Wed. Jan 19th, 2022

The race for the elevator was on as Zoey, Zeke and Zyler barreled down the nightmare hallway outpacing the horde of demons behind them. The horde was full of every demon that had the misfortune to call the floor home, stumbling over each other for their chance to escape.

As Lenny put it over the loudspeakers just moments ago: “Just remember, you wonderfully evil and horrid demons, first one to possess one of those humans and force the un-possessed one to get you into the elevator gets a free trip outta here to wreak havoc on the mortal world! You all have a magnificent time chasing after them, and play nice!”

The demons were doing anything but playing nice.

“They really need to stop throwing fire spears so close to my fro; I can already feel it got singed!” Zeke yelled as he dodged a tentacle that tried to snatch him into its room.

“Maybe they should just hit your stupid, whiny face. Zoey is the one with the key anyway,” Zyler spat, his wallet chain furiously slapping against his striding leg.

“Both of you shut up and just keep—” The lights went out before Zoey could finish her sentence. “Oh Christ, candles, candles now!” Zoey barked at her two time removed companions as the familiar scream of a certain slug echoed through the familiar darkness.

Yet the three flickering lights of their candles didn’t reveal a slimy creature looking to ingest them. Instead it gave way to crows with the heads of decaying baby dolls attached to their black feathered bodies.

They darted in and out of the dim glow of the candles, their sharpened plastic teeth biting at the exposed faces of the three cohorts. They wailed for bottles and attention at a fever pitch. The three wanted to drop their candles and cover their ears to block the noise, but with the stakes so high, they pressed on. They ran forward, swinging at the creatures blindly with their candles outstretched. One of the beasts clawed at Zyler’s candle hand, causing him to drop his candle in pain. Zyler fell to the floor, making his wound out to be a bigger deal than it should be.

“Come on, Zyler, get the hell up. We have to keep moving!” Zoey turned to lift Zyler up as a deep laugh filled the darkened hallway and scattered the doll headed-crows.

The RM came sliding towards them with a wave of spiders as its vanguard. Zoey was still trying to get Zyler up, which left only Zeke’s candle to defend against the new threat, but his hand shook as he saw the RM’s maw open right up, becoming a doorway for various creatures it had eaten up in its time on rounds in the nightmare floor. They fell out over each other like newborns covered in slime, and they were hungry.

“This is it… Goodbye, beautiful fro. Zoey, get that weirdo out of here and spread peace and love, sister.” Zeke flashed the peace sign at her bewildered face as he whipped out his aviator sunglasses and planted them firmly on his face.

With a silent determination and accepting smile, Zeke ran towards destiny. He shoulder-tackled a zombie with horns out of the way and lunged forward into the maw of the RM, his candle before him. Zoey watched on in shock, and in the blink of an eye, the RM swallowed Zeke whole.

The RM immediately came to a halt, its horde stopping in its tracks as well. Everything in the hallway looked on as the darkness that once engulfed it dissipated, and the RM began to squirm. The spiders burnt up like dry paper, and the creatures expelled from the RM’s organs ran for the nearest rooms.

Zyler and Zeke watched on in disbelief as the RM began to thrash around, crying out in anguish. Mercifully, it popped like a zit that should have been dealt with a while ago. Zoey and Zyler caught most of the RM’s guts in the face, and the walls didn’t fare much better.

“Well, at least Zeke will always be a part of us ’cause no way am I getting this out of my hair.”

“Zyler, shut up. We need to move.” Zoey pointed to the returning demon horde behind them as the lights in the hallway flickered back on.

With no time to process Zeke’s sacrifice, the two ran for the elevator as the demons resumed the chase. Determined not to let Zeke’s sacrifice be in vain, Zoey pressed on with everything she had left. With each step and rattling of Zeke’s wallet chain the elevator came closer. With a second and third wind, the two reached the elevator with enough time to swipe the keycard they went through so much to obtain and dived into the elevator, slamming on the down button with everything they had.

The doors slid shut, slowly blocking the horrors of the nightmare floor from Zoey and Zyler. The two sat on the floor of the elevator, quiet for moments that seemed to stretch for hours. Both were covered in guts from Zeke’s sacrifice.

“You know, good on Zeke for being the hero ’cause I would have had to kill him before we got on the elevator. It only carries the keycard bearer and one possessed body at most. So many rules no one informs you about on this fl—”

“What the hell did you just say, Zyler?” Zoey asked as the elevator came to a halt and opened its doors to 2016.

“Since I’m a possessed body and you were the card bearer, Zeke wouldn’t have been able to get on anyway. It’s not that complicated,” Zyler scoffed as he walked out into the normal floor doused in fluorescent light. “Hello, mortal world, your final horseman has arrived…” Zyler patted himself down, shock on his eyeliner-covered face. “Oh, come on, I have to keep this form? Gosh… like, whatever, Death is here and the world is toast.”

“Zyler, what in the hell are you—”

“Look, Zoey, this has been fun, but I’m free of that bogus limbo and now I can do my job, okay? Catch you on the flip side.” With a rattle of his wallet chain, Zyler vanished, leaving Zoey alone in the dorm she left behind to play Pokémon Go.

A student walked out of an adjacent room as Zoey stood there, dumbfounded. She yawned and scratched her head at Zoey’s thousand-yard stare.

“Hey, look, I get we’re all shocked you-know-who won that whack electoral college, but you can’t just block the elevator. I just saw this code on Twitter that might lead me to a haunted floor with some sick new Pokémon. There’s always something to look forward to.”

Zoey took the girl’s phone and smashed it on the ground. No one was going back to that floor. Zoey walked forward as the girl just looking for sick new Pokémon shrieked at her in protest.

Zoey couldn’t hear her; she might as well have been a ghost.

Conor Killmurray is a fourth-year student majoring in English writings track. He can be reached at CK83879@wcupa.edu.

Jesse Isadore is a third-year student majoring in English literature with a minor in creative writing. He can be reached at JI800190@wcupa.edu.

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