"Any luck?" Evelyn asked while resting her head on her wrists.|
Remmy slowly straightened up and sighed. He spent the time pondering his situation rather than the next step. The more he thought, the more the pain grew, and the only thing gained through the eerie silence is the growling sensation in his stomach.
"Sorry, girl," Remmy spoke. "My mind's a blank."
"Well, we can try to wait this out. Someone should be coming around here sooner or later."
"If this can be waited out." Remmy replied and sighed again. "Evelyn?"
"You said you were from... Brahms, was it?"
"Yeah... what about it?"
"Nothing particular. How'd you get here?"
"Well, I drove here yesterday... last night actually."
"A car? That's good we can-"
"No... car's dead. It was the first thing I tried. It was acting fine, in fact I had it checked a couple of weeks ago, but it just... wouldn't start."
Rembrant rubbed his temples before rising up to stretch. Suddenly, his abdomen gave a desperate groan.
"Hungry?" Evelyn chuckled.
Remmy smiled back. "Yeah... I'm surprised you aren't though."
"That's because I had a bag of Cheese Snappers before I met you." She smiled, "I picked it up at the last rest stop before hitting town. Actually, I hoped that this place had something like a lounge or a fridge... but after seeing those things outside... I decided to stay put in this room. Though, I highly doubt that this place can store food anyway."
"Well, rust and dust doesn't quite scream hospitality, but maybe ther-"
Suddenly, shuffling was heard by both of them. Which echoed through the empty hallways.
"What was that?" Evelyn asked, slightly shaky.
Remmy picked up his lead pipe. "I'm going to see..."
Slowly and cautiously, Remmy walked towards the door, gripping the pipe firmly. He poked his head inside to the barren corridor along with his small flashlight and looked around. Relying heavily on his ears, he followed the noise as it becomes louder with each step through the littered hallway, his shoes becoming clustered with fallen rust. With each step and turn in the building, the noise sounded less than shuffling and more like static. Remmy's fears grew as he cautiously walked through the building's disturbed ambience. The presence of rust covered walls and calx-ridden floors didn't help to strengthen his courage.
"What is that?"
Remmy jumped and turned around to see Evelyn huddled behind him. He took a breath and responded. "I don't know, but I'll find out in a minute. I thought you wanted to stay behind."
"Are you crazy?? I don't want to stay back there alone. I've seen too many horror movies not to know better."
Remmy took a step forward and listened. He realized that the noise was coming from a nearby door. He clipped the flashlight back on his sleeve and reached for the knob. The handle gave a sharp squeak as he gave it a twist and frightened his new companion, who moved closer to him for protection. Remmy gave the door a slight push and walked inside.
The flashlight revealed a small and almost bare interior with a ceiling so high that it was impossible to see the top with the current light, and at the far wall was a rotting plywood table sitting on rusted metal legs. The visitors' immediate attention fell on what was lying on the table; A small, black handheld radio. As Remmy approached the device, the radio squealed louder and the white noise became more cluttered.
Evelyn, being cautious, turned around and closed the door behind them. She took a couple of steps towards Remmy and suddenly felt something grip both sides of her neck. She tried to scream but the force around her windpipe was too tight. Remmy picked up the radio as it let out very high pitched wails, unaware of his friend's predicament. Evelyn suddenly felt herself being lifted as she struggled to get free. She tried punching behind her, but her fists impacted what seemed to be rusted metal. As she fought to breathe, her legs flailed wildly as she was slowly rising in the air. One foot managed to kick the closed door, which finally alerted Remmy's attention. After he swiftly turned around, his eyes widened and jaw dropped as he saw what was strangling Evelyn.
A large mound of writhing, skewered flesh enclosed in a barless, linkless scrap metal cage was dangling from the ceiling from what looked like a black tentacle. At the bottom of the cube was Evelyn, struggling for dear life while being held up by the neck by a pair of short, thin legs. She kept trying to scream and fight as her eyes met with Remmy's, but her actions proved futile.
"EVELYN!!!" Remmy yelled, gripping his pipe as he charged. But before he could take the first step, he was suddenly grabbed by the neck and lifted. As both of them struggled, the radio was getting louder by the second, spewing large and nerve-racking amounts of heavy static and white noise. Remmy used his free hand to try to pry one of the legs off but each time he tried, he could feel the appendages squeeze him tighter. He also felt something nibbling at his hair above him. As an act of desperation, he took the metal pipe into both hands and shoved it upwards towards his attacker. What followed was a steady spray of crimson fluid originating from the newly opened wound and Remmy was immediately dropped. He coughed as his lungs pleaded for air as he slowly rose to his feet. He looked up to Evelyn's legs shaking rapidly and immediately took action. He once again gripped his pipe tightly and rushed to his friend's aid, swinging the pipe at the monstrosity's mid-section. As the blow connected, the creature swung back and the grip around Evelyn's neck loosened, making her fall with a hard thud. Remmy heard a gurgling sound behind him and ducked just in time before the other creatures legs could bind him again. With adrenaline fueled by both anger and fear, coursing through his body, Remmy raised the pipe over his head and plunged it into the monster. As blood sprayed then trickled from the new opening, the creature went still and raised both legs like a robotic doll. Remmy turned his head and saw the other creature advancing towards him. He immediately side-stepped it and stabbed, this time adding all of his strength to the blow. As the pipe rammed through its middle, the creature let out an awful gurgled roar. Remmy removed the pipe and saw the monster's legs rise up like its slain partner and heard sirens wail in the distance. He dropped to his knees after his head was suddenly hit with an overwhelming feeling of dizziness. He weakly turned to Evelyn and tried vainly to call out to her, but was little strength that was applied to his voice was drowned out by the mechanical howls. His vision became blurry as he watched his new friend lying motionless on the floor. He also tried vainly to reach out to her, but ended up collapsing on the bloodstained floor, his eyes still fixed on Evelyn.
Then everything went black.
The radio crackled as Mallory and Diana ran for their lives in the bitter, unforgiving darkness. Diana tried her best to regain her footing so the both of them could run at a faster, even pace. As the pain in her ankle grew, she noticed that someone was missing.
"Maggie!" she yelled, slowing slightly.
"It's no use looking for her now." Mallory said, gripping her wrists harder. "We have to lose these things fast."
Diana noticed that a hulking figure was attempting to ambush them from a nearby street corner.
"Duck!" Diana said as she grabbed Mallory's shirt downward. The two sliders went low just in time as the creature leaped towards them with one of its massive arms outstretched. Mallory felt the wind of the missed swipe against his back and felt a heavy thud inches away from him. He quickly rose and gripped Diana's hand and resumed their retreat before the monster could stage another attempt.
"Dammit! What the hell did we do to deserve this?" Mallory thought.
Fatigue grew quickly on them as the sliders pressed on. After rounding another corner, Mallory led the doctor through the door of a nearby building. After both of them had gone inside, Mallory immediately pressed himself against the door as his lungs worked busily to regain oxygen. As Diana leaned against the nearby wall to catch her breath, she turned her head and saw only a stairway that led downward. She instinctively picked up the flashlight Mallory dropped and aimed it downward past the steps, but the powerful luminous beam wasn't enough to pierce the shadows below.
"I think we... lost them." Mallory spoke as he looked through the peephole. "Maybe we should--"
Mallory's lips stopped moving when he looked behind him.
"What the hell?"
Diana gulped hard and took two cautious steps downward, her grip tightened around the grip of the flashlight.
"What the hell are you doing?" Mallory whispered.
"I'm... going to see what's down there." Diana casually replied, her voice wavering. In her head, she was asking herself the same question.
"Haven't you learned any lessons from horror movies, Diana?"
"We don't have a choice. Plus, we have that." Diana pointed to the radio. "Even if there's something down there, that radio can sense it."
"And what would we do then?" Mallory asked, growing unnerved. "We can't run back outside."
Diana sighed and spoke. "I don't know. We may have to. It could be safe, but it can also be dangerous. But we need to go."
With a deep breath, Diana proceeded down the staircase, each step on the aged wood planks sent chills down her body as the footsteps echoed through the silent corridor. Suddenly, she felt a hand placed on her shoulder and she shrieked in surprise. She turned around quickly with the flashlight raised above her head and saw Mallory's frightened face.
"Ah! ... um... sorry about that..." he said.
Diana clutched her chest and nodded.
"Uh..." Mallory continued. "Mind if I pass you? I want to take point." Diana replied by stepping aside and hands him the flashlight before resuming the decent. "That way if we do run into something, at least you have a chance to..." Mallory just stopped in his tracks and went silent. One moment later, he started chuckling.
"What?" Diana asked, looking puzzled and nervous.
"Heh heh... sorry. I was going to say 'at least you can get help'. I've never been in a situation without a backup plan before."
Diana gave a slightly nervous chuckle. "Well, me neither... No one to call this time..."
"... Yeah... " Mallory said as he lowered his eyes.
The travel down the stairs seemed endless, the faded and chipped brown paint on the walls made it as though they were walking in a looped film reel. Mallory's and Diana's footsteps provided an unlikely rhythm to shatter the surrounding ambience, their fear increased with each step. That would have stopped them if it weren't for the growing curiosity that fueled their legs. Several minutes have passed and the light had found a patch of wooden flooring that marked the end of their trek followed by a slightly damaged beige door with a metal knob.
"You ready?" Mallory said after laying his hand on the knob. Once Diana nodded in response, he turned the knob and slowly pushed the door open. The beam of the flashlight revealed a large storage area. Mallory had taken one step when the radio gave out a small crackle and soft hissing.
"... Uh oh..." Mallory said, stopping in his tracks.
He panned the flashlight around, illuminating every part of the room slowly for any signs of a threat. The beam revealed that the walls were draped with white sheets along with what appeared to be furniture placed around the room. Also, Mallory spotted three deformed mannequins, each one had its upper torso replaced by another pair of feetless legs.
Cautiously, the two sliders proceeded through the room, looking for any other exit. Step by step, the radio raised its cry of urgency.
"Mallory... do you see anything?" Diana asked, looking in every direction in front of her for anything threatening.
The flashlight beam grazed a nearby mannequin and it suddenly came to life, kicking its upper legs forward as it walked towards Mallory.
"What the hell?!" Mallory shouted.
Shocked, Diana stumbled backwards into another statue and it responded by landing a kick on her neck, knocking her to the ground. While she was recovering she saw the creature bend down towards her, the light reflecting from its smooth, polished plastic exterior.
Mallory turned to run, but saw that his friend was in danger. Immediately, he followed his instincts and slammed the barrel of the torch on the bending monstrosity. The creature yelled in pain from mouths unknown and tried to recover, only to receive another strike from the flashlight. It fell to the ground, now sporting two bleeding bruises from its back and side. Diana immediately climbed to her feet once she saw the creature twitch violently next to her, its legs flailing and contorting in quick, disturbing ways. Mallory ran to the scientist's side.
"You o-- AH!" Mallory felt something punch his jaw, nearly toppling him. Mallory regained his footing and kicked the monster's "gut", making it fall to the floor. It didn't get the chance to flail its limbs as Mallory continuously stomped on in uncontrolled fury. The room was suddenly filled with the creature's warped yells. Diana witnessed this in shock and saw the third creature making his way towards the infuriated slider.
"Mallory!" she yelled.
He suddenly looked up and saw the incoming monster, but slipped on the blood of his recent kill when he backed away, landing on his back. He groaned in pain as the creature walked closer, its topside legs acting like pincers.
Diana began to yell but something caught her eye. A broken, wooden table leg was lying on the floor, partially covered by a white sheet. Without hesitation, she grabbed it and made a one-woman assault towards the mannequin. It bent low, upper legs kicking in front of Mallory. He looked up to see a leg shoot towards his head when Diana slammed the table leg on the monster's upper crotch. The creature immediately turned and faced the scientist, and Mallory took this as an attack of opportunity and performed a leg sweep, causing it to crash to the ground. Without hesitation, Mallory got up and, with Diana, started stomping and kicking it until the mannequin's flailing had stopped. When the final blow was struck, sirens wailed in the distance as the room became blurry. Diana shouted at her friend, clutching her head as she saw him doing the same and falling to his knees, but her voice was mute. Mallory tried to yell for her, but all he heard was sirens as the pain of his head swelled, making him lose consciousness.
Maggie rapidly inhaled as she leaned against the door as hard as she could. After the separation with her companions, she ran a few blocks and took refuge in a nearby building. Her gasps and wheezes echoed through the room as the flashlight rolled away from her; the beam illuminating the decrepit walls and peeling paint and debris. The light stopped at a portion of the wall that is a rusted mesh iron plate, a symbol of a pyramid surrounded by two circles, strange characters and lettering engraved on it. Moments passed, and Maggie's breathing had slowed and she slowly opened her eyes. She looks at her surrounding then down at her own hands, which formed a small pool of sweat that mixed with the dust and particles on the floor. She took couple of controlled breaths of the stale air and listened intently for any incoming threats.
She began to retrieve her torch but stopped when she saw the engraving. Puzzled and frightened, she readily snatched her flashlight and proceeded down the nearby corridor. Her footsteps provided a deafening echo and she walked onward, the chipped paint an unwelcome addition for Maggie's allergies. The hallway stretched on for several feet and the sounds she was emanating was starting to wrack on her nerves.
"Dammit, where the hell is the door?" Maggie thought. "A door? Any door?!?"
Suddenly she noticed patch of dim red light several feet ahead of her, and it was still there after she pointed her light at it. As Maggie pressed on, she started to make out a figure standing in the crimson light. As she pressed closer, the figure simply turned right and walked away, dragging something heavy behind it.
"Hey!" Maggie yelled and she broke into a full-fledged run. "Wait!"
Her response was the echo of something scraping against concrete. Of the way she noticed a door, but proceeded down towards the hallway's end, which was stopped by iron bars. She looked passed them into another adjacent hallway, but no sign of the red light.
"Hello!" Maggie yelled. No answer. Re-collecting her bearings, she made her way back towards the door.
The following room shared the same decaying state as the rest of the building. Two scrap metal frame cubes rested on each wall, the only differences were the large metal closet resting on the left side and a rusted office desk sitting to her right. Maggie's alertness grew as her light shined from side to side, then stopping at a large cardboard box resting on the desk. Cautiously, she walked over the desk and looked inside the paper cube, and saw that it was filled to the top with newspaper scraps. She first picked up a piece and started reading, hoping for some info, but the slip didn't yield any and the remaining bits didn't look like it would help either. Hesitantly, she reached inside and started feeling around, figuring that the paper was used for packing purposes. Her hand finally stopped when she felt something cold and metallic...
... and familiar.
She grasps the object and slowly pulled it out, revealing a standard handgun. Suddenly, Maggie felt a rush of relief overtake her and check the clip. Full. 10 rounds.
"Oh thank God." She muttered as she looked over her newly found weapon. Her triumph was short-lived, however. "OK, now wh-"
Suddenly she heard a distorted yelp echoing in the room. Maggie frantically looked around, gripping the handle the handgun tight and found that the noise maybe originating from the closet. Weapon raised, she slowly made her way to the artificial space, grasps the handle, took a breath, and pulled the door open with her gun ready.
She peered inside, seeing that cabinet contained nothing but a large rusted hole in the storage box's spine as well as the wall it was placed against. Cautious, Maggie stepped forward and leaned her head through the stripped maw, followed by her torch. To her left she saw the iron bars that barred her entry from the hallway and further down were doors that were either boarded up or sealed by cement. Then she heard a warped cry of pain from her right and turned her head. He light can only reveal two doors as the rest was covered in shadow. Seeing that the coast was clear, Maggie scrambled to get herself through the opening to investigate further; the cold steel of her pistol filling her with confidence and vigor. Another cry filled the corridor, this time more intense and pain-filled.
"Hello?!" Maggie yelled as she slowly made her way down the dark hall, her pistol in one hand and her flashlight in the other. As she made her way down, she noticed the air getting staler. Also, every door she passed was crudely sealed by wooden planks. Then her eyes lingered at a rusted wheelchair resting near one of the doors. Her eyes remained there until she heard something slam against the far wall. Reminded of her mission, she pressed on and soon she found a door that wasn't boarded or sealed on her left. She stopped and listening for any other strange happenings, but can only hear some slight shuffling. As her grip on the handgun tightened, she reached out and opened the door.
What she saw next shocked her. All around her, she was surrounded by convulsed semi-humanoid figures. Half of the bodies contained four legs and no head, while the others have melted, stretched flesh for an upper torso. At the far end of the large room, Maggie saw someone wearing an extremely large red pyramid-type helmet and stained apron struggling with a convulsed flesh figure on top of a rusted metal table. The helmeted being held the figure down by the neck, standing over it as the monstrosity kicked violently in the air in protest. Maggie watched in horror as the figure's tormentor reached with its free hand on the table's side, picking up what appeared to be a large spike. Still it struggled, the flesh on its chest bobbed and stretched as it tried desperately to find freedom. In one swift motion, the spike reached a high height and then suddenly plummeted through the figure's abdomen, the sharp end also piercing through the tabletop. The mound of flesh stiffened, struggled weakly, and went limp; its legs brushing against its murderer's hips for the final time. Shocked at what she just saw, Maggie hurriedly grasped the handle and twisted it.
Locked. Surprised that the door didn't open, she continued twisting it, then starts pulling and pushing the door. The helmeted figure slowly turned towards the room's new visitor and spectator; the majority of its upper torso, including the head and neck, were obscured by the massive headgear. It then walked slowly to a nearby column and picked up a metal spear before making it way towards Maggie.
"Stop!" she yelled, raising her gun threateningly. "Freeze!"
The executioner pressed on with a turtle's pacing, ignoring Maggie's orders.
"I WILL shoot! Stop right there!"
It still pressed forward, stepping over the bodies of its previous victims. The light then revealed the dried blood that adorned the topmost part of the pole arm. Giving truth to her threats, she fired two shots at her pursuer, both hitting the massive helmet. Undeterred it still marched, now only a few feet away from the Slider.
"OK, fine." Maggie muttered, aimed for the torturer's legs and fired two more shots. The creature stumbled back a step, but quickly regained its composure and pressed on.
"Goddammit!" she yelled, firing two more bullets at its arms. The same reaction. The same recovery. As Maggie fired another shot, the executioner quickly raised its weapon and swung it at her, sending her flying towards the wall on the opposite side of the room. Massive amount of pain filled her left side, back, and head. She looked up, trying to focus her vision after the blow, to see that the executioner was still making its way towards her. Weakly, she raised her firearm and continued to fire. Two shots grazed the helmet, producing tiny sparks. The third went inside the monster's hip.
Maggie's eyes widened when she heard that sound, yet she continued pressing the trigger. A second later, the executioner loomed over her menacingly, raising its spear for the final blow. Her eyed were pooled with tears, both from the combination of the pain and the realization that her life will end shortly.
Suddenly, sirens wailed from distances unknown and the creature froze. At the same time, Maggie became very lightheaded and her vision became blurry. Through the haziness, she could see the figure lowering its weapons and turning away from her. The sirens became louder as everything dimmed. Soon, she went limp.
Jason was almost floored at how much the first level of the firehouse had changed. Gone were the dormant fire engines and supplies... and the ground. In its place was a large chasm so deep that any light had failed to penetrate. The only ground available was large, suspended chain-linked panels leading to the far end of the station. He looked over to the side and saw that the station's entrance was no longer accessible; a very large gap was between it and the nearest panel.
"Hello!" Jason yelled. No response.
His gripped his ax tightly and began to walk down the chain-linked road into the unknown. With each step, he'd grown more confused and concerned.
"What the hell is happening?" he thought. "First, Night comes in fast, then those dogs... and... Places... they just can't change so dramatically... not that fast... Am I in the same place?"
His eyes wandered to see the fire engine doors are still there, but are more rusty and hanging suspended over the chasm. Another thing that bothered him was that, before, there were only four doors when he came in. Now, there were more and the building seemed longer. As he pressed on, he started to hear additional noises. Metal tapping on metal and low growls suddenly filled the room. Panicking, Jason spun himself around and looked. The flashlight showed nothing behind him other than the makeshift floor. But the sound still persisted and it fueled Jason's fear. Without as much of a thought, he turned around and speedily pressed forward in a desperate run. Before long, he found himself before a wooden door that he did not hesitate to open and sprint through.
As soon as he entered, the noise stopped and was replaced by a new sound; a human voice, but warped. Jason listened intently, but the speech was indecipherable. Feeling dread, he panned his torch around the area, revealing the room being wider but the flooring was much more narrow, which lead to a large cement landing. A few steps later, he could make out an old mattress and blanket on the landing by the far wall. Slowly he made his way towards the landing, his ax at the ready for any surprises. Which each step, the voice got slightly louder, but still unclear. Also, the air had gotten noticeably stale, accompanied with a slightly vile stench. Soon, he stopped before the mattress and blanket, which revealed to be heavily stained, the voice revealing its presence beneath he sheet. Jason gathered his bearings, gulped, and stooped low, using his free hand to grab the topmost part of the cover. Pulling it back revealed a cassette player/radio, playing a cassette to the highest volume. Puzzled, Jason picked it up and examined it. Pressing the "Stop" button made the room silent and still. He ejected the tape, seeing that it had no label, put it back, rewound it and played it back. The same warped voice filled the air.
"Must be broken... it's stuck in reverse." He thought.
Running his fingers on the sides, he found a small level that switches between its dual functions. He started adjusting the tuner after flipping the toggle to "radio" to search for anything hopeful, but all he found was heavy static.
"Dammit." He spat. The radio went into a high squeal as something pierced Jason's back. He fell over screaming and instinctively tried to comfort his wound, but someone was trying to push the weapon in deeper. Instead, he grabbed the arm that's harming him and threw the adjoining body aside onto the side of the landing, seeing a two-foot tall figure almost careening into the abyss. Its skin had a greenish-pale hue with no eyes; in their place were crossed wrinkles and scratches. It struggled to regain itself as it mouth continued to show hideously decayed teeth of green and black. Jason hurriedly pulled out whatever stabbed him, which turned out to be an ice pick. Then he felt something else stab him as he tried to stand, this time in his left calf. Before he could defend himself, he felt another creature tackle and bit him on his shoulder.
"AAHH!" he screamed at the sudden ambush; the radio squealing loudly as if it were sharing the agony.
In a last ditch attempt to defend himself, he kicked the calf stabber in the chest, sending it flying towards the chasm. The creature that was gnawing on his shoulder felt something pierce its forehead repeatedly. With some stored strength, he was able to throw the maimed creature off of him onto the mattress. But the victory was short-lived, and he felt the first offender try to tackle him from his right. Jason struggled with the figure and was able to wretch himself free; the creature landing on its back after the scuffle. Angry, Jason took the last of his strength and raising his ax, swiftly bringing the blade down on his attacker repeatedly. After the last blow was struck, siren started sounding in the distance. Jason, overwhelmed by the pain, dropped his weapon and then to his knees.
"Wha... What is..." he wondered as felt dizzy and lightheaded; the room fast becoming a blur. Clutching his wounds, he laid his head on the blood soaked concrete and fell into unconsciousness.
"Wow... everything looks so different now."|
" ... How long have we been gone?"
"... I don't know... it's just... weird."
"But still... I can't believe that we... we're..."
"I need to make a call..."
Slowly Remmy opened his eyes in the dimly lit room. His hands felt satin sheets below him and his skin shrank due to the cold temperature. Groggy, he raised his head and rubbed his temple.
"What...?" he mumbled, massaging his eyelids to help clear his vision. Then, he suddenly remembered.
"Evelyn!" Remmy's eyes shot open, switched on his flashlight and looked beside him.
He looked around him, seeing that he had somehow made it into a furniture store. He quickly rose from the bed he was lying on and searched his surroundings, calling out to his companion. All he found was the lead pipe he had used, lying on top of an ornate, polished dining table two rooms over. He picked it up to reveal a compactly folded piece of paper.
"What the..." Remmy said and he picked up the parchment and unfolded it. The resulting sheet turned out to be a map. On it, a small building marker named "Goadmeyer's Furniture" was marked with a sad face showing tears. And a few blocks away from it, a marker highlighting "Toluca Community College" was circled.
"Hello?" Remmy shouted, fear building in his psyche.
No answer. Just silence and cold.
Why would someone want me to go to the community college? he wondered. What's waiting for me there? Where are the others?
Then Remmy started to regret going through that hole. He thought that if it weren't for his curiosity, he would still be with his friends. At least he'll know if Diana has made any progress to make the timer work. After beating himself up, he sighed.
Might as well head over there. It's not like I have a choice... I have no idea where to start looking.
Remmy glanced back at he map and couldn't find any police stations marked on it. While in thought, his hands became numb due to the cold. Instinctively, he put both his hands and the map back in his pockets. His left hand impacted the black radio he obtained earlier. Slowly he took it out and looked at it.
Maybe it'll work right now. Everything seems normal now... well, I hope so.
Remmy switched the device on and adjusted the tuner, hoping to catch a frequency. Low static was the only thing escaping through the small speaker.
Well... it was worth a shot. I'll hang on to it. And he put the radio back in his pocket. His hands now huddled in caves of cloth, Remmy started looking for the exit, using the stores hanging guideposts to find his way. Soon, he found himself at the entrance with a display window at each side showing off master crafted armchairs and tables with clearance tags. The gray light from outside illuminated everything in front of the establishment, with one odd characteristic.
It's snowing... I don't know why, but the snow doesn't seem right...What is wrong with it?
Taking a deep breath, Remmy switched off his light, unlocked the door and ventured out.
Jason woke up finding himself in a fetal position inside of a cramped space. Slowly he stood up, the pain from the previous encounter still linger in certain parts of his body. Immediately he began comforting his wounds, which already showed signs of healing.
Wha... What the hell happened? he thought as he shook his head and switch on his torchlight, revealing that he was standing in a storage closet. Across from him was a large wall-mounted closet-like cabinet with five open storage spaces; three of them contained a fireman's uniform.
And how did I end up in here?
Part of the protruding light fell upon a glass bottle with a label, "Bell Tonic Energy Drink". Curious, Jason picked it up and shook it, seeing that the contents are full. Feeling a bit hungry, he immediately twisted the cap and gulped the bitter liquid.
This isn't going to keep me at bay much longer...I need food.
Jason gathered his bearings and ax (which lay next to him on the floor), turned around and opened the door. He soon found himself inside the firehouse again, back into its original state.
What the hell is going on?
Bewildered, Jason headed for the door. He suddenly remembered passing something while being chased by the dogs. With silent hope, he prayed that it is much safer outside now, since he can see the dim light and fog through the windows. He walked over to exit the building until he stopped as he looked through the mounted window.
"It's snowing?" he exclaimed. "Why the hell is it snowing?"
"Mallory... Mallory, get up. Mallory!"
The slider slowly opened his eyes, seeing the blurred face of Diana hovering over him.
"Mallory. You OK?"
"Stop yelling my name." He said groggily. "My head is killing me."
"Well I had to wake you up somehow." She responded.
Mallory shook his head and looked around. "Where are we?"
He saw that he was sitting at the feet of a loveseat inside a homely looking living room, the light from the medium sized window above the sofa providing its only illumination, some of it filtered through the parted curtains. Pictures of children and a family sat on top of the coffee table across from them, the table linking the loveseat and sofa, and the television set next to a door.
"I don't know." She said. "Not in that damned room, that's for sure."
Mallory raised himself as he reached to turn on a lamp. "Seems kinda cozy."
The lamp didn't respond when Mallory flipped the switch.
"Well don't get comfortable."
"Too late." He said and he sat back down on the loveseat.
"We need to figure out how are we going to find the others."
Mallory sighed but Diana continued.
"It would seems that this dimension is experiencing random shifts in planes. One that is normal and one that is... well... it's like this place has some sort of multiple personality disorder but couldn't control which one gets to be dominant at a certain time, hence those... things during the daylight... well, I hope that it's daylight. It's about as close to daylight as I can possibly classify it. However, it's possible that it's because of this instability that the timer ceased to function. Remember when everything turned dark and the timer started acting all wonky?"
"Ow!" Mallory yelled. "I think you ruptured something."
Diana frowned. "Well, excuse me for trying to make sense of all of this. As soon as we figure out this strange phenomeno-"
"You. You do all the thinking and theorizing. I'm no scientist."
"Part of you is-."
"Will you stop bringing that up?!"
"Look. Even if I can bring him back, I DON'T WANT TO!"
"I'm not asking you to."
"Well, you damn well implied it!"
Diana sighed. "I'm sorry. OK? I'm sorry. I just want to leave this world as soon as possible."
"As do I-"
"But I can't do that until I find out what kind of situation we're in. Plus Maggie and Remmy are still out there somewhere. We need to regroup."
"And how are we going to do that? We don't even know where to look."
Diana sat on the edge of the table. "I don't know. I was thinking we could make our way back to the police station. Hopefully, the others will have the same idea."
"Um... Isn't the Police Station no longer safe?"
"Oh... yeah. But it's the only thing I can think of."
"What about the part about sliding out?"
"As soon as I know more, the sooner I can find a solution. This is new to me."
"In other words... you need a lab." Mallory sighed.
"Good luck finding one in this place. It's a resort town, remember?"
"Hey, we've found stranger things in stranger places."
Mallory sighed... and the silence became prevalent.
"So..." Mallory said, breaking the ambience. "What now?"
Diana sighed. "I don't know."
Maggie raised her head and rubbed her eyelids, the light from the nearby window fully illuminating the room she occupied. As she squirmed, her bare arms slid over segmented leather. She looked around and realized that she was sitting in a dentist's chair.|
"Huh..." she grunted as she raised herself. "What? How did I end up here? Where am I?"
She started to stand up with extreme difficulty, due in part to the pain from the previous fight. It was around this time that she realized she was still holding her empty pistol, which proved that her ordeal wasn't a hallucination. Slowly she made her way to the nearby door, opened it and limped out.
"Hello?!" she yelled as she walked down the dark hallway. With each step she gripped her empty pistol to dull the pain. "Anyone here?"
Moments passed and she found herself in the receptionist's area, seeing an emergency first-aid kit hanging on a wall near the desk.
"Thank God." She thought as she quickly took the case and opened it. She rummaged through its contents before finding what she was looking for, a small bottle of aspirin. After swallowing a couple of capsules, she made her way to the waiting area and sat down, the surrounding silence leaving only her thoughts. Past events played in her psyche, reviewing what went wrong and how to fix it, namely to reunite with her fellow travelers. What she thought most of all was the overwhelming fear she felt when she was approached by the helmeted figure. Back in that room, she felt something that she hasn't felt in a long while. Something she thought she had eradicated after years of training and service.
She felt helpless.
This feeling terrified her along with the thought of being alone. She tried formulating plans in her head, but she always ended up with dead ends. She had no idea if her friends were safe, or how to find them. She had no idea how to leave this town, let alone this dimension. Then the thought that the town might once again turn on her crossed her mind and made her shiver. She sat there and thought and debated until her stomach rumbled. Maggie looked up weakly, spying an empty plastic jar through the reception window with a label reading "Lollipops".
She closed her eyes in defeat and a slight pain in her abdomen accompanied a second growl.
"Food..." she groaned, making an effort to stand up. She knew that the only way to find nourishment... was to go outside. Without a map, she didn't know exactly what to look for or where to go, but she didn't have a choice since her stomach was now pleading to be fed.
"... OK... I can stand... hopefully I can still run." She told herself as she pocketed her pistol. Slowly, she made herself to the front door and twisted the knob.
Flakes of snow slowly drifted downward from the gray sky; some fell delicately on Maggie's head as she peeked out.
"Huh?" she thought as her eyes panned through the nearby haze-covered street, buildings and signs.
"It's snowing now... but somehow... it doesn't feel right." Maggie also noticed that there were no present breeze or a change in temperature. As she breathed, not any of it was visible. In each direction, the street only appeared to end in fog.
"OK... Left or Right... Left or Right... God, I wish I had that map."
Then her mind drifted to that of Mallory and Diana and her demeanor transformed into that of worry.
"Where are you? I hope you're still alive."
Her thoughts were interrupted but the audible protests of her impatient stomach. Taking a deep breath, she turned right and sprinted. Her footsteps echoed as she traversed down the empty street. She tried her best to see what buildings she passed, only to make out some antique shops and music outlets.
"C'mon, I need a place with food..."
Suddenly, a new noise joined her footsteps. Leather wings. Maggie increased her pace, looking around for the incoming threat. All she could see was thick mist, but the flapping continued, although it sounded distant. The chase and search continued for 5 blocks until Maggie saw a small parking lot to her right. Instinctively, she ran towards it, hastily speeding on the striped concrete. A moment later, she saw a small building and a sign.
Maggie almost yelled in relief but she kept moving towards the front doors, passing a buggy cache on the way. Her victory was short-lived however, when she spotted shutters blocking the doors, as she ran through the fog.
"No." She chanted, as she stopped under the outside canopy. "No no no no no no no no!"
The flapping was becoming more audible and was joined by sounds of tiny padded feet rapidly pounding the cement. Panicked, she ran along the side of the building, hoping to find some other way in. In a few steps, her field of vision revealed a large, partially open chainlink gate and a chain with a shattered padlock beside it. Maggie looked back and saw menacing shapes moving towards her before going through the gate, pushing a nearby barrel in front of the gate, and running off to the store's rear.
Along the way she spotted broken crates, shopping carts and barrels placed along the outer wall. Before long, she spotted a door leading inside, a white van parked beside it.
"Please be open. Please be open. Please be open..." Maggie repeated as she reached for the knob. It twisted easily and the door gave way. She breathed a sigh of relief and stepped inside.
As the door closed she found herself in darkness and quiet. Immediately she fished out her flashlight and panned it around, seeing that she was partially surrounded by boxes, barrels and packaging. Slowly, she explored this new space, finding a couple of forklifts and trolleys lying unused among the unstocked merchandise, along with a pair of service doors. Cautiously, Maggie gave it a shove and peered inside the market itself, or more specifically, the frozen food aisle.
Suddenly, she heard an empty can drop a few yards away. The sound echoed through the empty building, disturbing the surrounding ambience, and was followed by some rustling. Maggie quickly shut out her torch and slowly followed the noise, clutching her empty firearm. She also covered her nose when she passes a large freezer bin filled with spoiled meat and goods. As she proceeded, she also heard something scraping against tin and minute grunting. Maggie mentally cursed for having no ammo and moved on. Pressing herself on the nearby shelf, which was stocked with cookies, she leaned out to see what was causing the clatter.
"Whoaf!" The figure shouted in mid-feed. In an instant it reached for something.
"Freeze!" Maggie shouted, aiming her gun at the offender.
"Donp ... *gulp* Don't shoot lady!!!" Jason yelled, his hands shooting upwards.
Maggie turned on her flashlight and saw a very young, panicked man; his low-cut red hair almost matched the pasta sauce remnants surrounding his mouth. On the ground, she identified at least three empty ravioli cans and a fire ax.
"You're human." She uttered.
"Last time I-I ch-checked." Jason replied, visibly shaken, a can opener reflecting in his left hand. "C-can you lower th-that thing please?"
Maggie sighed and put her gun away. "Better?"
Jason slowly lowered his arms. "Yeah... um, now that we established that we belong to the same species, who are you?"
"I tell you mine... if you tell me yours." Maggie smiled.
"Jason. I'm Maggie." She said, reaching out her hand. Jason grabbed hers and shook it, the tomato sauce from his fingertips now finding a home on Maggie's wrist.
"Well, um, nice to meet you. Oh, sorry about that... I think 'toiletries' is in the next aisle."
"It's ok... it's not the first time I've had red on me."
"... Oh... um... you don't happen to know what going on, do you?"
"No... and I was going to ask you the same question."
"Not a freakin' clue."
Maggie sighed. "Are you from this town? I've been separated from my friends... Have you seen anyone else here?"
"No and no. I haven't been to this town in 3 years. What brings you here?"
"Just passing through. You?"
"Really? High School? Family?"
"More of a personal thing."
"Yeah... still, we're on the same boat now, Jay."
"... *sigh* Any ideas? I'm out of 'em."
"No yet... though," Maggie said, clutching her mid-section. "I may need to stop at a hospital soon."
"I ran into something... "
"Was it 3 feet tall and was carrying an icepick?"
"Ah... a different something."
"What are you talking about?"
Jason took a deep breath. "Um... I have a map. Let me get cleaned up and we'll look for a hospital together."
"OK. Before you go... can I use your can opener?"
Jason looked confused, then remembered the thing he was holding. "Oh! Go right ahead. It's not even mine anyways."
Jason handed the opener to Maggie. "Help yourself. I don't think the owner will mind."
Maggie eagerly reached down and grabbed a can of Chicken Noodle soup, disabled the tin seal and drank its cold contents. As she reached for another can, her thoughts lingered on the rest of her friends.
Mallory... Diana...where are you?
Maggie let out a hearty burp, disturbing the moments of concern and the pain in her ribs returned. Opening a can of tomato soup, she started searching the store for aspirin.
Remmy jogged through the heavy mist and falling snow towards his map's marked destination. For several minutes he had retried routes due to streets that were inaccessible from bottomless chasms. Having lived in southern California for a fraction of his life, he knew well enough that the holes weren't caused by any earthquakes nor anything man-made. After every few blocks, he would slow to a walk and catch his breath. He met little resistance however, as the streets and corners were scarcely populated by large dogs and more of the deformed beings he met after crossing over from the police station. Some he ran from, others met the business end of his pipe, all of them caused Remmy's pocket radio to hiss and crackle. He didn't stay to relish in his small victories, because he was more concerned about reaching his destination and finding out who was waiting for him there. His minor explorations revealed more about the town; its small shopping districts, its nice suburban neighborhoods, clean playgrounds... he couldn't place what would destroy what seemed to be a pleasant community. After a few run-ins, he decided that he'd have less encounters and more escape opportunities if he would use the sidewalks, since the creatures seem to mostly occupy the streets. After passing a mid-sized utility complex, Remmy spotted a large, three-story building and a sign on the front lawn.|
Toluca Community College
As he turned to cut through the grass to reach the front steps, three "dogs" turned and started running towards him. Remmy put more energy to his pain-filled legs and ran, climbing the small flight towards the glass doors. He immediately grasped the metal handle and pulled it open, thanking the heavens for it not being locked and went inside. The creatures clawed at the glass panels and growled after him as the door closed. Remmy breathed heavily as he slowly turned around, his eyes meeting a very clean interior. The floor was adorned with checkerboard tiling and is accompanied by a large staircase on the right, partially illuminated by the gray light outside. To his left, another glass door with a sign marking it as the Bursar's Office, followed by more traditional plywood doors and a darkened hallway with gray/beige colored walls.
Remmy took two more steps forward, his exhaustion almost lifted.
"Hello?" he called out, switching on his pocket torch. No response.
Confused, he looked back at the map to make sure that he was in the right place. "Hello?!"
Still, no answer. Remmy felt both confused and angry. Why would someone want him here and not greet him? Suddenly, his train of thought was interrupted by the growling of his stomach. Remmy walked into the hallway and saw that his beam targeted the student directory posted on a nearby wall, as the building's air temperature felt dead cold.
<-- Rooms 102-117
His first instinct is to go to the Student Lounge and raid the vending machines, but his eyes still lingered on the first post, his mind searching on what it may mean. As he thought he reached into his pockets to give his hands some warmth... then it finally clicked. Slowly he pulled out the key he acquired earlier and looked at the number.
Is this why I was guided here? He wondered, staring at the oddly shaped piece of metal. He took a deep breath and followed the guide arrow to room 106, the air became much colder and stagnant as he pressed on. Soon enough, he was standing before the door, staring at the marker posted on it.
Remmy began to insert the key, which seemed to slide in without difficulty. He then gulped and turned it. But the key wouldn't turn.
"What?" he exclaimed as he tried the key a few times. The locking mechanism refused to give and Remmy extracted the key in disgust.
"Well, that was a waste of time." He said in defeat. His hunger reminded him of his previous quest and he started his way towards the student lounge.
Maggie finished her second box of granola bars before she saw Jason walk back to her with clean hands holding a map.
"Better?" he asked.
"Slightly." Maggie said, groaning a little. "At least I'm not hungry anymore, though."
"Yeah..." Jason smiled as he laid down the map. "I've been looking at the map... we're right here... and the nearest hospital is here... about 8 blocks."
"Brookhaven Hospital..." Maggie said, looking at the building marked on the sheet.
"Yeah... but given the spontaneous large potholes, they're probably won't a direct route. And if its like every other place here... forget about seeing any doctors."
"I just want something to nullify the pain for the time being... just until we do find somebody."
"Like your friends?"
"Or like your friend."
"... I hope we find them..."
"I wonder what caused all of this, it's kinda mind boggling, you know."
"I don't know and I don't care." Maggie stretched. "I just want to find my friends and leave."
"Same here. Um... we should pack some food just in case."
"Yeah... let me look around a bit. Maybe the manager has a hidden stockpile hidden around." She smirked, tucking her empty firearm in her pants.
"I doubt it, but good luck." Jason walks off to one of the registers and placed a large paper bag inside of a plastic one, and jogs to one of the isles.
Maggie strolled away from the spoiled produce and stood by one of the gumball machines situated by the shutter-sealed entrance. She took comfort in having a new ally, giving her confirmation that she and her group weren't alone in this ordeal. While waiting, the marine panned her torchlight around the cash registers, candy boxes, magazine stands and conveyor belts. She was in the process of going to help her new friend pack until her light revealed an open leather duffel bag sitting near the customer service window. After taking a few steps closer, Maggie saw that it was a toolbag, the handle of a hammer sticking out of its opening. She pulled it out, feeling and grasping the rubber grip and swung it in the air to test its weight and versatility.
"Hmm... at least it's something I can work with." Maggie said to herself, eyeing both the blunt and sharp ends.
"OK, ready!" Jason yelled as he held a slightly heavy makeshift sack. "I only packed enough so it wouldn't hinder my running. I had a hell of a time getting here as it is. Might get more dangerous as we get to the hospital."
"Might?" she asked sarcastically as she walked towards the young man. "Considering our luck?"
"Well, excuse me for being an optimist."
"Yeah, let's go."
Then the two headed back to the rear of the store.
"You've got to be kidding me!" Mallory said while standing before a large chasm in the middle of the street, snow flakes drifting slowly towards the bottom.
"That's the last direct way out." Diana replied while looking at a map. "Give me a few seconds, maybe there's another way."
"Are you sure this is the right way?" Mallory looked around frantically for any incoming dangers.
"Well, according to the address on the utility envelope, we started on Levin Street and now we're on Bradbury. We just need to get on Bloch St. to cross the drawbridge. I wish I didn't drop the map from the diner... this one we found in the house seems old and incomplete. I mean, I found a police station, but I'm not sure if it's the police station we ran from."
"Diana, calm down or else your brain will fry. And we need it later. Let me see the map."
Diana handed Mallory the large piece of parchment and kicked a rock into the large maw.
"Wait, here!" Mallory said, pointing a small white line in the middle of a city block. "It looks like we passed up an alley that leads to Bloch." Mallory ran to the sidewalk and away from Diana and stopped. "Here! So far, no holes."
Diana gathered her bearings and followed her companion, the fog seemed to get thicker for each step she took. When she looks down the small passageway lined with garages, wire fences, and garbage cans, a chill went down her spine as she couldn't make out what was on the other side.
Mallory folded the map, pocketed it, and pulled out a hatchet he found in the house's kitchen. After taking a deep breath, he looked at the scientist.
Diana slowly nodded and they started jogging down the alley. Almost immediately, the radio began to emit white noise, which caused them to increase their pace. Out of the corner of his eyes, Mallory began to see small approaching silhouettes galloping and flying in the mist.
"Have you noticed... anything... strange... about the snow?"
"It's odd.... Why?"
"Well... none of it... is hitting... the ground."
"We should keep... focused... on the bridge."
Finally, they reached the next street and immediately turned right, the hissing and squeals from the radio growing louder. As they crossed the next block, a flying creature surprised Mallory and attacked him, scratching his right shoulder. He tried his best to evade it, swing his hatchet in defense while passing a very eerie looking church. Before long, they had reached the bridge, but the radio did not cease. Diana gave a sigh of relief when she realized the bridge was already lowered as they both ran into the mist towards Central Silent Hill.
"Nope, definitely not the same one…" Mallory uttered as he closed the large glass door behind him.|
Across from where they entered the small building was a large oak reception wall segmented into five booths with mounted pens and lamps.
"Well, so far, so good…" Diana said, making her way to a booth, and searching the area for anything useful as the light from the nearby windows illuminated the olive green painted walls partially. "At least it's quiet."
"Don't jinx us, Mallory."
"You believe in jinxes?"
"I believe in not taking any chances." Diana responded curtly as she tested the station's power status by switching on a nearby computer monitor, but had gotten no response.
"…You will not blame me for that." Mallory said quickly after Diana let out a sigh.
The scientist ignored her companion, and walked to her left towards the adjoining offices.
"Hey, I found a couple of bottles of…" Diana frowned as she picked up one of the brown bottles. "It looks like one of those new-age health drinks."
"Does it have a expiration date?" Mallory asked as he followed her inside.
"Don't see one."
"It's probably that 'guarawanna', 'ginsengy' stuff, whatever the hell it is… Tastes like crap but supposed to do your body a hell of good."
"Wow…" Diana whispered as twisted the cap.
"I had an ex-girlfriend that drank that stuff like water, though how she tolerated the taste is beyond me. … But then again she bathes with a very stiff sponge, so I'd rather not know."
Diana took a sip and shook her head in disgust as Mallory took the second bottle and gulped the contents.
"Yeah…" he gasped, flicking his tongue in disgust. "Hits the spot."
The scientist placed her bottle on a nearby desk and her eyes caught sight of something written on a blackboard. She could barely make out the handwriting, only making out something called 'white claudia'.
"Are you going to finish that?"
Diana immediately looked back at Mallory, who was holding her mostly filled refreshment.
"Let me store up some more courage first…" she sighed, walking over to another desk. "Give my taste buds some advance warning."
"Another thing that's odd…"
"Health drinks… in a police station. Aren't cops into the whole 'coffee and donut' diet?"
"You never know. Maybe the cops on this world are health conscious."
"Didn't help them any, did it?"
"Well, we don't know what happened… or what's happening."
"Out of theories?"
"Theories take a while to form, Mallory."
"Sorry… I just want out."
"I do too. But things don't always come easy."
"Or it won't come at all."
"Could you be a bit more optimistic?"
"I'm trying…" Mallory bellowed, sitting at a nearby desk while rubbing his temples. "I really am… but with nothing to go on…"
Diana sighed and took another swig. "We'll find everyone. We'll get the timer working. And we will slide out of here. We just hit a few snags reaching that goal, that's all."
"… I'm just tired of it, that's all."
"I'm going to look around some more." Diana said as she walked for the nearby door.
Mallory started to rise from his seat but the scientist stopped him. "No. I can handle myself. If not, just follow my screams."
The slider started to protest, but soon let his forehead rest on the document littered desktop.
The large oak door opened, the pale-colored walls and floors revealed by the outside light as Maggie and Jason stepped in.
"Hello?!?!" Maggie yelled as she cautiously stepped forward, holding her hammer firmly.
"With you as the exception, I haven't seen a living soul in this town since I went to bed last night." Jason said as he shut the door behind him and placed the bag of food on a nearby bench.
"I can always hope."
"Yeah… Though, the trek here was somewhat easy… only a couple of dogs… or whatever the hell those things are."
"Well, easy doesn't always mean safe."
"You're preaching to the choir."
Maggie walks ahead as she switches on her flashlight, revealing an intersection nearby and a chalkboard with a grid placed on the opposite wall.
"I don't see the reception desk anywhere…"
"Does it matter?" Jason replied as he switched on his torch, walking ahead of her to a door a few feet away from the gridboard. He opened it and looked inside.
Little by little, the pile of candy wrappers and discarded snack bags grew on the white tabletop. Remmy gave a hearty burp as he let a bag of Onion Crisps slip through his crumb-covered fingers. Content, his eyes wandered to one of the nearby large windows, its grayish white light filtering through the glass and illuminating most of the sporadic tables and chairs in the Student Lounge. Some of the rays hit the clear shattered barriers of the vending machines, giving off small reflections to the ceiling.
The singer watched the small flakes of snow fade in and out of view as they drift through the haze of gray. There were moments where he thought he saw faint shadows moving in the distance, but was impossible to distinguish in the thick mist. Remmy sighed as held his hands together, trying to think of some sort of plan… any plan… anything that can help him regardless. Then his mind drifted towards Evelyn. The blurred memory of her shaking in mid-air played in a loop before ending on her motionless body.
Remmy shut his eyes tightly, trying to repress that horrible memory. He used the rest of his mental energy to focus on anything, anything other than that room, those monsters or this world. Through his lids he saw only darkness… then stars.
It's been two days…
I mean… they were right behind us, right?
What if they didn't make it? What if…
I'm sorry… It's just…
I'm so scared…
Maybe he won't come back.
… … …
Remmy opened his eyes and found himself in total darkness. Reflexively, he reached for his shirt pocket and flipped the switch to his flashlight.
Everything was still in place. The glass shards. The furniture. The wrappers and flyers. Everything.
"What the hell… please don't tell me it's happening again." Remmy uttered in fear as he rose from his seat, grabbed his pipe, and ran to the building's entrance. Little by little, the torch revealed the modern doors and checkerboard floors of the corridor, briefly freeing it from the gloom. Once he arrived at the exit, he grasped the metal handle and pulled.
"What?" Remmy exclaimed as he yanked the handle repeatedly with no result. He looked through the glass panels, the light only extended to the stone steps below. Quickly, he turned around and ran for one of the side exits… but yielded the same result when he arrived. Through the otherwise automated doors, he could barely make out a catwalk that led to the other buildings on campus. Gripping his weapon tightly, he raised it up in preparation to shatter the glass.
Until he heard whispering and hushed voices coming from the nearby stairwell.
Remmy stopped his motion and looked towards the direction of the commotion.
The whispering continued. He lowered the pipe into a defensive stance and stepped closer towards the steps.
"Hey!!!!" Remmy shouted. "Who's up there?!?!"
The barely audible words seemed to lower their volume slightly. Taking a breath, Remmy held tightly to his pipe, placed his foot on the first step, and started ascending.
Diana looked through nearly every desk in the station, looking under messes of paperwork and searching through miscellaneous drawers, not finding a single sign of anything useful. With a sigh, she sat down in a nearby workspace and looked around, hoping to notice something that she had missed previously. She looked down at the tabletop and saw something typed about "white claudia" on one of the reports. She picked up the mesh of papers and read further, reading that White Claudia seems to be a key ingredient in some sort of local, but powerful, hallucinogen that produces very physically gruesome side effects. She flipped the pages to find some overdose files on how victims were found with large, pus-seeping gashes on various areas of the skin and pictures of webs of blackened veins from users thirty minutes after death. She was engrossed in reading the drug's link to a strange cult when she heard a voice.|
Diana jumped and looked back at Mallory, who stared with a look of concern.
Diana sighed, gathering the pages in a neat stack. "No… just some local history."
"Oh… anything that explains what's going on?"
Mallory groaned and paced away. "Uh… Diana… I looked out the window on my way here. … It turned dark again."
Diana immediately stopped organizing and froze. "No…"
"Maybe we should stay inside. It seems whatever is happening here only lasts for a short time. Then we'll go back out when it's daybreak or light out… or whatever it is with the fog."
Diana looked at her partner questioningly. "And you figured this out on your own?"
"I thought it was obvious." Mallory replied, returning her suspicious look.
Diana shrugged it off and looked around. "Any ideas on what we should do in the meantime?"
"I was hoping that you had some suggestions."
"Well, with no food and no clue… I'm all out."
Mallory wipes his brow before walking towards the rear of the station. "I'm going to see if I can find anything here."
"Good luck on that."
As Mallory walked off, Diana went back to reading the reports. From what she gathered, the religion in question seemed like a weird parallel of Christianity, involving the worship of a female God and her return to Earth to lead the faithful to "paradise". What followed was a summary of the bizarre rituals that one officer witnessed including blood sacrifices and ceremonies. She then gazed longingly at a photograph at some sort of sigil or symbol; a pyramid surrounded by two large rings with runes etched on the surface.
The scientist tore her eyes away from the paperwork and ran to her friend's aid. After running through a large, but short hallway she found herself in the station's jail, which mostly swam in shadow.
In one of the room's six cells was a small, makeshift altar with two fiercely burning candles with strange symbols carved and painted into the wax and a large chalice and an open book placed between them.
"Did you see this?" Mallory said, looking at her in complete fear.
"I-… it was empty… this room was empty when I checked." Diana responded, still staring at the illuminated display.
"I was passing by this room, but it was dark... that was about two minutes ago. But when I turned back to check on you, I saw this light. Diana, what's going on?"
"I don't know…"
Diana took a few steps closer, passing the cage door, then approached the book and read its contents.
Stained by the evils of this world, we hold our sorrows
within us. Only you heal us these wounds.
Each morning, afternoon, evening and night, we call out
your name and pray for the day of the miraculous descent.
I give to you unreservedly, my body and my eternal soul.
Whatever darkness may befall me, I will endure with you beside me.
As proof of your miraculous power, guide our obedient and willing
souls to the Road of Paradise,
We will not give in to the power of temptation as long as we have
you in our hearts.
Save us, with your compassion
Shower us with your blessings.
Favor us with your abundance.
Halfway during her read, the candles flared violently as the flames grew, nearly hitting the ceiling.
"What was- AH!!" Mallory suddenly grabbed his head and collapsed on the ground.
"MALLORY!" she shouted as she rushed to her companion's aid. As she knelt before him, she started feeling dizzy.
Sirens sounded in the distance.
Diana fell into darkness.
Jason followed the signs and slowly walked towards the elevators, fire axe at the ready. For some odd reason, the air became chilly and the shadows of the building seemed to be swallowing the passing torchlight. Jason walked and wondered, thinking of a possibility that Eric may still be in the building.
Why the games? He wondered. Why would he still want me to pursue? Does he know what's going on? Is he a part of it?
Before he can think more, he came across a pair of familiar metal doors and a button panel. He took a breath and pressed the 'up' arrow.
No light. No sound.
Jason sighed and made his way down the hallway, following the guide markers to the stairs. Through the silence of the hospital, his mind couldn't help but to think and ponder, especially about what's waiting for him on the third floor. A few more steps and he found himself before the stairwell doorway. He opened it and leaned his head in for a peek inside, panning his flashlight around for any visible signs of threat. He also kept his ears open, hoping that the continuing silence was a sign that the coast was clear.
"What are you doing there?"
Jason jumped and looked back, seeing a mildly pissed Maggie holding her flashlight and hammer.
"Uh… I just wanted to look around. I don't know, I was curious."
"Do you realize what kind of situation you are in? No place is safe in this town. You could have gotten yourself killed."
"I know… I'm sorry."
Maggie sighed. "Look, when I walked to the vending machines to look for you, I looked out the window. It turned dark."
"… Oh no."
"I think we should stick together from hear on in. There is no way in hell I'm stepping outside now. There has to be something… something that can help us. At least something that we can use to contact help-."
"Calm down, geez! I'm freaked out too, OK? I agree with the sticking together thing, I'm all for it. If it will get me the hell out of here then I'm up for anything."
"Yeah… so what made you think about checking upstairs."
"Uh… I don't know. Just a hunch, I guess."
"Here's hoping your gut is right. I better lead, though."
Jason jumped, and stood aside. "Oh… right. By all means…"
Maggie smiled then proceeded through the doorway with Jason following cautiously behind. She panned her torch around, scanning the floors, steps and walls.
"So far so good." She said with a breath. "So which way you want to go, up or down?"
"Up. Definitely." Jason said without hesitation.
Maggie nodded and proceeded up the cement steps, her light shining ahead.
"So… tell me about this 'Eric' guy." Maggie said as she climbed.
"Oh. Um…" Jason said, rubbing the back of his neck. "He's just a great guy. Very nice. Dependable. Smart. Always joking around…"
"Wow! Now I want to meet him." She smiled. "I consider the guy I'm traveling with now to be a failed smart aleck."
"A failed smart aleck? Never heard of one of those."
"If you met him, you'd understand."
Maggie then approached the door leading to the second floor on the next landing they came across and tried the handle.
"Damn. Locked. Stand back!"
Maggie backed away a few steps and rammed the door with her shoulder, but the door wouldn't give.
"Maybe we should come back to it later." Jason said. "Let's try the next floor."
"I'm sure this one will give with a couple of good bashes."
"Yeah… but we're not in a rush, anyways… c'mon, let's go."
Before Maggie could protest further, Jason began to climb the steps upward. The marine raised her eyebrow and followed.
"Why do I get the feeling that there's something you're not telling me?"
"I don't know. You tell me."
"Is there something?"
"No. What would I hide from you? There." Jason exclaimed as he reached the doorway leading into the third floor.
Maggie followed, but her face was still filled with doubt. Jason reached down and grabbed the knob and slowly turned it.
"It doesn't feel locked. You ready?"
Maggie nodded, gripping her hammer. Jason took a deep breath and pulled the door open, peeking inside with his torch shining ahead.
What was inside was a darkened hallway; the floor, walls and ceiling were made up of white, but slightly stained marble tiles.
"Must be some kind of psych ward." Maggie commented as she began to walk inside.
"With no overhead lamps? No doors?" Jason said, following closely.
"It's just a thought."
"Well, psych ward or no, given our currently screwed up situation, we need to spend as little time here as possible."
"I agree. But let see what on the other-"
The slider was interrupted by a sudden rattling. Both explorers turned with their lights and saw a large chain-linked panel drop from the ceiling, severing their way back to the stairwell.
"HEY!!!" Maggie yelled, grabbing a fistful of thick petrified wire in an attempt to lift the artificial wall. "There's people here!! Call this thing back up!"
Jason just stood watching his new friend struggle, still in shock after hearing the blockade descend. He began to snap out of his trance when he began to hear the sound of pebbles falling behind the marble walls.
Then he heard the sound of something slamming into solid rock… and the sound of more falling pebbles.
Jason, in a panic, reached out and grabbed Maggie's arm and ran for the other side of the corridor. Behind them, another chain-linked panel fell. Followed by another. And another. In combination of their feet colliding with the smooth marble and their breathing, was the sound of distant sirens. Both Maggie and Jason added more energy to their legs as they sped through the seemingly endless corridor. With each step, the wall slams were getting louder as well as the sounds of concrete separating. Through the sweat and darkness, Jason managed to make out a pair of double doors lying several feet ahead of them. Without thinking, without caution, he slammed through them with Maggie in tow.
Remmy shook his head and rose from knees, opening his eyes to see that his surroundings had transformed around him. What replaced the white-painted walls of the stairwell were large rusted metal panels haphazardly nailed in place and giant fans mounted on the platforms joining each stained cemented stairway. He began questioning whether he had allowed himself to walk into a trap, and if so, what was its purpose.
Earlier, he had ascended the steps following the strange noise, passing the double doors leading to the second floor's east wing which was heavily chained and locked. As he walked near the doors leading to the next story, he felt that familiar feeling of dizziness and dread, followed by the cry of a siren wailing from points unknown. After a few passing moments, he found himself in his current environment, standing before a pair of rusted metal double doors with flat wire meshes where the glass panels should be. Remmy's flashlight also revealed two hanging bodies encapsulated in a metal frame cube hanging beside each entryway.
The slider also noticed that the sounds he was following had ceased with the siren.
Remmy knelt to recover his dropped weapon and walked for the doors cautiously, grabbing a handle before pulling it open. The floor ahead was now suspended chain-linked panels hovering over a pit of shadows. He slowly walked through the corridor as his torch illuminated the calx-ridden walls and decrepit doors ahead.
As he walked, he began to hear hurried tapping.
Gripping his weapon tightly, he continued on. His mouth went completely dry as every bit of saliva passed down his throat. After walking a short distance, Remmy found that his path was blocked by a large caged panel sealing the next wing. He began to turn back until he heard shuffling coming from a nearby door. Nervous, he reached out to turn the knob and pull.
What he saw inside were five rows of tables, each containing two blood-stained sinks as well as stained and dust-riddled countertops. Remmy panned his light around, trying to find the source of the previous noise. In the room, all of the windows were chained and barred, darkness peering through the gaps of metal. At the other end of the chamber lay a small metal desk and a metal door with a barred peep window, both of which were rusted like everything else. As Remmy stepped closer, the light revealed some freshly made scratches on the door's surface, and a few more steps revealed that they were words.
TIME OUT. TIME OUT. TIME OUT. TIME OUT.
These two words were etched ad nauseum, some in large letters, a few overlapping each other. Remmy studied these words a bit longer, wondering what they meant and who or possibly what wrote them. The elder slider reached out and grabbed the knob slowly and began to turn it.
He jumped at the sound of his name, visibly shaken but his weapon raised for a defensive strike. It took him a few short moments to recognize the voice that yelled for him.
"Remmy! Thank God it's you!"
The slider began to descend from the sudden surge of adrenaline and focused on the tear-stricken but relieved face pressing against the bars of the peephole.
"Evelyn!" Remmy shouted and dropped his pipe as he took a few steps closer. "I'd thought you'd-"
"I thought you'd gotten killed! That thing… it… then those sirens… I woke up downstairs and you were gone and I walked around to look for you then I kept hearing things…" Evelyn's eyes began to leak more tears as she explained.
"… and I walked in here and got locked in then the sirens…" Evelyn pressed her forehead against the bars and began sobbing. "Remmy, help me. I don't want to be here anymore. I just want to go far away. I want my nana-."
"Shhh… shhhh… it's okay. I'll find a way to get you out and we'll leave together, okay? Just calm down for me, okay?"
"Please help me."
"It's okay, Evelyn. I just want you to be strong for me a while longer." Remmy reached down and tried the knob, which was stubbornly locked.
"Remmy, I keep hearing things. Terrible things…"
Something began nagging at the back of the slider's mind. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the key and tried on the lock.
It wouldn't fit. Remmy glanced down in disappointment but something caught his eye.
The numbers etched on the key began to bother Remmy and quickly looked up at Evelyn.
"Evelyn, I'm going to try to find something to get you out. I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can-"
"DON'T LEAVE ME!!!" Evelyn protested, her faced soaked in tears. "I don't want to be alone. Please…"
"I'll be back soon. I promise. Just be strong for me a little bit longer."
"Remmy, please… I'm scared. Don't leave me alone."
"I need to find a way to get you out first." Remmy began to turn away towards the classroom door. "Just be strong…" The slider gripped his weapon and ventured out into the dark world beyond.
"Remmy… please, no… don't go… Remmy!"
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