Harold leads you down a twisting set of passageways with which you are unfamiliar. You think that perhaps it might be possible for you to find your way back, but you wouldn’t bet on it. At one point the passage opens up into a larger room — a junction of several other passageways. Harold stops right outside the entrance and puts a hand on your shoulder. He once again presses a finger to his lips, indicating that you should be quiet, and you nod your head in affirmation.
Once inside the junction, you can see why he wanted you to be quiet. More creatures like the one you saw in the lobby can be seen drifting around in almost every one of the side passages. One of them in particular seems to be thick with the things — so thick, in fact, that you have a hard time counting them. They drift around slowly, crossing over in front or on back of each other from time to time. Their etheral nature makes it even harder to get a definite count.
Much to your surprise, Harold turns and makes a bee-line for that very hallway. He begins ducking, dodging, and basically sneaking past the creatures, who in turn show no awareness of his presence. You’ve got to hand it to the man, you’re a sneaky bastard, of course, but he’s quite good himself — even YOU can’t hear his footfalls.
After casting a panicked glance around (and noticing that Harold shows no signs of coming back for you) you follow Harold’s trail through the writhing mass.
You don’t have an easy time of it, but it’s not particularly hard for you, either. The things are pretty well spaced apart and moving fairly slowly. You do have a small scare when one of them grazes your shirt collar (disintegrating the tip on contact) but you still manage to get by.
You get to the other side and race after Harold, who by this point is a ways down the corridor in front of you, seemingly paying no attention to how far you may be behind him. After a few meters, he stops by a door, turns to face you, and beckons with his hand for you to follow him. He steps aside, you duck through the door, and he shuts it as quickly (and quietly) as he can.
Then he leans against it heavily and lets out a sigh and then grins up at you. “Fun, huh?”
After the last few minutes of silence, his voice seems to hang heavily in the air. “I suppose so,” you respond.
“I was a bit worried for a moment, there, when you didn’t follow. I’m glad you didn’t make any noise, kid — that could have been bad… for both of us. Those things are blind, yeah — but that don’t stop ’em when they know you’re there.”
Suddenly, he stands up. “All right then, let’s go.”
You take a moment to take stock of the room where you’re standing. The room is fairly large — about the size of the recreation room you were taken to when you first arrived. It is filled with upended tables and chairs, as well as a few broken gurneys and beds. It would seem that they use it for storage, or at least that they used to. The red emergency lighting, low on the walls, causes the tables to cast long shadows across the room. There is a small hole in the roof near the center of the room, through which you can see a small bit of the night sky. You hear wind howling above the hole, and a small puddle has collected underneath it — it would seem that it has started raining.
The only other feature in the room is the door directly across from you — clearly marked with a rusty sign above the door-frame. “Ward 32”
The door stands open.
You begin to walk across the floor to it when you hear a cracking noise coming from the hole in the ceiling. You look up, thinking to avoid some falling object, and see liquid blackness begin to pour from the hole. The liquid splatters on the floor, but rather than spreading it starts to collect above the floor, as if it were being poured into a glass container.
You feel Harold push you onward and you hear him scream “RUN! I’ll keep it busy. Make for the ward!”
Your feet follow orders you didn’t even hear your mind give, numb as it is, and you scramble across the room — jumping over tables and chairs in a mad dash to the door. Your timing fails you on the last jump and you end up face-first on the floor right in front of Ward 32. You stand up and take a last look behind you. The thing has now completely formed into an oily mass of tentacled filth. The wound on your leg burns for a moment and your mind reels in panic. You know this creature.
You see it take a swipe at Harold and instead smash a table into splinters. Harold did not completely make it away, though, and the tentacle contacts his knee, as well, knocking him over and dashing his head against the wall.
He’s not moving.
The winner was following harold quietly. A good idea, as it seems.
Further, you guys aced your roll to sneak past the creatures, which (for Vlad’s continuing health) was also a good thing.
9 thoughts on “Ward 32 – Episode 9”
Harold is both the only person who’s shown any interest in helping us, and the only person who has shown any knowledge of WTF is going on.
Helping him seems like a good thing, since we never got a chance to ask him what was going on.
This needs to be a book. like a published book.
Mike Stout – Video game designer AND author
Nooo Harold! Poor guy, he seemed like he had Vlad’s best interests in mind. I vote we help him.
We beat this nasty black stuff once, we can do it again!
A wise man once said. Friends give the enemy someone else to shoot at, so I vote we bring Harold along with us since he has some knowledge of this crap.
I want to know what cold, heartless, bastard voted to leave poor Harold behind!
D: Harold! Our only friend! RedHawk, how could you? 🙁
By clicking the “Flee into the darkness of Ward 32” vote option.
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