Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 09 - "The Building is Hungry!"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Shades and the Easy Way Out

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror - Published: 2009-10-05 - Updated: 2009-10-06 - 1048 words - Complete

For a time, all Shades knew was freefall. Freefall and darkness.

Bereft of any point of reference, he had no more idea how long he had fallen as he did how far. It could have been half a minute, it could have been half an eternity. His only guess about speed was that he was moving so fast he could hardly keep his breath.

His terrified thoughts were interrupted by a flash of light, enough to blind him for a moment after all that pitch-blackness. Before he could see what he was doing, he landed in something cold and wet with a loud splash, fast muffled underwater. It only took him a couple seconds to hit the bottom, then he kicked off, his only thought of air.

Though glad that he had reflexively held some of his air after he hit, he was still gasping for breath when he surfaced. He hovered there for a moment, blinking away at the bright and the chlorination, before he got a good look at his surroundings. A swimming pool, as he somehow suspected.

The pool itself was fairly large, contained inside a high-ceilinged room of grey brick walls and dark wooden rafters. Small round windows punctuated the walls at regular intervals. Off to one side was a small, shallow pool, and at the other end was a raised area with three hot tubs. The edge of the pool dotted with occasional patio tables and chairs.

A high ceiling, he noted. As if he had just fallen out of thin air.

Shades just drifted there for a long moment, wondering at how he had managed that landing without any injuries. Certain there had to be more at work here than meets the eye. He had no way of knowing for sure exactly how far he had fallen from, but even from a few stories’ height, a ten-foot-deep pool, he noted from the depth marks on the side of pool, should not have been enough to cushion him from slamming against the bottom. From higher than that, the impact itself should have been bone-shattering. All he could come up with was that perhaps the darkness and free-fall were all just some kind of illusion or something.


After another moment, he glided over and climbed out of the water, his clothes dragging at him even more once he was out of the pool. Sopping wet, he pulled off his backpack. A quick look revealed that most of the food was ruined. Muttering to himself about how much this situation sucked, it didn’t take long to weed out what was no longer of use to him.

“Fuckin’ Flaming Ghost…”

Even as he uttered those words, he realized that the had all but forgotten about why he ended up falling that way. The Flaming Ghost. The Book of Fate. He looked around frantically for a moment, seeing no sign of his spectral pursuer. Even so, he decided to beat a retreat for the nearest door.

He froze in his tracks as he opened the door and saw a descending flight of stairs. Very familiar-looking stairs. Which he saw, upon kneeling and staring straight down, led to a white door.

“No…” he hissed, closing the door as quickly, and quietly, as he could. Racing back across the pebbly stone floor, he tried the men’s locker room.

And got some more stairs, leading down to a blue door. He tried the women’s room to find them again. Only this time they led to a green door.

He quickly shut that one as well, backing away with a yelp. A yelp he hoped the Flaming Ghost didn’t hear. Just stood there listening to his heart drum in his ears, looking very pale. He was beginning to grasp the full extent of what he had done when he read from The Book of Fate.

By doing so, he had altered his own.

Was beginning to see what the Flaming Ghost meant by bottomless. Perhaps the easy way out was not as easy as it looked.

After a minute or so, he pulled himself together. Figuring that if the Flaming Ghost was going to come after him, it would have already, and noting (much to his dismay) that his wet, dripping footprints would give him away for a time no matter which way he went, he sat down in one of the chairs. And saw that he had been overlooking the ridiculously obvious.

Towels. Draped on the backs of several of the chairs near the pool. Finding them dry, he used them to dry off his sunglasses, then the rest of him, as much as he could, as quickly as he could, not wanting to catch cold in a place like this.

Commenting, “Apparently, my towel knows where I am…”

On the other side of the pool, he then spotted a series of sliding glass doors, one of them opening onto a large grassy courtyard. Walking around the pool, he approached the opening. Closed his eyes as he stepped through.

And was relieved to find himself standing in the grass. Had half expected to find himself back on the stairs. That part came when he tried the door on the other side of the courtyard.

This one leading down to a yellow door.

The doors would just keep bringing him closer to the Flaming Ghost. He looked around, seeing no other doors. Bastard doesn’t even have to chase after me…

Just when he wasn’t sure he could stand that trapped feeling anymore, Shades happened to spot a fire escape ladder running up the grey brick wall. It took several attempts, but with a running jump he managed to scramble partway up the wall and grab onto the bottom rung of the ladder. With a final effort, he hauled himself up, struggling until his feet reached a decent purchase.

After hanging there for a moment to catch his breath, he started climbing. At the top, he found that the roof was enclosed by walls without fire escapes. The only way he could find to go was an open skylight dropping into another hallway, much like the ones he had already seen.

All I’ve gotta do, he thought dryly, is just keep avoiding doors…
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