Project time remaining: 71:22:09
I hear the lobby doors close behind me. They seal with a pneumatic hiss. The room, cavernous, metallic, sterile, had been at least dimly lit by the moonlight. It’s pitch black now. Which is fantastic news. I’m in the dark, unarmed (I’d left my backpack, along with any objects that could potentially be used as weapons, sitting on the passenger seat in my car), just maxing and relaxing with the second freshly killed corpse I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime and seriously, being near a corpse is not any more fun the second time around. It really isn’t.
I pull out my smartphone — my hands are shaking, they’re shaking really really bad right now — and start composing a threatening email to Handy, one rife with expletives, to take my mind off things. Things like the dead guy in the room. The phone provides a little light, I’m noticing now, so I start brandishing it, waving it around like the world’s shittiest flashlight.
The beam illuminates Dead Guy, slumped facedown on his keyboard, arms splayed. Orange polo shirt, SECURITY stitched in blue on one sleeve, a shock of white hair poking out from underneath a trucker cap and yup, he is most definitely still dead. His computer monitor is also facedown, perhaps in sympathy for its owner, and there is a ton of blood all over the keyboard, and the desk, and pretty much everywhere, and the freakout I’m currently experiencing is made about six thousand times worse by the pills I’d taken an hour ago. Rather than dialing 911, I go to call Paul, to warn him away from this place.
I make it six digits in when the phone dies. Things go dark again. Full dark.
Realization sets in: I can’t see the lobby doors, can’t remember what direction they’re in. Something is skittering in the walls. I can’t pinpoint where the sound is coming from. I remain unarmed. I swipe my phone’s touchscreen with a shaking finger. Nothing happens. I fumble at the phone again, and this time it slips out of my hands, clatters to the ground.
I panic and lurch straight ahead, running into the desk that makes up Dead Guy’s security station and cracking my knee, hard, into the wood. I stop and just stand there for a minute, in the silence and the dark, my eyes shut, breathing hard, trying to find my chi, my center, whatever.
I count to ten, slowly, and reopen my eyes. I still don’t know where the lobby doors are. And it is still dark. Adjective. The absence of light.
Wait. Not completely. I must have jostled something during my brush with the desk and knocked the computer out of sleep mode. A few tiny bits of light leak from the computer monitor, still facedown. Realizing that I’m disturbing a crime scene, I wheel the guard’s chair left, lift up the monitor and peer at the screen. It, too, is almost completely dark, save for a flashing text cursor and the words input login: in flickering white letters.
For a second, I consider trying to hack into the system — at the very least, I could use this workstation to email Paul and tell him to alert the cops — before realizing that I, unlike Paul, lack the technical wherewithal to hack the coin slot on a Galaga arcade cabinet, much less a security terminal. But I reason that Dead Guy has a badge with his login information on it, maybe.
Grimly, I grab a tuft of his hair — his cap falls off and it, oddly, looks like it has Japanese kanji on it, above the bill — and lift his head off the keyboard. I pull harder until the body flops back into the office chair with all the dead weight of a department store mannequin. Now it looks like he’s just bored, staring at the ceiling, taking a little siesta, maybe. No badge, but the polo shirt’s embroidery tells me that Dead Guy’s name was Stan.
“Sorry, Stan,” I tell him. I mean it. The guy looked like he could be someone’s grandfather, maybe. Stan’s throat looks slashed, I see now.
No. Not slashed. It looks chewed.
Something lands on my arm. I look down. A spider’s eight eyes, red as blood rubies, look dully back at me. I swipe it off my arm, shivering with dread, and stomp the thing five, six times. As I go in for a seventh, just to make sure it’s dead, I hear the skittering in the walls again. It sounds closer now. Louder.
I hear a hiss. The lobby doors whir open.
Moonlight blinds me.