Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),
Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!
First Impression: Well this is an entirely new flavor. More linked to the yara-mara-yha-who than the other stories I think in terms of the style although this one is less humor and more just horror as Ollie is being slowly broken down.
Anyway let's get right to it,
I can hear some of you readers now.
“Oh, poor Andrea! I really thought she was going to become a mermaid!”
“So, did all of the other mermaids commit suicide too?”
“Why did you randomly include a police officer instead of just telling us she had died?”
And, honestly, I can see why you’re asking them. I have become your narrator. My job is to answer all of your questions, and hope you’re satisfied enough to keep reading. I really drew the short stick with this job.
Well this is quite the place to start with there. At least you're acknowledging that you did create these mysterious questions even if it sounds like you're gearing up to not actually answer them properly.
Well, here it goes. Yes, poor Andrea. It is sad when you mortals extinguish your already incredibly short lifespans. Sea sponges outlive you, and yet, that’s still far too long for some of you. But there’s nothing I can really say that will change your mind. At least nothing you haven’t heard before. It gets better. Just go for a jog. Stay calm. But what I can say that maybe you can at least consider for a moment is that I have seen entire galaxies collapse. I was there when the universe was born. But there are few things more fascinating than a human’s life. And sure, sea sponges live for over two thousand years. But they can’t human. And you can, reader. And that has to mean something.
And that is all you’ll be hearing from me on the subject. I am not infatuated with your species, and I will not ramble for hundreds of words. Do not expect me to. I am a professional.
Sure, sure we'll believe you. The way you phrased that doesn't make it suspicious at all. On a more serious note that's an interesting choice there to actually acknowledge. I was not expecting the narrator to provide a semi reasonable answer.
As for whether or not the other mermaids committed suicide, well, you read the story. I’m sure you can figure it out. And, if not, then I guess you’ll just have to wonder.
And for the third question.
Well, the answer will become evident in time.
Well isn't that delightful. Now that's much more along the lines of what I was expecting the narrator to do. Well, now that we've seen that, let's see where else the narrator wants to take us here.
Regardless, our story doesn’t have anything to do with Andrea. Today, our story is about a twenty-five-year-old named Mx. Ollie Ketcher. They had recently graduated from college and had gotten their first office job. Their parents were incredibly happy for them; their girlfriend, Betsy, took them out to a celebratory dinner. Life was well except for one main thing.
No one told them that an office job would be so dreadfully dull.
Every day was a photocopy of yesterday. The weekends were just last weekend on repeat. And soon, each month was just last month on loop. Ollie felt like they were going insane. People did this for their entire lives? Retired after forty, fifty years? And somehow managed to not either jump off a building or murder an entire grocery store’s worth of people?
Well that seems like a pretty standard life experience there for Oliie. I do believe that that can't be the monster though so I'm gonna assume this little bit of boredom here that Ollie is just starting to be introduced to will soon become interesting in some way or the other.
Ollie decided that everyone who told them that an office job was a good idea was either a very bright shade of delusional or straight-up lying. But Ollie was stuck. They didn’t have a backup plan, and their major was in business. That didn’t translate to any other field. Besides, maybe it was just this office they hated. Once they found a better place, perhaps they would like it more. They just needed some time to adjust from college to working. So, they made plans to switch to a new office. They made plans to tell Betsy about how they were feeling. They made plans to quit.
But I’ve noticed that life has a habit of spitting on plans. Laughing at you as it stomps them into the ground and rips them apart. Life was no different for Ollie when one day, on a coffee run, they took a left to make it back to their desk. The same left they always took. Nothing different. Nothing new.
But this time, they tripped. And they fell.
Ooooh well here we go. Love that we aren't going to waste too much on the boredom being established but we are jumping straight in the monster after we've seen enough to understand Ollie and their current position in life.
They fell for much longer than it took to hit the floor.
They landed on carpet, which was odd already because their office had hardwood floors. Even worse, the carpet was damp and smelled of mothballs and mold. Ollie gagged, forcing themself to their feet as fast as possible.
They weren’t in the office anymore.
Because as awful as the job was, at least they had the decency to have furniture. And their building didn’t have yellow wallpaper. And that mold? That was an OSHA violation. So where were they? And how did they end up there by tripping in their perfectly normal office building?
Well that definitely seems like a pretty shady place to land in. Method of entry notwithstanding, anything that looks that bad can't be home to a regular old office building. The question is of course, what might be within this moldy place.
They pulled their phone out of their pocket. Excellent, no cell service. So texting for help was not an option. So was looking up what exactly to do when teleporting to a strange, moldy building. They sighed, taking in the layout of the place.
It just looked like meaningless hallways, all curving and connecting to form each room. Again and again. Over and over. Like a loop. They shook their head. It couldn’t be a loop. Loo ps went on forever, and buildings were finite spaces. So, Ollie just needed to get over themself. Maybe finding the exit would help. They took off their soaked sweater and dropped it. It’s not like they would need it anymore.
Alright, Ollie. Let’s see about getting out of here.
Ooooh well here we go. Coming into this I already know the building is meant to be the creature, but I think by this point you'd realize it anyway. An endless loop in a moldy building with that particular title could only possibly mean one thing. Now the question is what exactly this version of the building will be like. Given how lovely those mermaids were something that's already meant to be horrifying can only get worse.
They walked through the hallway right in front of them. The fluorescents hummed so loudly above them that it was almost violent, and the carpet squelched beneath their feet. The mold on the walls only made the fading yellow of the wallpaper look sickly. Ollie choked back their disgust and continued forward. How old was this building? How was this allowed? Who owned it?
Ollie stopped to think about it for a few seconds. The building wasn’t in use. There was no furniture. But, then again, there was power. The very loud, needlessly bright lights proved that. Did they somehow end up in some sort of haunted house? A haunted hallway?
And none of that explained how Ollie got there. They had just been walking along. Making their way back to their desk on their perfectly stable office floor when they tripped. Even if they had fallen through the floor to the level below them, it wouldn’t lead here. There was nothing like this in their office building. They would not work at said office building if there were.
I like how you're slowly showing us more and more details on the loop, really mapping out those small important details that seem to be consistent for every part of this. The fact that Ollie here is also still trying to understand how they even got here is a lovely touch too, because even as we're terrified for what's to come Ollie is still just trying to understand how he even got there and paying no attention to anything else.
“Hello? Anyone down here?”
There was no reply, just echoing silence. Ollie squirmed.
“Oh, I don’t like this. Not at all. Nope.”
They took a deep breath and looked around. Their brief walk forward showed no way out. They turned around just to see their progress.
The hallway was completely different. They had just walked straight to get here. Now all that was behind them was a sharp turn right. They screeched. Nope. Nope! That was not normal. That was not how buildings… buildinged! And no, they didn’t care if that wasn’t a word. Not when the hallways moved.
OOooooh the plot thickens. It isn't just a loop. Things actually move. Well it is still a loop but its no longer a loop of just the same part over and over again, things are moving and just maybe reacting to Ollie as well.
They checked the bars on their phone again—still nothing. The whole situation thoroughly doomed them. How were they supposed to get out? Was there a way out?
They slapped their wrist. No! There was a way out! There had to be.
“Alright, Ollie. How do you escape a maze? Where the walls constantly shift? And you’re pretty sure the air is slowly poisoning you?” They laughed nervously. “Oh, dear.”
Now, the surefire way to reach the exit of a maze was to run your hand along the nearest barrier and follow it to the end. But Ollie was a little hesitant to touch the molding, peeling walls. Sure, the mold wasn’t black, but that didn’t make it any less revolting. Ollie would just follow it with their eyes. That had to work, right? They looked at the wall and slowly walked along it, trying to ignore how the squelching of their shoes was just a bit louder than the lights. Oh, a headache was coming on from the assault on their senses. Were they dying? Was this air going to kill them? Mold did weird things to air.
Ooooh well that air detail is a little too prominently mentioned for there not to be some sort of poisonous or at least mentally draining effect coming off of it. Its interesting how this has however forced Ollie to ignore the question of getting there for the moment and instead of focus on ways to get out. The lack of commitment to actually touching the wall suggest they aren't desperate yet though.
“I’m going to die without ever quitting my job.”
They felt sick. But they couldn’t throw up. That would be losing moisture, and they had no water on them. And they definitely weren’t licking the carpet for relief. That would only kill them faster.
They walked in silence for five minutes? Fifteen? An hour? Every curve of the wall just led them down another sickly yellow hallway. The same soggy carpet. The same buzzing fluorescents. Ollie definitely had a raging headache now. They rubbed their temples.
Well we're already seeing some clear effects mentally there. As much as its hilarious exactly what Ollies priority is about not having done in life, it is terrifying to see how slowly the environment around Ollie is starting to make them more and more uncomfortable and actively in pain now.
Ollie nearly jumped out of their skin. There was someone else in here? “Hello? Can you hear me?”
The voice was slightly closer now. Was that… was that Betsy? That sounded like her soft voice. Ollie could imagine her so clearly in a pastel summer dress and a cute pair of flats. Not suited for this nightmare. “Betsy? Betsy, is that you?”
“Hey! Where are you?”
Ollie looked around. “In the hallway? I don’t know.”
Oh dear, well it seems we've got one of those lure you somewhere with friendly voices tricks going on. Unless this building has somehow actually kidnapped this person which honestly I wouldn't put it past it.
It was silent for a beat before Betsy spoke again. “Where are you?”
Ollie sighed. “Where are you? I won’t be much help. I can try to follow your voice too.”
Betsy didn’t reply until a good thirty seconds later. “Where are you?”
Ollie sighed. Maybe she wasn’t hearing them. “Hold on!” They trudged toward the direction of Betsy’s voice. “I’m coming!”
Ollie flinched again. Betsy sounded closer now. Way closer. “Betsy?”
“Where are you?”
Ollie sighed. “I’m right here! You sound just around the corner. Just-”
“Where are you?”
Oh that corner is definitely never going to come. As much as I want to staunchly believe this is just a fake lure to get Ollie to some trap or maybe even to just get Ollie running around enough that they are going to be tired and more willing to succumb, there's enough emotion in this dialogue that for a moment you do have to stop and wonder if it really is Betsy.
Ollie blinked. Why wasn’t Betsy listening to her? Or hearing her? Were the hallways noise-canceling? “Betsy?”
Silence for almost a full minute. “Where are you?”
Ollie sighed. “Just stay still. I’m going to find you.” They took a left turn, abandoning their wall walking.
Ollie screamed. Betsy sounded right behind them now. When did that happen? They whirled around. “Betsy!”
But there was no one there.
Oh well the voice is dying down now. It seems either Ollie has been lured to where the building wants or that's just some sort of passing trick that happens only ever so often. At any rate its pretty clear this is adding to Ollie's general distress and they have found absolutely nothing.
Ollie blinked. “Betsy?” They walked in the direction her voice had been, turning to look down two turns. Nope. Betsy was nowhere to be seen.
“Oh, I hate this. Oh, I don’t like this.”
They turned around to continue the path they were taking, only to run face-first into a wall.
It was a dead end now. The first dead end Ollie had seen. So far, the hallways seemed never-ending. But here was a wall, closing off what used to be a full network of passageways. Ollie should have been glad. It was a sign that there was a limit. The hallways weren’t endless. They led somewhere. There was a way out.
Oooh this is interesting. I don't know enough about the general idea of the backrooms to know if there really is some wall here so this is definitely an exciting discovery especially when it comes to how exactly this might be used to make Ollie be in even more distress than they already are.
But, that wall was terrifying. Somehow, it felt like the hallways continued behind it, but the building didn’t want them there anymore. Like they lost that right.
They knocked on the wall gently as if that could undo whatever made the building decide to kick them out.
The wall screeched, screaming so loudly that Ollie covered their ears and collapsed onto their knees, cowering in place as the noise assaulted them. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
Oh well that was much more direct of an attack than I was expecting this wall to do but well that definitely is an effective method there. Caught me very much off guard and I imagine judging by Ollie's reaction they definitely did not enjoy that.
The wall screamed for another minute before it fell silent all at once. Ollie didn’t move, still covering their ears. Tears streaked down their face, the liquid of the carpet soaking into the pants of their suit. They gasped for breath. What kind of building was this? Where you could hear the disembodied voices of loved ones and the walls screamed at you?
Ollie stood up on shaking legs and backed away slowly, their eyes never straying from the carpet right in front of the screaming wall. They didn’t know what had angered the building, but they didn’t want to do it again. They didn’t look up until their back hit a wall. They gasped. Were they boxed in? Were they now forever trapped in the same five-foot stretch of hallway?
Ooooh this is clever. Somehow Ollie has now been reduced to just not bothering about the soaked carpet or the general state of horror at all because they're just so terrified of other bigger things now. It looks like the building does in fact have Ollie right where it wants them.
They glanced to their right. There was more hallway there. They had just hit a turn. They laughed in relief, sprinting down the hallway without looking back. Their ears hurt slightly from the scream and their headache was only getting worse, but they weren’t trapped! That had to count for something. Ollie was going to hold on to the very few positives they could scrap together.
Soon, Ollie stumbled back into a confusing crossroads. The hallway branched off in four directions: behind them, forward, left, and right. Backward was definitely out of the question. Ollie would never go in that direction. They walked forward a bit, glancing into each of the hallways. They appeared to be normal. Well, this place’s definition of normal. The branching hallways seemed to sprawl out like the roots of a tree. All garbled, confusing, and messy. What architect would design this? Who would pay for this building?
The fact that Ollie still thinks this is a regular building that's been build very confusingly is somehow adorable even as it is terrifying. That aside, it does look the building is now just leading Ollie exactly where the building wants Ollie to be going. That turn just appearing right when Ollie wanted to find a way out the box is too convenient otherwise.
They glanced at the mold along the walls. No one. No one had paid for this building, and it had become a grand scale OSCHA violation. They hadn’t even seen any windows. Or doors. Or any other room except hallways. The interior looked like a poorly designed office building, but there was no office space.
Ollie took a deep breath. None of that helped them now. Now, they just needed to pick a direction and go. Go until they found an exit. Go until they saw Betsy again, the real Betsy, and took her on a date again because Ollie would take her on a date again. Soon. They wouldn’t be stuck here forever. They couldn’t be.
Maybe they’d even break out the ring they’ve been saving. If at any moment, you could be swallowed by your office floor and end up trapped in some demented maze, maybe it was best to do it soon instead of wait.
Ooooh well this seems to be the part of the story where we start to get a bit more attached to Ollie and learn more about exactly why whatever horrible fate is about to befall them is going to be so much more painful.
They held out their left hand. Imagine that. Engaged and working an office job. The complete American dream.
Once they found an office job that didn’t make them want to hide in their own grave.
They looked up at the left hallway. Maybe that’s the best place to go.
They squared their shoulders and marched onward. For Betsy. For themselves.
The left door was more of the same routine. Tear away the confusing, borderline psychedelic pattern of the hallways; in the end, it was just routine. Just like every day would be the same, even if the details of each one were different. In the end, no matter the shape of the curves or the number of dizzying, impossible branches, it was the same thing.
Well it seems like this little sort of resolution that Ollie has managed to come up with has done something to sort of give them a clear goal but that also feels like a purposeful manipulation by the building given it chose for Ollie to hear those sounds specifically. Ollie is definitely slowly losing any control over their destiny.
Ollie felt sick.
They took out their phone again. Still no service. No texts from anyone who might’ve noticed they were missing. They sighed.
“This is awful.”
Their voice echoed slightly. It made sense. Empty rooms with no furniture tended to echo. But it didn’t feel like that. It felt like someone had just repeated back their words like there was someone in the walls just hanging on to every syllable. Ollie shuddered. They were going to need some intense therapy after this. Maybe they could pin it as a terrible nightmare. A kidnapping and drug trip combination?
Oh dear, well this is definitely trending slowly towards something slow and horrible for poor Ollie. It seems to be we're headed towards the part where Ollie is slowly coming to terms with the fact that something horrible is actively happening and they can't just find a way out of it.
Ollie nearly jumped out of their skin. Another voice. That hadn’t ended well last time.
Besides, wasn’t that… their boss’ voice?
“Mx. Ketcher. I know you can hear me.”
Braydon Coleman, otherwise known as Ollie and a handful of others’ boss, was a miserable man. A man so unhappy that his presence made the room appear dimmer. He was almost always frowning, complaining about company numbers, or moaning about how awful it was to be married. In my professional opinion, if he had been married in the 1950s, he’s the type of man whose wife would deal with a nice homecooked meal… with a light seasoning of arsenic.
Well that's an lovely way to introduce someone and a very interesting choice for the building to make as far as the voice is concerned. I feel like this is also for distress only this time Ollie is about to experience something entirely different here.
But unfortunately, he was born in the era of highly accurate forensic investigation, so he survived. Because you humans seem to become more impervious to life’s trouble the worse you are.
Ollie pressed themself against the molding wall, their breath coming out in short gasps. Another voice. They didn’t like this at all.
They heard footsteps in the distance. “Are you down here?”
Wait. Footsteps. Which meant feet. Which meant a body.
Well this one is definitely ending with Ollie in much more distress and perhaps something more physical in terms of the pain, although it is a bit harder to tell. Gotta love the narrator coming in with some very real wisdom there too.
Which meant Mr. Coleman’s voice had to come from an actual body.
Ollie stepped back into the middle of the hallway. “Mr. Coleman?”
“Mx. Ketcher! Thank goodness!”
Ollie stumbled backward. That was already different. Betsy’s fake voice never responded directly to anything they said. But, Mr. Coleman seemed to recognize what they said. “Mr. Coleman! Where are you?”
“A bit further down the hallway. Just keep walking.”
OOooh well Ollie themself seeing that the voice is different and more real just confirms that the building definitely has some greater ill intentions this time. A change like that definitely wouldn't happen because the boss decided to just come and visit Ollie out of nowhere.
Ollie frowned. “Sir? Can you not walk to me? I just had a nasty run-in-”
“Mx. Ketcher, I don’t have time for silly games. Walk forward. To me.”
Ollie sighed. Right. Even in a life-or-death situation where they both could die in a maze, Mr. Coleman would still be Mr. Coleman.
“Fine, sir. Please. Don’t fatigue yourself. Wouldn’t want you to lift a finger to help.”
Mr. Coleman huffed. “Just keep walking.”
Oooh yes. It looks like Mr. Coleman's voice here is going to be used to do that whole tiring out procedure while also perhaps making Ollie more annoyed and feeling bad about themself. There's definitely something along those lines as an ulterior motive judging by the words being used here.
Ollie batted the air. “Fine! I am, I am.” They marched forward. Oh, they couldn’t wait to quit! Just hand in their resignation and watch the displeasure bloom across that miserable little man’s face. Maybe that’s why their job was so boring. Because he just wanted to make everyone suffer.
They took a step forward, only for the hallway to change. Was it just their imagination, or was it at an incline now? Very slight, but definitely there. That was new. The hallways had all been level up to this point. Why would they start changing now?
“Mr. Coleman? What floor are you on?”
He huffed. “Just keep walking! I don’t have time.”
Oooh the building acquiring a bit of an incline is a very interesting note there. That's definitely going to increase how tired Ollie becomes trying to reach the voice of Mr. Coleman. This building is very good at what its doing.
Ollie rolled their eyes. “Right. No time. So sorry.” They just kept going, the incline so slight they didn’t even feel any burn in their legs. They probably only noticed because of the monotony. Any tiny difference was blaring. They marched forward. “Mr. Coleman! Are you at least moving forward?”
Mr. Coleman growled. “Shut up. Please.”
Ollie flinched. What was that about? Mr. Coleman had never said anything like that before. Why would he do that now? That was rude and unprofessional. And while he was a miserable old man, he wasn’t unprofessional in the slightest. Ollie frowned. “Mr. Coleman? Did you just tell me to shut up?”
Oh the voice is twisting slowly here, we're clearly going from just something to get Ollie to move to something that will now actively berate Ollie here. That's a very noticeable difference. I feel like Ollie is going to probably realize the situation now or we'll get a confirmation that Ollie has become a little less sharp to their surroundings.
There was a long pause from the man. “I don’t have time for silly games. Mx. Ketcher. Just keep walking.”
Ollie stopped walking. Something felt off. This wasn’t right. But, then again, it wasn’t the same as with the fake Betsy voice. Mr. Coleman wasn’t randomly reappearing in different spots. Then there were his footsteps. He sounded corporal. Was a building capable of doing that?
Was a building capable of doing any of this?
“Mr. Coleman. I have seen… some truly weird things today. I need some proof that you’re real. Please.”
Oh looks like Ollie does have a little bit of mental capacity left at the moment judging by that particular reaction. Well, well well. What are we going to see from here onward? Clearly Mr. Coleman isn't going to appear so we are nearing some sort of turning point.
“Mx. Ketcher! I don’t have time-”
“Yes, yes. I know! You don’t have time, and I don’t have the desire to die in this moldy, impossible maze. So set aside your petty impatience for one second and give some evidence that you’re an actual person!”
Another pause. “Just keep walking!”
Ollie groaned. While this sheer stubbornness and refusal to do anything helpful were very in character for Mr. Coleman, it did nothing to make Ollie feel better. They wanted something, anything, to lessen the feeling of unease. “Please, Mr. Coleman?”
Well this is lovely. We can see Ollie's mind just using the few instances of what make up Mr. Coleman's normal personality to make this illusion more believable and just heighten all the bad feeling slowly being created there.
“Just keep walking!” A loud, borderline deafening crash rang out as if Mr. Coleman had just smashed something against the wall. Ollie yelped. Was he okay? Was that Mr. Coleman falling? There was mold everywhere, so it could be dangerous enough to knock him unconscious.
They took a deep breath and ran forward. “Mr. Coleman? Are you alright?”
There was no response. Ollie’s heart started pounding in their chest. Oh no. He really must be hurt. “Please stay still! Try to fight unconsciousness if you can.”
Still nothing. The only sound was Ollie’s echoing footsteps, thundering across the walls. They were already out of breath. Why was it so hard? Why were their calves burning?
Ohh here we go. Here we go. Right as Ollie is getting to the peak of being incredibly tired from all the running we have the building getting Ollie to literally dash there and get even more tired and probably frustrated and terrified on top of it.
They focused on the hallway floor. The incline was no longer barely there against the monotonous backdrop. Now, it was a ramp. How? How did the structure change so often, so easily? Was someone controlling the building deep within its core? Was Ollie drugged and now vividly hallucinating? Was this all some sort of awful nightmare triggered by Olli feeling trapped?
Unfortunately, that last one was out because Ollie remembered how they got here very vividly. According to the movies, that’s not how dreams worked. So, Ollie was out of the one good possibility that meant their entire life wasn’t in shambles at the moment. Terrific.
Well Ollie was pretty quick to rule out the being drugged thing. A bit too quick I think. That mold smell from earlier was definitely meant to do more than just being a simple offensive smell although I have no doubt that this building really is chopping and changing in these strange ways.
Maybe that’s how Mr. Coleman was hurt. The building shifted, and he was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ollie could imagine it so easily. Turning around and slamming into a newly formed turn. Smacking your foot against a corner that just appears. All sorts of things really could lead to that. And Mr. Coleman was just the one who drew the short straw. Personally, if that was true, I didn’t feel too bad for him, but Ollie was upset because it meant that they could get hurt down here. What was preventing the walls from shifting and tripping them? What happened if Mr. Coleman couldn’t continue, and it was back to Ollie alone, and they couldn’t get help?
Ollie felt sick with worry as they kept going. They slowed down, suddenly unable to run. Why? They were just fine a second ago. They blinked.
The floor had shifted again to the same angle as a vicious hiking trail. Ollie wasn’t necessarily out of shape. Betsy and they tried to take walks together when Ollie’s schedule allowed it. But this wasn’t a casual constitutional. This was a walk that made Ollie’s legs wobble and burn. Where was the end of this hallway? “Mr…” They gasped, wiping a layer of sweat off their forehead. “Mr. Coleman?”
OH here it comes. Here it comes. The emotions are coming crashing down on Ollie and they are starting to feel exceptionally sad and worried for someone they are meant to currently be hating to some degree. The building is definitely winning and quite handsomely.
As they expected at this point, there was no response. Was he even alive? Should Ollie just turn back? If he was dead, Ollie couldn’t do anything. But all it took was imagining him badly injured for them to dismiss that idea. Ollie had a suit jacket. They could tear it up for bandages in case it was that bad. Hopefully, it was nowhere near, but there had to be a reason why he wasn’t responding.
Speaking of, they took their suit jacket off. It was stifling. They were sweating profusely. The smell mingled with the mold and mothballs horrendously, but Ollie was slowly getting used to it. The fluorescents were barely background noise at this point. It was getting easier to stay here. What exactly that meant, Ollie didn’t really want to consider.
Well Ollie seems to be systematically taking off layer by layer here. Granted it is a very hot environment so it seems natural enough. I do wonder though if there's more of an intention there on the building's part than simply just making Ollie sweat and be more tired as a result.
Good thing they didn’t have the chance to because suddenly, they could barely step forward. Ollie gasped for breath. The incline was almost vertical at this point. They couldn’t keep going like this. There was nothing to help them forward. It was like the hallways was purposely making it impossible to continue.
Ollie tried to make a noise of excitement but barely managed a small gasp. Mr. Coleman! He was speaking! He sounded okay!
“Just keep walking.”
Ollie leaned against the wall for support, panic surging through them. They couldn’t! It was getting impossible. “C-Can’t.”
Oh I love this. That timing is clearly not a coincidence. Right as the incline is reaching its worst and Ollie is ready to just call it quits because they can't walk upward anymore the voice returns to make Ollie gain some motivation again.
“I don’t have time for silly games!”
Ollie whimpered, flinching. What? Why was he back to acting as if nothing had happened?
“Just. Keep. Walking.”
Ollie took a single step forward.
The floors shifted to perfectly vertical, and Ollie fell backward. They were too out of breath to scream, too out of breath to cry out for help. They just fell, watching the mold streak by like twisted streetlights. This was it. Ollie was going to die.
Oh well it seems like that moment was simply to get Ollie to go over some sort of edge there and well I wonder what's going to be the other end of this fall. Given we're still not even quite halfway through the story there's clearly more pain to come for Ollie so it can't be the most dangerous of falls even though clearly it feels like a long way down.
Strangely, the impact didn’t hurt. They landed on the moist, squelching carpet and just… sank in. It was as if the carpet was absorbing the shock, protecting Ollie from any damage. Ollie gasped for breath, feeling the wetness soak into their clothes.
Ollie forced themselves to sit up, still exhausted. Was Mr. Coleman okay? The hallway had shifted back to being perfectly level, any signs of an incline gone. “Mr. Coleman? Are you alright?”
Oooh well that sounds almost like the building wants to play with its food so to speak and keep Ollie alive to subject to more mental torture. Speaking of which, it looks like Mr. Coleman's voice is going to continue on and this time its going to end up properly hitting Ollie with some emotionally draining stuff.
Ollie flinched. What? How could he say that? Did he see how impossible the task before them was? “Mr.-”
His voice didn’t sound closer, just louder. Ollie’s heart was starting to pound now. “I don’t understand.:
“You failed! You failed! You failed!”
Ollie scooted backward, terror taking over. He was screaming at them at this point. Just verbally bashing them.
“You failed! You. Failed! Failed! Failed! You failed!”
Oh this is coming in hard. Its the wall all over again, only this time much more personal, much more direct and clearly intended to break Ollie down instead of simply startling Ollie like the previous moment was meant to.
Ollie covered their ears, tears streaming down their face. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to! I tried!”
“You failed! Failed, failed, failed! Failed!”
Ollie turned away from the hallway, curling into a ball. They covered the back of their head and neck like they were in an earthquake. In reality, it was so much worse than that. So much worse than Ollie could have ever imagined,
Something crashed in front of them, and they turned back to it with a scream.
It was another dead end.
Ollie is definitely collapsing there. The tears starting signals what appears to be the part where this building is really going to start playing around with its food. It does mean we're likely to see a flicker of hope appear soon and this wall being back seems like prime territory for that.
Ollie shook their head. “No! No, no. Please. I’m begging you. Not this again. Don’t do this to me.”
The wall didn’t do anything, just stood there, taunting them.
Ollie cried out in frustration. “What was I supposed to do? You threw me to the ground! This isn’t my fault!”
They stared at the wall before shaking their head and slowly picking themselves up. “Fine. I’ll find a different way. See if I care any.” They turned around and marched off. “I hate this building. Maze, demonic entity, cruel joke, drug trip. I don’t care. I hate it, and I want a refund.”
Oh, this is an interesting one. It seems we've hit that old sort of final straw situation where after Ollie has fallen so much that they just give up on it all for a moment and feel done with everything. Well, well I'm sure the building has a plan to squash this and that's mostly what will happen in the remaining half.
They didn’t walk far before stumbling into a crossroads. That wouldn’t be too odd. They had gone through plenty. But, it wasn’t just any crossroads. It was the one from when they had faced that first dead end. Their eyes immediately drifted to where they had run out, having just heard Betsy’s voice. It was the first repeat they had seen. Even the walk back had been completely different. How did they manage to end up exactly here again?
They shook their head. They didn’t like this at all, but they didn’t have much choice but to play alone. There were four paths, and it was safe to assume that two of them were now blocked. Just their luck. So, turning around and the right door was out of the question. That left the left door and forward. Last time, left had not gone so well, so Ollie just kept trudging forwards. Maybe that would pan out, and Ollie would just stumble across an exit and maybe a million dollars to settle their student loan debt.
Well we can see the desperation kicking in now. Ollie is slowly just being reduced to the most animalistic instincts that are just about barely keeping Ollie sane in this moment. I have a feeling it won't be much longer for Ollie though.
Personally, don’t get me started on student loans, and I don’t want to tell you if Ollie was making the right choice. It spoils the fun.
But I will tell you that Ollie was getting used to the smell at that point, ignoring the patches of damp clothes rubbing against their skin. The sight of mold following them along the walls became less nauseating and a reason to hop into a shower and scrub themself clean with sandpaper soaked in bleach and more of something almost… comforting. Okay, maybe not comforting, thank the heavens and the many annoying people who preside there, but familiar. Routine. Like Ollie was just getting used to how awful everything was. A depressing thought, really, but who’s keeping track?
Me. I am. That is depressing.
Ooooh the narrator making an appearance. Okay, okay. Well it seems that this particular little detail is especially important for us to know. Well Time, sorry, sorry, sorry. What? Who? Spoilers. Boo. Anyway. So. Narrator. You track everything across time and noticed this important detail. I will make sure to remember it.
Ollie walked down the wandering passageways, occasionally drumming their fingers on the wall when they came across a patch without a patch of mold. Getting used to seeing the mold did not mean a desire to touch it, thank you. They sighed, frowning slightly. What would they do if nothing was down this hallway? Or if it just continued for so long, Ollie could never possibly find out? What if-
The lights went out, sending the entire hallway into pure blackness. Ollie stood completely still. Thankfully, they were smart enough not to shout into a dark hallway.
One light turned on further down in the hallway. Ollie sighed in relief. Okay, the issue was being fixed. They could turn around or go back soon.
A silhouette appeared just behind the light. It looked human, which made Ollie want to run in the other direction. A silhouette? Of a person? Could that be real down here? Could it be a very elaborate illusion? They shook their head. No. They weren’t trusting this person.
“Ollie, dearie? Where am I?”
Oooooooooooh that is a beautiful place to cut this in half. How is one supposed to stop here. AHHHHH. The worst part is I do have to stop because class but I WILL BE BACK. This is a beautiful little improvised cliffhanger here in the middle of the story.
Aaaaand that's it for this one.
Overall: Overall, already loving the start here. You've set up the capabilities of this place pretty well and we've established that Ollie is broken down to a pretty bad point mentally and is sort of on that last stand there just getting numb to the continued horrors being thrown their way. And just cutting off with this mysterious entity is *chef's kiss*. I can't wait to see how this is resolved.
As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.