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Floor One Edit

The Building was well lit, almost to the point of blinding me. A woman stood at my side holding my hand. Who is she? Better yet, who am I?...

I pulled away from her gentle grip and began to survey the area. The floor was empty except for the set of stairs leading down, and columns spaced evenly between the outer walls.

The woman's slight touch to my fingers drew me away from the lack of scenery. "Where are we?" she whispered.

I shook my head, shrugging. I looked her in the eye, "What's your name?"

"Sara, I think..."

"Okay, Sara. We're going to head downstairs, okay?" She nodded quickly, like a toddler certain the answer is yes. Wrapping my digits around her's, I guided her to the stairs, taking one step at a time, as they echoed through the Building.

"Ah... Jared! How nice to see you again!" A woman's whine bounced off the walls. "It has been far too long... Tell me, did you enjoy your little nap?"

Jared? Was that my name?... "Show yourself!"

"Ah..." The high-pitched speech was starting to rake my nerves. "Was that all you could come up with on such short notice? Aww... I'm wounded, Jared. It's me, Mae." Her last three words dragged out, as she savored ever syllable.

"What do you want with me?" I took the final step down, to see her posing a few meters from me.

She cocked her head to the side, "Aww... Now you don't remember? Well, I just want to kill you, but, it would seem They want something more with you..." She gestured behind me, "And her, too..."

"Then..." I was feeling cocky, which was odd, as I had subconsciously noticed the gun plastered to her hip... subconsciously, not mentally aware that I had all ready cataloged it in the back of my head, along with the already existing scuff marks, and her prior element of surprise. Smirking, I continued, "We better start dancing..."

Mae's own smirk fell from her face at my audacity. She whistled sharply, and, upon no shock to me, men stepped out from various hidings. My hand was now empty, marking a shift in Sara's demeanor; body turned slightly away from direct opponent, feet set apart at the right angle, hands at the ready, face calmly rigid. I smiled inwardly: This is going to be interesting...

Mae charged at me, a fury in her eyes. At the last moment, I sidestepped, letting her stumble past me into a column. "I. Hate. Dancing," she spat at me.

"Why?" As I spoke, I circled her slowly, allowing me to have a clear appearance of Sara, who was handling herself quite well. "'Cause you can only dance around the point?"

"Why do They keep you alive, Jared? I'm sure it's not for your quick, witless, humorless comedy." Mae brushed dust off her suit. "And why is it They give me my memories, yet you and your girlfriend remain in the dark?"

Memories? She was trying to faze me, prying me to ask a question. So I humored her; "Who are They?"

"They?" she threw her head back and chortled, it blending with groans of fallen adversaries. "Of all things that could have left your lips, you choose that? 'Who are They?'" She turned around to view her men and Sara. "That is the one question we all ask," she spread her arms out, gesturing to the entire occupancy of the floor. "We," she stepped closer, pointing between herself and I, "are just pawns They send out to battle. We do their bidding, whether we know it or not. And... right now that is taking you!"

Mae used her proximity as an advantage, as I got shoved into the wall. I elbowed her in the head. She took it, her arms wrapped around my waist. I clapped her ears. She let go, stepping back, shaking her head. I threw a punch to the gut, and another, and another, then an elbow to the nose. She collapsed, moaning. I bent down next to her and acquired the gun I had seen earlier.

I found Sara across the room moving with quick movements, gliding from one opponent to the next, as if she were made of water. As she incapacitated the last man, I approached her... But it wasn't her... Sara's eyes were glazed over as if not looking at anything in particular. She grabbed my arm, pulled the gun out of my hand, and turned it on me, quicker than I could react. "Sara, what are you doing? Sara?"

She smiled a smile that sends shivers down your spine. "Playing. What else?"

"Well, can we put the gun down?" I began moving toward her, hands out preparing for the chance to retrieve the weapon.

Sara glared at me, "No! You have to wait your turn!" I stepped back, retracting my hands. She shifted her weight...

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

Bang!

With each shot, Mae's body convulsed, blood beginning to flow freely. My ears were ringing, as Sara turned back to me. "Your turn now!"

I slowly reached for the gun again, "Sara... do you remember who I am?" My hands now lay on the gun.

She cocked her head to the side, "Of course, silly! Your're Jared..." She trailed off, her eyes refocusing, her eyelids fluttering.

I caught her as she went limp, taking the pistol from her hand, then dragged her to the wall. "Sara? Can you hear me? Sara?" I checked her pulse... The ever apparent throbbing in my fingers said she was still alive. I smacked her... no response. Again... still, no response.

I sighed, and sat down beside her. Releasing the magazine, I noted that there was only one bullet left. "Damn!" I cradled my head in my hands. What is going on? You must be crazy, Jared. No way this is happening. Then again, I don't know who I am... What I am... Or what she is... I glanced at her, then moved a strand of hair from her face. She looked so peaceful now, almost as if the demented child she had portrayed, was nothing more than my own vivid imaginings.

Then... the lights went out.

I sat in darkness for what seemed like hours. I stayed awake, glaring into the abyss, for fear of more coming, but none came. No sounds were made, except for her rhythmic breathing and my personal thoughts... till the hiss... I began to panic, as I was losing consciousness. Stay awake! Don't give in! Can't...

Light flooded my eyes once more. I raised myself off the ground, wincing as pain shot up my back. Obviously Mae had... Where was Mae? Where was any of the bodies? Sara was still here but the others were gone... just gone... A click sounded... A door? Was that there before? It opened itself, showing the top of the stairs.

I jostled Sara. She still didn't respond. "Damn you, Sara, wake up!" I punched her arm.

Nails digging into my throat. Eyes glazed. "Sarwa," I gasped. "Itss Jarwed!"

"Oh! Jared! I'm sorry!" She pulled her hand away, grasping it in the other, like it was the skeleton key to her mind and heart.

I rubbed my neck, "It's alright. But we got to go; I found a way down." I reached out to her. Slowly she took my hand and allowed me to support her up to her feet.

"So... Let's go..."

"And so we go..." And so, we descended...

Floor Two Edit

And so we descended the stairs to reveal... the same room. Only one thing proved to be changed; black paint on the base of the walls seeping upwards at different rates, nothing reaching higher than my ankles. I carefully stepped into the space, preparing for the next ambush.

"My, my... Back already?"

Mae's voice echoed around the floor. My heart raced... It has to be a recording... Right? But from where we stood, I couldn't see any speakers; but could there be any other explanation...

"Are you afraid, Jared? Do you fear the end I was given? Or death itself?"

I looked over at Sara, her face contorted in confusion. "Sara? Look at me... It isn't real, it can't be, 'kay?" There was no response... She stared off in the distance, almost as if she was empty minded...

"Don't pay attention to her, Jared. She's not even really here." As the words reached my ears, Sara simply... vanished.

"Sara?!" I called, though I knew it was futile. "What do you want from me, Mae?! What is it I have?"

"That's for me to know, and you to figure out!" Her laugh rang in my ears. "Not to know, is to guess. To guess, is to make a mess... Think before you speak..." Again, she laughed.

I took a step forward, and... darkness... I was engulfed. Another step, a weary step... A single light came on, illuminating only me. Another cautious step... The light followed, walls beginning to take shape, ashen walls... The next apprehensive step... And still, the light chased me... A wall was before me, and to my right, but not on my opposite side... So I turned farther into the maze.

As I rounded the corner, a dripping sounded... The steady rhythm of falling liquid... Plup, plip... Plup, plip... Plup, plip...

"Shall I keep time for you, Jared? Tick, tock... Tick, tock... Tick, tock..." The chiming of her verbal clock followed the pattern of the dripping. "My, my, Jared... You seem more quiet than usual. Was it something I said?" Mae laughed hysterically.

"Tick, tock..." Plup, plip...

I continued through the maze, one cautious step after cautious step.

"Tick, tock..." Plup, plip...

Mae's voice and the continuous drip were getting louder, appearing that I was closing in on both...

"Tick, tock..." Plup, plip...

Now the maze split... "Ah... Now you have a choice, Jared... But keep in mind that to guess is to make a mess..." Mae was now singing her words. "To guess is to make a mess... To guess is to make a mess! TO GUESS IS TO MAKE A MESS!"

Plup, plip...

I stood still... perplexed with my choices... It didn't matter which one I took, as long as Sara was at the end... "Please be it," I mumbled as I headed down the corridor on my right.

Plup, plip...

The light began to flicker...

Plup, plip...

Then... Darkness, complete darkness... I was engulfed in an abyss... I waited for the sound of falling liquid... but there was none... Two drops landed on my neck. I wiped them off, smelling it on my fingers. It stank of iron, like... I looked up.

"Oh, hi Jared. I've been waiting for you."

(To be continued...)

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