“Aaron, where did you go?” Scarlett asked.
“Aaron?” Scarlett asked again, her voice high-pitched. The hall outside the experimenting room was deadly quiet except for Scarlett’s voice.
“Aaron was just here,” Scarlett muttered to herself. “Where did he go?”
A low rumble came from the other side of the hallway. The lights flickered, then went out.
“Aaron?” Scarlett shouted, shivering.
Another rumble, and this time it was louder. Scarlett started backing down the hall. The lights started flickering again, then came back on. There was no one except Scarlett in the hallway. Then the lights exploded. Scarlett shielded herself from the raining debris. She heard the rumbling again as if it were in her own ear. She ran down the hallway, taking a sharp right after reaching the end. She heard footsteps accompanied by panting coming after her. She took a right turn at the end of the hallway only to find a dead end. She looked around frantically for an exit, but there was none.
The creature seemed to be right around the bend. The panting was loud, and the footsteps were close. Scarlett made a choice: she ran back towards the creature. Her heart raced, and she was sweating. She blindly raced through the darkness, hoping the creature couldn’t spot her.
A hand grabbed at her. She shrieked, twisting herself out of the creatures’ grip. She ran as hard as she could through the dark, with the creature coming after her.
Walter awoke. He was in an elevator with an inhuman, beastly arm that was black as tar on his face. He screamed, throwing it off him. The elevator doors were open, revealing a dimly lit hallway that stretched on and on. He took a shaky step out of the elevator, peering down both ends to see if anything-or anyone-was there. It was empty on both sides. He started slowly and very quietly down the right side of the hall. The walls were made of concrete painted white, but much of the paint had peeled off. The ceiling was a maze of ventilation pipes that seemed unsure of where they were going. He shuddered. It was freezing, and he was wearing little more than a button-down and khaki pants. The scent of stale air found its way into Walter’s nose. Still, Walter continued down the hall.
After the encounter with the creature, he had become much tenser. Even a drop of water falling from the ceiling would make him freeze and back down the hall. After what seemed like ages, the hall took a turn.
Walter looked around the bend. Several rooms were connected to this hallway, which was shorter than he expected. This hallway seemed to be much smaller than the last. The walls looked like they touched each other, and the ceiling sagged, reaching for the floor. He took a couple of steps down the hall, then a few more. He looked into the first room. It looked like an office. It had piles of papers carelessly stacked on top of each other, and paper clips scattered on the desk that sat in the corner. A toppled chair lay on the floor opposite the desk, and next to it stood a bookshelf without many books. The walls were lined with pictures and documents connected by black ribbons, making the whole room look like a large spiderweb. Walter walked over to the desk. The papers on it were about missing person cases. He glanced up at the pictures on the walls. Some of the pictures matched the ones in the case files. He frowned. What was this room, and who worked here?
A crash sounded. Walter spun around, dropping the papers. It was just a book that had fallen. He warily inched towards the book, which had a faded red leather cover. It was thin and looked very old. He flipped through the book, but most of the pages were gone. The second half of the book still remained, though.
The words looked like gibberish, and Walter could barely read them. It was in English, but the words were unfamiliar. He tried to think of what it was, and finally, it came to him: it was in old English. At college, he had learned some old English, but he never enjoyed it and usually tuned out of those discussions. Now it came back to bite. He thought long and hard and then opened his eyes again. He looked at the pages again and tried making out some of the words. He found a few. There were normal words like laboratory and science, but he arched his eyebrows when he found the words ritual and monster. He wondered what this book was doing at the lab. He put it in his pants pocket to investigate later.
Walter came back to the desk. He looked at the paperclips. They were normal enough, but Walter couldn’t help but wonder what a person needed with this many paperclips. He pulled out a drawer, then immediately recoiled. Inside was a moldy sandwich. He scoffed. Who would leave a sandwich in their drawer? He opened the next drawer. It had more paper clips. He rolled his eyes. Who needed this many paper clips? The next drawer contained a notepad and a pen that was left again. He shook his head at the carelessness of the person who worked here. The last drawer was full of crumpled sheets of paper that Walter didn’t bother to look at.
Walter looked around the room one last time, then decided to move on. The second room was empty except for a table sitting in the center. Walter shrugged his shoulders and moved on to the next room. The next room was identical to the last, so Walter moved on. The fourth room wasn’t as empty as the last two. It was a cell of sorts, with a table on one side of the room and a barred off section on the other. Walter checked the table. It had no chair to accompany it and unlike the table in the first room, had no papers on it. Or paper clips for that matter. Walter looked over at the other side of the room, and for the first time realized that there was someone — or something — inside the cell.