It is a funny thing, these transitions. Certainly, one would normally expect a certain dizziness or nausea, as the world shifts while you yourself remain the same. Perhaps part of it is in the inner-ear, perhaps the rest is in the eyes, but for Hakuro…it was something else. He had been finishing up the cleaning job while listening to music, and once he was done, he would be off, except…he wasn’t. He had just donned his hat and coat when everything changed, and the first thing - the very
first thing…was the smell. A sudden and unexpectedly sweet
aroma penetrated his nose at that moment, and his eyes now focused on his new surroundings.”Wait, what? But I… I just- How…?”
He stood there, confused for now, as it had seemed like ‘Presto! Chango!’, the room was redone! It was like some sort of magic conjuring trick, but impossible. Just impossible. Everything was both fancy, and yet…gaudy as hell. He didn’t like it, and he also didn’t like whatever that decidedly organic
Meanwhile, a similar situation was developing on the roof of the school. Akira had finished her single personal piece for the day and was in the midst of packing up to go home when the change came. At first, it was weird. It felt like a rush of vertigo that made her vision swim as the school seemed to pull away from her, then rush inwards towards her vision. And then the sickly sweet scent of some sort of honey filled her nose, cloying and overwhelming in its intensity.
Akira’s sneakers squeaked in the honey that coated the roof of the..beehive? School building? She wasn’t even sure now. All she knew was that her trumpet case was now covered in a layer of this strange, sickening sweet honey. She looked around in confusion, panic rapidly rising in her system. She clutched her trumpet to her chest and then she called out, struggling to maintain her composure.”H-hello? Anyone there?!”
There was no answer, because even when in the normal world, the Drama Club room was a closed set. It was made that way for the benefit of those working on their performance, and to not bother anybody in the vicinity outside of it too much. Thus, Hakuro would be ignorant of the immediate situation…in favor of the one he found himself dealing with already. Amidst this ostentatious array, he was carefully closing in on something that stood out among it all, and it all stood out for a different reason
, as is. In the backstage area - which was larger now, as the rest of the room was unexpectedly enlarged - was something wholely unexpected, and the sort of the current smell which had alerted him to the weirdness around him. He was putting aside the bizarre setting for now, as this room was perhaps benign by comparison. This…needed his attention more. It was making noise
, and he remembered-No, no…stop! Absolutely not!
He knew something Alien when he saw it, or at least something just as potentially bad. They were egg sacs, and he was NOT going to tempt fate by going near them like some idiot
from a horror film. They always seem to touch things
and get too close to horrible whatsits, and a sudden fear that he’d been dropped into a drama for somebody else’s
amusement suddenly hit the hat-boy, causing him to back away like it was on fire.Okay. I dunno what’s going on. Am I still in the Drama Club? Do I smash the eggs? I think I smash the eggs.
He looked around and, lacking any obvious oversized props to grab and hoist overhead, he made do with one of the chaira instead. And it was at that moment, that someone close to any sort of vent or ductwork - friend of foe in this place - might’ve heard…”HATTO SMASH!!!”
There were no visible entrances or exits on the roof. At least, what she thought was the school’s roof anyhow. With her trumpet in her hands and her backpack slung on her…back, Akira began to move.
The first thing she realised was that this roof wasn’t flat. It curved slightly to the sides and gradually flattened near what she came to recognise as the centre of the structure. So it was there that she walked to, trying not to slip and fall in the slick honey-like substance that seemed to be everywhere
, sucking at the bottoms of her sneakers with every step like glue. The centre of the building didn’t feature the opening where she knew the school’s courtyard was, so there was no longer a way down from the roof. Nor were the stairs here. Instead, it was all one curved structure, smooth surfaces from end to end.
Her earlier cry unheard, Akira chanced a glance to the edge of the hive. The edge seemed to slope downwards and it was all covered in honey. Although…
That gave her pause for thought and she glanced down at her shoes. If this was so sticky, perhaps it would provide leverage for her to…get down? The thought itself sent a shiver down her spine but it appeared she had no other choice. It was that, or stay up here and wait. Risk starving. Or worse.
Akira hurriedly stuffed her trumpet as best as she could into her backpack and took a deep breath in. Then, one step at a time, she advanced towards the edge of the hive. True to form, the honey was thick and sticky enough to provide her with enough grip to slowly make her way down. When the angle of the roof-turned-wall was too steep, she turned around and dipped her hands (gross) into the honey, using all the suction it had to slowly make her way down until her feet touched ground on the outside of the school. It was there that Akira found the front door, wide open, with a few sets of footprints in the muck.That was strange,
she thought. There shouldn’t be anyone here. Or at least, there was? But if there were people here, hadn’t they heard her yelling?”...were they ignoring me?”
That thought, voiced out loud, drifted into the relative silence of the school grounds. Until she heard a rather familiar voice yell a very familiar catchphrase.Hatto-san
. He was upstairs somewhere. She didn’t mistake that voice, especially after she’d met the young man himself yesterday. Her trumpet had found its way into her hands again, almost unconsciously, and Akira did the only thing she could.
She walked right up the steps of the school and went back in.
Its layout was startlingly familiar, almost exactly identical to the way she remembered it, right down to the staircase that led up to the second floor. But the walls were honeycombs, the air smelled like burnt sugar and there was that strange, sticky honey all over the walls and floor. To say that she was scared was an understatement.
That yell had come from the direction of the drama club room and, as she got closer, she called out to him.”H-hatto-san? Kuroda-senpai? Are you there?”
She would’ve heard alot more than just the yell, upon approaching the Drama Club room. That repeated pounding
sound, for instance, as Hakuro was most-definitely hitting something repeatedly in some manner or another. Indeed, inside the room, the stage was now a certified mess. He didn’t…even bother to inspect whatever was inside, upon the act. He merely smashed in favor of not wanting to find out too late
. By the time the deed was done, he was thoroughly exhausted now - having held nothing
back to ensure no alien spawn or whatever the hell was growing in those things would get him.
would’ve been if they really were
facehuggers, all so spidery and skittery…
But as it happened, the stage was now a crime scene, murder by chairs. The culprit had grabbed TWO chairs, in fact, as he sought to mash the eggs into a pulp and leave nothing behind, and did so with such force that he was sure that one of the chairs bent out of shape, or both. He didn’t care, and it was only when he was done that he truly began to appreciate the sheer richness of the area surrounding him. Starting with the sheen of the chairs to the chandelier to the diamond-encrusted walls
, Hakuro finally took in all the details and had…no idea where he really was. Was this truly the room he’d been in before? The stage looked old in comparison to the rest, which made it seem more genuine…if sticky. The eggs made it wrong again, though, and he got the impression of having been either dosed on drugs, or at least
asleep!But that doesn’t explain the pain shooting up my arms. No drug trip or deryp dream could’ve produced that!
What caused this, then? He hadn’t seen what it was, but…this was something akin to that spooky podcast, or even the old show hosted by that man in a suit. You know the one.
Hakuro was about to investigate more, but that was when he heard the voice, a familiar
voice calling to him. There were alot of familiar voices to him, but he’d been conversing with this one only yesterday. Swiftly, he turned to the door out of this room and slid it open.”Yes, I’m over heee…agghh…oh.”
And for the first time today, Hakuro got a really good look
at this Palace outside of the fancy Drama Club room. He saw the honeycomb hive sections, the considerable amount of honey and stickiness everywhere
, and the unexpected presence of the normal-ish Akira among it all. She was still in pink, but he wasn’t judging at this time. Akira, upon seeing him open the door - which had stuck a little, of course - saw the transition of Hakuro go from being polite and helpful, to suddenly shocked and disgusted, and finally to meme-worthy Concern Face. He clearly hadn’t seen all this until now, which you could believe since the inside of his
room looked actually clean
. In fact, he gestured for her to come inside.”Perhaps you’d better come in, where it’s a little less…this.”
Akira could only nod as Hakuro emerged from the drama club room, splattered with some sort of slime and panting like he’d just run around the school a few times. With as much haste as she could, she nipped into the club room and, finally, stopped to catch her breath. When she’d done so, she looked at her senior.”K-Kuroda-senpai, I’m so glad you’re okay. I…didn’t expect to find you here. Or at all.”
She leaned against one of the walls and slowly slid down until she was sitting on the floor, confused and in shock.”...do you know what this place is? Or where we are? It’s like our school, but…”
Akira shook her head. ”It’s like we’re dreaming or someone’s playing a prank on us, but then why us?””Trust me, I didn’t expect this any better than you did.”
He took one of the remaining intact seats and collapsed into it, then - as he saw Akira hitting the floor, he turned one of the other spares in the U-pattern towards her, in case she wanted it. Still, he thought it over slightly, the weirdness outside the door still sending him reeling…yet explaining the eggs he’d so-thoroughly thrashed. What this place was… He looked around.”I don’t know what it is, not exactly. This looks still like the Drama Club, but it’s not. Outside was a hallway, but a hiveway, too. I know I’m not dreaming, and if someone is playing a joke, I don’t hear laughing.”
Which…you know…you’d expect, given the circumstances.”The only explanations left are the most bizarre, unsettling, and paranoid I can think of, because things that make sense are currently not here. Lemme try…”
He pulled out his phone, but…no. No service.”Akira, I think we are somewhere we’re not meant to be. Or worse, we’re somewhere that someone definitely wants us, and it’s not gonna be pleasant. And I’m sorry to lay that on you, but I’ve got nothing on this. Nothing at all.””So… I guess we can try to leave? I came in through the school’s front door and it was unlocked, but I also saw some footprints leading in. Maybe there’s other people here?””Wait, you…came into this place, even though you were already out? That’s…”
He paused for a second, smiling at this and nodding.”...actually kind of impressive. I thought only people like me did that.”
Shrugging, Hakuro headed for the door now.”We’ll have to be pretty quiet, especially since I made a big noise, a moment ago.”
It was without a doubt that that would probably piss off something
around here, so Hakuro wanted to be away from that now, as quickly and as quietly as possible.”I was…on the roof, actually. There was a lot of that weird honey stuff on it and I climbed down. It was actually really scary…but at least I’m not afraid of heights, right?”
Akira chuckled nervously as she watched Hakuro leave. She stood from her chair once he reached the door, still clasping her trumpet in her hands.”I didn’t see anything when I came up here though…it was so quiet.””That seems doubly wrong. Okay, ssh, for now.”
Carefully opening the doorway, the Hatto-san slipped out and…immediately
didn’t like the minor squelch of honey-stuff underfoot. Swearing to himself, he moved on, trying really hard to remain stealthy, yet utterly knowing that if this was being watched by anybody…they looked absolutely ridiculous.
Akira followed right behind him, wincing a little at Hakuro’s shoe squelching into the honey-muck. She clutched her trumpet to her chest and satchel bag, trying as best as she could to follow in his footsteps. Her gaze flicked left and right as they moved on through the hallways, her hands wringing nervously around the body of her trumpet.
The smell of this place was smothering him, making the air thick like soup, or perhaps stew. Either way, he didn’t like it. Was this place one big flypaper? Did it have anything to do with what’d been happening lately around town? Hakuro remembered his conversation with Katsuragi, how he’d had this weird feeling of revelation, not paranoia, like something clicked together. He couldn’t actually be right
something being seriously wrong with Okamoto, could there? Were they being ‘disappeared’? They soon reached the stairwell down, and he looked back to whisper Akira’s way.”Okay, we get downstairs and creep towards the main doors. If anything freaky happens or someone calls at us, book it for the doors and do not stop.”
He didn’t trust any of this, any of what he was seeing, hearing, or whatnot. I mean, of all the things to find in this giant honeycomb, why did he hear something so out of place as that?
Yet, escape would not come easily for the two of them. Hakuro’s foot stepped on a specific tile, producing an audible “click”. A long tendril of honey poured out from one of the strangely shaped sigils on the walls, its serpentine figure twisting and writhing as it assumed corporal form. The entity looked much like a worm; its entire figure was segmented, though it was faceless and translucent like honey itself. It produced a loud growl, which ushered more of its kind from the walls. And more. And more, and more, until all of the tendrils writhed together on the floor. Slowly but surely, the creatures were encasing the floor in a flood of thrashing bodies. They licked along Hakuro and Akira’s ankles, their lithe bodies beginning to wrap around them in an attempt to restrain them.
Akira was the first to notice. Not the click, but the wet slop
noise that came from one of the walls. They were a ways down the hallway and the silence was deafening, other than the sounds of their footsteps. So when that
happened, she stopped and reached out for Hakuro, tugging on the back of his coat for him to stop too.”D-did you hear that?”
And then she saw it. The strange, wriggling worm-like creature that had emerged from the wall. And more of them, slithering down from the orifices hidden within the honeycomb-like structure. Gathering at their feet. Twisting
around her ankles.
That’s when she screamed.
For Hakuro, it was a little different, starting with the moment he hit that apparent trigger in the floor. There was a barely-audible ”Oh no…”
from him as he heard and felt
the click that every Indiana Jones type fellow fears: A boobytrap. He’d waited for alarms, poison darts, a boulder…but what really
came was more of GLORP
, followed by something more continuous and messy-sounding, which is where Akira tugged on his coat and asked if he heard. Hakuro looked back as he nodded emphatically while mouthing ‘Oh yes’ with an expression that was simultaneously stating ‘Oh crap’.
It wasn’t clear whether they were moving
like flowing honey, or if they were
flowing honey, but now the walls were bleeding worms, or worm-like shapes, all running together in a swarm-like manner that just…ugh… It’d make you sick. It made Akira scream
, which meant it was time to act, because the things were starting to lash around their ankles. His own briefly-panicked mind remembering The Plan, Hakuro grabbed Akira’s wrist and shouted ”DOWN!”
before throwing all his leg-born might to leap at the stairwell, heading for the way down. The wormy things had only just started, so they hadn’t had the chance to be more than thick muck to their shoes…but when Hakuro reached the stare, his somewhat more-nervous voice then cried ”UP!!”
, as he saw what looked like a rising tide of the things flowing up the stairs from below. This was an indicator to reverse course, head upstairs, as he felt like something was crying in his ear to do so, anyway.
Wordlessly, Akira followed Hakuro towards the stairs, her panic rendering her speechless as she wove her way around the worm things as best as she could. Sickening wet pops of the strange creatures bursting under her sneakers echoed down the hall as she dashed after the senior. At first, she thought that they'd made it. The worms were slow, barely able to catch up to the two of them. But the sight that awaited them on the stairs down made her breath catch in her chest, another scream of fear welling up in her lungs.
There were more of them
. A sea of them. Roiling, slithering, almost entrancing were it not for the fact that they seemed to go straight for them as they approached the stairs.
With a cry of terror, she let Hakuro drag her upstairs instead, keeping up with his pace while he had a firm grip on her wrist. Her other arm wrapped protectively around her trumpet as some form of shallow comfort.
It seemed that with the sudden shouting, the sentient beings melded together, their sticky forms folding upon each other like hot syrup. It was obvious that, despite being made of many parts, they worked and thought together as one. Attracted by the jump in activity, they suddenly surged up the stairwell and after the two poor students. The giant, fluid-like blob licked along the edge of the second floor. This time, its advance was much quicker. It only took a few seconds for the sticky substance to reach their ankles, then their calves. Portions of the monster licked upwards in an attempt to restrain them and pull them under.