As he was walking on the warm and rough stone he didn’t think of anything. Or rather he couldn’t think of anything for he had neither memories to reflect upon nor anything else than the faint sound of his footsteps and the unpleasant heat of the air to fuel his imagination. His mind was almost blank, or dark as a matter of fact, his legs were mechanically moving forward, his arms extended to his sides to get a feeling of the walls. The only distraction he had had in the last hours, or maybe had it been days, he couldn’t say as time was not present here, was the pain throbbing in his hands and knees from having to crawl on the ground for hours at one point in this passageway.
He did not know if it had an exit, he did not know if it had an entry anymore, seeing as it had decided to play hide and seek when he had been searching for it. All he knew was that it was going somewhere and he was going forward. Every few moment or so he would mutter a name, the only name he could remember, Rachel, to remind himself of something. What ? He had no idea. Not a clue, but still, he wanted to get out of here, wherever it was and find out. As he advanced forward step by step, little by little, he could distinguish his surroundings better, he still needed to be careful but from time to time he could see, or at least thought he could, the walls around him. Whether this phenomenon was real or not it gave him hope, he was getting close to something and although that was not much it was already something.
It took him a few minutes to realize that what he was experiencing was not a trick of his mind but it was real. He could barely see the outlines of his body, if he concentrated himself enough he could even distinguish his fingers from his hands. Finding new energy in this discovery he advanced with haste, every step he was taking was getting him closer to the light. The second and third things he noticed were the strange color of the stone and the temperature. Ever since he had walked away from that inferno he was locked in the temperature had not freshened one bit nor had it gotten hotter. This added to the blood red color of the stone was giving him a strange impression. A feeling of unease was slowly creeping its way to him mind not that the whole atmosphere wasn’t oppressing or creepy but it was something else that was making him uncomfortable. He had a strange impression of déjà vu; this color was triggering something buried deep in the confines of his mind like it was calling to a once lost memory, a very important memory. But each time he had tried to access this memory it seemed to slip away at the last moment like trying to gather water with a fork, it was extremely frustrating and it was starting to seriously bug him.
The passage he was walking through was now dimly lit. He could clearly see his hands and the floor lying beneath him. That is when he noticed yet another strange thing about this place; even though he had been walking for hours and the light’s intensity had been slowly increasing he had up to this point never passed any source of light of any kind. It was like it was coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time, like the light was coming from his surroundings but yet not from the stone itself… This was another puzzle he was not able to solve so he kept on walking, not bothering to try and find an explanation. From time to time he swore he could hear things, voices and loud thuds but each time he stopped to listen carefully there was nothing to hear, the silence was similar as one of a tomb. His throat was getting sore; his head hurt like hell, his hands were bruised and still didn’t know where he was or if he was close to a hypothetical exit. Unable to feel his feet anymore and not capable of continuing any longer he decided to come to a halt and to rest a bit. He sat on the red stone, trying to find a softer spot or at least a comfortable position to be sitting in. He found that nothing he tried was agreeable enough to stay for long but despite that it wasn’t long before he fell asleep, his head resting on his arms. If he had been in his bed and not as exhausted as he currently was he would probably have been woken up by the sound of the man in the suit’s footsteps as he slowly approached him.
Unfortunately for him, the man with raven hair was not one to be careless and before approaching the sleeping adult he had made sure that he was not going to wake up. He came to a stop right in front of him and as he crouched and got closer to him a smile spread on his face, a large and devilish smile revealing pearly white teeth. The stranger clicked his tongue in amusement and chuckled lightly before whispering in his ear.
“Well Simon, aren’t we cute when we sleep?”
He took of his hat from his head and held it in his pale right hand before searching for something in his left jacket pocket. Rummaging a little before finding what he wanted he then expressed his satisfaction with another smile and a light “Ah ! Found it !”. He took out a small silver object that looked like a lighter, it was shining and the man observed it carefully for a few seconds before slowly slipping it in the other one’s blue jean’s pocket. He then straightened himself and, looking quite satisfied with himself, he put his hat back on and started walking in the opposite direction from the one he came, whistling In the Hall of the Mountain King. As he was going to disappear in the tunnel he was now singing the tune loudly, not caring at all if the sleeping man woke up, he turned around and saluted him by raising his hat and finally disappeared in the darkness.
– Good bye for now my dear fellow, may luck be on your side!
The man woke up to the sound of a deep rumble. It seemed to be getting louder and louder as time passed and before he could react, in a matter of seconds, it was all around him. The world was trembling so violently and the sound was so loud it seemed the world was tearing itself to shreds. As it did he thought he could hear laughter in the distance, a wicked and distorted laughter, but it could only be his imagination, the noise was so loud in that moment that nothing else could be heard. Even if a rocket was launched right beside him he wouldn’t be able to hear it. He thought everything was going to crumble and that his death was getting nearer by the second if it got any louder but it did not and after another few but very long seconds it subsided, leaving its place to complete silence. Only then did the man let out a relieved sigh. Too stressed to sleep or even rest anymore he stood up and continued his advance in this strange stone passageway. Had he not been so eager to leave this place and stayed a few more seconds he would have noticed the strangest thing from all he had witnessed up to now. As he left the spot where he had been sleeping, the cracks that had appeared on the walls and on the ceiling due to the earthquake were now closing themselves. A strange liquid was dripping from through them and filled the holes, it was red of color and quite fluid, to him it would have seemed to be fresh blood. And he would not have been far away from the truth…
As he walked through the stone corridor he noticed that he could almost see as well as in broad daylight but also that something else was bugging him. Something coming from his blue jean’s right pocket. He put his hand in it and took out a strange silver lighter-like object which he had never seen before. Or so he thought. For as soon as he picked it up from his palm he knew how to open it and even managed to activate it in one quick movement of the hand. He only had time to take in the small red flame coming out from the silver lighter and what he had just done before it happened. As the flame started dancing before his eyes, and even though he hadn’t been thinking very much about it, he finally managed to put a finger on that strange feeling of déjà vu that had been bothering him all this time. It all came flooding in one same moment, draining all the air out of his lungs and leaving him in a state of pain he had never experienced before. His mind was being torn apart and each little piece of it was being smashed with a hammer. His body burned, his head was feeling like it was going to explode and he couldn’t stop screaming. Shouting as loud as he could was the only way he had left to canalize the immense pain that was spreading through him. He wished he was dead. Thoughts of bashing his skull against that damn red stone passed through his mind, or at least what was left of it. He couldn’t tell how long he had been in pain, he had the impression of not only feeling pain but becoming pain itself, he was becoming the sole canalizer of all the pain in the world. And then, just as the strange earthquake had passed, it suddenly stopped.
When he woke up from his deep slumber, almost comatose, his head hurt like hell. It felt as if he had spent the last week partying and someone was now drilling holes through his brains and skull. It took him a few minutes to take in his surroundings because his eyes were blurry and his vision did not stop shaking. Once he got his bearings right again he remembered where he was: the endless red stone passageway. He had been wandering for what ? Hours ? Days now ? He couldn’t tell. Up to now this red stone and the complaining of his body were his only reality, but it had felt somewhat strange to him, he couldn’t place his finger on any memory yet he had a feeling that they were out there somewhere, lost in his mind.
But that was up till now for amidst the fog clouding his mind for so long he had found a light. A word, a simple name. But a name that meant so much to him, a name he could hang on to during the storm, a name that, within the fire, had struck him and given him his truth back. Rachel. That name had by a simple uttering of his let him catch a glimpse of an unstoppable flow of memories, emotions and answers that raged in his mind. For a moment he had known it all, for a moment he had seen the whole truth, but now only the feeling remained along with bits of memories. Short images, sounds or feelings dumped in his brain altogether without any apparent sense. But now he knew. He knew his name; he knew why he was here but more importantly Simon finally knew where he was. And even though it now appeared as a stone hard fact he couldn’t help but doubt his sanity: how the hell was this possible?!
As he started walking he couldn’t help but smile at his unintended pun…