Darkness. Complete, utter darkness.
Limbs flailed through the air. A moment later, his face slammed against a cold, smooth surface, bruising it. Totally disoriented, he pushed himself away from the plane, and raised his head, opening his eyes. Silence and darkness yet again. He still felt like he was falling even though he was sure that his hands and body were against the hard surface. To his bewilderment, he discovered that he was totally naked. The cold metallic feeling against his skin sent chills down his spine. He had no sense of where he was or in what manner his body was moving. His senses betrayed him.
A vile feeling within his stomach began to well up inside of him. The bile was churning. His stomach contracted and chest burned. With a groan, he vomited all over his hands and arms in front of him. The only sensations he experienced were the smell of his vomit and the warm feeling of it running down his arms, all over his hands. Still disoriented, his hands slipped from under him and his face fell into his own filth. He gave a gurgling cry of pain as his sore chin hit the hard surface. Overwhelmed, his eyes began to role into the back of their sockets and the darkness began to overtake him completely. The wretched smell of his own sickness and the pain in his face began to fade away as his mind slipped from consciousness.
Mark awoke with a start and realized he was lying on his side, in a fetal position, in his puddle of vomit. He thought he heard something like a scream, but he was not certain. At the moment, there was nothing but silence. He rolled over onto his back, and then leaned forward, sitting up.
“Where on earth am I?” he said aloud, “What is this place?”
Ok, let me think this through. What can I conclude for sure? Pretty close to nothing. I can’t see. I am on solid ground, even though I still feel like I’m falling. I think I was falling at some point in time. My chin seems to be pretty banged up. I have no idea how long I have been here. In fact, where is here? When is here? How on earth did I even get here? And what happened to my clothes? I need to figure stuff out.
He tried to stand up, and by the time that he stood fully erect, it felt like the floor beneath him was falling from under him. Instinctively, he quickly changed his stance in order to remain balanced. This was a mistake. His left foot landed in the puddle of vomit and slid out from under him. Legs flying in air, he fell on his hip against the floor.
I guess I better try crawling.
Mark rolled over onto his stomach, and pushed his body away from the ground. On all fours, he timidly began to creep away from where he had been situated. As he reached forward with his arm, he thought he heard another scream, this time a lot lower in pitch and a little louder than the last one. He froze to listen better. Silence. If it were real, it had been extremely short. More than likely, he was just hearing things, psyching himself out. So he continued to crawl. The length of time that he crept along that smooth, cold floor, he had no idea. There was nothing to orient him. It could have been thirty seconds, or it could have been half an hour. All he knew was empty darkness.
He heard another scream. This time he was sure of it. It was longer than the others and was very high-pitched. He concluded that it was the scream of a woman. Frozen in his tracks, he tried to decipher what he was hearing, but his efforts were of no avail. It seemed that he heard a sort of thud. This was followed by even more intense screams, gut wrenching screams, the sort that implied pure terror for one’s life. However, after a short amount of time, the screams started to grow more and more faint. Their intensity remained the same, but they became increasingly soft until he was no longer able to hear them at all.
As Mark listened, a thought occurred to him. Each time he thought he heard a scream, it was louder and more definite than the time before. Whatever was making these people scream was somehow coming closer to him. It was only a matter of time before he found out what it was.
I need to find a way out of here. Adrenaline flowed through his limbs and he could feel it in is toes. It gave him a new drive, a drive to escape whatever was the source of those screams. With a new fervor, he began to crawl forward again. After roughly ten more strides of his arms, he reached forward with his right hand and it hit something – a plane that felt exactly the same as the ground, only perpendicular.
He followed the wall down to the floor with his hand and sure enough, he could feel the vertex. Next, he cautiously stood up, keeping his hand on the wall at all times. As he stood up straight, he raised his hand over his head, as high as it would go – still more wall and no ceiling. Daring a jump, he still encountered only wall. One option for escape was out. He tried not to let this discourage him. At least he was finally able to walk and keep his balance. With his hands guiding him along the wall, he began to walk along the edge of the room, hoping to find something of note. About ten paces later, his left hand ran into another corner. He had reached the next wall. Scanning both up and down with his hands, he found nothing out of the ordinary.
Well, at least I am finally starting to see the limits of this room. I know it doesn’t go on forever. With that thought, he began to walk down the second wall, searching for anything that he might be able to use. About fifteen paces, and he ran into the next wall.
Two down, two to go. He turned the corner and paced another fifteen strides. This corner was noticeably different. He could smell the acrid stench of his vomit from earlier. When he somehow came into this room, he must have entered it near this corner. Only one more wall to search. So far, every plane in this room was exactly the same – smooth, metallic, hard, and featureless. His hopes of escape rested in this one last wall. Passing by the puddle and stench of his sickness, he walked along the wall. Not much later, Mark’s heart sank. He reached the last corner and he had found nothing.
Frustrated, he ran his hand up through his hair only find that there was none. The bare feeling of his head startled him and he wrenched his hand away from his own skin. Tentatively, he brought both of his hands closer to his scalp to confirm his discovery. The skin was completely smooth. Not a single hair was on his head. In panic, he checked the rest of his body to see if the rest of his hair was still present. To his astonishment, none of it was. Every hair on his entire body had vanished. Upon realizing this, he felt very cold and he panicked.
Mark sat down and huddled himself in the corner, folding his arms over his knees. What is this place? Terror crept into his mind. All he could think about was the screams that he had heard earlier. He was trapped inside a featureless room, naked, bruised, cold, and alone. Mark began to despair.
How did I get here? What’s happened to me? If I’m trapped in this room, then how did I hear other people? What was it that made them scream? He started shivering from the cold.
I gotta get out of here before I go crazy! He stood back up, and started jumping and reaching, desperately trying to find something that he might be able to use to escape. A feral sense of survival overtook him. He began to claw at the wall, hoping that it might reveal something, anything, any hint of weakness. His scratches grew more violent. There was no difference. His efforts were accomplishing nothing. However, he would not give up. He could not. In desperation, he cried out, and started pounding the wall.
After what seemed like hours of yelling, pounding, and kicking, Mark’s energy started to wane. Tired and frustrated, he gave up. His hands still on the wall, he slumped back down to a squat and began to sob.
It’s hopeless. It’s only a matter of time before that thing comes for me. This is the end.
In exasperation, he leaned his forearms against the wall. As his arms touched the surface, he felt the entire wall shake. Startled, he leapt back from the wall in shock. The floor began to rumble. A vertical line of blinding crimson light burst forth in front of him. With a low hum, the line grew in thickness. Mark had to shut his eyes because the light seemed so bright to him at first. Instinctively, he scrambled backwards, away from the blinding light. As his eyes adjusted to the light, he was able to see that the light was not solid, after all. Actually, the very wall that he had been leaning against was opening. He was looking out from his room and into a corridor. The hall was unlit except for running red lights that lined the floor. They cast a sanguine hue across the room.
Mark clawed his way back until he could go no further. Against in the rear wall, he was finally able to examine the room which had confined him. Even with the ambient red light, his cell was still totally featureless. With that now dreadfully familiar thud, the wall ceased opening. All of it was gone. He was completely exposed to the corridor. The sound of multiple footsteps was approaching. They sounded heavy and deliberate. Mark shimmied his way across the back wall to the far corner. There was nowhere left for him to go. Huddled in the farthest corner of the room, Mark finally saw what had made the others scream in terror.
For chapter 4, click here.