In the moonlight by SION-ARA
In the moonlight by SION-ARA
Thin Man: What else is new~?
a little fella a littl critter
NIGHTMARE RARITY IS CANON?
THIS WHOLE TIME I THOUGHT THIS WAS A FANMADE HEADCANON-
"Disgusting is wrong. I make sure to keep very clean. And secondly impure is the word you're thinking of. Although Yes. Very true."
to think i was originally going to make the chef take the role of lady dimitrescu in my au
with a harem of of his own lower chefs
Ok so this is a horror game
The tv song??? Is so scary????? Literally creepy as hell???????
Twig’s tears can make the forest grow at increased rates. Good for enemies he doesn’t want to kill. Enjoy your stay, Richard
Richard by @rantdragon
Twig by me
The Conductor asked him to do this or else he was gonna do it himself with fire.
God I never thought I'd be playing a horror game but here we are *downloads the Dagon game*
not happy with how this came out but i may as well post it
Me, seeing there’s no options for subtitles: ok this better be a game with no talking or important noises.
My sister: apparently the only character who ever says anything is you and you just sort of yell hi sometimes.
Me: good enough.
Chapter Five: “What a Surprise.”
“ Pssst. Heyy… wakey wakey. “
It’s funny how someone can sleep on a constantly rocking boat. They guess the people here just got used to it. You’d probably have to, really. The only way they could really tell, is how the angle of Roger’s room shifted every so often. It’s fascinating.
They stare, intently, at the resting worker, a big smile upon their face. They do silently note the lack of the skin covering his eyes. That’s new.
“ ..Pssssssttt…. “ [ REDACTED ] begun to tap on his shoulder, at a quick pace. He should be up now, since he was so fussy about work. Was sleeping an exception? They doubt so.
They watch Roger stir, unblinking. Wake up, friend, the time has come…
To wake up, they mean.
They watch, floating uncomfortably close to the Janitor’s face, as his ‘eyes’ flutter open. Grinning.
“ Hey there, buddy… I’d say you have a nice bed head, but you don’t seem to have any hair. “
They calmly watch his reaction, his eyes widen, before jolting upwards, yelping. [ REDACTED ], only snickers at this. “ Ehehehe. Did I get you? Yeah, I got you. “ Their voice had a childish tone to it. Roger simply blinks, in- surprise- and confusion. Who-… why does he recognize that voice.
“ …W-Who— what- “
“ Say, do you happen to know any Chefs? I just so managed to give them a visit yesterday! It was fun… “ They giggle a slight bit.
“ ..wait… a-are you the… th.. “ Processing, he’s lost. Perfect. “ … “ He rubs at his eyes, rather aggressively. All the while, the strange shadow just looms, smiling.
Though, the looming doesn’t necessarily last for too long, as they are swatted at. Wow. How rude!
“ Wh— excuse me?? Can you not? Gosh! “ They float backwards, away from the swatting Janitor, staring him directly in the eyes as he glares.
“ What’re you doing here..? “ His eyes narrow. [ REDACTED ] blinks.
” I just wanted to visit a friend. But clearly, you didn’t get the memo. “
“ ..Friend? The hell are you talking about. “ He slowly steps out of his bed, and onto the floor, staring the… thing down. “ I barely even know you, Mr. It’s Not Important. “
“ Hey! You wouldn’t want to say who you were to a stranger, right..? “ They tilt their head to the side, that smile still plastered onto their face. Roger just- frowns. You’re kidding, right?
“ Says the person who’s calling me their ‘friend.’ “ He huffs, glancing to the side. “ Now- if you excuse me.. “ the Janitor simply turns, and shuffles away from them. They aren’t worth his time, really. He has work to do, now recalling yesterday. Gotta get caught up.
He heard the snickering. The giggling. How immature are they? He just exits the room, not even taking the time to look at them.
Sigh. Okay. He glances back as he closes the door. Are they… not following? Well, that’s probably for the best. He doesn’t need many distractions today. He just continues to move forward. This is fine. He can get maybe a little bit more work done than usual before the boat arrives. When does it get here again? Soon, at least. He can’t remember exactly, but… soon.
He shuffles through the Lair, barely thinking about anything else other than work. That’s, what’s most important.
Muttering a bit. Well, that was the first time he’s ever seen whoever that is, and he can say for sure that- that’s not someone he’d see on the regular. Looked like a sentient shadow ghost or something. Where’d they come from, anyway?
Ah, what does it matter. Maybe they’ll get bored, and leave, off to bother someone else, hopefully.
… yeah. Hopefully—
“ Roger? “ A voice spoke from up ahead. The Janitor blinked, jumping a little at the-
“ ..Thomas? What’re- what’re you doing down here? “ He squinted, this also was something he wouldn’t see on the regular. “ Did you need something? If so, what is it? “ He started asking.
” Well- no, I don’t need anything. But.. um… “ The Chef glanced to the side, rather awkwardly. “ ..Our Lady does. She said she needed to talk to you about something. She didn’t tell me much, but she did tell Marcus a bit more. But- he won’t say what she needs either.. so I’m- kind of lost. But maybe you could fill me in afterwards? “
Oh. Oh, lovely. She needs to talk to him. Privately. This is…
“ ……… “ Roger just stands in silence for a moment, staring down at the ground. What would she really need to talk about, that involves him? Was it about the package? The conversation about the stupid eye incident? Is she cross with him?? Oh god oh god-
“ ..Roger- are you okay? “ The Second Chef stepped forwards, trying to take his co-worker’s attention away from the floor, and towards him. “ ..Roger- “
“ -uh— huh? “ He glanced upwards. Oh.
” ..you okay? “
“ ..Uhh— yeah. Course I’m okay, why wouldn’t I be? “ Roger shuffled his in place a little. This is awkward.
…The Chef merely sighed. “ ..Alright, uh.. how about we go talk to the Lady now. “ Thomas turns, and starts to walk away. It took a moment, but Roger followed behind.
. . .
. . .
“ What did she tell you. “
Roger was standing in front of the First Chef, Marcus, with sort of a suspicious glare. He, for some reason, needs conformation he isn’t walking into a death trap by confronting her. Anything can happen.
” I’m not allowed to say. “ The Chef spoke with a firm tone. “ I’m sorry, man, but you’re just gonna have to find out yourself. “
This is stupid, Roger thought to himself, with a frown. He took his glare away from Marcus, and down at the floor.
” … “ He merely grumbled, his hands clenching themselves into fists for, but a fleeting moment. Then he just- sighed. “ Is it important..? “ He asked, his voice quiet.
” What do you think. The Lady almost never talks to us, let alone one of us. What do you think, Roger. “ Marcus deadpanned, as if he were talking to someone with no brain-cells. He knows, they all should know that this is most likely important.
” … “ Yet, another grumble. Roger can’t argue much with that. Yet another sigh.
” What’re you huffing about? Get your dumb-ass outta the kitchen, before- “ The Chef had begun to berate- but had paused. He blinked, before narrowing his eyes at- something, above the Janitor. Thomas had already caught what his brother had been seeing, and he shrunk.
” …what. “ Roger blinked, looking to both of the Chefs. They didn’t response. He turned around—
… You’ve gotta be kidding me.
. . .
[ REDACTED] loomed over the three adults in the room, grinning widely. “ Hi! Oh, it’s so good to see you all again! Though- it hasn’t been that long. Just a day, but that’s still a while. “ They nodded to themself, emitting another one of those child-like giggles. He’s certainly having fun.
“ ..What the FUCK are you doing here?? “ Marcus stepped forward, his tone being aggressive. The shadowy being simply floated backwards.
” Ahh, well, I had just decided to follow our good old short friend here, Ehehe! “ Simply patting Roger’s hat, gently. None of them said anything. In-fact, they still looked either angry, nervous, or just giving a firm stare. Eh, it’s not the worst thing in the world. They watched as the first Chef snapped his glare towards the Janitor.
“ Roger, you just let them follow you?? “ He pointed towards [ REDACTED ], he’s preeeetty mad.
“ I- I didn’t think they were! “ Roger simply tried to explain this nice little arrangement. Oh, this was so much fun to watch. “ I— “
“ You should’ve gotten them off the ship. That’s all I’m trying to say. “ The Chef crossed his arms.
“ ..Well, how do you think I’d be able to do that?? They won’t listen to anyone, so I can’t tell them to buzz off- “
” Just force them out! “
“ I can barely touch them! “
This is fine. [ REDACTED ] eyed the second Chef, who was just… standing there, awkwardly. He then turned back to the argument going on. Welp!
” Now, now, relax. I just simply wanted to pay you a visit. I won’t stay long, if it’s gonna stir up trouble, hehe. “ He actually loved the chaos. But, just for now: he left. Once more.
” AND DON’T COME BACK. YOU HEAR ME?! DON’T! “ Marcus shoved Roger to the side, just to shout that to the exiting shadow. The Janitor winced, before just- scooting backwards, awkwardly. The Chef huffed, before turning back towards both his brother, and his co-worker.
“ … “
“ … “
” ..I-..g-uh… “ Roger shrunk, adjusting his hat. “ ..I’m- “
” Go talk to the Lady. Enough times been wasted. She must be getting impatient. “ Marcus interrupted, before motioning to do his work.
The Janitor left. Without saying anything else. There wasn’t anything else to say.
“ Strange Changes. “
Chapter Four: “An Episode.”
This is- fine, this is A- for- Alright. Just- enter the elevator. And- And get this box to the Lady already. So… why is he hesitating? Is he nervous? Course. Why not. He made it all the way here, he could probably turn around and go back, but that would’ve been a lot of time, simply wasted. So, he’s just- gonna have to suck it up, and go in. Roger presses the button on the side of the wall, waiting for the constantly rising, and lowering box from behind the metal doors to show up.
This? This is okay. Nothing’s wrong here.
For now, he can just look around for a while, he supposes. With the new sight. He’s still wondering how this happened. Was it merely by chance? Was something or- someone causing this? He highly doubts it’s a someone, but-
“ Janitor? “ A voice. Came from in front of him.
. . . The Lady.
Oh— Oh she was in the- he didn’t- think-
No- focus! Don’t start acting idiotic now, Roger.
“ Ah— My Lady! Uhh- I-I didn’t think you were coming down, you- usually don’t. “ He- tried to his best not to stammer, but it was bound to happen. The Lady slowly moved her way out of the elevator, her kimono making it seem like she wasn’t touching the ground to move. She stared. Silently, at him.
” … “ He blinked, awkwardly. “ I-uh- ahem- brought you something. This was supposed to be given to you. I don’t know why, there wasn’t anyone there when it arrived. The Ferryman just saw the package, with a note, by the dock, saying that it had to be given to you. Don’t know how it arrived, again, it just kind of appeared, and.. and I, uh… “ He glanced back up at the Lady. She was still silent. She- might’ve been getting tired of his ramble. Ah jeez.
“ ..M..My apologies, my Lady, I-I should’ve just given it to, huh. “ He let out a fake chuckle. That- didn’t make this looming, discomforting sense of tension any better.
The Lady simply approached him, looming over his shortened stature. She seemed to…examine him. Something was different about him, something she didn’t see at all before. She stared directly at Roger, technically making ‘eye contact’ with him. Her expression was hidden behind her cream white mask. The Janitor shrunk, just a bit, under her gaze.
” ..um..ah-haha- uh.. m-my Lady?- Is there, something you would- “
” Where are your eyes? “ She finally spoke, her voice was soft, and calm. He flinched. Not again.
” ..uh.. p..pardon? “
“ Your eyes. You do not seem to have them. “ It’s something she never knew, due to the skin acting as a blindfold most of the time. How interesting, this was.
He- really didn’t wanna get back on this again, but- he assumes he has to. Deep breath.
“ ..Well, you see, I— t-this is a past scar, it’s nothing, b-but… most of the townsfolk didn’t exactly appreciate that I was around. They saw me as a freak of nature, and… i-it isn’t like I could tell them they’re wrong. So, a- a group cornered me as I was just trying to find solitude, and.. they, uh.. “ The paining quiet, the uncomfortable stare of the Lady, having to recall this moment all over again— he just did his best to keep calm, despite the stuttering. Why was he acting like this, he’s an adult, suck it up.
“ ..They— did their damage. They got what.. what they wanted for the most part, heh-… “ He laughed it off. Like his normally would have, but it wasn’t helping. It didn’t help any of the times he’s tried it so far. The Lady still, stared. She was waiting. He wanted to just cut it short and give her the package. But… he kept going, he didn’t really know why. “ S-Sure, they most likely wanted me dead a-at best, but hey! At least.. they were satisfied, eheheh.. “
The Lady nodded. He’s kind of surprised she listened to all of that. He had the feeling she would have cut him off right then and there, but-
“ Did it hurt? “ She… unsettlingly asked. Roger was mostly looking at the ground during this, but now he had perked his head up to meet Lady’s eyes.
“ ..did it…hurt? “ He squinted.
“ The attack. Was it painful? “ ..That’s a…strange question to ask. But a question nonetheless.
“ ..Y-Yeah. A lot, actually. It was.. kinda scary, too, I couldn’t see.. everything was dark, it was cold.. raining. Nobody seemed to come to my aid, so I just- had to go off, on my own. I-I kinda thought I was- gonna die. My eyes were bleeding, I felt that if I lost too much, I would’ve…u-uh…mm- “ He shook his head, before continuing. “ T-Though, I- found my way to…somewhere, can’t remember where. And- luckily, there was a gauze. Just had to.. wrap myself up. Was lightheaded after. Cold. A-A little too cold. And alone, kind of when…wh-when I shouldn’t have been. “ He once again, tried to laugh it off a bit. But it progressed.
No no no no no NO. NO. STOP. You- You shouldn’t be having one of these now, not in front of the Lady..! Calm down, calm down, you’re just talking.
The Lady seemed confused. He had been giving out chuckles of discomfort a few times during this, but now? Now it seemed to escalate. To a strangely high degree.
” I-I don’t know where— my Mom- m-my Dad, they- weren’t around, they- I-I lost them, I lost- I-I was lost, so- s-so lost, it- it was cold, I was scared out of my mind that someone w-would’ve found me and tr-tried t— o-or hoped that someone would’ve helped, b-but funnily enough; nobody did!! “
He was rambling again, nonono, stop, calm yourself down! You’re being overdramatic, Roger, stop it. “ I-I could’ve…….c…..could’ve…… heh…heheheheh- n-no one was there, no one stopped it, I-I was on my own, b-but that’s what I wanted, right?— W-Well, I mean- sure, but- but not like that, not like that, not like.. someone, a-anyone could’ve done something, s-someone could’ve helped, someone, SOMEONE.. “
This was… spiraling out of control, the Lady finally made note. Roger was backed up against a wall, hand to his hat, putting an immense amount of pressure onto it, still talking to himself. She didn’t know what was going on with him, but it was best to calm the situation down at this point in time.
She gently put her hand on the Janitor’s shoulder. He jolted, eyeing up at the tall, elegant woman. He was a shaky, stammering, panicked mess for a couple of moments there. Another one. Really?
His breathing slowed, his hand slowly lowering from his hat and down to his side. The…The shaking was still prominent, but not as much as before.
This seemed extremely unprofessional. And he felt as it was. But the Lady simply brushed it off, and eyed the little box he was supposed to have given to her sooner. It fell to the ground, as he lost his grip. She reached down, and picked it up, firmly. Once more, eyeing Roger. He immediately diverted his attention, looking to the left.
“ ..I-I’m.. “ He began to speak, eyeing the Lady, still… stuttering. “ ..I’m s- “ He was stopped, the woman putting her hand in front of him. She didn’t need an apology. She simply turned, went into the elevator, and went back up to her quarters.
. . .
He’s so… so… tired.
Mentally, and emotionally. He just- wants to get back to his comfort zone. Where he doesn’t have to be around people other than the kids. Alone. By his own choice.
Passing through the Kitchen, he doesn’t even know what time is it, but he notices Marcus still up. He’s smoking. He’s…not supposed to be. But he still does, and Roger never knew why. The Chef had noticed him from where he stood.
“ -Oh, hey R..uhh… you okay? “ He squinted one eye. “ Did you get the box to- “
” Mhm- yep. “
“ Oh. Uh. Was she mad, or.. “
” Nono, uh… it didn’t seem like it. “ He could’ve only been able to tell if she had spoken, if she had a certain tone to her voice. But she sounded calm and collected. So… hopefully she wasn’t mad afterwards. “ I just.. “ Roger ‘crossed his arms,’ which was just an excuse to not say that he was hugging them instead of having his arms crossed. “ ..I’m just gonna go. I’m tired. You should, uh.. probably go too, Y’know? “
” ..Yeah. Yeah, I probably should. “ Marcus nodded, and put whatever he was doing at the cutting board to a halt. He started to head off, off to his living space. Marcus glanced back at-
Oh. The Janitor was already gone.
Y’know, he— he kind of got curious. About the box. Whoever sent it to the Lady must’ve been… maybe… important? He doesn’t know. He never gets to see her often.
Eh, whatever. He’ll just get some rest. Marcus kept thinking to himself. As he carefully entered his bedroom, careful as not to disturb his brother.
. . .
The Lady hummed. She held the box firmly in her hands, as she made her way over to the wooden desk-like object, with the broken mirror.
She quietly sighed, before continuing to hum. She quickly inspected herself. She still looked the same. She was still elegant. She was still…
Hm. Eyeing the little box that had been sent to her. It was a cardboard box, with a little dark blue bow on the top. She squinted behind the mask. How…simple of a design. She gingerly removed the blue bow, and put it down on the wooden surface she stood at. She then began to open the box up itself.
Once the box has been properly opened, she sees— a letter? Just- a normal, white letter. She hums, lifting it from out of the box. She removed the seal, carefully, with the best precision she could muster. Inside, was a folded piece of paper, exactly three times, it had been folded.
. . .
Unfolding the paper, she skimmed over the note for a moment, before taking the time to actually read it. Once that was done, she read.
She, ah— read it a couple of times. Because-..
” … “ She stood in a sort of- shocked silence.
She then muttered.. something.
. . .
She simply put the paper onto the wooden surface, and vanished. Into the shadows.
The window was open, which invited them in. It was possible this was a trap, but behind the window was a long deteriorated corridor and a few open doors. Down some of the walls, rain sleeted in glossy waves. The storms of late had been intense, and it was always best to seek uncertain shelter before getting herded into somewhere with no visible escape. That was why exploration was forefront; know the place and see the dangers before they see you.
Mug was always first, she preferred that. She was twice over more cautious than her friends, and more perceptive to the shadows or sounds. Nothing in the hall was right off alarming upon glance, it was even quiet. The building creaked under the weight of the weather, but the plaster and floor appeared sturdy despite more water being in the walls rather the streets below.
She huddled by the wall and gave a soft twitter. It was near indiscernible from the wind cutting through the window, except that it held a distinct warble.
Two faces peered from the edges of the toothy frame. Then, a third. The three children barely restrained themselves from clambering off the sill, airless as they dropped to the drenched floorboards. Mug moved ahead, ignoring them. Seeking forward.
At the utterance of a board creak, she stopped and crouched down.
Rye was behind her, setting his hand on her back and leaning forward. She glanced his way, before tiptoeing further ahead. One of the other two – it would be Lope or Wisp – would catch up. In short time, the clan reached an intersection of the hall and huddled down on one side, where Mug positioned herself.
Wisp, kind of a scruffy boy and the best with new environments, pressed down on a floorboard. He imitated the noise, and pointed off across a carpet, to a jagged dip in the floor.
The scrawny kid at her shoulder, Lope, nudged at Rye. The older boy ignored him, still peering one way then the other of the open corridor. He wasn’t much older than Wisp, the Rye. But she and him collected the other two. Rye was what they might consider a leader, though they didn’t look to him for decisions or guidance. Rye was just good at avoiding dangers, more lucky than useful. One time there was a fifth in their group, she supposed. Mug didn’t remember what they called him, but he didn’t stay long. When they stopped for shelter, he was gone for a while and never came back. Whatever happened to him wasn't important – if he didn’t want to stick around or was not good at avoiding danger - no one bothered with it. The trope had to move on.
One after the other, the quartet scurried down the hall, avoiding rubbish piled about or the toothy maws in the floor. At the second door they came upon, Wisp gave Lope a lift and the kid snagged the door handle. When the latch didn’t immediately tip, Lope pressed his heels to the grainy panel and heaved - while Wisp pushed the door below. No go.
Mug crept up to the door and gave the panel a listen. No noises. Just a locked room. Lope dropped beside her, and hand in hand the two scurried to catch up with the others.
Further down the corridor, it was just Rye on his chest and trying to peer under a door crease. Lope went over and patted him on the head. Without rising, Rye waved him off.
Lope made the cricket noses. Wisp? Where?
From the opposite wall and a little higher up, the cricket noise replied. Wisp poked his upper half out from a crack and gestured.
Mug crossed her arms and glared. That was not enough time for a full explore.
On the other hand, Lope didn’t care. He hurried over reaching up to Wisp, but the distance from the opening to floor was too far. Mug grabbed Lope by the shoulders and spun him around; with rehearsed ease the boy didn’t hesitate to give her a boost to the opening - in the process falling backwards to his butt. Mug made the leap and shouldered Wisp aside, squeezing roughly into the crevice.
Rye took Lope and hefted him up to the break. Dangling over the edge of the crack, Wisp looked like he was quite done with being everyone’s ‘Welcome Matt’. Hung out like laundry, he extended his hand down to Rye.
The other kid backed up to the opposite door and then—
Through the corridor, the lights flashed and nearly dimmed entirely. Rye loosened his shoulders and looked up as the bulbs pulsed, before reviving with sparkling clarity. That… didn’t seem right. It was the storm, it had to be! Regardless if the walls and floor surrounding him felt stable, all visible surfaces lay in tatters. The building debated its collapse as an appropriate greeting to its new occupants. Lights blinking so intensely often did so with reason, and usually as a precursor to destruction or other such dangers.
Rye launched, running to the wall and leapt. He hit the grainy surface with his footpad, rebounding a full yard higher (for him) . He caught Wisp by the wrist, and the scruffy kid hauled him up. The two clamber and shoved at the other, until they tumbled into a more open space. Then they crashed into Lope, who had paused to peer through a gap in the back panel of a wall. They didn’t wait up and kept going. When Lope sat up, he had a footprint smudge on his cheek.
Through rotted patches in the wall, the kids managed to check their footing as they roamed through the cramped and murky crawlspace. First, slipping down a collapse of plaster behind a wall, then picking their uncertain steps across packed ruble, then climbing rungs cut into the wall by an earlier traveler. The trope always searched through the slits knocked out of the barrier which protected them from the rooms, taking in details of the areas they bypassed. Sometimes the crooning melodies cut through the silent space and the stifled breathing of the children, nullifying the calm with advertisements and how the weather is always ‘showers’, whatever that meant. The children are always quiet, but they do pinch and shove each other around, particularly when they sense a specific danger - a Viewer, sometimes another creature skulking aimlessly.
None of them are particularly fond of the Viewers. Those warped adults absorbed in the Broadcast didn’t normally pay attention to children, as long as the looney tunes played on uninterrupted.... Distract them from that, it was your funeral. But, the Viewers usually kept food. Not that these adults seemed capable of eating anything (thankfully), none of them really knew – who in their right mind was going to figure that one out? The Viewers just kept food. Maybe it was to trick children or something.
Wisp swore that sometimes a Viewer would give a kid food. There was no reason or anything to really figure out, he didn’t get it either. He couldn’t explain it well – speek aside – once or more in his wanderings, he did see a Viewer just hand over food to a kid, and absolutely not eat them. The kid did survive, only because he got out of there without a second thought. None of them actually believed him, but Wisp didn’t care. He only insisted it was bizarre and he didn’t know which was more disturbing, waiting around to watch a kid die, or witnessing a horrified kid scurry away.
From the narrow passage, the trope squeezed from a tighter crack and onto a partially crumbling section of wall. One after the other, each hopped the short stretch to the backside of a vent mounted... somewhere. The four still dripped and shivered from the rain, and the shallow puddle on the silt made Rye lose his balance. Mug was right there to snag his oversized shoulder sleeve and haul him back up.
Meanwhile, Wisp and Lope scouted ahead on the cracked spine of the vent, but found the one end extending out from the wall only emerged for the gap they now stood upon. However, a cracked flue lay in the floor of the path, and poised on either side of the warped frame, the two kids pushed and jerked at the grate. The cover popped loose, and Mug scooted past Lope to check within the interior below.
After dropping within, she looked up to Rye. The boy shrugged and indicated a direction. That way.
Vents made the best for travel. Nothing could really get inside, aside from some animals or insects, but those things didn’t always bother children. Anything that could fit into a vent wasn’t usually dangerous, unless it was another kid(s). The only worry would be the flue grates, depending if they were in the floor or in a wall. Also, don’t stand on top of a grate if it faced down.
It wasn’t a long travel after a brief slope. They had some trouble with Wisp making up the steep and sleek metal floor, since he was one of the kids that wrapped his feet in rags and dirt/dust clung to them. Mug pulled his arm while Rye pushed. After that, the vent kept leveled and snaked through a few rooms, and the group had a good vantage from the height.
When they neared the third vent, Rye creaked and made gesture with his hands. Room pieces. Kitchen.
Lope stopped and checked the vent from the high side of the wall, peering through drab atmosphere to make sense of the rooms layout below. A room with nothing, aside from furniture and a bed. The kitchen area, and foods, would be someplace else. They would know nothing, until they found a safe way into the place. For once, the lack of jovial jingles was not very encouraging.
Further along, a grate presented a stubborn obstacle in their path, but Rye and Mug shuffled ahead and pressed their shoulders into it. If it didn’t budge, it would be a whole league of backtracking to—
The entire tunnel shifted!
All the kids splayed out arms and knees to their extent, wedging into the cramped interior. In the gloom, Lope caught Mug’s face as she glimpsed back to him and Wisp. The walls dipped and rumbled, halting momentarily as the surroundings of the wall/ceiling cradled their coffin. Rye made some sort of call, it might’ve been a call or speek. Fall. Hold on. We’re going to die. Something like that.
A bellowing groan vibrated through the metal hull, the tunnel plunged sideways. Blazing light cut through one end, blotted out, then blazed more intensely as the whole container flipped and spiraled without remorse. Somewhere in the thundering bite, a body collided with Lope. He locked up tighter than before, unable to do anything else, unable to stop the fall.
They were going to die like this.
At last one side of the container smashed into the floor and splint, or cracked. The children tumbled in a violent spin cycle, until the broken vent settled somewhere. Flat. Dust hissed across the hollow space while noisy chunks and brittle bits of plaster or whatever else twinkled down.
Somehow, Lope remained conscious and not dead. He lay partially inside within the splint side of the vent, stunned, his head vibrating. He saw double.
Across the room a familiar shape zipped off, through a nearly imperceptible wedge. Open door.
He reversed into the opening of the passage, smashing into a soggy body. The shape shifted and hissed, but smothered the noises. Other shifting and chatter came from within the passage, but softly. They were hurt, they might be badly hurt. But the vent made such a racket, they had to move. Get away.
It took longer for Rye to recover, he had been highest when the end of the vent crashed down. None of them were dead or broken, aside from cuts and bruising. Wisp reasoned they didn’t fall too far, something about the vent staying attached and swinging low, or whatever. No one knew what happened aside from fall.
Except that one kid.
Lope eased through the only access visible in the entire room, the ajar door. Cautious, he poked his head out. This being the only way out, the others crowded his back. The door led into more corridor, but not the big hallway that divided all the rooms. He was certain he saw a kid run off, but he didn’t mention that to the others. If the kid hung around the dwelling, they would run into him/her eventually. There was no guarantee, and he hit his head. Blood leaked down his cheek and made him itch.
Inching into one direction of the corridor, Mug didn't wait for guidance or expression. She just went on her own most of the time. Lope hurried to catch up, but glanced back to spy Rye and Wisp when the two didn't hasten along. The other two headed the opposite way - toward what looked like more rooms. Maybe he and Mug would find the kitchen and get dibs on the best foods. He snared his explore buddy by the hand and hurried her along, racing around the bend in the hallway. She didn’t protest, though they didn’t know this place. She was usually more skittish.
Of course the kitchen didn’t have much to offer, not even the aggravating garbage of ransacked foods or moldy boxes. Together, he and her gave the place a thorough dig. Somehow, Mug did manage to manifest two bites of stale puff corn from a drawer, but she scarfed that before he realized she’d gotten anything. He could tell Wisp, and they could sulk together.
Something about the floor caught his attention, but only if he shifted in the light a certain way. When he shuffled one way with the bulb above draping its radiance on the floor. He saw footprints in the dust.
Of course he and Mug ran all over the place in the kitchen… but a set of tracks went back the way they just came from. So, there was a kid around.
In case, he did another thorough rummage of the cabinets. Some had been opened when they first entered, but they were too excited about food, they didn’t notice. But Mug was giving him weird looks now, so she did notice something but didn’t say. Like him.
Once they exhausted the search of everything, he and Mug met up with the others at a door in one room left ajar. The door didn’t open any further, for them, but each of them squeezed out in single file.
This time Rye took up the lead, navigating around a broken gap in the floor and shuffling towards paralleled doors. The scratchy chorus of laughter burst above their heads, pursued by the ramble of speek with no meaning. He trilled warning. Careful. That was probably why they listened to him. Rye was the Kid always telling them what to do or what not to do. None of them had to follow or listen, but they did anyway. He always saw and paid attention to the others. The four of them didn't get into fights often; sometimes it was safer to follow someone else.
One of the rooms they sprinted by had the gurgling swill of a Viewer, rebounding from within. The creature made laps on the carpet in its living space, up until the trope stalled at the entrance to observe. It appeared the television within had died or something, but this agitated the Viewer in its aimless wandering. When it ‘spied’ the group, it made a beeline for them with a horrible squeak.
Rye and Lope shot one way, while Wisp and Mug backed up against the furthest wall. None of this was necessary, as a huge chasm was torn into the floor where the doorframe collapsed into. The Viewer did manage to snag the other side of the floor and claw at the wood, up until the toothy boards splint and the warped adult tumbled down into the murk.
That wasn’t exactly close, but it was entertaining. Wisp crouched at the hole and tossed a chunk of plaster down after the Viewer.
A set of stairs led to an upper floor, one that was entirely caved in. The entrance was more likely barricaded with decayed ruin, since jingles and television music rebounded from within the decimated mixture wood and plaster. The curled wallpaper flapped as the children hurried through, the floor and walls and ceiling - the everything creaked warning. Perhaps the whole floor caved in, but anyone left still alive didn’t care. Better that they were locked away than roaming. Though, it did keep them from exploring through for more rooms.
They would likely need to stop soon, Lope suspected. He knew, without really bugging anyone about that. Each of them struggled with empty stomachs – always – but they hadn’t recovered from the crash, and his head ached something awful. The way Rye kept glancing them over as each and all climbed the steps, was all he needed to really know they were not rooting for a food place. Then a nest place. He was looking forward to that.
The upper floor was in worst condition, but likely wasn’t the most appalling space in all this building. None of them would complain, if the worn floors trapped Viewers, it would be worthwhile to settle down. Still though, it was drafty, and rain leaked in from somewhere (the way out?).
Some of the walls between the rooms and corridor were not whole, and a lot of the plaster or wood littered the patchy floor. No wonder the level below was flattened. The few lights fitted in the ceiling still worked, but the power was iffy, and the glow dimmed or flared at random spikes. The storm persisted to buffet the building, and the hollowed frames of the structure moaned. Through one of the skeletal remains of a room, Rye and Mug picked their way down a packed section of floor. He and Wisp followed the leading duo, soon reaching a section of packed ruble that creaked and shifted suspiciously under their pathetic weight. After poking through the slanted wood beams of the walls (or floor), they found an opening in easy reach, only if they balanced precariously on a crooked plank extending from the questionable patch of compacted debris. After some ways, Mug jumped from the wobblily makeshift bridge, to another segment of board that appeared more secure. Rye jumped next, and Lope with Wisp leapt simultaneously.
Lope glanced back and down, when the plank of wood gave and curdled shriek and plunged. Close. He needed to be more careful, a fall like that would make dead. On that note, he scooted after the others, before he could lose his way. Should Mug or someone decide on a different course, and the break away. That would not be good.
Then, someone flapped their sleeve, like clothing whipping in the gale, like the discarded garments whipping in the gutted wood above. Warning! Why the warning? What danger? He didn’t utter a sound, but held steady and peered around and into the gaping walls encircling them. The lights dulled and nearly went out completely, but blazed vibrant once more with renewed purpose. He nearly lost his balance on the beam of wood, confused, and trying to focus through the dull pressure in his head. Below, all the way ay the end of the hallway, a door swept open.
He suspected a Viewer, or some other creature to crawl out. He did not expect that shape to amble through and begin to uncoil. The higher the hat rose beneath their perch, the lower Lope huddled down with Wisp. The lights winked minutely and for one horrifying moment, he feared the dark would establish itself completely and they would be plunged into a nightmare. The veil of gloom does not take root in their eyes, but he almost wished it had. His steely gaze tracked the slow stride of the adult, the sharp clack of its steps gutted the cavernous walls around them. It was so tall, the hat could’ve nearly brushed the bottom of the wood plank he and Wisp perched upon. He couldn’t look away. Was it that terrifying, or did the creature have some other power?
It seemed to take forever for the tall-tall figure to traverse across the lower floor and reach a corner of the hall. In a flash, it’s distorted shape faded within a gloss of shadows and by the time the bulbs reasserted themselves, the figure had vanished entirely.
For several minutes he’s frozen, uncertain what he saw. It’s only when Wisp titled beneath his gaze and motioned - very carefully so as not to spook - that he snapped his face up. Again, Wisp chittered and tugged his wrist.
Go. We leave.
He nodded. That sounded good. He was still shaken and his balance unsteady, but he managed to keep up with the others.
They reached a mostly together portion of floor from the bridge. Rye looked them each over in turn, face whiter than normal, eyes glassy. Thoughts amess. They knew. They all knew what that was, no one had to utter a sound.
The nightmare omen of the Pale City. Somewhere at one point or another, they each saw speek of the creature. None of them ever paid mind to it, no one brought it up. It was bad. Taboo. The Broadcaster. He haunted the city through and through, lurking in the televisions, snatching careless children, driving others to craze. It was not like other creatures, reacting to sounds, light, or movement. As far as they knew, it was an ominous thing that could not be tricked. In some speek it was shown to lurk in the static - if someone was brave (or dumb) enough, the shape of a too-tall man would sometimes appear, but only briefly. It was warning speek, so, no one in his group ever tried that. But now? Now the Broadcaster was in this building, prowling. No rhyme or reason. It operated in solitude, took whatever it wanted, and answered to no other creature.
They had to get out of here.
To say they were on edge was an understatement. This place was a wreck, more than the other building they crawled out of to reach the window. Lope was still soaked, same as the others. Not one of them cared if they had to swim out of this place, it was too dangerous. The Broadcaster was here, then he must be searching for them.
This was bad. And he was suspicious of Wisp.
Not for any particular reason. He kept an eye on his friend, while he crouched and waddled beneath a break in the wall. They searched for passages, open doors, avoided the rooms with jolly chimes and gurgling Viewers. It was important to stay off radar. Stray away from the 'one-eyed-monster', as much as possible. Sometimes... that was impossible, the building didn't stop being broken for their convenience.
Wisp was smart. And he joined after him. It’s not like he thought the kid abandoned his friends, but he seemed to know a lot of different things. He had a pack before, and before them. Where were those other kids now? They all came from somewhere, but Wisp? He was the newest.
The lower windows might be close enough to a building, and if they could get enough clothing or bedsheets gathered. A potential rope. Preparation would take time, and some of them had to sit in one place to braid the rope, so it would be strong and not break to make dead. But they had to find a window in a vacant room, that faced another building, or find how high they were. Until the Broadcaster, a means of away was not important. Food first. This place was danger, they needed a window to see how high they were.
Rye was stressing. When they scurried through a corridor, he kept glancing at the lights. This Lope noticed, and he remembered the bulbs flashed when the Broadcaster appeared. The lights flickered anyway, but not like for the tall man in the hat. They are safe to search, but the flutter of lights spiked Lope's unease. The Viewers did not stop being a threat, and if the pack isn't alert, the morbid things chase. They want to avoid televisions anyway.
The clutch breaks apart for some time, to root out rooms in pairs, seeking out the windows and diverting paths to reach rooms which might share windows. Someone is to lift, while the other catches the sill. They reach out at each other with suppressed speek. Can't get lost, don't get separated. Nothing here. Here I am. Where are you? They must make sure no one is caught, the pack needs numbers to find an out.
When they regroup in the corridor, Mug admitted first. She tugged the edge of her poncho, clicking and gesturing. On this side, the windows are too high. There is no reach for ground.
They are so tired, but Lope doesn’t bring attention to that. Either a rope, or they’ll take their chances with a window. He chittered, quieter.
Check windows. Still?
Rye nodded, but didn’t look at him. The place was coming undone, but it was unlikely they would find a shattered wall that led elsewhere. Paths were seldom direct.
None of the rooms on this level had anymore doorways that the quartet could get open. All the windows, either shut or broken, did not open near enough a ledge or other surface they could scale along. But it was Wisp who located an opening under a rotted bed, which made it possible to drop down safely into the lower floor.
Silently, they plopped onto a hill built of clothing and perhaps bodies (the flies swarmed when they fell in). The room was cluttered with murk and great swabs of dust, each of them choked on dry swallows and wheezed as they rooted around. It was then Mug making the creaky floor noise, indicating a break hidden in the wall. If not for dull radiance clamoring from the televisions, the opening might've gone missed. The narrow tunnel led into a brighter room, where the Viewer stood plastered to its suspended television screen. The next room lay dark around them, but enough light from the television flashing through the background afforded some clarity. Enough to see that the entire next room had collapsed, among other rooms and more floors caved downward.
Upon finding a mostly together sequence of ledges and planks, the quartet descended. Going down was good, Lope reflected. Out maybe. When he checked out the windows, he couldn't decide how high they were. Mist covered much of the below. None of them knew how high they really were, or how long down could take, even if they had the privilege of a stairway.
Among the ruble, melodies played from a television. The body of a Viewer, or what was left of it, was crammed among the splintered timber. The further the trope descended, the more the ruble and chaos of their surroundings retreated. A corridor creaked around them, pieces of the building loomed or lay jammed into the cracked walls. Of the light that remained in the ceiling, few still sparked with shy radiance. When they came onto a door, Rye hoisted the nearest - Lope - up to the latch. It was unlocked, but the warped panel required three children to force it inward. Barely.
The area they filed into was a large chamber, and they could see a staircase ascending into sinister depths. Obscure debris and a few pieces of furniture decorated the floor, but of a way out they couldn’t spy. Wisp and Mug began one way, while Lope followed Rye around the wall in the opposite direction. On the further side of the room, a dangling lamp flashed within the grate cage of an elevator. The contour of light revealed an archway of a corridor across the wall, as with so much potential. Lope was getting excited -
Without warning Rye snatched his hand and tugged him to the side, toward a flat cart loaded with cages. The metal smelled horrendous, but not as terrible as the contents. Somewhere across the room, Wisp or Mug snapped their sleeve. A danger.
If the chamber was soundless as when the group was present, it was even more vacant and still with the pairs sheltered away. Elsewhere, water trickled through the corridors and rooms within the building. The craft of concealment is hardwired into all children - if they kept still and didn’t think, the danger would not suspect.
Inside the elevator, the bulb glittered and waned. This went dismissed, when a dark shape flashed at the furthest edge of the room, nearer to a pile of mattresses. A rat, or some other creature?
The shape detached from the gloom and skittered along the outer layer of shaded veils, examining the furniture and then twisting around, then looking skyward to check the ceiling above. Along with the stairwell knotted high, fading into the wreckage. The figure spun around, tail flashing.
Another child. Rye cooed and uncoiled a bit, but wouldn’t emerge entirely. He checked the flicking light in the elevator, and the bulbs spared around the room. More importantly, the other child bolted and scurried up beneath a crushed desk.
All of them, five now, hiding in a room. Waiting for the threat to pass.
The faint radiance in the elevator doused and a bent silhouette emerged from the adjacent corridor, as if it had been punched out from a deep, dark pit. It slipped into the room, the shoes clacking across the worn floorboards in their sinister way, ticking down the seconds they had remaining in their life.
Being this close was so much worse. Lope resisted the urge to cower down further, the strange buzzing wafted off the creature like a fire. The noise bounced within his skull, expanded on his aching head. And the thing was huge, like a skyscraper out for a stroll! When it bypassed him and Rye completely, he didn’t have sense left in him to feel relief. That grinding hum was too much, his whole frame vibrated into submission.
He did manage to shift closer beside Rye, only for a better view of where the monster was going. To his horror, the tall thin man strolled right over to where the fifth kid stashed away. Creeping further around the cage, he tried to see where Wisp and Mug went, if they were watching. He couldn’t figure out where they went. Good. Hidden.
That kid. He picked the worst hide spot! No! NOO!
No.... Something weird happened. The monster actually bypassed the kid, barely a glance. Maybe. He’s certain there was a downward tilt of its head, but nothing else. It kept going.
This crazy yo-yo kid scrambled out from under the desk and started chasing the monster. He made a few noises, but the monster didn’t react. What was going on?
Lope shifted and checked Rye, and Rye returned the look. Concern and panic. Something was wrong here, but they didn’t know what. It was too soon to run, but when would it be too late? Did this kid… no. He must’ve seen them. Why was that kid doing this?
Rather twist around and seize the child, kick him, step on him, tear him out of reality, anything. The monster casually shifted and had to have seen the kid, but from the distance and its height, Lope can’t be certain. It did nothing, aside from crackle with a vibrating wail. The den was overwhelming. That didn’t seem to bother the nutty kid, and he might’ve… made a sound back. It was impossible to tell, the vibrations and distortions rebounding muddled everything. The monster continued walking at its leisure gait.
And the crazy kid followed.
When the Broadcaster reached the ascending steps it flashed, winking out of existence only to reappear on the upper level. It dissolved into the shadows, taking the grating disruption and clamor with it. The strange kind hiked up the steps, winding around collapsed plaster and vanishing momentarily. Where the kid went, Lope couldn’t say, he must have reached the upper level.
The silence reasserted itself, but did not restore completely or comfortably. It was like the static interference saturated the shadows curling across the floor, forming an inky web stretched thin and ready to detect the slightest breath. It is forever or near long enough, before Rye even dared move.
No one knows where to go, but they followed Rye. He scrambled to the corridor from where the creature appeared, with Lope close behind. Wisp and Mug reappeared, safe, and badly shaken from the experience as well. They were not finding the way out. They were very lost and very confused, and only knew the danger was elsewhere. For a while. No assurance.
That was what Lope thought. He’s surprised Wisp didn’t take off, but where would he have gone?
Somewhere in the corridor, Rye found a door that was boarded up. He began prying at the bottom planks, wrenching them out inch-by-inch, the nails shrieking. Wisp got in close to Rye and helped him snap the board loose. Once more, they pried off a second plank of wood; it barely hit the floor and the kids were squeezing through the space, pawing at each other to be the first.
The room was dim, a high window cast light from the storms outside. They might be able to reach it, but how to get it open? Mug and Rye stood below gawking at it, while Wisp gave the room they now occupied a careful examination. The room was a smaller space, connected to another chamber by a tall archway. Hide spaces and potential breaks in the wall were absent, but another door in the other chamber might lead elsewhere. The passage was inky, uninviting. The monster came from there.
Watch. Lope inched closer to Wisp and nudged his elbow. Watch.
Wisp shuffled back and bobbed. Him and Lope returned the more inviting room, where Rye and Mug had already staked as nest. Wisp curled up beside the doorframe, arms wrapped around his knees while he gazed out into the corridor.
Lope didn’t like that. The monster was one thing, but that kid. This was confusing and wrong.
Gone. Lope crouched next to Wisp and snatched for attention. He made a gesture. “Gone,” he chittered. “Both gone.”
Wisp shook his head. “Ferrent,” he hissed.
Shh. Rye brought a finger to his face. He and Mug huddled together on the floor, shoulder to shoulder and whispering in each other’s ear.
“Ferrent?” Lope scooched closer. “What?”
The group rarely did voice speek, and Wisp did not have a grasp of the speek. Wisp starred at him, either trying to figure out a story or how to give it. Or both.
Wisp scurried over to a wall, his hands digging into the oversized pockets of his hoody. He pulled up a crayon and gave it a look, peeling a bit of paper back from the edge. A picture took shape on the wall, a creature with eyes and teeth. A monster. Then beside the enormous shape….
A small figure. A child.
Wisp indicated the small child. “Ferrent.” He continued sketching more of the small figures, in a cluster further from the monster. And the child. A crooked line separated the child and the monster, from the markings of some children. He pointed to the lone child, close to the monster. “Ferrent.”
The next set of picture speek had the child (Ferrent) with the cluster of children. Wisp drew a circle around them.
“Friend?” Lope cooed. Wisp scowled, and scratched out the picture of the circle and the cluster of children. Along with the one child (Ferrent).
The next speek featured the monster, in and amongst a cluster of children - a few less children in the cluster. The monster held a child in each hand, and one in its jaws. The other child, what Wisp called a Ferrent, was sketched off to the side and out of harms way. Then a circle wound around the lone child.
Lope explored the story over, the monster and the Ferrent. Another picture to add to the story, of the monster roaming elsewhere and the lone child (Ferrent) with it. He looked at Wisp, who had dropped the crayon with a biting crack, and stood with his fists pressed to the wall. His lip quivered, his dark eyes glistened in the pitiful light.
“Bad.” Wisp slipped down into a knotted huddle. He dropped the crayon and rocked.
Lope settled down beside the kid and curled his arms around his shoulders. Raising his head a bit, he checked on Mug and Rye. The two leaned on the other, dozing or in a some place beneath the terrors that had not quite reached them. This wasn’t the best place to nest, they didn’t have the chance to check the other side of the room. It couldn’t be bothered with now. He didn't want to disappear and be left.
After adjusting his footing, he set his chin on the back of Wisp’s neck and listened to the rain crash against the little window too high for them to reach. When they were able, they could find a way out. They could figure something out. It wouldn’t get them.
Chapter Three: “Late At Night.”
Pacing. Holding his head, his mind racing. This is- this is IMPOSSIBLE. He has to be dreaming, he- he COULDN’T SEE after the incident, they- they RIPPED his eyes out! How was this happening-??
He had abruptly shut the television off and exited the room as fast as possible. Left the poor kid hanging.
That- That doesn’t matter. He kept trying methods to try and wake himself up. C’mon, Roger, stop dreaming! That- that kid might’ve been apart of this dream too…
You AREN’T able- or even supposed to see, this isn’t real! This is NOT REAL. Snap out of it, you-
He swerves into a bookshelf, unconsciously. Books, small items fell from the wooden holders. He backed away, blinking. He immediately went to the other side, and started to pick up all of the things that had fallen. He…paused to eye a book. It was…he can’t remember what it was about. It was dusty. A maroon, hard-covered, dusty book. Before- carefully settling it back with everything else. He rubs his eyes, what- what’s going ON..
..Is- Is this not a dream?? Is- this actually happening..? He can…he can see…
..He quietly laughed, smiling a tiny bit. Despite the immense confusion, he was… he missed this for so long…
aH- NO. No. He shook his head, that tiny bit of bliss snapping away. This isn’t logical, this isn’t normal- then again…nothing is- b-but THIS-
His chest expanded, and shrank back as he breathed at a quick pace. He turned to exit the room, his thoughts still spiraling along in his mind. Okay- this isn’t a dream, this isn’t a dream.
This…isn’t… a dream.
He- won’t focus on that for now. Despite it being both a miracle, and a bug in nature, he’ll just- try and remember what he had to. Think..
He could go check on the children. Yeah.. that’ll work.
. . .
Shoot. He’s getting the feeling he’s being watched again. Just- Just ignore it, Roger. It’s fine. It’s nothing. It’s fine. It’s alright. You’re being paranoid.
. . . He- hopes so at least.
It had been at least half an hour, and he STILL felt as if he was being- WATCHED. He kept looking around, actually trying to see what could possibly have been watching him, but there was nothing. It wasn’t as weird when he was around the kids, as they kind of eyed him once he had taken a bit of care of them- but even THEN, the feeling wouldn’t go away. He turned around, nothing. How long was this going keep up? It couldn’t keep going forever.
. . .
That’s what he thought until another few hours past, and he still, felt it. It’s getting darker, and darker by now. He- still needs to get things done, he still hasn’t- UGH! He audibly groaned into his hands. He’s- he’s just gonna have to wait until tomorrow. God, the boat’s gonna be here soon, and sure he’s- semi prepared, but semi isn’t enough!
..No— no, this can’t wait until tomorrow.
But- sure it can! He can just- get up early, and-
N-No— he has to do it now. At least some of it. It’s the least he can possibly do right now.
But it’s getting late, and he’s gonna need that energy for tomorrow.
..Why is he so torn?? Just pick the sensible option and go with that!
He swears, he’s gonna drive himself temporarily mad if he keeps going like this. He huffs, okay. He’ll come to a compromise with himself; he’ll send a few packages up where he needed to take them, and…and the rest can wait for another day.
..Yeah. That sits with him well. He remembers he had left those packages in his little living quarters. In the corner. He’ll go get them.
Walking along, rubbing one of his eyes with a hand. He’s- still so bewildered by this- sight. He can see again!
But..But how? It’s not like blind people getting their sight back is a normal thing, especially if they got their own eyes ripped out of their head.
That was… bad. It hurt. It hurt a lot. It’s not like they cared.
Actually let’s not think about that anymore!!!
It’s not worth even mentioning at all anyways, heheheh-
He blanks out. So much so, that his unaware self bumped into his own door on accident. He stumbled back. Ow.
You know what? Whatever, it’s fine. He’s over it. He twists the knob on the door, and pushes it open. Ah yes, his room. His solitude. It’s wonderful. In the far, right corner, he sees-
Aha! The packages. Just where they were. Perfect. He goes over, and takes them into his arms. This is fine.
Just leaving out of his room, beginning to head to where he was supposed to take them. Most of them were for the Kitchen, but… there’s one. A small box.
For the Lady.
He doesn’t know what it’s for, but- it was kind of out of nowhere. Nobody knows why it was sent, but…geez, he doesn’t think he should said this one to her right now. Especially when it’s rather dark outside by now.
That’s just- eugh. He doesn’t wanna risk it, but at the same time— maybe to get it out of the way, he can check..?
The thought makes him kind of nervous, but- he might…as well? Hm.
Over time, he went through elevator by elevator, until he made it up to the Kitchen. He begins towards the work-premises of the Chefs, humming the ‘Veronica’ song a bit. Surprisingly— he spotted Marcus. He was still working. Huh. He kind of expected to not see him, but- here they are.
” Hey, uh- Marc. “ Roger waved, squinting just a bit. Having not seen in…a while, the bright light of the Kitchen was…jarring. The chef paused, and turned towards the entering employee. He blinked.
“ ..Roger? What’re you doing here?- “ He stops what he’s doing all together, and approaches the shorter man. He…seems to look confused, upon getting a closer look at him. “ ..Jesus, what happened to your eyes? They’re just- gone. “ He sounded concerned. Wait—oh- uh- he- forgot about that. Uh, shoot.
” ..Uhh… yeah, something, um-uh— happened one time, when I was younger, and- y-y’know how some people are, eheheh- ah- “ He did not like talking about the empty, black sockets he once- and sort of now considers his eyes. “ Some people got together, and uh…d-did a number on me. Now, I- don’t have any eyes, ha! “ Trying to laugh it off as much as it makes him uncomfortable.
Marcus… narrowed his eyes, he didn’t get why he was laughing this off. “ ..Who? “
” ..u-uh…w-what..? “ The awkward toned worker glanced to the side, though it would’ve been hard to tell to someone else, since, he…doesn’t have pupils. Christ, why didn’t he pull the skin back down earlier??? Marcus, just take the damn packages and don’t make me stand here and stumble on my words like an idiot about this.
“ Who did that to you? They sound like jerks. “ The chef interrogated. Roger…simply stammered, why was this a conversation they were having.
“ Ahhh—w-well- it was a long time ago, I-I don’t know even know what they look like right now, I was pretty young.. w-when that happened, heh- uh— just a group of citizens who didn’t enjoy my existence and- uh- a-and decided to take it out on me! B-But it’s nothing, it’s fine, it’s in the past now, we don’t have to keep going on about it, it’s just a waste of time, c-can you just take th-the packages so I can go, this is really taking up the night, and we both gotta-um- get some rest!-Ahahaaha- “
“ Roger, for the love of god, slow down. Jeez, what’s making you so jumpy?? “ Marcus pinched the bridge of his nose.
The Janitor- looked down, at this point, embarrassed.
“ ..Sorry- I- don’t like talking about this stuff, Y’know..? “ Looking to the side, he holds out the packages. “ Just- take these already, okay? I forgot to give them to you before. “
Marcus.. casually took them from his co-worker’s grasp. “ Right. What made you forget, exactly? These were supposed to be sent to me ages ago, man! “ He frowned, glaring at Roger.
” ..fell asleep. Was watching tv. Met— “ He stopped himself at ‘met.’ Nono, he didn’t need to know about Mono. But the Chef had already caught it, and asked-
“ ..Met who? “
…Of course he had to catch it, Roger thought.
” ..nobody. Nobody important. “ This is getting ridiculous, the longer they stand here, the less things get done, and the less things they get done, the less prepared they’ll be when the boat arrives, and if they aren’t all-the-way prepared, something is bound to go wrong, and the Lady’s gonna have their heads.
“ ..Somebody, Roger. Did someone else get into the damn ship somehow? Are they still roaming, did you- “
” I said it was nobody important. “ The Janitor huffed. Eyeing the pile of packages.
“ ..Alright, sheesh. “ Marcus rolled his eyes and started walking away, off to the second intersecting room. The former blind man blanked out for a second, before snapping back into awareness, blinking. Wait. Did he-
He left the smaller package on the pile, oh my god-
“ -Hey- wait up! “ He quickly followed behind. He’s so scattershot right now, it’s unbelievable.
” -What?? You’re halting time here. “ Marcus puffed, turning around and beginning to stare his co-worker down.
“ Wh— “ Roger was going to protest, but he just brushed it off. “ Okay-sure-whatever- I need this. “ Snatching the smaller box from atop the pile. “ ..Uhh.. where’s your brother? “
” Thomas? He’s asleep, I told him I could take over. And.. is that the- “
” Yeah. The package for the Lady. I- I don’t know if I should go now, or wait… “ He still contemplated. He thought he was going to bring it to her tonight but… he’s hesitant. The older Chef sucked a breath through his teeth. Just saying-
“ ..I’m not gonna lie, Roger; you might just wanna wait. “
“ I know, but— maybe I can just get it out of the way real fast. “
“ But do you realize that could probably actually be a bad idea. “
“ I- uh-huh, yeah— I dunno. “
There’s an awkward silence for a moment. They both glanced at each other, and at the ground every few seconds. Marcus had his face all scrunched up in thought. Were people outside the Maw really that bad?? He and Thomas don’t even know, or remember what it’s like out there. They’ve only known this place most of their lives. But Roger…definitely seemed to have it a different way than from he and his brother. He’s lived outside before, for more of his life. And.. that happened. The eyeballs-being-gone thing.
Meanwhile Roger had a point blank expression. He didn’t know what he was even thinking. Everything’s tangled up. Scrambled. There’s not much to say.
” … “
” … “
“ ..should I go send it up now, or.. “
“ —Ugh. You do what you want, I guess. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. “ Marcus once again rolled his eyes.
Mhm. Right. Roger scooted around him, and head off. Is he seriously doing this? Should he turn around?? He’s already going forward. But he’s not too far, he just left! He can just-
..Y’know what? No. He’s- he’s just gonna do it. Get it done, out of the way, never gonna do again. Possibly.
…He’s curious, anyways.