Originally posted at the JOC Fanatics BBoard.
"Guys, I have a strange feeling about this place…" For some reason this simple statement said by the only female in the group made the three men laugh. The tallest one put one hand around her shoulders and chuckled.
"Yeah, yeah… Wade, you have a bad feeling about every place"
But Wade didn’t give up.
"Come on Quinn, look around… doesn’t this house give you the creeps?" Quinn looked around. He figured the house in front of them was uninhibited. It was starting to get dark, but there were no lights in the windows, one of which was broken. As a matter of fact the house looked like something out of the horror movie. Moss was growing on a collapsing roof. Rocks were scattered all around and vines grew twisting in and around each other all across the house. And the fact that it sat in the middle of a foreboding group of trees did not help its appearance. He frowned understanding why Wade felt weird about it, but he shrugged it off.
"Wade, it’s just an old house. I assure you there is nothing to be scared about. It’s actually our savior. We don’t have any money for the hotel and I personally rather sleep in an abandoned house than on the street." He could see that she wasn’t convinced.
"Are you serious? We can’t stay here…Look at it…" she started arguing but was interrupted by the third member of the group.
"Ms. Welles, would you please stop this nonsense. Mr. Mallory is right. There is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just an old house." He saw that she was getting ready for a fight and turned towards the third man, "Mr. Brown, don’t you agree?"
"Hey don’t look at me. I’m not arguing with her. If she wants to sleep on the street it’s her business."
Wade threw an angry glance at him and sighed defeated.
"Fine. We’ll go inside. But don’t expect me to be happy about it."
With those words she charged toward the house. Men exchanged amused glances and followed her.
Wade hesitated a little before going in. This whole place was giving her strange tingling sensation. And not good tingling. But than she thought that if she won’t go in the guys will make fun of her. She hated when they pulled ‘poor little weak Wade’ on her. The door opened with a squeak. *Well, at least we’ll hear if someone tries to get in* she mumbled to herself and entered.
The house looked bigger inside than from outside. That could’ve been because the room was completely empty except for a giant staircase. The air stank of mildew and dust. Wade flicked the light switch and exhaled loosening up a little. At least the house had electricity.
Wade squeaked and jumped around. Quinn and Remmy were laughing hysterically.
"Quinn, you do that again and I swear…" she was so upset, she almost had tears in her eyes. Professor noticed and put his arm around her.
"Come on Ms. Welles, don’t mind their childish behavior. Mr. Mallory, as soon as you decide to grow up, you are welcome to join us." With that he pulled Wade toward the opening to the living room. Quinn and Remmy were just about to follow them, when a loud slam made them all stop dead in their tracks. They slowly turned around and saw that the door to the outside was tightly shut.
Quinn run toward it and tried to open without any result. He felt a twitch of fear but waived it off.
"It’s old wood. It must be stuck. The *wind* must have been really strong to shut it so tightly."
He saw that Wade paled a little and even Remmy stopped smiling.
Professor nodded accepting his explanation.
"Well why don’t we go find the kitchen? There must be some kind of tools there that we can use to open the door. Mr. Brown and Mr. Welles can go upstairs to see if there are any beds there. We all could use some rest."
Wade wanted to disagree, after all, in the movies everything went wrong after people split up, but she knew they wouldn’t listen to her. She sighed and made her way up the stairs. Wade was so lost in thought that she didn’t notice that Remmy was still talking to the guys instead of following her. When she reached half way, quiet meowing prompted her to look up. She saw a little black kitten sitting on top of the stairs. For some reason, seeing such a cute little animal put Wade at ease. Without farther ado, she ran to the kitty and picked it up.
"Hey guys, look who I fou…" she couldn’t believe her eyes. The stairs were gone. They just slipped in into the floor right before her eyes and disappeared. She heard Quinn yelling.
"Wade don’t worry. We’ll figure something out. Just don’t move. You hear me? I and Remmy will find a rope or something. Just please, don’t move."
She heard him, but his voice wasn’t the only one she heard. She never thought that hearing someone cry would paralyze her in fear. *It’s must be a lost child* however, that thought didn’t calm her. She got herself together and half-whispered.
"Quinn…" she saw that he can’t hear her and tried to speak louder. "Quinn."
He finally answered, "Yes Wade?"
"There is someone here. Someone crying."
His eyes widened. Remmy shouted at her.
"Wade don’t girl. Stay. We’ll be right there."
But she couldn’t control it. Crying was so gentle and helpless. Wade slowly moved down the dark corridor. The corridor was long with a few doors on both sides. Suddenly she saw a small light right down the passage. It moved away from her… and stopped next to one of the doors. When she moved closer, the light faded into the door, like it was asking for her to come in. Wade just stood there. Too scared to go in but too curious to go away. The door opened slowly and crying became a little louder. What Wade felt was beyond fear, but she felt compelled to go in. But the moment she did, she regretted the decision more than anything in her life. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound left her lips.
Quinn saw her leaving and tried calling, but she clearly was too preoccupied with something and didn’t hear him.
"Damn. Ok, professor, you stay here. May be she’ll come back. Remmy follow me, we’ll try to find some rope in the kitchen." He ran to the other room, glancing back once to make sure Remmy was following.
There was no kitchen. What they ran into was anything but the kitchen. Stock room may be, full of dusty boxes. Quinn and Remmy looked at each other and started rampaging through the boxes trying to find something they could use. A terrified scream filled them both with horror.
They both recognized the voice and said almost in unison "Professor!"
When they ran into the hall he was gone but the stairs were back.
"Professor! Professor, talk to me!"
"Q-ball, he is not here. I don’t think screaming will help much." He paused for a second and than said a little softer, "I’m sure they both alright man. And I know we’ll find them."
Quinn looked at his friend and rubbed his face.
"Remind me to listen to Wade next time she has a weird feeling, k?" they both chuckled, " Speaking of which, why don’t we use those stairs before they vanish again. Wherever professor is, he’s more capable of taking care of himself than Wade. "
"Sure, but don’t let her hear you say that. Hey, may be professor noticed the stairs came back and decided to find Wade."
"And screamed from joy? I doubt, but I hope you’re right man." But deep inside neither of them believed it.
A few minutes later both men stopped in front of the first door in the corridor. They exchanged glances and pushed the door. Some time ago this room was probably someone’s bedroom. It had a giant bed, a dresser and a couple of comfortable chairs. Quinn frowned. Something about that room wasn’t right, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
"Wade! Wade are you there?" no answer. Just a sound of rain outside. Outside. "Remmy, Did you see any windows in the house?"
"Windows… look around, don’t you think this room should have windows? And the hall downstairs… there was a broken window next to the door, but when we entered… nothing. Plain wall."
Remmy looked around uncomfortably. He realized that Quinn was right.
A loud almost maniacal laughing interrupted them. They looked at each other and ran out.
"Q-ball look…" Remmy pointed to a little white light shimmering right in front of them. Quinn extended his arm, trying to touch it but it flickered and moved away. It slowly floated to one of the doors and vanished.
"Think we should follow it Q-ball?"
"No, but we gonna do it anyway", with that Quinn entered the room.
There were a bunch of lighted candles inside. Just enough to cast a dim light so that men could notice a small figure at the end of the room. With sinking feeling in his stomach, Quinn moved closer, whispering "Wade?"
The figure started walking toward them, like it didn’t see the candles on the floor, "Wade, careful, you’ll burn yourself…" but she just walked right through… or rather candles went through her body without doing her any harm or even flickering… like she wasn’t even there.
"Oh my god Wade…" Quinn was passing plain scared right into deadly terrified. He reached for her but his hand just passed through, without feeling anything. She didn’t even notice. He got a strange feeling that she couldn’t see him.
Quinn always had a great ability to rationalize everything. He truly believed that everything can be explained. Up to this moment. Seeing his best friend… his soul mate… just floating in front of him… a ghost… not recognizing him… it tore his heart apart. His analytical brain refused to accept it, desperately trying to come up with something… anything… while his whole being was crying inside.
Rembrandt Brown was never a religious man. Of course he believed in God. And he went to church when he had the chance. But this is the first time in his life when he had a strong urge to kneel and start praying. His eyes were full with tears. He realized that it must be even worse for Quinn and put his hand on Quinn’s shoulder. Quinn didn’t even move. Suddenly the sound of laugh surrounded them again. Wade widened her eyes and opened her mouth, like she was trying to scream, but no sound came out. Her whole body started shaking and she turned around and ran to the door, fading into it.
Without thinking both men ran to the same door and pushed it, almost throwing it of the handles. The space that opened to their eyes was for the lack of better word, empty. The room was large and except for a mirrored wall there was nothing there. No sign of Wade or anything else. They stood there, not sure what to do next, when some kind of distortions showed up on the mirror. It looked like someone threw a bunch of stones into the water. When it finally cleared, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They could still see themselves in there, but the mirror showed the room that wasn’t there. It had carpet on the floor, painting and furniture. And a young woman. She was amazingly beautiful. She smiled at them extending her arm, inviting them into her world. Remmy moved forward but was stopped by Quinn.
"Don’t man, I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t trust this."
Woman’s smile changed into a hateful scowl. She started laughing and chanting in a strange language. Her arms started glowing and streaks of magickal light surrounded her. The men involuntarily moved away from the mirror, but their reflections didn’t move. Shocked they couldn’t move away their eyes. Abruptly the light flew from her hands into their reflections, engulfing them… and than distortions covered the mirror again and when they went away, it was clear. There was nothing in the mirror. Not even them.
Remmy moved toward the mirror and reached to touch it when the bright light blinded them both.
Professor opened his eyes. He didn't know how long he was out, but he hoped not too long. Something very strange was going on. Everything around him was filled with diaphanous white smoke. He decided that if he walks in one direction he's bound to hit a wall and than finding a door shouldn't be too hard. He got up and noticed that smoke started whirling. Slowly that inchoate swirl started resembling a human figure.
"Hello Max. Long time no see."
He remembered that voice much too well. It brought suffering to his heart.
"No! That's impossible… what's going on? Who are you?" he heard a quiet laugh.
"Oh, you know who I am. It's just your scientific brain refuses to accept the possibility. There is no easy way to say this… you're dead Max. And I'm here to welcome you."
When Quinn regained his vision, Remmy wasn't in the room. Somehow Quinn knew that screaming for him won't help. His stomach was so tight he could hardly breathe. He tried to concentrate and find an explanation to what was happening. As bizarre as it was, it had to have an explanation. May be if he can find an answer for this, he'll be able to find an explanation to what happened to Wade. The waterfall of fear, confusion and guilt swamped him again, but he forced himself to snap out of it. Wallowing won't help anyone. He'll just concentrate on one thing at a time. Right now he had to find out where did Remmy go. At this moment he realized something. Remmy didn't go anywhere. He did. He noticed that the room was filling up with smoke. A little sniff confirmed his suspicion. If he won’t find an exit in less than fifteen minutes, carbon monoxide poisoning will seal his fate.
Remmy looked around. He tried to figure out what happened. One second he was with Quinn, next he’s alone in a giant empty corridor. Shrill scream pierced the air and interrupted his thoughts. Remmy turned towards the noise and a silent scream parted his lips as he looked at the shaking walls down the far end of the corridor. The loud banging started to move. The sound was coming closer and closer and the walls shook and groaned and he could hear the snorting and growling. The sound got louder and louder until his ears rung and he couldn't hear himself breathe.
Wade was lying on the floor with her hands held tightly to her chest. She’s just been attacked by something she hoped she’d never see in real life. When the fear subsided, she wondered why? If those little suckers attacked Quinn, he’d die laughing. Wade flinched and thought of rephrasing herself for a second, but let it go and returned to question at hand. So whoever is in charge here, knew of her uncontrollable and inexplicable fear of those animals and probably even created them for her… After all how many flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz actually exist? She almost laughed at the irony when a blinding light filled the room. She closed her eyes and tried to prepare for the worst. If ‘IT’ could bring to life her most awful nightmares, she better be ready. She wasn’t ready for that…
Professor lost his breath for a minute. He said almost inaudibly "No. It can't be true. I…"
"It's true Max. I'm sorry. When you fell down that hole, you broke your neck… Now it's time to pay…" the laugh wasn't compassionate anymore. It send shivers down his spine.
"To pay? What do you mean?"
"Stop. You know perfectly well what I mean. Where were you when I got sick? Of course, your work was so much more important, wasn’t it? Tell me!!! And don't you dare lie!!!"
Professor felt blood rushing from his face. He slowly sank to the ground.
"You what?" the voice of his dead wife was mocking him now, "you've done me great harm? You're sorry? Well it's not working anymore. I can finally see right through your lies." Voice softened and professor could hear tears. "I needed you Maxy. And you weren't there. Too busy being married to your work…Do you know how painful it was for me?"
"Oh god, Christina darling, you know I always loved you. I was trying to spend every possible minute with you… I know now that it wasn’t enough… I'm sorry… I’m so sorry… I wish I could go back in time and fix this."
"Every possible minute? That’s a laugh… Even you don’t believe it… don’t you? Otherwise you wouldn’t feel so guilty… but it’s too late anyway. Welcome to hell!!!!" the hate in the Christina's voice was evident, but that was the last on professor's mind as smoke around him darkened in color and temperature fallen drastically ...
Quinn leaned on the wall. The gas was getting to him. He was barely standing. He knew that the moment he’d fall asleep he’ll be finished, but there was nothing he could do. There was simply no exit from the room. Strong cough attacked him, shacking him up for a second, but only for a second. Unable to stand anymore, he slowly sank to the ground. He thought how stupid this death was. He survived dinosaurs, Q and asteroids. And now he was dying from this. Could there be anything worse? At the last flash of consciousness he thought of something and a tear escaped his eye.
Remmy almost grew into the wall. He stood in icy shock as the sounds became unbearably loud and the air became thick with it. He felt terrible pain in his ears and screamed as he tried to cover them. At that moment everything quieted around him. He looked up and saw nothing. The corridor was empty. The walls stopped shacking. It was so quiet that he should’ve heard the sound of water dripping from the pipe right in front of him. Except he didn’t. He looked at the puddle almost hypnotized, trying not to comprehend what was happening. But he already knew. He opened his mouth and sang. At least he thought he sang. He couldn’t know for sure. He’ll never know for sure again. His worst fear has come true.
Nothing was happening. For a split second Wade thought that she heard someone’s singing. She wanted to open her eyes and call out for Remmy, but decided against it figuring it’s probably a trick. She lay there, wondering what’s in store for her now. Quiet whistling send a shock through her. She knew that song. She heard it once before. Memories of it haunted her for years before she was able to compress them deep down. Light breeze tickled her face and she knew where she was even without looking. A lonely corner of Golden Gate Park. She knew what was about to happen. The big question was, will it end as it did, or will this time he’ll succeed in getting what he wants.
A raspy voice has made her jump on her feet and running even before he finished the sentence. "Naw whats a pretty young thin’ like ya doin’ at the scary place like this?"
‘I’m still alive’ that thought helped Quinn awake. Still a little groggy he got up and froze in astonishment. He was in the middle of the street. Street he knew very well. Or at least the copy of this street. What was he doing here? He saw a figure walking briskly down the street and his eyes widened in recognition. ‘Oh my God! This can’t be true…’ with this thought he leaned on the tree and closed his eyes hoping, wishing that when he opens them, he’ll be back in the house… anywhere but here…
Professor was starting to lose hope. Low rustling sounds were coming from the smoke around him. Not just sounds… voices… whispering voices of lost souls. Everlasting and terrifying they were teasing him… tearing down his defenses… slowly driving him to insanity... Once in a while a white ghostly face flashed through the smoke… or a hand tried to grab him. . . making him jump and run even faster…Christina told him that he has another chance. . . if he will manage to get through the Passage of Ghosts, he will live. But there were not ‘Exit’ signs, he couldn’t even see where he’s going. For all he knew he might have been going in circles. He felt desperation welling up. He looked up and screamed ‘NO! I know what you’re trying to do. I will NOT give in to your foolish games. I know that I’m not dead. I know that you’re merely toying with me. I WILL find an exit from this mockery of a Haunted House. . . Do YOU HEAR ME YOU BLISTERING IDIOTS?’ Somehow, getting this out of his system made him feel better and renewed his strength. He stopped being afraid. The smoke started to dissolve and voices quieted down. He smiled with a triumph. And at that moment he heard familiar singing. But the sorrow in the voice shook him to the core. He didn’t know what the house was doing to his friend, but silently prayed that Remmy would be able to hold on until he finds him.
Wade’s run was stopped short by a high fence. It was tall and clean, without even the smallest bumps that’d allow her to escape. After a quick check she turned to run the other way, but it was too late. Someone’s strong arms grabbed her from the back and threw to the ground. She rolled over and looked at her catcher through the tears. He was still standing and yet she could already smell alcohol in his breath and see lust in his eyes.
‘Well, well, well. Now little gal… ya don’t have to run… just do what I tell ya an’ I won’t have to hurt ya…. much.’ With those words he took out a knife and played with it, making sure she saw his movements. Wade wanted to run, fight or at least scream… but all she could do was stare. Nightmares of her teenage years flooded her mind, taking away her will and ability to fight.
The wish didn’t come true. He was still standing on the street. Quinn looked at the man who was about to cross the road. He knew what was about to happen but couldn’t force himself to move to at least try and prevent it. He couldn’t even move his eyes away from the scene unfolding. One thought kept pulsing in his mind, ‘This can’t be happening… this can’t be happening…’
Without giving a road as much as a glance the man started crossing it… not noticing the car that was nearing him at incredible speed… Quinn finally forced his eyes close, not capable of watching it… but he couldn’t block out the sound… sound of car screeching to a halt… sound of metal hitting a body… sound of crashing bones… sound of the man’s last moan… full of fear and pain…
"NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!" Quinn dropped on his knees and his terrified scream dropped to a weeping whisper… "nooo, dad…please…noooooooo…"
Wade shut her eyes tightly. Her whole body was trembling. She kept telling herself that it’s not real. . . It can’t really be happening. But the touch of the knife outlining the cut on the blouse… right before cutting off the first button, proved her wrong. She could smell. . . feel him. . . tears were running from her eyes… every small part of her was screaming in agony. . . and yet she didn’t resist. . . she felt his hands running all over body and taking out her wallet. . . She prayed hoping that it’ll be all he wants. . . and even though this was where he stopped 5 years ago she knew that this time he won’t. She got lucky last time. A couple of guys scared him off. This time there was no one to save her. . . but herself. And this time even her body betrayed her. Refusing to fight. Refusing to listen to her commands to get up and run.
An agonizing scream jolted energy through her. . . She whispered ‘Quinn’ and without thinking what she’s doing, she threw her attacker off of her. She was on her feet before he even realized what’s happening. Shocked, he got up and started coming at her. Not afraid for herself anymore, knowing that her friends need her right now she found the strength to fight. She gave him a kick where it hurt the most and when he dubbed over in pain kneed him in the face. Without giving him a second thought she ran off with one concern in her head. "Oh God, please don’t let anything happen to Quinn. . ."
After hopelessly trying to find Remmy, professor sat down and concentrated. If the house was playing with his fears, the only probability to get to Remmy would be to be afraid of it. But how? How can you make yourself to be afraid of someone you care deeply about?
Wade didn’t even notice when the scene around her changed until she heard Quinn’s voice. She stopped dead in her tracks and became aware of her surroundings. She was standing in the middle of the street that she knew well. Across from her Quinn was kneeling on the ground and from what she could hear, crying. She didn’t know why, but she knew that he needs her at the moment and something was pushing her to run toward him.
Quinn tried to control himself. He realized that whatever was happening wasn’t real. His father was dead long ago. But the picture was so real. . . except that when he looked back just a few minutes later, there was nothing there. No remains of the car. . . no body. He heard his name and turned his attention to the voice that was probably the dearest to him in any world. Wade was rushing toward him. ‘She’s alive’ that thought took the weight of the world off his shoulders. He started getting up when realization of what’s about to happen hit him. Like in a slow motion he heard the sound of tires screeching on a turn and saw a car driving right at Wade. She probably heard it too but instead of running just froze like a dear watching the headlights approaching her.
‘WAAAADEEEE!!! WAAAADEEEE!!!’ still screaming he ripped the invisible bonds that were holding him and ran for her. Someone jumped on him from behind and tackled him to the ground. He realized that there is no way now he’ll be able to reach her in time and in horror he closed his eyes and waited to hear dreadful sounds, but instead a sweet voice whispered in his ear.
"I guess our deepest fears aren’t that different."
He rolled over ending up on top of her and hugged her tightly. "Jesus Wade.. how.. I mean.. wha.."
She hugged him in return and half-whispered in his ear. "That wasn’t me. Someone or something in this house likes to play with our fears and emotions. It was materializing what I thought was my deepest fear when I heard your scream. At that moment I realized that the worst thing that I can imagine is seeing you hurt. It seems that you had the same thought about me. So the house brought us together. For you to watch my.. image die and for me to see you hurt."
Quinn sat up and helped her do the same. "I should’ve guessed as much. But I was so blinded by. . " His expression changed to astonishment as he realized something. "Your deepest fear is to see me hurt?"
Wade rolled her eyes and answered a little sarcastic and angry. "No, I just think they were all out of flying monkeys", while thinking ‘God he can be so thick sometimes’.
He looked confused by her outburst and she felt a little guilty. "I’m sorry Quinn. I guess I’m just a little on edge." At that time she realized that she was even thicker. *His* deepest fear was to see her hurt too. At that moment she felt same amazement that he must have felt just a minute ago. She smiled at him and saw that now he was confused even more. She lightly caressed his cheek. He finally smiled and murmured "I’ll never understand women.. even as a friend." He lightly kissed her forehead and asked, "What now?"
Wade got up and looked around. They were back in the hall of the house. "Well, we don’t have to be afraid of my fears anymore." Quinn looked at her questionably as he was getting up.
She smiled, "As long as you’re next to me, I’m not afraid anymore" she saw his eyes light up and took his arm. He squeezed her hand and whispered, "I know exactly what you mean."
"So what’s next?" Even before Wade finished talking she found herself and Quinn in a cage. She heard roaring and turned swiftly to find herself face to face with a giant tiger. She froze in her place and whispered "Quinn" She felt his arms move around her and slowly push her out of the way, but she refused to bulge, realizing that would put him in immediate danger.
They could both see clearly that the big cat is getting ready for attack. Its muscles tightened and the body moved closer to the floor. Its tale was moving so fast that they could actually hear the sound of air being pierced. It generated another earsplitting roar and jumped. Wade closed her eyes and started whispering a pray.
The roar stopped rather abruptly. Wade heard Quinn sigh in relief and opened her eyes. The cage disappeared. Wade felt tension releasing her. She turned and looked at Quinn questionably and saw two painfully familiar figures right behind him. Her eyes widened and she squeaked in delight.
"I assure you Ms. Welles that I haven’t been happy to see you this much in a very long time." Even before professor finished talking Wade was at his side, hugging him as tight as she could. "Ms. Welles! I’m glad to see you too, but being strangled by one of my friends is not on my list of fears, so you should really stop trying." Wade shyly let him go and turned her attention to Remmy, who was standing a little farther, looking ill.
"Remmy? Are you OK?"
"I’m afraid he can’t hear you Ms. Welles."
Wade felt a sickening feeling returning to her stomach. "What?"
Professor sighed heavily. "It seems Mr. Brown’s worst fear was going deaf. That would take away the biggest love of his life – music. I was able to manifest a fear of finding first Mr. Brown and then you two. It wasn’t easy, but after remembering a few . . . should I say . . . accidents, I was able to insure myself that I’m afraid of finding all of you . . . in this particular situation. I won’t go deeper but I was able to control my fear enough to stop it right before it injured any one of you. Unfortunately I am not able to explain to Mr. Brown that this. . . deafness is a result of him being afraid of it. And the only way to reverse the effect is for him to forget about this fear."
While he was talking Wade came closer to Remmy and cupped his face in her hands. When she saw him looking at her, she smiled reassuringly and said, moving her lips as clear as possible, hoping that he’ll get the message. "You will be OK. I promise." She gently thumbed away a lonely tear that escaped his eye.
He hugged her, when suddenly she collapsed in his arms. Confused he pushed Wade away and she almost fallen on the ground when Quinn caught her and laid her on the ground.
Perplexed and frightened men looked at her unconscious body. Quinn kneeled and tried to shake her up and yell her name but it didn’t seem to be working. Suddenly he felt like a cold hand started squeezing his throat. Choking him... slowly, but steadily. He grabbed his neck trying to find the hand and throw it off, but there was nothing there... just the feeling of iciness gradually extracting life out of him. . . He tried to scream but couldn’t emit anything but a harsh whisper... Quick look to his friends proved his suspicion that they are in exactly the same situation and in no shape to help him... as his consciousness started slipping away he thought ‘It has to be another game... it will not end like this... it just can’t, but deep down he doubted. There was something different about it this time. It FELT different. This was not a fearful hallucination. This was reality.
A loud chime brought him back to reality. Another one followed. And another one. With each one he felt iciness releasing its grip on him and his ability to breathe returning. Four. . . five. . . he counted up to twelve when the chimes stopped. Still feeling effects of the grip on his throat, he cautiously sat up and looked around. He saw professor and Remmy stirring and turned his attention to Wade who was lying motionless. To weak to get up, he crawled to her side and whispered her name. No reaction came from her. He lowered his face to hers and detected vague breathing. ‘Thank God’ he thought and tried to awaken Wade by shaking her slightly and saying her name a little louder.
"Waaade, Wade wake up angel."
A loud "YEEEEESSSS!!!!" interrupted him. Frowning he looked up and saw Remmy laughing. Remmy turned to him and screamed, "I can hear man! I can hear!"
Quinn smiled relieved and gave him thumb up. "That’s great man. But I have a feeling we better get out of here before the next show starts. I really don’t wanna know of what more this house is capable."
Quiet whisper interrupted him and forced him to look down at Wade, who was now awake. "I don’t think there is need for that. Nothing else is gonna happen."
Quinn glided up even closer, sat up with his back to the wall and helped her move so that her upper body was leaning on him. He buried his face in her hair and hugged her tightly. She gently hugged him back for a few seconds before giggling and saying "Mmmm, Quinn? Oxygen becoming an issue... Petite redhead choking here..."
He released her, but her ‘freedom’ lasted for a short moment before Remmy got a hold of her, and professor right after.
As soon as they all made sure that each one of them is alright, Quinn decided that it’s time for a question.
"Wade, what makes you think that nothing else is gonna happen?"
Wade smiled and snuggled up to him. She waited until Quinn put his arm around her shoulder and then answered. "Simple, Dr. Watson. It’s midnight."
Quinn and Remmy looked at her questionably, hoping to get a better answer than this, but there was a hint of understanding in professor’s eyes right away.
"What Ms. Welles means is that those chimes we all heard announced midnight. The end of the unholy hours."
Remmy looked at him with sarcastic smile. "Oh, yeah, that clears it right up man. Unholy hours. Wanna ride it by me again? With *more* sense this time?".
But Wade interfered. "In some fairy tales, midnight means the end of unholy hours of night. Whatever was haunting this house had to leave at midnight. . . go back to the darkness and evil it came from. Kind of a rule to balance powers of good and evil on Earth."
Doubt filled Quinn’s voice, "So what you’re saying is that we survived because of some fairytale rule?"
"I have to agree with Mr. Mallory, Ms. Welles. It’s a nice story, but you cannot possibly believe this rubbish."
Wade rolled her eyes at professor’s sarcastic tone. "Oh and everything that happened here today is based on scientific laws? You have a better explanation for our situation?" She waited a second and continued, "I didn’t think so. Everything what’s happened tonight points to a couple of similar European fairy tales. . . I believe Russian or Romanian. I don’t remember details, but basically the story was about a house haunted by demons of fear, Chert’y. The ‘good’ guys had to control their own fears enough to survive till midnight to make them perish. And get the maiden that was trapped there by the evil demons of course." she smiled mischievously, "There is something else. Remember what day it was?"
"Yeah, October 30. . . wait you don’t mean?. ."
Wade nodded. "We landed here on Halloween. The night when evil is the most powerful. After midnight, it’s not Halloween anymore."
"As simple as that?"
"As simple as that."
"But what was it? What was haunting us? You think it was those Cheche guys?"
"Chert’y. Who knows what forces of darkness walk the Earth at night? It could have been them, or anything else, a curse, a ghost. And does it really matter? We survived. Now if you only listened to me and didn’t. . ." before she could finish her sentence, Quinn tackled her to the ground and closed her mouth with his hand.
"What did you say Wade? I can’t hear youuuoouch! What did you do that for?" he shook his hand, trying to lighten the sting in the finger.
Wade chuckled and showed him her tong. "Oh, stop crying you big baby. I didn’t bite you that hard."
He glared at her but couldn’t keep his face straight and started laughing too.
As the four sliders were leaving the house, they didn’t even bother looking back. Lucky for them. A beautiful woman that Quinn or Remmy might have recognized as the ‘mirror image’, was looking at them from the window. Her smile was not comforting. She whispered disgusted and pleased at the same time:
"Humans. . . always think they have everything figured out." her quiet chuckle was frighteningly cold. "I didn’t let you go because of that little fairy tale rule you thought up, little girl... I let you go because I saw your future... and it’s more frightening than *ANYTHING* I could do to you here..."
Alternate Earth 117