Finding an exit is actually pretty easy, turns out Sheryl was right when she analyzed the layout and guessed where a back area might be. Once you two are outside, it’s a quick matter to hail a cab and tell the driver to take you to the nearest graveyard. From the look on his face, he clearly thinks you’re up to some shady shit (and really, is he wrong?) but you’ve got money to pay the fare so he takes you where you want to go.
Quick a drive as it is, there’s still some distance to cover, and by the time you arrive at the graveyard’s iron gates the clock on the cab’s dash reads fifteen until midnight. Grabbing some bills from your pocket, you thrust them into the cabbie’s hands and hop out. Behind, Sheryl begins scooting over to get out on the same side but you carefully shut the door before she has a chance.
“The hell are you doing?” Crap, you forgot the window was half-rolled down, and it’s all the way down now that she’s got a hold of it.
“Look, Sheryl, I’m grateful for the help you’ve given me tonight. I’m not sure where I’d be without having you at my side through this shit. But from here on, I think I need to go alone. Whatever is waiting for me in there is probably going to be dangerous.”
“Seems like all the more reason to have backup,” Sheryl points out.
Slowly, you lean forward and kiss her gently on the forehead. In the course of getting shocked, you regained a few flickers of the life you two shared together. Enough to make this decision an easy one. “I have no idea if you, or any of this, is real. In case it is though, I want you far from danger. Don’t worry about me. One way or another, I’ll be alright. Whether I like it or not.”
You pull the last of your cash from your pocket and slap it into the cab driver’s hands. “Take her wherever she wants to go, just get away from here.”
Sheryl reaches out, grabbing you by the hips and pulling you in close. She kisses you on the lips, quick and fierce, before releasing you from her grip. Surprisingly, Sheryl doesn’t object as the car pulls away from the corner, though she does watch you from the back window until it pulls out of sight. A piece of you aches to see her leave, but that time you spent together feels surreal, unstable in your mind. The further you get from it, the less the memory hurts. It was a long, unexpectedly lovely dream; however, the time has come to wake up.
You march up to the gates, expecting them to be locked. To your surprise, they swing open at your touch. After five steps inside, you hear the loud clang of them slamming back together. You check to see if they’re locked, although it’s largely formality. They are, and you knew they would be, because that’s how these sorts of things play out.
Walking along the cobblestone path between grave markers, you keep your eyes peeled. It would be nice if you had a way to keep track of the time until midnight, but with a busted phone and no watch you’re out of luck. Just in case, you reach into your pocket to see if any of your phone is salvageable, and are shocked to find a cell phone that is both entirely whole and not yours. It is familiar though, and that’s because you’ve seen it plenty of times tonight. Sheryl slipped you her phone, that’s why she grabbed you by the hips. The kiss was a distraction, probably. It’s locked, but the bright glowing letters can still be seen without getting inside. Twelve minutes to go.
Something rustles from behind you. Resisting the urge to spin in place, which is honestly impressive at this point, you turn slowly to discover a few rogue leaves being blown across the ground. Creepy, sure, but compared to eyeballs along a ceiling it doesn’t pack much of a punch. You keep walking along, lampposts on the path lighting your way. It’s peaceful here. Probably the most peaceful place you’ve been since deciding to leave your apartment. Actually… it’s a little worrying how peaceful it is. Shit, did you pick the wrong place? Is this an area Victoria can’t access? Something should have happened by now, right?
And then, as you look at Sheryl’s phone, the clock reaches 11:50. Ten minutes to go, and the peace around you shatters. Snarls fill the air, each sounding like they are coming from behind a gravestone. A pale oak tree begins reaching toward you, long branches warping into gnarled fingers. The shadows are swirling despite the moon’s unmoving position. Shit is going down, in other words, and you’re standing out in the open like a dumbass.
You bolt forward, debating whether this is a good sign or not. Victoria deals in the creepy, so the world turning this spooky feels like it should be familiar, yet something about all this feels off. It’s not Victoria’s brand, this is too chaotic, too wild. But it’s all around you, and midnight is still ten minutes away, so you’re going to have to deal with this. Maybe things will be okay, maybe it’s just trying to scare you off.
The outline of hulking, shadowy figures bring your feet to a sudden halt. You can see them a ways off, lumbering about, knocking over anything they touch. It’s too dark to make out details of their form, and that’s a mercy you’re grateful for. Unfortunately, there sure seems to be a lot of the things. And they’re heading in your direction.
Glancing about, you search for anything that might be useful. Nearby is a mausoleum, which seems like a morbid but effective hiding place. There’s also a small patch of trees, these thankfully unanimated, you could try going high and hoping they don’t spot you. And on the ground you see a hefty branch, one just about right for acting as a club. Maybe it’s time to stop running and start fighting back against these fuckers.