27. ‘Thoughts On The Undead’

Today’s track is ‘The Exploratory Vibes 1’ by Peter Connelly, taken from the ‘Tomb Raider Chronicles’ soundtrack. You can listen to the song HERE and visit the site HERE.

I smirked as I read through an article in the paper as I sat on my bedroom balcony, relaxing in the rare moments of sunshine the country decided to offer.

Ghosts – is there any truth to their existence? Or is it all just camera tricks? Walter Gutherie investigates…

My eyes scanned for a contact for Mr. Gutherie. I could wholeheartedly confirm that they were all too real in my experience. Even at the tender age of sixteen I’d seen spirits and demons; I shuddered as I recalled Verdilet.

I understood the naysayers – without experiencing it first hand, how could one possibly explain that a myth could come to life in front of their very eyes? Fighting mummies and armour wielding skeletons, I could certainly argue with sceptics. However, I couldn’t say they’d believe me.

Trying to exorcise demons and ghosts required thinking outside of the box – and then some. Although pumping them full of lead seemed to be the best and only option, it rarely, if ever, worked. And in my line of work, some of these tinkers were guarding the exact things I was looking for.

I grabbed the cordless telephone from my bedside table and dialled the number I’d found in the paper. I guess I couldn’t help myself. And I did love being right.

26. ‘Footsteps’

Today’s song is ‘Reading The Ghost’ by Peter Connelly and Martin Iveson, taken from ‘The Angel Of Darkness’ soundtrack. You can listen to the song HERE and visit the online shop HERE.

I felt conflicted emotions and I slinked my way through the Louvre. On one hand I was extremely pleased to see that security was far from lax, and that priceless Da Vinci’s were being well looked after. However on the other hand, my K2 Impactor was being used to full effect this evening due to said staff. 

It was a shame that I was unable to peruse these masterpieces whilst it was quiet. It would seem awfully dramatic of me to clear every member of security, just so I could see the Mona Lisa that little bit clearer. From the glimpse I’d had of her earlier, she looked a little different than typical public perception. I wasn’t able to assess her smile; I had vents to crawl through. 

Yet here I was after a successful route on the roof of the Louvre, hiding from a guard behind what I could only assume to be a stationery cupboard. Far less glamorous than the well-dressed hallways and grandiose housings of works of art like downstairs. 

His footsteps were ones that were not rhythmic; he would seem to either walk full pelt up and down, or stop and then walk three at a time. It proved difficult of when to peer around my hiding spot. I hadn’t wanted to use brute force; I much preferred using my weapon – it was far less work. 

With a scuff of his boots, I peered around the cabinet, armed. It was a small window, so I took it. I fired; sending shockwaves straight through his veins as he shook and dropped to the floor. I stayed low as I went over to him and ransacked his pockets. 

A security pass. PERFECT. 

I let myself into the surveillance offices and dragged him inside; throwing him on the chair in the corner next to a neglected cheese plant. Poor guy. Hopefully to one of his pals, he’d look like he was having a good night’s rest instead. 

With him sorted, I tackled the scene in front of me. Dozens of screens lit the room, buttons sat on the desk in front of me all labelled in French. Thankfully, I was fluent and began to scan for Carvier’s office. 

My ears pricked up as I heard more heavy stomps along the floor. I tip toed to the wall which would keep me out of sight until someone was to enter. 

Keys jangled and I readied my weapon, holding gloved hands around its grip. I needed these access codes but one more attendee to the slumber party couldn’t hurt matters.  

25. ‘Out Of Breath’

Today’s song is ‘Tony The Loon’ by Nathan McCree, taken from ‘The Tomb Raider Suite’ album. You can listen to the song HERE and visit the site HERE.

Underwater chambers were not a barrel of laughs, let me tell you. The sadists who had built them clearly had a penchant for switches and very little air pockets. To make matters worse, they were timed. How they’d managed to do that thousands of years ago, I couldn’t tell you. What I could tell you was that I was out of breath and exhausted.

I’d tried to perform this circuit many times; I’d figured out the switch pattern, it was simply the timing that I was having trouble with. Each time I exited the pool, the door would scrape closed and I would then let a few expletives fall from my mouth and drop heavily to the floor.

Giving myself a time out, I sat at the edge of the pool as I tried to slow my breathing. I took in the room’s details: mosaics, with the tones of a sunset, decorated the walls with symbols and Mayan glyphs, redundant switches sat either side of the door, almost mocking me. I scoffed and looked away, trying to plan the route in my head and how I could possibly do it any faster than I had been.

By losing my backpack, boots and weapons, it would lighten my load; but there was no way that I could continue on my journey and leave these behind. I simply had to be faster. I closed my eyes in deeper thought, still feeling my heart want to break free from my chest.

The pulsing told me to rest in not so many words. My heartbeat thudded through my ears as my chest felt tight. I was frustrated to no end that I still hadn’t managed to clear this area yet, I was also frustrated that my body could continue to be the ultimate ruler in my activities.

I wasn’t getting back in this pool for a while, was I? 

24. ‘High Above’

Today’s track is ‘The Duel’ by Peter Connelly & Martin Iveson, taken from ‘The Angel Of Darkness’ album. You can listen to the track HERE and visit the online site HERE.

Unfortunately, the best route appeared to be skyward. I clambered up the ladder as quickly as I could, even if the rain had proved it more of a struggle. The wire above me would lead me to another building; without a second thought, I jumped up and grabbed it, swinging with vigour to get over as fast as I could.

As I tucked my legs up to avoid the sharp iron décor on the edge of the roof, the blinding light from the gendarmerie helicopter struck me. I frowned as the light and the whirring blades proved difficult to ignore, but I had to keep going. I’d been pinned as a fugitive and no amount of well answered questions to interrogation was going to get me out of this.

I dropped from the wire as shots began to echo the skies; they weren’t messing around. The rain that poured down the tin rooves weren’t going to make these leaps any easier for me. However, with gunfire now being their next style of conversation, I had no choice but to proceed.

I slid down the metal, jumping to grab the ledge to the next building and paused behind a box as the searchlights flew over, whilst I peered through a crack in the crate. I swallowed hard; never did I imagine my trip to Paris would amount to this. Admittedly, I hadn’t helped matters by running from sirens, yet with Werner’s blood on my hands and his wishes to honour, this trip had quickly become a double edged sword. And that was putting it politely.

As soon as I began to manoeuvre the same as before this time without the spotlight, the cracked window beneath me gave way and I was dropped into a derelict room. What it could have housed previously, I’d never know. I didn’t want to stay too long to find out. As soon as I peered through the dingy windows, the searchlight glared at me with gunfire following soon after.

I was a sitting duck.

For Christ’s sake Lara, think! I said to myself, trying to recall what I’d seen in front of me before I’d dropped in here. My thoughts were cut short as a series of shots blasted through the windows; I covered my face as glass shattered in every direction.

With a deep breath, I kicked the door open in front of me, spotting yet another ladder on the wall. If the men in the helicopter were out for blood, they were going to have to work for it.

23. ‘Not So Abandoned’

Today’s track is ‘Surrounded by Green’ by Peter Connelly and Martin Iveson, taken from ‘The Dark Angel Symphony’ album. You can listen to the track HERE and visit the online store HERE. Be sure to check out the shop where Janice is offering some great Black Friday deals!

With Pierre’s retrieval job fresh in my mind, I slovenly made my way back to Le Serpent Rouge, giving a smile to Janice as I disappeared down the alleyway. Pierre’s warning of potential threats was water off a duck’s back, nothing I couldn’t handle – Saying that, I did not have any firepower to fall back on. If this place was as staked out as he had described, I’d have to sneak my way around.

I took in my surroundings; the Parisian streets were deserted, but I found it second nature to double check. Looking up, I couldn’t spot any surveillance cameras either. Hopefully their security would be as lax inside as out.

I slid the key in quietly, twisting its handle with held breath and letting myself in. After hearing footsteps, I crouched behind some beer crates and waited. I frowned as I heard the fuzz of a radio and faint chatter; from his response and swearing after being disturbed, I knew this was my chance.

As he clomped past me, I rose. Tracing behind him and dragging him into a small storeroom, my forearm tightened around his throat until his body became flaccid. I smirked after laying him down as my eyes glinted after spotting the pistol holstered to his waist. I’d been so overcome with making sure he stayed out of the way that I’d managed to miss this little treat first hand.

I tucked the gun into the back of my jeans and ransacked the office he’d come from, finding a little time as I hid behind the desk to wolf down his lunch that he’d laid out for himself, a meal he’d never have the chance to eat.

My stomach thanked me for it and I set off again slowly, my pockets now a little fuller than when I’d arrived. Recalling the small conversation that he’d had before lights out, it eluded to an issue with the lighting booth. Hopefully there was just another one of Bouchard’s goon’s to deal with – I had a lot to get done before nightfall. I did not have the time or the patience to be in here all afternoon to find this stupid box.

I entered to be greeted by the underwhelming dancefloor. Its heights make me think that it had probably been used as a warehouse before. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. It was hard to picture this place filled with patrons; with the threat of the Monstrum causing people to stay at home, it was understandable as to why people didn’t feel the need to let loose on a Saturday night as they had done previously.

As I manoeuvred carefully and quietly, I frowned as some equipment had been packed in black cases. Janice had mentioned that Bouchard had moved premises, but it hadn’t explained why he’d needed armed guards to perform such tasks. With the ammo I’d found in the office, it was obvious that these were more than just ‘removal men’.

I darted behind the DJ booth as I heard a door open and chatter pour out of it. I peered around the stacks of vinyls and saw three heavy set men walking by the bar, sharing vulgarities that no one needed to hear in any language. I squinted as my eyes fixated on more accessorised hips.

As they spoke, I took in details of the booth, spotting a switch next to an image on the back wall of an alien wearing headphones. I smirked; the last time I saw one of those things, they weren’t listening to music. Following the red wires from the switch, I noticed some were trailing to the decks and others straight up the wall. The location of Pierre’s trinket was hidden above me – could this be connected?

I wonder… I thought.

I backed up slowly and threw the switch; the lights illuminated and danced to the beats of the techno track as soon as it started. I saw sparks fall to the floor, knowing immediately that the fizzing lamp was my goal. The question was, why had Pierre gone so out of his way to hide something like that in such an obscure place?

Footsteps boomed down the metal stairs and down to the dance floor; this place wasn’t as abandoned as I’d hoped. With my blaring of the music, I’d hit two birds with one stone: I’d managed to lure these idiots straight into the proverbial lion’s den and into my line of fire – and I’d also get to have a little fun, too. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d set foot into a nightclub.

22. ‘Wonders Of Ancient Architecture’

Today’s song is ‘Where The Depths Unfold’ by Nathan McCree, taken from ‘The Tomb Raider Suite’. You can listen to the song HERE and visit the site HERE.

The chamber before me left me open mouthed. Opposite me sat a Sphinx in a room filled with sand, palm trees and small turquoise pools. An undercover oasis which had felt like a mirage of sorts; I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen water that crystal clear before.

I slowly made my way down to level ground, feeling incredibly small as the sphinx guarded with the room with an almost knowing smile. I was aware that I’d been alone far too long; the only company I’d had in hours were those of the suspected dead. I could confirm they were not. Yet for now, I felt safe in the moment to take in the wonders before me.

Winds from crevices I couldn’t see danced through the chamber, silently explaining the ripples in the sand underfoot. I traced my hands over the carved hieroglyphs on the pillar nearest the pool, feeling grains of history stick to my tacky fingertips. It told of tales and myths that anyone would have dreamed to have witnessed. I could never tire from seeing beauty like this; I didn’t think one ever could.

I turned to take another look at the idyllic palm fronds and pool in front of me. Blinking harshly, I continued to be amazed that it hadn’t disappeared. With a job to continue to do and already giving myself a stern word, I ignored both and continued to unlace my boots. My feet throbbed from their continued travelling and felt stifled in the heat and thick white socks, which almost felt like another facet to my uniform.

I sighed with a smile as I allowed myself minor rest, feeling the tepid water welcome my toes. Sitting back on the sands, I gazed in awe at the room. Concern scolded me as it warned that danger could strike at any moment within these walls, however my pistols were dry – I could still shoot whilst relaxing.  Swishing my ankles brought relief and tranquillity; I knew I couldn’t sit here all day, or night, but I could at least just allow myself another five minutes. Perhaps ten instead.

21. ‘Bleeding’

‘Vertigo’ serves as the track for today by Nathan McCree, taken from ‘The Tomb Raider Suite’ album. You can listen to the track HERE and visit the site HERE.

I dropped the empty shotgun to the floor, hearing the clang from the tiles echo around the manor walls in its wake. Silence fell as had bodies. My bare feet were lacerated, covered in both my blood and everyone else’s. My teary gaze fell to the scene around me; the corpses of Bartoli’s men littered the main hall, the last of their lives draining from them as crimson poured from their wounds and into the grouting, creating runnels of connecting death in between the tiles.

My soaked eyes were from many emotions; anger being the forefront of course, shock – As much as it pained me to admit it, I was scared. I’d managed to protect what I knew I had to and thankfully both of those were still locked away. The trouble was as much as I wanted to shield Winston and not want him to see the scene for himself; the monitors I knew he would have watched would have done that regardless.

The smell of shots still laid in the air, as had a slight haze from gunfire. Paintings on the walls were askew, most ruined by poor trajectory. The manor’s door had been ripped from its hinges. I sighed as I knew those could be replaced, whereas Winston and I could not. To be completely honest with myself, I was surprised I’d managed to come away from this relatively alright. I was positive I had glass stuck in my foot, yet the adrenaline that still flowed through me managed to keep the pain at bay for the moment.

I hobbled up the stairs, grabbing the blood spattered banister. Standing at the top of the staircase illustrated the mess of the hall once more. Lifeless eyes stared at me; their families would wonder as to why they had never returned.

I swallowed hard, frowning as I felt the anger swell within the pit of my stomach once again. They chose this life. They chose to break into my home. They knew this would be a matter of life and death; however they never expected it to be my life that would continue to exist.

I walked into Winston’s quarters, looking back at the bloody footprints I’d left behind me. Pushing the chair out of the way and tugging at the familiar spine that served as the key, I freed him.

‘Ms. Croft, are you alright?’ he asked as he grabbed my crimson stained hands.

‘Um, yes.’ I nodded. ‘Yes, I think so. A few cuts and scrapes.’ No matter how I’d felt, I’d never truly admit it; Winston knew that about me in his marrow. ‘You were safe? No trouble?’ I asked as I looked around his room, which had looked like it had been relatively untouched. I tried my best to fire them all off before they had a chance to get up the stairs.

‘No, all fine. I have to say it pained me to stay in here and watch you defend yourself like that.’ His voice trembled. ‘Thank you for always keeping me safe, Ms. Croft.’

The lump came to my throat. ‘Always.’

He squeezed my hands in his as he shook his head, drying his eyes with his dressing gown’s sleeve. ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’

‘Could you please give Ms. Gradwicke a telephone call? I could do with her assistance with the situation downstairs.’ She’d helped me with certain issues that didn’t concern the police, in the past.

‘Of course.’

‘Please make the call from in here; I’d rather you stayed in your bedroom for now. I don’t want you seeing everything in full colour. In front of that small screen was bad enough.’ I ordered as politely as I could.

‘As you wish, Ms. Croft.’

I thanked him and hobbled into my bedroom, taking care of my injured foot and getting in the shower. Seeing the blood wash down the drain was cathartic; it also served as a reminder that I’d set out what I’d wanted to, as soon as I’d heard those wheels crunch on the gravel – to always protect Winston with my life.

20. ‘In The Backpack

Today’s track is the ‘Tomb Raider II’ theme by Nathan McCree, taken from ‘The Tomb Raider Suite’ album. You can listen to the track HERE and visit the site HERE.

I had to rest. I was making silly mistakes. I was hungry, my mood was plummeting and the wounds on my knees were stinging more and more.

I clambered my way up into a little alcove out of harm’s way, feeling as weighty as lead as I let out an almighty sigh. Shuffling myself back to rest on the wall, I took a tiny moment to close my eyes as I listened to the faint trickling of water that I’d yet to see. My knees pulsed as I rested, serving as a reminder that this was far from a holiday.

Upon further inspection, my grazes and scrapes were rather nasty. Blood had trickled and dried down my legs; I’d become accustomed to just getting on with it, but the pain I’d felt couldn’t be ignored any longer. My fatigue had caused my sloppiness, which in turn made me face the consequences.

I shrugged my backpack from my shoulders, rummaging to find the medipack that would help soothe my lesions. The glowstick I’d snapped some time ago dimly lit the contents; I smiled as I pulled out a snack I didn’t know I had, feeling it widen as there was a note taped to the protein bar.

Ms. Croft, please keep your strength up and get home safely.

With love, Winston.

I shook my head as he’d never changed. Each time I was due to travel, he would ensure that my belongings were present and correct. No matter where I would be in the world, my backpack would always have Winston’s care littered through it. My medipacks were always filled to the brim with things I may need. He’d continued to go to the liberty of packing a couple of bars and even an energy drink for me.

He never had to do any of that for me, however he insisted. This tatty old backpack had truly seen better days, but I couldn’t seem to part with it. How it had managed to withstand all weathers, far more items than it should have been able to carry and thefts was surprising even to me. It was a relic in itself. No matter how many times I would upgrade my weapons and kit, this backpack would continue to be used until it was threadbare and carry no more.

As I enjoyed every single morsel of the chocolatey bar, I opened the kit to find some alcohol wipes and a couple of plasters.

Please be a little more careful next time and do get home in one piece. W.

He just couldn’t help himself, could he?

19. ‘Explanation Is Needed’

‘The T-Rex’ is today’s track by Nathan McCree, reading below you’ll soon know why! You can listen to the track HERE and visit the site HERE.

There wasn’t much that had surprised me in my line of work over the years, however standing at the foot of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that I’d just filled with lead had to be one of them. It also raised an eyebrow when Velociraptors darted at me baying for my blood, before I’d entered this somewhat arena. To be quite frank, it had taken me a few moments after to realise what I was dealing with. All of it had felt illusory; how else could I even begin to fathom that these dinosaurs had been able to survive millions of years later?

Questions ricocheted inside the walls of my skull; attempting to come up with any plausible answers, even for myself, seemed incredibly fictitious – and this was coming from a person who had just slain the last ones in existence. God, I hoped there weren’t any more.

Perhaps killing them hadn’t been the best thing to do in hindsight. Yet keeping still had slipped my mind, even after the stories of a T-Rex’s vision not being so great. I’d never been one to ask questions first – shoot first and ask later. I guess some things never changed.

 As they were still here in their demise and hadn’t faded away like some very odd vision, I had to believe that this had indeed just occurred. I was nowhere near fatigued enough to have simply crafted this from imagination or hallucination, nor had I been bitten by a venomous snake who had caused me to see things only a wordsmith could pen.

This happened.

The tips of my pistols were still hot to the touch on my thighs – I’d fired them. I kept my hands on my holsters as I tip-toed around the carcass of the biggest enemy I’d ever encountered.

In all of the things Winston would line my backpack with, I would have given the world for him to have packed a camera right about now. I felt a stab in the realisation that I’d quickly brought down any form of celebration about their survival. Some archaeologist, I was. Justifying it wasn’t going to make things better, but if it was them or me, no matter what it was, I would choose me every single time. I shuddered as I recalled the drool hanging from its blade-like teeth; I’d never fancied myself as a prehistoric snack, but they certainly had. In those moments, it was a no brainer.

18. ‘Surprisingly Functional’

‘The Spear of Destiny’ is today’s theme. Taken from ‘The Dark Angel Symphony’ album, it’s another masterpiece by Peter Connelly. I really think that this track encapsulates both the panic and the relief that Lara feels in this scene. You can listen to the song HERE and visit the site and store HERE.

Finally, I’d found the shore. I never thought it would come. Willpower to stay alive was the only thing that kept me buoyant and swimming. The current was strong, but I had no choice to keep pushing to get myself to safety.

I clawed my way through the sand, screaming with exhaustion as I tried to make it further inland as the rain thrashed my face. This deserted gloomy spit of beach was the only land I’d seen in hours. I was hungry, tired and with my exhaustion brought emotion.

I managed to get myself as close to the rock walls as I could; my weeping became almost animalistic as I tried to slow my breathing with minimal success. I loathed showing any emotion, but as no one was around and I could have quite easily died in that water. I allowed myself this moment to sob. My cries were tinged with gratitude, panic and relief. The guttural sting in my chest was evidence that I didn’t do this very often; even without a soul in sight and every reason to be emotional, I still felt overcome with embarrassment.

Sitting on the sand, I shivered uncontrollably. Going through my sodden backpack wasn’t a joyful sight; my notes were now ruined. I frowned as I noticed a slither of silver; an aluminium blanket. I was always dubious about these, yet with Winston insisting I tried one and with the cold seeping to my bones, I gave in.

Within a few moments, I felt calmer. My heart rate began to reduce as the panic that pulsed through me began to diminish. Thankfully I was also starting to warm up. I rummaged through my backpack once more, digging out my flare gun and without a moment’s hesitation, I fired it.

As much as I hated admitting defeat, I had no other option other than to ask for help. Whether my SOS would be seen was just another question I didn’t have an answer to. I had to push my ego to one side; I had no means of starting again. My boat sank, my research was gone, I had no climbing gear or the reserved energy to try and scale this rock face either. I’d escaped death once today; I didn’t want to push my luck any further.

I stared at the choppy seas before me; the waves taunted me as I waited in hope. I potentially had a long time to wait for rescue and a tide that wasn’t going to pause for anyone. My mind whirred at the next steps, I needed to strategize – what was I going to do as the water crept closer?

‘Shut up!’ I screamed. I wanted to silence my inner thoughts, I needed to silence them. The shock was still at the surface. I needed a few moments of quiet.

‘Just a little more time…’ I whispered to the sands as the wind whipped its grains around me.