit where the glowing thing was attached. She could feel a thousand tendons connecting the thing to the wall, some of which felt similar to spider's silk mixed with some kind of technomantic metal. Anita hadn't performed technomancy in a while, and it was nigh impossible for her to do the severing spell properly while blind, but she hadn't come this far to get stuck now.

She clasped all eight of her hands together and thought about the connections in front of her. There must have been fifty, no, sixty of these silk-metal tendons keeping this thing in place. She lined all of the connections in a neat row in her mind's eye and said the words to the ritual, "Khalm no seris ha!"

Anita felt the heat of the spell slice through each of the tendons like a warm knife through butter. And then, Allocer was pulling again, snapping the rest of the ones she had missed. There was a crash that shook the earth as the Nephalim fell on her hind legs. The thing was free, and with its freedom, the light had begun to die down. Once the corpse's tablet was the sole light source, Anita could finally see what was causing all of the trouble.

The thing was tiny in Allocer's hands. It was dead, covered in mucus and muscle; not fully digested. It had the head of an alligator but the body of a smaller lizard, like a gecko; A skamp, probably one from the Wastepits.

"It looks… half-eaten," Anita guessed once her eyes completely adjusted, "Poor thing probably couldn't eat it 'cause of, like, radiation."

"So you're telling me this thing had indigestion from a fucking radioactive skamp?" Allocer groaned, slinging the skamp over her back.

Anita nodded, "Looks like it."

"Great. Now can we get ou-"

Before Allocer could finish, a swarm of flesh tendrils wrapped around her and began pulling her into the floor. The Nephalim screamed, but she was cut off once her mouth was covered by a bulbous flesh blob. Anita stood there, frozen, as Allocer was completely dragged beneath the floor. The Nephalim's hand reached out to her, clawing at the ground desperate for salvation. Then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone, replaced by an air bubble that popped as soon as it surfaced.

Tears welled in Anita's eyes. The spider-girl fell to her knees, barely noticing the flesh tendrils that began wrapping around her waist.

Anita was rocketed out of the flesh pit and soared through the night air, screaming. She gasped when she landed on her feet next to Allocer, who was standing and facing the flesh pit. The skamp laid limp in her arms, glowing faintly.

"Indigestion." The Nephalim repeated.

"Indigestion." The spider-girl confirmed.

The pair stared at the skamp for a moment. The flesh pit was calm, not a single oozing flesh bubble in sight across the whole surface. Even the bits of flesh at the edge had seemed to cease their endless march across the ground. Allocer chuckled softly at first, then a bit louder. A bit louder still, and then she was booming. Anita joined her.

The spider-girl and the Nephalim spent a while laughing into the night. When they finally calmed down, Allocer hauled the skamp over her shoulder and hurled it into the woods as hard as she could. She shared a look with Anita, shaking her head.

"Fuck that."

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