Eric jiggled the door knob. “It’s locked,” he confirmed with an angry cry.
“So are the windows,” a short woman with black hair said as she climbed down the ladder that was pressed against the window. She was dressed in a casual T and blue jeans with black converse.
“Does anyone have their cell phone on them?” a taller woman asked. She was dressed in a long black sleeve shirt and a denim jacket. Her long brown hair was tied in a neat bun.
Everyone reached for their pocket patting themselves down. “It’s gone,” Eric stated.
“Same here.” the short woman said.
Everyone else in the room all reported the same. None of them had a cell or any other form of communication on them.
“What is going on? What’s happening to us?” This guy was tall and well built. While not brimming with muscle he looked like he benched. He was also the most agitated out of everyone. His hands were fidgeting and he could not stop pacing. Something that was only serving to make everyone else more nervous.
“Does anyone remember what happened before they got here?” the tall woman asked.
They were starting to form up in a circle at the center of the room. Eric counted seven people total.
“Last thing I remember was getting in my car,” a third girl said. She had long blond hair with highlights. She looked very preppy though her high school days were long behind her.
“Same here,” Eric nodded. “I got into my car to head to work the next thing I know I am here.”
“And where do you work? Manager of a burger king?” the jock guy laughed referring to Eric’s outfit of black slacks, white button up shirt, and plain tie.
“I have a corporate job thank you,” Eric shot back already deciding he did not like the guy.
“That’s enough.” The taller woman held up her hands cutting both of them off. “This isn’t helping.” She took a breath and Eric followed suit. “The last thing I remember was also getting in my car this morning. Is that true for everyone else?”
“Have we been abducted by Aliens?” the preppy girl cupped her ears crouching down starting cry.
“Don’t be ridiculous!” a shorter man scoffed at the woman. He was skinny and had a bad posture.
“How about we all introduce ourselves,” Eric suggested. “My name is Eric. I’m 28 and I work at Hobb’s and Cowan.”
“You’re a lawyer?” the shorter woman asked.
Eric shook his head. “Just a legal assistant.”
“I’m Sara,” the taller woman introduced herself. “I work in a theater. And you don’t need to know my age.”
Eric looked at Sara guessing she was in her mid-thirties, maybe older.
“I’m Mark,” the jock said still fidgeting though his pacing had stopped for the time being. “I’m 20 and I work at Burlington.”
And this guy was mocking Eric for his job.
“And I’m Lacy.” The preppy girl waved her earlier panic attack all but forgotten. “I’m 29,” Eric doubted that. “And I work as a massage therapist.”
They all looked at the girl their opinion of her dropping by the moment. Except maybe Mark who probably thought she would be easy.
“I’m Megan,” the short woman said. “I’m full time National Guard.” That explained her short hair and near perfect posture.
“And what about you two?” Sara looked at the two remaining men.
The short man rolled his eyes not seeing the point in all of this. “I’m Don, nice to meet, blah blah blah.” He walked toward one of the crates as he said that last part. “And I am getting the hell out of this place.”
They all looked at the last man. He was tall and wore a black coat and reflective sunglasses. He had not said a word since this whole thing started. He just sat on a crate watching everyone. Eric was not sure how he could see. It was almost pitch black in the warehouse the only light coming from the sunlight through the windows.
“I’m Allen.” The man had his arms folded a crossed his chest. “I’m supper old and work for myself.”
Eric gave a little laugh. This guy looked like he was maybe 20. It was good that he had a sense of humor about this.
“Great.” Don groaned like he was lifting something heavy. “Now that we all know each other.”
Eric looked over at Don who had lifted some kind of metal object that looked to be part of an engine or something. He cradled it in his hands and started to run toward the wall. With a cry he spun around launching the object toward the window.
“Everyone move!” Sara ordered as she crouched down turning her back to the window covering her face with her hands.
Megan grabbed Eric and Mark pushing their heads down to protect them from the broken glass.
The object arced up and made a loud thud as the object bounced off the window and landed on the ground with a loud crash.
They all looked in disbelief.
“That’s not possible,” Don panted out of breath. “That thing was at least sixty pounds and it didn’t even look like it made a scratch.”
“It’s probably industrial strength something or another,” Megan stated.
Don then turned around and sprinted for the door.
“Don’t!” Sara ordered.
Don ignored her and threw his entire body weight into the door. He bounced off it and went sliding back on the smooth hard floor. He readjusted and tried again.
“Knock it off,” Eric said. “You’re just going to hurt yourself.”
Mark ran for the door, and Eric thought maybe he was going to try and stop Don but instead he threw his shoulder into the door to no effect.
Both of them would hit it simultaneously bounce off and try again.
“If you guys are going to do that you might as well use this,” Allen called out to them.
The two stopped and looked at Allen who had his hand on a large wood beam. Fixing his sunglasses he lifted it and started walking it toward them.
It stood at about 8 feet and was a good foot in diameter. Don and Mark ran over each grabbing a side.
Eric sighed as he joined them, putting his arm around the beam. Megan and Sara were right behind him. Only Lacy staid back as she watched them intensely.
“Alright on three,” Allen said as they reached the door.
“One.” They all moved the beam back and brought it forward stopping before it hit.
“Two.” They swung again.
“Three!” this time they swung with all their might, the beam hitting the door like a battering ram. The door did not even seem to shake from the impact.
“Again,” Sara ordered and they swung the beam a second time with no effect. “Again.” No effect. “Again.”
They went at it for nearly ten minutes but the door would not budge. Exhausted they let the beam drop to the ground as they all nearly collapsed trying to catch their breath.
“What is that door made out of?” Eric gasped. “It doesn’t even have a scratch on it.”
Megan examined the door letting her hand move along the surface. “It feels like regular wood but it is ice cold to the touch.”
“I noticed that too,” Don said rubbing his shoulder at the memory.
“Think there is something behind it?” Eric asked.
“It doesn’t matter.” Sara stood up brushing the dirt off her shirt. “The only thing that matters is that we are not getting out that way.”
“You seem awfully quick to give up,” Don pointed out. His voice was full of accusation.
“I’m not giving up,” Sara shot back. “But there is no point in wasting our effort on something that isn’t going to help. Obviously brute force isn’t going to work so we are going to have to find another way.”
The two stared at each other for a moment. Don eventually broke off looking at the ground.
“Whatever,” he mumbled.
“Okay so first thing we need to do is figure out where we are,” Sara said having asserted her dominance.
“I don’t know about all of you but I am hungry.” Eric put his hand over his stomach. “Think there is anything to eat in here?”
“I second that,” Lacy said holding up her hand.
Eric rolled his eyes in annoyance. Though he was actually a bit hungry himself now that he thought about it.
Sara sighed. “Alright let’s look around and see what’s in here. It seems that all the doors are locked so we are trapped in the main area.”
“It would be nice if we could find a light switch,” Megan said.
“I’ll go see if I can find a breaker switch,” Sara said. “Anyone want to come with me?”
“I’ll go.” Eric held up his hand volunteering.
“Megan,” Sara turned to the short woman. “Were you able to see anything out that window when you were up there?”
Megan shook her head. “Negative. You can’t see out of it.”
“Alright how about you take one of the actually useful boys and see if you can find anything that we can use,” Sara suggested.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Don shot at her.
“Yeah what he said.” Mark crossed his arms trying to be tuff looking.
“I don’t remember ever electing you to be our leader,” Don stated.
“I’ll take Allen,” Megan said pointing at Allen who had gone back to sitting on his create.
He leapt off standing to his feet ready to help.
“I would suggest trying to find flashlights,” Sara said talking to Megan. “It’s going to get dark in here soon and if we can’t get the power on we will need some source of light. Also any food and water would be good too.”
“Roger that,” Megan gave a halfhearted salute as she and Allen started walking away from the group.
“You two can just stay here then.” Sara glared at Dom. “Why don’t you go and hold your election for leader while we are gone.”
“What about me?” Lacy asked holding up her hand.
“You just keep doing what you are doing.” Sara gave her a false smile and an encouraging thumbs up as her and Eric headed out.
Lacy gave an affirmative nod. “Got it,” she said returning the thumbs up.
Eric did his best to keep from laughing as the two of them walked along, using the wall to guide them further into the warehouse.
“So what do you think is going on?” Eric asked doing his best to fill the silence.
Sara gave a sigh shaking her head. “I don’t know. We all blacked out and have memory loss, which implies drugs were used. And the last thing we all remember is getting in our cars.”
“Implying the same method was used on all of us.” Eric thought about it for a second. “You think it might be some kind of hypnosis, like in our stereos or something?”
Sara nodded at the thought. “It’s possible. Hypnosis won’t make you do anything that you don’t want to but when you are already driving it would be easy to give you false directions and many kinds of hypnosis can blank your memory of the event.”
Eric narrowed his eyes a bit. “You seem to know an awful lot about hypnosis.”
“Don’t get to excited there,” she glanced at him. “I watch a lot of TV.”
Eric took a breath. There was no reason to get suspicious. At least not until they knew a bit more. “But why would someone do this and why us?”
“I can think of so many reasons I can’t even count them all,” Sara sighed. “Could be some sick experiment to see how people react to these kind of situations.”
“Like the Milgriem experiment.”
This time it was Sara’s turn to give Eric an inquisitive look.
“First year in collage I took a psychology class and we had to write a paper on it,” he explained. “What else?”
“Well it also possible that this is all the work of some psychopath and this is all some kind of game to him.”
Eric groaned a little. “I don’t like that idea. That usually means that bodies will start to show up pretty soon.”
Sara grew quiet. “I thought that too,” she mumbled. “Ah look.” She pointed ahead of them at a metal box sticking out of the wall. “Looks like we found the fuse box.”
They stood in front of the large beast for a moment trying to take it all in.
“How do we open it?” Eric asked.
Sara gave a small chuckle. “An electrician I am not.” She cocked her head to the side a few times trying to get a different perspective. “If we had a light I am sure it would be obvious.”
“I always thought there was just a red lever on the side that we had to flip.”
“Only in video games,” she sighed.
“Let me try something.” Taking off his watch he held the face of it close to the fuse box and hit the light on it. It did not help much but it was something. He started moving the watch along the surface hitting the light button every three seconds.
“There.” Eric found a hinge. Releasing it, the fuse box swung open revealing close to a hundred switches.
“I can’t see a thing,” Sara sighed staring into the black void that was the now open metal box.
Eric moved the casing door so it blocked as much light as possible and activated his watch light again. “Ummmm.”
“What is it?” Sara moved in close so she can see.
“I have no idea what any of these things mean,” Eric admitted looking back at her with a smile.
Sara sighed. “Why would it be simple?” She tapped him on the side of the shoulder signaling for them o switch. “Here move for a second.” Eric obediently moved out of the way. “Let’s just start flipping switches and see if anything happens.”
“Help!” Eric screamed at the top of his lungs.
Why was he screaming for help? He looked around him. He notice that for some reason he was now sitting on the floor.
When had that happened? He could feel a weight on his lap and something warm seeping into his pants. He looked down and saw the bloodied body of Sara cradled in his arms.
Eric started screaming again with renewed vigor. “Someone!” he screamed again.
He could hear the sounds of shoes squeaking on a hard smooth floor. From the multiple sounds Eric counted several people. Then Don, Mark and Lacy ran around the corner.
“What’s going on?” Don asked panic in his voice.
“I, I, I,” Eric was stumbling over his words. Shock was setting in he knew. He bit down on his tongue and pinched his leg using the pain to help clear his mind. “I think she’s dead,” he cried.
“Oh Christ.” Mark held his hand to his mouth trying to hold back his gage reflex.
“Move.” Don pushed Mark out of the way as he crouched in front of Eric. He put his fingers to Sara’s throat. “I don’t feel a pulse. Does anyone have any kind of light?” he moved his hands to her eye lids. “If her pupils dilate that says there is still brain activity…” his words trailed off as he touched her face and noticed that her eyes were still open.
“What is it?” Lacy asked. She was standing a ways back a panic look on her face.
“Her eyes are open,” Don said his voice soft.
“What does that mean?” Mark asked still fighting back his gag reflex.
“It means she was dead before she lost consciousness from blood loss,” Don explained with a deep sigh.
“You mean she’s dead?” Lacy asked.
Don turned around an angry look on his face like he was about to snap at her but he was interrupted by the sound of Mark hurling in the back.
Don and Lacy both lunged backward trying to get clear. Eric just sat there Sara’s corpse laying in his lap. He was not saying anything. He was not moving. He was not even looking at anything. He was just sitting there.
“Eric!” Don’s voice brought him out of his trance but not entirely. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.” Eric was deadpanned. This was not real. How could it be real? “We found the fuse box and were working on getting the lights on.”
There was a pause as they waited for him to continue.
“What happened next?” Don pressed.
Eric turned and looked at him “I don’t know,” his voice was soft. “The next thing I can remember is screaming for help.”
“That’s bull shit!” Don reached out and grabbed Eric’s collar. “How can you not know what happened?”
Eric did not fight back, he hardly even noticed what was going on around him. “Because… I don’t,” he stated.
Don drew his fist back making ready to slug Eric.
“Stop it!” Lacy screamed.
Don froze and looked over his shoulder at Lacy.
“This isn’t helping so just…” her legs seemed to give out and she grabbed onto a nearby shelf to support herself. “Just stop,” she whispered her shoulders beginning to sob.
Don loosened his grip on Eric’s collar and lowered his fist letting his hand fall to his side. He stood up, still upset but no longer threatening to punch Eric. “Let’s get back and wait for Allen and Megan. If they’re not back already.”
“What should we do about that?” Mark asked pointing at Sara with one hand while using the sleeve of the other to wipe off his mouth.
“This is Sara not some object!” Eric snapped starting to come out of his shock.
“Sara’s dead,” Don said. “That is just a corpse.”
“Don’t say that,” Lacy cried.
“It’s the truth,” Don shot at her.
“Either way.” Eric gently set Sara’s head on the ground before he stood up. “We can’t just leave her here.” He examined his hands and legs. They were covered in blood and his hands felt sticky but it was already starting to dry. “I’ll carry her back and we can figure what to do with her from there.”
No one said anything so Eric crouched down putting an arm under her neck and legs. She was heavier then he thought. The concept of dead weight was never more appropriate.
He laid Sara down away from where they had made their makeshift camp. Mark had found a tarp and covered her up. None of them had said a word the entire time. Eric sat on a crate staring at nothing rubbing his hands together feeling the dried blood peel off like dried elmers glue.
“We’re back,” came Megan’s voice from further off.
Eric looked up at the woman. Allen was standing behind her his hands in his jacket pockets.
“What happened?” Megan asked looking at everyone’s somber expressions.
“Sara’s dead.” Don gestured with his head at the body covered by the tarp.
“Dead?” The color drained from her face as she looked at the tarp.
“Did you not hear Eric screaming?” Don asked.
Megan and Allen looked at each other in confusion and shook their head. “No,” Allen said.
“We might have just been too far away to hear,” Megan suggested.
“To far away?” Don cocked an eyebrow. “In a warehouse where we can hear the echo of a pin drop from the other side?”
“To be honest,” Allen spoke up. “We both blacked out.”
“So did I,” Eric whispered.
Don bit his lip as if he did not want to say something, or admit to something.
“We blacked out too,” Lacy said. “One second we are checking crates the next thing we know we were all running towards Eric.”
“What the Hell is going on!” Mark staggered back his eyes wide with panic. That was not good. If he started to panic then he would snap and do something stupid that could get them all killed.
Eric knew he should do something about it but he just could not muster the strength. Every time he thought about moving or saying something the image of Sara laying lifeless in his arms came back to him sapping him of any will power he had.
“Mark, you need to calm down,” Megan said holding out her hands in a passive manner.
“How can I calm down?” Mark was pacing back and forth his hands fidgeting and his body giving random twitches. “A woman is dead and we’re all next.”
“Mark look at me.” Megan was trying her best to sound nonthreatening as she took small steps forward. “Just look at me okay. You need to take a deep breath and calm down.”
An arm reached around Mark’s throat and he started gasping. They looked at Don who had slipped behind Mark while Megan had been distracting him. Mark tried to break free but Don’s grip was too tight and before anyone could even react Mark’s eyes rolled back and he went limp.
Don slowly put him to the ground laying him on his side with his arm across his body.
“What the Hell, Don?” Megan shouted.
“What?” Don stood up brushing the wrinkles out of his shirt. “He was panicking. This way he can sleep it off and when he wakes up with a killer headache he will be less likely to cause problems.”
“There are better ways of going at it then just choking him out,” Megan snapped.
“But none as fast,” he replied. “And seeing as how we are all on a bit of a time limit here…” He looked at everyone in the group but lingered the longest on Eric. “I figured it best not to waist what little time we do have.”
“What do you mean we are on a time limit?” Lacey asked worry and confusion in her voice.
“Whoever is behind this obviously intends to kill us all so it’s just a matter of time before he strikes again,” Don explained stepping over Mark’s sleeping body and sitting on a crate. “Even if that’s not the case, without water we can hold out for maybe four days, assuming we don’t exert ourselves to much.”
“I take it you didn’t find anything.” Eric spoke up for the first time in a while.
Megan shook her head. “No food or water, but,” she reached into her pocket and pulled out a bundle of plastic tubes. “We found some glow sticks in a tool box near the back.”
“Any tools that we can use?” Don asked.
“A power drill with no power, some sandpaper and some nuts and bolts.” She stuck her thumb out at Allen. “He took a hammer that was in there. But nothing useful.”
Everyone gave a slight sigh. Megan and Allen both took a seat on some crates. “So we all blacked out at the same time?” Megan asked as she sat down. “Is that possible?”
“Sara and I were talking about maybe some sort of hypnosis carried by sound,” Eric said. “It was just a theory and we didn’t get much time to really talk about it.” His voice trailed off as he stared off at the floor.
There was a silence that filled the room. Everyone had a million questions and wanted to say a million things but none of them could seem to bring themselves to say any of them.
“It will be getting dark soon,” Allen stated looking at the window.
“It will be pitch black in here without the sunlight,” Megan sighed. “A glow rod can last usually a few hours.” She started counting them in her hands. “We should have enough to make it through tonight but not much else.”
“Well I can’t sleep with a light on so I say let’s just save them,” Lacey chimed.
“Oh yes let’s all sit here in the pitch black when there is someone here trying to murder us,” Don snapped.
“Not that light will do us much good,” Eric sighed. He had not actually meant to say that out loud.
“He’s right,” Megan said. “If this person can cause us all to black out then it won’t matter what we do.”
“That’s a pleasant thought,” Allen mumbled settling into the crate he was sitting on again just outside the rest of the group.
“That just means we have to find a way out of here.” Don stood up as if he was ready to go do something.
“And how are we going to do that?” Eric asked. “That door is impenetrable and the windows are made out of something stronger than steal.”
“Are you giving up?” he scowled at Eric.
Eric retreated inside himself. “Maybe,” he mumbled.
“That’s sickening,” Don spat. “If you have given up then why don’t I just kill you right now?” He started to move toward Eric.
Eric did not move. What would be the point? He had no where he could run, and it was just a matter of time anyway. How could they fight something they could not even see or remember?
“Don!” Megan barked like a Sergeant at a recruit. She was standing up and she was making tight fists. “Sit your ass down.” She pointed to the crate.
Don considered talking back but seeing the fire and determination in her glare he decided against it and sat back down.
“Trying to kill each other isn’t going to help anyone.” Megan looked at everyone but particularly glared at Don. “If we have any hope or chance of getting out of here then we have to work together.”
“Oh so what, you in charge now?” Don asked. “First Sara and now you?”
Megan’s face burned with rage. She had finally had enough of his attitude. She stormed over to Don getting in his face. “Here’s the deal bud. You will not talk from this point on. You will not move if not given permission. And if you have something to say then you will raise your hand like a good little boy. Is that understood?”
“Whatever.” Don rolled his eyes.
Eric did not know how Don ended up face first on the floor, nor was he sure what Megan had done to get him in such a state but the next thing anyone knew Don was moaning and Megan was standing over him.
“What did I say about talking?” she said glaring down at him. Taking a deep breath she turned toward the rest of them. “Now about trying to find a way out of here.”
No one said a word in challenge.
“The first thing we need to do is figure out what’s going on, past the obvious.” She looked around the group. “Why were we targeted? Is there something about us that ties us together?”
“We are basically a horror movie cliché,” Eric stated.
Megan frowned. “What do you mean?”
He almost laughed. “We have the hot tempered guy who is the quote unquote idiot factor.” He pointed at Don who looked like he was about to say something in response but took one look at Megan and closed his mouth. “We have the ditz,” he pointed at Lacey.
“Hey I’m not a ditz.” Lacy whined in a high pitch voice.
“Yes you are,” Megan said.
“We have the jock.” Eric pointed at Mark who was still laying on the ground unconscious. “The dark mysterious guy.” He pointed at Allen. “Really sunglasses? What is wrong with you?” Eric shook his head. “Then there is… was Sara who was the charismatic leader type and then there is you and me who…” he trailed off as he saw where that line of thought was going.
“You and me what?” Megan pressed.
Eric wished he had not said anything but Megan looked like she wasn’t going to let it go. “The two who always end up hooking up before the end,” he half mumbled the words.
Megan blushed a little but immediately continued talking. “So is the order of people dying in a horror movie common?”
Eric almost laughed. Had she never seen a horror movie in her life? “Yeah it’s a pretty set formula to be honest.”
“And what order is that?” Megan asked. “Maybe we can predict who is next.”
Eric shook his head. “It’s already breaking formula. The first to die would either be the jock or the ditz. Followed by the mysterious guy or the idiot factor but not both. Then the leader would be killed then reviled that the idiot factor or mysterious guy was the murder and then the couple would die at the end after they thought they killed the killer.”
“Another happy thought,” Allen mumbled.
Megan nodded in understanding.
“You forgot the comic relief,” Lacy spoke up.
“The what?” Megan asked as they all looked at her.
“In horror movies there is always that funny guy who relieves the tension at key points. He is usually one of the last to die as well.”
“What you don’t think I’m funny?” Allen asked.
Eric chuckled a little. It was true Allen had made him laugh twice now, that was something to be said.
Eric glanced over at Don who was brooding to himself. The shock and humiliation of getting floored by a woman a good foot shorter and 80 pounds lighter than him had not worn off yet.
“So what about you?” Megan asked.
Eric snapped his head up. Megan was looking down at him. Had she been standing that close before?
“Sorry what was the question?” Eric tried to sound as apologetic as possible. He had not been meaning to ignore her.
Megan gave him an almost confused look as if the thought of him not listening to her was just unimaginable. “Never mind just forget it.” She sat down rubbing her temples.
“Regardless,” Allen started. “What are we going to do? I don’t think sitting here is going to accomplish anything.”
Megan sighed nodding in agreement. “I am open to suggestions.”
“Let’s try tunneling out.” Lacey offered a lot of energy in her voice.
Megan opened her mouth but Allen held up his hand cutting her off. “No no, I want to hear this.” He crossed his arms leaning back a little. “So let’s hear it Lacey. How do we do that?”
“Well we could use spoons.” Her voice completely serious.
“And there it is,” Allen laughed.
“I am open to any other suggestions,” Megan said.
Eric pursed his lips together. “That actually might not be a bad idea.” They all turned to look at him. “The tunneling out part not the bit with the spoons.”
“Go on.” Megan relaxed a little in her seat as she waited for him to start.
“Well a place like this has to have some kind of ventilations system right? And with this place being as big as it is the vents would have to be large to get enough air circulating.”
“I see where this is going.” Megan leaned forward a bit.
“All vents lead outside, so if we get someone small enough to crawl through the vents then-”
Megan gave a smile in agreement. “They can go get help, open the door form the other side, find a phone,”
“Go get some food,” Lacy finished.
“Then the first thing we have to do is find a vent.” Megan stood up ignoring Lacy’s comment. “We should get in groups of two and split up and search the warehouse.”
“Why?” Don dared to speak up.
Megan started to move towards him probably to hit him again for talking without permission.
Don flinched but he did not back down. “I mean to say that if we are just going to black out when the killer strikes then there is no point in us pairing up.”
Megan stopped dead and the air grew thick with tension.
“That’s not the point,” Eric stood up. “The point is to have us look after each other.” He looked at Megan who gave him a nod. “Don, why don’t you go with Megan seeing as how you two get along so well?” Don cringed and Megan gave a smile. “Lacey can go with Allen and I will wake Mark up and we can go from there.”
Megan reached into her pocket and pulled out the glow sticks. “Each group can take one.” She handed one to Eric and another to Allen. “Try not to waist it.”
Allen cracked the stick in the middle holding it in front of him the orange light shining off his sunglasses. “Let’s get going.” He gestured at Lacey with his head.
“Right.” Lacey sprang from her seat and ran after him.
“Come on.” Megan grabbed Don by the scruff of his shirt lifting him to his feet. She gave Eric a wink over her shoulder as she walked off.
Eric smiled despite himself.
Once they were gone he walked over to Mark’s still sleeping body. “Hey get up.” He used his foot to tap him a few time in the stomach. Sighing from the lack of reaction he crouched down shaking his shoulder. “Wakey wakey.” He put some force behind it. Still no response.
Eric rolled him onto his back. If he would not wake up from a nudge he might wake up if he cut off his air supply. He put his hand over Mark’s mouth and then clinched his nose. After a few seconds he let go. If that did not wake him up he did not know what would.
Eric wiped the blood off his hands on his jeans as he got ready for another attempt. His hands froze inches from Mark’s face. The blood on his hands should be dried by now. Why was there wet blood on his hands?
Eric fumbled with the glow stick cracking it as an orange glow illuminated Mark’s face. There was blood smeared across his mouth and face from Eric’s hands. Blood was pooled around his head from the slash in the throat.
No. Not again.
Eric fell back landing on his but his hands supporting him from behind. When did that happen? He had been alive when they left him there.
Eric shook his head. That was not important right now. What was important was telling everyone else.
Eric took a deep breath. “Everyone get back here now!” His voiced echoed down the warehouse.
A few seconds later he could hear footsteps running towards him. A few seconds after that he could see the orange glow from the glow sticks.
“What’s wrong?” Megan asked as she approached.
“Mark.” Eric pointed with his glow stick at the body at his feet. Seeing the blood they both stepped back.
“What’s going…” Allen’s voice trailed off as he saw Mark’s body at their feet. “Ah.”
Don leaped over Mark his hands reaching for Eric. Grabbing his throat he forced Eric to the ground.
“What the Hell?” Megan moved slipping an arm under his armpit and putting him into a hold.
“Don’t you get it?” Don screamed as he was pulled off of Eric. “He’s the killer. He killed Sara and now he killed Mark after we left!”
“That’s not possible,” Allen stated.
For a moment they all paused and looked at Allen who was crouched over the body. “His joints are stiff. He has been dead for at least an hour if not more.”
That seemed to take the fight out of Don as his body went limp. Megan loosened her grip letting Don slip out. She slugged him once in the gut with an uppercut making a loud thud. Giving Don a death glare as he hunched over in pain, she walked over to Eric holding out a helping hand. He took it and she lifted him to his feet.
“When did this happen?” Lacy asked. “I don’t remember blacking out.”
“I do,” Eric rubbed his neck. “Megan what was that question you asked me that I didn’t hear?”
Megan opened her mouth but nothing came out. Then she hung her head. “I don’t know. I didn’t remember, that’s why I let it drop.”
“So we are really not blacking out,” Don said his voice cracking. “Things seem to continue like normal we just all suffer from memory loss.”
“Looks like his throat was slit.” Allen was still examining the body. “Why don’t we have a look at Sara see how she died?”
Eric was a little shocked that they had not done that to begin with. But then he was not exactly thinking strait before.
Allen removed the tarp over Sara while Megan held a glow stick to give him light. Using his own light Allen started examining the body. “Looks the same,” he stated. “Deep cut along the throat.” He stood up wiping his hands on his jeans.
“So what does that tell us exactly?” Don snorted. “They were both killed. We already knew that.”
“Yes but this is a deep cut with no tearing,” Allen stated. “This wasn’t done by some blunt object or saw, but a very sharp knife.”
“Alright everyone spread eagle,” Megan barked heading for Don first.
“What?” Don tried to protest as Megan pushed his shoulder forcing him to turn around lifting his hands as she started patting him down.
“There is a good chance the killer has the knife on him,” Megan explained as she patted him down. “You’re clean,” she said stepping away from him.
“I could have told you that,” Don grumbled like he had just been violated.
Megan walked over to Eric next. He obediently turned around and held his hands up. Finding nothing she moved onto Lacey.
“No wait,” Lacy cried covering herself. “I don’t want to be touched like that.”
“Not by her you mean.” Eric rolled his eyes.
“Just turn around and stick your hands up.” Megan spun Lacey around and started patting her down. “Clean.” she sighed stepping back.
“And what about you?” Don asked. “You going to pat yourself down?”
“Allen.” She waved him over holding out her arms.
Allen started patting her arms and waist. “Get the front to,” Megan said. “And don’t forget my breasts and groin.” She glared at Don as she spoke. “Wouldn’t want anyone to think I got off easy or anything.”
Allen nodded obediently and rand his hands down the front of her body. “You’re clean.” he said stepping back from her.
“Well damn,” she sighed. “I guess that was too much to hope for.”
“Then we should get back to what we were doing before,” Eric stated.
“Agreed,” Megan nodded. “If we can find the air duct and get out of here we can let the police figure out who’s guilty.”
“Lucky for us,” Allen stated crossing his arms. “Lacey and I actually found vent.”
“Really?” Megan’s eyes almost lit up. “Great lead the way.”
They all started to move out. Don had a fuming look on his face like he wanted to say something but he kept his mouth shut.
They followed Allen along the wall all of them on edge as if at any second the killer was going to jump out at them. Allen led them to around the same spot that the circuit breaker was. Also the same spot that Sara had died. A chill ran down Erik’s back at the thought of it.
“It’s right there.” Allen held up his glow stick revealing a large grate to an air duct about ten feet off the ground.
“How did you not notice this before?” Don shot an accusatory glace at Eric.
“Because I wasn’t looking for it before,” Eric snapped. “Why didn’t you notice it before? You were here too.”
“Enough!” Megan snapped. “First thing we have to do is get that thing open.”
“If someone is willing to let me stand on their back.” Allen pulled out the hammer that he raided from the tool box earlier.
“I got it,” Eric volunteered already moving forward. He handed his glow stick to Megan as he passed by her.
Getting down on all fours Eric pressed himself against the wall for support as Allen used him as a step stool. Eric bared his teeth as Allen’s heels dug into his back as she constantly shifted his weight. Eric could hear the sound of bending metal as Allen used the hammer to pry open the vent. Then with a loud clank the air vent flung open.
“We’re good,” Allen called out to the rest of them grinding his heel into Eric’s back as he stepped off.
“Now witch of us is going to go through there?” Don asked.
“It’ll have to be one of the girls,” Eric stated twisting his back to try and get the stiffness out of it.
“You don’t think you could fit through that?” Megan joked handing his glow stick back to him.
“It’s not just fitting,” Eric said. “It’s not going to be like in the movies these air ducts are not meant to hold a lot of weight. If the person is too heavy then it will collapse on them.”
“Didn’t think of that,” Megan mumbled putting her hand to her chin in thought. “Alright Lacey how much do you weigh?”
“I’m not telling you that,” Lacey snapped sounding defensive.
“Oh my god,” Don rolled his eyes. “This is no time for your vanity. We need to know which one of you weighs less.”
“I weigh 130,” Megan stated.
“Well I weigh less than that,” Lacey declared.
“Good, then it’s decided.” Megan handed Lacey her glow stick. “Here use this. I’m sure it’s dark in there.”
“Wait what?” Lacey looked genuinely confused as she took the stick from Megan.
“Have you not been paying attention?” Don snapped. “Who am I kidding? Of course you haven’t.” he sighed. “Just come on.” He walked over to the wall and stood directly under the open air vent putting his back to the wall. “I’ll give you a boost. You climb through there and get to the outside. Once out there you see about opening the door. If not then go to a pay phone and dial 911.”
“Are you sure we should be trusting her with this?” Eric whispered to Megan.
“It’ll be fine, besides,” she trailed off fidgeting a little with her hands. “I’m not a big fan of tight spaces.”
“Ah.” Eric watched as Don lifted Lacey up as she climbed into the air duct. There was a lot of banging sounds as she squirmed her way inside.
“Less than 130 my ass,” Don said stepping away from the wall out of breath. “Maybe when you were still in high school.”
“To late now,” Megan said.
They all stood in a line looking up at the air duct listening to the banging sounds as Lacey crawled through the dim orange glow from her glow stick growing dimmer as she pressed on.
“I think I see the exit,” Lacey shouted.
“Good,” Don called out. “Do you think you can get out?”
“I think so,” her breath was labored. “It is like supper hot in here.”
“We’ll once you get outside I am sure you’ll cool off,” Don replied. “Do you believe this chick?” he looked at the rest of them shaking his head in disbelief.
There was a sudden shriek from inside the ventilation shaft.
“What’s wrong?” Megan asked they all moved forward as if there was something that they could do.
“I just my hand on the floor,” Lacey called back. Her voice was even more labored than before. “It is getting supper hot in here guys. I don’t think I can take it.”
“Well just get outside and you’ll be fine,” Don yelled. His voice was riddled with anxiety as he nervously looked up at the opening.
“I think… I’m just… gonna…” her voice trailed off with a sudden final clang.
“Crap I think she passed out,” Eric said. “Give me a boost I’ll go in after her.”
“Wait,” Megan grabbed his arm and pulled him back. “Look the light,” they looked up and saw the faint orange light growing brighter.
“Is she really coming back?” Don asked. “It would have just been faster for her to keep going.”
“I don’t think that’s a glow rod.” As soon as the words were out of Eric’s mouth orange flames came shooting out of the duct forcing all of them to cover their faces and cower away to protect them from the heat.
“Lacey!” Megan yelled as the fire slowly dwindled. She started to move towards the opening before both Eric and Don grabbed her arms pulling her back.
“She’s dead,” Don said.
“If you try and go in after her you’ll probably wind up dead too,” Eric agreed.
Megan dropped to her knees her hands falling lifelessly by her sides. “What the hell is going on?” she whispered. “Who would do something like this?”
“It’s like we are in a Saw movie of something,’ Don grumbled pacing back and forth.
“More like mice in a cage,” Allen corrected. “However is doing this is obviously on a power trip.”
“Whoever is doing this is obviously insane,” Megan snapped.
Eric did not say anything. He just moved against the wall pressing his back to it he slid down to the ground. What was the point? They could not call for help, they could not bust their way out, and they could not even sneak their way out. All the while they just kept dropping one by one. This really was just like a horror movie.
“Alright so what’s the next plan?” Don said looking around. Megan was still sitting on the floor her head slumped. Eric was up against the wall staring off at nothing. Allen was silently standing off to the side with his hands in his pockets.
“Oh come on guys,” Don said. “You can’t give up now.”
“Can’t we?” Megan whispered. “I’m sorry but what is the point of struggling when nothing we do matters?”
“When nothing we do matter the only thing that matters is what we do,” Don said trying to give them all a pep talk. “You just going to sit there and wait for the end to come or are you going to fight to the bitter end?”
“I wouldn’t mind getting laid first,” Megan tried to laugh but failed. She turned her head looking over her shoulder at the other two. “Any takers?”
“Whatever,” Don waved her off as he started to turn. “If you want to give up and die fine. But I’m not done yet.” he looked over at Allen. “You with me?”
Allen gave a solitary nod and started to follow Don as he walked off into the darkness.
Megan turned and looked back at Eric who was still sitting against the wall. “And what about you?”
“Sorry but I don’t think I could get it up for you right now,” Eric grumbled.
Megan laughed be it weakly. “No I meant, have you given up?”
“I haven’t given up so much as I have just lost hope,” Eric said. “If there was a plan, if there was so idea of how we could get through this then maybe,” he let out a deep sigh. “But there doesn’t seem to be anything left.” He leaned back thudding his head against the wall. “Funny I would think that in times like this I would somehow gain a better appreciation for life. Think to myself how I would do it better or what I would do differently if given a chance.”
“You don’t feel that way?” Megan asked.
Eric shook his head. “Not really. I honestly just feel numb. Like I don’t care anymore. I don’t want to die but if I’m going to I would rather it just happen and be done with it.”
Eric slowly reached out and closed Megan’s lifeless eyes. He did not panic this time as he came to the realization that the woman was now dead in front of him. She was sprawled out on the floor her throat slit just like the others. There were several glow sticks laying in a circle around them like they had tried to make some kind of perimeter with them.
“Dang,” he whispered sitting down letting his body slump.
Off in the distance there was the sounds of footsteps as Allen and Don came running back.
“What happened?” Don asked. “We blacked out and when we came to we were running,” he stopped when he saw Megan laying on the ground.
“I swear it wasn’t me,” Eric laughed. Everyone who had died had died when Eric was around. If he did not know better he would say that he really was the killer.
Don just stared watching as Eric’s laughter turned into sobbing. Why was this happening? Why did it have to happen to them? To him?
“Just kill me now and be done with it already,” Eric sobbed crying into the sleeve of his blood stained shirt.
“I don’t think it was any of us,” Don stated. That surprised Eric. He never would have thought that Don would be the one to say something like that.
“Then who is it?” Eric asked.
“I think that the killer has been lurking in the shadows this whole time watching us,” he explained. “I think he gets off watching us tear at each other’s throats while we suspect each other instead of trying to find him.”
“Luckily for all of us you were above such superficial thinking,” Eric chastised.
“Look I’m not saying I didn’t screw up,” Don snapped. “What I am saying is that if there is any chance of us getting out of this then we have to go on the offensive. We have to take the fight to him.”
“And how do you purpose we do that?” Eric asked. “We have no weapons. Its pitch black in here and we only have these stupid glow sticks to guide us.”
“Isn’t trying better than just waiting around and doing nothing?” Don asked. “I would rather die fighting.”
“Well I’m not you!” Eric snapped. “I’m just me. And I have seen more death in the past few hours than I have my entire life. And I…” he trailed off. “I just want to go home.” He mumbled.
“If he doesn’t want to fight then we should just leave him,” Allen stated. “He will just be dead weight otherwise.”
Dead weight. If anyone was dead weight around here it was Allen. He had not actually done a single thing to help out. He had only agree with what someone had said or stated the obvious.
“Hey Allen,” Eric said looking up at the man. “Do you have a knife on you?”
“No,” he shook his head. “You checked remember?”
“No I don’t remember.” Eric put a hand on his knee giving him leverage as he stood up. “Don interrupted Megan as she was patting everyone down and we kind of forgot about you. In fact I tend to forget about you whenever you aren’t actually doing anything.”
“What are you getting at?” Allen crossed his arms.
“And the way you always stand outside the group like you’re watching us,” Eric continued. “Almost like this is all just a show to you.”
“Eric back off,” Don got between Eric and Allen holding his hand out. “I already told you that the killer isn’t one of us.”
“No he’s right,” Allen smiled. “I killed each one of them.”
Don gasped spinning on his heels and taking a step back moving in beside Eric.
“I’m impressed most people don’t figure it out,” Allen continued. “I wonder if maybe it was your subconscious, after all you saw me kill the woman at the very beginning. It was so fun to watch you beg and plead for her life.”
“Why?” Don asked. “Why are you doing all of this?”
“I suppose I can tell you.” Allen shrugged. “Once I kill Eric here I’ll wipe your mind and have fun watching you scour this hole where house looking for me, and all the while I’ll be right beside you.” Allen reached up taking off his reflective sunglasses. His eyes had a soft green glow almost like fire files.
“You see,” he grinned his smile seeming to be bigger than his face. “I get bored sometimes and I just feel like having some gold wholesome entertainment. So I get a bunch of vermin together lock them in a room and watch as they frantically try to claw their way out. And sometimes I get to even watch a little bit of adult entertainment as you vermin try to comfort each other.” He looked down at Megan’s corpse. “Sadly it was you who didn’t put out. Usually it’s the female, then I get to see some real entertainment when the male insists.” He grinned at Eric. “But that’s enough explanation. I am going to kill you know.”
Allen made a fist with his hand cracking his knuckles in the proses. He took a step forward but neither Eric nor Don could move. It was like they were transfixed by his eyes. The glowing green lights as they bounced as he walked.
“Oh and just so we’re clear,” Allen continued as she slowly walked forward. “I don’t use a knife,” he said holding up his hand like a blade. “I just didn’t want that vermin to touch me that’s all.”
“God. Save us,” Don whispered.
“He has yet to save anyone who has said that in front of me yet,” Allen smiled.
There was a loud groaning sound of a heavy metal door being opened. Allen stopped and turned around looking behind him at the source of the sound. Suddenly the power in the warehouse kicked on and the lights flashed on starting from the opposite side and working their way towards them. The lights revealed a figure at the other end walking towards the rest of them the door that they had tried so hard to open before was now open behind him.
As the figure drew closer Eric could start to make out some of the details. It was male who looked to be in his early 20’s. He wore a black leather coat over a black shirt. He had on a black ball cap and black fingerless gloves. In his hands were two strange looking knives that seemed to wrap around his fingers. But the thing that worried Eric was the man’s reflective sunglasses.
“Who are you?” Allen asked his voice almost a shriek. “And how did you get past my wards?”
“It was a pain let me tell you,” the stranger laughed. “I will admit putting that barrier up on the inside of the building instead of the outside was pretty cleaver. Took me forever to get the nullification signet through.”
Allen sniffed the air as the man drew closer. “You’re human,” he spat.
“That I am,” the stranger nodded. “But he’s not,” the man pointed and Allen turned around to see who he was pointing at.
Eric was able to turn his head slightly and caught a glimpse of the man behind him. The man was wearing plan clothing with a Captain America t-shirt and was crouching like a frog on the ground. “High.” The man crouching like a frog held up his hand in greeting. “You shouldn’t be looking at me. I’m just a distraction.”
There was a loud crunching sound and Eric looked back to see what it was. The stranger was now standing behind Allen one of his blades had sliced his throat while the other blade had stabbed into his spine. Allen let out a gasp as the stranger pulled his blade out and he collapsed to the floor. Eric and Don could suddenly move again as if the chains holding them were broken.
“Well that was anti climatic,” The guy stood up from his frog position. “Especially for the six hours of work that went into taking down his wards.”
“I prefer it that way,” the first stranger said wiping off his blades.
“What the hell is going on?” Don shouted. Now that the immediate danger was now gone.
“Austin,” the first guy looked up at his companion putting the knives away from behind his back. “Could you please wipe their memories for me?”
“You got it Riley,” Austin said giving him a thumbs up. “Hey both of you,” he called out. Don and Eric turned and looked at the man. “Watch the birdy.” Austin held up his hand like he was about to snap his fingers.
And the world goes on…