Why am I doing this? Ray wondered to himself as he stealthily climbed up the stairs. He felt awkward about his lack of resolve and willpower. Was there a need to be the hero of the night?
His body had improved a lot. He found that he could control his body to a greater degree as he glided up the steps. His body was also lighter. The increased agility helped him maneuver silently upstairs at a decent pace. He kept his eyes on the staircase and his next step.
It was easier and harder at the same time, however.
Though it was easy to move around, his steps were somehow heavier. Ray was dreading the moment where he would have to face off against the monster. It was a mental battle against himself, thrusting himself into the unknown at a stranger’s request.
There was room for overwhelming growth here. If Ray triumphed against the wounded monster upstairs, he would probably level up a few more times. He was already level 6. There was no way he would lose the upcoming battle. The odds were always in his favor in a one on one situation.
Plus, he would finally be able to meet his ex-girlfriend again.
Keeping that in mind, Ray was incentivized to move forward.
I’ll save Ms. Xue and then I’ll have my answers. I mean, I’ll fight off the monster and level up. That’s my real goal, Ray firmly convinced himself. He was unwavering in his cause. Yeah. Let’s go with that.
He reached the top of the stairwell.
Ray looked around. His eyes had just adjusted to the dark. He was in another narrow hallway, this time surrounded by five doors. The walls were lightly colored, Ray couldn’t tell in the darkness, and the doors were the same way. It was hard to see in general, though there was some light illuminating just enough for him to barely see. Strangely enough there were no decorations on the walls.
The doors were all open inwards. There were three on the left and two on the right. Ray crept forward a few more steps, keeping his body low and his steps silent.
He stopped when he heard another creaking noise.
Was that the right side? Or the left? Ray’s mind reacted. His breath quickened as he scanned his eyes from door to door. The suspenseful moment hung in the air for a few seconds as Ray tensed up and readied himself for a fight.
Another few creaks sounded. It was coming from the right side.
A pale slender arm gripped the side of the door. Then, a face popped out and scanned right, then left. As it turned to face him, Ray felt a sense a familiarity that he hadn’t for a long time.
Just like the man had said, it was Luoying Xue. Better known as his Laura.
Ray felt his breath catch in his throat. Seeing her took him back in time. This was unbelievable.
How many years has it been? She was still the same beautiful girl that he’d seen that first day in freshman year. He’d had a crush on her for months before mustering the courage to ask her out that one fateful day.
She’d said yes and they hit it off immediately. She was also his first love and the reason he made it through unscathed through high school. Though he had always regretted how they had broken up. Perhaps there was still hope?
“Lau--” Ray stuttered, before shutting his mouth. It wasn’t a wise decision to catch up here. He knew in his mind that the monster was still lurking around.
The face that had seen him lit up in surprise. Her eyebrows raised, eyes wide as she stared back at him for that split second.
Then, she frowned. Her eyebrows furrowed as her face visibly pouted. Ray had seen that look before.Laura was angry. She slowly came into view towards Ray. Her slim body was trembling slightly uncontrollable, as if she were truly angry at Ray.
Slightly confused, Ray moved forward to meet her. Only a few feet were separating them at this point. She couldn’t still be angry about that, could she?
His eyes widened in surprise as the two drew closer. She was injured. Her clothes were ripped and her left arm was dangling. He saw that her face was abnormally pale. She was also limping slightly. It was clear that she had fought with the monster before.
Ray spread his arms open wide, ready to embrace her while putting on a stoic concerned face. He wanted her to know that he was here to help.
As soon as she got closer, he whispered, “Laura, there’s no need to be scar--”.
A light smack sounded as Ray was slapped in the face. He was so surprised he had forgotten to dodge.
So she didn’t forget.
It wasn’t a hard slap but it had awoken the beast within the house. Ray could suddenly feel footsteps coming straight towards his direction. He’d deserved it, but she had alerted the monster to their location.
Ray moved quickly. He took Laura’s right hand and moved her behind him. He prepared himself to meet the monster head on.
There were more thumping noises as the monster closed in on them. It was getting closer, the sounds coming from the left side of the hallway.
Ray tensed up. He prepared his body to leap forward and attack the moment the monster came out. There was a lot at stake here.
His pride, his honor, and his beautiful ex.
Then, he saw a pale arm slowly grip the right door once more. Ray felt a sense of deja vu. His blood froze as his body imitated what his mind realized.
It was Laura, again.