We’ve already left someone behind in this god-forsaken, extradimensional temple and I can’t imagine things are going to be getting any better. I’m just glad it wasn’t me. The hallway out of the button room was so narrow, we could only proceed through it one at a time. I could hear voices at the end of the hallway saying the room up ahead was already lit somehow – something about crystals embedded into the walls? Surprising, but I’ll accept any blessing I can get.
I was one of the last to emerge from the hallway, with only Silas and Carolyn behind. Carolyn had requested to go last and had asked Silas to stay with her until she was ready to leave. Perhaps she was nervous and feels safer with him around? By the time the three of us came out of the hallway, the others were all gathered together with Leo, Jenny, Ursula and Norman standing in the middle of the crowd.
“Look, we’ve already left someone behind,” Leo said. “While I’m grateful for Lola’s sacrifice for us, I don’t want this to be a recurring incident. We need to find whatever it is in this temple that we need to find and get out.”
Ursula motioned around the room. “As you can see, we are in a circular chamber with eight doorways around us. One of them is the way we came in, leaving seven unexplored passages. I would assume that makes this room a central hub. There’s no way to know which way we must go next, but we did observe something about each doorway.”
“There are words written above each door,” said Jenny. “Of course, that’s nothing new. What is new is that these words are written in English.”
“The seven deadly sins,” Mateo whispered.
I spun around to see the doorways they were talking about. Each one looked absolutely identical, a gaping dark maw into some unknowable abyss where something would probably try to kill me. But, yes, as Mateo said, each one was made distinct by an English word carved above each one. Greed. Sloth. Envy. Pride. Gluttony. Wrath. Lust.
“Well,” I said. “I volunteer NOT to go into the one marked Wrath!”
“We don’t know what our plan is yet exactly,” Ursula said. “But if we want to explore as much as possible as quickly as we can, it would make sense to divide up. So we send four people into each room. That sounds reasonable. Does it not?”
“Is it really safe to split up like this?” Calvin asked.
“We don’t have many choices, Calvin,” Finn pointed out.
“Finn’s right, I’d say,” said Norman. “We don’t know where exactly to go next or what we are looking to do in this temple. The only thing we do know is we got to keep moving. We still don’t know what happens when Lola stops pressing that button and we don’t know how long she’ll be able to keep it up for. Time is of the essence.”
And so, with some discussion amongst ourselves, we were divided into seven groups of four. Mark and his little band of guards decided it would be best for everyone if they split themselves up among the team. Our self-appointed leaders said the same thing, also deciding to split themselves up. Agnes and Sefina wanted to stay together, but Jenny forced them to separate to help spread out their “symbology” or something. I didn’t really care who I ended up with, as I was quite sure I was dead in a few hours no matter what happened here. But in the end, I was with Calvin, Rita, and Jenny. I guess this was fine. Jenny would make sure we pressed forward, while Calvin could be the voice of reason when need be. Rita was, I don’t know, fast? She hadn’t really said or done anything so far, but from what I had heard from others, she was a star athlete. If she was a star athlete, then she should be more than capable of joining Mark’s crew from before, but she had stayed out of it. Perhaps she was like me, focusing on how to get out of here over anything else.
“Now, to decide our rooms,” said Jenny. “The fairest thing I can think of, given we know nothing about anything, is to have one person from each group come to the middle, and we will randomly assign who goes where.”
Nobody said anything to protest. Jenny, Norman, Skids, Ursula, Joe, Leo, and Roland all came to the middle. Roland put his gun on the ground. “I unloaded it, I promise,” Roland said. “We’ll just spin it for each of us. See where we go. Should be fair.”
“Jenny, you’ll be first.”
Roland’s gun spun around and around and around before finally, it stopped. I closed my eyes. I couldn’t bear to see which room it was pointing at. Please not Wrath, please not Wrath…
“Jenny, your party will be heading into the Greed room.”
“Greed!” I yelled. I had no fear of a Greed room. If anyone could make it out of this, it ought to be me. And Jenny – she also knew the value of money. This could not be a luckier day for ol’ Preston. “Come on, old chaps. Let’s go!”
For once, it was me who was leading the way into the darkness.
Marie Lambeau (Norman/Finn/Rex)
“Envy, it is then,” Norman said. “Finn, Rex, Marie, let’s go. Finn, take the torch.”
“Aren’t you scared, Norman?” I asked, as I followed the rest of my group into the dark. I didn’t really know any of these people. I had some familiarity with the occult, with what might lie beyond our mundane plane of existence. And weirdly, being in this bizarre temple with its glowing crystals and alien symbols didn’t bother me too much. It felt… oddly normal to me. But these people. They were so headstrong. So determined. I watched from the background. Perhaps at some point I could be like Norman, too. He seemed to know so much. Or maybe he didn’t know anything at all. Maybe he was just prepared to die.
“We’re all going to be fine, Marie. You’ll see in the end.”
Spoken like someone who was prepared to die.
“Careful, everyone,” Finn said, waving his free arm. “This is the Envy chamber.”
“Looks… shockingly plain,” Rex said. He was right. The Envy chamber was completely empty, except for what looked like eight stone pedestals, arranged in a circle. The walls were also completely bare. There were some of those crystals to light up the room, but there were no other doorways out. Perhaps a dead end? It was something to consider.
“Doesn’t it remind you of the room we just came from?” I asked. “Eight pedestals. Just like there were eight doors before?”
“You may be on to something, Marie,” Norman said. “Let’s examine the pedestals further.”
We split up, each of us closely looking at two pedestals, but they all looked the same.
“Nothing,” said a dejected Rex.
“Well, let’s build on Marie’s idea,” Norman said. “Let’s say these pedestals do align with the main room we came from. Let’s say the pedestal aligned directly with the entrance represents the same doorway that lead to the button room. That would be… this one here. Which pedestal would then correspond to the Envy room?”
Rex pointed to the pedestal three to the left of the first one.
“So let’s look closer at this one,” Norman said. He looked closely at the pedestal, but seemed to find nothing interesting. After a few minutes of this, he decided to stand on the pedestal.
That did something.
The pedestal corresponding to the Envy room began to glow a bright red… and the pedestal corresponding to the Lust room, the one directly across… that one also glowed bright red.
“I don’t trust this Norman,” I said. “I would step off of it.”
“Finn! Finn, stand on the one that just started glowing!” Norman started hopping with glee, as if he had just made an incredible scientific discovery. But from what I had learned so far, glowing had generally been a sign of grave danger.
Finn followed Norman and stood on the pedestal. Another pedestal, this one corresponding to the Gluttony room, also started glowing red.
“Marie, get on! We’re making progress. Let’s see what glows next!”
I shook my head, trying to back away from the pedestals.
Norman grunted. “Rex, you! You get on!” Rex obeyed and soon a fourth pedestal glowed.
“Marie, you have to do it,” Finn said. “It seems safe so far.”
“No,” I yelled. “Not a chance! It can’t be safe! If these pedestals correspond to the rooms, as you all think, there’s no way we can know what’s happening to other people in those other rooms!”
“Marie!” Norman yelled. He sounded angry that I wasn’t listening, but I wasn’t going to do something that went so against what I thought was right. “If you don’t get up here, I’ll make you do it myself!” I shrieked and started to run, fearing a physical confrontation. I turned to see Norman glaring at me. He took one foot off the pedestal and placed it on the floor.
He immediately disintegrated into a pile of ash before our eyes.
Finn let out a string of shocked obscenities. Rex crouched down and covered his face with his hands. “No, no, no, no, I can’t, this can’t be happening…” Rex stammered.
“Nobody get off the pedestals!” I yelled. “Finn, Rex, stay there. STAY THERE UNTIL WE FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET YOU OFF.”
A shiver ran through my spine. The pile of ash that was once Norman was so very, very still. I had never seen anything like this before. I sure as hell didn’t want to see anything like it again.
June 2nd: NORMAN, disintegrated in the Envy Room
June 1st: LOLA, abandoned in the button room
WHAT ROOMS ARE PEOPLE IN?
For the purposes of voting and the story, you may be wondering where everyone actually is before you vote. Going clockwise from the Button room, this is where everyone who is still alive is:
Greed: Calvin, Jenny, Preston, Rita
Sloth: Akachi, Mateo, Skids, Silas
Envy: Finn, Marie, Rex
Pride: Carolyn, Sefina, Ursula, Zoey
Gluttony: Agnes, Daisy, Roland, Wendy
Wrath: Leo, Mark, Minh, Pete
Lust: Diana, Jim, Joe, Yorick
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