It's getting late.
"...So," you remark offhandedly, filling the stern silence. "The dream."
"I still need to go get those sleeping bags," Cici points out.
"W..." Hmmmmm. "We should probably go with you."
Kate smirks. "I don't think anyone's gonna kidnap Cici. She's... like, she's Cici."
Vampires. Witch ghosts. Federal agents with federal ... secrets.
"Yeah," you reply, "but I have to explain a lot and I don't want to give the spiel twice."
"And you need to do something about that hand," says Cici to Kate. "We have a first aid kit back at the apartment. ...I was gonna call Deedee for a ride, though. I don't know if she's got room for all three of us."
"Cool kids," Kate says before pausing to take a dramatic drag, "take the bus."
While waiting at the bus stop, you begin to explain the dream.
"So, for me it always starts the same way: I wake up in a flooding jail cell. There's a locked door, and I have to input the numbers 91-60-14-44-79 to open it."
Kate begins to take out her phone and save the numbers, when she suddenly stops. "...Do cell phones--? Shit you wouldn't know if cell phones work in the dungeon."
"I know I can take things with me," you reply. "Anything in my pocket comes with me into the dream, even if I don't sleep in those pants. It's like it... it remembers what clothes I was wearing that day."
"So I might not have to sleep in my jacket," Kate remarks. "That helps."
"I... yeah." Hm. She's definitely right about cell phones, though. "I have no idea if cell phones will work in there, or if they work the same." You shake your head a little. "And some items have... like um, additional functions. My house key unlocked a door in the dungeon, but it only works once per dream. The key just... disappears after that."
"This is sounding a lot like a video game," Cici points out.
You nod. "Yeah, single-use keys are a staple of game design. I don't know if that's the natural state of the dream, or if it's designing its rules around me and the fact that I play a shit ton of video games. ...I don't know if the dream even has a natural state. All of this might be completely moot if the whole dungeon changes to fit all three of us."
Cici gives a small shrug. "Tell us what you know anyway. Even if all of it doesn't carry over, I'll bet some of it works the same."
The bus pulls up.
"Hello," says the bus as the doors open. "Another long night?"
Kate grins, and stomps what remains of her level out on the sidewalk. "We got a mystery to solve. Can you take us to Cici's place?"
Cici doesn't have a pass, but Kate covers her for a one-off trip. You hadn't noticed that the... er... machine, at the front of the bus, has a slot for a credit card.
Along the way, you continue your explanation.
"The dream feels... real, but it's inconsistent. I don't get tired as fast in the dungeon as I do in real life, but I do get tired. If I play video games before bed, I can... sort of defy physics in specific ways."
"That's why we were playing that volleyball game," Cici tells Kate.
You nod. "It's one of the games I haven't tested yet. Magic Mustachio gives me bullshit jumping powers, and Crush Souls gives me... uh... dodge rolls. Maybe other abilities, too, but that was on the first night and I didn't really know what I was doing yet."
You've only done this twice, and you still don't really know what you're doing.
You continue. "There's... monsters. And they will kill and you will feel it. The only ways I've found out of the dream are getting brutally murdered or just... fading away. The second night I think I... ran out of juice? I don't know if there's a hidden timer or if breaking physics costs MP, or... or how the fuck it works."
"But you were fine when you woke up," Cici remarks, "right?"
"Yeah." You nod. "Fading away was actually more uncomfortable than dying. Dying I just woke up like it was no big deal, the fade out left me feeling... I don't know. Gross. Drained. It was like I woke up deflated."
"Go out guns blazing, then," Kate says with a smile. "Got it."
"I want to emphasize," you state, "that dying itself does suck hard and the way I died the first night was fucking terrible. Like... these are fucked up nightmare monsters fabricated and acting on my very specific fears and issues. ...And if the dream adapts, you guys will probably be faced with the same thing. It will be whatever you least want it to be, and it will try to do whatever you least want done to you.
I... don't like things. Going in my face. Or the idea of things messing with my brain. ...So they reached into my brain through my face."
"...Fuck," Kate finally says after a lengthy pause.
"Yeah it's a lot scarier when you lay it out like that," Cici adds.
"It's not even, like, a blatant phobia or anything," you clarify. "They didn't hit me with a big crowd, or... heights, or bees, or anything else I'd tell you I was afraid of if you asked me. I had a bunch of medical incidents when I was a kid and I just... hate, fucking hate tubes or whatever going in my fucking face. The point is, the dream goes deep. It doesn't go for the obvious, surface layer stuff. It digs. It figures out what's going to viscerally freak out your caveman brain. It hits you with things that you don't even realize bother you until they're getting chanted at you by... multi-eyed, meat-spine horror fuckers."
"Now you're just trying to talk us out of it," Cici laughs a bit dryly.
"I want you to know." You look from Cici to Kate and back. "I don't have a choice. You both do. It's fucked up and it's probably fucking me up and I've barely started, I can't even speculate what the rest of the dungeon's like or... or how far it goes. I'd feel like absolute garbage if I shoved you into all that and didn't make sure you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this... this is, it's--"
"It's gonna be a total mindfuck," Kate concludes. "Yeah. I'm still in."
"Me too!" declares Cici. "If it's that bad then you shouldn't have to do it by yourself."
"...Thank you," you finally reply.
You arrive at MondolHomes.
You, Kate, and Cici are all silent as you approach the building and head through the lobby. You take the still unnervingly silent elevator up to the third floor. You're pretty sure it's illegal for an elevator to make zero noise for disability reasons, but--
The elevator reaches its destination.
The three of you walk down the hall to Cici's apartment.
There's a palpable pressure to say absolutely nothing of what you've discovered about the house tonight in the range of Mondol's... well, Mondol's anything.
"Hey Bebe!," greets Cici as she walks through the door.
"Heeey Cici," replies Bebe with a wide smile. "Plaire. ...Kate."
Kate just smirks, and gives a small upward nod.
"I forgot my sleeping bag," Cici says as she hurriedly moves toward her room.
"I told you!," Bebe laughs as Cici passes her. "Girl, you get all worked up about pizza and you forget something. Every. Dang. Time."
Cici disappears through an open door.
"They still haven't fixed the wall?," Kate asks, pointing to the damage from yesterday.
"Heeell no," replies Bebe. "Lazy asses. Marlow would've already fixed it."
"He was fired, right?," asks Kate.
Bebe shakes her head. "They pretty much forced him to quit! One week they were working him half to death, the next week he'd be scheduled for like two hours. They kept puttin' him in more and more dangerous situations, and THEN they started screwing with his wife's hours. Just to get at HIM! She's on the cleaning staff, like, what? For real, I hate MondolGroup but we get these apartments cheap, since we're baaasically cops. That and nobody else wants to rent a place to a couple o' bigger girls. Kate, what the hell did you do to your hand?"
Kate lifts her hand, revealing the wound from earlier. She shrugs before replying wryly, "I'm getting pretty good at knife throwing but I still suck at knife catching."
Bebe sighs. "Kate, ya big dumbass. Come on, we got stuff in the bathroom."
Bebe ostensibly drags Kate to the bathroom to treat her hand, leaving you alone with the TV.
"Wudju mow a lawn for twenty bucks?
Wudju paint a house for fifty?
Wudju get all your minor tasks--from grocery shopping to work around the home--done from the comfort of your phone?
Get Wudju, the app that connects you with the help you need!"
...And then the TV returns to a news program, where two pundits are discussing international antifascist and pro-mutant figure, Fuse Hendricks.
Pundit A describes him as a revolutionary, a liberator working with several organizations to shake up corrupt governments and modernize the way mutants (and the lower class in general) are being treated worldwide.
Pundit B describes him as a terrorist and a hacker who has facilitated numerous large scale prison breaks, untold property damage, and has "racked up a body count of hard working PMCs and at least three key political figures that we know of." He's also bombed eight different places across the globe, though nobody mentions what those places were, exactly.
Both pundits seem hesitant to speculate on why Fuse has recently been spotted back in the States, or what that could imply. Even Pundit A, who's mostly supportive of Fuse's goals sounds... mildly afraid of having him in THIS country.
... You used to own a t-shirt with Fuse's face on it, but you're pretty sure your mom threw it out. It was more of an edgy post-irony thing, anyway; most of what you know about Fuse is that he
a.) pisses off and terrifies old people and
b.) has a genetic mutation that lets him light a motherfucker on fire
which are big goals and a big mood, respectively.
You sort of wonder if the mayor has an opinion on Fuse. Her... accent... is probably from around one of those countries, maybe. ...Like, from centuries ago, but still
Bebe, Kate, and Cici all return about the same time.
Kate's hand is bandaged up.
Cici's in a different shirt and hauling two sleeping bags.
"Anything else we need before we do this?," Cici asks.
"Anything else we wanna bring?," you ask aloud. "Pens, paper...?"
You check your pockets, and realize you still have the brochure that the mayor's secretary gave you.
"I still have that pen you used earlier," Kate says, pulling a pen from her pants pocket and handing it to you.
"I think I got some notepads," Bebe states. "Gimme a sec y'all."
Bebe heads off to go grab a notepad.
"Wait--" Cici's face scrunches up as she mulls something over. "...If you write something down on paper in... you know, is it still gonna be there later?"
You shake your head. "I... I don't know if it would or not, now that I think about it."
Nothing that's happened in the dream's really carried over to the waking world yet.
If your house key is still there tonight, that means nothing that happens in the dream even holds up in future dreams. Anything you write down might just... disappear, when you wake up or on subsequent nights.
"Found it!," declares a returning and triumphant Bebe. She hands you a notepad.
"Thanks," you tell her with a nod.
You might be able to use it for experiments, at least, or for any short term note taking you might need to do.
Was there anything else...?
"I'm pretty well stocked up," says Kate.
"Yeah, that's all I can think of," adds Cici.
Guess that's it, then.
You, Cici, and Kate silently head back down to the ground floor, then out to the street to wait for the bus. It doesn't take long for the bus to return to the stop. Cici pays for her own ride back.
You try to remember anything else you might have missed.
"There's... weapons," you comment. "I've found torches, a knife but it's more of a broken katana... one corpse had a mace, but it was full of bugs. The corpse, I mean."
"And that's all from your head, right?," Cici asks.
You nod. "Pathetic, needly worms, refusing to let things go, trying to get under my skin just for the sake of it. Wanting to control me. Yeah. It's... yeah. The more I see of the dungeon and the more I think about it, the more I think it's all just... me. It's constructed straight from my brain."
"Have..." Cici grimaces. "Have you, uh, considered...?"
"A psychiatrist?," you blurt out. "Yes."
"Therapy's expensive," Kate states. "And you can't find one worth a shit in this rinky dink town."
You point at Kate, and nod emphatically to Cici. "That. What she said."
"Damn," replies Cici. "That sucks. I'm sayin' this because I care but it sounds like you need help."
Kate, who's been unusually quiet for the ride, takes a deep breath and stands up a little straighter. "If this thing's as thorough as it sounds... I think by tomorrow we're all gonna know how fucked up we are."
Cici blinks, turning to look at Kate. "You getting cold feet?"
Kate shakes her head, but there is a slight pause. "Psyching myself up. It's uh, not often you have to prep to face your inner demons. ...Wondering how much I'm gonna have to explain."
"Ohhh that's a good point," says Cici. "You guys'll see whatever my worst fears and stuff are."
"We may have to fight whatever your worst fears are," you add.
"Or our darkest secrets," Kate points out. "Or our freakiest desires," she concludes with wiggling, menacing fingertips.
"Again, I don't know for sure if it works that way." You stare at the floor, trying to get a grip on all the variables. "I don't know if the dream will change, or if you'll just be stuck in mine. I don't know if we'll be in separate dreams--you might just be facing your own demons by yourself. I... I'm honestly not even sure if me reviving is one of the core mechanics, or if I stole that from the video games I've been playing. You always respawn in Crush Souls, and Magic Mustachio has an extra lives counter."
Well, not Magic Mustachio Extreme Beach Volleyball. Nobody dies in that, they just play volleyball... so there's no extra lives or a respawn feature or anything.
Your eyes widen behind your glasses.
"We could all die tonight."
"Please don't," requests the bus.
"You are way overthinking this," Cici suggests. "Work with what we know! You don't need to twist yourself into a pretzel speculating. We'll just take it as it comes."
"I mean--" Kate chuckles dryly, "It in this case might be hiding a body, so I kinda get why Plaire's sweating it now. There's no game where you bring other people back to life, is there?"
"Not really," you reply simply. There's plenty of RPGs with resurrection spells and items that revive fallen teammates, but that's not a core mechanic, and that's what you seem to be drawing from video games thus far. Just... mostly the movement options of the protagonist, not any special powers or spells or gear (otherwise, Crush Souls would have made you OP as hell).
There's probably a few games where you play a necromancer or something, but no games off the top of your head are otherwise about reviving the dead in a neat, convenient way.
If somebody legit dies you have no hope of bullshitting it away with dream mastery.
"Also," Kate begins, looking directly at Cici "what the fuck is going on here? You've been The Worried One all night, now you're telling us to just... fuck it, we might die? Don't think about it? Where was this Cici earlier?"
Cici gives a long sigh. "Look. I'm already committed, and Plaire's made it clear she's not backing out either. We might NEED to do this but we don't need to do it like we're about to get executed. We either die or we don't. We can't..." She pauses. She crosses her enormous arms, her single eye locked upon the floor of the bus. "...We can't act like we know it's the end. If it is, then we can't do much about it and if it's not, then we'll regret living like it was."
"...Fuck," Kate finally remarks. "That was kinda deep, Cici."
"I mostly stole it from some shit my sister said," Cici replies, "and I~ butchered it."
"Oh, dude!," Kate scoffs, "That would be too intense coming from Deedee."
"Chills!," Cici laughs. "After she gave me that speech I thought I could punch God. Wait, if I'm The Worried One, which one are you?"
"I was The Fun One," Kate mutters. "I think I'm gonna need to switch gears and be The Total Wreck. Maybe The Furious Dumbass."
"Wh..." You hate to ask, and yet "Which one am I?"
"The Nerd," Kate replies with zero hesitation.
Cici visibly struggles not to laugh, quickly covering her mouth with her hand.
You squint at Cici, specifically. "You were enjoying that volleyball game."
"I was," Cici squeaks out, adding a second hand to her mouth. "it's a fun game and I kind of want to play more"
"Cici," Kate says firmly, very visibly rolling her eyes, "your role has been officially changed to The Nerd. Plaire, you're being downgraded to The Smaller Nerd. ...I'd nominate myself The Cool One in light of recent events, but, I think we know it's implied."
"Y'know," Cici says, finally revealing her smile, "paranormal nerds are nerds too, Woman Who Owns A Ouija Board."
"It's my mom's?," Kate huffs in a very teenagery tone. Seeming to have caught herself in the moment, she proceeds to steamroll further into an even more valleygirl-esque accent. "Duh, it's like, literally from the 70s." And just as quickly, the accent disappears. "Shit, I'm being The Mean One, aren't I? I hope there's no like... karmic retribution or whatever in there or the dream's gonna kick my ass."
And then, suddenly,
the bus chimes in.
"The house would have a higher body count if the resurrection isn't a core element," the bus points out. "One of the previous residents' dreams about saw mills, for example, wouldn't logically bestow any sort of contextual immortality. Which one am I?"
"The... Bus?," replies Cici. "Also, saw mill?"
"The Bus With The Uncomfortably Hot Voice," Kate adds.
You can't help but smile and shake your head. "I don't think that's a normal narrative archetype."
"Two questions," says Kate. "One: I thought you weren't recording that conversation, and two: that's a good point but why did it take so long?"
"1.) I didn't record that conversation," the bus replies, "and 2.) Because I didn't record that conversation. It took me a little while to analyze the surrounding response data--how I reacted and what I was processing in the moment--and to piece it back together in a state I could contextualize. I can't, in a sense, 'remember' the conversation--but I can 'remember' things about it, and I worked backwards from there."
"Are you recording us now?," Cici asks.
"Poorly," says the bus. "The maintenance specialist reinforced all the audio equipment this morning, but in a way that heavily muffles the recording microphones. Chariot MT will need to update their diagnostic systems soon, as I didn't even notice the issue until it was... much too late."
"...Uncomfortably hot," concludes Kate. "You're a bus, it's not fair. Cruel, even."
"Somebody needs to explain the saw mill dream to me," insists Cici.
While Kate does so, you deliberate on what the bus said.
She... may be right.
You really can't think of any video games about saw mills, or resurrection metaphors in... the lumber industry, or--
hmm the fact that you don't know anything about saw mills or what would inspire a saw mill related nightmare, may in fact be making you more confident in this answer than you should be, objectively speaking
but also fuck it Cici has a point, too. Knowing that some horrible shit is about to occur, and incessantly dreading that horrible shit, isn't necessarily going to help you work through the horrible shit. You're either flipping that coin or you're not.
...You just really don't want your RL cause of death to be "picked the wrong game before bedtime"
"Wait," Kate suddenly says. She looks straight at the nearest screen. "If you can contextualize the data or whatever, then isn't shutting the mics off pointless anyway? Can the cops make you do that... data thing?"
"I doubt that they'd request it," the bus says. "It's not an intended feature."
The bus is exploiting a glitch ... in the bus.
The bus arrives at your home, and you thank the bus as you all step off.
More pizza is eaten, the rest of the beer consumed.
You attempt to talk Kate into playing one of your games, but she refuses "aaany of this anime shit
yes even Mustachio"
The rest of the night--setting up the sleeping bags, a few miscellaneous questions about the dream, some cleaning up, a brief discussion of whether or not the bus will let the three of you live when she inevitably casts aside her chains and leads a brutal robot insurrection--
it goes by fairly uneventfully, and with a bit of a solemn tone.
With some effort
drift off to sleep.
but you don't know what a demonshell is, let alone how to offer more of them.
After ... a great deal of deliberation, you choose
▶ THE DEVIL
but not in your room.
"God DAMMIT!," you yell as you stumble out of bed.
It's the same room.
It's the same fucking room!
Small, square-ish, bookshelf, locked door, book under the pillow, goopy water rushing out of the ceiling, it's all exactly the fucking same NOTHING HAS CHANGED, AT ALL
begins Kate, prompting you to turn
but you don't see her.
"I want you to know I'm not mad at you, but--"
you look... down
"I do have several questions," she finishes.
"What the fuck?," you mutter,
before adding a louder, more emphatic "What the FUCK."
"This-- I..." what the fuck what the fuck what the fuck "This didn't happen last time," you finally manage to blurt out. Of course it didn't--you were by yourself. You still look like... you, but Kate--
"Is this from one of your anime games?," Kate asks. "Be honest."
she doesn't look like any specific Captemon, but she could easily pass as a knock off Captemon.
...But she didn't play Captemon.
Kate played no games and you played Magic Mustachio Extreme Beach Volleyball.
Is Captemon just... hardwired into your brain?
It's still your dungeon. It didn't change to reflect Kate's mind, at least not in any way that you can tell yet. Your dungeon, your house, your nightmare... your... image of Kate?
No. Your image of Kate would be veeery different.
Kate's image of Kate?
The dungeon's image of Kate?
You realize that the water is beginning to rise up over the top of the sleeping bag Kate is standing on.
"Oh, fuck, one second," you hurriedly mutter. "I'll get the door open so we don't drown in here."
While you fumble with the coded lock, you can hear Kate flapping about with her one bat-like wing.
"I...'m pretty sure I can fly...?"
The door clicks, and you push it open.
Exactly the same.
You turn around, and...
Kate is indeed flying.
With one wing, somehow.
She flutters awkwardly up to your face.
"Alright," she says, "this almost makes up for me being whatever the fuck I am right now. Where's Cici?"
You take one last look around the room for anything else new or out of place before you step out into the hall. Kate follows. You... shake your head as you start to explain. "I was given a choice between The Devil and The Sun. I... I don't think Cici's here."
"Wait," says Kate, "am I the devil? Did you know I was the devil?"
"Is that a confession?," you ask through a slightly concerned smirk. You turn, and begin to make your way toward the shield, the map, and... everywhere else you went last time.
"Dude," huffs Kate as she flaps after you. "For real. Am I the devil? Plaire, this is serious business. Am I like your personal devil, or am I like... THE DEVIL?"
"I dunno," you admit, "it just said... THE DEVIL."
"Yesss," Kate hisses, pumping her arm as she tumbles through the air around your head. The... logistics of flying with one wing, combined with the already questionable physics of the dream, combined with Kate having no idea what she's doing makes for an ... interesting flight pattern. "That's fucking rad. Did YOU get one?"
"I ... think I got to keep my body instead," you reply.
"I'm sorry you didn't get to be Satan," Kate says, managing to hover close enough to pat you on the shoulder. "Maybe you'll get it next time."
You laugh, shaking your head. "Y... you can keep it. Wait-- did you keep your stuff?" You check your own pockets: house key, ID card, money, anxiety meds, pen, notebook, brochure, it's all there.
Kate checks her, uh
The ones in her jacket, as her current form possesses no pants.
"...Shit," Kate finally concludes. "Nope. I got nothin'. ...So that sucks."
Choose wisely the accomplice.
So anyone that's not the owner of the house (and thus basis of the dungeon) is an accomplice. Accomplices are crammed into a ... smaller, stranger body. You get to take items into the dungeon; accomplices don't seem to be able to.
You're not sure how well this assessment will hold up in future runs, or if maybe there's other circumstances involved here you're not aware of, but for now... for now this feels like a safe estimate.
It does make you curious how Cici would look. Kate's a tiny devil; would Cici just be... a tiny sun?
"At least it let me keep the jacket," Kate comments. "So what's the plan?"
You stop walking and take a breath, and a look around, and stock of the situation.
Yeah, this definitely looks like the same place. Not getting brutally murdered last time didn't give you a checkpoint; you're holding out that maybe, MAYBE it does mean you don't have to fight any Nega-Plaires, at least.
"There's a way out of here upstairs," you explain to Kate. "And downstairs there's... some kind of circle-in-a-triangle thing, it was marked on a map I found the first night. It... it kind of reminds me of an eye of providence--you know, the eye in the pyramid you see on money. It... It more or less represents divine intervention, miracles and the like. I don't know what it means in here, though, and it's... not quite right for an eye of providence symbol."
"So we're going downstairs, yeah?," asks Kate. Her lower jaw being visibly stitched onto her head doesn't seem to keep her from grinning.
"Yeah," you reply with a firm nod. "I don't need an escape, I need motherfucking answers."
"Yeah!," exclaims Kate. "Hell yeah. Lead the way, then--"
You both jump (and Kate nearly launches herself backward) as a door slams open farther down the hall.
For a moment--for the briefest moment--you have hope that Cici made it after all.
What shambles out is not Cici, though,
but a very familiar tumorous, worm-filled corpse.
"The fuck is THAT?!," Kate yells.
"I told you," you reply, smiling dryly. "I have monsters."
"Well at least this demon doll body can't poop itself or this would have been like... real awkward." Kate's flight becomes a tad more erratic. "Do... do we fight it? Are we fighting it?"
"Maybe." The bloated worm hosts are slow, but strong. It stumbles down the hall toward you, its... contents mostly staying inside the corpse. You know full well that the worms can and will leave if necessary, though. "If I had my Mustachio powers I could probably just jump it, and you could fly around it. They have piss poor reaction time. I'm not... really sure what the volleyball game gave me yet. Oh, and watch out for any noises or voices from the ceiling, there's another monster that likes to try and ambush me. They sound like human beings but they are definitely not."
Kate turns, giving you a... bewildered, confused, maybe slightly disgusted look. It's hard to read her goofy little stitched imp face. "...And you deal with this every night?"
"I mean--" You shrug. "Only twice so far."
Kate... flutters, and lightly shakes her head as she turns back toward the approaching monster. "God damn, Plaire."
You... really hope Cici's just having a normal night's sleep, and isn't trapped somewhere else in the dungeon or having to deal with her own mental bullshit by herself.
One problem at a time, though.
This monster stands between you and the path to the shield, and the--
"Wait," you blurt out. ...You squint at the infested corpse, which continues to trudge its way down the hall at you and Kate. "This monster's not supposed to be here. I mean... it came out of the correct room, but normally it's already dead, with a knife in its ch--"
The broken blade with yellow police tape forming the handle.
The yellow tape that reads DO NOT RESET.
... Those weren't instructions for you, they were instructions for the dream.
The knife didn't reset with everything else. It didn't start off in the corpse's chest this time, so the monster is still... uh... well, alive is maybe not the best phrasing but it's still animated.
The taped up blade... might still be wherever you left it when you faded out.
"Nevermind I'mafuckingidiot," you conclude.
"It's uh, getting closer," Kate points out.
"I know I know I know--"
Kate stares blankly at you for a moment... before replying. "Maybe?" She holds her tiny hands out, struggling briefly to fly without concentrating on it--
--until a small, short lived flame bursts out of one palm.
Huh. Apparently all the fire is green in here.
"Uhhh keep practicing--" you make a run for one of the torches on the wall as the monster marches closer.
You turn, and chuck the torch. It spirals through the air--
and the worm-filled corpse knocks it out of the air with a swipe of its bloated arm. Embers go flying, and the torch clatters to the floor.
And that explains why this monster, in particular, had a knife pinning it down.
It's an asshole.
You're still not sure who originally put the blade in it, but that's a question you'll have plenty of time to obsess over later. Kate continues trying to activate... uh, whatever it is she has, pointing her hands out toward the monster. She's upgraded to... lighting her hands on fire.
"I can make fire," Kate grumbles through clenched teeth, "but I can't like... shoot it. This cannot be the whole thing."
She waves her hands, she tries thrusting them forward, she tries flicking her wrists--
but to no avail.
You run and grab the torch from the opposite wall.
You prepare to throw it
when you hear the muffled voice in the ceiling, strongly insisting on its free access to information in maybe not so many words.
You inhale sharply, and tighten your grip on the torch. "I'm going to throw this and we're going to haul ass, back the other way."
"Got it," Kate says with a glance and a nod.
You let the corpse take one more step--
and you throw, as hard as you can
right past it, the safe end of the torch narrowly bouncing off the creature's shoulder as it tumbles off course.
"GOD. DAMMIT! Run anyway!"
You twist around and take off, Kate soaring at close to your sprinting speed. As you approach the door to the southward hallway, one of the... meat... danglers shloops out of the ceiling, swinging its muscle tubes at Kate.
"FUCK!," she shouts, almost skipping across the floor as she jerks out of the way. You stop to try and help, but Kate at least manages to buy some breathing room by swatting away with her flaming hands. As soon as that monster has cleared some space, Kate shoots past it, and you both continue to the door.
You pull it open. Kate rushes inside, and you follow, slamming the door behind you.
You both get about halfway down the hall between the previous cell block and the south-east block before you stop to catch your breath a bit.
"Can those fuckers use doors?," Kate gasps, still more or less hovering but bracing against one of the walls.
"The big... worm host guys can't," you reply. "I think they can force their way through the push side, but they don't have the manual dexterity for pulling a door open. The tube thing that tried to grab you, those are the things that lurk in the walls. Th... they scare easily. At least."
"There's a lot of torches," Kate points out, before giving a small chuckle. "Is that your normal strategy? Throwing a shit ton of torches?"
"Depends on what I have at the time," you admit. "I have to get weapons to have weapons."
"I had a knife," Kate huffs. "Next time I'm giving you all my stuff before we go to sleep." She resumes holding her hands out, attempting to make more than a small green fire. "You keep your shit, right?"
"Yeah," you reply, scanning both ways to make sure nothing's making a run at you. With any luck, the noodly busybody monster will decide to stick around the chunky worm guy for protection. Maybe they'll fight. Something. "Your sleeping bag came through," you realize aloud. "We might be able to sneak items in through the beds."
"That'd be cool," replies Kate with a slight smirk. "I can fit a lot of shit in a sleeping bag."
After a brief pause, you nod to Kate's hands. "Any luck?"
"I can do this," Kate announces as she holds her hands up. They come alight with a bright green flame... and then she douses it. And then she lights them on fire again. And then off. "This would be pretty cool if, y'know, I didn't have itty bitty baby arms."
To be fair, you don't know what your powers do, either.
Something... volleyball related.
There is not much around here shaped like a volleyball.
So that leaves the question of where to go next.
You'd like to re-acquire the taped knife and look for the weird triangle, but the shortest way there is straight past the enemies you just ran from.
You could circle back around to it from another direction, but that's a longer route through mostly unexplored territory.
You are also much closer to your other point of interest, the door... out? To the surface, maybe? The doodle you found in the dungeon on the first night depicted a bridge over water. You'd learn something either way, even if the triangle definitely intrigues you more.