Chapters, Rat in a Maze

Rat in a Maze: Chapter 10

There was a loud knocking at his door. Jack woke up to them, bolting up on his bed. He turned around, facing the noise, and got out the bed. Travis was waiting in the hallway when Jack opened the door.

“Morning.” He said.

Hey, morning.” Jack said. “What’s with all the knocking?”

We devised a way to go down the elevator shaft.”

Huh? You found some rope?”

Travis shook his head. “Like you said, the chances of finding rope were pretty low. So, we had a better idea. Using the bed sheets, we tied them together and made our own rope.”

Jack’s eyes widened a little. “That’s pretty clever. Are you sure it’ll hold?”

We hope so. No one here is too heavy.”

Yeah, that’s true. So, what did you wake me up for?”

We better get moving soon. Are you ready?”

Jack looked over his shoulder, at his book. “Just a second.” He moved back to his bed, grabbed the book, and walked back to Travis. “Ready. What about Rose?”

She’s down at the shaft, tying up the remaining sheets.” He turned around and walked down the hallway. Jack followed behind him, holding his book in one arm against his chest, and the lead pipe in the other.

They walked down the stairs to the first floor and went down the hallway, taking a left. Going deeper into the corridor, they found Rose sitting on the ground, next to the dark drop. She was finishing the rope they had managed to make.

Alright, it’s good. I hope.” She stood up, holding one end of the makeshift rope. The other laid cast into the darkness. “Let’s just hope it’s long enough.”

What do we tie it to?” Jack said, looking around the bare hallway. There was a door directly in front of the elevator shaft. “The doorknob?”

You think it’ll hold?” Rose said. At the shrug of his shoulders, she moved to the door and tied one end of the rope around the doorknob. She pulled it and the door shook, but held. Jack shrugged his shoulders.

Well, I guess the last thing to see is if we can use it go down.” Travis said as he walked up to the edge.

You’re going first, Dad?”

Travis nodded. He sat down, his feet hanging over the darkness, then he grabbed the rope, moved up against the wall and started to make his way down.

No noise came from the shaft for a long time. Rose peered over the darkness, waiting for any kind of feedback. Jack stood by her.

After what felt like hours, a yell came from below. It was clearly Travis. “Alright, I reached the end! You guys can go down now!”

Rose turned to Jack, an inquisitive look in her eye. “Alright, I’ll go last.” He said. She nodded and dropped into the shaft, grabbing the rope. Jack stood by the edge, waiting for confirmation.

Rose’s voice rung loud and clear from below. “Go ahead, Jack!” Tucking the diary into his pants, he grabbed the rope and started to descend.

The way down was incredibly dark. Jack had to navigate down entirely by touch, in an endless length of darkness.

Something made of metal started to make noise in front of him. It moved and jerked, something inside trying to get out. Jack froze, in front of it. He wrapped his legs tight around the rope, and with one hand he fished out the flashlight in his pants. The circle of light barely cut through the darkness, but it illuminated the source of the light: a ventilation duct.

Cold fear crept around Jack’s heart and he turned off the flashlight. He started going down faster and faster until he reached the ground. Travis and Rose were waiting for him.

What took you so long?” Travis said.

Nothing.” Jack said, dropping from the rope and landing. “Just didn’t expect it to be so dark.”

The rope dropped between them. It had been cut off at one end, rather savagely, by the looks of it. Jack picked up and held it between his hands.

No way back up.” He said, dropping it.

Rose nodded. “Nothing for us up there, anyways.”

I wonder…” Jack started.

Travis cut him off. “No use in wondering, Jack. Let’s get going.” He started walking. The others followed close behind.

As if it was possible, this section of the maze looked even older. The lights were really dim, failing to illuminate the walls of the corridor. They could only see the way directly in front of them. Paint was completely gone from the walls, completely bare, occasionally stained with blood.

Whatever happened to that monster?” Rose said, walking next to Jack. They walked in a sort of triangle, with Travis at the front. “It wasn’t at the bottom of the shaft.”

I guess it survived and then walked off to other places.” Travis said. “I wonder where you could even get a knife that big.”

Jack looked around, moving his head in a circle. “I wonder how you could get a place like this?”

Come to think of it, didn’t Hoffman talk about a ‘deal’ in his notes?” Rose said. “Maybe he made a deal with the government or some other agency, with research notes in exchange.”

That doesn’t make sense. If the place went to hell, then clearly no more research notes could be exchanged. So whatever agency that was would have shut down the place.” Travis said.

Perhaps they just didn’t want to get attention towards them?” Rose shrugged. “I really have no logical explanation for this place.”

None of us do.” Jack said. After a bit of silence, he said. “Have you guys been…seeing, anything? It may just be me, but I feel like there’s more to this place…”

More to this place?” Travis said, remembering his run-ins with the woman.

I mean, other than the monsters. I feel like, there’s something evil to this place. But I guess that was kind of obvious.”

It’s a place of death.” Travis said. “Enough time here and that will be clear enough. But I feel like you’re onto something.”

I just want to get out of here, really.”

We all do, Jack. But maybe stopping this whole thing could be the only way to get out of here…”

How would we do that?”

Rose shrugged again. “I’m sure the North Wing has the answers.” She looked over her shoulder. “You guys think we’ve been walking for too long?”

Yeah, it feels like we walked out of the asylum’s grounds. Where the hell does this lead?” Travis said.

They heard the sound of rushing water coming up. It was strong and loud, like a river.

What’s that?” Jack said.

Sounds like rushing water. We’re getting close.” Travis said.

They saw the end of the tunnel, and past it, the source of the noise: running water. Travis walked out of the corridor and stood at the edge, looking at the water.

He looked up, noticing the arch of the ceiling. There were also scores of pipes running through the sides of the walls. “Are we in a sewer?”

Rose walked up to him. “Looks it.” She looked to both sides. There was ground to walk on that ran next to the water, but it was narrow. They would need to walk in a single file. “It also looks like we’ll have to be careful not to fall into the current.”

Travis nodded and started walking, moving up against the wall. Rose followed behind him, with Jack bringing up the rear. The roar of the sewer was almost deafening. They did not hear the creature moved below the water, tailing them.

Jack walked behind Rose, and watched the water out of the corner of his eye. Something inside it flickered inside his field of vision. He stopped and jerked his head towards it. It was gone.

Guys?” His voice was drowned out by the steady roar of the water. “Guys!” He had to shout over it.

Travis and Rose turned around, looking at him.

I think I saw something in the water.” Jack said. He turned his full attention to the river beside them. It was dark and muddy, stained with human residue. Unable to see anything, Jack drew closer.

A fleshy whip popped out from the dark currents, shooting towards Jack. The fleshy whip ended in a spike. Jack moved to the side, narrowly dodging it. It lodged itself into the wall, stuck. A tentacle?! Jack thought.

Another protruded from the water. It missed Jack, but trapped him between the tentacles. He ducked, another tentacle hitting the space where his face should have been. Jack rolled under the tentacle and rose up to his feet.

One shot out and grazed Rose’s knees, making a small cut. She grimaced as scarlet drops began to pour from it.

Move!” Jack said. Travis and Rose started to run, as more and more tentacles sprouted from the water. They hit the wall around them, never making a hit. Pieces off the wall came off as the tentacles retracted.

Jack fell down as one tentacle wrapped around his leg. It coiled around it then stabbed painfully into his leg. He cried out as blood began to pour out. Slowly, it began to pull him towards the edge. Rose gasped.

His lower body fell into the water. Jack’s hands shot out and held on to the edge. The tentacle pulled like a horse, and he felt his fingers slip from the edge. Rose fell to her knees and grabbed his arms.

Travis drew out his gun and took aim. In the rushing water, he couldn’t see where Jack’s legs were or where the tentacle was. He took aim, knowing full well that he could hit Jack with a bullet in a mistake, and pressed the trigger.

The bullet flew into the water and hit something. Blood floated up to the surface and was quickly washed away by the currents. Jack could feel the pressure from his legs ease up. He pulled himself up onto safer ground.

A wail rocked and echoed across the sewer. Jack got on his feet and they started running, as tentacles flew like knives behind them. They cut the air and sliced into the wall.

Travis looked forward. He saw a ladder going up, and a small hole above it. It was next to a wall, the end of the tunnel.

They had almost reached the ladder when a storm of knives flew in front of them, forming a wall between them and the ladder. The wall groaned as something started to pull itself from the water.

The owner of the tentacles made itself present. It was a humanoid shape, the tentacles coming from points all across its body. On its back, it carried a large, fleshy bulb that glowed. Jack shivered as it looked at them. Even though it was a cancerous mess, it looked at them with its dead eyes.

Rose ran forward, grabbing the axe from Travis’ back. She swung it overhead at the tentacles, cutting through them like a knife through hot butter. The monster hung on to the edge, blood pouring out like a fountain from the newly ripped holes. Travis aimed his gun at the monster’s head, and pressed the trigger.

It jerked its head back, another hole added. Blood pouring down its face, it looked at them, regarding one last time until it dropped back into the water. The tentacles hung from the wall, dead.

Rose panted, holding the axe in her hands. She turned back to Travis and handed it over to him. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

The will to live.” Travis said, stepping up to the ladder. It was rusty, but it wouldn’t break anytime soon. “You guys go on ahead.”

Jack walked up to the ladder and climbed up, looking through the hole at the grey sky above them. “I don’t know where this leads.” He said. “But it’s definitely outside.”

He climbed up the steps and pulled himself out of the hole. Jack got up to his feet and looked around. Several buildings surrounded him, those of stores and others. They all looked old, and abandoned. Windows were boarded up, doors were shut tight. Not a single soul moved in the streets under the dark night. A feeling of hopelessness and despair hit Jack like a truck.

Jack walked a few steps forward. He recognized a few of the buildings as part of the town the asylum was in. In fact, it looked like an exact replica of the town.

But it’s all…dead.” He said out loud. Rose and Travis had climbed up the ladder and looked around, as confused as Jack. “Guys? Where are we?”

Rose walked up to him. “I don’t know.” She said. “It’s just like the asylum. It looks like the town, but it’s not the town.”

It’s like a mirror of it.” Jack said. “But it’s all wrong. Nobody’s here. It’s a ghost town.”

Travis joined them. “I guess we’re not out of the maze, just yet.”

Jack sat down on a nearby bench, overwhelmed. “Just where the hell are we?” He said to them. “We got out of the asylum, but we’re still not out of this trouble, yet!”

Rose sat down next to him. “I don’t know, Jack. I thought that place made no sense, but this…” She trailed off.

This is crazy. Almost supernatural.” Travis said. His face seemed unchanged.

How can you be so calm?” Jack looked up to him. His eyes were full of hopelessness. “How can you be so calm, when after all of that, we found a dead, again?”

Because I know it’s not a dead end.” Travis said. “There’s a way out of here. You convinced me of that, back in the asylum. Hell, you convinced me of getting into the East Wing.” He walked up to Jack, and put his hands on his shoulders. “So, don’t you dare give up on us now. You have a promise to fulfill, right?”

Jack looked down, away from him. He clenched his fists. “I…I know. But this is just…this is just insane.

How can there be a mirror version of the town?”

I don’t know, Jack. I’m just a doctor. I just know there has to be a way out of here. Sitting around won’t help us find it.”

Jack sighed, and got up. “You’re right. What do we do now?”

Travis turned to look at a street sign. It was rusty and old, but legible. “We’re near a hotel, if I remember right. I sure hope so, because I’m talking from memory from almost two decades ago, here. We should rest up.”

Jack and Rose nodded. Perhaps things would seem better after sleep. They walked on the sidewalk, even though no cars drove on the street, and never would again. After walking a couple of blocks, they found a derelict motel. Travis walked into the lobby, up to the check-in desk. There was an open book with names on it.

Doesn’t look too old.” He said as he flipped through the pages. Jack walked up to him, glanced the book, and leapt over the counter. There was a square on the wall with several golden hooks, with golden keys hanging off them, and he took one. It read “103”.

Nevermind.” Travis said.

What?” Jack turned around, holding the keys in his hand. He tossed them to Travis.

Travis caught them without looking up. “I’m looking at the dates. The latest seem to be from some thirty years ago, from the 1980s.”

What does that mean?”

I don’t know yet. I just know it’s important. Gotta be, right?” Travis said. Jack shrugged, and moved back over the counter. Rose waited outside for them, and they walked across the parking lot to the motel. The doctor opened the room labeled “103” with the key Jack gave him.

Jack and Rose looked inside. Surprisingly, the rooms were in decent condition. The walls were peeling off and the windows were boarded up, but the beds were usable. There were only two beds in each room, so Jack had to move into a room all for himself.

After busting the door open, Jack moved into his room. He bade the other two goodnight, closed the door, and sat on the bed. There was a night table next to it. The diary was a little wet when he pulled it out, but had been largely undamaged. Jack set it down on the table and pulled out a pen.

Day 2

Even I’m surprised we made it through the elevator shaft and out of the tunnel. That large monster that attacked us, its eyes…

They felt familiar.

But where we are, I can’t say. It’s just like the asylum, but with the town: a mirror version. Everything is abandoned, and there’s black clouds all the time. I can’t understand how Travis can keep on walking. I don’t see a way out of this one.

I’m too tired to write much more. Hopefully, I get the chance to write tomorrow night.

Jack put down his book and got under the covers. He fell asleep within minutes, the blackness overtaking.


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