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Thread: Everything I Tell You

  1. #1
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    Default Everything I Tell You

    Ja... I have little idea as to the why.

    "Everything I Tell You"



    “Everything I tell you is a lie.”

    Not the first thing you want to hear when you’d just woken up with a splitting headache, a sore leg, and no sense of getting where you currently were. I tried to bite through the pain and force myself to think. Where was I? Hell if I knew. Who was talking to me? Hell if I knew. Did I take myself here? Hell if I knew, but doubtful unless I’d gotten roaring drunk the night before. Which would explain the headache. Actually, it would probably answer why I didn’t know the answers to the first two questions either. But it wouldn’t even hope to give insight into the next: How do I get out? How do I get back to my home on Thirty-Second street, with the A/C unit that never worked, and the wonderful view over the alley beside my building that was always filled by at least one cannibalized vehicle, and the neighbors that blasted some sort of Norse Heavy Metal despite sometimes-intended threats of my contacting the landlord? How do I get back to my job at the Barnes and Noble on the corner, so I can get back to sulking behind the counter and hating my life?

    There was a hand on my shoulder. “Let me help ya there, miss,” a greasy Southern accent drawled. I accepted the help, of course. Who was I to refuse a friendly hand when I was potentially nursing the biggest hangover of my failure of an adulthood? I think I finally opened my eyes at that point; I hadn’t even given a thought to their being closed before, but now I at least got to see the appearance of where I was, which I hadn’t gotten before. So I have to assume I’d been keeping them shut, probably due to some sort of half-asleep bed-logic that dictates that not seeing is, in fact, preventing anything you don’t want to be real from being so.

    The owner of both the hand and the voice (happily, for me, the same being owned both) was a short man in a pair of khaki slacks, a collared shirt of some neutral gray, and a cap bearing the logo of some sports team called the Minnesota Wild. What kind of a name was that, anyway? Wild was the state of mind I was in, or the state of Aces in certain card games. It wasn’t something you could use as a noun like that. I could only attempt to figure what a mascot would be like.

    “Thank you,” I muttered to him, doing my best to wipe my sweaty palms on the legs of my jeans. I guess I must have been keeping my ears closed before then, too, because I finally heard the disgruntled noise of a crowd around me. There must have been around fifty people, of seemingly no common stripe.

    “Who are you, anyway?” a female voice shouted.

    “Richard Nixon,” was the instant, hilarity-filled response. The one who said it who, pushing to the front, I saw to be a pretty blond woman of indeterminate young age in a sparkling red dress, was leaning on one of the wood-paneled walls lazily toying with her hair. She was the one whose voice woke me up in the first place.

    “She’s lying,” someone said.

    “No ****, Sherlock,” someone replied. “Nixon’s been dead for… thirty years?”

    “Alright, then,” the Wild fan said, smiling. “Who aren’t ya?” He must have thought he was so clever.

    “I’d love to tell you,” the blond replied.

    He waited. There was some shuffling of feet, and a groan from the assembled people. I took the opportunity to look around. It appeared we were, for some reason, all crowded into an old Victorian-era parlor, complete with dark wood furniture and walls, and oil lamps. There was a wallboard with glasses and drinks on one side, and a fancy chandelier hung above our heads. It didn’t smell like one, though. There was no mold, or dust, or any smell of, well… old. It was faintly plasticky, now that I think back on it.

    “Well?” the Wild fan asked.

    “Well what? I’d love to tell you.”

    He must have just gotten what I’d already figured out the first time. “Gawdammit!” he cried.

    “Then call me Tess. I’ll be serious for a time, however.” The blond pushed herself off the wall and pointed a finger at us sultrily. She looked like a ****, I thought. “You will all soon enter an area where you will participate in a few harmless games. First, though, I will send you through a sanitizing spray. We don’t want any diseases getting in!”

    One of the doors opened to reveal a white room, lit by some dim neon blue glow. It was all shiny and futuristic, a jolting juxtaposition to the ancient-looking room we were just in.

    “I ain’t going in no death chamber!” a man shouted. He went for Tess, grasping for her throat. She seemed completely unafraid; when he reached her, he simply passed through without effect. A faint shimmer in her body was all the response to the man’s attack.

    The open door was… the only one. What choice did we have, really? We went through, or we stayed here for absolutely nothing. I think we all had the same thought.

    It was even more crowded in the room, and what made it worse was the absolute lack of comfort. The walls and floors were hard and slippery; you couldn’t even lean on a wall for fear of sliding off and hitting the ground.

    “Close your eyes. It will be safe to open them in thirty seconds.” With no warning, the hologram (I was damn sure that’s what she was) had appeared in the room with us. The door had closed behind us, sealing up with the wall to form no visible seam.

    We obliged. I felt a slight mist on my skin, and slowly counted off thirty seconds. There were faint lights at the edge of my vision, something like the dots your eyes chase when you’re trying to fall asleep. When the time was up, Tess said, “Done! You can open your eyes without harm.”

    I’ll admit I was a bit paranoid. But is it paranoia when you turn out to be right? I kept my eyes closed, and waited.

    And was soon confirmed by the sound of a handful of bodies hitting the floor. They squirmed about for some time, and I almost screamed when one of the convulsing arms brushed my ankle.

    “It’s not really safe right now!” Tess said chirpily.

    Lies, lies, lies… she wasn’t lying when she said she was lying… which meant I could now open my eyes.

    There were maybe half of the original victims left. I glanced about for an exit, and started running for the rectangle of yellow light in the wall. Tess called from behind me, “When the end comes, the left path leads to salvation!”
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-03-2011 at 07:13 PM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  2. #2
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    Now please, explain this to me. Explain how the hell you’re supposed to fit a fricking jungle into the middle of New fricking York, huh? Really, I’ll wait. No idea? Nothing? Well it sure wasn’t a dream. I have the scars and crap in my system to prove it, trust me.

    Well, however they did it, it sure was there. This time, I think they got the smell and everything right, too. The air was muggy enough to make me sweat within minutes, and I could smell the air, as if it were just after a heavy rain. It probably was, at that. A few seconds after stupidly admiring the air, I almost lost my right boot in a giant mud puddle. Whatever I was thinking that morning, I’m glad now I decided to go with the heavy footwear.

    The survivors from Tess’s first little trick were making their ways out after me, and looked about as confused as I felt. I was glad I wasn’t the only one. The room we were just in was now just a shack, a stick-and-mud construction that was bare on all four sides, but for the door we’d emerged from. Yes, all four sides. As if the Victorian parlor we were first in had never existed.

    The Wild fan soon found me. He ambled up with a long gait as I was struggling with the boot. A quick tug and a quicker hand diving into the mud retrieved both foot and boot. “So whaddya think this is all about?” he asked.

    “Ten bucks says Tess is trying to kill us all,” I said wryly.

    “I wouldn’t take that bet for a million, miss.” he replied. “By the way, what’s your name?”

    “Phaedra,” I told him. There was a path in front of me, so of course I took it. Others were disappearing into the foliage elsewhere, presumably because they’d foiund other paths. “You?”

    “Tanner.” The way he said it was more like “Taynnuh.”

    “Did you call?” Tess was suddenly with us, walking backward beside the path.

    “Are you here to say anything to us?” I asked with a sigh.

    “No.” Every few seconds, Tess would disappear within a tree, and walk out of the other side.

    “So what is it?”

    “There’s no way out of this jungle. You should give up.”

    “Yeah, right.”

    “You aren’t learning very quickly, you know that?”

    “Thank you.” I smiled, closing my eyes in false joy. I dropped the grin. “Now get away from me.”

    “But you’re the only ones I need to look after.” Tess was soon gone again.

    Tanner muttered under his breath. It sounded like something about canines, or rather, one kind in particular. “Well, least we have some hope, right?”

    “Eh.” I was wondering how we could lose sight of everyone else so quickly. There were, what? A little over twenty people, by my estimation? Still, this place must be huge. I was still slightly on the side of unconvinced it was a real jungle, of course. Well, we walked. It was peaceful enough, if you’re into that sort of thing. Personally, I could care less. Give me a cup of coffee at my workplace’s Starbucks, and I don’t want to hear where the beans come from.

    “I like your hair. All black and cut short like that,” Tanner said.

    “Not the place,” I shot back. I was still fuming at this whole thing. How was it even legal, to take us out here and kill us just for fun?

    Besides, he had to be like, at least eight years older than me.

    We walked for hours. I didn’t count, and besides, I guess that Tess stole my watch or something, because I didn’t have it. But there was a point, when the sun was lower, when we got to the bridges. Finally, I saw some of the other people who had escaped the first room. There were six of them, standing at the edge of a canyon, or… there’s probably a real name for it, canyon always makes me think of something you’d find in the desert. But it was a deep, narrow gouge in the ground, is what I know. Clearly, the only way the paths were leading us was across it, and the only way to get there was via one of five bridges, all similarly precarious and constructed of rotting wood.

    Tess, of course, was there, leaning on the post of a bridge. A guy was arguing with her, the same one who’d tried to throttle her back before this had all began. (Or, depending on how you look at it, right after it had begun. That Victorian parlor could very well be step one of this sick, twisted journey she’d put us through.)

    The hologram woman saw Tanner and me, and then gave the aggressive man a sly look. “Well, there’s no more of you left.”
    “Well, I don’t want to go across any of these things until I get a straight answer!” the man shouted. He was dark-skinned, with a shaved head and a black muscle shirt.

    “You know she won’t, son,” Tanner told him.

    “I will!” Tess objected. “All of the bridges are lethal, simple as that."

    “Oh, thank god,” a woman said, starting across one at random. She got about halfway across… before the thing cracked, tipped, and bucked her off. There was water down there, sure, but… it’s not like that matters after you hit the sides of the canyon like that so many times on your way down.

    “Aw, what the hell!” the aggressive man said. He turned, clearly ready to punch Tess-like that would do anything-and found her gone. “Any of you figure out what’s going on?” he asked the rest of us.

    “Logical fallacy,” I said. Don’t ask me where the term came from. It just popped into my head. “Just because not all of the bridges are dangerous doesn’t mean all of the bridges are safe, either. Think about it, if just one is safe, then Tess is still lying, like always. A simple inverse isn’t the right answer.” Inverse. There was another one. Who knew? High school geometry taught me something.

    “So how do we tell which is which?” Tanner asked.

    “I don’t… know. Did she tell any of you anything else?” The five left there, besides me and Tanner, gave noes, or shook their heads, or grunted something discouraging.

    “I know how to find out,” the aggressive man said. He darted forward and grabbed me by the arms. It didn’t take long for me to deduce his plan. He was pulling me roughly over to one of the intact bridges. Trial-and-error. It was foolproof. Well, there were four bridges left; knowing how sadistic Tess was, I had exactly a one in four chance of living.
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-03-2011 at 11:19 PM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  3. #3
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    He threw me, and I fell onto a bridge on me hands and knees, hard enough to cut up my hands some on the splintered timbers. I stood up shakily, and saw him blocking the only way back I had. Okay, if not back, forward. That’s logic too, isn’t it? I crept slowly, holding onto the ropes to either side the whole time. I got near the halfway mark, where the last woman had died on the other bridge, and stopped. I looked back.

    “Don’t kill Phaedra!” Tanner said suddenly, charging the man. Tanner was stopped with a cold-cocked blow to the nose. I winced.

    I decided just to concentrate on one foot at a time. And of course, they always tell you not to look down. Well guess what? I looked down. Rookie mistake, huh? That just made the rest of the crossing a living hell. But suddenly, soil. My foot had actually stepped back on solid ground!

    I turned around and gave the onlookers a thumbs up.

    “You’re charmed, woman!” the aggressive man yelled. “Now hold on there while I catch up! I want to take advantage of that luck some more!”

    Before he could start across the bridge himself, he was hit from the side by Tanner, who this time landed a pretty solid blow. There was a rustling of clothing, and more people joined in.

    Me? I started off running again.



    In front of me stood another shack, the twin of the first here. Running the path had taken me right to it.

    “So linear,” I said to the air. “You’re not very difficult are you, Tess?”

    And she was there. Her red dress floated slightly above the plants underneath, never quite touching any. “No, no I’m not.”

    “So you’re easy?” I giggled. What can I say? My mind needed a way to release my anger at her, and more so at the way that guy had just turned on me like that… can people really disregard others so easily? Immature insults were the best way to get it out of my system, though.

    “Yes,” Tess said.

    “Glad I know now.”

    I laughed my way up to the shack, and paused with my hand on the door handle, as a thought struck me. “Tess, will it kill me to look behind this thing?”

    “Yes.”

    “Will it maim me?”

    “Yup.”

    “Will it harm me in any way?”

    “Ja.”

    “Will it… cause anything I’ll dislike?”

    “Oui.”

    “So… will it be something I will like?”

    “Si, si.”

    So, something that’s neither good nor bad? I walked a circuit of the shack and saw absolutely nothing but more jungle. So… expected.

    “You’re being remarkably responsive right now,” I told Tess. “So what aren’t you trying to do? What isn’t true about you?”

    “You’re so clever. I love you…” Tess laughed. So what I’d thought was true. She didn’t have to answer everything I said at all. That would be too easy, wouldn’t it? I sighed and returned to the shack’s door, and opened it.

    “People are just so smart, all the time,” Tess said distantly, walking through the wall after me. “And they listen so well. Though you can’t agree with me.”

    “Don’t you have somewhere else to be?” I asked, focusing more on her ghostly antics than on the shack itself. Soon enough, though, I saw the interior to be… that of a shack. Something of a letdown, huh? The wooden slats on the side let in enough light to see by through the gaps, and the only furniture consisted of two hammocks strung up in one corner and a squat table in the opposite, set with three small meals. They all looked like lumpy mush, of different colors; one was a meaty brown, another looked pink like it was flavored with some sort of berry juice, and the last was a sickly yellow that wasn’t appealing at all. Well actually, none of them were appealing, I have to say. But I was hungry. A whole day without food or rest? I might have eaten a Big Mac at that point, I was so hungry. And McDonald’s makes about the worst burgers I’ve had in my life.

    But… “Are these poisoned?” Not a strange question at al to ask, at this point.

    “No, they aren’t,” Tess replied.

    I moaned aloud. Too much of this… I needed water, too.

    “Okay… if I wanted to avoid clean water, where would I go?” I tried.

    “Anywhere but this shack, because I’d tell you to stay here.”

    So… I’d go to this shack… because she wouldn’t tell me to stay here? Was that even right? I didn’t even think that told me anything useful, even if I could figure out exactly what it meant! I was way too tired and hungry just then. I just wanted to stuff my belly and go to sleep.

    Tess laughed at me. “You’re absolutely boring, you know that? Here: none of the foods contain antidotes to the others’ poisons. There is no combination of eating them at all that will preserve your life. And-” a wink “-they don’t contain enough water to keep you going.”

    “Do I get any clues?” I asked. I sat down in the lower hammock, and held my head in my hands. Don’t you love it how you can forget about a pain, then do something to make it worse like, say, run around a jungle for a few hours, and then suddenly remember it so it comes back with a vengeance? My headache had been festering in the back of my head for the whole day, I think. It was splitting open my head with a number of long nails now.

    “No!” Tess shouted. “That was supposed to be German, but the word is the same in German as in English. Now, Yellow before Brown, Pink before Brown, Pink before Yellow, and Brown is first.”

    Ugh. It took me two hours and a pencil and paper to come up with the right answer to this one once I’d got home. I had maybe five minutes at that point before I fell asleep from exhaustion, and I was pretty afraid that the food wouldn’t even be there when I woke up the next morning. So I went Brown, Yellow, Pink, down the hatch as fast as I could manage. They tasted like absolutely nothing, honestly. I think I managed to crawl back to the hammock afterward.
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-03-2011 at 11:07 PM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  4. #4
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    It’s not quite possible to top that wakeup of the day before, of course. I don’t think any time I enter consciousness again will ever be as horrible as the moment I first heard Tess’s horrible, sickly-sweet voice. But the day after came pretty close. I mean, now both my stomach and my head were hurting, I got a sore throat, and everything tasted like vomit. I shivered a bit in my swinging bed, trying to wrap myself up in the blanket so that I could never get out again. But it smelled too much like puke as well, so I eventually gave up.

    I got up on shaky legs, and teetered over to the table, both hoping and dreading the sight of any new meals. The entire room felt like it was rocking back and forth. How bad off was I? The table was bare, and when I got to it I leaned over and tried to steady myself on the edge. I was there for god knows how long, staring at the smooth metal wall in front of my face. There were a few drops of water on it, and I tried licking them off. That made me feel a bit better, to have some liquid in me.

    The door flew open and a spray of water announced Tanner’s entry. “You’re up!” he yelled over the roar of water behind him. He closed the door quickly and shivered. He wasn’t dressed for wet weather. Well, neither was I; I lacked a jacket as well. What do you expect when it’s the middle of summer? Worst part was, I hadn’t seen a department store anywhere in wherever the hell we were. Not even a Target.

    “Hope you had a better night than me…” I said.

    “I dunno. It was pretty bad…” Tanner said, scratching his side and coming to sit down beside me. “I had to stay up for a few hours and help take care of some girl that gone and poisoned herself. You ate Tess’s food, didn’t ya?”

    “Needed water,” I grumbled.

    “‘Cause you went running off and didn’t wait up for anyone, huh?”

    “Well, I didn’t exactly want to be a guinea pig again.”

    “It’s fine, it’s fine, no hard feelings. I get ya. But… I think there’s only three of us left. And me and Celia don’t want to kill ya, so stick with us, please?”

    “Only three?”

    “Yup.” Tanner proceeded to tell me about how his fight with the aggressive man went. Apparently, Celia and a few others had decided that their chances of survival were marginally better without him around, and tried to get rid of him. He was strong, though. Long story short, he caused a lot of people to take the… let’s say “express line” out of Tess’s world. But eventually, this Celia person and he managed to dump him over the edge by the end of it.

    “And we can’t even claim it as Tess’s fault, neither. It wasn’t that inhuman monster that killed him. It was me.” Tanner laced his hands together, elbows resting on the table.

    “So where’s Celia?” I asked. It seemed like he needed to be left alone for a bit. “I’d like to meet her.”

    “Outside,” Tanner said into his hands.

    I noticed that I was still unstable as I went for the door; I stumbled a bit before wrenching it open…

    Just in time to catch a salty spray right in my face, from over the side of the boat. Don’t look at me like that. I’m serious. I was on a boat now, somehow. You know, at that point, I’d given up on trying to understand, okay? I fell asleep in a hut in the jungle. I woke up on a boat. That’s just par for the course, right?

    Naturally, unsurprising is not the same thing as pleasant. The water was that had soaked me was ice cold. The sky was a deep blue, lying on a field of tranquil icebergs, all clear so I could see each star both in the air and reflected in the ocean. It probably would have been pretty. Probably was pretty, I just wasn’t in the right mind for it. You know, aggravation, queasiness, and a gut-wrenching fear of your death at the hands of someone who seems to enjoy screwing with you are not calming emotions. I was on a tiny little trawler, barely big enough for the one cabin and a pilot’s house up top. There, there was a white-haired woman with a knitted scarf and of all things, sunglasses on, striking a pose like she was some kind of Captain Ahab while she steered.

    I climbed up to her and slipped inside, grateful for the small amount of warmth that the enclosed space presented. “You’re Celia, I’m guessing,” I said to the old lady.

    “You’re the girl whose life I had to save,” she replied, not even looking back at me.

    “I’m the one who’s oh so touched that you’ve met,” Tess contributed.

    Celia did turn, for that. “Put a sock in it, you harlot,” she said. I think I was beginning to like her already.

    “And you’re a beautiful young thing,” Tess said. “Are you enjoying yourselves? I hope so. Because you aren’t even near the end! It’s so long of a journey for you! Months more! Years, maybe!”

    “Um… do we even have any idea where we’re going?” I asked Celia, ignoring Tess for the moment. She didn’t seem to be spouting off anything useful, for the moment. But that could have changed quickly, so I kept one ear tuned.

    “No,” Tess said.

    “Slightly,” Celia answered at the same time. She stage whispered to me, “I think she’s a little miffed that I took away her victory over you. I made up the best emetic I could with the materials on hand. Some of the plants in the jungle I recognized. Seems like it worked, too.” The woman chuckled, and winked at me. “You notice? She’ll give us everything we need to figure something out, because she only wants us to die by our own stupidity. But when we let it happen, she sure wants us out. Can’t cheat, you know.”

    “Oh, yes. I am so angry,” Tess said.

    “So where does sarcasm fall?” I asked, on a strange thought.

    “My guess?” Celia said. “Take it literally. I think anything else would be breaking her rules. By the way, I was told we aren’t meant to get off this boat soon, if you catch my drift.” Celia winked again. “So I’m making for the only piece of land in sight.”

    “Yeah, she means us to get off there. We shouldn’t do what she wants,” I said.

    “But you know that’s the only way to get anywhere. We aren’t near the end, of course.” Celia laughed.
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-04-2011 at 07:22 PM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  5. #5
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    The three of us, Tanner, Celia, and I, disembarked on a bleak, snow-covered rock, wind biting at any breach of skin it could find. Tess didn’t disembark, of course. She was too cool for something as mundane as that. She had to leap up into the air, extend her arms, and glide down back to us.

    We’d taken the blankets of the boat, and tried to wrap ourselves up as best we could. It was the only thing we could do against the cold. It would just have ruined Tess’s fun if we would have died of something as simple and boring as hypothermia, wouldn’t it? Because none of us wanted to ruin Tess’s fun by just dying, would we? We had to kill ourselves in an interesting way, didn’t we?

    Well, there was a single cave entrance and, so far as it was possible to trust Tess, we trusted that it would not be instantly lethal. So we went in, though not without checking every step.

    I was shivering a bit, but trying my best to keep going. I hoped that if I moved enough, I’d keep warmer than if I’d stopped. Tanner tried to rub some feeling into my arms, without much success. Eventually I threw him off and walked a few more paces ahead. Tess giggled.

    Someone must have had too much time on their hands digging this place out. The tunnel was pretty much solid ice, hazed over so you couldn’t see what was on the other side. The reason was soon revealed to us when we reached the first junction. The first of many, as I was soon thrilled to discover.

    Three options, one straight ahead, one ninety degrees to the left, and one ninety degrees to the right. Reminded me of something. Oh yeah: “When the end comes, the left path leads to salvation.” That should mean something, right?

    “Do you think this is the end?” I asked.

    “I don’t think this is quite the end,” Celia said.

    “This is so the end,” Tess said.

    “This isn’t the end,” Tanner affirmed.

    So that little nugget wasn’t useful yet.

    “There’s no way through,” Tess said.

    “Now where have I heard that before?” Tanner said, sighing. “Continue.”

    “Four rights will take you back where you began them; you will never have to do this. Two lefts, however, will occur. Straight follows left but once. The turns required to get to the other side of these caverns are as follows: First, do not take a left turn. The next step is to go right. Then right. Then right. Then straight. Then left. Then left. Then straight. Then right.”

    I hastily tried to organize all this in my head, repeating it back about a hundred times to myself, quite unsuccessfully. Then I noticed that Tanner had taken out a knife and gouged the instructions visibly into the wall with neat little arrows, and let out a tense breath.

    “That takes us to the end of this puzzle?” Celia asked.

    “No,” Tess said.

    “Okay, wait,” I said, first. “We have three brains. Before we go anywhere at all, let’s see if we can figure this out. Um… what did she mean, ‘four rights take you to where you started them’?”

    “Exactly that?” Celia said.

    “Yeah, but-” I could see a few chambers beyond the one we were in, before the gloom prevented me from doing so. Each chamber beyond was identically square as the first, and had neat, ninety-degree turns. Four turns right should take you to where you began. I resolved to find this out for myself. Tess shouldn’t mind some random exploring, should she? She didn’t before.

    “Is it safe for me to look around a few turns?” I tried. I actually wasn’t expecting a real answer. Looking might be breaking the game or something.

    But our favorite hologram responded, “No.”

    So, saying “Stay here,” to Celia and Tanner, I went down the right turn, had an expected sense of d?j? vu, and took three more after. There was another identical chamber, but no friends.

    “I told you to stay there!” I called, hoping they would hear me.

    “We did!” Tanner called back.

    I searched the wall for Tanner’s marks. Nothing. So I backtracked, taking careful stock of elevation changes and the length of each chamber. Each was flat and identical, as far as I could tell. But four turns later, I was back with Celia and Tanner.

    “Strange…” was all I could say about that.

    “No more backtracking, here,” Tess whispered to me. Ha. She was giving us leeway. She just wanted to make sure we got far, didn’t she, so we could just fail right at the end?

    “We got somewhere,” Celia told me, waving me over. There were a few crossed-out lines of arrows, all different. “The circled ones are the ones we figured out,” she explained.

    “Here,” she went on, pointing to a group, “is where we have to take four lefts. It’s the only place it’s possible. The first is obviously left, and the next is straight, as it can’t be left again, or right.”

    The current line was: Left (circled), Straight (circled), Right, Right, Right (circled), Right (circled), Right (circled), Right (circled), Right.

    “Straight follows left but once, right?” I asked. “So three and four have to be Left, Straight.”

    Tanner crossed another neat line and scratched it all into the wall again.

    “Know what the last one is?” Tanner asked. “Celia?”

    She shook her head.

    “Phaedra?” Tanner said.

    “Not in the slightest. But can we just go anyway? It’s one turn. We can figure it out when we get there. I need to get walking again before my ass freezes!”
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-05-2011 at 12:36 AM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  6. #6
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    “Good enough for me,” Celia agreed.

    We decided to all memorize the route, just to make sure. We agreed all to recite it out loud to constantly check each other, so none of us could get off except through the unlikely occurrence we all mess up in the same way at the same time. We all walked the chambers together. Everything we figured out was spot on, it seemed. There wasn’t so much as a hint of something that would kill us, and Tess kept her mouth shut, though a smirk remained on it the whole time. That smirk would probably be there no matter what we were doing, though.

    Finally, we’d completed every turn we had figured out. We got to the last chamber, and stopped.

    “We’re at the end, now,” Tanner said. “Must be.”

    “Well,” Celia said, “Tess told us right. But she also said, yesterday morning, that left is the correct one. What does that leave us?”

    “Nuh-uh,” I said. “That’s too easy. She wouldn’t leave it like that.”

    We all looked at the red-dressed woman. She smiled back at us. No response.

    “I think this is her last trick,” Celia said. “She wants us to think that. It’s so simple, it’s right in front of us! She’ll laugh so hard when we don’t do what’s obviously getting us out!”

    I took a deep breath. “You’re right.”

    Still nothing from the Tess corner.

    “So we go straight,” Tanner said, to make sure. “All together?”

    I nodded. “Right.”

    We walked. This was it. There was no going back. No backtracking…

    Oh ****.

    Once again, my feet responded before the rest of my body. They turned me around and took me right back out of there, and an instant later, when Tanner and Celia had taken that last one step into the chamber and were realizing I wasn’t with them, and I tried to yell to them to get back out, the walls of their chamber exploded. With fire. Why the icy wall didn’t melt, I didn’t know, but Tanner and Celia were as flammable as anyone could expect. They tried to get back out too late, and the opening between that chamber and the previous got a powered door rammed shut through it.

    I slammed a fist on the metal door, and pulled it back as I touched hot metal. It got burned a little, see? Right here.

    Probably the two coolest people I met, who could both get themselves through most of that hellhole as well as try to help others through as well… who stood up to both a sadistic hologram and real people who wanted death… they were gone. Turning around, I saw something that was almost mocking in its attempt to give back hope to me. In the chamber before the one I was in, the one before the last turn… there was a ladder, leading into the ceiling. The last turn had been straight back the way we came. Tess told me there was no backtracking, so of course there had to be one, sometime.

    I dragged myself to my feet and started climbing, wondering if there was really any point to it anymore. Could I just force Tess to kill me, too, and save myself the trouble of dodging slaughter so many other times? I don’t think my body believed what my brain was saying. It just kept me climbing, through the hole in the ceiling that had appeared along with the ladder. I don’t even know how tall it was, how many rungs I climbed. Sometime or another, I reached the top. I emerged into a bare room, with plastic on the concrete walls. It looked like the inside of a building under construction. Turned out to be too, for the record. But that was to be seen later.

    And I was faced with two doors on one wall. One to the right, one to the left.

    “Tess,” I said. “You better answer me, god damn it. You better fricking answer me. Is. This. The. End?” I was so tired of her crap.

    She fixed a stare on my face, and began slowly walking a circle around me. I clenched my fists, wanting so much to haul back and punch her one. But I also knew how much more frustrated I’d be when it didn’t work. Tess finally finished.

    “No,” she said.

    Two doors. One right. One left. And it was the end. The end had come.

    I yanked open the door on the left, and stomped through without looking back.
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-05-2011 at 12:37 AM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  7. #7
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    Default

    “Were you crazy, girl? Why in the name of living hell would you even try something like that?” Katy tilts her head in a concerned manner. “No, wait, I got it. You were just done with it all, right? You just said, ‘Screw it all, I’m done with this,’ right? You really didn’t want that **** to screw with you any more, did you?”

    I shake my head. “That’s not it at all.” I stop.

    “Well, you’re back here, so I guess there’s something more to it you aren’t telling me. By the by, did you go to the police about this? That Tess needs to suffer for what she did!”

    My head was still hurting, of course. I put a palm to my forehead. I’m really suspecting that I might have caught cold or something. “I did. There was nothing there when they got there. Just an abandoned office, still under construction. No holes in the floor. Nothing deadly behind door number two, as sure as I am that there was something ready to kill me at the time…”

    “But I thought the right was supposed to be safe! Tess said that the left door was, so I’d think…”

    “Ah, that’s the thing, isn’t it?” I say, sounding funnily mysterious and sagely, two things that I’m sure I’m not. “This whole time, we’d overlooked one thing. If everything Tess says is a lie, how can that statement itself be true?”

    “Well that…” Katy bites her lip. “That’s just a paradox, isn’t it? It’s an old one. It can’t-”

    “But it can,” I put in hastily, slamming my palm down on the counter and standing up. “It’s not ‘everything’ or ‘nothing.’ The opposite of ‘everything I say is a lie’ is ‘only some things I say are lies.’ Just one bridge being safe makes the lie, back in the jungle. Just one truth makes Tess a liar when she says that first sentence. Then it was just deduction. Everything else she said we saw to be a lie. So what had to be the one truth to make her a liar?” I’m unaware at first that I’m nearly screaming. A furtive glance from Katy around the store makes me realize, and I sit back down and drop to a whisper. “Only one thing was left. The left path is salvation.”

    “But… how do you know she couldn’t say another truth? What if saying it’s not the end is the truth?” Katy asks.

    I shake my head. “That woman, or whoever programmed her, or whatever… was too proud for that. It’s just like Celia told me. She wanted our own errors to be our downfall. How worse can it be than to refuse truthful help when it is actually offered? How much more self-destructive can it be to have the answer told to you from the very beginning, and then ignore it to your own demise?”

    A customer walks up, with the newest Dean Koontz novel. There’s an author I never liked. I get up again. “My shift’s long over,” I tell Katy, forcing a lighthearted laugh. “I’m going home.”

    The home that stays comfortably warm in the summer, and where I get a view of what’s probably a powerful expression in modern art, and has free access to new music to expand my horizons. And that’s not a lie.
    Last edited by Bree Fletcher; 01-05-2011 at 01:08 AM.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  8. #8
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    I love it so far. I cannot wait for more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Karl Marx
    Last words are for fools who haven't said enough
    I R AWESOME

  9. #9
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    Tess says: "The story has not been updated."


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Cort, chronicling the downfall of Admiral Castas
    Posts
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    Default

    I says: This story has MOAR.


    That kind old lady stopped the rain for us.
    She said it would only make us cold, and miserable, and sick.
    We thanked her and hugged her and she walked away smiling warmly.
    I miss the puddles...

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