As the door slid open with a sharp screech, he could feel the odd sensation of danger, as if somebody was coming for his life. Lo and behold, he was indeed staring down the barrel of a gun.
“Freeze!” He heard the voice shout out against him as the door continued to swing inwards. Carter heard the gun click in a menacing tone as if ready to fire.
“Wait! Wait!” Carter shouted as he recognized the familiar female voice. “It’s me! Carter!”
Coat stared down the barrel intensely as she held out the gun straight in front of her. Her head was cocked to the right ever so slightly to line up her eyes with the sights attached on the very top of the handgun. As she saw Carter’s image come in full view, she lowered the gun and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Man.” She said in an almost elated tone. “Am I glad to see you.”
“Glad to see you too.” Carter said as his face was beaming with excitement. He had really hoped to see someone familiar soon. The death and despair was getting a bit too much for him to handle, not to mention the eerie memories that would consistently plague him all throughout his time alone. He was clearly a bit shaken up from thoughts of those horrific memories back in the woods, the last he had faced them was when a close friend had brought it up during a dinner party years ago. Needless to say, it wasn’t a very good night out for Carter.
“Wait.” Carter suddenly blurted out as he assessed the situation. “Where is Cane and the mushroom guy?”
“No idea. I entered a room on my own and made my way here somehow.”
“The hallway must have had more than just two branching paths I guess.”
“Seems that way.” She sighed. “So, where have you been?”
“A really really bad place.” Carter felt a deep pain growing within his stomach as he tried to bring himself to tell Coat.
“George and Carla are dead.” He said as the all too familiar feeling of stomach juices rising through his throat came about. He felt sick as brief flashes of their dead bodies passed him by. The horrific scene of George’s exposed guts along with the stench of his rotting body was something nobody should ever be allowed to experience in their life time or so Carter thought.
“What!?” Coat shouted she moved backwards from the shock. “What do you mean they’re dead!? What the hell happened!?”
Carter went on to tell Coat of the sights he had seen and the little adventure he had with Mariah in the previous room. It sounded so surreal, especially finding two bodies merely rooms apart. They had seen both these people just hours ago and now, they were both dead. It was shocking and yet somehow, it was the reality of things they had to come to peace with. Both of them were visibly disturbed and very queasy about the whole matter.
“God damn it.” Coat grinded her teeth out of frustration. “God damn it.” She said out again. She was at least a bit more hopeful of find Carla alive but her hopes had seemingly been torn to shreds with what Carter had revealed. It felt as if an anchor had dropped squarely on top of her head, crushing her spirit into dust in an instant.
“I couldn’t do anything.” Carter sighed, his tone clearly grave and deep with sorrow. “I’m not even sure where the hell Mariah is now since she fell down the hatch.”
“Well, things are shit then huh?” Coat said as she patted him on the back as if to tell him that he had done well resisting the urge of despair. “Shit.” She spat the words out as if disgusted by them.
Both Carter and Coat sighed in unison as they looked at each other. They were depressed and yet somehow elated that they had found each other again. The separation of the group had clearly put a lot of strain on their psyche, especially since silence had been their closest friend in their moments alone. It was at this point, did they truly understand the value of sticking together.
Coat tried to break the ice as some thoughts came floating through her mind randomly. She had meant to tell it to whoever she had met next, just in case it would slip her mind and be lost forever. “Vostron’s been rambling on what he could recover from some damaged files while we were separated.”
“He found something?”
“Well, nothing concrete really.” She paused and took a deep breath. “The phrase ‘CAT-01’ seemed to come out in quite a lot of files though. Not that he can remember anything of significance regarding the phrase.”
Carter felt sick to his stomach for a moment. He felt like vomiting out all his guts when he heard the short yet simple acronym. Reaching for his back pocket, he took out what looked like a paper filled with scribbles and handed it to Coat.
“Something we found on George.” He said in quick breaths as he tried to fight back the urge to vomit. “Look at what he wrote on the front side of the note.”
Coat snatched it off Carter’s fingers and then proceeded to unfold it. Other than the messy writing on one side, she instantly knew what she was looking at. It was the short scribble of the phrase ‘CAT-01’ on the note.
“Seems even George found a clue of some kind before he died.” She chocked on some dried saliva as the phrase ran through her mind over and over again. She was trying her best to relate the code to anything she could think of but nothing appeared in her mind that seemed to fit the bill. Her body started to feel equally as queasy now that she had read the note.
“Well, so where have you been?” Carter asked in an attempt to change the topic at hand. Thinking more of the phrase would have just made their morale dip even lower and it simply wasn’t a good time now to feel depressed.
“Me?” Coat asked as she turned away from George’s note. She looked light headed as she tried to find the words to string her sentence together. “Finding a key in the previous room. Was a bit like a game of hide and seek really.”
“Well, the room was a mess filled with all sorts of junk. Lots of documents, odd machine parts, books, containers with different colored liquids. Just lots and lots of stuff.” She sighed. “There was a locked door at the other end of the room with a tiny key hole.”
“So you just had to find the key among the mess?”
“Yup.” Coat said as she straightened out her ruffled coat which seemed to have taken quite a beating wherever she was. It now looked stained and wrinkled unlike before where it had a freshly ironed look to it. “Took quite a bit of time too.” She looked around the room for a moment before continuing. “At least you had rooms with nice views all the way.”
“It isn’t very fun finding dead bodies of your fellow comrades you know?” He said in reply as he felt another lump forming at the bottom of his throat.
“Sorry.” Coat realized she had said something rather insensitive. “I didn’t mean it that way.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Carter merely took a deep breath in to clear out his thoughts before speaking again. “Anyways, where are we?”
“Well, it’s like a tea room or something.” Coat said as she turned to look at the room behind her. “They have water dispensers and stuff. No food though, just liquids.”
“Great.” Carter raised both his eyebrows as he examined the room before him.
“Let’s get cracking along anyways. The room isn’t going to solve itself.” Coat turned her back to the accountant as she took slow steps away from him.
But just before she could get any further, Carter had caught her by the shoulder which made her turn behind in surprise. “Thanks for showing up.” He said as his expression turned into one of relieve and sorrow.
Coat just had a confused look on her face from what he had said.
“I was kinda losing my mind back there in those rooms.” He said in a defeatist tone. “I seriously needed to see another human being again to help me calm down.”
“Sure.” Coat nodded as if taken aback by what Carter had done. She gave a wry yet somehow approving smile as if to agree with him. “Well, can’t say I’m not glad to see another fellow human being as well.”
Carter merely nodded as he let go of her and took in another deep breath to straighten his thoughts out once again. Looking now at the room before him, he could tell that it was going to be another rather odd puzzle they would have to set their minds about to solve.
The room was indeed a tea room. It was the size of a small office break room which could have easily fit a few coffee tables along with a sink and some cabinets to boot. Unlike the large mess hall they were in earlier, this room could only host about eight to ten people without making the room feel a bit too congested. And unlike the mess hall, this one had a quainter feel to it with furniture befitting that of a nice cozy little cottage.
The room itself was lined with wallpaper of brown and cream white printed as vertical lines on it. The patterns did indeed repeat in loops over and over again but it was a rather tastefully chosen pattern that emitted a rather sophisticated hue throughout the room. The floors on the other hand was carpeted in a brown rather plain looking rug that was soft and bouncy to the touch as if there was indeed several layers of carpet instead of just one.
The room was lit up with vintage looking oil lamps that lined up in rows on each side of the room. They made sure that the room was dimly lit so as to emit a nice glow of warmth which was not to glaring neither to dark. A round antique marble table sat in the very middle of the room which had on it an empty teapot and several French porcelain cups to go along with it as a set. Next to them were small containers of what seemed like tea bags, sugar and packaged creamer. Wooden chairs were placed around the table as if to implore them to have a sit and enjoy some evening tea.
Tall rows of mahogany brown cupboards took position on one end of the room, neatly lined with various kinds of books, most of which were written in French. A somewhat cozy looking sofa set sat on one side of the room complemented with red and white checkered pillows. Directly across on the opposing side, there were several rows of hip height cupboards which were all neatly put together side by side.
On these cupboards were somewhat old looking antiques such as fine china, matryoshka dolls, more books, a gramophone, several old records that went with the gramophone and so on. An oddly misplaced stainless steel water dispenser sat at the very end of the cupboard which looked to dispense both hot and cold water. There were even hanged antiques that were propped up on the wall with its respective stands and hangers that ranged from Japanese katanas, antique rifle arms and pictures of people that Carter had never seen before in his lifetime.
“Cozy little space.” Carter noted as he pulled out a chair to sit on. “Should we have some tea?”
“I’d really like to have some too.” Coat said as she looked around as she touched the base of the throat. She was feeling quite a bit of a thirst stirring around at the back of her tongue. “Not really sure if it’s safe though. I’m just a bit worried there could be poison in the ingredients.”
“True.” Carter nodded as he opened the container filled with teabags. He took a whiff of what was inside and could instantly recognize it as Chamomile tea. It was an odd skill he noticed that many people in the UK had, not a very important skill to be had but a skill none the less. Removing one bag out of the container, he placed it into the empty tea pot.
“What are you doing?” Coat asked as she looked at the empty porcelain pot being carried in Carter’s hands.
“Brewing some tea.” He replied in a nonchalant tone. “Why?”
“Didn’t I just tell you about the poison?”
“Can’t we just rinse the teapot several times first to make sure any poison is diluted away?” He asked, trying to sound as innocent as possible. It was a strange way of speaking he found that made people soften up to him so that he could at least get things done his way once in a while.
“It’s not that simple.” Coat raised her palm to her head to give it a good rub as if stunned by his stupidity. “We don’t know if the poison will stick on or not. Some poisons linger longer than others and maybe the water is poisoned as well. Who knows?”
“But we’re thirsty right?” Carter replied, still trying to make himself look as innocent as possible. “Can’t we at least just have a bit of a try?”
“Up to you.” Coat frowned her eyebrows in disapproval. She was clearly unhappy about his decision but somewhere inside she just had to give in. “Just make sure to rinse it thoroughly.”
“Okay.” Carter replied rather gleefully as he reached for the water dispenser and flicked the hot switch on. He knew that his little ‘technique’ had worked wonders again. Placing the tea pot right underneath the tap, it quickly filled up to the very top with scalding hot water. The sweet aroma of Chamomile started to fill the air as the tea leaves soaked in the blistering boiling heat. After letting the hot water sit in the pot for a while, he poured out all of it down the grates of the water dispenser and repeated the process several times over.
After the fifth time or so, he stopped the rinsing process and carried the filled tea pot back to the table. The aroma of the tea leaves were much stronger now and was creating somewhat of a rather homely feel around the room. Carter felt as if he was back in the UK enjoying tea with his parents over the weekends. Thinking back on it, those were some really good times.
“Seems like a pretty normal room to me.” Coat said as she pulled out a chair and took a seat across Carter. “I couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary.”
“Want some tea?” Carter asked as he took some cups down to the water dispenser to get them cleaned up as well. “It’s almost ready to be served.” He said as he walked back to the table with a rather cheerful expression plastered all over his face.
“You have the first sip first and tell me if anything’s funky about the drink.” She replied. “At least if anything goes wrong I can do something about it. Wouldn’t want both of us to just drop dead on the spot at the same time now would we?”
“Fair enough.” Carter smiled as he lay the cups down neatly side by side and poured the shimmering copper colored liquid into both. Quickly, without hesitation, he took up the cup nearest to him and drank a mouthful while sitting down on his chair. Gargling it in his mouth, he raised both eyebrows as he swallowed the sweet mellow liquid. “Tastes great to me.” He said as he passed the other cup over to Coat.
The cop just observed him for a while. A minute passed. Two minutes passed. He took another sip. Three minutes passed. After a good five minute wait Coat just nodded in approval as if to signify that the tea was roughly safe to drink. Holding her cup in both hands, she brought it up to her pinkish lips as she tipped the cup ever so slightly to get the liquid to spill in a smooth stream down and into her mouth.
A wonderful sensation of warmth and savory sweetness spread throughout her tongue and then down to her throat as she swallowed it. It was great. Her once hoarse throat was now wet again and the water really did create a moment of absolute joy for her. Her thirst disappeared in an instant.
“It’s good right?” Carter chuckled as he took another big gulp.
“It is.” Coat responded with both eye brows raised in surprise. It was clear on her face that she had never known that tea could taste so good.
Both Carter and Coat now sat across each other, sipping tea while enjoying the warm mood of the room. It was a calm moment both of them didn’t think they could experience with all the puzzles and despair they had witnessed. It was finally a good time to finally sit back and relax for a bit. It was then did Carter’s gaze fall upon Coat.
Carter hadn’t actually taken notice before but Coat was actually a very pretty girl albeit a bit young looking for her age, whatever her age was that is. Her long blonde hair sat rather quaintly on both sides of her head as it was parted right in the middle of her scalp. It looked to be silky smooth to the touch and curled inwards ever so slightly at the very end of her hair line which was situated halfway down her back. It was however on the darker brownish side rather than it being of a whitish hue which was the more common color for blondes.
Her face was on the shorter side with cheekbones that were defined just ever so perfectly that it gave her face a rather youthful look. Her cheeks were slim but not thin, they had just the right amount of cheeky plumpness to them which complimented her slender lips and hazel brown eyes well. It made her look elegant if not rather cute with the demeanor she had on. Noticeably as well, she had long slender fingers accompanied with a rather slender pair of legs. This was made quite evident from way she was holding her cup and the way in which her legs were crossed over one another as she sat. The rest of her physique however was hidden away by her rather thick coat.
“What are you looking at?” Coat broke the silence all of a sudden.
“Nothing.” Carter replied almost instantaneously as he shifted his gaze to the side instead. He wasn’t about to get another lecture from staring at people after the one he got from Mariah.
“Don’t be a pervert.” Coat said as she took another sip of her tea. “It’s rude to stare for so long and it’s also kind of unnerving.”
“Well, I hadn’t actually taken a good look at you before, so I was just observing.” He said in retaliation. “Mariah said about the same thing as you did when I was taking a good look at her.”
“Well, maybe you shouldn’t take such long looks at people then.” Her eyes were closed as she said it. It was clear from her expression that she was merely pulling his leg. “It’s not good to be a pervert you know.”
“I’m not.” Carter replied as he let out a sigh. He had been caught staring again and it embarrassed him to a certain extent. “Geez. Can’t a guy just take a good look at people?”
“Not if you’re the one being looked at.” Coat said as she took another sip of tea and lay down her cup on the table.
“Fair enough.” Carter sighed as he scratched his head in a sign of apology.
*To Be Continued*
Written By HoiHoiSoi
Next Scheduled Update: 19th December 2015
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