Paul suddenly noticed that the water was rising again. While it had once been ankle level on the landing, now it was up to his knees again. The floors below his seemed to be completely full of water and his floor was filling up fast. Paul figured there must be another larger leak at the bottom of this place, which may or may not be a ship. His feet squished into the soggy carpet as he quickly climbed some stairs that were located in front and to the left of him.
As he ascended, he heard voices and rapid footsteps a few floors above him. Paul climbed faster, trying desperately to catch up to them. Eventually, he heard them stop and the talking grew louder. He thought he could pick out a few distinctive voices among the mix, but he wasn’t entirely sure.
Abruptly Paul stumbled into a large room with eight other very familiar people crowded in a clump in the center. The eyes of Nikola Suprak, Michael Gray, Jeff Day, Matt Jonas, Daniel Castro, Nathaniel Hoover, Christian Porter, and Alex “Jeddy” Jedraszczak met his own as he entered.
“Paul!” several of them exclaimed at the same time. Paul could scarcely believe it. How did they all get here? Without warning, his mind suddenly raced back to writing the email to the mysterious address. He counted in his head and compared with the list he’d written in the email, then groaned. They were all here. Every single person he’d put on that list.
“Hey guys,” he replied uncomfortably. After all, it was his fault that they were all here. Hopefully they didn’t know that.
The staff surrounded him, all asking questions at once.
“Where are we?”
“What’s going on?”
“How did we get here?”
“What are these bracelet things?”
Paul told them that he didn’t know the answers to any of these questions (even though he kind of did). When everyone calmed down, Paul managed to take a look around the room. It was large and bare, with three ominous-looking heavy metal doors on the wall opposite the stairs. Two had large red threes on them, while the one in the middle bore a large red four.
He could tell that Michael and Nikola were just as aware as he was as to what was going on. Paul motioned them over for a quick conference near the stairs he’d come up a few moments ago, noticing that the water had stopped rising. There was now a flat glassy blue square of water, making the stairs going down to the floors below inaccessible.
“Paul, what’s going on?” Nikola demanded.
“What? What makes you think I know what’s going on?” Paul replied, a bad feeling spreading through him.
“We found these in the rooms we were locked in,” Michael said, holding up a blue sticky note, prompting Nikola to do the same. Paul leaned in close in order to read Michael’s.
The Pony Pros must take charge in the first challenge. Each pony must lead a group through the door. The number of people in the group is indicated by the
Paul was confused at the awkward sentence ending. “I-is there more?” he asked.
“Yeah, mine is the continuation, apparently,” Nikola said, holding his out. Paul squinted at it.
number on the door. For the full instructions, see the packet belonging to your courageous leader.
“So?” Nikola questioned. “Where’s the packet?”
Paul turned pale. “Uh-oh.”
“Uh-oh? What’s uh-oh?” Michael said, a hint of desperation coloring his voice.
“I don’t have it…” Paul muttered.
“Well, the note was right…” Nikola whispered to Michael, who shook his head.
“Which note? Where does it say that?” Paul said irritably, trying to snatch the bright blue note from Nikola’s fingers. Nikola turned it over, pointing at a few scrawled lines on the back of the square of paper.
Unless poor Paulie Pie forgot it in his room, which by now is surely submerged with that enemy of paper – water.
“Yeah…” Paul murmured uncomfortably, running a hand over his fabulous beard, pride of the GameCola staff (or so he liked to think).
“Wait, Michael, what’s that on the back of yours?” Nikola asked, pointing at Michael’s note. Michael turned it over and read it aloud.
“‘If this should happen, more information will be given to you in another form.’ What the heck is that supposed to mean?”
The other two offered unintelligible murmurs in response, looking at the ground uncomfortably.
“And there’s another problem,” Michael pointed out, looking over his shoulder at the rest of the staff, still in a cluster in the center of the room, and the three doors. The other two Pony Pros looked at him in confusion. “Three, four, and three,” he said, pointing at each door in turn, then turning back to the other two. “There are only nine of us. We don’t have enough people to get through these doors.”
Just as he said that, footsteps sounded above them, quickly descending. Everyone looked up, tracking their progress. “Who is that?” Paul asked curiously.
The staff crowded around the stairs going up, craning their necks to try and see around the landing as the footsteps grew nearer and nearer. Finally, a figure rounded the corner as a clock chimed ten. The person was carrying an iPad clutched tightly to their chest, one hand poised on the railing, mouth open, eyes wide.
For more of Diana’s fanfiction, check out her FanFiction.net page here