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Project: Phantasma

By John Ghost All Rights Reserved ©

Horror / Humor

VIII. The Late Escape

Gab didn’t realize that he fell asleep. The last thing he could remember was laughing and deeper introductions. He must have been drained out, but he couldn’t tell when. Is “last night” the right term? They don’t even know how many hours have passed. He checked his phone. Three-oh-nine.

He noticed that Jane’s head was on his lap, and she was drooling a little. He couldn’t quite make a feeling out of it. It was cute. It was kind of a turn-off. He didn’t really have open feelings at the moment. He let go of the sprite can still firmly held by his right hand, and felt a warm sensation along his hands. He nudged Jane a little. She rubbed her eyes and squinted a little, then wiped the little drool on her lip. “Oh my God, did I just drool on you?”

Gab shook his head with a smile. “Not really.”

“What’s the matter?”

He looked around and saw some faint lights switched on. “Aren’t we loosening our guards too much?”

They woke the others up. Lloyd was already on his butt with his arms crossed. Kim was on her side, her index finger on her lip. She leaned on her elbow, trying to shake the drowsiness off.

Gab glanced at the double doors. “Guys, we’re-”

“Loosening our guards too much,” Jane interrupted.

Gab nodded with a bit of indifference and amusement. “Exactly like how I said it.”

Kim sat down. Her glasses aren’t properly worn, her hair was a bit messy. “Are we leaving?”

“Sshhh…” Lloyd held his index finger up.

The girls seemed to be confused. Gab’s eyes widened as if he realized something, too. He and Lloyd looked at each other.

“Someone’s coming.” They said in unison.

They leaned on each side of the door, holding the pipes that barred it shut. The girls hid on a corner. Gab felt his heart beating fast, his hands sweating against the pole. Lloyd looked equally nervous. Footsteps neared the cinema… But it’s supposed to be soundproof, much like the conference area. They were gradually getting louder, until it halted right in front of the door.

Silence. All of them felt a great sense of dread. Gab and Lloyd placed their ears on the door, listening for any movement. Just silence.

“You don’t have to place your face on the door to hear my advice,” A voice from outside said, sending a spark of fear up their spines. It was that of a girl, like any other cliché icon in horror. “Soon, they will gas the entire mall, intent in killing any other foreigner. They are setting their equipment on the rooftop as of now, ready to release the gas in the vents. It will soon envelop the whole establishment... You can’t open the front door without electricity... I’ll leave presents behind.”

The footsteps started and gradually become softer. Breathing became an involuntary function again. They felt they could move now. What paralyzed them was either fear or a force they’ve never seen or felt before.

Gab quickly opened the door and found a key in front of it. “Who are you?” He yelled.

No response.

The key has been tagged 4F Control Room. Gab and Lloyd switched the flashlights on, the ones they got for free in the supermarket. It looked like it’s still night. It’s still dark. As dark as when they first went inside the cinema. Outside the theater, there were grimy shoeprints of what seemed to be like a school girl’s. The bodies of grotesque creatures laid frozen as if they died from intense fear. Their eyes apparently cried out a river of blood.

Only the cone of light that their torches emitted seemed alive. They instinctively followed the trail of shoeprints.

“They seem to have died peacefully,” Gab sarcastically stated, seeing all of the dead creatures’ faces were petrified in a hideous scream.

“Why are we following this trail, again?” Kim asked, cowering on Gab’s shoulder. His polo shirt was getting harassed as she looked back every now and then, paranoid.

“Do we have a choice?” Lloyd answered rather coldly. “Why did the girl go into all this trouble just to warn us, give us keys for the electricity to get out of here, and leave a trail going to the control room? She apparently cleared the path of monsters for us, too.”

“Why won’t she just go outside and save herself?” Jane asked.

“Humanity hasn’t declined, apparently,” Gab replied.

“Twerking,” Kim said.

“Humanity hasn’t fully declined, apparently,” Gab corrected.

The footprints ended on a door. Yes, you read that right. On the door, as if the girl removed her shoes and planted it on the door for an illusion that she can walk vertically. They used the key they found and peered inside. Computers and panels rested on the walls side by side.

Lloyd pulled a lever up, resuming the electricity. To their surprise, the monitors showed hundreds of creatures looking up towards the cameras and going crazy. The lights must have stirred them badly.

Jane scanned the bigger monitor, rewinding it to the start of the tape. She played it in a little fast forward. They could see the Epic Rhyme Clashes of History part through the disastrous Get- to- Know- Each- Other- and- Die- in- the- Hands- of- Apeshit- Contestants part. That’s when things started to get different. The hosts and the facilitators all rushed outside in order, as if they have rehearsed their escape before.

In the rewinded video, the contestants started to hit each other. Some writhed and rolled because of what seemed to be diarrhea. Some ran from the others. Some did a mixture of them. It was like the contestants have just been driven crazy and were left to kill each other.

They switched for the rooftop camera’s unrewinded footage. People in helmets and vests with guns carrying some unidentifiable equipment were there. There’s what seemed to be a hose. They knew it was trouble as it was shoved inside a ventilation shaft.

“I think we need to go now,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd, Kim and Jane ran as fast as they could towards the first floor sliding doors, evading incoming creatures. Gab got locked in. He bashed the door but it was too late. The three were too preoccupied towards the goal, being chased by packs of blood-thirsty never-heard-of-diapers monsters. He looked at one of the monitors. A long-haired girl, about 12 years old, was walking along a corridor. She stopped and started to look at the camera.

Gab was stunned. The camera began trembling and being gradually enveloped with grime. The girl’s eyes were demonic red, and there was blood slowly coming out as tears. She started to face away, the grime peeling off from the camera. She stopped in front of a familiar looking door; a door with a shoeprint on it.

She twisted the knob as Gab’s breathing went into a sudden halt. The doorknob behind him twisted in unison, his blood pulsating against his temples. His heartbeat was faster than falling asleep from a Math class.

The door opened. He looked back at the monitor and saw no girl in the corridor. Nobody was inside the room except him. He noticed shoeprints leading towards him, but on the ceiling. And right above him, a curtain of hair with a centerpiece of two slowly opening red demonic eyes. It trembled more the more her eyes were opened. It looked she was having a hard time opening it with all her will. He ran as fast as he could, seeing grime come from the girl’s feet slowly consuming the room.

He turned to another direction when he saw creatures on the way. He had no particular orientation, all that mattered to him was he was running, away from hostility. The grunts and shuffling feet increased by the second. After a minute or so of apparently doing well, he realized that he’s in a rectal situation (I don’t know… ’Cause it’s a tight one?) He’s surrounded by the creatures. As he stepped back repeating the word shit over and over, he bumped on a smooth surface. He looked back and saw a plaque above that says VIP Lift. He rushed inside and mashed the close button. The doors closed it just in time before the creatures started pouncing, stopped by the lift doors. He continued to stab the 1st floor button repeatedly with a stiff and shaking index finger. His heart was racing like the dried grapes (Geddit? No?)

The lift was small, enough to fit only four people. There was a digital weight meter saying 48 kg. Everything seemed fine as he readied to run like hell as soon as the door opened, but the lift stopped and started to beep. “Oh shit. Now what’s wrong?” He looked around and saw a notice. VIP Lift for special guests and staff only. Maximum of 80kg. Exceeding the limit will stop the lift from functioning, indicated by a constant beeping sound. He stared at the weight meter.

It said 112 kg.

Shit. Gab’s sweating was worsened by the thought that the girl with demonic eyes is inside with him in the elevator. The beeping made him panic more as he pushed himself in a corner. He swallowed the saliva build-up, knowing that there isn’t much space to choose from.

She could be right beside me, Gab thought. But isn’t 112 minus 48 kg around 60? How can that girl weigh-

A maniacal laughter ensued from the roof of the elevator. Four blades smashed through the cover and was pulled out, resulting some steel being ripped off and making a small hole where a face obscured with short hair took a look inside. The psycho yanked the elevator a bit and took off with a strong push.

The lift started to move but opened soon. His planned run-like-hell-towards-the-exit was stopped by the girl a few feet away from the lift’s entrance. Her eyes were closed and lots of creatures were dead around her, the usual bleeding eyes and frozen fear expression on them. He started to get a hunch that she did this to them.

What insane power does this girl have? Gab thought.

Gab pushed the button that closes the lift doors but the psycho hanged down, the four blades strapped on an extremely tattered straitjacket dangling down, preventing the lift from closing. Gab involuntarily sat down in shock. The psycho had a familiar face, but Gab was too terrified to process who at the moment.

This might be the end, he thought. I’m gonna die a virgin.

The girl’s eyes started to open gradually, with the mall trembling along. Dirt started enveloping the whole area starting from her feet as the eyes neared total opening. She and Gab were both slowly bleeding tears and weren’t moving, as if both were in a channeling spell. The whole ground has soon been covered in grime and only the roof was left clean. The earth shook violently. Her eyes were almost fully open. Gab felt like he was being pulled to hell, as he sat frozen from an unknown force. It could be fear, but the identity of the force wasn’t important at the moment. Just as he thought everything was going to end for him, he heard a man’s voice. “Nightmare, that’s enough!”

A bullet whizzed through the girl’s head from the side but no blood came out. She was thrown sideways to the ground, limp and unmoving. Her eyes closed as the grime started to peel off, the trembling ending with an abrupt halt.

“Twitch, carry her back to Painkiller. We need her soon for scouting. I think it’s too early for a gameover, considering his remarkable progress.” The owner of the voice appeared as he approached the girl, but stopping three feet away. He had a piece of cloth wrapped around his eyes, implying that he didn’t need sight to plant that accurate shot on the girl’s head. He adjusted the positioning of his black hat, hiding the cloth around his eyes. He flapped his black, loose-fitting long coat to holster his revolver.

The psycho dropped down, faced the man and nodded. He nudged the girl to his shoulder with his arms still suppressed by the straitjacket. The blades connected to the tip of the four straps appeared to be like his new appendages. He launched himself through the glass entrance, leaving the man and the bloody-eyed Gab behind. He felt a like a heavy force was lifted from his head as the girl was sent away. The man faced him, adjusted his gloves and lighted a cigarette.

“No need to thank the Blindspot.”

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