101010, Chapter 6: Skulls and Sludge

The first puzzle.

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The GameCola staff must band together if they want to survive Zero-Two’s most dangerous game.
(Inspired by the hit DS visual novel 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.)

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7Chapter 8

Nikola, Christian, and Nathaniel made their way down the leftmost passage. It was dark, so they often ran into walls and into each other, but eventually they found their way to another door (by running into it). Nikola’s hands found two cold metal handles and he pushed—but nothing happened. “Hmm,” he muttered, pulling on them. He felt the doors moving a little so he pulled harder. The double doors swung open, hitting a surprised Nathaniel and Christian and knocking them backwards.



“Sorry,” Nikola apologized, noticing that the doors stayed open. He entered, stopping just inside to examine their surroundings. Christian and Nathaniel followed, still rubbing their noses and foreheads from the sharp blow to the face they’d just been dealt.

The room was lit with an unearthly pale white glow, giving it a harsh, clinical feel. And as well it should, for the room appeared to be a medical room of sorts. Body parts filled capsules of liquid on the walls and the room was thick with the smell of blood and formaldehyde. Across the room, a red light pulsed brightly above a heavy-looking metal door.

“I’m assuming that means it’s locked,” Nathaniel said, pointing at the door. The other two nodded in agreement, their gazes now fixed on the object in front of them. Just a few steps away was a small computer panel with a blue glowing screen.

“I really hope this isn’t one of those programming things like Lotus had to do in the game,” Nikola said quietly as he took a step toward it.

It wasn’t. As they came closer, words in the same digital style began to fill the screen.

Welcome, Group 1. Your challenge is a simple one. The door is locked with a simple combination lock consisting of five numbers. Each number is enclosed in one of these…

The sound of clattering chains echoed against the metal walls. Ten human skulls dropped from the ceiling until they reached eye level with the GameColers.

“I don’t like this…” Nathaniel muttered. “They’re looking at me.” He was looking increasingly uncomfortable with every second with the skulls.

“Aw, stop it, they’re just skulls,” Christian said, looking unfazed by the macabre turn of events.

“Wait, hold on,” Nikola said, shushing the other two. “Why are there 10? Shouldn’t there only be five?”

Five of these skulls contain a number for the combination lock. Two contain nothing. And three…contain a deadly poison developed in this very room that, if released, will kill you in less than one minute.

“Oh. That’s cheerful.” Nathaniel gulped. These puzzles really were life or death.

Each player will answer one question. If they answer correctly, they will get to choose a skull to break against the wall, revealing a number, nothing, or the poison. If they answer incorrectly, they will choose a skull to fall to the ground, destroying whatever is inside (or releasing the poison). Are you ready to begin?

Two buttons appeared beneath the words, YES and NO.

Nikola looked at the other two. “Well, are we ready?”

“I don’t think we have much of a choice,” Christian pointed out.

“Let’s just get it over with,” Nathaniel practically whispered. The other two looked at him, slightly surprised that his vibrant personality would be dulled by something as simple as a few skulls.

Nikola tapped the YES and the screen flashed, illuminating the skulls with a creepy blue light.

Very well. Then I challenge you…seek a way out.

“Ooh, creepy,” Nathaniel said, attempting to sound sarcastic. The other two shushed him as the first question began to appear on the screen.

Nikola: In Ghosts’n Goblins, when Arthur is hit, what is he left in?

A keypad appeared beneath the question, ready for Nikola to type in an answer.

“Hey Nikola,” Nathaniel said, poking him in the back. “I know the answer. It’s underwear.”

Nikola glared at him. “I knew that,” he muttered, before turning back to the computer and typing in the word ‘underwear.’ Another message flashed.

Correct. Pick a number.

“What, no hints on which ones to pick?” Christian asked, frowning. “It’s all up to chance?”

“Not a good sign…” Nathaniel murmured.

“I’ll pick…five,” Nikola said, tapping the blue five.

The chains clinked again as the skull fifth from the left moved toward them and was lowered in front of Nikola, who took it in his hands. It was smooth and cool, but it gave him a terrible sensation in his fingertips. How had this person died? How long ago?

He walked over to the cold metal wall and threw the skull with all his might toward the gray surface. The skull shattered, throwing little pieces of white material everywhere and leaving a cloud of what could only be described as bone dust where it had hit the wall. Something thumped to the ground, and Nikola stooped to pick it up.

It was a small polished piece of wood bearing the number six. “It’s one of the numbers,” Nikola called back to the other two. He heard a sigh of relief as he returned to them.

Christian: When Sonic the Hedgehog takes damage, what does he lose?

“Ooh, ooh, Christian. It’s rings,” Nathaniel said eagerly. Christian glared at him before turning to enter in the answer.

Correct. Pick a number.

“I’ll pick 10.” The skull made its slow journey toward the trio, eventually resting in Christian’s hands. He threw it against the wall and found a piece of wood much like Nikola’s, bearing the number three.

Nathaniel: What is Mega Man’s most deadly foe?

“Most deadly foe…?” Nathaniel mused. All the Mega Man bosses were running through his mind. “No…no…no…”

“Come on, you’re the Mega Man expert,” Christian told him.

“Oh, I got it! Spikes!” Nathaniel looked very pleased with himself as he began to input the answer.

“Are you sure?” Nikola asked worriedly. “You have to be positive.”

“I’m sure, don’t worry. Spikes are the only things that can actually KILL Mega Man.” And sure enough, a message appeared.

Correct. Pick a number.

“Oh, uh…I’ll take…three…?” It came out as a squeak and he was barely able to reach out and tap the number as he realized what he was going to have to do. The skull approached him, leering, eyes nothing but large black holes. “I don’t want to touch it…” he muttered, trying to dodge it, but it kept coming toward him. Finally, it dropped into his hands, causing Nathaniel to shiver and practically run over to the wall. He tossed the skull, but it bounced off the wall and landed on the floor, grinning up at him. He picked it up and smashed it against the wall.

Nathaniel let out a strangled yell. Something thick and gooey was flowing over his hands out of the skull. “Ugh!”

“What is it?” Christian asked as he and Nikola made their way over to him.

“Oh. Ew,” Nikola said, looking at Nathaniel’s hands. Nathaniel dropped the skull in disgust.

“I’m guessing this is one of the ‘nothing’ skulls,” he said. He passed by the other two, casually wiping his hands on their shirts as he did so. They both looked after him indignantly as he examined the computer. “Nikola, it’s your turn.”

Nikola: How many hearts of damage does a Cucco attack deal?

“I know!!!” Nathaniel pushed Nikola out of the way, commandeering the computer and beginning to type. Suddenly Christian jumped on him.

“Stop, it’s Nikola’s question! What if he has to answer?”

Nathaniel’s hand accidentally hit the enter key with a stream of gibberish in the answer box.

Incorrect. Pick a number to destroy.

Everyone glared at Nathaniel. “Sorry…”

“I guess we’ll get rid of…seven,” Nikola said, sighing. “But how’s it going to be…”

The three watched in surprise as a trapdoor opened in the floor and the seventh skull fell down into it, gone forever. “That better not have been important…” Christian said as the trapdoor creaked closed.

Christian: What does the penalty system look like in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney?

“It’s exclamation marks, right?” Christian asked aloud. “I think it is.” He typed in the answer.

Correct. Pick a number.

“I’ll take four,” Christian said, grabbing the skull off the chain and throwing it against the wall with something resembling enthusiasm. Another wooden piece, this one with the number seven, fell out, bringing their grand total to three.

Nathaniel: What happens to Mario when he takes damage?

“Aw, come on. That could be anything,” Nathaniel complained.

“Like classic Mario?” Nikola asked.

“He gets smaller? Or he loses his power-up?” Christian suggested. “Pick one, I guess.”

“I’ll just put in both of them, just to be safe,” Nathaniel said, already beginning to type.

“But that’ll take so long!” Christian complained. “We’ll be here for ages! And what if it’s wrong?”

“Then it’s wrong,” said Nathaniel, obviously trying to be cool as he pressed the enter button dramatically. All three waited with bated breath for the message to appear.

Correct. Pick a number.

“I’ll take one,” Nathaniel said, his bravado decreasing rapidly as he remembered what comes next. The skull dropped into his hands and he threw it at the wall. It shattered, sending red goop flying, spattering all three of them. They let out strangled yells of disgust, Nikola and Christian glaring daggers at Nathaniel, who looked a bit guilty.

Nikola: Name a game in which some enemies are not actually killed, merely “turned back to normal.”

“Oh, I know!” Nathaniel exclaimed, then clapped his hands over his mouth.

“All right, fine, Nathaniel, what do you think?” Nikola asked wearily.

“It’s EarthBound! It’s gotta be!” Nathaniel said triumphantly.

“I agree,” Christian said.

“OK,” Nikola said, typing it in and tapping enter.

Correct. Pick a number.

“Seven,” said Nikola, tapping the corresponding number, and the skull slowly moved toward them.

“They still freak me out,” Nathaniel muttered, looking resentfully at the line of remaining skulls as Nikola retrieved another piece of polished wood, this one bearing the number four.

“Now we need to think, guys. Is it worth trying another question? We have four out of five,” Nikola said as he approached the others.

“And we’ve already got the two with nothing in them, so it’d be a piece or the poison,” Nathaniel pointed out.

“But we already lost one. For all we know, that could’ve been the piece,” Christian mused.

“So what do we do?” Nathaniel asked.

“I say we just try the door,” Nikola said, leading the way over to it. It was made of heavy metal, with a phrase engraved on it.

From the dark to the light…

The combination lock looked simple enough, with five rotating dials bearing the numbers one through nine. “How does this work…?”

Christian held up two pieces. “Do we just start putting in numbers?” he asked, beginning to reach for the lock.

“Maybe we should try to figure out what we’re doing before we mess with things,” Nikola said, looking at both Christian and Nathaniel, who gave an innocent look in return.

“Hey, check this out.” Christian was holding up his two pieces again. “These are different colors.” Sure enough, the two were slightly different.

“From the dark to the light… So we put the pieces in order from darkest wood to lightest wood,” Nathaniel said, beginning to understand. Nikola held the other two pieces up and the order became clear. “But where did the other piece go?”

“Only one way to find out,” Nikola said, beginning to input the numbers. After about ten minutes, they successfully determined that the piece they lacked went third. Twisting the dial revealed it to have been a nine.

The lock fell onto the ground with a clatter and the door creaked open, leading into another dark hallway. The three ventured in, feeling a sense of déjà vu as they ran into even more walls.

Finally, they reached a wooden door with a blue sticky note attached to it. It read simply:

You found it.

The door was unlocked and Nathaniel, Christian, and Nikola stumbled into a bright, spacious room where they found…

For more of Diana’s fanfiction, check out her FanFiction.net page here!


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Diana is GameCola's resident fangirl of many things, but predominantly Ace Attorney. She has her own YouTube channel where she dates birds (and other animals) and often makes people cry, mostly herself.


  1. I’m actually pretty OK with skulls and skeletons. It’s the room itself that would’ve grossed me out more…well, until the skulls started oozing. Oh, the horrors of ooze.

    It’s funny that the one question I had absolutely no idea how to answer is the one I jumped on like a madman. Zelda trivia is definitely not my strong suit, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. 😉

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