“Hello, and welcome to Escapist! Please fill out these waivers to start,” the receptionist says as he hands us all forms. At the top of the page, there is a short story. It reads:
You are part of an elite anti-terrorist squad and your mission is to save hostages from the terrorists. You break through the doors and advance forward. The terrorists out maneuver you and capture you. You feel a sharp pain on the back of your head, and your vision blurs to darkness. Next thing you know, you wake up, blindfolded and handcuffed.
“Oh damn! This is gonna be fun!” I say with enthusiasm. We finish filling out our safety waivers, and the receptionist leads us into a waiting room.
“Your mission is to escape the room in an hour or less. If you do not complete it, you will be met with a terrible demise.” As the computer begins to give us information, Tim leans over.
“Michael, why did you have to choose this place for your birthday,” Tim says, “it weirds me out. There’s stains on all the couches and the lights were flickering. Plus, they locked the door.”
“You’ll be fine, anyways, Bryce is here,” I say jokingly. “He can save us from anything!”
“Whatever guys, it doesn’t matter,” Jen replies. “Anyways, I think we’re about to start.” At that moment, the door clicks and slams open. A man wearing a mask walks in.
“Get on the floor!” he yells. I immediately get down onto the floor and watch as everyone else does the same. The man walks around us and begins to speak.
“Only one of you will get out alive!” he yells, “Better hope it’s you, I’ve seen some freaky deaths here.” I hear Tim whimper. The man proceeds to pull 6 bandanas out of his pocket. I watch as my friends get blindfolded. Then he walks in front of me.
“Goodluck, birthday boy, you have one hour to escape,” he whispers. Everything then goes black.
I feel someone grab my collar, and drag me across the floor. It wasn’t too long before I was sitting in a room, blindfolded and handcuffed. I hear whispering.
“Cecilia, Jen? You there?” I whisper.
“Yeah, this is freaky,” I hear Jennifer respond.
“When do you think it starts?” Tim says.
“I’d think soo-”. Suddenly, I hear a door slide open, a quick rushing of air, then a loud crack.
“What the hell was that?” Tim screams frantically.
“Remove your blindfolds and begin,” a mysterious voice says. I take my blindfold off and hear a scream. My back is to Grace and everyone freaks out.
“What’s the matter?” I ask. “Where’s Bryce?” Grace pointed behind me. I turn and see Bryce hanging from the ceiling, limp. Everyone is in shock. Cecilia passed out, and I spot something even more terrible. A key is lodged in Bryce’s eye.
“Guys, we have to do something,” I announce. “That timer cannot get to zero.”
“What do you expect us to do, Michael!” Grace yells. “My boyfriend is hanging from the ceiling right now!”
“We just have to stay calm,” Jennifer finally says.
“I-I think we need that key,” Tim whimpers. I notice the length of the chains. Only Grace could reach the key.
“The key.” Grace stands up and walks over to Bryce. I see her reach up to Bryce’s face. I look away but hear the faint squishing noise.
“Oh my god!” Grace shrieks. “Oh crap,” Grace cries as she drops the key. I look over at the floor; the key is there, but so is the eye.
“Michael, why did you make me do this?” Tim yells with tears in his eyes.
“Tim, just stay calm,” Jennifer says with a shaky voice
“I am not touching that,” Grace says, pointing at the key. I reach over the bench and pick up the key. I scrape the edge of the bench until the eye falls off. Cecilia finally wakes up and the eye is right by her.
“Oh Jesus, what is that!” She yells, then looks at Bryce. “Oh my god, is that Bryce’s eye?” No one responds. I take the key try to unlock my handcuffs. It works. I handed it to Cecilia. After that, I could finally take a good look at the room. There are only a few things. A closet in the right corner, a couple of paintings, a desk, some documents taped to the wall, and a circle drawn on the ground.
“I wonder what this is,” Cecilia asks, pointing at the circle. She walked into the circle. A tube slides down from the ceiling, trapping her inside.
“Guys,” she frantically says. “Guys! It’s filling with water!” We all run to the tank.
“Cecilia!” Jen yells.
“There's a keypad!” I point out. As I say that, Tim runs over to the documents. “Tim, what the hell are you doing?”
“A password!” he responds. “There must be a password to make it stop filling with water!” I run over to the wall of documents, searching with Tim for a password. I see a newspaper on a water main break, and the only numbers are the date.
“Jen! Ask Cecilia how many numbers she can enter!” I yell over.
“Eight!” she responds.
“Try 09271967!” I see her type it in, and it flashes red. Water dumps in, and it’s at her neck now. The keypads light went out. Nothing was working.
“Get me out of here!” she yelled. Everyone gets onto the ground and tries to pry the tank up. It didn’t move. The tank finally fills to the top.
“Cecilia!” Grace yells. She begins thrashing around. I see Grace and Tim turn away, but Jennifer and I continue to try and pry it open. I look up and see her inhale, then exhale. Her body begins to move less until there is no movement. She floats for a few minutes, until the tank begins to drain. The tubes slides back into the ceiling, leaving Cecilia on the floor. I see Jen run over and start doing CPR. She does it for 5 minutes, but it didn’t have any effect.
“Jen, she’s gone,” I said. Grace falls into the corner and cries. I look at the timer. It reads 42 minutes.
“Grace, Tim, I can only guess what will happen when that clock hits zero,” I restate. “We gotta power through this.”
“Michael, how do you expect us to ‘power through this,’” Grace firmly states, tears still falling from her eyes. “Two of our childhood best friends are now dead because of your stupid a*s trying to get a cheap deal for an escape room.”
“I just wanted to have some good fun with you guys,” I say, “and I didn’t mean for anyone to die.”
“Well either way, we have to work together,” Jen states. “We won’t make it out of this room if we continue to yell at each other.”
“I’ll help, just not with him,” Grace says, glaring at me.
“Whatever, lets just see if we can find that password for the tank,” I say. Another 8 minutes pass with no progress. Tim hasn’t left his corner, and Grace and I are not any better. Everything is locked and the only thing we have is a blacklight. I pick it up and start looking around at the documents.
“I found something, guys!” I exclaim. It’s a news article about a man who sacrificed himself for a friend. It was circled multiple times, but no password.
“What is it?” I hear Tim ask. I hear walking behind me and see Tim come up beside me. He reads it, and a horrified look grows onto his face.
“Why is that circled, out of everything here?” Tim asks.
“I’m not sure,” I respond. I continue looking at the documents, and nothing else is showing up. I move over to the pictures. Something definitely shows.
“This is it, for sure.” I point out what I saw. On the painting of a waterfall, a set of eight numbers are written out. 71259476.
“This has to be it. Eight numbers written across a waterfall,” I say.
“I’ll go into the tank, I can hold my breath the longest,” Grace say after sulking in the corner. “Tell me the passcode once the tank drops.” She walks over, a skeptical look on her face, until she reaches the red circle. I watch her step in and look up. The tank falls and water begins to fill the tank.
“Okay, let’s make this quick and easy,” I quickly say. “The passcode is 71259476.” I watch her as she types it in. A green light flickers on the pad, and the water stops flowing. I hear a faint hissing noise from behind me. I turn to see the desk drawer popping open. The tank releases from the floor, and everyone is safe again. I look inside the drawer. There’s another key and a piece of paper.
“There’s only two things in there?” Jen questions.
“I guess so,” I answer.
“You should try the key on the exit door,” Grace mutters.
“Sure, why not?” I respond. I walk over to the door, key in hand. I put the key into the knob.
“This probably isn’t gonna work, but it’s worth a tr-tr-”
I hear Michael stop talking. I turn around and see him standing by the door with what looks to be a metal pole through this head. His hand is still on the key, twitching. I look over to Tim and see his face turn pale. Tears start rushing down his face. Jen looks towards me and also starts crying. Blood starts to pool on the floor. The clock reads 32 minutes and silence consumes the room. The clock continues to tick down. 30 minutes. 28 minutes. 25 minutes.
“J-Jen,” Tim says after nearly 10 minutes of silence, “what do w-we do?”
“I don’t know, Tim,” Jen responds.
“We just have to keep trying to get out of this room,” I say in a uplifting tone. The only other thing in the room is the closet door, and the only thing left to unlock it is the key Michael found. I go over to the door knob, and take the key out. Michael’s arms fall to his side. I then move over to the closet door, and unlock it.
“Jen, can you grab the piece of paper that was in the drawer?” I ask. She scoots back into a corner of the room, murmuring gibberish under her breath.
“I’ll get them, Grace.” Tim says. He stands up and goes to the desk. I see him pick up the paper and read it.
“It looks like a riddle of some sort.” Tim hands me the paper. It reads:
I have four legs but I’m not a dog
I can run fast but I’m not a cheetah
I like carrots but I’m not a rabbit
I have a mane but I’m not a lion
I can be ridden but I’m not a motorcycle
The riddle doesn’t seem to be that hard, but what to do with the answer is. I look over at Jen again. Her eyes are wide with fear and she continues to talk to herself.
“This is child’s play,” Tim laughs. “The answer is a horse. A horse has four legs, can run fast, likes carrots, has a mane, and can be ridden.”
“But what do we do with that?” I question. The ‘closet’ is just a small indent into the wall with some small doors. I try opening them, and only one opens. There is a small locked box with a key in it. The lock has 5 different number.
“The lock passcode has to do with horse, right?” I ask. “It’s the only thing we have available.” I look over the riddle more, then back to the lock. Each set of numbers was one through 26.
“Tim, I figured it out!” I exclaim.
“What is it?” he responds.
“Each letter corresponds with a number, being the place of the letter in the alphabet. A would be 1, B would be 2, and so on.”
“Let me do it, you go talk to Jen,” Tim says. He starts counting and turning the dials on the lock. I go sit near Jen.
“Hey, Jen, you okay?” I ask.
“Y-you killed Michael,” she mumbles.
“Grace, I got the key out,” I hear Tim say from behind. He starts trying to unlock other compartments with caution.
“What do you mean I killed Michael?” I respond.
“You killed him,” Jen says. She starts saying it over and over.
“Grace, get away from her,” Tim says with a little bit of fear in his voice. I get up and move away from Jen. She stands up.
“Tim, what was inside the closet after you opened the next little door.” I ask while backing away from Jen.
“A knife and a lighter.” Tim says with more terror showing. Jen moves towards the closet and grabs the knife.
“You killed him!” she yells.
“Jen! What are you doing?” I say back. Jen lunges towards me, knife in hand.
“He was gonna be mine,” she yelled, “but you killed him!” She pushes me over and stabs the knife into my thigh.
“Holy s***! Jen!” I hear Tim yell. My vision starts to blur, until there is only darkness.
“Grace, please wake up!” The room starts coming back into view. I look down at my leg; Tim is trying to stop the bleeding. I look up at him and notice a large gash on his stomach.
“Tim, are you okay?” I mumble.
“I’m fine, but you lost a lot of blood.” I look around. The clock says 9 minutes. Jen has a knife in her throat, and Tim’s hands are bloody.
“Grace, only one of us can make it out of here,” Tim says. “The last clue was what Michael found on the man who sacrificed himself.”
“Tim, you can’t do this,” My eyes begin to tear up.
“I have to, Grace, I can finally prove to myself that I’m brave,” Tim also cries. He helps me over to the door, and hugs me.
“Never forget us.” he says
“I won’t,” I respond. Tim goes over to the closet. All the doors are open and there is a larger one at the bottom. He crawls in, and it closes. The room shakes, and I hear stone grinding on stone.
“Tim!” I yell. There’s no response, only the sound of bones crushing and screaming. The sounds stop, and the door opens. I move as fast as I can out of the room, and see red and blue lights from outside. I move towards the exit, but someone grabs my shoulder. It’s the man in the mask.
“You started your mission trying to save the hostage, yet you somehow became one,” he whispers. I feel a sharp pain on the back of my head, and my vision blurs to darkness.