I looked at Lilly my eyes boring into her skull, trying to figure out what reason she could possibly have for going by herself. It was understandable that she wouldn't want to be around other people, but why not me?
Arguing right now would be pointless, embarrassing, and counter-productive. I made a decision to let her go for now and follow her later.
If it only worked that way.
The lights began to flash as the walls and floor began to shift and reconfigure. Our first puzzle was starting. A pedestal rose from one end of the room with a small hole in it. On the complete opposite side a ball was sitting in a red circle.
"Contestants. Your first puzzle involves getting the ball into the hole in the pedestal. You may not touch the ball outside of the circle or you will have to restart the challenge. The amount of squares you move depends on how quickly you complete the challenge. Go."
We all looked at each other for a moment and then leapt up, scrambling for the ball. I got to it first and chucked it at the hole. It missed. Everyone gave the ball a toss and none of us got even close. Throwing wasn't going to work, but if we couldn't touch it outside of the circle... how would we get it a across?
"Contestants the amount of squares you may move has decreased to five."
We had to solve this quickly. The more squares we could move at a time, the faster we could win the game and get out of here. But how could we complete the puzzle? It seemed so simple a task but we just couldn't do it! Charles grabbed the ball and made a pouch with his shirt and began to run for it. As he made it to the pedestal we realized it wouldn't work. The pedestal was barely too high. He tried to take his shirt off but the ball hit his skin and disappeared. It reappeared in the circle.
"Contestants the amount of squares you may move has decreased to four."
A tap on my shoulder made me spin and Lilly was there. She didn't say anything, but she didn't have to. She just pointed at the wall tiles we had pulled out earlier.
"Hey guys help me out here!" I said, running towards the wall tiles and grabbing one. The others caught on fast and ran to grab their own. Lilly stayed in the circle with ball and the rest of us formed a line to the pedestal. If we all lifted the tiles as high as we could, we could make a down sloping line to the hole in the pedestal.
Lilly dropped the ball onto the first tile and sent it rolling. It fell off about halfway through. "Ok let's try again guys!" I encouraged. "Keep your tiles as steady as you can!" Lilly sent the ball rolling again and this time it made it to the pedestal but was moving too fast and it rolled past the hole hitting the floor. I knew what I had to do.
"Archie!" I called. "Switch places with me!" Archie ran to where I was and I sprinted to the head of the line next to Lilly. "Ok people one more time!"
"Contestants the amount of squares you may move has decreased to Three."
I grunted. "Ok Lilly let it go!" The ball rolled across my square and transferred to Victoria's square. As soon as it did I broke formation and ran for the pedestal. Victoria passed the ball on and saw me place my tile behind the hole to act as a buffer. She broke and joined me placing her tile on the right side of the hole. Addaline filled in the left side barely sliding into place as the ball came rolling off of Archie's tile into our cubby and into the hole.
We cheered and danced as the room flashed green and the voice said ""Contestants the amount of squares you may move is three. For the first round you may only go through your own color door. After this room you may choose to go in any direction you wish. Good luck."
Ok. So my plan to follow Lilly was out for now. If I hurried I could clear my own room and make it into her room before she left it. The doors around the room opened up and each had a differently color screen type thing in them. I experimented briefly and tried to go through the green door, but it was as if a... well... door was blocking me. Archie appeared beside me and walked through the "force field" with no trouble at all.The door flew shut behind him.
So this was how they controlled us.
I sighed and shambled over to Lilly, giving her hand a squeeze and her lips a quick kiss before walking over to my own door. Unflinchingly I strode through and listened to the door slam behind me. The floor began to reconfigure and I rubbed my hands together as my next puzzle took shape.
It was time to get to work.