Darkness...just boring darkness everywhere...Nate was asleep, but he wasn’t at the same time...he felt like he was asleep, but he could feel himself drifting through nothingness.
Am I... dead? he wondered. He recalled what had happened just before he had blacked out; he had heard footsteps behind him, and then something-or someone-hit him hard on the head. Could someone really have murdered him?
Nate began to panic. What is this place? Was I killed? Where do I go?! He suddenly saw a faint light ahead. He eagerly headed towards it, but when he got there all he could see beyond the light was the silhouette of someone he couldn’t recognize since it was so bright.
“Don‘t lose hope,” their voice echoed through the empty place. “Keep on fighting. Only those with the strongest hope will survive.”
“W-what?” Nate called, but the light was already fading away, and as the darkness came closer, he began to lose consciousness as well.
Nate gasped and shot up in bed.
His head instantly hurt him, and he put a hand up to it, groaning. His hand touched something soft, and as he felt around he realized there was a bandage wrapped around his whole head.
Looking around, he saw he was...in his room. Now, how did he get here? Everything was so confusing lately...why wasn‘t he dead? Something had probably attacked him, and something had surely spoken to him, rambling on about hope, and something had definitely tended to his wounds...why else would there be a giant bandage wrapped on his forehead?
He slowly got out of bed, and found his glasses right on his nightstand, as usual. After a few wobbly steps, he regained his balance and headed out the door.
Outside, the hallway was empty. He looked around, but no one was there; everything was silent.
This is really weird… Nate thought anxiously to himself. He decided maybe he should head down to the Dining Hall; there had to be someone there, right?
He headed down the hall to the room as quickly as he could-he still couldn’t run without getting rather dizzy.
Finally, he turned to look into the Dining Hall and was surprised at what he saw.
It was empty, except for one single person looking around.
“Randy? What are you doing down here?” Nate asked, walking up to him.
“Ah! Don’t scare me like that...” Randy complained, turning around to face Nate.
“Wait...Nate?! You’re awake?” Randy asked, his eyes widening.
“Um, yeah, I just woke up a couple minutes ago...the last thing I remembered was someone hitting me hard on the head with something, then I woke up in my bed,” Nate explained.
“Oh gosh, it was so scary when we found you,” Randy sighed. “Casey and Brayden had gone up the stairs to investigate the third floor some more, like if there were any more of those videos, and as they passed the second floor they saw you lying on the floor with a big wound in your head. Anyone who looked at you first thought you were dead, so they panicked and ran back down to gather the rest of us.”
“But when the body discovery announcement didn’t go off, we realized you were alive!”
Nate blinked. “Who...who did it?” he asked. The fact he had almost died was shocking.
Randy shook his head helplessly. “I don’t know. Sadly we can’t do anything about it since you’d need to die for us to have a Trial, and I don’t think you’d want that.”
“How long was I out?” Nate asked.
“Hmm...not too long. Ten to twelve hours at the most,” Randy replied.
“Oh, and by the way, where is everyone?” Nate asked. Randy’s face went pale.
“Oh, um...they’re all upstairs, investigating,” he replied quietly.
“Investigating?” Nate asked. “But that means...oh gosh,” he groaned with sudden realization.
“I...I wanted to investigate down here...” Randy admitted. “Everyone else is probably investigating the second and third floors.”
“Where...where’s the body?” Nate asked shakily.
“Second floor, Study Room...” Randy sighed. “The body discovery announcement went off like ten minutes ago.”
“T-thanks,” Nate said and took off.
He couldn’t believe it had happened again...did someone really want to know the mystery of those videos so much?
On the second floor, in the Living Room, were Greg, Mike, and Thomas.
“Nate! You’re awake?” Mike exclaimed, looking over at him from where he and Greg were investigating the fireplace.
“Yeah...” Nate said.
“I’m glad you’re alive,” Thomas remarked from where he was leaning against the large wall painting, arms crossed.
“Did...um...did Randy tell you about...?” Greg asked hesitantly.
“Yeah...” Nate replied, and passed them hurriedly to go down the hallway.
The door to the Study Room was closed, and voices could be heard on the other side. Nate remembered the Study Room was a small room with a large, wooden writing desk and a couple bookshelves. He took a deep breath, braced himself, and pushed the door open.