“Ten minutes is up!” We heard the man from before say.
We all looked up at the monitor to see that it was an image of a dog this time, a bulldog to be exact.
“Oh, I guess that makes sense, the other half of Duo is a dog,” Jarrel said.
The dog smiled, “Pretty clever huh?”
I interjected, “More like pretty simple, could’ve been a little more creative y’know?”
“Why you little! What would you have chosen then!?” The male Duo said.
Rei spoke up, “What about a blue Jay and a red Jay? Or a lion and a tiger, or a dolphin and shark, or even a demon and an angel!”
“Basically what he said,” Jarrel pointed.
The dog gave a huff, “No wonder she warned me about you three, anyway your game is ready for you to play!”
I intervened, “Hey!”
“What!?” He asked.
“You are keeping us here, so about we come up with a better name for you two?” I said.
“Sorry, but we go by Duo,” The bulldog said.
“What about a nickname?” Rei asked.
“A nickname?” The dog asked.
“Yeah, so we…. have something to call each of you,” Rei said shyly.
“CD, and DD,” Jarrel said.
“What?” We all asked in unison.
He explained, “Cat Duo, and Dog Duo, makes sense?”
“Oh, yeah!” I said.
DD looked down, “Fine, fine! I guess that will work, whatever you want to call us, do as you please, NOW! If you would please, head down hall ‘A’ and we will decide your next game room!”
We looked around the room until we saw the hallway marked on the side with an A. We walked down it to find a few doors.
“Which do we take?” Rei asked.
“I’m not too sure,” I said truthfully.
Just then the intercom turned on, “Please enter room A-137,” D Duo said.
We looked up and down until we found the right room. The room was dark and void of life from what we could tell.
“Please enter,” D Duo said.
We were skeptical of going in. All of us hesitated to enter.
Jarrel spoke, “Guys…. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if we don’t do this we’re never getting out of here, it’s either we play the game or not, and you know what happens if the answer is not.”
I looked down and so did Rei. Even though Jarrel sounded calm I knew he was just as scared as Rei and I, he puts on a brave face, but I’ve known him long enough to know that it’s just a face. He knows that we have to do this to live, and I knew it as well.
“You’re right, let’s go!” I said.
“B-but….I don’t,” Rei started.
Jarrel got on one knee in front of Rei, “Rei listen, no matter what, Fia and I will do anything we can to make sure all of us stay alive, and definitely to make sure you do as well.”
Rei shook his head, “But I-I’m…. I’m scared…. I just…. I want to go home….”
Jarrel put a hand on Rei’s shoulder, “Rei, we’re scared too, but we need to be brave ok, I know that is going to be hard to do, but we have to work together, can you do that?”
Rei looked down, and I presumed he was thinking about what Jarrel just said. I had to agree with Jarrel, I was scared too, being somewhere you don’t usually go is already scary enough, but knowing you could die is and even worse thought.
I saw Rei lift his head up, wipe his eyes, and nodded bravely, “I will, I will be!”
Jarrel and I both smiled in that moment. We all entered confidently into the dark room, and once we did the door shut on us, and we heard a very distinctive sound of metal. The door must’ve locked.
“Guess… There’s no going back, huh Jarrel?” I asked.
“What do you mean, we’re already at the point of no return, nothing changed from this room to the last,” He said.
“He’s got a point,” Rei said.
I gave out a huff, “Yeah, guess you’re right….”
As before the lights with a loud sound came to life, their glow illuminating our surroundings. Our eyes didn’t have time to adjust so it took us a minute to be able to see in said room. Our eyes met with a grey colored room. One of the walls was lined with computer monitors, some of them being on. This appeared to be a surveillance room, but it was for a specific set of cells, not for the area we were just in.
“Wait, is this a surveillance room?” I asked.
“Seems like it…. But why is the only looking at this specific set of cells,” Rei asked.
Jarrel surprisingly had the answer we were both searching for, “Death row,” He said.
My body tensed up when I heard that, “So this is where…?”
“Yeah, this is where inmates spend they’re last hours on earth, well the cells at least. I remember on that field trip that we actually went into the area with the death row inmates….. I couldn’t look a single one of them in the eye,” He explained.
“Why’s that?” Rei asked.
“I couldn’t bear to look at someone, who I knew was going to die. Even though I knew they probably did something horrible, I still felt like I shouldn’t look, I don’t know why, I just couldn’t,” He explained.
“I remember you telling me this, it would probably be hard to look at someone who you knew was going to die, it makes sense, in some way it does,” I said, “I guess I didn’t really understand when you first told me, but I guess looking at the cells myself, I can see why it makes sense…”
“Yeah… It’s just fear, kind of like you with…well…” Jarrel started but stopped himself.
I looked down in shame, “Y…yeah…”
Rei looked at both of us with a confused and expecting look, “Wait, what do you guys mean?”
Before we could even start to think about explaining the rest of the room lit up, and we saw that in the room, between a large piece of glass, was another man, who looked to be in his thirties.
“All right! Enough chit chat!” DD said, “Welcome to the next game!”
We all looked up at the intercom above us.
“So our next game is in here?” I asked.
“Yep, yes, and yeah! Now for a bit of an explanation! Between you is a set of soundproof glass! Now why soundproof? Well because you will be competing with your opponent, or opponents in your case mister Craw! Now what are the stakes for this game?! YOUR LIVES!!” He said.
“What else would it have been?” Jarrel asked.
DD then continued, “Now then the rules! On your exit doors is a locked input device, your goal in this game is to fin the key to unlock the casing, while also finding the code to open the door. Simple right?! Now here’s a little extra tidbit, Craw your opponents have a harder game to play then you, you have a simpler game, while they have an advantage in numbers. While you only have one lock on your box, they have three!”
Rei went over to check our box, “He’s right!”
“Now there is no time limit for this game, once one of you wins the game is over, but the other side will get penalized….!” DD said.
“So it’s a race that the loser ends up dying….” I said.
“Now then…Let the game begin in three…. Two…. One… GO!” DD yelled.
The man on the other side started to squirm around the room he was in looking for a way out, while I still stood there frozen in fear. I didn’t want this, I didn’t want anyone to die!
Jarrel shook me, “FIA! This is not the time! If what Duo said is true, then if we lose we die, we have to play! Do you understand!”
“But we’ll be killing-“ I started.
Jarrel had cut me off half way, “Look over there! That man on the other side of this glass has no intentions of letting us live, even though we have a kid!”
I looked at the man again, he was searching that room up and down, not even caring we were there, he was trying to leave without a second thought! What a heartless monster, we had a kid with us!
“Okay! Okay! Let’s look for the keys!” I said angered.
“Right!” Jarrel replied.
I looked around the room to see if there was anywhere I could look for a key. I noticed that Rei was looking at the monitors. I don’t know why he was but I had to look for the keys. There were some file cases in the room. I started to search through the drawers to find files on some of the criminals here. Most of these files were old, having black and white photographs. After my quick investigation I quickly pulled out all of the files in the drawers. The first one I looked through had nothing in it. I pulled out all the files in the second, nothing again. The third drawer came up with nothing as well.
“What!? I could’ve sworn one could be in here!” I screamed.
Jarrel was looking in a drawer on a cabinet, “Did you look in the files?!”
“What?” I asked.
“A key small enough could fit in one, check them to see!” He said.
“B-but which one?!” I asked.
“I-I don’t know!! Just look through them!!!” Jarrel said in a pressured tone.
I started dumping out the files to see which could have it. Some were bigger though and couldn’t be dumped. Think, think! Which one could have it…..?
It might be a long shot, but what if….?
I picked up a file labeled ‘K’ and started to look through it. Sure enough my guess was correct and I came out with my prize, a key!
“YES! I found one!!” I screamed.
Jarrel was quiet, but from the drawer he was searching, “Yes! I got one too! That just leaves one more!”
“Ok um…. Jarrel you search for the last key, Rei and I will start figuring out the password!” I ordered.
“Got it!” He said.
Rei had been standing at the monitors the whole time we were searching.
I asked, “Rei what….what are you doing?”
He pointed at the screens, “Look, in the cells, do you see that!?”
I took a look at what he was talking about. The first few I looked at were nothing, but then in one I noticed that the wall had a symbol.
“is that, some kind of symbol?” I asked.
“Yeah, go look at the keypad real quick, go tell me if there is any difference or label of some kind!” He said.
I quickly ran over to it and looked. It had a piece of glass I could look through. Inside I saw the three keypads. Next to the top one was a label that had, “A-C.” On the second label was, “D-F.” Then on the third was, “G-I.”
I quickly went back to Rei and reported my findings.
“I see,” He started, “Okay then, we need to memorize the symbols in the rooms!”
I took a look and saw each set of monitors had three symbols each!
“Right we put the codes in from top to bottom! Each set has three!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah I thought that too,” Rei said.
I was confused by his response, “Wait what?”
He pointed above the monitors, “Look above!”
I took a look and saw that now, if you go down, the monitors were in sets of three, each labeled with a letter.
“OH! I see now! A to C, so there are three symbols in rows A to C!” I figured out.
“The same for D-F, and G-I,” He said.
“Alright then, let’s figure out the symbols and the order!” I said.
“Go grab a file! Let’s write this down!” Rei said.
I did as was told and as I did I saw Jarrel still searching for that last key. I also saw that the guy was already checking his monitors! Did he already find a key!? NO! Stop worrying, we’ve got this!
I brought over the file and Rei handed me a pen!
“Alright, just call out the symbols as you can describe them best!” I said.
“Ok!” He looked at the monitors, “Star, L, Hand!”
I wrote that down.
“Arrow, moon, sun!” He said and I copied.
“Snake, apple, tree!” He finished and I copied.
Jarrel ran over to us yelling, “Guys! I found the last key! Let’s move!”
“Right!” We said in unison.
Jarrel quickly inserted the last key and unlocked the keypad. As He did Rei stepped up to the input and told me to call out the shapes again.
“Star, L, Hand!” I called off.
With the sounds of beeping I saw Rei click the buttons till he got the shapes he wanted on the top row.
“Next!” He said.
“Arrow, Moon, Sun!” I called out again.
The same beeping continued, then quickly concluded.
“Last ones!” He said.
“Snake, App-“ Before I could finish a loud noise stopped me.
On the intercom sounded a large blaring sound. We quickly turned our heads to look at the man in the other room. He had clicked the insert button on his keypad! Our eyes opened in complete shock, we were a second, just a second behind him from winning. He was able to get the password in right before we did.
The intercom started again, and a robotic voice played, “Team B, that password is, INCORRECT, please try again.”
As soon as we heard that the man freaked out and I turned my head to Rei!
“SNAKE! APPLE! TREE!!!” I yelled. Rei quickly got the symbols onto the keypad and clicked the insert button!
The intercom let out a chiming sound this time! Did we do it?
A second later the robotic voice came on again, “Team A, that password is, CORRECT, congratulations.”
An unlocking sound was heard from our door, signaling us that we could leave! We all started screaming with joy, glad to have survived, but to ruin our celebration the intercom came on.
It was DD’s voice, “Uh, oh…. Craw got the penalty! Let’s all give him an around of applause, he got the consolation prize!”
Just then the intercom seemed to switch over, and we could hear the voice of that man, Craw, “NO! You can’t do this to me! I won’t let you!”
“Now, now, no reason to get excited here, you’re gonna get your prize, no need to rush!” DD said ignoring him.
“NO!” He started banging on the door, then he came over to the glass, “YOU THREE DID THIS! I WONT LET YOU GET AWAY WITH THIS!!!”
“Now for the prize!!” DD intervened. Just then the sprinklers on that side opened up and started pouring out liquid all into the room, while also drenching Craw.
“What the hell is this!? What is….” He paused for a minute.
Everyone on our side of the glass was skeptical of what was going on, they just used the sprinkler system, what gives?
“NO! NO!” Craw started screaming, “LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT NOW!!!”
“Enjoy your gift!” DD said.
Just then one of the monitors on his side exploded, causing sparks to fly…..and that was all that was needed.
Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, starting at the monitors, and going around, and up the walls and glass of that side of the room, fire spread throughout the entirety of the room. The flame grasped onto every item and every fiber of the room, engulfing itself wherever it need be, including the man.
The man, who was in the center of the room, caught the full force of the flame, the sudden combustion causing him to be knocked onto his back, the flames engulfing him, much like everything else encased in that liquid.
The sudden explosion of flame had caused me to gasp in fear, Rei latching onto me for comfort from the shock. Jarrel on the other hand stood there in silence, his eyes wider then dinner plates on what he was experiencing.
The man who had been sent to the floor, had now begun to scream. With his body engulfed in flames, he tried to relieve himself by going to the floor to stop, drop, and roll. But in his state of panic he must’ve not realize the situation he was in, all he did was roll fresh new flames onto his body. Once he realized the futility of his efforts he started to call for help, screaming to anyone who could, which was no longer plausible. His skin I noticed had started to lose mass, and burn, causing wounds to appear, and I knew what would be coming next. Because of that thought I was frozen in place, with Rei who used my body to close one ear, and his free hand to his other.
Just then the man ran up to the glass banging on it. His voice still played over the intercom, and it was now distorted, and liquidly, as if he was choking!
“YyyOoouuUuu, DddDiiiIIiiDddD, ThHHIiiIsSssSS!!!” He said with his face up to the glass.
His face was no longer recognizable, his hair now gone, with bleeding burns now adorning his face. But it wasn’t just his look, it was his expression, that dawned more fear into me. It was on of pure rage, and agony.
He started to let out an ear splitting, and stomach churning scream, as the flames started to bring him back into their unyielding clutches.
As he continued to scream I felt someone tightly grip my arm, and also looked down to see the same person had grabbed Rei’s. I got a quick look to see it was Jarrel who had grabbed us. Before Rei or I could even speak he quickly threw us out of the room and out into the hall. On his way out he quickly slammed the door shut, the screams no longer able to be heard from the inside.
We all started to breath heavily. I was scared out of my mind on what I had just witnessed…. I saw a man, BURN! Burn right in front of my eyes, and I couldn’t do a thing to stop it from happening!
While Rei and I were on the floor, Jarrel had his head and arms on a wall. He slowly slid down until he was on his knees.
“Did…. Did that really….” He took a few breaths, “Did that really just happen?”
I took a few breaths, “What do you….. Weren’t you the one, that was sure it would happen?”
He flipped himself around, and laid his back against the wall he was on, “I just…. I mean…. In the back of my mind I was still thinking it…. It could’ve been a prank or, or maybe it wouldn’t have actually happened…. I don’t know I just….” He shook his head, “I. Don’t. Know.”
I looked over at Rei who had just curled up in the fetal position. I crawled over to him and wrapped my arm around him.
“Well…. I don’t think that could’ve been fake…” I said.
Jarrel nodded, “I don’t either…”
“Fia…?” I heard Rei ask quietly.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Will I get to go home….?” He asked.
I looked over at Jarrel, who just nodded at me. Everyone was in a bad state right now.
“As Jarrel said, we will do anything we can to make sure you do,” I said.
There was no response, he simply held me around my waist in a tight hug.
Once we all felt able to stand, we slowly, but surely walked back to the lounge area. Rei and I sat at one of the cleaner tables in the room, but Jarrel kept standing.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I’m hungry, and thirsty, I’m gonna try and find out where the food is in here, you two just rest,” He said.
Rei raised his hand, “Oh! Can I get some too!”
Jarrel smiled, “That was the plan…”
He then walked off quietly without another word.
Rei looked at me, “Is something wrong with Jarrel? He doesn’t seem right.”
I looked back with a saddened look, “Well, um, Rei what do you think of Jarrel?”
Rei gave me a big smile, “I think he’s cool! Kind! Smart, and brave! But… Right now he just seems sad.”
I shook my head, “I don’t think sad is the right word to use.”
Rei tilted his head at me, “What do you mean?”
“I think a better word to use is shocked,” I explained.
“Why’s that?” Rei asked.
“Rei do you know what bravery is?” I asked.
Rei smiled, “It means not being afraid of anything!’
I nodded, “That is technically true, but not accurate.”
“It’s not?” He asked.
“No, bravery, in short, is acting in spite of fear, even when you are afraid,” I explained.
“Wait, I don’t understand, what does this have to do with Jarrel?” Rei asked.
“You said he was brave and cool right? Well, true enough it’s just a face, when you know someone for as long as I’ve known Jarrel, you come to realize who a person is. Jarrel is kind, and caring, he would always try to help me or anyone he could, but, I can already tell from the way he is acting, this place is getting to him, and he is just as afraid as us,” I said.
“Oh…. So he’s just acting?” He asked.
“No he’s not, he’s brave, but he’s just as afraid as us, and what happened in the other room has gotten to him, just like it has with us. Everyone becomes afraid at some point Rei,” I said.
“Oh… I see, so even though he’s scared, he’ll still keep going, just like you?” He asked me.
I laughed at his statement, “Yes, yes, so what do you think of me?”
“Well I think you are kind and caring as well,” He blushed a bit, “And also pretty!”
I started to laugh even more, “God, keep that up you’ll have no problem finding a date!”
He laughed alongside me. But after a few seconds he asked another question.
“Hey um, so what are you and Jarrel afraid of?” Rei asked.
I paused for a minute, “Well…. I uh….”
Just then Jarrel walked up to us, “Alright, took a minute, but I found a mini fridge that had some cans of fruit, plus some water and soda!”
“Oh great!” I said with a smile.
We got our can’s open and started to enjoy our food. Jarrel had pineapple, I had peaches, and Rei had oranges.
After a minute of eating Jarrel started to speak, “Okay…. Look I was skeptical about how all of this was gonna play out…. But I think we can all agree after what we saw in there, this is real, no question about it.”
I nodded, “Yeah…”
Rei just listened in.
I looked up, “So…. I guess all doubts that, if we don’t do this, we lose, are gone right?”
“Yeah…. Definitely, it scares me to death knowing that the next room could be my last…. But then again, I don’t think we have any other option, do we?” His voice sounded tired, maybe it affected him more than I originally thought.
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“Are… You guys are scared right?” He asked.
Rei and I both nodded.
“Oh, okay…. Good to know I’m not the only one….. So, we still doing this?” He asked.
“As you said, no other choice,” I said while laughing a bit.
Rei smiled, “I don’t think I can be as brave as you, but I’ll try!”
Jarrel smiled at that, “Alright then!”
Just then the monitors came on in the room, and we were met with C Duo.
“Hi! How ya doing!!?” The cat asked.
Jarrel got angry, “TAKE A GUESS!!!”
“Ooooh, hostility! But I guess it’s fair, seeing as what you saw, oh boy would I be mad as well!” C Duo joked.
Jarrel didn’t take too kindly to the joke and kept quiet.
“Oh alright then, want to know a little secret? That man in the other room was a wanted criminal! He was a serial killer, so you really didn’t do anything that bad anyway!” CD said.
“Wait what?!” I asked. Was she lying to us? I couldn’t tell, her demeanor was all over the place.
“Wait he was….. Just, just, we need our password,” Jarrel said exhausted.
The cat smiled, “Oh right! Alright you ready! ‘Life,’ L-I-F-E! Got it?”
“Yep!” Rei said.
“Mind, and Life,” I said out loud.
“Alrighty then, since everyone in here seems a bit tense at the moment, I will let you all choose how long you need till your next game! So what will it be?” C Duo asked.
We conversed for a minute to figure out how long we needed.
I spoke up, “Give us twenty-five minutes!”
“Alrighty then!!! Will do!” CD exclaimed then the monitors ceased to play.
We were still for a minute, all just thinking to ourselves, until I spoke up.
“Was she lying about that man being a serial killer?” I asked.
“I don’t know. But what I do know is this, we’ll find our way out of this madness, and hopefully we can do it early,” He said seriously.
“Yeah…” Rei said.
“No kidding,” I finished.
It was sad to say but, I didn’t see us finding any other way out, out of all other possibilities, the only way I see us leaving is through the door with an X. Looks like we’re gonna have to keep playing. Even still, I had no intention of dying, and neither did Rei or Jarrel. By the end of this, we’ll be alive, I know it……
I know it….