The longer I stayed in the office the more it made my skin crawl. Everyone was busy, but they were on a loop. Whatever had turned that guy into a clown had made these people NPCs. I couldn't be the only player, there had to be more. There was only one way to find out.

  I stood beside the doorway and watched the light play on the stone floor of the hallway. I reached down toward the dagger. It jumped from its perch to my open hand. My plan was to keep it simple. Front door, outside, and then home. I had ridden a bus this morning. Even if they still functioned in some form I doubted that I would be able to get a ride home. The route was easy enough to remember. Turn right out of the parking lot, another right at the light, and then three miles straight out of town.

  I hunched over as I crept out into the hallway. A dagger and leather armor did help with my confidence, but I had no idea what was beyond the patches of light. I kept a slow, steady pace directed toward the front door.

  How long had I been at this school already? It took a couple minutes to walk across the parking lot and quad. Maybe another two or three to get downstairs. I had no idea how long that clown thing chased me. With all that it probably still had only been an hour at most. I did not need another run in with some crazed classmate.

[Skill Unlocked: Sneak]

  I crouched lower and scanned the area. Sneaking usually meant that there was someone out there searching. Something scuttled along the stone at the edge of my vision. My gaming experience told me that nothing good ever scuttled in a dungeon.

  "Don't be a giant spider," I whispered as I continued toward the front door.

  I didn't mind spiders, as long as they kept their distance and weren't bigger than a cricket. Unfortunately, the giant kind were a common baddie in dungeons. Spiders, skeletons, and zombies were standard fodder of the genre. Considering how my luck was going they would probably be poisonous whatever it turned out to be.

  The scuttling sound stopped. I did too. It was replaced with what sounded like a wet towel being dropped on the floor. The plop-squish repeated and turned into a steady beat. Strangely enough, I wasn't comforted by this change.

  I wasn't surrounded by complete darkness. The orbs of light spaced along the ceiling provided some illumination, just not much. Each flickering orb lit up about five feet which left at least double that in varying degrees of dark. I angled my path into the deeper areas of shadow. Whatever was in here needed to find me to attack.

  My eyes tracked movement to my right as the plop-squish beat got closer. A translucent blue slime shaped like a gumdrop wobbled as it landed nearby. A pair of empty white orbs that kind of looked like eyes floated around the top of the blob. A partially dissolved spider the size of a dinner plate hovered in the goop.

 The slime wiggled back. It let out a plop as the edge lifted off the stone. The squish was when it landed. That answered that question, and the giant spider one too. There was only one effective way I knew how to defeat gelatin. Unfortunately, I didn't see a hose anywhere at hand.

  "Nope," I said.

  I bolted toward where the door was supposed to be. A dagger against slime didn't feel like a good idea. The darkness gradually faded with each step. I laughed as a door took form ahead of me.

[Skill Unlocked: Dash]

  I broke into a sprint and launched myself at the door as I got close. My foot connected with the door. The impact rattled my teeth, but I didn't care. The door swung open and I landed on the sidewalk. My moment of ecstasy was ripped away as I looked out onto what had become of the quad.

  The flat area with a flagpole had been transformed into an open stretch of a ballroom. Tall barred windows decorated its length of the hall. It widened where the parking lot had been. I could see the start of three vast doors spaced out along the far wall. My shoulders sank as I looked up toward the sky. The ceiling of the ballroom was painted a brilliant cerulean complete with fluffy clouds.

  A steady plop-squish only helped to fuel my spirally madness.

  "Fine," I yelled as I turned to face the slime. "Come and get me."

  I felt the blank eyes of the slime settle on me. It hopped forward. I charged to meet it.

  My dagger sliced cleanly through the bouncing goop. Pins and needles danced along my skin where flecks of slime landed. I bounced to the side and chopped down. The slime split into two smaller chunks and both continued to hop around. I kept the dagger between me and them as I backed up. Each slime had one eye. A spark of a plan formed in my mind.

  I swiped at the closest slime, separating the chunk with the eye from the rest. The goop wiggled as the majority of its body liquefied on the stone below. I sliced the white orb into two pieces and the rest of it melted away.

  The moment of victory was cut short as everything below my left knee went numb. I looked down to see the other slime happily wobbling on my leg. A shot of pins and needles raced up to my hip. I gritted my teeth and watched the slime grow. Its eye rested against my shin.

  "This is going to suck," I growled.

  I took aim as best as I could and chopped down. The dagger slowed as it got deeper into the slime. Splatters of the goop splashed onto my hand. Keeping hold of the dagger was getting harder by the moment. My vision started to blur. Its blank eye wobbled happily as I tried to pull back for another strike. The dagger fell out of my hand. I tried to make a fist to bash the thing off of my leg.

  "Hold still," a voice ordered from my right.

  I turned to see the vague shape of a person. My tongue was heavy. I couldn't feel my legs and it was taking more energy than I had to simply keep my eyes open. There was something important I needed to do. It would come back to me once I got some sleep.


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About the author


  • The Melting North
  • Action Monkey

Bio: It all started a long time ago in a distant land by the name of Washington. A little boy sat enthralled before a TV screen watching pixels dance. Plumbers defeated dragons, a young adventurer ventured into unknown lands, and ducks were shot from the sky.

After that other stuff happened.

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