The only other notable thing they found during their looking around on the second floor was a supply locker. There were clothes, food and a few useful objects like torches and backpacks. They each took one, exchanging his plastic bag for a bigger leather one Zachary stuffed it with some food, spare clothes just in case and a flashlight with batteries. He didn’t know for how long they would stay alone and he didn’t know what was waiting for them outside, if ever there was an outside, and therefore preferred to take things that could come in handy while he could. He gave one of the smaller bags to Amelia, also giving her a torch and spare batteries, enough to eat for at least two days and let her choose which clothes she wanted to take with her. She insisted on taking the purple shoes instead of the dark gray ones. After half an hour during which they ate, as they had realized they were actually quite hungry, they finally left the second floor and headed towards the first. As they got out of the staircase Zachary immediately noticed something different about the floor. Along the left side of the corridor they had arrived in the light was more intense than on the right side. As they walked along the left side of it Zachary understood what was different about the lighting, the light was natural in that part of the corridor, it wasn’t lit by the large neon lights on the ceiling but by natural light. They finally arrived in what seemed to be the main hall of the building, the intense light blinding them for a moment.
“It’s coming from outside!” Shouted Amelia as she ran forward, seemingly faster to recover from the sudden and momentary blindness. And she was right, Zachary could see the main doors at the other end of the wall. The wall seemed like it had been completely busted open, boulders were blocking the now completely crushed glass doors. Light was coming from a huge hole at the top of the boulders and lit the entire room brightly. As he stepped out of the ray he could see the sun, peering directly over the building and directly into the hole. That was when he opened his mouth in surprise, not able to believe what his eyes showed him.
“Impossible!” He muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. But as he heard a loud gasp from the little girl who was also looking through the whole he knew it was real, or that at least she was seeing the same thing as him. “The sky…” He couldn’t add more and simply slumped on a nearby chair. The sky… He repeated in his head. It’s freaking red… How… The question died in his mind as he heard a scream and looked down to see the little brown-haired girl trip and fall on the pile of rock she was trying to climb. The scene happened in slow motion. Her foot missed the rock she wanted to lean on and she slowly lost her balance, she started falling down as the huge pile of rocks started shaking. Zachary instantly stood up and ran towards the girl but he was too slow and he saw her roll on the side of the pile of rubble which somehow slowed her fall and dampened the impact once she finally hit the ground. But the pile shook violently and fell over her, completely covering her just as the young man arrived by her side.
“Amelia!” He shouted at the pile, immediately starting to remove the rubble. “Amelia, do you hear me?! Are you okay?! Amelia!” He was starting to panic when he heard her small voice under the rubble.
“I’m here! I’m okay! It only hurts a little!” She shouted back, trying to reassure him. It did, a little. She was hurt but at least she was alive.
“Hang on, I’m going to take you out! Don’t worry!” He told her before removing the rocks as fast as he could. Finally he saw her legs appearing from under the rubble. He tried to pull her out but she screamed briefly out of pain and he stopped instantly.
“Yeah…” She answered after a second. “But I think I’m trapped under a big rock. I can’t move out of here!” Okay, okay. He thought. I have to remove the big rock if I want to get her out.
But they’re too big, I’ll need something to help me push.
He stepped back and looked around. The young man quickly spotted a metal bar not far away.
“I need something to get you out of there. I think there’s something I can use to get you out over there. I’ll be right back!” He exclaimed before running off towards the object he had seen earlier.
“Wait!” Started the young girl, but she stopped as she heard his footsteps getting farther. She felt on the verge of tears but she knew she shouldn’t be so panicked. No, I shouldn’t be scared! She thought. Zach is going to get me out! Despite not having known him for long she had somehow put her trust in him.
The young man came back less than a minute later.
“Okay, I got something. It was hard to dislodge but I think it’ll help. Don’t move, I’m going to try!” He explained as he placed the metal bar under the large rock that was blocking her path. “One, two… three!” He exclaimed as he pushed as hard as he could on the bar but the rock stayed unmoving. Unfortunately something had to take in the effort he had produced and the metal bar started to bend. Zachary cursed internally, letting the bar go and falling down on the floor.
“What happened?” Asked Amelia from under the rock. Her legs were shaking slightly and Zachary could see she was just acting brave, she had to be scared out of her wits.
“Uhm…” He started, wondering if he should tell her about his idea’s failure, but then he decided to be honest with her and to worry instead on how to get her out. She hadn’t been trapped for long, barely a few minutes, but he still had to get her out fast. “It’s the bar, it broke. But don’t worry I’ll get you out in no time!” He hoped his words would help her stay calm, the worst that could happen was her starting to really panic.
“Okay!” He simply heard her respond. He smiled slightly as he got up again, she was a tough little girl. He walked around the rock, trying to find a place to grip it efficiently and decided the best course of action would be to try to move it from the top so that it would fall to the side and not on Amelia. He climbed on the pile of rubble and grabbed the large piece of wall by its highest part.
“I’m going to pull again, when you aren’t stuck anymore get away tell me and get away as quickly as possible, okay?”
“Okay!” Zachary heard her yell back from under the rock. He mentally counted to three and then pulled. He felt his muscle strain against the huge piece of wall and immediately knew he wasn’t strong enough to move it on his own, but he didn’t stop. He had to get Amelia free and he wouldn’t stop before she was unstuck and out of there. He felt his hands go numb and blood rushing to his head, it felt like it was going to blow up if he kept pulling but he didn’t stop. After a few seconds he groaned and his muscles started to cry out of pain. The young man gritted his teeth and groaned louder as he pulled as hard as he could, he felt the rock move a little and maintained his effort. He felt his lungs on fire, he needed to take a break to breathe but he knew that if he stopped he would never be able to do it again.
Zachary closed his eyes, focusing on nothing else than the pain and the effort he was making. He didn’t know how long it had been since he had started trying to free the little girl but it had seemed like an eternity to him. Suddenly he felt his arms shake uncontrollably and heard the sound of rock scrapping on the floor, he opened his eyes and met the wide gray orbs of the young girl, staring at him her mouth agape. She had turned around on her back to get up and out of under the huge chunk of wall but had stopped dead in her tracks.
“Amelia…” Zachary groaned under the weight of the rock, not even surprised he had managed to lift it. She seemed to react to her name and scrambled out of the space she had been trapped in but kept her eyes fixed on him. Zachary suddenly let the rock go and fell to his knees, panting heavily and unable to lift his arms.
“Um… Zachary…” Started Amelia. Unable to finish her sentence she pointed at the young man’s back as he looked up at her. After a few seconds, time it took him to finally understand she was showing him something, he slowly turned his head around to look at his back and almost jerked back. If he had had the energy to do so he might have jumped a few meters back and screamed at what he was seeing, but right now he was too tired to do anything of the sort. And so he simply stared wide-eyed at what he could see of his back.
Out of a spot on his back, around his left shoulder, had sprouted a long dark arm, it moved slowly in rhythm with his breathing and it’s appearance slightly varied through time. One time seemed to be made of black smoke, the other it seemed as solid as rock and sometimes it seemed made of liquid shadows. Zachary slowly turned his head the other way and noticed another arm had sprouted on the right side.
“What…?” He wondered out loud but before he could finish his sentence the arms made of the unknown dark matter simply faded away and vanished into thin air. The young man stayed staring at his back for a minute before he shook out of it and turned back to Amelia.
“What was that?” She asked as she slowly stood up and cautiously approached him, she seemed completely lost.
“I- I don’t know…” He answered as lost as her. “Did I really just see that? It wasn’t a dream was it? I wasn’t unconscious?” Amelia shook her head, confirming the fact that everything he had seen she had too. “Oh my god…” He whispered as he took another peek at his shoulders almost expecting to see the black limbs again. Then he remembered about the little girl trapped under the rock and it made him forget about what had just happened.
“Are you okay?” He asked as he crawled near her.
“Yes, I’m fine.” She nodded, a small smile was playing on her lips though she still seemed shocked by what had just happened. Zachary noticed her unease and decided to try to reassure her.
“Look Amelia… I really have no idea what happened back there, it had never happened to me before and I don’t know what it is… I know you might be scared but I promise I would never hurt you.” He smiled as he said that and he saw the young girl relax slightly.
“I believe you, you’re my friend.” She replied with a grin before her face became more serious again. “But it’s just that everything is so strange here… There aren’t any people and we don’t know where we are… If I had stayed alone I would be so scared…” Zachary smiled back at the young girl and grabbed her in a hug.
“Don’t worry,” He said as he pulled back. “I’m here with you, we’ll find a way back home.” He locked eyes with her and was surprised by the determination and the trust that she was giving him. He chuckled internally.
“I don’t know what just happened now but I don’t think that it’ll be the strangest thing we are going to see…” He said as he looked back at the hole in the wall, which was now bigger due to the crumbling of another part of it when Amelia had tried to climb the pile of rubble. The young girl looked at him quizzically and followed his stare. As her eyes adjusted to the light that was pouring through the whole they widened again and her mouth opened, she couldn’t believe what her eyes were showing her but as she looked back at her new friend he nodded, quietly telling her that he was seeing the strange red sky too.