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The Days Are Blood

Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3

The Basement

The next room was about the size of a basketball court with a large checkerboard pattern on the floor. Around the room were hundreds of completely random objects just like Vincent had said. Just from taking a glance around, Victor could see basketballs, soccer balls, volley balls, a bible, a stroller, a couch, chairs, a baseball bat, a large wooden cross, a stool, a large sketch book, an empty bottle of Vodka, an old-fashioned television set, an apron, picture frames, nails, thumbtacks, empty pill bottles, a guitar, footballs, and a bookshelf, amongst many other things. A scoreboard hung on the wall, with a timer on it counting down from sixty minutes. “What do you make of this, Victor,” asked Ben. “Honestly, this is incredibly overwhelming, we just need to try thinks until they worked,” said Victor. Khalilah then spoke up, taking some of the pressure off of Victor to come up with the solution on his own. “Okay, so we have to just figure out how to score points. Maybe we’re supposed to just play checkers with the different objects,” suggested Khalilah. Tara picked up a basketball, and bounced it on a black square. Less than thirty seconds after it hit the square two points went up on the scoreboard. “Hey, look at that!” she yelled excitedly. “We just got some points, everyone, grab more balls and try bouncing them!” instructed Victor. So while the clock ticked downward, everyone in the group frantically gathered up basketballs and began trying to bounce them on the black squares. After wasting a whole minute of trying, the scoreboard remained the same; ticking downwards with only two points on it. “Hey, everyone stop a second so we can hear each other. Where was the square that rang up the point?” asked Ben to Tara. Just then as if on cue, fifteen points went up onto the scoreboard. “What, I don’t believe this,” remarked Khalilah, “perhaps we just got points from hitting the black squares but they were delayed at going up.” “No, I don’t think so,” said Ben. “There has to be some sort of pattern. It either had to do with the basketballs, the black squares, that specific black square, or something else.” He went over to the square that set off the points, and stood on it. At the same time, Khalilah picked up a pillow, scoring ten points up on the board. “Did you see that!” she yelled excitedly. So they now had a basketball dropping on a black square, basketballs being bounced by everyone and then stopped, and a pillow to add into figuring out the pattern. “Hey, did you just move that pillow onto a white square off of a black one? I think I got it! The code is to take something from a white square, put it on a black, then take a new, different item, put it down on another black square then move it to a white. That’s how we’re going to rack up the points,” suggested Ben. “But that doesn’t explain how,” and another four points went up in the middle of her sentence, “how we got that fifteen.” “Or maybe what happened was once we stopped trying, the points went up. I think I know what we have to do! We have to all bounce a different object off of every square, then stop all at once,” suggested Jacob. “We only have fifty five minutes to get the rest of the points! I say we just all start experimenting with different items, putting them randomly on squares, taking them randomly off squares, moving them around, trading them, everything, and let the points add up. We don’t have to figure out the pattern.” There’s five of us down here, if we all just keep trying new innovative things we’ll get it.” “That sounds like a great way to get us all killed, Tandberg, we need to try to figure out the pattern,” snapped Ben to Victor. No one but Khalilah noticed that three more points had gone up on the board. “No, no, what he said makes perfect sense,” said Jacob, “That guy, Vincent, said this was going to be impossible for the average person. The average person would most likely to figure out the pattern. What Victor is saying is that the pattern is most likely so complex that we won’t be able to get it. He thinks we should just keep trying random things and let the points add up without understanding how it’s happening.” Ben paused for a moment before speaking. “You know what, you’re one smart kid. And Victor, you’re one smart guy. I want Victor, Jacob, and Tara to spread out and start moving random things. I will try random things myself, but in relation to the pattern we already have. Me and Khalilah should work in this area while you guys roam around,” he said. Khalilah looked dismayed, as if she didn’t actually want to help with the pattern, but she went ahead with Ben anyway. Victor, Tara, and Jacob then proceeded to split up around the room. Within a few minutes, twelve more points total had gone up onto the scoreboard, going up in increments of fours. Victor had to admit he was impressed. Tara was able to put the pain of having a broken arm out of her mind in order to contribute to completing the task. At only eight years of age, Victor could tell she had already been through a lot in her life and possessed a level of mental toughness not known by many others her age. The same was true about Jacob. Being a writer, Victor was good at observing and reaching conclusions about people. He was usually very accurate at reading people. Whenever he met someone knew, in his head he began writing a character based off of them in his head. It wasn’t something that he tried to do, or even did consciously; it was just something he did naturally. It was a writer thing, he supposed. Jacob and Tara were trying different things, experimenting with objects such as a bottle, a chair, a gong, a record player, and a loaf of bred. At the same time, Victor himself was experimenting with the different objects scattered throughout the room, throwing, bouncing, moving, and pulling them around to different squares at completely random. They had just crossed the half hour mark on the timer counting downward with exactly one hundred and twelve points racked up. Unfortunately, they were not even halfway to their goal, and the time was running out. While the three of them worked relentlessly to try random ideas, First Lieutenant Ben and Khalilah worked just as relentlessly to try and solve the pattern. They were running into a lot of trouble with it. For, they were unable to find any one combination of items and moves that consistently put points up. Maybe Victor Tandberg is right, thought First Lieutenant Ben, maybe the pattern is way too complex for us too understand. Khalilah had taken mostly a role of observation, watching First Lieutenant Ben attempt different things, trying to find at least one combination that consistently put points up. During their attempts, many points had gone up onto the scoreboard; the problem was that they were unable to replicate those points with any one specific thing. Starting to get frantic under the stress, Khalilah began having a panic attack. “I just don’t know what to do, I just don’t know,” she said. There was a hint in her vocal tone that she was considering giving up, as if she just didn’t care and was content with accepting their impending doom. “Let’s go! Get back to work. I am not just going to give up and you aren’t either. Get back to work we can still do this. We just need to not give up,” First Lieutenant Ben preached to her. It wasn’t that Khalilah wanted to give up, it was just that not making any progress had her very discouraged. Victor had over heard the conversation from across the room, and came over to give her some uplifting advice. He believed that First Lieutenant Ben meant well, and wasn’t trying to place the blame on her, or be rude to her, it was just that he lacked a good sense of empathy. Victor was very empathetic. He was used to creating characters and placing them in bad situations that created a strong emotional response from the audience, so he was very talented at connecting emotionally with others. “Khalilah, we need your help. We absolutely cannot do this without your help. Please don’t give up, just keep trying,” he told her. “I’m fine, but thanks Victor,” she answered to him. Victor took it upon himself to keep the moral of the group in check. They had gotten up to one hundred and fifty seven points now, with twenty-five minutes remaining. They continued working diligently. The emotions in the room were running wild as the clock ran lower and lower. Only five minutes remained now with only two hundred and fifty points up on the scoreboard, everyone in the room had the same sense of urgency. First Lieutenant Ben’s heart was racing faster at this point than the drivers racing cars during the final lap of the Nascar Daytona Five Hundred, a race that takes place at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Florida. Having fought in the war in Iraq, he had looked death in the face many times and survived all of his encounters with it up until this point. While the stress brought on by trying to dynamically apply his intelligence to the situation at hand was very high, he was able to suppress it enough to think logically. First Lieutenant Ben’s time and experience with the United States Army had given him this ability. Khalilah was still working as well. Despite almost suffering a break down, she was now actually surprisingly calm. She had run out of good ideas a long time ago, though. She had worked exceptionally hard at trying to identify the correlations of everything that scored them points, but had been unable to come up with anything at all. Neither had First Lieutenant Ben. Victor observed her saying prayers to herself. While Victor observed the brother and sister still working hard as the time was running down without showing any signs of slowing down, he made a mental note of one thing. Death was not something they feared. They feared being separated, and what they did not know more than dying. Victor was curious to know what all they had lived through. Victor himself was suppressing strong feelings of dread in order to keep working. The last ten minutes had been spent in total and complete silence with everyone in the basement focused intently on scoring points. With now less than five minutes remaining, the rapid points that had been going up were not going up anymore. All of a sudden, First Lieutenant Ben broke the silence. “We’re not going to make it!” he shouted. He then got down on his knees and began to pray. Seeing the strong man that First Lieutenant Ben was break down brought discouragement to the whole group. “The only thing we can do now is pray,” said Jacob. He too got down and began to pray, his sister doing the same thing. Khalilah began praying out loud, speaking in a foreign language that Victor recognized to be Arabic. She must be of the Islamic faith, Victor thought to himself. Victor was not religious by any means, not even enough to pray during his possible last few minutes on the planet he called earth. He wasn’t really that worried. He believed he had figured out exactly what the solution to the scoreboard and timer was. If he was correct, then they had absolutely nothing to worry about. All of a sudden, three hundred points totaled up on the scoreboard, with only four point two seconds remaining. “Everyone look, we’re fine!” First Lieutenant Ben was the first of the group to look up. Relief swept over the whole group once they realized that somehow they had completed the challenge. Jacob wiped the tears out of his eyes and began to laugh. Tara began to relax as well. That’s when the lights went out. The voice of Vincent came back on over the intercom system. He was laughing wickedly. “Humans, you are about thirty seconds away from walking out of this room. In the next room you will be debriefed on everything that happened in here today. When the door opens, you will proceed into the next room in complete silence. My minions will guide you. You must remain silent and unreactive to them or their will be consequences.” As the door opened, the group’s sense of relief was suddenly gone. In rushed a large group of the men wearing demon masks and all black robes. When he saw them, he became paralyzed with fear. He called us humans, was he trying to imply that nothing else here is human? What if these demon men are not men in costumes, but real demons? Thought Victor to himself. The demon’s looked way more realistic than other demon costumes. The masks these demons were wearing had red faces, horns, and pointed ears. Without a warning, the demons swarmed the group. There were way too many of them to fight off. Victor looked over to find First Lieutenant Ben was being restrained on the floor in handcuffs. A demon kicked him in the ribs ruthlessly while he lay on the floor. The brother and sister were the next to join him on the floor, also restrained in handcuffs. Victor and Khalilah were the next two to find themselves in handcuffs. The demons then lined up. Each individual captive had one individual demon on all of his or her own left arms. Each individual captive also had a single demon on his or her own right arm. They were set up in a line. Extra demons made up the line at the front and also at the back as well. This made Victor feel as if he was an actual prisoner now. His hope of escaping and getting out was low at this point. They were led through the doors and out of the basement towards a set of stairs going up into another room. Too demons in blue masks guarded the door with large spears in hands. The group of captives was forced up the stairs and into the new room. Khalilah tried to ask a question and was struck across the mouth. “You will proceed in silence! That is your last warning!” yelled Vincent over the intercom system. In the next room, the five captives were forced to fill chairs facing a table. Without even knowing for sure, Victor automatically got the intuition that the man standing at the head of the room was Vincent himself. He was correct. Vincent was larger than all of the other demons they had seen so far. He wore a black suite with a red cape, and a white mask. Enormous white angelic wings also came out of his back. “Be seated everyone,” he commanded to them once they hold all filed in. “I see that you have all survived your first challenge, just like as was expected by me. Upon my observation of this group trying to complete the task of scoring three hundred points by the end of an hour, I became impressed with the actions of one individual. That would be the writer, Victor Tandberg. You see, everyone, there was no pattern at all. I watched the whole time and put points up randomly for you whenever I wanted to. No matter would you guys had done in there, I still would have put three hundred points up. Most people we’ve had perform this challenge attack it with the strategy of trying to figure out the pattern, and they ended up working so tirelessly on it that they became emotionally frustrated when they can’t figure it out, the points stop going up, and the timer remains going down and they just give up. But then in the end we pass them anyway. The point of the task was to force you to work as a team. From our experience in all of our years of doing this, we find that in order for people to really, really get to know each other, they need to have one of these two things; time together or experience together. Since we aren’t able to give this group a long enough period of time together, we must instead put it through experiences. That was all the challenge was set to do. We believe that Victor Tandberg was able to figure out that the score was going to reach three hundred regardless of what the group did, and for that we applaud you.” The group of demons in the room applauded Victor. “Now that you have all gotten to experience things together, the next level won’t be as bad. My job was simple to prepare you for what you have in store. Good luck all of you, what lies ahead will surely test you much, much more than the test you have completed in the basement today. May you go on, to take on the rest of Blood Hall.” And with that statement, the lights in the room went off. A number two and an up arrow appeared on the wall. They were in an elevator. It was going up, taking them up to the second level of Blood Hall. Chapter Two: The Second Level Just as abruptly as the lights had gone out, they came back on. They were on the second floor now. Victor and First Lieutenant Ben exchanged glances, sense they were forbidden to speak yet. The elevator doors lowered down into the floor, and the roof was lifted up into the air. They were now on a platform on in the middle of what appeared to be a small stadium. Thousands of the demons were seated in bleachers, taking up every seat in the house. In the first row of the bleachers on the right side was a roped off section. Here sat Vincent and another man wearing a white skull mask. The mask had rotten teeth, and contusions all over its face. The sounds of all of the demons talking in the stands combined to sound like one big blur. Above the bleachers on the left side was a large screen. “Greetings everyone. I am Jesse, the master of the second level. Welcome to the second level of Blood Hall. This is often the level that makes or breaks contestants. If you make it through this, you will leave this level with a taste of the horrors to come in the remainder of the levels. This is the level where many people fail. Will you be the next one to fail?” as he said this, he pointed to Victor, as if to scare him. The demons in the crowed erupted into cheers, cheering for them to fail. “The way this challenge is going to work is simple in theory, really. Each of you will be hooked up to our very own innovative invention we call the Mind Projector. What this device does, is, using magnetic resonance imaging, electromagnetic readings, and other brain scanning technology, is to read events that have been stored into your long term memory, and project what they would have looked like in third person up onto the screen. This kind of technology has been secretly in development at Blood Hall for the past ten years. This group will be the first group we test it on. We have paired each of you up together. First Lieutenant Ben and Victor have been paired with each other, and Khalilah is paired with both Jacob and Tara together. Since you will all be hooked up to the mind projector the whole time, it will be able to read your thoughts. During Victor’s mind projection, First Lieutenant Ben’s subconscious mind will be rating Victor’s actions throughout the projection as either good or bad based off of First Lieutenant Ben’s own views. Victor will get a point for each good or bad thing he does. At the end, if Victor does not have enough good points based off of First Lieutenant Ben’s interpretation of his actions, he will fail the challenge and be sent to his death. The same goes for everyone here. First Lieutenant Ben cannot just say he believes everything Victor is shown doing is all good just to give him good points because it is his subconscious mind rating it based off of his views, so there will be no bias possible.” Just like Jesse had said, a small group of demons wearing the same costumes as those downstairs came down to hook the group up to the machines. S***, I’m f*ed, Victor thought. It was obvious to him that he and First Lieutenant Ben shared completely different views on a lot of issues. I don’t know how I’ll get through this. “Oh and one more thing,” said Jesse, “there is a red button on the side of your chair. Push it if a memory is displayed that you cannot bear to have everyone here see. This will fail you on the spot, ensuing your death, but it will prevent anyone else from seeing your memory. Just keep this in mind.”
Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3


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This book has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Freckles3 said...
Apr. 22, 2013 at 9:37 pm
Okay, look. Here's the thing. I'm going to talk straight up with you, because you really need to hear this. If this sounds harsh, I'm sorry, but I couldn't just not comment and let you continue like this... The thing is... You can not write such a great, compelling story with an incredibly suspenseful plot like this and just leave us hanging like that. That is not okay. i must read more. Phwew. Now that that's off my chest, I can congratulate you on a truly... (more »)
 
Surobhi_Moitrayee said...
Feb. 14, 2012 at 5:32 am
Just loved your idea...and you summary is just so attracting and grabs attention! love your writting...keep it up...i'd be glad if you'd read my book too..
 

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