Monday, October 6, 2008

049: Hallway to Hades

It seemed obvious which path Charleston should take. He turned to the Meerkat, Graves, and Clarence and motioned for them to take the left hallway. When no one made a move, he said, "Let's go left. I don't think they should have torture rooms."

"It might be some crazy turn of the century asylum," said Graves, "They tortured people all the time."

"Unless we went back in time, I doubt that it's a turn of the century asylum," said Charleston.

"No, you retard, I mean it could be run like one. Isn't a super-villain running it? Aren't they usually crazy as hell?"

Charleston pondered this for a moment, and had to concede that yes, it was entirely possible that the super-villain in charge was running it like a turn of the century asylum. "However, what if he's not, and he's just torturing people? Your friend Player One could be getting tortured right now."

"The gamer fag? Eh, no skin off my nose."

Charleston debated bringing up the priest's colorful language, but realized it would be a lost cause. Instead, he pursued going down the left hallway, "Still, if someone is being tortured, we have to help them. What if the sidekicks are in there?"

"If Pilate is down that hallway, then things are going to get pretty ugly," said the Meerkat.

"Sidekicks are worthless piles of crap," said Graves, "Besides, I'd be more worried about the freaking radiology wing. What sort of asylum has radiology? That's x-rays and stuff, right? You don't need x-rays to tell if someone is crazy. Besides, look at the signs."

Everyone did so. There was a small placard above the middle doors, telling what was on the upper floor. The radiology lab also had a placard. The left hallway's sign, proclaiming it to lead to torture rooms, was hastily written on a piece of cardboard with glitter glue. Someone had gone through the trouble of drawing several flowers on the sign as well, for no apparent reason. It was wedged in the door-frame, covering another placard.

"We're going left anyway, but perhaps we should take down the sign and see what it's covering," said Charleston, reaching up and taking down the sign. The placard underneath said "Recreation Room". He stared at it for a moment, and turned to Graves, "You're the asylum expert. Do they usually have rec rooms?"

"I guess so," said Graves.

"I mean, my only real experience with asylums is from that one 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movie. You know, the one that took place in an asylum," ended Charleston, sheepishly.

"The thing I don't get about 'Nightmare on Elm Street'," said Clarence, who had been doing things which would not be very polite to repeat, "is why they went all the way across the country to play video games."

Charleston and the Meerkat looked at him blankly, and Graves merely dismissed Clarence's idiocy with a wave of his hand. "Don't bother correcting him," said Graves, "You'll just start a loop of stupid."

The quartet stood in silence for a moment, until Charleston said, "Well, we're going left, then."

"It's probably a trap," said Graves.

"It's also entirely possible that they converted the rec room to a torture chamber, isn't it?" said Charleston, exasperated, "Isn't it?"

"Whatever. Let's go get ourselves killed because you're too stupid to know when you're walking right into a trap."

"Listen, I'll go first. If it's a trap, then you'll hear me screaming. If it's not, I will calmly walk back here and let you know. Deal?"

"Yeah, I guess."

Charleston slowly opened the double doors, and slid into the hallway. There was damaged medical equipment strewn about, and the fluorescent lighting flickered on and off. He breathed deeply, and immediately regretted it: the air on this side of the door was putrid. He picked up a length of pipe, and walked carefully down the hallway, half-expecting to see something appear suddenly in the flickering lights and dash towards him.

He made his way down the hallway to the first side door without incident, and slowly opened the door and looked inside. Player One and Player Two were inside, their wrists tied together and their mouths sharing the same gag. They appeared to be unconscious, but otherwise unscathed and therefore moderately safe. He went across the hallway and peeked into the adjacent door, finding Shrugs strapped to a bed. There was a hand-drill covered in green goo on a table next to him, but Shrugs looked unhurt despite this. In any case, it would probably do to continue this search with a bit more haste.

The room next to Shrugs' held the Forgiver and Captain Depresso, both heavily bruised and hanging from their ankles. Charleston carefully walked to the device holding the two heroes up, and lowered them. They were both unconscious, which was probably just as well. He carefully laid them on the floor, and continued to the adjacent room. It had several CAST agents, a few of whom had worked for TYRIS. Someone had apparently decided to take them apart like puzzles and sew the limbs back on wherever, and therefore the agents looked like mismatched children's puzzles. Charleston quickly closed the door and continued down the hallway. The next door was a broom closet, in which Fadeaway's Benji and the Meerkat's Pilate were stored in cages. Both were asleep, but otherwise looked fine.

The next room contained Double O's Slink-E, stretched to his maximum length with a ball-gag in his mouth. He filled the entire room, and Charleston had no idea how to help him, despite the pleading in the sidekick's eyes. He quickly closed the door, and tried not to vomit. The next door contained more CAST agents. They were in jars, and Charleston immediately closed the door and failed not vomiting, and he suddenly felt heavier. There was one more room, behind double doors at the end of the hall, and Charleston slowly made his way towards it. He didn't want to open the door just yet, but unlike all the other rooms which were dead-bolted, this one had a keyhole. Charleston knelt down and made use of it.

Liana Koleyna, the Witchyologist, was sitting on a stool by a table with various surgical implements upon it, studying them. Edolie DePrit was strapped to a mildly inclined table in a hospital gown. There were several more CAST agents about as well, most of them still whole, if not unscathed. There was another man in a lab-coat about as well, standing in front of a table where electricity sporadically blazed through the air. Charleston could not see who was on the table, and was quite glad for that. The final person was a green gentleman in a lab-coat, with a bandage on his arm. Charleston guess that this explained the green goo-covered hand-drill. He stood up and turned around, and walked quickly to the end of the hall and through the double-doors.

Land Captain and the Neo-Bassets had arrived.

"Well, I've found the strike force everyone's sidekicks!" said Charleston, leaning on the doors.

Fadeaway, the Meerkat, and Land Captain looked at him expectantly. Double O stared indifferently at the back of his own hand.

"Well, the good news is that Benji and Pilate look like they're just fine, just drugged. Either they weren't planning on doing anything to them, or they haven't gotten around to it yet. Slink-E is stretched out, and I didn't want to free him yet. The strike force looks okay, for the most part. They do have some people in a room at the end of the hall, though," he said, hoping Land Captain wouldn't ask about Liana.

He did.

"Uh, well, she's in the room."

"Then we have to go rescue her!" said Land Captain.

"I don't think she needs rescuing," said Charleston, slowly.

"What do you mean? Is she dead?"

"No, she's-"

"She's doing some torturing, isn't she?" Charleston nodded, and the blood drained from Land Captain's face. The superhero continued, "I sort of figured it would be something like this. I always hoped it would end up differently, but I guess once you start genetically engineering flying freak fish you can't really go back."

Santos began trying to comfort the distraught Land Captain, but Fadeaway pointed to Charleston and said, "Did you have that thing on your coat outside?"

"What thing?" said Charleston.

"The red thing on your back," said the Meerkat, "The thing you didn't have when you went down that hallway, but have now."

Charleston quickly removed his coat and threw it on the ground, hoping it wasn't ruined. There was a giant translucent red blob on it. It sprouted two eyes, a mustache, and a mouth.

"I was once a man!" it warbled deeply, "And I'll not tolerate your interference with our experiments!" It slid off Charleston's coat cleanly and slipped under the double-doors leading to the end of the hallway.

"I'll follow it!" said Fadeaway, vanishing. A few minutes later, he reappeared, white as a ghost. "You could have warned us about all the sick stuff back there."

"Sorry," said Charleston.

"Anyway, that room at the end of the hall? Pretty much every super-villain ever to don a lab-coat is in there, with a bunch of Gemini Twin Troopers. They were about to do something to that poor girl, but I stopped them sneakily."

"Thank god," said Charleston, hoping to God that this wasn't going to turn out to be another incident like the one that occurred in South Carolina, "Any supernatural people?"

"Not really."

"Graves and Clarence, you guys go let Agent Villain know what's going on. The way should be clear, right?"

Santos nodded, and said, "Si."

"Okay," he said, as the priest and the fat man exited through the tunnel, "Now, should we free the captives first or go right for the end of the hall?" When no one else answered, Charleston knew it was up to him to decide.
What should Charleston do first?
-Free the captives
-Head for the end of the hall

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