Author's note: Hey guys! The paths for this section are really short, since the number of paths I have to write keeps increasing with every choice. Also, if you don't know, I am a student and school starts for me on September 2nd. I'm really trying to get good grades this year for my GPA, and so, unfortunately, I have to put writing aside. In my spare time, I will try to continue writing, but it might take longer for stories to come out. The google form will be attached to the end of the last one. Here is the link: https://forms.gle/52M2TLLAG1BsFFq17. Either way, thank you for being here for me!
Here are the paths from Part One:
G ----------- K
H ----------- If you detour to the second floor, go to paragraph L.
If you keep going, go to paragraph M.
I ----------- If you jump and hope for them to catch you, go to
If you take your neighbor's hand and go back to
your apartment, go to paragraph O.
J ----------- P
K. Thrusting the knife towards him, you aim for his leg, hoping to immobilize him. He dodges it and the blade misses, sinking deep into the hardwood flooring of your apartment’s bedroom. As you frantically tug on the hilt, your neighbor fires off two shots. One goes wide and smashes through the glass pane of your window, while the other finds a place in your calf.
Screaming, you roll over and loosen your grip on the knife. You’ve never been shot before, and the movies don’t do justice to the pain. In agony, you lay on the ground as your neighbor stoops down beside you.
“I quite frankly don’t understand-” he gives the knife a strong jerk and the blade frees itself from the wood, “-why all of you are so difficult to work with.” Gently setting the kitchen knife on the ground next to you, he reaches in the direction of the saw. A million thoughts race through your head at once, but a particular one stands out. What is he talking about? And what is "all of us" supposed to mean?
You glance at his outstretched hand and then at the knife just over a foot away from you. It looks like he's going for the saw, and for a man who suspiciously has thousands of dollars delivered to his doorstep and shot you, you're not exactly sure you want to wait around and see what he plans to do with it.
But on the other hand, he might know a thing or two. The answers to your questions may lie only in him, and besides, if he wanted to shoot you, he wouldn't have pulled the knife out and left it so close to you. He obviously trusts you, but do you trust him? And do you want to find out what happens if you do?
To be continued...
L. Chances are that if you don't know the area very well, neither does he. You pull the door open and bolt to the right on impulse. It leads to a hall in which the only illumination is a dim glow from a lamp at the end of the hallway. The door to this floor opens and closes behind you, and you know he's coming.
There's only one way onward from here, and he could have gone the same way as you, in which case you have no time to lounge around. Taking a big gulp and a deep breath, you shuffle ahead, shivers running along your spine at the creak of the floorboards under your weight. You only make it a few feet further before someone else's footsteps echo through the hall.
Turning slowly, you find yourself face-to-face with your neighbor. You almost trip over your feet as you back up, whipping around and running for the other end of the hall. In your attempt to flee from your perpetrator, you've probably forgotten how unstable this flooring is, and as one of your feet hit the ground a wooden board is ripped from its fastener, leaving jagged edges along the side.
Your leg goes through the gaping hole on the other side and you begin to fall through. The surrounding boards aren't much stronger, and as your waist follows your legs, the hole widens. Just seconds before you completely fall through, one of your flailing hands finds a grip on a loose nail. You hold on tight, fearing for your life.
Your feet dangle above the abyss of darkness, and one of your pink slippers slides off your feet. Your risk looking down at it as it falls, but you don't hear the sound of it hitting the ground.
Gulping, you lift your head and steal a glance at the nail you're hanging from. It cracks through a new fiber of wood every time your body swings. There's nothing else to hold onto, and it’s a long drop from here. Suddenly, your neighbor kneels on a steady plank and reaches out his hand to you.
You blink a few times, then look back at him.
"Come with me," he says, extending his hand further. "There’s a lot you don't know."
The nail cracks through another three layers of wood and you do your best not to look. Instead, you slowly reach for a piece of wood not far from you. You throw it down and listen for the sound. It comes rather quickly, and you begin to wonder whether you just missed the noise the first time. Looking back at him, you don't know what to do.
Taking his hand and letting him pull you out seems like the obvious choice. It really could be, but you never know what he plans to do afterward. He has proven himself as a psychopath, and it's not too far-fetched to think he might have an ulterior motive. But, the thing is, if you let go of the nail you’re holding onto, you might not die. You might not even sprain your ankle. The slipper is pretty light, and if the wood dropped that soon, then it must not be as far down a drop as you think.
To be continued...
M. It's too dangerous to try and navigate through a place you’ve never even seen before. You continue rushing down the stairs until you reach the end. Pushing the door open and running outside, you find yourself in a deserted parking lot. Even your rickety Mazda is gone.
“What kind of sick nightmare is this?” you whisper to yourself.
Just a few feet behind you, the door from the stairwell swings open and out stumbles your panting next-door neighbor. "Stop – don’t," he wheezes between breaths. He bends over and rests his hands on his knees.
"Who are you?" you say, backing away from him.
"No, wait!" he stretches out his hand to you, but a second too late. Bullets rain down on you from above and you scream. You are not cut out for this.
Your brain begs for you to run, but your legs seem to be glued to the ground. All you can do is watch as the bullets fly, pelting the ground around you.
Suddenly three perfectly aimed shots fly from the ground up and the shooting ceases. Your head turns and you see your neighbor, the pistol from earlier in his hands.
"Huh?" is all you manage to say before a body rolls off the roof of the building and drops into the parking lot. It's close enough that you can see the details of his figure.
Scanning the body, a particular tattoo stands out amidst the many along his arm. It's positioned sideways on his wrist and appears to be a double-sided sword sheathed in ice. The image pokes at a discarded memory in the back of your mind, but your neighbor drags you away before you can fully recollect. "What you just saw, you can't just disclose to anyone.”
He leads you back up the stairs, going past your floor and up to the 5th floor. Shoving open the door, you hear voices carrying through the crack of a slightly open door at the end of the hall.
"Where are we going?" you ask, your voice a whisper.
Your neighbor looks back at you and gives you a half-smile. "Draco will tell you everything."
Confused, you furrow your brow. “Who is Draco? " To that, he doesn't answer. The two of you keep going until you reach the open door.
"Go ahead," your neighbor says, motioning towards the open door. You inhale and open the door enough for you to slip in.
In the center of the room is a rectangular table with four men in black jackets and boots sitting around it. As your eyes meet the man at the head of the table, something goes off in your head.
Somehow, you've met this man before, but can't put a finger on when, where, or how. You can’t even remember who he is. Still, when he looks up he smiles warmly at you, creases form beside his eyes.
"It's been too long. John?"
Your neighbor comes into the room and stands next to you. "Yes?" he answers.
"Have a seat."
John walks around the table and takes a seat to the left of the man you recognize. At the head of the table, the man stands. He walks with a limp towards you, cupping your face in his hands. Startled, you stumble back.
The warmth in the man's eyes fades into something nostalgic, but sorrowful. "You don't remember me, do you?”
You remain silent and stare at him blankly. Even if you wanted to answer, you don't exactly know what you would say. He sighs and looks at the ground.
"Then we have a long way to go. I was your father's friend. His best friend, actually. And this – " he motions to the men around the table, "-was your father's choice. The Choosing has gone on for generations, but the decider is usually male. Of course, your father only had one child, and that child happens to be you. So we will accept it either way.”
Blinking a few times, you turn your gaze towards John. “What?”
John only smiles. “Just listen. You’ll understand."
Trusting him for a reason you can't explain, you face the man in front of you. “So who are you?"
He chuckles softly. "My name is Draco. But you probably know me better as Uncle."
To be continued...
N. If you jump, there's still hope. Going back would be a death wish. You already know you can't trust him, even if it looks like he wants to help. So you close your eyes, take a deep breath, and lean forward. Wind rushes past you as you freefall, muffling the sound of the screams below.
The yelling gets louder and you open your eyes just in time to see a man rush out from the bottom floor of your apartment building, arms outstretched. He steps back and forth with his head tilted up, trying to guess where you’ll land.
In another second or two, you feel yourself slam into someone's arms and hit your head on something. Warm liquid begins to flow from the back of your head down your neck, and the world starts to spin. A string of curse words flows from the mouth of the man holding you.
"Oh," is the last thing you say before your eyes snap shut.
To be continued...
O. You'd have to be insane to jump from this height. It even resembles a suicide attempt. You don't want to do this, but there's not much of a choice. Inching your way back to the window, you take his hand. He pulls you over and slides the window open further to let you in.
"Don't make this difficult," he says as you slip back into the room. Immediately, you search the room for a weapon of some sort, but he stands in front of you, cutting off your line of sight.
"You don't know what you're doing, do you?" He's never actually spoken directly to you before, except for when he knocked on the door. Still, you don't answer. He sighs and pulls up the sleeve of his shirt, exposing a tattoo of a flaming sword in front of a ruby on his wrist. Looking closely, you gasp. The number of times you've traced your finger over that same tattoo on your father's wrist is uncountable.
"Do you know my father?" you ask tentatively.
Your neighbor smiles and nods. "I've been trying so hard to track you down, and then you walked right up and moved in next to me." He crosses the room and opens your door. “Follow me, "he says. “There's something you need to see."
To be continued...
P. She smiles sadly and wipes another tear from her cheek. "How did you open the door?"
You pick up the object that you used to break the handle and hold it up. It's an umbrella. "This is it."
She takes the umbrella from you and turns it over in her hands. "Just this?"
Madeline seems lost in thought for a moment, then unscrews the handle from the rod. It's hollow inside and there appears to be something folded and stuffed into the back of the rod. She looks at it and then at you. "I can't reach it." Handing it over to you, she turns her gaze to the ground.
Something about her behavior seems off, but it's probably just nerves. She's never even seen you before, and you're a lot older than her, not to mention bigger. You shake your head to clear the thought and peer into the pole. It looks like you can pull it out, but you try and it's just out of reach. Grunting in frustration, you hand it back to Madeline.
"I can't get it either.”
Her lips bunch up to the side and she points out the door "Maybe there's something we can use where you got the umbrella from."
You shrug and walk towards the door, straining your eyes to see your way using only the dim light from behind you. All of a sudden, something smacks you on the back of the head, and warm liquid flows down your neck, pooling in the pit of your shoulder.
Staggering backward, you collapse. "Madeline," you call out, expecting for her to help you up, but she just scoffs and steps over your now limp body.
"You were too easy,” she whispers, easily finding her way to the door and walking out.
You try to get up and follow her, but as you start to sit up, pain explodes across your head and you fall back into the small puddle of blood that is forming on the tile floor.
A minute later the room spins uncontrollably around you and your eyes shut tight.
To be continued...