There is a pause for a moment, and the world seems to settle. Everything slows to a crawl. Very slowly, as if he were moving against great resistance, Benziah begins to lift his hand towards your chest. For a very long moment, you are rooted to the spot by fear. Inch by inch, you see his hand creep closer to you. More than anything, though, you see his eyes. And more than anything, what looks at you through those eyes keeps you motionless. The world blurs around the edges of your vision. All you can see are those eyes and that hand…. and your imminent destruction.
Before Benziah’s hand can reach your chest, though, something odd happens in his eyes. For a moment, it seems as if he is simply moving his eyes to look at something on the ceiling. Quickly, though, you realize that (in fact) his eyes are rolling up in his head. His eyelids droop and close, and slowly he crumples to the floor in front of you. You see pieces of bone and bits of un-namable red and gray matter flying away from the back of his skull. Lastly, you see a man standing behind Benziah holding a bloody three-foot length of pipe.
It’s Harold. Somehow he’s found you.
You open your mouth to thank him, to ask him what’s going on… to say anything at all, but no words come. Suddenly, the world comes back into focus and time seems to resume it’s normal flow.
Harold nods at you and gestures back along the hallway with his piece of pipe. “Go. I’ll hold him off. He can’t hurt me, yet. There are rules about this kind of thing.” You hesitate for a moment, trying desperately to get the words out of your mouth, but nothing comes. You look down at the back of Benziah’s head, and you notice it slowly being to pull itself back together. Somewhere in your head, some sense that has nothing to do with the physical world hears a distant scream — a tortured yell. By your “gift” of wisdom, you know it to be sound of a soul dying, being consumed.
“GO NOW!” Harold screams at you, jolting you out of your panic. “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!” It’s all you need. With no further prompting, you turn and run as fast as you can.
You don’t look back.
After running for what seems like forever (having taken so many twists and turns that the distinctions between them all have blurred into nothingness) you realize that couldn’t find your way back even if you wanted to. You stop for a moment to pop the last of the painkillers — they don’t do much to clear your head, but they definitely help dull the searing pain that runs through every fiber of your being. When you glance up again, you see some light coming from under a nearby door. The light seems to be natural, as opposed to the fluorescent glow you’ve become familiar with in this place.
You crack open the door and look out. The door opens to what at first glance seems to be large garden terrace surrounded by immensely high bookshelves. Slowly, though, it dawns on you that the library has simply been ruined — many of the walls collapsed totally, though someone has cleared all the rubble away. In the absence of the walls, nature has done what it does best and taken over. The shelves themselves are dusty and look as if they haven’t been touched in ages.
Nearby, beyond the shelves, you can see a moonlit lake extending into the distance. The surface of the lake is mostly still, but beneath it in several places you can’t help the feeling that you can see something moving. On the farther shore stands a vast cyclopean city. Its grey towers reach into the air majestically, and the yellow banners that stream from their tops shine out almost as brightly as the moon.
In wonderment, you stroll out into the garden library — your fear all but forgotten in the beauty of the sight. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the pedestal in the center that you knew would be there without having to see it.
You begin to pull books off the shelves in no particular order and open them to random pages.
“Mary had a little lamb,” one reads, “Its fleece was white as snow. And every where that Mary went. The lamb was sure to go.” Having read that, the only words on the page, you flip around and realize the rest of the pages in the book are blank.
Further books share the same pattern, but read differently. Each one getting nastier than the last:
Mary had a little lamb
It had a touch of colic
She gave it brandy twice a day
Now it’s an alcoholic
Mary had a little lamb
You’ve heard this tale before
But did you know she passed her plate
And had a little more
Three, four, five, six others…
Mary had a little lamb
Her father shot it dead
Now Mary takes the lamb to school
Between two hunks of bread
Giving up on the books on the shelves you walk to the pedestal and remove the book from its glass case. You’re about to take a look when you hear the sound of footsteps ringing through the hallway you just came through.
Someone is coming.
With the hallway blocked as an exit, your only path to get away is across the lake. Scanning it quickly, you see a small boat on the shore nearby and a rickety wooden bridge further along the shore to the east.
Sorry this one came so late in the day. Hopefully it’s length’ll make up for the short delay.
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If you’re getting into this late, here’s an explanation of the concept behind Ward32: