The once noisy hall had now turned pin-drop silent.
“Somebody here is a spy then.” George scoffed.
“Who is it!? Which son of a bitch here is a fucking spy!?” Mariah screamed at the top of her lungs.
“Calm down.” Cane put his hand on her shoulder. “Throwing a tantrum won’t solve anything.”
Mariah threw the huge man’s hand off her shoulder. “Don’t touch me!” She screamed. “All you fuckers here.” She glared at each person menacingly.
“We should all just calm down.” The girl in the windbreaker spoke.
“Shut the fuck up!” Mariah screamed. “You don’t even tell us your name and you want us to fucking calm down!? Maybe you’re the fucking spy!?” she continued to cuss.
“How do we know you didn’t give a fake name in the first place?” The girl replied calmly. “For all we know, you could even be working for them.” She smirked at the end to add tension. “If it’s acting you’re doing. It’s really convincing that’s for sure.” Her tone was sarcastic enough to tick her opponent off.
“You piece of shit!” Mariah dashed over to the girl with the bud of her handgun in the middle of her palm. The girl screamed as she tried to back away, her heavy coat swinging wildly in the air. In shock, she fell to the ground, backside first with both her hands cushioning her fall, leaving her completely open to the assault.
With gun in hand and at a blazing speed, Mariah struck down onto the girl’s head but was immediately intervened by George. Grabbing her right hand, George twisted her arm in a three-hundred and sixty motion causing her hand to spasm in agony and in turn drop the gun. Using both arms now, George pushed her onto the ground and sat on the twisted hand. Mariah was writhing and grunting in pain as he did so.
“Calm down.” He commanded. “This ain’t gonna get us anywhere.”
“Son of a bitch! Let me go!” She screamed. George merely tightened his grip on her arm causing her to scream in a sharp blood curdling tone. Mariah struggled and wriggled her way, trying to get out of George’s tight grip, but to no avail could she break free.
“Stop it!” The young girl came plummeting through the struggle. Using both her fists, she slammed them as hard as she could on George’s back. “No more fighting! She’s in pain! Stop it!” Carla exclaimed. Tears streaming down her face as she showed concern for the swelling red bulb of an arm Mariah had for a right hand.
“Let’s stop this nonsense now.” Cane spoke, mildly irritated at what was happening. “It’s going to bring no good.”
After a long minute of two, Mariah finally sighed and stopped struggling. “Fine.” She surrendered. “Just let me go.” George finally released the lock on her arm and stoop up. Mariah got up to her feet as well and turned to the man who was pinning her down. With a full swing of her left palm, she slapped him dead center in the face. “Never do that again, fucking geezer.” Picking up the gun that had escaped her grasp, she turned away and strutted towards Cane, grabbing her right arm tightly as she did. George was clearly quite stunned by the slap he had just received and stood there dumbfounded for a moment.
Carter merely looked at George and shook his head sideways. “Anyways, seems this is doing us no good.” Examining each and everyone in the group, he blinked, calmed down, and spoke. “Out of us seven here, one is a spy. With that fact in mind, we’ll just have to be a bit careful with each other I guess.”
Cane nodded in agreement. He seemed to be the easiest to get along with in the group.
“So, that means we all just put our trust in each other?” The Asian boy spoke. “Isn’t that a bit too naïve?”
Carter took a minute to think about what the boy had said. “Well” He started “You have any better ideas then?” The boy merely looked away at this. “Well, then we’ll just have to work together to get through this.” He paused for a moment, thinking of what to say next “Whoever it is here though, who is the spy that is. I hope you’re on our side. I mean, we’re all out to save mankind right? So, you know. Don’t be a douche and all that. Isn’t very cool alright?” It was a fair comment.
Cane merely smiled at this, almost bringing himself to a chuckle. No one else thought it was very funny at all seeing as they were all caught up in one hell of a mess. To this, the Asian boy made his way to the piano and stopped to gaze upon the mess in front of him. The once black and white keys were covered in a thick layer of baby blue spray paint, the strings within the piano was partially covered with the same substance as well, making the piano all the more hideous to look at. The paint was still wet to the touch as he dipped his pinky finger on a note which played to the tune of the second octave in C. The rest of the gang made their way up to the hulking mass of a grand piano.
“Talk about wasting a good looking piano.” The girl in the windbreaker spoke as she observed the musical instrument. She walked along the sides of the piano as her gentle and soft fingers caressed its silky smooth yet solid sides. “Not just that.” She paused. “It’s a good one with an expensive brand to boot.” On the sides in slick gold letters, the words ‘Steinway & Sons’ were imprinted on the black polished surface of the wooden piece of art.
The group looked at the keys in blue and were involved in deep thought. Carla, the little girl with the teddy bear did so as well although nothing much actually ran through her mind, she was merely just imitating the rest of the group. Carter himself was a wee bit dumbfounded by this ‘guiding star’ as proclaimed by Romanos. It looked nothing like a guiding star at all. In fact, it came across as more of a gambit to throw the entire group off.
“Wet paint.” The Asian boy spoke. “Kind of suspicious if you ask me.” He thought for a moment.
“It’s recent.” George replied. “Minutes recent in fact, not by the hours. What do you reckon’?”
Cane and Mariah turned to each other for a moment. “I don’t think there’s much explanation to it then.” Mariah spoke as she looked around the room. Her eyes quickly caught a thick fur rug hiding underneath the piano. Squatting down she observed the material, a portion of the carpet had been torn half way through and stood out like a sore thumb. She grabbed onto one end, long nails piercing deep into the fabric and pulled hard, splitting the greyish rug into a small cloth.
“Here.” She passed it to Cane. “You do it.”
Cane took hold of the rug and in one fell swoop, swiped the cloth across the piano keys, creating a crescendo upwards from deep to sharp. It sounded like angels had sung from the heavens as the cloth stroke the white keys clean. With that, the blue paint came off easily, splattering into small light puddles onto the wooden floor near his feet. It revealed a message underneath written in a chilling crimson red paint. It read in distorted poorly written out letters.
“One Of Kings. One Of Peasants. One of Beggars. One Of Beasts.”
The churning of gears could be heard in the distance far away in the building as they read the message. Carter turned to look around the room and noticed several walls start to crackle and move to the side, almost like a sliding door. It revealed 4 passages lighted in florescent white. They seem to stretch deep into the building, but across each hallway lay a large metal door similar to that of the doors that spanned the ends of the prison cell area of the buildings. Above each door, a timer in red numerical letters similar to an alarm clock started ticking down. From the number ‘99’ it trickled down towards 0 each second.
“I’m assuming we probably will have to go through each door in pairs of twos.” Carter said as he looked at the red timer ticking down.
“Not necessarily my boy.” A voice rang out through the hall. It seemed that there were hidden speakers around. It was the voice of Romanos. “You may choose to enter with any number of people. The flexibility is yours.”
Carter looked at each empty passage way. “It’s not as simple as it really is, isn’t it?” He sighed.
“Oh.” Romanos seemed quite cheerful on the other end of the mic. “Whatever do you mean?”
“It’s kinda obvious don’t you think?” Carter seemed to take in the information calmly. “Kings, peasants, beggars and beasts. That’s probably relating to the four choices we have. Kings probably being the best outcome and beasts probably being the worst.”
“Well deduced my boy.” Romanos chocked up as if moved by his ability to deduce. “A simple clue to start your journey then, no?”
“And what’ve we decide not to leave this here room then?” George spoke up. “Decide not to play yer stupid game?”
“I wouldn’t recommend that.” The voice behind the speaker sounded solemn. “You’d be trapped here. Starved. What good would it do then? To die in vain?” A small chuckle came from above. “But it is your choice. Do remember though, whenever such metal doors close before you there is no more turning back neither is there a choice to move forward ever again. So I would personally recommend to move quick into the corridors now and let the experiment begin.”
“Shit.” George cussed under his breath.
“And now I shall leave you to decide.” The speaker went dead.
The timer had now dropped to a mere seventy seconds left.
“Okay. That means we need to move.” Carter announced. Each and every one of them looked at the passages and then to each other. “Let’s choose our groups and hurry.”
“I’ll go alone.” The Asian boy said as he walked away towards the entrance of one passage on the left.
“I’m not going with neither of you.” Mariah spoke with scorn at both George and the girl in the thick brown coat. “I’m with Cane.” Catching on Cane’s hand, she strutted down the hallway to an open doorway as well.
George looked at Carter. “So how are we going to do this?”
“I’m not entirely sure myself.” Carter was thinking of the possible combinations. Either he went with the girl in the trench coat or George or Carla. And the last two people would have to pair up. Carla being the youngest and most vulnerable would probably be in need of assistance throughout the journey and that meant she would have to go with the most reliable of the three of them.
“I’ll tell you what.” The girl in the brown coat spoke. “I’ll go with the little girl.” She was calm and collected as she took the girl and pressed Carla’s head to her thighs. “She’ll probably need some help and seeing as it is, I’m probably in the best position to do so.”
George shook his head. “I got an idea.” He said. “I reckon I don’t fully trust you with the kid yet. Could be the traitor and all you know.” The girl nodded, understanding his concerns. “So let’s do this.” Rubbing his hands together, he spoke. “Carter, you go with her. I’ll be fine alone.”
“Are you serious?” Carter gasped.
“I am.” George replied sternly. “And keep an eye out for the little one. No telling who you can trust now can we.” He squinted at the girl. “Don’t try anything funny with them.” His words were as sharp as a surgical blade across her heart, the warning was clear.
“I agree.” The girl in the heavy coat nodded to George’s surprise. “Logically speaking, we both can keep tabs on each other then.” She turned to Carter as her lips produced the words cleanly.
“But it’s dangerous to go alone!” Carter exclaimed to George.
“I was part of a Gurkha unit some year ago. Or at least I was an instructor to them. Joined several private armies and a mercenary and all that. I can handle whatever that’s coming my way.” George took out the gun and showed it to Carter. “I even have this here gun for some extra protection.” He then turned to the girl. “And before I forget. Just for extra measure. Hand over the gun to the little one.”
The girl squinted at him, clearly irritated. “It’s too dangerous for a child to handle it.” She scoffed. “Let alone two guns at that.”
“In that case.” George kneeled down to Carla. “Can I have the gun for a moment sweetie pie?”
Carla looked at George with eyes wet with tears for a second or two and then merely gazed to her feet, concentrating hard on her small brown boots. “Okay.” She spoke shyly. Reaching deep into her right pocket at the side of her dress, she pulled out a single silver handgun and handed it to George.
He nodded at this. “Thanks darling.” Patting her on the head lightly with his left hand as he accepted the gun in his right. Standing up, George pushed the gun into Carter’s sweaty palms and spoke clearly and crisply. “In case she tries to pull anything funny. Use this.” He looked at Carter straight in the eyes. It was clearly a huge responsibility for Carter to hold the weapon in his hands. “There’s half a minute left, I reckon’ we’ve got to start moving.”
Carter gazed at both George and the girl and sighed. “Fine by me.” With the timer now counting down to twenty, they reached for the unoccupied doors on the most right of the hall. Across the hallway and on the metal door, a single alphabet of ‘C’ was displayed in red spray paint. Carter turned to both Carla and the girl in the trench coat and then back to George who was about to enter the hallway next to them. They nodded to each other and entered the hallways as with everyone else who had disappeared into their respective doors.
Carla and the girl followed from behind. As the timer slowly ticked away, they could hear the sounds of heavy gears churning once more. The doorway behind them started to close shut until the grand ballroom was nowhere to be seen anymore. It was just the three of them left, standing in front of a big metal door with a ‘C’ painted in red staring directly back at them. Florescent lights lit their faces in the palest of opportunities making them seem devoid of motivation to move on. That was however, far from the truth.
“Hey.” Carter spoke out of the blue. “I didn’t get your name.” His gaze shifted to the girl in the heavy coat.
The girl merely grit her teeth at this. “It’s none of your business.” She was very adamant on the subject.
“I have to call you something you know?” He sighed and thought for a while. “How about ‘Coat’? Since you’re in all those heavy garments and all that.”
The girl shook her head at the rather peculiar request but in the end just sighed.
“Fine by me.”
Written By HoiHoiSoi
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