I’m feeling a bit better today, I’m still feeling pretty tired but I haven’t had much cramping. I’m taking it as a good sign. Haven’t gotten my results back yet, so I won’t know until Monday if there’s inflammation. It’s strange because half of me hopes there is because then a course of steroids should bring everything under control, but the other half of me hopes there isn’t because if there is inflammation that means that the disease is active. It’s a strange feeling, not going to lie! Least it’s the weekend! My plan is to sleep, I may do some baking depending on how I feel over the weekend. I’m absurdly looking forward to having a bath, listening to The Magnus Archives podcast (seriously recommend it, I absolutely love it) and getting into my bed with fresh sheets (really, is there anything better than fresh sheets after a bath or shower?)
Lewis crept through the dark house, by now everyone was asleep. All the guards were outside, making sure no one was breaking in, idiots. He still couldn’t believe how easily they’d let him join and they’d bought him right inside too, he had expected someone to be standing watch, someone keeping an eye on him but there was nothing. They’d left him in an unlocked room with complete access to the rest of the house. Well, not complete access, but he had his lock picks with him and that was just as good. He found the door easily enough, and with practised hands he unlocked it, it swung open on silent hinges, he stepped inside and closed the door behind himself. He stood in the darkness for a moment, listening. There were no sounds in the house, no one was moving around, no alarm had been raised. He smiled, then reached out and felt along the wall until he found the light switch. And there they were. Smaller than he expected, rows upon rows of them. The devices were about the size of a smartphone, with a similar shape. At either end they had straps so it could be mounted onto the forearm. He picked one up and carefully strapped it to himself, the screen lit up, grinning he started pressing the screen. It was incredibly easy to use, he pressed a few of the buttons and a second later a shimmering doorway appeared. It was oval in shape, about seven feet tall and at its widest point about three foot across. He took a deep breath, then stepped through.
It felt like walking through a cold shower, his started shivering, his entire body felt as though it was drenched then as quickly as it happened it past. He stood in the middle of a street in daylight. Gone was the house, the rows of devices, replaced by a wide street with tall buildings lining either side of the road. He turned slowly, taking it in. bits of paper blew down the street on a light breeze, there was a smell in the air, sour and dusty. Everything looked dirty, run down. The buildings either side of the street were tall, the glass was dirty and hard to see through. He stepped up to the glass and cupped his hands, he couldn’t see anything inside. He turned from the window and started walking to the left, it was brighter at that end of the street.
At the end of the street Lewis paused, there was no sound of people, no rumble of engines, no animal cries. He peered around the building and saw an open square, rusted cars sat on deflated tires, dead trees twisted up from the ground, surrounded by brown, dead grass. He looked down at the device, it didn’t say where he was. He took a slow breath, it had to be safe here, it was the preset location. He just needed some time to get to grips with it, that was all. Somewhere in the distance there was a low rumble, it didn’t last long. Lewis started moving again, he needed to find somewhere to figure out the device, somewhere that wasn’t so open.
The longer he was in this place the worse it seemed. There were no signs of living people, there weren’t even any bodies. It was like something had just ripped everyone from the world. Twice he came across collapsed buildings, debris and rubble strewn across the streets, glass shards glittering in the sunlight. He didn’t bother picking his way through it, instead he just changed direction. As he walked he tried to figure out the device but so far he couldn’t seem to open another doorway, though he didn’t know why. It didn’t matter how many times he pressed the buttons, nor what order he pressed them in, nothing happened.
It was starting to get dark and the air took on a chill, Lewis chose a building at random, they all looked the same, and pushed the door open, it was heavy and the hinges shrieked as it opened. He coughed as he breathed in the stale air. The lobby was large, though it was dark, the windows and doors too covered in filth to allow much light. He pressed the screen of the device and it lit up, holding his forearm in front of him he walked around the lobby. It looked like it was an office building, a long reception desk was against the far wall, there were a few couches scattered about the lobby and a row of elevator doors that remained closed. There didn’t appear to be any stairwells. He moved back to the couches and sat down, immediately there was a loud crack as the couch collapsed, plumes of dust filled the air and Lewis started coughing again. He got up from the ground and stumbled back towards the door, he was about to push it open when he heard something. It sounded like something large running, great pounding steps that moved far too quickly. He stopped, hand resting on the handle of the door. He moved to the window and carefully rubbed at a spot, he tried to peer out but there was nothing but darkness, night had fallen while he had looked around the lobby. He moved from the window, using the device to light his way. What ever was out there it could wait until the morning. He settled down on one of the cushions, he was sure he had slept in worse places though he was struggling to think of any. Tomorrow he’d get the hang of the device and then he’d get out of this shit hole of a world. Hopefully the next one would have something decent to eat. His stomach grumbled at the thought of food, at least that was something he could deal with. He’d been hungry plenty of times before this. Lewis settled in as best he could and after a few minutes he started to doze, it wasn’t long before he was fully asleep.
The sound of the hinges screeching startled him from his dreams, he jumped from the cushion, spinning around in the darkness trying to figure out if anything had come into the lobby. The only sound he could hear was his own heartbeat and his heavy breathing. He took a slow breath then tapped the screen of the device, light illuminated the room, in the far corner he could see something lurking in the gloom. It turned towards him slowly, it was large and hunched, he saw the light glint off it’s deep black eyes, without warning the creature took three bounding steps towards him. Lewis had time to scream before the creature tackled him, taking him to the ground, a second later the scream died as his throat was ripped out, then the only sounds were the creature tearing at his flesh.
Paul pushed the door open, wincing at the shriek, he held it open as Samantha walked through, giving her plenty of light. It didn’t take her long to spot the messy remains of Lewis, she shook her head, then scanned the room quickly. The device was resting against the reception desk, still attached to his arm, which was no longer attached to the rest of him. She undid the straps and gave the device a quick wipe down, shaking her head as she did so. He’d been an idiot, a liar and a thief, but that didn’t mean he deserved what he got. No one deserved that. The training grounds were only safe during the day, the final test was to survive here for three days alone, after that the device would unlock and allow the user to travel pretty much anywhere. If he hadn’t been so hasty he’d have learned that. Samantha turned and left the lobby, glad to be outside in the slightly fresher air. “Get everything?”
Samantha held up the device. “Good. Let’s get out of here. I hate this place.”
Samantha nodded, not looking at Paul and the gnarled scar across his face, at the mottled space where his left eye used to be. She opened a portal and stepped through, Paul opened his own and followed.