I woke up with a sharp pain in my back. I was lying on a hard-tiled floor, with my legs bent into an uncomfortable position. I forced my arms to lift me up, and then looked around. The room was well lit, mostly a clean grey color, and looked like some sort of laboratory without any of the equipment. The shelves were empty, the counters were empty, and the cupboards were empty. It looks like whoever left me here was very determined to clean things up thoroughly.
The room also lacked windows. It was strange. Don’t scientists like the sun? I shrugged it off, guessing I must be in a basement or just one room without windows. I put my hand on the doorknob, and opened the door. To my disappointment, the bright, grey hallway it opened to also lacked any windows. I must be in a basement, and there must be stairs leading out of here.
I wandered the door-lined hallway, opening the metal doors the whole time, just trying to see if the stairs were behind a door. Who could’ve brought me to this place? Why would they even want me? This place is too neat and together to be some abandoned building, so it’s clear this was done with some intent greater than a kidnapping or a joke. I was getting more desperate with every empty room behind every door I opened.
I stopped walking. Hold on. What was I doing last night? I couldn’t remember. I reached into my pocket, to pull out my phone and look at the date. My pocket was empty. Someone had taken it. Great. I sat on the ground, feeling utterly abandoned.
Sadness quickly turned to frustration and anger, as I tried as hard as I could to remember the last few days. I couldn’t. All I could remember were the biggest events to have happened recently. My birthday. A date with a girl. Hanging out with my best friend. All of these things felt like they happened years ago. I couldn’t even remember their faces. I started to question if they had actually happened. I was furious, all of my memories felt fabricated, and I had no way to find out why.
I stood up again. I needed to keep myself busy before I fell into a crisis. The only thing I could think to do was find the stairs. Thus, I kept myself moving along, opening door after door, peeking into empty room after empty room.
I was at the last door of this hall. It would either be the stairs or another hall. I took a deep breath, and turned the handle.
It wasn’t either of the possibilities I had just proposed. Instead, I stood frozen in fear, staring into the carnage that could barely be considered a room. Blood, human tissue, and bile covered the walls and floor. The lights were tinted a deep red, they were so covered in blood.
My eyes quickly shifted to the most disturbing sight I had ever seen. There was a creature sitting in the center of the room. It looked humanoid, but was many feet taller than any man I had ever seen. It had six arms, two where they were intended to be, but four more below the others, each with its own shoulder. It was incredibly thin, and I could count all of its ribs, even with this distance. Its spine rippled out of its flesh, and was on the brink of tearing through its own skin. Its bare legs were just as proportional: incredibly long and thin, poking out on either side of it at incredibly acute angles. It was easily more terrifying than the rest of the room.
The creature’s arms were tearing apart some carcass that I couldn’t see through the creature. All I saw was blood dripping from its skeletal hands. I thought it was eating the corpse, but then it turned its startlingly clean face toward me.
Suddenly, the room’s full height became apparent as this emaciated creature stood to face me. Its mouth was disproportionately wide. Its eyes were small in comparison, despite the extra room from its missing nose. Suddenly the terror left my legs, and I found myself running back down the hallway, leaving the open room behind me. I opened more doors as I fled, hoping to throw the creature away from me.
I turned into some random room, slamming the door. Damn, why isn’t there any furniture? I could really use a barricade. Instead, I hid in a cupboard, trying to stifle my tired pants and pounding heart.
I had to have waited for a few minutes before opening the cupboard, tentatively. There was nothing there. I crawled out of the cupboard. My adrenaline must have worn off, because I felt queasiness rise then overtake me. I vomited. Then I dry heaved. By the time I was done, my stomach hurt. I took off my jacket, and wiped my face off. My jacket was disgusting, so I simply tossed it onto a counter.
I quietly opened door and peered into the hallway. It was just as I had left it. The doors were still torn open . I hesitated. The creature could have waltzed into any of those rooms, and could be waiting for me now. I cautiously stepped backward into the room.
It was time to think. My hands were shaking, and I still felt sick. I looked around, and noticed what could be my saving grace. It was a sink! I felt my heart skip a beat as I rushed to the sink. I eagerly turned both handles.
There was water.
I drank greedily, my foul-tasting mouth being cleansed of its stale and terrible taste. I pulled my face away from the sink, and wiped my mouth. I still felt hungry, but I didn’t feel nearly as weak. As my strength returned to me, I found it odd I had never noticed the sinks before.
I walked back into the hall, with a newfound vigor in my steps. I looked into each door, and confidently closed them when I still found the contents empty.
I approached a door near the disgusting room. I looked in, then shut it. I looked at the disgusting room’s door. I shuddered, then quickly shut it before looking in. I sighed in relief. I didn’t want to deal with that room anymore.
I looked down the hallway and my handiwork. All of the doors were shut. I thought that I might wash off my jacket, seeing that I was going to be here a while.
Problem was, I didn’t remember what room it was in. I sighed. I guessed I would have to open every door again, and find my jacket the hard way.
I opened a few doors and shut them as I past. There was nothing in each. I was starting to reject the idea of cleaning my jacket.
I stalwartly stood at a door. If it didn’t have my jacket, I was going to simply give up and leave. I turned the doorknob, and pushed open the door. The room was dim. Only a single white light in the center was shining. Shining straight onto the creature! I stood still. If I made a sound, it would likely chase after me.
I heard a sink running. The creature was hunched next to the source of the sound. It seemed this room wasn’t quite tall enough to hold the creature. I held my breath.
The creature moved its shoulders frequently. I couldn’t clearly tell what it was trying to do, but I guessed it had to have been washing its hands. I resumed breathing as silently as I could.
It turned toward the light, and in result me, looking at its hands. They weren’t nearly as bloody as before, but they were still very well stained. I guessed right. It had been washing its hands.
I quietly left the door, and snuck into the nearest room, and hid in another cupboard. Better safe than sorry.
I waited another long while, trying to still my breath. I didn’t know how I had been so calm before, I was panicking now. My heart pounded, and my stomach fluttered. After some few minutes, and no noise, I slid out of the cupboard. There was nothing around. My room was still empty, but the creature could be anywhere. I took a deep breathe in, then raggedly breathed out. I was screwed.
I realised that I couldn’t just sit around and wait. I would likely starve. I made the choice to keep pressing forward. Whatever “forward” meant. I took to the door, opened it, then exhaustedly shuffled into the hallway, hands shaking with fear.
The hall was just as I left it. Every door was still shut. I closed my eyes and scrunched my face in frustration. I was back at square one.
I looked into a door. Behind it was no longer a room. Only another hallway with more doors. I suddenly felt cold. I opened another door. It held another hall. I stared down the hall in utter terror.
The terror disappeared,replaced by rage. I screamed and fell into a wall, sliding down it into a sitting position. God, what was I to do? This place had changed in the minutes that I had hidden in the cupboard. I didn’t know where the creature was. Maybe these hopeless hallways saved me from that thing.
I felt weak. My gut hurt from emptiness, and I was sore from running then vomiting. Every step felt like iron was strapped to my feet. My head hurt, as if I had a concussion. I really didn’t want to move, but I knew I had to.
I stood up once again. I opened every door in my hallway, hoping to see a room with something different than all of these extra halls. In time, I did. It was the disgusting room. It no longer held the creature. Only a naked man with his rib cage torn open. I would have vomited again had my stomach not been empty. Instead, I dry heaved another time. I walked away from the room, my heart pounding. This thing was somewhere. It was loose. It could kill me at any moment and I wouldn’t have any of the answers I’m looking for. I stepped back into the room. There must be something in here that I can use. I looked at the carcass. Of course there was nothing on it; it was naked and dead. I looked for a protrusion in the walls, hoping for a door. I didn’t find one. I opened the cupboards. Those were empty too.
I looked at my hands. They were covered in blood from the walls.
I searched for the room with my jacket. It took a little while, but I found it again. I wiped my hands off on the jacket, but they still had some dried blood on them after wiping them off. It seemed strange that this room and the disgusting room hadn’t been changed into hallways like the rest. I investigated the room, looking for some greater significance. The only conclusion I could come to was my jacket. This room held my jacket, so it didn’t change. The disgusting room held a body, so it didn’t change. There was another room that held me, and so it remained here. The rooms weren’t empty anymore, so they didn’t leave me.
After convincing myself that my theory was true, I entered the hallway again. The only thing left to do was test doors and see if I can find the stairs. I opened a door into another hallway and went in. I opened another door, to another hallway, and entered that hallway. I opened another door, one that was randomly in the center. Another hallway. I stepped into that hall.
I paced down that hallway. I was going to try a door at the end. What did I really have to lose? I stepped along the hallway. There has got to be some solution besides just guessing. I wanted to find it, but I had no resources. Besides, I honestly don’t know what kind of resources I would need.
My thoughts were interrupted by some tiles in the ceiling moving. Suddenly, the creature fell before me. I screamed again, and turned around, trying to get back to the previous hallway. I looked back for a moment to see the creature chasing after me in its full gait. My eyes widened, my chest pounded, and my hands shook.
I ran, ignoring the doors at my sides. I got to the end of the hallway, and turned the doorknob. It was locked. I turned the door to my left and pulled it open successfully. I slammed the door before the creature could get in, and pressed my whole body against it. I heard scratching at the door, and pounding. I didn’t hear the creature make a sound from its own tongue, however.
After a few minutes, I felt the creature’s weight leave the door, and I heard more ceiling panels move. The struggle between us had ended. I let go of the door, and turned to the hallway I was now in. My fear had fallen from me. The creature was weaker than I had first anticipated. Either that, or it’s just holding back.
I opened another few doors. I walked through another few hallways. Again and again, I was faced with the same sights. It seemed as if these halls were just a repetition of one. God, if only I could know.
I chose to enter another hallway. I wanted to lay down and sleep. However, I decided that there wasn’t really any energy being wasted if the only other option was to die. My hands shook from weakness. I placed my hand on the doorknob, and opened it. I would like to say I walked into the hall, but I’m lucky I didn’t fall down as I entered. I took a quick look around, hoping to see that there was something I had been missing. I sighed.
The door abruptly slammed behind me. I turned, my heart pounding in my chest once more. I turned toward the door, and pounded on it, screaming. Fuck, now I’m stuck again! I turned back around, and stopped where I was. The creature was there. It was on the other side of the hall. I figured the noise of my panic drowned out its movement in the ceiling.
I couldn’t help but notice its hands were much less bloody than when I first saw it. I felt my face lock up. It cleaned its hands just to pick me apart.
There were only about one hundred feet separating us. He stood there, hunched, staring straight at me. I stared back. I was either going to die here or I was going to hide in another hall. A hallway where I could still be killed. I made a split-second choice.
I ran towards the creature. It began crawling toward me with a disturbing walk cycle consisting of all of its limbs. I continued running toward the creature, resolute. I wasn’t going out without a fight.
I reached its position, and punched it in the jaw. I felt adrenaline once more. I punched it again. Then I punched it again. It started using four arms to block its face, while using another two to try and grab me. I grabbed one of its arms, and tore it off. It was brittle to the touch, and cracked more the harder I gripped it. The creature fell back, holding its bleeding shoulder. I dropped its bloodied and broken arm.
It turned to me. I could see terror in its eyes. I could see tears in its eyes. The grotesque thing standing before me was crying. It made no sounds in any of its throes. I stared at it. This terrible monstrosity stood before me, essentially begging for mercy.
I was its monster. I took a look at the blood on my hands. The fresh blood that stained my hands. This creature was frail. It was helpless. I took off my shirt, and stepped towards it. It recoiled in fear, before falling to the ground in submission. I took off my shirt, tore it, then used it to bandage the creature. I held it as gently as I could. For the first time since I woke up, I spoke. “Please forgive me.”
It laid there. It was still frail. Only now, instead of it being only physically frail, it was emotionally frail. I hung my head, and walked away. I sat in the corner of the hallway. There was no way I was getting out of here. The only company I had was the confused amalgamate, and I had torn off one of its arms. I was going to die here alone. Well, not alone, but with something that feared and probably hated me.
I opened the door I was leaning against. Surprisingly, it was a room. I must have moved to the opposite side of the hallway. Opposite being relative to where I started.
I looked in the room. This room also had a massive ceiling, large enough to fit the creature at its full height. The walls were covered with mirrors. I approached one.
What I saw in the mirror was horrifying. My own slight frame, my torso exposed, blood covering my hands and crawling up my forearms. My own rib cage, with those grooves in my skin visible. I had more in common with the creature then ever came to mind.
A glint in the mirror caught my eye. I turned around, and saw a counter in the middle of the room. I walked to it. The glint on this counter was actually a knife.
I could feel my pulse in my fingers. I could kill the creature, and end its terrible and silent existence. Is that what I’m supposed to do in order to get out? Is that what those sick bastards who put me in here want?
I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want answers anymore. I didn’t care about any solution to this puzzle. I just wanted out. I wanted to leave this place in peace. I only wish I could’ve undone the damage I had done. I took a deep breath. I knew what I needed to do.
I placed the tip of the knife over my heart.