Publish Novellas 19 December 2021
EPISODE 2 – DARKNESS
With military precision, two men and two females volunteer to venture beyond the door labeled not to enter with unanticipated results.
The sleeping quarters for ten people leads to a small dim bathroom. In there is another unlocked door with a sign that says, “Do not enter.” This leads to a very large dark room with loose tiles on the floor. Along the walls are extra beds with mattresses. Hopefully, an unlocked door is about 200 feet away.
Corporal Andrew, a retired Marine, along with the two strongest women carefully cross the large room. Binna wraps her hands with cloth in preparation for battle. Andrew taps the door handle with the back of his non-dominant hand. It is not hot nor is there an electric shock.
Andrew then looks at the two women and says, “Stand back. The door could be wired to a bomb. Watch for trip wires.”
As the bodybuilder shields her face, Andrew turns the handle and pulls the door open. Binna rushes in with Andrew right behind. Maggie grabs the handle, awaiting a signal for assistance.
“What do you see?” Maggie asks Andrew.
“Another dim bathroom… just like ours. There is a second door. Ten seconds to the next breach.”
Andrew and Binna enter and there is silence. On the other end of the large room, Marcus shouts, “Give me an update!”
“I don’t have one. Quiet! I’m listening,” Maggie cautions.
Soon, Binna returns to tell Maggie that they discovered another dim room with hospital beds, five men, and five women.
“They thought we were the captors. Corporal Andrew is calming them down. I’m going to run back and update Marcus.”
After about 20 minutes, Andrew exits and motions for Maggie to follow him back to their quarters. There, he explains to the other nine what he discovered.
“Here’s the layout of this facility. Two bedrooms with dim bathrooms mirror each other, facing a large dark room in between them. No exit door is apparent in any of the rooms. Based on their estimation of feeding times, the ten people on the other end appear to have come here about the same time as us.”
“What should we do now?” asks Peter.
“I don’t know why they commingled the sexes but my recommendation is to separate the ten women from the ten men bunking together. It does not get us out of here but the other group favored the suggestion,” Andrew says.
“I’m for that,” replies Maggie. The others agree.
“So we are not totally isolated, we can have daily discussions to strategize right after our second daily meal. Although our olfactory senses have become accustomed to the collective dankness from no showers, twenty of us in one room might be overwhelming.
“Tomorrow, after the second meal, the men will send a representative to the female barracks to share our thoughts and hear yours. The next afternoon, one of the women can come here to exchange ideas and provide health updates. We can alternate each day.”
Again, all ten are in agreement. So the five women gather their blankets and bowls before heading beyond the room between. In their place, five men return with blankets and bowls.
The next afternoon, Brian prepares to go on the other end according to plan. There are no relevant updates to disclose, but he will check on their wellbeing. He goes beyond the second bathroom door alone. The walls shake and a brief light flashes through the bottom of the door as it slams behind him.
The nine remaining men share how they got there. After about an hour, Brian still has not returned. When the third daily meal exits the spout, they begin to worry. “Perhaps we should have established a time limit for the visit,” Andrew remarks.
“I’m worried that something bad happened to Brian. Maybe I should go retrieve him,” Andrew suggests.
“Yes, go get him, quickly,” confirms Marcus.
After ten minutes, Andrew returns alone and says, “Brian never made it to the other side.”
“What do you mean never made it? Where is he?” asks Peter.
“I heard the two bathroom doors shut behind him. But based on what the women tell me, he did not get through the large room,” Andrew explains.
“That doesn’t make sense. You just made it to the other side and back. There are no exit doors between the two ends,” says Marcus.
“Perhaps there is a hidden door or opening in the wall. The darkness makes it difficult to see details. Let’s all carefully examine the walls for seams or hidden passageways,” urges Andrew.
A thorough examination does not answer what happened to Brian. So the nine of them go tell the women that there needs to be a time limit on the visits.
“Tomorrow, when you send someone to our side, everyone else count to 1200. That should be about 20 minutes. The person you designate should return by then,” suggests Andrew.
Everyone agrees. On the way back, the men check the bathrooms for hidden compartments. In their bunks, they discuss what may have happened to Brian, but no one really knows.
After lunch the next day, the men anxiously await the female representative. It seems to be taking a long time.
“We are not going to wait until dinner again, are we?” asks Marcus.
“No…” Just then, they hear banging on the bathroom door.
Nine women shout, “It has been twenty minutes. We felt the earth shake. As frightening as it was to trip over tiles to get here, we crossed the dark corridor out of concern. Is Binna here? Have you seen her?”
“Binna, our fearless Taekwondo expert, did not arrive,” Andrew replies.
Women begin screaming and crying. The nine men console the nine remaining women within the dim large room. “As a martial arts expert, she can take care of herself. I am certain she is somewhere safe.”
“We need to adjust our plan. For a week, no one was missing. Within the past two days, we have quietly lost as many captives. What changed?” asks Andrew.
“We went beyond the door with the sign that says not to,” observes Marcus.
“Yes, but all eighteen of us are here now without vanishing,” reasons Andrew.
“We also changed the sleeping quarters,” Marcus continues.
“How could that make a difference?” Andrew asks.
“There are many unanswered questions. Does the disappearance of two in our number suggest harm has come to them? Have they escaped? How did each of us get within this building without external doors? Why don’t we we remember the trip here? Where in the world are we? I could go on,” Rex rants.
“You are correct. We have no answers to those questions. All we can do is adjust and assess. Get ready for my next suggestion,” warns Corporal Andrew.
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