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999: Nine Hours - Nine Persons - Nine Doors

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Wed May 24, 2017 8:51 am
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CoffeeCat says...


"On April 14th, 1912, the famous ocean liner, known as the Titanic crashed into an iceberg. After remaining afloat for two hours and forty minutes, it sank between the waters of the North Atlantic. I will give you more time. Nine Hours. That is the time you will be given to make your escape."
    Zero, on the Exact Time to Failure.


You wake up in a cruise liner cabin, in the heart of a dark, anonymous ocean... much like the state of your mind, you soon conclude; to the best of your ability, you can't seem to remember an awful lot about how you got here, and for what reason. Heck, your not quite certain on the specifics of yourself for a moment. Attached to your wrist is a watch-like device displaying a number. Your head pounds and your limbs are weak, as if you've been drugged. Your new reality comes to you in slow fragments.

You escape the room to encounter eight other people in the same predicament. A few moments later a voice, introducing itself as Zero, announces over a loudspeaker that all nine of you are participants in the Nonary Game, with the challenge to find the door marked with a "9" within nine hours before the ship sinks. All of the external doors and windows have been sealed, and many of the internal doors are locked.

You, along with the other eight people, are forced to work in separate teams in order to make your way through the ship and solve puzzles to find Door 9, before you all drown inside. Through various discoveries, you and the others learn of a previous Nonary Game, played nine years earlier, and the connections of each person to that event.

Who Are You?

Your character is one of the nine victims aboard the cruise liner. Who they are and what their past reveals is up to your boundless creativity! The thriller/mystery genre tends to focus on hidden motives and suspicion when it comes to characters. Try to make your character interesting and unique from the other characters, with some secret connection to the first Nonary Game. Be free and have fun!

Each character wakes up in a separate cabin, and are given a different number. They will adopt code names to protect their identities due to the stakes of the Nonary Game.

Character slots:
One -- @Iggy -- Alpha (Elizabeth Sparse)
Two -- @Sassafras -- Tango (Kin)
Three -- @Chaser -- Ether (Tong Shiyuan)
Four -- @rosette -- Jazz (Miles Sanks)
Five -- @Lael -- Star (Colton Grayson-Blair)
Six -- @Sheyren -- Seraph (Serena Kimberly)
Seven -- @Falconer -- Pleiades (Keira Shard)
Eight -- @Wolfical -- Oxygen (Bradley Watts)
Nine -- @CoffeeCat -- Fox (Karma Melnyk)

Character Template:
Code: Select all
[b]Code Name:[/b]
[b]Actual Name:[/b]

[b]Physical Appearance:[/b]


[b]History (can be developed as the story progresses):[/b]

[b]Ulterior Motives and/or Secrets (potential plot twists):[/b]




I will be guiding the story forwards, but the plot is highly flexible and open to anything within reason. Mystery, Suspense and Surprise will be your most valued companions in this storybook (however Drama, Action and Romance are also invited to the party). Think outside the box and go wild with ideas, or just take it easy and let the story lead where it may. It's up to you.

See the storybook rules on the right side of the page. Anyone is welcome to join by commenting in the Discussion Topic.
Last edited by CoffeeCat on Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
-- René Descartes

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Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:34 am
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CoffeeCat says...





















Spoiler! :
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
-- René Descartes

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Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:36 am
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CoffeeCat says...

Fox (Karma Melnyk)

He was a child in the cradle of oblivion, in those first ignorant moments. The heavy, lethargic rocking; the monster-like creaking of metal below; the stale, oppressive air entering his lungs; the pressure in his head, in his bones—all these sensations, flailing in the dark of his semi-conscious mind.

His eyes cracked open. The first thought to seize him was that it was an ugly colour: off-white—the colour of cheap bathrooms, or slightly yellowed teeth, or city pollution. He stared at the unflattering ceiling from quite a ways down, his back against a scratchy, lined surface. The ceiling light glared down at him.

Where… was he?

Cautiously he flexed the fingers of his right hand, and was dazed at the amount of energy it required. His body, usually bursting with action, now lay, weak and hollow. It felt unnatural. It felt wrong.

The ceiling swayed and the surface beneath him trembled. He had been startled awake by a loud noise before—an explosion of some kind… Or maybe that had only been a dream. Nothing made sense in this place, which was gradually presenting itself as a small room.

Memories and visuals tangled together behind his grey eyes as he searched for an explanation. His own name raced to catch up with his awareness, now that the fog of his mind was clearing. Karma Melnyk took in his surroundings:

Two metal bunk beds stood tall on either side of Karma, both vacant. The surface beneath him became a firm, teal carpet, which matched the colour of the bed mattresses and the two-chair table in the far corner. The four walls were made of paneled wood, painted off-white like the ceiling. Positioned on the far wall was a round window, almost like a porthole on a ship or an airplane.

With a heave of effort, Karma lifted the upper half of his body to a sitting position. The edges of his reality danced in a blur, and he had to shut his eyes for a few seconds to calm them.

The last thing he remembered… was a gas mask. A dark figure in the backseat of Karma’s work taxi, reflected in the rearview mirror. A cloud of hissing gas filling the vehicle, billowing around the figure’s masked face. No words… just Karma sinking onto the steering wheel, coughing and fighting against his drooping eyelids.

How long had he been knocked out since then? Hours? Days?

Karma reopened his eyes. The porthole window was dark and ominous, like what he imagined looking into a black hole in outer space would feel like. Karma wasn’t sure if he wanted to see what was out there, but knew that he had to.

It took much of his willpower not to spring up suddenly as per his typical behaviour, but he got to his feet nonetheless, albeit gradual and disorientated. As he moved, he noticed a blue object float down to the carpet from his forehead. His bandana.

Snatching it off the ground, Karma tied the blue material back around his dark, disheveled hair where it belonged. Something about its familiarity brought him comfort.

While lowering his hands, something else grabbed his attention: attached to his left wrist was the most peculiar, bulky looking watch Karma had ever seen. At least it appeared to be a watch… although the large LCD display only contained one number: the number 9.


He turned the watch over, but found no buckle or clasp to remove it. Also weird.

Deciding to deal with it later, Karma approached the porthole and peered outside the room; thinking always came later in his world.

A vast expanse of gloomy landscape covered his view, too obscure to identify. However one thing was apparent: a massive amount of water rose and fell below him, its mostly invisible surface glinting with fluid motion.

He’d been on the ocean before, but not for at least ten years, and he didn’t recall his past experiences being this terrifying. He was on a ship of some kind… and this room, he supposed, must be a cabin.

Breaking away from the window, he spun. It was the first time Karma had faced the inner wall, and his heart leapt twice: first at the sight of an iron door, and second at what was emblazoned across it. On the surface of the door—in messy, red paint—someone had written the number ‘9’… the same number as his watch bracelet.

Before his mind could consider this odd coincidence, Karma had already bounded over to the door and gripped its L-shaped handle. He pushed. He pulled. He planted his right combat boot on the same wall to haul at the handle. He shoved his weight onto the door. He body slammed with an impact that rattled the room furniture.

Nothing. The damned door wouldn’t budge. Not even an inch.

“Hello?” Karma called out, to no one in particular. “Is anyone out there?”

Silence from the other side of the door. Metal groaned deeply from the base of the ship, as the cabin rocked to and fro.

Karma swore under his breath. His claustrophobia was creeping over him in a subtle manner, smothering his form like a thin blanket. He needed to get out of here.

Beside the door was a small, digital box with a keypad, its red light mocking Karma’s frustration. He had already tried pressing random numbers on the keypad, but without a code his attempts were futile.

Hence, a search began; he searched all around the cabin—under and over the bunk beds, near the table, behind an old picture frame, a tin crate in a corner. He did this with efficient ease, now that the high-spirited strength in his body was back. But all hope seemed lost when he remained empty handed afterwards.

Karma collapsed onto one of the lower bunk beds, furious and suppressing a surge of panic. What now? What now? He had to act. He had to do something.

A muffled sound introduced itself from some unknown area of the cabin. It was the sound of… a ringing telephone.

In a flash, Karma was up and happening. He directed his ears towards the sound, his feet following blindly after. What he arrived at was a built-in wardrobe, its doors painted to look like the wall panels.

He threw open the two doors and, sure enough, an old-fashioned telephone sat on a low shelf, yelling at him with a dull, rusted ring. Next to it was a slip of paper.

Karma was almost too perplexed to pick up the telephone, but a second later he recovered, and he reached for the handset.

“Er… Yes?” he said into the mouthpiece, not quite sure if this was real, or whether he was using the phone correctly.

A voice replied from the other end of the line.
If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
-- René Descartes

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Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:25 am
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Wolfical says...

Oxygen (Bradley Watts)

It was the eighteenth hole at a golf course by the sea. He slid his driver out of the bag and, looking down over the cliffs, took in the dazzling blue ocean and tasted the salty air on his lips. A confident grin on his face, he fished a tee from his back pocket and bent down to set up his ball.

All of a sudden, he was swept with a wave of dizziness. The ground shook; he stumbled and fell over into the grass, except it wasn't grass anymore - it was a bed.

Oh. He had been dreaming.

Bradley groaned like a bear and turned over, squeezing his eyes shut and groping for his pillow. He wanted to go back to sleep and play golf! He was on the last hole, and his game was going well! Darn it, where was his pillow?

He opened his eyes to see if it fell on the ground or something, and that's when he realized that he wasn't where he thought he was.

He was in a tiny room, with vertical white wooden boards as walls. A rectangular window above his head allowed a shaft of light inside; this light swayed back and forth, scurrying and retreating up and over the walls. Bradley's eyes followed it, as if he was in a trance. Slowly, his jaw dropped.

Good God, he was on a ship.

It all came flooding back, then - the busy street, the sandwich shop, the bag he was carrying that wafted aromas of a toasted baguette (which he had never gotten to eat!). He had been walking home, looking forward to enjoying his dinner by himself in his apartment when wham! He was tackled into a side street and something was thrust up against his face.

Bradley groaned again, this time because he felt all the sores surface into his consciousness: his head throbbed, his knees hurt, his left side was bruised, and his spine was stiff. He was lying on a neat white twin bed, like the kind you'd find in a hotel room. It had one sheet, which he wasn't under, and no pillows. It was stiflingly hot, and he unbuttoned the top few notches of his flannel.

His head spinning, he pulled himself into a sitting position. He still had his shoes on, and all his other clothes, but he also had a fat watch strapped tightly to his left wrist. He squinted at the screen, which displayed a single LCD digit: eight. He flipped his wrist over to try to take it off, but there was no buckle or button or anything.

"Oh, great," he said, dread rippling through his body. He had an inkling about what was going on.

He glanced impatiently at the rest of the room's furnishings, which were neat, bland, and really nothing special: a painting of a white seashell in a white frame, a white light switch, a white bedside table, a white old-fashioned phone - that perhaps, could be useful - and a white door. Before he examined the phone, however, he stumbled to the door and tried the knob. Just as he thought - locked. Beneath the knob was a keypad.

He didn't try banging on the door or yelling for help. He was a part of some sort of puzzle, or, indeed, a very familiar experiment. The creators of this game, he knew, had no sense of mercy. In any case, they had tackled him in a street before dinner, thrown him in a tiny room and, the cherry on top, taken away his pillow. They weren't about to answer to his cries.

There was a slip of paper next to the phone. It had four numbers on it, which he figured could be the combination to his door, although he doubted it - that was too easy. He tried it anyway and as he expected the door didn't unlock. The other side of the paper had a single number on it, three, and that just confused him more.

He looked at the phone and decided to dial the first thing that came to his head: 9 - 1 - 1. Picking up the receiver with one hand, he spun the dial and punched in nine. To his surprise, the button stuck and he heard white noise on the other end of the receiver. The dial wouldn't turn, either. For a moment he was afraid that he had broken the phone, but then the static noise was cut off and the nine button popped back out.

Frowning, he turned the dial to one and punched the button, and this time he heard a more reassuring ringing sound through the white noise.
Romans 12:2:
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Simon & Garfunkel <3

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Sassafras says...


The sun beat down merciless on Kin's mostly naked body. Tommy hopped nervously around her head, pecking gently here and there to try and get a response from the seemingly unconscious woman. She only groaned. And then, so did her stomach.

But it was not a want for food that left her immobile in the sand, it was water - or rather a lack there of.

The cruel thing about being thirsty on an island is the fact that you're on an island. Water was everywhere but, on account of a storm that came blasting from nowhere in the middle of the night, Kin had none. No firewood. No bottles, no supplies, no anything. All the free wood left laying around was too soaked to be of use and all she could scavenge from the wreckage of her camp was a small knife and some tarp.

"I am going to die today."

The phrase passed through her dry lips like a salve.

Some effort could have been given. She could slave away with the knife and tarp, maybe catch some fish or shave some wood down to dry tinder. She had come back strong from worse than this but...

A hot puff of air pushed out of Kin's nose as she flattened her lungs. It'd been nine long hard years of trying. Earlier in her days, after everyone else died, she'd entertained the thought of simply seeing how long she could make it. A small flame of hope flickered in her heart, even then, for rescue, but with the passing of each day survival seemed more futile.

"Squawk! Die today! Squawk Die?"

"Yes, Tommy," her voice was sandpaper. "I will die today. Or tomorrow, or-"

"Tomorrow! Squawk Die tomorrow!"

At this, she laughed, as heartily as her state would allow.

"Why? Will you miss me?"

"Memory! Squawk!"

"Sure buddy... Keep me in your memory."

Kin closed her eyes slowly, deliberately. For a moment, sharp panic gripped her throat but when Tommy nestled his head into the crook of her neck, darkness came easily.


Brrring Brrring Brrring

Kin woke with the intentions of falling right back asleep, but froze still before she could even exhale a breath. All of her instincts kicked on at once and she lay, frozen and sweating on a bed made of cloth in a room with air conditioning and-

Brrring Brrring Brrring

She jumped onto her feet at the first ring, her body pressed flush against the wall behind her, toes curling into a grip on the bed sheets. The room was plain, all that decorated it was a bed, table, and a desk with a phone plugged into the wall.

"Mercy... Have mercy on me... What hell is this?"

Brrring Brrring Brrring

The phone shook slightly as it rang and, steeling her nerves, Kin dashed towards it and answered it swiftly, covering the receiver in the process.

"Er... Yes?"

She shivered. It'd been so long since she'd heard a human voice. Unbidden, tears flowed down her sun-burned cheeks.

"Hello," the person questioned.

Kin sobbed in return.

"Hello? Who is this? Can you help me?"

Kin's crying grew louder. Shaking, she sank to the floor and wailed.

"Are you okay? Hello? Hellllooo?!"

"Please... Is this real?"

"What? What's wrong?"

"Where am I?"

"I don't know. I just woke up here myself and this phone was ringing. You didn't call me?"

"Am I dead?"

Spoiler! :
A bit rushed and crappy but let's get this thing off the ground! ^^
A pale imitator of a girl in the sky.

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Thu Jun 22, 2017 7:40 am
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rosette says...

Jazz (Miles Sanks)

A shock of pain jolted him awake, as his body collided against a hard surface.
He yelled out. Jerked upright. His left shoulder burned, and he groaned. His eyes couldn't focus.Oh, Lord. He swayed, steadied his hands on the floor. His stomach churned.

"What in the-" He blinked rapidly, and gradually the black specks marring his vision vanished.

He was in a room. A small, ugly room furnished only by two bunks on either side of him, and a desk with a telephone atop it behind him. The door before him stared down imposingly. There was something beneath the handle. A keypad. His heart drummed in his ears.

Where am I?

He swayed again, and the light hanging from the ceiling bounced about the room. He frowned. No. That wasn't him swaying. It was the floor. It was everything around him. He stood unsteadily to his feet. A flash of black caught his eye. He stared. A thick black watch was strapped to his wrist, displaying one number: 4. 4?

Miles fumbled with it, but the device wouldn't budge no matter which way he twisted or turned it. He took a deep breath, loosed the top button of his collar from it's stifling grip. He was still in his tuxedo, though his bow-tie was missing, and his jacket was rumpled. He'd been at a concert. He'd been playing the piano. He'd - Miles ran his fingers through his hair. It was still stiffly geled, the way he always styled it. He let out a short breath in frustration. He couldn't remember.

Why am I here?

He strode to the door, and tried twisting the handle, though his gut instinct told him it was useless. He wasn't getting out.

He glanced back in the room, at the rumpled sheets of the bunk he'd rolled off, the telephone, the swinging light.
The bunk.
There was something on it, partly covered by the twisted sheet.

He left the door and bent to pick it up. A lighter? Miles turned the object over in his hands, examining it. There was no number on it, no special marking or code. It was simply a lighter. He frowned, dropped it in his pocket. He really didn't feel on the verge of a panic attack or hysteria, despite the circumstances. He just felt... confused.

He eyed the telephone, this time, noticing the slip of paper beside it. Miles sprang for the desk, grabbing the paper. His eyes scanned the code printed across it. He glanced at the door. Then, back at the paper. Would it...?

The door clicked open when he pushed in the last number. He stared out into a dark hallway, and hesitated. Something didn't feel right.
As he walked out of the room, Miles thought to himself, Well, what feels right about any of this, anyway?

Uncle Ellis would have been proud of him for maintaining a sense of humor. Uncle Ellis. Miles paused in the empty hallway, staring at the closed doors on either side of him.

Where is he?

Only silence answered his question. Miles wondered if it would be foolish of him to call out. Or knock on a door.

What could be worse?


He rapped on the door nearest to him.

"Hello? Is anyone in there?"

There was no response.

He moved down the corridor, trying different doors, even raising his voice, hoping someone would hear; all the while, a sense of desperation overcoming him. He didn't want it to be true. He didn't want the facts staring him in the face to be right at all. But they were.

And he was alone.
"It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people.
The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom."
- Horace Greeley

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Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:36 pm
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Sheyren says...

Seraph (Serena Kimberly)

She awoke on the floor of square room. The walls were made completely of metal, and nothing decorated their surface. Just pale silver walls, polished so they gleamed under the fluorescent light on the ceiling, which was also metal. On the wall behind her was a porthole, but it had been bolted over. Despite it being completely blocked off, it told her she was on a ship, as did the rocking movements of the room around her.

The contents of the room were simple. A bed behind her, under the former porthole. Beside it was a desk, with nothing but a lamp and an old telephone. A dresser stood in the far corner, and there was a mirror, hung on the left side of said dresser. It was sloppily done, as though the room had been makeshift guest room far before she got there.

On the wall in front of her was a huge metal door, bearing the number six. She looked down and saw that a wristband was on, well, her wrist, and it bore an LED display. The display showed the same number six, and no matter what she did, it wouldn't change. The bottom of the band had buttons, but they had been melted over the rest of the plastic band, so it couldn't be removed.

Slowly, she rose to her feet. Her legs wobbled, and she realized they hadn't been used in several days. As she stood, the ship rocked, and she slammed into the wall. Stabilizing herself, she noted that the wall was heated, almost as though a heater was inside it. Or, perhaps, the room was located near the boiler room.

Her first instinct was to look under the bed, only to find nothing below. She turned and approached the dresser, looking in the mirror as she did so. She poked the mirror, noting the space between her fingernail and the back of it. A one way window, she thought. Pulling open the dresser, she half expected someone to be spying on her from inside it. But, it was empty. A window was on the left side, where the mirror should be located.

This dresser must have been used to spy on people, or perhaps a specific person. It filled her with unease that someone could have been spying on her at any point. She was reassured by the huge metal door, which would be difficult to open without being noticed, especially in the near empty room.

Finally she crossed to the desk and tried to turn on the lamp. It sparked, but didn't turn on. She then picked up the telephone and put it to her ear. No sound came through, as she expected, so she began dialing, but she didn't know to whom. Naturally, she hit every number, starting at one. The dial locked up, and the phone produced some white noise. Through the speaker, the sound of someone picking up came through.
"I don't have any meaningful quote for this thing."

If you somehow didn't already know, I used to be Sheytato.

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Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:26 pm
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Lael says...

Star (Colton Grayson-Blair)

He ached all over. His back was sore, and his head was pounding. As if he was having a hangover. But it had only happened once, maybe eight years ago, when he'd been stupid, before he'd vowed to only take the polite one or two sips at any sort of event--work dinner, gala, or date, regardless.

He shifted, slipping his hand under his pillow in an attempt to get comfortable.

Then he shot up into a sitting position, eyes wide open, and groaned as another jolt of pain hammered into the back of his head.

He was not in his luxurious, comfortable room. Not even in some hotel. That lump was not a real pillow. These scratchy burlap sacks were not real sheets. This rock could not possibly be a mattress.

And why was it so hot in there? He couldn't survive without AC.

How was he even in such a third-rate room? With no windows?

Someone would pay for this wrong against Colton Grayson-Blair.

Colton Blair, not Grayson-Blair. I should get my name legally changed after I get out of this hole. And after I find out who dared to do this to me.

He stood and immediately stumbled, scrabbling for the wall for support. And what was that strange rocking motion? Colton felt a sickening feeling deepening in his stomach as he sat on the floor. He hoped he wouldn't vomit. That would seriously cramp his style.

He looked up. The doorknob was above him. He lifted a hand and tried to open it. Locked. He didn't even try the keypad.

A flash on his wrist caught his eye. The ugliest, clunky-est watch Colton had ever seen was strapped to his wrist. And the only thing on its screen was a huge number '5', which matched the big, bloody red '5' slashed on the door.

"What is this?" He tried to remove the device, but to his dismay and growing panic, it wasn't coming off.

Who did this? Was he here all alone? Had somebody kidnapped him? How would he get out? This had to be the work of a psycho.

An ringing sound broke the silence. It sounded like one of those old-fashioned telephones that one only saw in black-and-white TV shows anymore.

Colton stood slowly, and walked to the desk. "How do these still exist?" he muttered, and picked up the receiver. Was this the mouthpiece or the other part?

"Er . . . Yes?" he said. When no one replied, he let out an impatient huff. "Hello?"

I don't have time for this. Colton was about to throw the receiver back down when he heard a hysterical crying noise through the speaker.

"Hello? Who is this?" The questions started to tumble out of his mouth. "Look, I'm stuck in some sort of disgusting prison with a strange device stuck on me. Can you help me out?"

When the person on the other end of the line just kept crying, Colton could barely keep himself from straight-out yelling. Maybe this was his only chance of getting out.

"Hey! Are you okay? Hello? Hello?!"

"Please . . . Is this real?" whispered the other person. It sounded like a woman.

Colton let out an exasperated breath. "What?" he asked through clenched teeth. "What's wrong?"

"Where am I?"

"How would I know?" snapped Colton. "I just woke up here myself and found out that I'd been dumped in some nasty hole. The phone happened to be ringing. So you didn't call me?"

The next thing the woman said had him rolling his eyes.

"Am I dead?"

Keep it cool, champ, though Colton. No use getting too excited. I've got to keep it cool. But he couldn't help his urge to be sarcastic.

"Yeah, you're dead," he said, "and I am too." But after a pause, in which the stranger started crying again, Colton quickly exclaimed, "No, you're not dead, okay? Come on, get it together. I want to get out of this place." He couldn't stand crying any more than he could stand his dad.

He looked down at the desk and saw a scrap of paper. He picked it up and studied it, his eyes narrowing. Some random numbers were scribbled across it.

"Hold on a sec," he said, and put down the phone without hanging up. He walked over to the door and punched in the numbers on the paper into the keypad, only for it to make a buzzing noise of rejection. He hurried back to the phone after scrounging for a pen, but settling for a stubby pencil he found under the desk.

"Hey, I have this paper with some random numbers on it. How 'bout you?"

The woman took a ragged breath. "Yeah."

"Okay, why don't you tell me your numbers, and I'll tell you mine, and we can see if they work. All right?"

Colton was willing to play nice with others if he could get out. He really wanted out.

As the person on the phone listed out her numbers, Colton scrawled them quickly on the same piece of paper. Then he gave her his.

"Well, if I don't answer anymore, I'm out," he said, dropping the phone, then raced to the keypad. He punched in the numbers as fast as he could. Please be right, please be right.

The keypad flashed green and he heard a lock click. "Yes!" He could barely keep himself from whooping aloud.

Colton threw the door open and raced down the hall.
In God I Trust

"as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death."
Philippians 1:20

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Chaser says...


The detective sat on the stone bunk, glaring at the wall in front of him. The world around him seethed, hard metal bars incarcerated by a benign cream color. It sat there, masking its true identity, and the detective did the same. It was just another ordinary night for him.

Outside, the window revealed pitch-black water, not a star in sight. The detective scoffed, as if the stars had ever shown themselves to him. Living in the city, stars were often dashed to the pavement and muddled beneath the boot of crime.

But all of that was meaningless to him then, because right then, he, the great detective, had been - had been-

“Eeeeiiyaagh,” the detective moaned, burying his face in his hands. “How could I let this happen to me?”

Trying to wipe away the embarrassment, he sat there, resting his chin on the back of his hand. “Yeah, there’s no mistaking it,” he mused. “I’ve been kidnapped.”

Bells of memory began to ring through the mist, and he remembered vague details of what had happened. His door had been pushed open unassumingly, the character looking around to make sure they were in the right place. And the office of a private eye was something of the right place for all the wrong things. Wrong, as in, this person tossed a canister on the floor as they walked in.

The detective had been writing in his journal, and didn’t look up in time to see the gas mask on the person’s face; by then, the aroma of sleeping drugs had already filled his head.

His journal, speaking of, was tucked into his coat pocket. The detective was relieved that he’d gotten to keep his clothes, dress pants of a static grey and flattering suspenders. However, there was one addition that troubled him. He shifted his sleeve up, revealing a device that encircled his right wrist in metal. It bore resemblance to a digital watch; the detective had subsequently puzzled as to whether “3” was even a time.

At waking up without a scratch, he’d blown out a sigh of relief. He was locked in a cabin in what looked like cruise ship, but waking up unbound meant one thing: The kidnapper expected him to do something about it.

Groaning, he hugged his knees, trying to figure out what to do next. On a table beside him was a rotary telephone, mahogany-wood trimmed with brass. He’d been sitting here for a while, hoping it would ring, or explode, or anything, to tell him what was going on.

He glanced at the metal door, still tightly shut despite his efforts to break the lock. The lock was a steel box, an oversized keypad with a lever on the side. The detective had determined, after much lever-jangling, that a 4-number code was what kept the lever from opening the door.

He'd found a four-digit code beside the telephone, but it was useless to this door. The detective was wary of guessing the combination, and he’d found nothing else in the entire room. So there he sat, glaring at the telephone and wondering if the ship gave room service.

Out of nowhere, the telephone rang, and the detective reached for it without hesitation. The rotary was numbered 1-9, but now the 6 key had locked itself down. He brought the phone to his ear, leaning back against the wall.

“Tell me who I’m speaking to,” he growled into the phone.

There was a brief pause, then a steady voice responded, “I could ask you the same thing.”

“Well, I asked first,” the detective replied, grinning and leaning back. “But alright. Different question, then: Are your living quarters the same as mine?”

“I’m locked in a cabin on a cruise ship, some sort of keypad on the door. There was a four-number combination by the phone, but-”

“But you tried it and it didn’t work,” the detective concluded. “It’s the same for me.”

He chuckled, blowing air from his cheeks. “I suppose that means we can trust each other. So, why did you decide to call me?”

“You were the first number that stuck.”

“Oh, well then I’m flattered.” The detective glanced down at the bed beside him. “5264,” he added.

“What was that?” asked the voice.

“My code: 5264. Go ahead and try it out.” The detective held the phone close to his ear, hearing footsteps recede from the other end. A pause, then faintly, the denying *beep* coming from the door.

The detective nodded silently, hearing the confirmation of all the room’s features. A little later, the voice came back to the phone. “It didn’t work,” she said.

“Well, that’s because I lied. Sorry,” the detective apologized, “the code’s something different. Didn’t quite trust you yet, but it would’ve hurt your feelings to tell you directly.”

There was a sigh from the other line. “I suppose I can understand that, but I’d like to get out of here soon.”

“Don’t worry, miss, I’m sure we’ll get out. I’ll tell you my real code now,” he added, “provided you tell me yours.”

“And what’s to stop me from lying to you?”

The detective winced and raised an eyebrow. “Originality?”

She sighed; the detective was growing fond of that now. The two of them exchanged codes, leaving the phone to test them out. The detective pressed the keys of the door lock, crossing his fingers for luck. His consequent inability to pull the lever made him uncross them, and the lever swung downwards as he prayed the door would open.

*Beep* The digital screen flashed red, then cleared - the same thing that had happened with his code. Dejected, he moped back towards the phone, picking it up. The woman was already on the other end.

“It didn’t work,” he lamented.

“Neither did mine.”

The detective sighed, sitting down on the bed. “Are you sure I’m the only person you could call?”

“Like I said, the other numbers didn’t work.”

“Right, because these are two-way phones. So, do you think,” the detective said, gaining a flash of inspiration, “that these phones can talk to other people, who have different codes from us?”

“Then, that would mean,” the voice began slowly, catching on, “one of them might have the codes for our doors.”

The detective nodded furiously, not caring that she couldn’t see it. “That’s right! So, let’s split up and call them. They should already be talking to each other, and with any luck, they’ve figured this out too.”

“Right.” The line cut out with a buzzing, and the 6 key popped back out of the phone. The detective slowly put the phone back, then leaned forward, gripping the edge of the bed.

“So, we can get out of our rooms,” he murmured. The detective sighed and leaned back against the wall, wishing for a smoke to calm his nerves. Instead, the ocean rushed past outside, waves of dark froth sweeping the circular window.

“She knows it as well as I do,” he growled. “This is only the beginning.”
The hardest part of writing science fiction is knowing actual science. The same applies for me and realistic fiction.

"Be happy, my friend; and if you obey me in this one request, remain satisfied that nothing on earth will have the power to interrupt my tranquility."
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein