|Mercy Simmons ☓ ℳaman ℬrigitte (cemani) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-10-21 23:48:00
|Entry tags:||ares, maman brigitte|
so you came like a missile
Who: Daniel & Mercy.
What: Two explorers unknowingly enter the same room.
Where: Fourth floor.
When: Oct. 12.
It had not taken long for Mercy to steal a key. That was not the hard part.
The hard part was using it. She put the key where she put all her other pilfered items; in her sock drawer. It was the last place anyone (well, anyone but her brother, but Nate wouldn't, she told herself) would look, and it gave her time to gauge just how much she wanted to try one of these strange things out.
Another day, two days actually, after she'd stolen the thing, Mercy stood at her dresser with the drawer pulled open enough that she could set her elbows on either end while she considered what she'd taken. She had not yet seen any descriptions on the network regarding the key or what it did; colors raced across the length of it like an oil slick, the bright colors being what had drawn her toward it in the first place. Turning it over in her hands, it felt lighter than it looked, and as Mercy closed the dresser drawer, she came to a conclusion.
She would try it herself.
Supposedly it worked anywhere, she'd heard. With a hand wrapped around the key's hilt, she turned toward her bathroom door. Her free hand grabbed the knob and pulled it closed (a silly thing, to put a key in the lock of an open door; completely against basic instructions) before she hesitated with the key at the mouth of the lock. Then she eased it in, as careful as a safe cracker, and turned it.
Pushing the door open, she half thought she would find the key a practical joke. She would've been had, her bathroom displayed unchanged before her. Except her bathroom wasn't gold. Her bathroom didn't extend far beyond the simple five by six feet it measured; her bathroom didn't have music playing in it, at least, not when she didn't have her Android hooked up to her bluetooth speaker.
Letting the door swing a little wider, Mercy stepped onto golden tiles suddenly laid in the floor, her eyes roving the sides of giant walls; nope, her tub, sink, and toilet were nowhere to be found. It seemed she was being invited to follow the yellow-brick road, and she decided she was game enough to see where it lead.
After only a handful of steps it became clear someone else was in the room. A man rounded the ninety-degree angle of the walkway before her: tall and lean, with a head full of meticulously mussed black hair. In basketball shorts and a faded tee shirt he decidedly did not belong in this place of gold and light, but he seemed no less comfortable for that fact. He turned glinting eyes to her, looking her up and down with a wariness that belied the smile on his face.
"You're, uh, not from here, are you?" he asked, sounding hopeful. "I think I've seen you around the building before. Like, not in a fucked up room like this. But I'm not sure... and I might be a little drunk right now. So." He took a step closer to her, rubbing a hand at his nape. "I'm Daniel. You live in Pax, or this place?"
A laugh hiccuped its way out of Mercy's lips. "Uh, Pax," she replied, looking him over in much the same manner as he'd regarded her. She turned away for a moment, a step backward having her brush up against one of the golden walls; while it did seem to be made of gold, it wasn't as soft as the metal should have been. With one hand splayed against the surface of the maze, she glanced back at Daniel.
"I haven't seen you either, but I haven't lived there long. I'm Mercy. How long you been in here?" She pointed down at their feet with the hand that had previously been touching the wall, but meant the maze spiraling out around them. "Are you lost?" She teased, her eyes twinkling mischievously.
"Fuck no." Daniel straightened up. He placed his hand on the wall, as she had, vaguely recalling something about left-hand walls and labyrinths. "Just checkin' the place out. I've already been in a few rooms, so I wanted to see what this key would do. This the first one you've been in?"
Mercy nodded, opening her mouth to reply before she heard something; she paused, mouth hanging open until she shut it with a small click, turning in the direction it was coming from.
A faint wisp of a sound carried to them on a breeze that should not have existed. Daniel cocked his head to listen, his eyes narrowing as he tried to puzzle out the nature or origin of that sound. He pointed back toward the angle opposite where he had entered, to a high-walled corridor to Mercy's left. "I think it's comin' from there."
Glancing back at Daniel, she nodded in agreement. Still, they stood there, and Mercy found herself growing impatient. She grabbed Daniel's hand and started them both forward.
"Did you hear that before? I haven't been in here long enough to hear anything except some music... But it kind of sounded like it was coming from everywhere, like speakers..." She glanced around as they paced themselves around a corner, taking it slow lest they suddenly be surprised. "This kinda place doesn't look like it has electricity, let alone speakers."
Daniel shook his head. "It doesn't. And nope, not a sound before… and I'm glad, 'cause I'm not sure I would've heard you otherwise."
One hard turn led into another, and another; Daniel soon gave up any hope of following his intended left-hand method. He simply followed where Mercy led, tugging on her when she started to lead down a pathway he felt might be wrong.
"It's louder here," he said, pointing down the right-hand side of a forked path. "I think. And I don't think it's speakers… it sounds like somebody actually playing." He paused a moment, pointing upward. "Hear that? It's like… I dunno. A jam session. Not a finished, recorded thing."
Mercy paused, listening. Daniel was right; the music sounded live, the instruments slightly out of tune with one another. The music suddenly stopped, and she pictured musicians tuning; then, a handful of moments later, the sound started up again.
"Yeah, right," she agreed, tugging Daniel in that direction. As they walked, she glanced behind herself at him. "So what other rooms you been in, yet? I saw some people talking about it on the network... Half of 'em seemed like jump scares ready to hit the first person who opened the door."
"Some of 'em are," he said. He followed in her footsteps, both of them gaining speed as the sound grew louder. "I'd take a jump scare over the first one I went into, though. Dude went Hannibal on his own arm, and tried to get us, too. Lured us in, though, 'cause it just looked like any other, I dunno, feast. Then there was this other one with sharks. Would've been pretty if it hadn't been for the fuckin'... well. Teeth."
Mercy made a face at the use of fucking teeth, the unwanted image forming in her mind probably worse than what was actually therein.
"And you guys don't know anything about any of this? This just...happened?" It was a stupid but necessary question to ask, her mind nominating the idea that he'd heard it before, and likely would continue to with each new person who entered the building. They stopped at another juncture, this one presenting three options. The music sounded as though it were coming from two potential pathways, but Mercy couldn't decipher which exactly.
Daniel nodded, but he was clearly distracted. He moved in front of her, leaning down first one path, then the other. "I can't…" He shook his head, then moved deeper down the second path, telling himself he had a fifty percent chance of being right. The light grew brighter here, and it seemed they had chosen well. He kept close to Mercy as they walked, liking less and less the prospect of being alone in this strange place.
"This isn't the first time somethin' like this has happened," he said. "We've gotten weird gifts before, and whole floors have changed. There was a swamp on one, one time. And a plain. And a beach, I think. One floor had these altars with food offerings on them... " Daniel shook his head. "It's a weird place. This is probably the most… immersive change, I guess you could say."
Mercy nodded along with Daniel's descriptions as though she knew what he was talking about.
"Sounds...crazy," she finally added, lamely. "So you think there's something... I dunno, a giant monster or something at the end of this? Kind of like that stupid book when we were kids, Grover telling you to not turn the pages because there's a monster... Except there was a metaphor in that, and I'm pretty sure I'm not a monster, despite what my brother would tell you..."
Shaking her head, she let out a small laugh; Daniel did the same, though he understood no more about her than she did about their bizarre building. "Sorry, just, this is insane. But I guess you're kinda used to that, by now, huh?" The music had increased in volume, indicating they were growing closer to its source.
"Not really," Daniel admitted. He took her hand again. The music was so near he found himself wondering, now, if this was a good thing or bad. He looked to her, dark eyes meeting hers, and flashed a half-mad grin. "You just kinda… deal. Y'know?"
They turned one last bend, and the walls gave way to a great courtyard. Musicians dotted the vast landscape, a riot of color and sound. Some were clustered in small groups, trying their best to play something as one. Others were off on their own, satisfied to be making their joyful noise solo. Daniel dropped Mercy's hand and stared out over the assembled folk, trying to make sense of one song over another.
"Well," he said. "This is somethin' else."
Mercy stepped forward so she was one pace ahead of Daniel, looking out over the epicenter of the maze. It was certainly not what she'd expected. She picked out various colors; red, blue, white, yellow. What they had in common, she wasn't entirely sure; the noise they were making was so off-kilter that she couldn't begin to make sense of it.
"Well, is it bad if I say this is a let down?"
Apparently, something found her words offensive; or perhaps their timing was just right. The inane sound that made no sense quieted as a booming voice cracked above them like thunder; where from was uncertain as the source was didn't seem clear, though clouds had begun to form, dotting the otherwise clear blue sky. All sound dropped off, heads tipped upward as the musicians were unanimously silenced.
Daniel's laughter died in his throat. The clouds gathered with unnatural speed; they grew darker, blotting out the sky altogether. "Think they'll loan us one of those robes?" he asked, only half joking. "I feel like we're gonna need an umbrella soon..."
A harsh wind sprang up, battering at them both. Daniel grasped for Mercy's hand and dragged her back toward the maze. The walls were little protection, but they seemed better than being in this terrible open space. Even as the thought crossed his mind, a group of musicians were knocked to the ground by a monstrous gust of wind. Their clothes were lashed by the wind and the needle-sharp rain it carried; fabric coiled like whips around their legs, dragging them down and toward the apex of the storm. For a moment Daniel thought he heard a voice in the storm. Then it was gone just as quickly as it had come, replaced by the train-whistle scream of a tornado.
Mercy shrank against Daniel's larger form, her arms in front of her face to protect it even as it stung. Her eyes went wide as the weather shifted.
"I didn't sign up for any Wizard of Oz shit," she muttered, catching hold of Daniel's sleeve. Her next words were a shout, and yet still barely audible. "Do you remember how we got here? Because it's time to go." Her mind scraped through the options as she tried to recall backward the path that had led them to this hysterical center. All around them, musicians were struggling to find purchase in the storm, looking for some sort of safety away from the wind that was slowly reaching down on them.
Daniel shook his head. He tried to speak, but the wind tore his words away. So he only held her, and staggered into the wind in a desperate attempt to reach the maze before they, too, were carried off. The rounded the first corner, then another; the wind whistled overhead, but the walls were high enough that they provided some small break.
The wind did not die down so much as begin to consolidate in one single, wide space: the courtyard behind them, and the unlucky souls still trapped there. Daniel offered a silent prayer of thanks that the storm drowned out any sounds of their cries, any awareness he and Mercy may have had as to their end. It was simple enough to guess. He only ran, Mercy firmly in tow, praying for the room to spit them out as others had before.
And then everything stopped. As before, either something granted Daniel's wish, or simple serendipity saw fit to end the whole charade; the two tumbled ass over tea kettle into Mercy's bathroom. Daniel was laid sideways into the tub, Mercy lying lengthwise on top of him. It took a moment for her mind to stop spiraling and to realize they were back in her apartment; then she burst out laughing. Once he caught his breath, Daniel joined her.
"Holy crap." She shifted in the tub, doing her best to get off of the man who was next to a stranger without being more indecent than she was already forced to be. Sliding onto the closed toilet, she put a hand to her face. "Do you feel dizzy? That was...intense."
"To say the least," Daniel agreed. He raked a hand through his still sodden hair, then wrapped a hand around the edge of the tub and struggled to rise.
Rising to her feet, she moved well enough away to give Daniel space to climb to his feet, and she focused on opening the door to the rest of her apartment, making sure it was all still where she left it. Despite the walls feeling like they were rocking back and forth, they were. She motioned for Daniel to follow her, making no note of underwear, bras, loose clothing and other items strewn helter skelter about the space.
"Nice place," he said, half teasing. "Looks kinda like mine. Well. Mine has fewer bras around." He flashed a bright grin; she laughed, leading him nonchalantly through the bedroom and into the kitchen. The storm had sobered him up; a new gleam had entered his black eyes, playful and curious. "I gotta say, this isn't the fastest I've gone from meetin' someone to endin' up in their house, but it's definitely up there. Probably the weirdest way, too."
"Yeah, it's definitely in my top three," Mercy replied, coming to her dining table pressed against the wall. A hand landed on the back of a chair. "Haven't had a guy come through the bathroom before. Well, maybe in high school, but different house, different methods." Daniel had to laugh at that. "You want a beer or something?" She glanced back at Daniel, her eyes suddenly raking him from top to bottom. There wasn't anything that she apparently disliked. "You handled yourself really well in there, you know. I think a lot of other people would've been freaking out to the point of catatonia."
Clearly unable to contain himself, he brushed off one damp shoulder, his chin raised with unearned swagger. "Yeah, well." He shrugged, and helped himself to a dining room chair. "I've seen some shit since I moved in here. You will, too. So yeah, crack open some beers and let's introduce ourselves like civilized folks.
"You didn't do so bad yourself, y'know. That could've gotten bad."
Mercy's brows climbed her head, and she nodded as she headed for her fridge. "Oh, I definitely got that. And, I mean, I've never dealt with anything bigger than a thunderstorm here, a handful of earthquakes, but I gather a tornado is nothing to sneeze at." She collected two beers with poptops, and kicked the fridge closed with her foot. Moving back toward the table, she held one out to Daniel. Careless, his fingers brushed hers as he took it.
"What do you think about maybe talking about that kind of thing over, I dunno, dinner? If you're not already busy," she added, her language very much implying if you're not already taken. "I could use some insight." Mercy smiled, a touch of deviousness curling her lips as she shrugged, her open beer in her right hand. "I mean, you've already been in my bedroom, I'm just saying, maybe backtracking and doing some of the work."
Daniel could no more help the flash of his off-kilter grin than he could his earlier showing off. "You got a point there," he said. "But I'm gonna have enough explaining to do about that already. Not sure he'd appreciate me addin' dinner to my current list of sins." Mercy's mouth opened in a little 'ah,' though her eyes did not move away from watching his mouth fit around every word. She took another drink.
He tapped his index finger against the top of his unopened beer. A faint shadow of guilt flickered over his face. His teeth sank into his lower lip, worrying briefly at its swell. He pushed the can aside and rose from his seat. "I should probably get goin', huh."
"Your choice," she said, shrugging. "Not like we did anything, and you can have a beer with a female friend, can't you? Or does he have you on a short leash?" One brow spiked upward, underlining the question.
"No more than the she before him did," Daniel said. He told himself he was not flirting; only correcting her perception of him before it developed into something less like reality. He curled his hand around the can again, and this time, popped it open. He took a long, satisfying pull, and licked his grinning lips as he looked back to her. "I'm happy to share a beer with a neighbor. I'd just hate to get your hopes up an' all." He swept a hand down his soaked shirt—white, of course, its wet cloth revealing more than it concealed—and chuckled, shaking his head. "Don't mind me. I just get chatty after a near-death, otherworldly experience."
"You must be a motormouth, then, since allegedly this sort of thing happens all the time, huh?" That sentence alone made her realize how much she was pushing away the reality of what had just occurred. It felt safer, that way; retreating into bothering someone else, escaping her own problems, just as she had with everything else for the majority of her life. She grinned.
"Guess that means I'll have most of everything out of you before too long then, huh? Dating history, blood type, social security number..."
Daniel laughed. "Hey now, my blood type is personal." He sipped at his beer, his grin briefly disappearing behind the lip of the can. "But enough about me. Tell me about yourself, Mercy? If that's even your real name…"
"Hey, there are few things we get to pick in this life," she started back at him, sinking into her seat more as she jabbed a finger in his direction, her grin undercutting whatever threat the gesture might imply. "Not having a stripper name is usually not one of them." She leaned back, pulling her beer with her. "Besides, there's much more interesting things about me.
"Tell me, how into cemeteries are you?" She canted her head and grinned, this time more like a solicitor selling vacuums. "Because I've got some charities that need donations, if you're down with that sort of thing."