The screaming startles you, it’s so sudden and fierce you can’t fathom what sort of creature would make that kind of noise. And then you realize: the screech is coming from your own throat.
“Hey, whoa, are you okay?” Sheryl is staring at you in concern, but there are no words you can form that will explain this.
What’s going on? What’s happening? You were passing on, moving to a new realm, and then something yanked you back. You can still feel it all there, though. The years of marriage, the fights and love and anger and trust and boredom and adventure, all of it’s still there when you look at her, but so are the recent memories of just hanging outside the office with her for the first time. But no… it was real. You know it was real. You had kids for Christ’s sake! A boy and a girl named… what were their names? Oh sweet God what were your children’s names? It’s slipping, all of it, turning muddy and impossible to grasp. You’re losing it, like the memories you came here chasing, like who knows how much before. Maybe you really are crazy. What evidence do you really have that anything unnatural is taking place? An electrical shock and a busted computer, hardly damning evidence.
With your mind fracturing under the weight of what you’ve just lost, there’s only one choice. You know, without question, that trying to hold onto this will break you. So you take a deep breath, say a silent goodbye, and let it all fall away. After a few seconds, the pain in your head lessens, and the memories become vague, the details too blurry to feel any true loss. Not long after that the screaming halts too. As you come around, you realize that Sheryl has her arms around you, holding you close. It’s familiar in a way you can’t let yourself realize, so you begin to slowly rise to your feet, wiping away the tears you didn’t notice you were shedding.
“Glad to see you’re back with the functioning,” Sheryl said. “But what was all that?”
“I don’t… I’m not… my head hurt. Really badly. Probably a leftover from getting shocked and falling down this evening.”
“Yeah, I’ve read lots of comics where electricity gives people super powers, however super migraines were not a part of that package. We need to get you to a hospital.”
That doesn’t sound like a bad idea. If nothing else, it will be well-lit and full of people, so more monster attacks seem less likely. Or, on the off-chance you really are slowly shedding your marbles, maybe someone there can help you get your head on straight. Fine a plan as it is, however, there’s still the issue of actually getting out of the library. You can’t go back to the party area, either things will happen the same again or it will be different and you’ll know you’re crazy. Neither of those is something you can handle at the moment.
“What if we go around back to find an exit,” you suggest. “A place with this many books is bound to have a shipping area for receiving new items, maybe we can find an open door near there.”
“Worth a shot, I guess. Are you sure you’re up for it?” Sheryl is visibly concerned, which is pretty fair given that she just saw you totally lose your fucking shit for a while, but seeing the expression still makes something in your heart hurt.
“I will be, once we’re out of here.” Both of you probably know that’s a lie, however its one best dealt with once the current crisis has passed.
Racing through the halls, ignoring any noises you hear as best you can, the two of you go deeper into the library. It’s time consuming; this place is pretty massive, even if a half-dozen areas are roped off. Unfortunately, one of those roped off areas apparently contains the route you’re looking for, because after several failed attempts to find freedom you and Sheryl have come up short yet again. Even worse, in these sections of the library far from the revelry, the lights have been kept low. Every time your eyes fall upon shadows you tense up, waiting for them to move. None of them do, though, making that crazy diagnosis seem more and more probable by the second.
“Okay, that’s the last open area path and we’ve come up empty,” Sheryl announces. Bless her, she’s been keeping track of your routes and failed attempts while you’ve been too busy staring at shadows to think properly. “Looks like if we want out, we’re going to have to break some rules and head into one of the sealed off sections.”
“Is that safe?”
“It’s a library, not Hogwarts, they just don’t want kids fucking around and getting lost in here.” Sheryl turns back to the nearest hallway, mumbling something under her breath and ticking numbers off on her fingers. “Based on the way these halls have gone around, I’d say our best bets are heading into Historical Documents, the Occult, or the area where they store old newspapers. Microfiche or whatever. The shitty screens they show in movies.”
“You… you pick.” After what happened last time, you’re not sure you can handle another poor choice. She’s been the one tracking all this route information, she has her shit far more together than you do, it makes more sense for Sheryl to decide where to go next.
Sheryl’s mouth is hanging open, probably in shock. No, wait, that’s not right. It’s not hanging open, it was starting to speak and it froze, along with the rest of her body. Everything around you is still, actually. No hum from the lights or rustle of the old building settling. The world has gone silent and frozen. Dead.
Then you see the shadow as something runs across the light overhead. You glance up, expecting to find nothing, but you’re extremely wrong. Something is on the ceiling. A lot of somethings, with a lot of eyes all staring down at you. Holy shit. Holy shit you have to get out of here. As you begin to run toward Sheryl, the world snaps back into motion. There’s no time to stop and discuss, looks like you’re going to be making the choice after all.