By Dustyn Casas; staff writer
Where was I? I didn’t know. Feelings of tall, cement walls surrounded me while complete darkness filled the atmosphere. I was lost for hours, thinking of how to get out. I had nothing in my hands, but large wounds. I had no plans in mind, but also no memory of what got me here in the first place. My legs felt severely bruised, and I think I cracked one of my shins. With all of these difficulties present, I was basically stuck in an eternal learning curve that was unwilling to show its purpose, but was aware of what to do to catch my attention.
After minutes past, I saw a speck of white light. I knew that I was able to follow it, since I can vaguely see my shadow, so I did. Once I went through the light, I was suddenly in a fully white, desolate room. All that was inside the room was me and a wooden, brown, noticeably broken table with an old, black TV. I looked around the items a few times, seeing if it had any clues to getting out. After a press of the “POWER” button, all the lights in the room turned off, and only light visible was through the television. There was a masked figure projected through the screen. He wore a black suit, a dark red fedora, and a mask that pictured a yellow happy face. He said in a menacing voice:
“Hello, Matthew Lockwood. You might be feeling lost. Uncertain. Doubtful. If so, you might not pass the test I have for you. You see, Matthew, you have been brought here for a reason you probably already know. If not, these tests will tell you as you go. Well, if you can pass the tests. Just follow the instructions I give you, and you be out of this place. Just remember this, your life is not as valuable as others.”
The lights turned on after the projection ended. A door opened a few seconds after the projection ended, and I went through the door, unknowing of the terror I might experience. Once I went out the door, I saw a blonde girl. Her arms and legs were strapped to the wall left of me with metal bracelets installed directly into the wall. She was screaming desperately for help, so I decided to walk up to her and do just that. Each step I made, though, she screamed even more.
“Don’t come any closer!” she shouted in potential fear, “Please! Leave me alone!”
I was confused. Why would she say that to someone who’s trying to help her escape? Was it something I didn’t remember?
“Don’t worry! I’ll help you escape!” I told her.
“Please, you already did enough to me!” She responded.
Once she said that, I was afraid to come any closer. I wanted to save her, yet I didn’t want to cause more distress amongst her. She claims that I did something supposedly bad, which made her act this way, so I decided to investigate.
“What did I do?” I asked.
“If I tell you, I’m practically executing myself, “ she replied.
“Each step towards me you make, each hint for escape I give, or each release of these metal bracelets would cause both of us to go down. There are cameras and sensors everywhere, sensing each movement and word you make.”
“How is this info valuable?”
“It’s just a reminder of how secretive you need to be around here because he watches you even when you’re asleep.”
An entrance appeared at the wall right of me after those words come out, as if it’s telling me to go to the next room, but I needed as much information as possible. I made one step closer to the girl in order to get some last intel on this situation, but regretted it soon after, as now gravity was pulling me towards the door. I didn’t know how it was happening, but I pushed myself beyond the limit to get one last piece of possible information.
“How many tests are there to pass?!” I shouted with great strength as I was being pulled towards the next room.
“Only the amount you need!” she yelled out.
As soon as that reply came out, I was in the next room, with the wall closed and the sight of that girl no longer present.
“Only the amount you need…” I repeated. What did this mean? Did that one hint have something to do with me? I didn’t know. All I knew was that what I’m in is much larger than I can ever comprehend.
After all that, I realized that I was in my first test. It was pitch black, but I kept hearing static. The sounds of static stopped to reveal itself as the same menacing voice I’ve heard before. It told me this:
“Hello, Matthew. It’s nice to see you again. You’ve probably met your little friend, Sophie Reach. She probably told you some things about what’s happening to you. That’s just what I wanted.”
After that portion of the message, I heard the burning sizzles of fire. The sounds were followed by a frightened shout. I ran to the wall and
hit the wall as hard as I can, but the screams silenced seconds after. I was too late.
“She never needed to be here, anyway. I just wanted you to gain an “emotional spark”. This “spark” will actually help you with your first test. It’s both a blessing and a curse.”
Red lights opened above me to form a path. A dark blue speck of light representing a door opened at the end of this path. There was no traps present and no obstacles to face. There must’ve been a catch to this.
“The blessing is the objective. The curse is the execution. This is your only hint.”
I decided to just take the hint, since I had no other choice. Once I started to walk up to the blue light, I heard a voice to my left. It was sounded afraid and helpless. It sounded… familiar.
“I’m sorry for whatever I did wrong. Please, help me.”
I didn’t think that I would do anything wrong to someone, yet I felt guilty. Should I walk up to the voice? No. It was a trap. I resisted the temptation to walk up to where it came from. When I walked away, I heard another voice come from my right.
“Have mercy on me!”
That voice sounded familiar as well. These two voices caused me to drop down and think to myself thoughts that I never knew would occur to me:
“Is it possible that I came to this place for a crime? Like a prison that wants you to escape, but scathed physically and morally? That couldn’t be true. My thoughts were a lie. I was only brought here to be utter shrieks of pain. There is no reason to why I’m here, but now that I’m here I just need to listen to this stranger’s hints and get out.”
As soon as I was able to get up and go once more, I heard another voice. One last voice to spark my attention:
“Forgive me for the years I forgot.”
I teared up. I ran to the door with all my inner emotions packed inside me, with the “ emotional spark” released throughout me. As I ran, more voices began to shout out for help. They all sounded real, too real.
“I’m sorry!” “I didn’t know you’d act up so badly!” “Don’t let my life end like this!”
I had reached the second room by the time the last sound came out of the door. I was absolutely speechless after that event. I didn’t even want to continue, but escaping this torturous place was all I had in mind. While I wandered over this thought, I noticed the details of this dark-blue lightened room. There were pictures of me posted on the grayscale walls. They were blurry and had some food stains. I was severely creeped out about this, seeing how someone even had pictures of me with my prom date. I continued to walk around this room, shocked by what it provided, then running into a dead end. There was no door. No opening to the next room. Just rough grayscale walls surrounding me. I ran to the door I came out of, but closed right when my foot was practically a centimeter away from the door. I was trapped.
As I continued to mull over what happened, walking aimlessly around, I bumped into one of the photos, which dropped a TV remote. I searched through the buttons, then finding a piece of yellow tape at the back of the remote, which had the words written in black marker:
Assuming that it was going to be a clue to get out of the room, I pressed play. The clue was said by the menacing voice that has been here from the start of this painstaking journey. It said this:
“So, are you stuck? Can’t see an escape? Well, each photo here is irreplaceable. These pictures have held a special place in your heart, which is why I’ve brought them here for your second test. Why did I mention this? Well, to escape, you only need to do one thing: let go.”
Let go… I was confused. I knew that I needed to latch away from something, but what? All I knew was that the answer was in this room. I searched throughout the whole area, quickly searching through the pictures to find the answer, but found nothing. Each one was just a happy memory, but I noticed one thing. One of the photos among the many others was not a happy moment in my life, but rather a person who made me happy. Skylar Errinson.
Skylar was a beautiful woman who was the same age as me and only person who thought just like me. The only one who understood me. That one person with a perfect smile, quirky personality, and forgiving heart. She looked beyond my noticeable flaws and found a faultless person. She was the one.
Just two weeks ago, though, she said that she would go to visit her parent’s house for the weekend to celebrate her dad’s birthday. She never came back. I kept waiting, day after day, but there was no one to come out the door. I was alone.
I kept staring at the photo, reminiscing on the times we spent together. Each time I passed one memory, one more tear came out of me. These times were the most treasured moments of my life, and yet she would just leave me without a goodbye. These happy memories only sparked anger.
“Why would she leave me like this?” I kept repeating in my head, unable to recall happiness and only able to think of the worst. As this thought kept ravaging through my mind, I grabbed the picture in great rage and threw it on the ground. I knew that the shattering of the wooden frame or the release of shards of glass wouldn’t do anything, but it was the only way to let out my emotions. Once I looked at the photo again, I began to tear up again. I immediately felt guilty for this action. I still loved her, but I felt emotionally struck with rejection. I was stuck on a mixed reaction I was unable to settle on.
While I circled around this emotion, I heard the creak of an opening door. I looked up to see what happened, and found an opening to another room, which was lit in dark green lights. How did this door open? I never did anything but let out my inner emotions. Nonetheless, I entered the room with slight fear inside. Once I put one step on the next room, I looked around the room to find nothing but black lines all over the walls and floor to resemble a glitch. Then, out of nowhere, another message was spoken by the voice from before:
“Hello, Matthew. Welcome to your last test for today. You have passed the first test through the act of rejection in place for the act of heroism, but you could’ve taken the harder route and followed the voices to get out quicker. You could’ve destroyed all the other photos in the second test to get out quicker, but you only destroyed what mattered to you most. Because of this, I now bring you here. You’ve probably haven’t figured it out yet, have you? What is the purpose of your presence here meant? Well now, I bring to you, the meaning.”
The voice ended in soft static, fading away gently. I got scared right after the message ended. I could only imagine what terrifying occurrences may appear tonight. Whatever it was, I wasn’t prepared for the worst that may come.
I stood still as I breathed a few times, unable to do anything at the moment but ponder over the frightening possibilities that may occur. I resisted the urge to step further, but my human curiosity practically forced me to move forward. Gathering all my courage, I slowly stepped forward in the direction I was in. Nothing happened. I stepped once more, this time a little faster. Nothing happened. I continued to step forward cautiously until I was met with a wall. The feeling of a cement wall came once more, making me think for a moment that I had to go through those terrible tests again, until I heard the sounds of rain coming from my right. I tried to resist the urge to walk towards the sound, but my curiosity sparked once more and I found myself doubtfully sauntering towards a possible death trap.
Walking towards the sound, I couldn’t even think beyond what horrors could await me. Thoughts circled me, distracting me from a positive outlook. By the time I stepped down on the first ray of light, a drop of rain fell on me. I was finally outside.
I was overcome with joy, with each step away from the cold, dark warehouse widening the smile on my face. Everything was looking happy for myself. I thought past the dark events of before and allowed a bright future to reign upon me.
As I continued to walk past those dark memories, I began to think over what just happened. The voice said that there was a final test, but nothing happened. This “test” was thought to be impactful, as all the other outlets of easy escape were confirmed by the voice. Suddenly, everything positive seemed to have some kind of new catch.
“Could the test be happening right now?” I thought to myself, “Could the voice be lying?” I started to get confused beyond my own limitations. Putting these plot holes aside, I knew that one thing was clear. Just because I’m outside doesn’t mean I’m free of any traps.